Game Plan

Legacy Series (Future Conversations)

Beta: Tidia

A/N: This little character piece popped in my head and wouldn’t leave me alone. I promise Ben’s story is coming up next.

Summary: The boys are growing up and Max learns the hard way that some plans don’t always work out the way one intends.


Max didn’t understand why baseball was touted as the all American game, the national pastime.  From what he understood about baseball it was practically stolen from the English by some guy in New York who wanted a club for him and his knickers wearing buddies. Lacrosse was actually played by the first Americans. Native American tribes used the sport as part of religious rituals, to heal the sick, and prepare for war. Their version of the game could have more than a hundred players and last for days.

Those who took part did so as warriors with the goal of bringing glory and honor to themselves and their tribes. Max could so relate that to his life.

Max was a first string attacker on his Lacrosse team at DuPont Manual and embraced the tactical tenacity and strategy it required, not to mention the fact he got to out maneuver worthy adversaries on a regular basis. To him, baseball seemed mindless and lacking in physical action.

His best friend JT completely disagreed, arguing his position as centerfielder required just as much thought and precision. JT was sort of the ‘captain of the outfield’ calling off the other outfielders when need be, and covering the most grass of the entire team. 

Max didn’t exactly buy the Zenness of baseball, but he would give his friend credit. JT was freakishly fast, had an amazing throwing arm, not to mention being a power hitter for his size. JT loved baseball in a way Max was unsure he was capable of feeling for anything. It was one of the reasons Max was now sitting on an uncomfortable bleacher under the blazing sun on a Saturday morning.

Nelson County High couldn’t brag about much, but their baseball team was beyond good. The Cardinals had surpassed their coach’s hopes of a county title and made it all the way to the final rounds of the District Championship. They had their dreams of sub-state dashed after a hard fought loss the day before, but if the current score held true, they would take a respectable third place to finish off an impressive season.

“It’s the bottom of the ninth and Winchester is at the bat.”

Max rolled his eyes and tossed a piece of popcorn at James. The twelve-year old was loudly broadcasting in his best sportscaster voice from beside him. “Why don’t you just ring the cow bell again and draw some more attention our way.”

“You’re the one who wanted to sit in the first row.” James launched a nacho his way and Max avoided the boy’s aim. 

“I didn’t ask you to join me.” Max looked over his shoulder, letting his gaze travel over the large expanse of crowd to where his father and Uncle Caleb were sitting near the very top of the stands. Dean, Sam and Ben were one bleacher below them. “I have my reasons for wanting the good view.”

James smirked at him from beneath his Nelson County Cardinals hat. “Which is why I’m tolerating your company.

Max jabbed him with his elbow. “What? It’s a crime to want to enjoy the game. This is the last one of the season and I want to take it all in.”

James snatched Max’s half-eaten bag of popcorn and shoveled a handful in his mouth. “You sure have become a dedicated fan since May.”

Max focused his attention on the field. He had patiently waited for this particular game, forced to attend every match of the waning season in anticipation of the Cardinal’s final play, but it wasn’t like he hadn’t attended more than his fair share over the years. “I went to all the home games, and a few of the ones on the road.”

James swiped his Coke. “To which you brought a book, video game or a date. Sometimes all three.”

Max flashed him a grin. “I’m good at multitasking. What can I say?”

“You’re good at bullshitting,” James countered. “That’s what I say.”

Max was spared further comment as the crowd roared. After one strike and two balls, JT had smacked one into the outfield over the Galaxy’s centerfielder’s reach, easily making it to first.

James stood up and rang the cow bell, adding his own shrill whistle and whooping. “Way to go, JT!”

Max pulled on his shirt and tugged him back onto the bleachers. “JT’s going to cream you, you idiot.” JT might have loved the game, but he didn’t like having attention drawn to the fact he was really good at it. James, on the other hand, lived to be noticed.

“I don’t think so.” James gave him a knowing look. “He’ll have bigger fish to fry after the game.”

The next batter hit a pop fly, which was caught by the Galaxy’s shortstop. That left the Cardinals with two outs, but still holding their five run advantage.

“I need you to do me a favor.”

James’s gaze narrowed. “What kind of favor?”

Max held up JT’s camera. “Make sure you get some shots of your brother for prosperity.”

“You mean distract him?”

“I mean grab a memory for his scrapbook. I know he likes to take shots of the team, and how many players go to districts with varsity their freshman year?”

James took the camera. “You know JT hates to have his picture taken.”

“I’m sure you’ll convince him that your mom will appreciate it since she had to work.”

“You want me to play the ‘Mom’ card.”

“You know JT will buy it.” Max sighed. His best friend was the consummate mama’s boy.  “And I’ll give you twenty bucks.”

“I want to see the money up front.”

“You’re an extortionist, you know that?”

“Grandpa Mac says I have a good head for business so I prefer the term entrepreneur or tycoon, if you must.” James held out his hand. “You better hurry. Stevens is up next and he always strikes out when the pressure is on.”

Max reached into his pocket, pulled out his wallet, handing it over to James along with his keys. “Just hold onto these for me.”

James slipped the wallet into his back pocket with a smile, tossing the key ring and catching it. “No problem, but playing coat check will cost you an extra five.”

“Fine.” Max reached up and slipped the silver amulet he wore from around his neck, handing it over. “Only if you keep an eye on this, too.”

James took the dragon pendant, glancing down at the matching one resting against his chest. “We’re not supposed to take them off.”

The amulets were a gift from their Uncle Bobby. Ben and JT had similar ones, each dragon slightly different. They offered protection from possession and countless other things that went bump in the night, but also bound them to something bigger. “I don’t want the strap to get broken.”

James took the amulet, his eyes darkening with seriousness. “Are you sure you want to do this?”

Max’s mouth twitched, as he pulled his hair back in a low pony tail to secure it with a leather tie. “Oh, I’ve wanted to do this for a very long time.”

Another thunderous roar from the crowd heralded the official end of the game and Max felt a rush of energy pulse through him, just like when he was crossing into the enemy’s territory on the lacrosse field out for blood and victory. He stood, stepping from the stands so he would be the first to congratulate the winning centerfielder for the Nelson County Cardinals. Abe Lundy was about to meet his biggest fan. 

The senior standout was just over six feet, not more than an inch taller than Max. He weighed in at 183 with a decent batting average. He was first string and had been one of the star players for the Cardinals since he was a sophomore. Max had first studied his stats when JT was trying out last year. In theory, the coach planned for JT to be Lundy’s protégé. Turned out that JT’s reputation preceded him and Abe wasn’t happy about the competition.  

“Hey, man. Great game.” He caught up with the golden boy exiting the dugout with the majority of his team. JT had to come in from second base. James would intercept him.

“Thanks.” Abe tried to step around him, but Max anticipated the move and blocked him. “You’re Abe Lundy? The player the college scouts are here to see. Right?”

“Yeah.” The dark-haired guy looked at Max. “Do I know you?”

“Probably not. I’m Max Sawyer. I go to Montreal.”

“Okay. Do you want an autograph or something?”

“Wow.” Max laughed. “You do think a lot of yourself.”

“Excuse me?”

“I figured you might want to know my name.”

“Why would I want to know your name, kid?”

Max dropped the fake smile. “Because I’m the guy who is going to kick your ass.”

He would admit the first punch was fast and dirty, but enjoyed the look of shock and surprise on Abe’s face. Max imagined it was kind of how JT felt when Lundy turned on him.

Max gave Abe a few seconds to recover, a chance to take a swing at him before hitting the guy a second time. He didn’t want it to be over too quickly.

Lundy finally grasped what was going on and attempted to fight back as a few of his teammates picked up on the testosterone in the air and circled them, yelling, "FIGHT!"  The jerk got lucky with a jab, but the pain didn’t register with Max. 

He was in attack mode now, delivering each strike like a combat plane executing a finely planned bombing maneuver. Not one of Abe’s buddies offered to step up to help the guy out when it was obvious he was getting pummeled. Further proof Lundy was getting exactly what he deserved.    

“Max! Stop it.”

JT’s voice cut through the white noise, but only increased Max’s fervor to finish the job before the grown-ups caught whiff of what was going on. A part of him realized he was on the ground straddling Lundy who was doing a piss poor job of blocking Max’s blows, no longer returning any of his own.

This was the point where Max was supposed to stop.  In the countless times he’d run it through his mind, Max would let himself go only so far as to inflict the sufficient amount of retribution deserved. He would then grab the guy by the shirt front and whisper menacingly in his ear that if he went near JT again he’d be back to finish what he started. He’d then leave the hot shot Abe for public spectacle, adding in humiliation like a cherry on top.

 All strategy went out the window. There was a rushing in his ears, his heart thundering against his chest fueled by exertion and adrenaline. Max no longer felt his fist striking Abe’s face nor did he hear the taunts of the crowd.  He was strangely disconnected from it all, cast out of his body, watching the scene unfold before him along with the other spectators.

 “Maxim!” His father’s voice snapped him back to himself, but his hands continued their onslaught on autopilot. “That’s enough. Let him up.”

“Stop it.” Caleb grabbed him by the shoulders, hauling him up and off of Lundy. “It’s over.” Max tried to jerk away, but his uncle held firm, dragging him out of the crowd before turning him loose. 

Max braced his hands on his knees, panting hard as he tried to get his breathing under control, pull himself back together. “What the hell was that all about, Kid?”

He ignored the question, staring past Caleb to where his father, Ben and Sam were among those helping the Lundy kid up. Abe was a bloody mess, but he was on his feet.

The sound of a cowbell had him looking up. James and JT were heading his way. James gave him a thumbs up sign, then performed an exaggerated referee motion. “Lundy is out of there!”

“James.” Dean grabbed the bell from his son, giving him a look that had the twelve-year-old instantly dropping his goofy grin. He hung back by his father’s side, scraping the ground with his shoe. 

JT kept coming towards him and Max wondered for a moment if his best friend might punch him. The younger teen had no problem fighting with Max if provoked. “What did you do?”

Max squared his shoulders, flexing his throbbing fists.  He wasn’t expecting a pat on the back. “What I should have done four months ago.”

JT shoved him. “You just couldn’t leave it alone.”

Max shoved him back, his own temper kicking in again. “Sorry I’m not into turning the other cheek, JT.”

“You lied to me.”

“I told you I wouldn’t do anything during the season and I didn’t.” Technically, Max had kept his word. “The season’s officially over.”

Caleb stepped in between them, grabbing Max’s shirt. “Cool off.” He turned to JT. “You too, Johnny.”

JT bit his lip, his voice dropping. “I wish I had never told you.”

“That makes two of us,” Max growled.

“Don’t worry. I won’t make the same mistake again.”

JT brushed past him, roughly bumping his shoulder as he headed for the gate.

“Good to know!” Max called after him, mumbling under his breath. “You’re welcome, by the way.”

“You want to answer Caleb’s earlier question, Rocky?”

The Guardian was staring at him and Max admitted to himself that he hadn’t exactly thought through all the repercussions. He swallowed hard, tasting the metallic twang of blood. One of Lundy’s shots had split his lip. “Not really, Sir.”

“How about your manager, Mickey?” Caleb gestured to James. “I’m guessing he was in your corner from the beginning.”

James folded his arms over his chest. “I was only responsible for the cowbell.”

Max’s stomach clenched as he caught sight of his father stalking towards them, Sam and Ben in his wake.

“The other kid okay?” Dean asked.

Sam ran a hand through his hair. “The paramedics are checking him out. He’s going to be in a world of hurt tomorrow, but I think he’s okay.”

Max’s dad stopped mere inches in front of him, eyes scanning Max’s shirt then his face. “Are you alright?”

The question voiced with quiet concern surprised Max and increased the guilt JT’s accusation dredged up. He glanced down at his shirt, noticing the splattered blood and fought hard not to flinch when his dad reached up and touched the throbbing spot just under his left eye. “Yeah.” He cleared his throat. “I’m fine, Dad.” 

“Then get your things. We’re leaving.” All warmth vanished from his father’s tone. “Give your keys to your uncle. You’ll be riding with me.”

“But Ben and James rode here with me…”

“That’s not a problem.” His dad exchanged a look with Dean. “We’re going to the farm to straighten out this mess. They can ride with us.”

Max rubbed his aching gut. “Great.”

“Hand them over.” Uncle Caleb held out his hand.

Max didn’t meet his gaze as he gestured to James with his chin. “Jimmy has them.”

 James handed over the keys to the Tahoe. “Can I ride with you, Uncle Caleb?”

“No way.” Dean was the one to answer. “You’re stuck with the horse you rode in on, Bud.”

Max, resigned to his fate, turned to follow after his father.

 Ben asked for clemency. “Then can I ride with Caleb? I had no clue I’d hitched a ride with outlaws.”

“Sorry, kiddo. Medical aid may be needed.”

Max watched his Dad stomp towards the Mercedes and wondered if The Guardian might be right. So much for best laid plans.



“Here slugger this will help with the eye.” Ben offered him an ice pack, taking the empty chair beside him at the table so he could get better access to Max’s bruised face.  Max had been ushered into the kitchen by his father upon arrival. Uncle Caleb and Sam were there, but no sign of JT. “Anything feel broken?”

Max pulled away from the medical student’s prodding. “I’m good, man.”

“Let him look at you, Maxim.”

The use of his full name and his father’s scowl left no room for reproach. They hadn’t talked on the way back to the Winchester’s and Max wondered if his father was using a parental tactic. He sat back in the chair and let Ben have his fun. He had worse in lacrosse or from one of their Sunday afternoon flag football games. Sparring had also left him with more than one black eye over the years. No one raised such a fuss about any of those times.

To his credit Ben hurried the process along. “I have good news and bad news.” He repositioned the ice, guiding Max’s hand to hold it before turning to address the panel of adults in the room. “The good news is it all seems to be superficial damage, bad news, there is no cure for terminal ugliness.” 

“Dickhead,” Max muttered.

Ben winked at him. “I can probably scrounge up a lollipop if it will make the little guy feel better.”

Dean used his ball cap to smack Ben on the back of the head. “We didn’t ask for your bedside humor, Ace.”

Ben stood, patting his hair in place. “My talent is obviously wasted here.”

“Maybe we should get a second opinion. Ben did get that D in organic chemistry this term.” Max turned to where James was leaning against the refrigerator, sharing his left over popcorn with Porthos. The younger teen met his gaze before raising a challenging brow to Ben. “Oops. Was I not supposed to mention that, Bro?”

Ben took a step towards James. “You’re dead.”

Uncle Caleb snagged his arm. “How about you take him out to the barn and do the deed?”

“That’s a good idea.” Dean nodded. “Feed the horses and clean out the stalls while you’re out there.”

James groaned in protest, but made his way towards the door. “I never get to stay for any of the good stuff.”

“That’s okay, Brat.” Ben gave him a hard shove. “We should still be able to hear Max scream if the interrogation turns ugly.”

“Thanks for the support.” Max lifted the bag of ice towards Ben, making sure his middle finger was positioned just so.

James stopped by his chair, offering Max’s dragon necklace. “I don’t know if it protects you from the good guys, but better safe than sorry.” He faced the grown-ups in the room. “Just so you know, if that ox Lundy hadn’t had at least sixty pounds and a dozen or so inches on me, I would have taken him out myself,” James added.

 “Duly noted.” Dean pointed towards the door. “Now scram.”

“I think now would be a good time for you to take leave also.” His dad was talking to Caleb. Max had been counting on one person in his corner.  

“What? Why?”

“Because I hold you partially responsible for this latest debacle,” Dad replied.

Sam quickly stepped in between Max’s father and his uncle. “This isn’t exactly a Triad matter, Caleb. Maybe we should head to the Tomb and get a jump on that hunt we were talking about earlier?”

Caleb sidestepped Sam. “What do you mean it’s my fault?”

“I mean your insidiousness has obviously corrupted my son. What should I expect next? A trip to The Red Caboose?”

Max snorted under his breath. “Ben already beat him to that one.”

Both his uncle and father looked at him.

“He what?”

 “What did you say?”

Max slid down a notch or two, hunching his shoulders. “Nothing.”

“Come on, man.” Sam grabbed Caleb’s arm. “It’s really not any of our business. Let’s leave this to the guys with the genetic obligation.”

“Fine.” Caleb relented and Max had a fleeting desire to beg him to stay. “I’ll remember this the next time someone needs an impromptu babysitter.”

Max fingered the dragon pendant, shifted in the seat as Dean and his father turned their full attention on him. “What now?” 

“How about you start by explaining what possessed you to attack one of JT’s teammates?” His dad stepped forward. “Do you understand you could have seriously injured that boy?”

Max folded his arms over his chest.  There was no wiggle room around the promise he had made to JT about not telling anyone about Lundy. “The guy had it coming.”

“Somehow I don’t believe Abe Lundy’s parents or the authorities, if they are so duly informed by said family, will take that as a sufficient defense for your behavior. Please tell me there is more to the story than adolescent hormones.”

Dean took one of the chairs and turned it around before straddling it like a saddle. “No need for the silent treatment. I sent Sammy shotgun with Caleb so JT and I would have a chance to talk on the way back to the farm.”

Max met The Guardian’s gaze. “Yeah?”  

“He told me about the hazing.”

Max’s father took a seat. “What kind of hazing?”

Dean lifted a brow. “You want to tell him, Slick?”

Max rubbed the braided leather of his necklace between his fingers, remembering the day JT gave it to him on Max’s ninth birthday party. JT was determined to bring his own gift, besides the typical parent purchased loot.  “Lundy has been tormenting JT since he made the team this spring, giving him a hard time for being the only freshman, making sure he knows his place.” Max wrapped the black stained leather around his bruised, swollen knuckles. “He’s only jealous because JT is better than he is and was stealing his thunder.”

“JT said he told you about the first incident with the black eye.”

“In February.” Max nodded. “I wanted to go beat the shit out of the creep then, but JT wouldn't hear any of it. You know how he is.  JT sees people differently, like he’s looking through some rose-colored camera lens. Lundy deserved to have his ass kicked months ago for some of the shit he pulled, but JT didn’t fight back because he thought he had too much of an advantage because of our training, because he didn’t want to pit the team against each other. He was trying to do the right thing and be the bigger man.”

Dean ran a hand over his mouth. “JT has a lot of his Uncle Sam in him.”

“It’s not like it’s bad thing.” Max respected that JT took the high road, dragging Max along with him. “I mean he gets on my nerves with the Eagle Scout shit sometimes, but it’s who he is.”

His father was watching him. “So JT made you promise to keep quiet?”

JT had made him give his word. Max had added the part about staying out of it until the end of the season. “He said he’d handle it his own way and he clammed up about what was going on; acting as if things had gotten better. Like I’d believe Lundy all of sudden started to play nice, especially when he started getting bench time with JT on the field.”

Dean leaned back in his chair. “That where Jimmy came in?”

“James kept me informed about everything.” Max had written every injury in his journal, every hint of wrongdoing on Abe’s part.  It was harder to hide things from a guy you shared a bathroom with. “But he didn’t know what I was planning today. No one did.”

“You should have told one of us, Maxim.” His father leaned his elbows on his knees waiting for Max to meet his blue gaze. “JT could have been hurt. The Lundy boy needed to be punished by the appropriate people.”

Max rolled his eyes. Sometimes his Dad didn’t have a clue. “The Brotherhood punishes people all the time.”

His father looked to The Guardian and Dean focused on Max again. “That what you had planned? To punish Lundy for his crimes?”

“It didn’t really turn out like I planned.”  Max stared at the flakes of red embedded in the fibers of his jeans. “I didn’t mean to get so carried away.”

“You let the monster out of the cage, Kid.  It ain’t always of a mind to go back in.”

Max held Dean’s green eyes, swallowing to dislodge the lump in his throat. “I wanted to hurt him like he hurt JT.”

“Revenge is a slippery slope, kiddo.”

Max licked his lips. “He’s my best friend.”

“I’ve got one of those,” Dean said. “I know how it is.”

“But it does not excuse what you did, Son,” his father added. “I understand wanting to protect your friend, your family, but you must be careful of the lines you’re willing to cross. For some of them there are no ways to step back over.”

 Max looked at his father.  “I’m sorry, Dad.”

“We’ll talk about it more when we get home.” His Dad stood, giving his shoulder a quick squeeze. He and Dean exchanged another look that let Max know he wasn’t completely off the hook yet. “Now I better go smooth things over with your uncle before I’m forced to find a proper nanny for your sister.”

Max waited for his father to leave before facing The Guardian again, willing to accept whatever punishment Dean would dole out. “I guess you’re pretty pissed at me.”

Dean looked at him. “You know I was about your age the first time I really, really wanted to hurt someone. The guy totally deserved it. He was a piece of shit mean drunk who beat his son. One day Sammy got in the way and this bastard hit him.”

This was a story Max was unfamiliar with, but knew well enough the lengths The Guardian would go to when his family was threatened. Some of the stuff Dean had done was the stuff of legends. “Did you kill him?”

“Almost,” Dean said. “Turned out the guy’s skull was like reinforced steel.” 

“What happened?”

“I went to jail.”

Max winced. “And I thought an interrogation at the farm was bad.”

“You boys have things a little differently than we did back in the day.”

Max had heard the stories of The Triad’s childhood, read journals about them. He knew how lucky he, Ben, JT and James were. “I know.”

Dean’s face grew more serious. “We’re all grateful for that, but I forget some things are still the same.” He leaned forward. “I’m also grateful for that.”

Max frowned. “I’m not sure I’m following you.”

“You were protecting JT, righting a wrong done to him. As much as I want to protect you boys, I also want you to know how to look out for one another. It’s important you learn to defend what’s yours.”

“I would do anything for JT and James.”

“Like I said, some things never change.”

Max arched a brow. “Does this mean I’m getting close to getting my hunter’s ring?”

“No.” Dean laughed. “It most certainly does not mean that.”

Max was relieved The Guardian didn’t seem disappointed in what he done, but that still left the gnawing feeling in Max’s gut, the one that had nothing to do with Lundy’s right jab. “About what you said earlier…what if I can’t get the monster back in the cage?”

“Wrestling that monster is what growing up and becoming the man you’re meant to be is all about.”

“What if I lose the battle? Turn out wrong?” Max licked his lips. “If Uncle Caleb hadn’t pulled me off Lundy…” Max let the thought trail off, unable to even think what he might have been capable of doing.

“The fact you’re worried about it tells me you’ve already got a leg up, kiddo.”

“Then you don’t think what I did was wrong?”

“I’m not saying it was right.”

“There’s a difference?”

Dean smiled. “Right and wrong are sometimes really hard to apply when it comes to matters of the heart. A smart guy once told me that love is the strongest force of nature, capable of making a person do great, beautiful, and terrible things. Understand?”

Max frowned. “I don’t love JT or anything.”

The Guardian laughed. “Of course not.” He stood, pushing his chair back under the table. “And if you did you’d never admit it because Caleb and I raised you right.”

“Yeah.”  Max forced a half smile of his own. “Your influence is insidious.”

“Speaking of that, I better go smooth some feathers myself.”

Max stood also. “I’m sorry I couldn’t stop JT from getting hurt.”

Dean paused in the doorway. “You won’t always be able to keep those you love from getting hurt, Son. Sometimes the most you can do is be there to pick up the pieces.” He pointed to the stairs at the far end of the kitchen.  “JT is up in his room if you want to say goodbye before you go.”

“Considering I could be grounded for the entire summer, that’s probably a good idea.”

 Dean reached out and ruffled his hair. “If you’re lucky maybe only half the summer, Slick.”


Max slid his amulet over his head and took the stairs to JT’s room slowly. He knocked on the half open door but didn’t wait for JT to ask him in before entering. JT had taken over Ben’s old room when the eldest Winchester brother moved to New York on a more permanent basis, moving out of the connecting one he and James used to share.

JT was at his desk, a strip of negatives spread out in front of him. D’artagnan greeted Max with thumping tale. JT didn’t turn around.  He cleared his throat. “Dad and I are about to take off.”

JT put his pen down and turned around. “Are you in trouble?”

Max took that as a white flag and grabbed a seat on JT’s neatly made bed. “Not as much trouble as I would have been in if you hadn’t talked to your Dad about Lundy.”

JT shrugged. “I probably should have told him a long time ago.”

“Still, I’m sorry what I did forced your hand.”

JT turned in his seat, grabbing a baseball from his desk. He tossed it in the air and caught it. “Is that the only thing you’re sorry for?”

Max crossed his arms over his chest. “Dude, I’m not sorry about Lundy even if it didn’t go precisely as I planned.”

“When do any of your plans go smoothly?” 

His best friend had a point. “Doesn’t stop you from going along with most of them.”

“Someone has to keep you out of trouble.”

“I guess I went a little over the top this time, even for me.”

 “You can’t go around beating up every guy I have a problem with.”

“Says the dude who pushed a ten-year old off his bike for teasing Jimmy.”

“That was like three years ago and Lane Matthews isn’t typical. He’s had the same training we have.”

“Still, you did it because he was giving James a hard time.”

“Maybe.” JT tossed him the baseball.

Max was beginning to realize there was something he cared about the way JT cared about baseball.  He tossed the ball back. 

JT caught it, returning it with a little more heat.

Max didn’t wince despite the sting of leather against his palm. “I kept your secret.” He returned the ball with just as much force. “Even when I knew I shouldn’t.”

JD fired it back. “It was my problem to deal with.”

 This time Max held the ball. “Do you remember what you said to me on my ninth birthday?”

JT’s brow furrowed his green eyes traveling to the necklace lying against Max’s shirt. “That was a long time ago.”

JT had a mind like a camera lens, capturing everything in finite detail. Max didn’t share his best friend’s freakish ability, yet that one moment was forever etched in his memory-JT holding the leather cord out to him, pointing to the matching one around his own neck. “Now you and me are the same.”  JT might have been talking about the cords, but the words had taken on a life of their own for Max. “If someone messes with you, they’re messing with me, too. That’s just the way it is.”

JT sighed. “So this is all my fault?”

Max grinned, tossing the ball back to his friend. “That’s always my story. I’m sticking to it.”

JT caught it, placing it back in its spot on his desk before turning his gaze to Max. “I knew you were going to do it before the game even started.”

Max leaned forward, elbows on his knees. “You going all psychic on me?”

“It’s what I would have done had the situation been reversed.”

Max felt the knots in his stomach start to loosen for the first time since leaving the ball park. “Really?”

“I would have had a better plan, and not so many witnesses, but yeah.”

Max laughed.  “Without witnesses where’s the glory? I might as well have clobbered him in a dark parking lot.”

“Should I point out that our dads would have never had a clue and you wouldn’t be facing eminent grounding if that had been the case?”

“It could have gone unsaid, Dude.”

JT smirked. “Sorry.”

“Yeah.” Max nodded. “Me too.”

Max had a feeling growing up wasn’t going to always go like he planned, but as long as he had the people he loved in his corner, he’d finish the game honorably. 


A/N: For those who have asked for a peak at the girls, Tidia has a future Joshua Chronicle coming up that is too cute. Keep an eye out at The Tomb.  I’m working on a pre-series Father’s Day fic. Keep your fingers crossed.