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Maxine Caulfield is nervous about returning to her former hometown of Arcadia Bay for her last year of high school. She plans to keep her head down and get through the year quietly, but those plans are interrupted when she meets Rachel Amber, who reunites Max with her former best friend Chloe Price, who Max had been avoiding, primarily because Chloe is one of the only people who remembers her from when she lived in Arcadia Bay, back when she was going by Maxwell. This reunion sets off a series of events that bring Max, Chloe, and eventually Rachel to come to terms with themselves and their feelings for each other.

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Bloom is a Life Is Strange fanfic by Recourse. It is the first and main work in the Perennials series, which also includes the spin-offs Handle With Care and In the Night We Trust. The fic Devils in the Moonlight is also in its continuity, though it's not considered part of the series.

Tropes:

  • Adaptational Heroism: Nathan Prescott is a simple high school bully, with all of his more heinous actions from the game removed, and when he gets focus in In The Night We Trust, he's shown as a deeply mentally unstable kid who lashes out due to insecurity. The reason for this is likely that Mark Jefferson isn't around to manipulate him into acting on his worst impulses.
  • Adapted Out: Mark Jefferson is replaced as Max's photography teacher by an Original Character.
  • Alternate Universe Fic: Bloom makes two major alterations to the canon: Max is a trans girl, and Mark Jefferson, the game's Big Bad, is Adapted Out. This second change has a lot of effects, most notably that Rachel Amber is alive.
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  • Armoured Closet Gay: Victoria goes to great lengths to hide her lesbianism from her friends, even engaging in homophobic bullying herself, which Rachel uses against her by threatening to out her to get her to stop bullying Max. This is explored in more detail in In the Night We Trust, where it puts serious strain on Victoria's budding romance with Taylor. In one incident, Victoria starts making out with Taylor, but when their friends walk in, she accuses Taylor of initiating the kiss and mocks her.
  • Asexuality: Discussed. Chloe asks if Max is asexual, which she says she isn't, she's just repressed her sexual desires due to her internalized transphobia convincing her that no one would ever want to have sex with her.
  • Beta Couple:
  • Bi the Way:
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    • Rachel was in relationships with Victoria, Frank, and Chloe prior to the events of the fic.
    • Max also mentions being attracted to men and women, and explicitly corrects Kate when she calls her gay, but in the story she only has relationships with women.
    • Dana explicitly identifies as bisexual. Her ill-fated past relationship with Logan is kept from the game, but her rebound relationship is with Kate instead of Trevor.
  • Closet Key:
    • Of a sort. Max always knew that she was attracted to women, but thought that those feelings would go away once she started physically transitioning. A brief meeting with Rachel proves this false.
    • In a more traditional example, meeting Max makes Kate realize that she's attracted to women.
    • Kissing Victoria made Rachel realize she's bisexual. Devils in the Moonlight goes into more detail, showing that Rachel had flirted with and even kissed other women before, but Victoria was first time she knew it was genuine sexual attraction, rather than a joke or result of curiosity.
  • Coming-Out Story: Several characters come out during the fic, though in vastly different contexts.
    • Chloe casually comes out to her mother off-page. She doesn't treat it as a big deal, acknowledging that she was in a very Transparent Closet and was just confirming what her mother already knew.
    • Kate realizes that she's a lesbian, comes out to to her close friends, and eventually starts a relationship, though by the end she's still not ready to come out to her family.
    • Victoria's unwillingness to be public with their relationship was part of what led to her break up with Rachel. Her next girlfriend, Taylor, is fine with keeping it a secret, but they eventually decide to come out to the whole school by going to prom together.
  • Cure Your Gays:
    • Chloe tells Max that she slept with several guys in an attempt to "fix" herself.
    • Kate wants to tell her parents she's gay so they can send her to "therapy", but Max is able to talk her out of it.
  • Date Rape Averted: Like in canon, Kate is drugged at a party and several guys attempt to take advantage of her, but in this version Rachel intervenes and she and Chloe get Kate out of there before things can go too far.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The entire fic is told in Third-Person Limited narration from Max's POV, except for the end of the first chapter, which slips into omniscient narration to show the reader that Rachel is telling Chloe about Max, something Max won't find out about for another two chapters. This stands out as the only time in the entire story when the reader is shown something that Max is unaware of.
  • Forced Out of the Closet:
    • Rachel reintroducing Max to Chloe outs her to Chloe as trans. While it ultimately turns out for the best, both Max and Chloe call Rachel out for it and she later apologizes.
    • Rachel also threatens to tell Victoria's friends about their past fling if she doesn't back off of Max, which she also later acknowledges was wrong.
  • Gayngst:
    • Kate goes through a lot of this, mostly due to fear of how her family will react.
    • Victoria is terrified of acknowledging her attraction to women, which is explored more fully in In the Night We Trust.
    • While she seems comfortable with her sexuality by the time the story starts, Chloe confides to Max that in the past she slept with several guys in an attempt to "fix" herself, though that was also partially about specifically getting rid of her (at the time apparently unrequited) attraction to Rachel.
  • The Ghost: Unlike in the original game, Frank is this. He's important to Chloe and Rachel's backstory, as Chloe discovering that Rachel had been in a relationship with him when she started dating Chloe was a major reason that their relationship fell apart, but he never actually appears. The closest is when Rachel tips off the police that he's selling drugs to Blackwell students, which leads to him either being arrested or leaving town, but that happens entirely off-page.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Like in the original game, averted with Dana, who has an abortion but is portrayed a completely nice person.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every chapter title is a stage of a plants life cycle ("Germination") or a term related to agriculture ("Fertile Soil").
  • In Spite of a Nail: Despite Jefferson and his Dark Room not existing in this version of the story, Kate still gets drugged at a Vortex Club party, though Rachel destroys the video of the incident and spares Kate most of the bullying she went through in canon.
  • Internalized Categorism: While there is some external bigotry (Max's old classmates, Kate's family) most of the bigotry the characters deal with is internalized.
    • At the beginning of the story, Max is convinced that, because she‘s trans, no one will ever find her attractive and has accepted that she will never have a real romantic relationship. Even after getting together with Chloe, she still worries that Chloe will leave her as soon as she has a chance to be with a "real girl". Chloe and Rachel help her see that this isn't true, and by the end of the story Max is a lot more comfortable with who she is.
    • Kate, despite being fully accepting of Max and Chloe's relationship, is still terrified of the idea that she might be gay, fearing that it would make her a failure in the eyes of her family. Like Max, her friends help her overcome this.
  • Lighter and Softer: While not exactly free of angst, the story excises most of the darkest parts of the game, mostly due to the game's Big Bad being Adapted Out.
  • Oblivious to Love: Max spends most of the first half of the story unaware of Chloe and Rachel’s fairly obvious crushes on her, even denying it when other characters point it out.
  • Original Character: Aleidia Varte, who takes Mark Jefferson's place as Blackwell's photography teacher.
  • Polyamory: Max starts a relationship with Chloe, and they eventually agree to invite Rachel to join them.
  • Properly Paranoid: After taking a hit off a bong at a Vortex Club party, Max starts thinking that everyone secretly knows that she's trans, and that Rachel only invited her to make fun of her (this apparently happened a lot at her school in Seattle). After calming down she dismisses these fears as marijuana-induced paranoia, which they mostly are. However, Rachel really does secretly know that Max is trans and is keeping the fact that she knows and how she knows a secret to toy with Max, though her intentions are not malicious.
  • Relationship Upgrade:
    • Max and Chloe start dating in chapter nine.
    • Kate and Dana get together off-page in chapter sixteen. It's detailed in the spin-off Handle With Care.
    • Later in chapter sixteen, Rachel joins Max and Chloe in a polyamorous relationship.
  • Self-Harm:
    • Chloe shows Max scars on her wrists from when she cut herself, though she never does it during the story.
    • In the Night We Trust reveals that Taylor has hair pulling disorder. Her relationship with Victoria helps her manage it.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shipper on Deck: Warren, despite initially being romantically interested in Max, recognizes her chemistry with Chloe and encourages her to pursue it.
  • Sobriquet Sex Switch: Max was originally named "Maxwell" but changed to Maxine after coming out. She says that for a few years she insisted that people only call her "Maxine", but by the time of the fic she's comfortable enough to go by "Max", as she had before coming out.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Rachel Amber, who was Dead All Along in the game, is alive and well here.
  • Trans Equals Gay: Briefly referenced. When Chloe finds out that Max is trans, she tries to reassure her that she accepts her by telling Max that she's gay. Chloe quickly clarifies that she knows that they aren't the same thing, but still invokes LGBT solidarity.
  • Transgender: Max came out as a trans girl around the time her family moved to Seattle. She had hoped that starting at her new school presenting as a girl would make it easier but it didn't really work.
  • Transparent Closet: When the story starts Chloe hasn't officially come out to her parents, but between her obvious closeness with Rachel and the posters of half-naked women covering the walls of her room, she figures it's pretty obvious that she's a lesbian.
  • Trans Tribulations: Max was bullied incessantly at her school in Seattle. She doesn't experience external bullying at Blackwell, because almost no one there knows she's trans, but she still struggles with a lot of Internalized Categorism.
  • Your Cheating Heart: After returning from L.A., Chloe discovers that Rachel had been in a relationship with Frank when she started dating Chloe. This, combined with the stress of their failure in L.A., leads to them breaking up.
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