Birthday Surprises: Future Conversations 1

Beta: Tidia

A/N:  This is a new series based on future conversations in The Brotherhood AU. It does not mean I’m not going to be writing our normal stuff or cannon any longer;-). This is just for fun as several readers asked to see some of what I’m hoping to put up here and these things get in my head and won’t leave me along until I write them.  You will most definitely need to have read Tidia’s story Marked Time to understand what is going on. You can also check out page three of the profile pages on The Hunter’s Tomb for a little introduction. This is just a little side project I’m doing to help stretch the muse. It’s also good to remind myself that everything turns out good in the future, despite the dark circumstances as of late.  I plan on doing a conversation for each of the boys, including Ben giving a glimpse into their unique personalities. It’s a learning process for me so I hope you enjoy and I’d love to hear what you think.




The sound of his name had Max looking up from the menu, searching the crowd of people waiting for a table at the popular pizza joint. Pisano’s Pies was his favorite place to eat in downtown Louisville, and not because of the college girls that hung out there. The food was amazing. He felt lucky to score a booth during lunch time. The Derby had run the weekend before with tourist still bombarding the city. The tiny restaurant was packed with people, loud with conversation and music.

“Maxim Sawyer?”

Max put the menu down as a man with silvery blond hair stepped through the line of customers. The dude was tall, about his Grandfather Mac’s age dressed in a suit, the expensive kind his dad wore to the office.  He looked harmless, but Max still checked for the closest exit. 

“It is you. My God, you’re practically grown.”

The man’s voice held a distinct awe. Yet, it was the slick smile that triggered the recognition.  He had to hand it to Uncle Bobby. He hit the nail on the head when he described his Dad’s father as slimy. Max looked around, wishing he hadn’t offered to come ahead for the table to escape one of JT’s trips to Flash, the hole-in-the-wall camera shop across the street. “What are you doing here?”

“You know who I am?”

Max gave a sharp nod. “Harland Sawyer.”

The answer seemed to please the old guy. He took Max’s answer as an invitation to claim a seat on the other side of the booth. “That’s right. I’m your grandfather.”

Max straightened. As far as he was concerned his grandfather was Mackland Ames, the man he’d known his entire life, not the guy from the picture albums who his Dad did not talk about. “What are you doing here?” He repeated his earlier question, unsure of what else to say.

The smile stayed in place. “I’m in Louisville for a job. I mostly stick to research now.”

Max knew of other older hunters that still hung onto the fringes of The Brotherhood. No one really ever retired. It was like the classic God Father movie once you were in, you were in for life.

“I couldn’t believe my luck when I saw you at the Louisville Slugger Museum. I couldn’t pass the opportunity to meet you.”

Harland had been at the museum, which meant he’d seen JT. Max wondered why Harland didn’t approach him them, if he had waited for he and JT to separate. The thought had Max glancing towards Flash, wondering if JT made it okay. His best friend was fourteen. They both knew the downtown city well, but Max had promised Caleb they would stay together. He was regretting the temporary split-up.  “Maybe you should leave.”

“I can’t believe how much you’ve grown.” Harland didn’t seem to hear him. “You look like Joshua when he was your age.”

Max squirmed uncomfortably under the intense scrutiny, resisting the urge to run a hand through his blond hair. He was used to hearing he resembled his father. The fact they shared their light coloring and blue eyes with the eldest Sawyer wasn’t lost on him. Harland leaned closer across the table, staring at Max as if he were some kind of freaky fun house mirror. Max glanced at the man’s hands as they crept closer to his, the silver hunter’s ring catching his eye. 

“You could never deny being a Sawyer.”

Max frowned. “Never intended to.”  He was proud of his name and his father, not only for his position in The Brotherhood, but for the way he put their family first.

Harland laughed. “Straightforward. I like that. Seems like you inherited some of my gumption, despite the fact I’ve been denied getting to know you. ”

Max knew bits and pieces of why Harland wasn’t a part of his family’s life, but also understood there were important pieces he’d been shielded from. Max wasn’t lacking in the family department, and you really didn’t miss what you didn’t know. Honestly, he hadn’t given Harland Sawyer much thought until faced with the man in person. The mystery loomed between them, giving Harland an upper hand that had Max sliding towards the end of the booth.  He didn’t like being at a disadvantage. “I better go. People are waiting for me.”

“But I only just got here.”

Max refrained from pointing out there was the reason for his early departure, unsure of how his knack for sometimes saying the wrong thing at the worst times might play out with this stranger. “I don’t think my dad would like me talking to you.”

“But you’re nearly a man yourself.” Harland leaned back spreading his arms to rest on the back of the booth. Max noticed he was bigger than his dad, still muscular and fit, despite his age. ”I mean, didn’t you just have a birthday this past week?”

Max felt his face flush at the implication. He wasn’t a kid anymore. “I’m sixteen.”

“I know. I would have sent you a present, but your father returns my mail.” Harland’s grin was back. “You’re becoming a man now. That means you can make decisions for yourself. You no longer have to live under anyone’s thumb.”

“I guess.” Max willed his hands to stay still. His father had told him practically the same thing; adding that with more freedom came more responsibility.  At the time the prospect seemed like an adventure, now the reality was becoming more complicated. He looked at his phone tossed on the table with the bag from the candy store.

“It won’t be long until you’ll be getting your ring.”

Max glanced up at the sudden change in topic. “Most hunters don’t get their rings until their twenty-one.”

Harland’s smile widened, his overly white teeth flashing brightly. Max thought of the strange cat from his little sister’s favorite book Alice in Wonderland. 

“But you’re not a typical hunter. You’re from an excellent family line, your father is the Advisor to The Triad, and you’re best friends with The Guardian’s son. That was a brilliant strategy on your father’s part. Maybe he learned something from me after all.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Max glanced at the people milling around them. The cute brunette he’d talked to on the way in was working on her computer. His waitress was serving another table.  No one was paying attention. Max imagined for the first time they probably looked like a kid and his grandfather out for a Saturday lunch. The deception was disconcerting. 

“I hear that you’ve been training with Reaves.” Harland seemed completely at ease, unaware or unconcerned by Max’s rising apprehension. “Seems to me you might be on the fast track to becoming the next Knight. It’s about time a Sawyer held his rightful place.”

“I don’t know.” Max loved training to be a hunter. He and JT liked to talk about getting their rings, daydream about the roles they might someday play in The Brotherhood, but no one spoke to him about specifics of the future.  He had been on a handful of real hunts closely supervised by his father or uncle.  Max had a hard enough time trying to figure out what classes to take for his junior year of high school, then there was college to consider.

“I see now that your father wasn’t cut out for the position of Knight, but you’re quite different. It makes sense him relocating here. He would want you to be close to the Winchester boys if they’re in line for positions.”

The unsettling feeling unfurling in Max’s stomach took root at the mention of the Winchesters. He realized he should have left as soon as Harland sat down. He grabbed his stuff, and slid closer to the end of the booth.  “I’m out of here.”

Harland held up his hands, gesturing for Max to stop. “Wait, Maxim. I didn’t mean to pry.”

“It’s Max.” Only his grandmother Esme called him Maxim. 

Max… It’s just I’m overwhelmed to see you. I wasn’t trying to make you uncomfortable. There’s just so much I’d like to know about you-things a grandfather should know.”

Max hesitated, torn by the pleading tone the man’s voice had taken, the earnest look on Harland’s face. Without the fake smile, he looked more like his dad. He even sounded like Max’s father.

“Please. Really, I didn’t mean any harm, Son. Sit down; spend just a minute with me until your friends come. Tell me something about yourself. Do you have a girlfriend?”

“Not really.” Max had taken Cecily Matthews to the Homecoming Dance, but they weren’t exclusive.

“Better to play the field.” Harland nodded enthusiastically. “You’ll have them eating out of the palm of your hand. Trust me.” 

Max put his bag back on the table, his eyes going to the clock on the wall. JT should have been here by now. 

“What about a car? Have you picked one out yet?” 

Max shrugged. “I won’t get my license until next year.” Anyone else asking that question would have gotten an excited spiel about the Chevy Tahoe parked in the barn at the Winchester farm.  Max would have explained how it had been practically a scrap heap at Uncle Bobby’s when he’d first seen her. After some finagling on Caleb’s part, his dad had caved and let him have ‘the death trap’ for his birthday. Dean was helping him work on her.  The Guardian even had an idea for a hybrid engine.

“Never too soon to start dreaming about your first set of wheels.” Harland gestured to the door, scooting closer to where Max was standing. “You know, I have a sweet ride just outside. I’d be glad to let you take her for a spin-no license required.”


 Max stepped away from the table at the sound of JT’s voice. He watched his friend push through the group of people, holding up his bag from Flash as he made it to his side.

“You’re never going to believe what I found.” JT’s voice trailed off and his smile faded. “What’s wrong? You look like you just saw a…”

“Johnathan Winchester?” Harland interrupted, turning to look at JT. “Maxim isn’t the only one who looks like his father. You’re Dean made over.”

“Don’t talk to him.” Max stepped slightly in front of JT. 

JT glanced to Harland, then back to Max, arching a brow. “What’s going on?”

“We’re leaving.” Max turned to JT. “That’s what’s going on.”

“But what about the pizza? You’ve been talking about lunch since dinner last night.”

“Boys.” Harland stood quickly. “Don’t leave on my account.”

“I’ve lost my appetite.” Max gave his best friend a slight shove to get him moving. He breathed a sigh of relief when they made it to the door.

Once outside, JT stopped and looked at him. “You never turn down pizza; especially pizza from Pisano’s when Uncle Caleb is buying. What’s wrong with you? Who was that guy in there?”

“Can we just go somewhere else?” Maxim jutted his chin towards the intersection. “Check’s Cafe sounds good. And that guy was nobody.”

“Mr. Nobody knew our names.”

“Come on.” Max started for the street. “I’ll explain about him later.”

He turned to leave, wanting to put as much distance between he, JT and Pisano’s, but found his arm caught in a vice-like grip. “Maxim. Wait.”

Harland’s hold brought him up short.  Max’s momentum caused him to stumble, bumping into JT.  It was pure luck they both managed to stay on their feet. Max glared at Harland. “What is your problem?”

“I just wanted…”

“Get the hell away from them.”

Max met JT’s gaze, both boys quickly turning their heads to where their uncle now stood just a few feet away from them on the sidewalk. James was at his side. Max didn’t miss the fact Caleb held out a hand to keep the twelve-year-old from coming any closer to them or Harland.

“It’s not what you think, Reaves,” Harland said.

Uncle Caleb closed the distance between them in two long strides. “Let Max go.” He snagged the back of JT’s hoodie, pulling him behind him before nudging him over to James. His angry gaze never left Harland. “Now!” 

Harland did as demanded. Max quickly stepped away, rubbing his arm where his grandfather had grabbed him.

“What the hell are you doing here, Harland?” 

Uncle Caleb took a step closer to the older man, cornering Harland against Pisano’s brick front. “My grandson and I were just talking. He forgot his things. I was just trying to catch him before he left.”

Harland held up his hands, and Max noticed his bag and phone. “Shit.” He’d left them on the table in his rush to leave. 

“Max?” Caleb cut his gaze to him.

“I was waiting on JT. I didn’t even know who he was.” Max stepped forward to take his things from Harland, but Caleb stepped in front of him tearing the items from Harland’s hand.

“You know better, you sonofabitch. You’ve been warned before.”

Harland shook his head. “This is a public place, Reaves. You have no jurisdiction here.”

“I have jurisdiction anywhere anything belonging to The Triad is threatened. Do you understand me? You’re lucky I don’t end you for even approaching the boys, much less talking to them.”

“Again, we’re in a public place. I think running me through with a sword would be a little hard to explain to the local authorities. Don’t you?” Harland looked at Max, then flicked his gaze to JT and James. “Are you going to accost an old man? There are the children to consider.” 

Max looked at the Winchesters. JT met his gaze with a worried frown, but James had eyes only for the heated stand-off. Max recognized the kid’s barely contained glee, the front row seat to a real-life UFC match was a tantalizing prospect.  

Caleb stepped closer to Harland, blocking his view of the younger boys. “I’d be more worried about The Guardian and how he might consider your actions. You really want to lose all ties to The Brotherhood.”

“I meant no disrespect to The Guardian. I’m sure he understands the lengths a man will go for family.”

Despite the fact his uncle lowered his voice, Max still heard him.  “You have no family here, Sawyer. Are we clear on that?”

Harland finally nodded, Caleb stepped away. He turned to Max to hand him his phone and bag. “Take the boys across the street. Wait for me at our back-up spot.”

“But…” Max opened his mouth, not liking the idea of splitting up, but one look from his uncle had him giving a contrite nod. “Yes, Sir.”

He gestured to JT and James. “Do you think Uncle Caleb’s going to kill him?” The youngest boy asked as they crossed over to Main Street, heading to Germantown.

“No,” JT said, bumping his younger brother’s shoulder. “Hunters don’t kill humans, moron.”

Max glanced over his shoulder. Their uncle might make an exception. He was slightly relieved when Caleb showed up at the burger place ten minutes later looking grim,  sporting no signs of recent bloodshed.


“Who was that?” James asked.

Uncle Caleb reached out, tugging James’s Red Sox cap lower over his eyes. “Nobody important, kiddo.”

James shoved the cap up on his head. “Did you kick his ass?”

“Jimmy.” JT elbowed his brother. “Language.”

“What? It’s not like you weren’t wondering the same thing.” 

“I handled the situation, tactfully.” Caleb raised a brow. “And that’s the story you will share with your mom. Got it?”

James rolled his eyes. “Because she is so going to believe that about you.”

Caleb crossed his arms. “As easy as she will believe that you plan on sharing half that candy loot you conned me into with your cousin Mary.”

“That’s blackmail,” James said, holding his hulking bag of treats closer to his chest.

“Take it or leave it, Little Man.”

 “Fine,” James said. “But I get to order two Derby pies.”

“Deal.” Uncle Caleb reached out and squeezed JT’s shoulder. “Why don’t you take the extortionist in and score us a table? Make sure he orders something substantial to go along with his chocolate fix.”


Max watched his friend go, before meeting his uncle’s gaze. “You mad?”

Caleb gestured to an empty bench in front of the restaurant. “Not at you.”

Max took a seat, clasping his hands in front of him. “You going to tell Dad?”


“He’ll be upset.”

“Most definitely.”

“I didn’t mean for it to happen. I tried to get out of there as soon as JT came in…”

“Hey, this isn’t your fault. Josh isn’t going to be pissed at you.”

“But The Guardian…”

“Dean won’t be angry either.”

“I don’t want to screw up.” It was one of Max’s big fears, disappointing those around him. “He trusts me.”

“For good reason.” Caleb bumped his shoulder. “Despite the little incident last month with Cecily and Sydney Matthews.”

“You guys never did buy it was JT’s idea.”

“That’s because JT is a whole hell of a lot like his Uncle Sam when it comes to girls.”

“James wanted to go in his place, even though Sydney is like five years older than him.”

“Now that I believe. That kid is his father made over.”

Max frowned. “That’s what Harland said about me.”

Uncle Caleb’s jaw clenched. “What else did he say to you?”

Max shrugged, not wanting to make any more waves. The day was supposed to be fun, a way to celebrate his sixteenth birthday. It had turned into anything but. “Nothing important.”

“Something upset you.” Caleb tapped his forehead. “Psychic bat signal started flashing red.”

Max knew it was useless to lie. “He asked me about when I would get my hunter’s ring. Then he started rambling on about me being the next Knight, and how it was good strategy that Dad moved us here to Kentucky all those years ago, and how that meant something about JT and James’s positions.”

Caleb rubbed his eyes. “You need to forget that bullshit, Max. Put it out of your head. Harland’s priorities are royally screwed up.”

“Is that why Dad cut him out of his life?” Max leaned against the bench. “He never talks about him.” He and his dad communicated better as Max got older.

“Sometimes when there’s nothing good to say, it’s better to say nothing at all.”

“But what if not knowing is worse?” Max turned to look at his uncle. “I mean, you’re always telling me to know my enemy, to research a job completely, intel is the key…but in there with Harland, I felt completely caught off guard, unprepared. I mean is the guy really some kind of monster, and if he is what does that make me?”

“Let’s get this straight, whatever Harland is, has nothing, and I mean nothing whatsoever to do with you.”

“But he’s my family and…”

“You can’t escape your family, kid. Trust me, I’ve tried. But they don’t have to define who you are.”

“So, Harland is a bad guy? But he’s a hunter? He wears a ring.”

“Not everything is black and white in the grown-up world, Max.”

Max licked his lips. “Did he hurt people?”

Caleb sighed, ran a hand through hair. “I think that’s a good question to ask your Dad.”

“Back there with Harland you said he’d been warned before? What did you mean?”

“Another very good question for Josh.” 

Max recognized the dead end street. “Do you think Dad really hates Harland?”

“I think your dad has good reasons for however he feels about his old man.” Caleb made sure he was looking at him. “Not all dads are like yours, JT’s and James’s. You guys and Mary hit the parent lottery.”

Max’s mouth twitched. “We kind of lucked out in the uncle department, too.” 

Caleb stood with a shake of his head. “You do realize I’ve already given you your birthday present, Slick. This free lunch is the cherry on top.”

Max shoved off the bench, purposively bumping into Caleb as he made it to the door. “As James says, it never hurts to get a jumpstart on Christmas.”

Caleb wrapped a hand around the back of his neck giving a hard squeeze. “Just remember that when you tell your mother how I handled the situation with Harland.”

“Sure thing.” Max laughed. “Mom loves you.”