Of His Own Creation

By: Tidia

Disclaimer: Brotherhood Legacy


JT opened the door, and stayed by Max's side as they climbed the stairs.  They had been on a hunt, Max thrown by a wendigo, bruised and a cracked rib along with spraining his ankle when he was trying to compensate on the hike back.  But, they had gotten the wendigo and JT was fine.  Max would count it as a success once he had a good night sleep. 


When they made it to the top of the stairs, JT suddenly tried to block his way.  "Did you leave anything in the car, Max?"  He asked very loudly, although Max was in front of him, nursing a headache keeping in time with the throbbing in his ribs.


"No," Max replied pushing JT out of the way, then held onto the doorframe when he saw the sight in front of him.


His little sister was pulling on her clothes as was James.  "What the hell is going on?" He bellowed, knowing exactly what had happened, but still caught off guard without an appropriate reaction.


"I can explain," James said, his face disappearing for a moment as he put on his t-shirt, inside out.


Max stepped inside, forgetting his injuries as anger replaced exhaustion. "How long has this been going on?"


Josie had her back turned as she was buttoning up her dress. "It started after Grandpa died." 


"We've been keeping it a secret." James took a hesitant step forward, then seemed to rethink his proximity to Max.


Max made up the difference in a few strides, an arm going across his chest.  Josie put her hand up, the buttons of her dress askew. "God, Max, stop being such a child.  I'm an adult."


"You're my sister." Max glowered at James who had the sense to flinch.  "He's part of the next Triad and you're going to be a leader in the coven.  How is that a good idea?"


JT grabbed his arm- Max didn't know if it was because of his fear for hitting James or to pull him away from the situation.


Josie pushed herself between Max and James. "This is none of your business. It's between me and James."


"I think it's better if you go, Josie," JT ordered her. 


She threw back her hair, grabbed her shoes in one hand, gave James a quick kiss, then glared at her brother.  James rubbed a hand over his face.


"How long have you known?" Max diverted his attention to his best friend.  When there was no answer he pressed further, "And why didn't you tell me?"


"I-" JT stuttered, then released Max's arm.  "I'm sorry."


Max pulled his arm away as if he had been burned, but the motion reignited his ribs and his ankle responded in kind.  He limped toward the door, hefting his bag that JT had left by the door.


"Wait, Max, where are you going?" JT called out.  "You're hurt. . ."  He ran to the doorway.


"Out," Max replied as he went as quickly as he could down the stairs.


It was early Saturday in the morning, and in the restaurant business it meant high volume dinner crowd. There was a backroom in Sawyer's which housed a couch, a recliner and a small bathroom with a shower stall.  Max could fit on the recliner to take a nap like he had done in the past.   He didn't sleep much, deciding to get an early start on preparing. There wouldn't be much for his sous chefs to do today.  He was also changing the specials—some spicy, hot dish and something sour.


By 2 AM, the restaurant was closed, he sent his hostesses home for the night, and his ribs and ankle were killing him.  He pulled down the metal grate and locking the door.  He limped to the back, passing the mural Uncle Caleb had painted of his favorite rock climbing place in Nutcracker, California.  JT had donated framed pictures that appeared over the booths that lined one wall, taken of crafting sites he had visited with Max and his family. None of his patrons knew the significance, just that photographs were amazing. Quite a few had been sold. 


He went to the bar and filled a bucket of ice.  His ankle would need it along with a salve.  Max did not have the energy to make one now, there was some back at home, but he was unsure what his plans were for the moment.  The kitchen was clean, as he did a final run through and the recliner was calling his name until the service buzzer rang.


Max knew he was not getting a delivery this late.  He grabbed a knife from the butcher block, ready for an altercation just in case as he slid the lock and opened the door.


"Uncle Caleb?" Max lowered the knife.  "They called you?"


Caleb entered as Max put the knife back in its place, then shut the door.


"Of course they called. They're worried about you." His Uncle subjected him to scrutiny. "JT said you were hurt."


Max shifted his weight off his ankle.  "It's nothing." 


"So you heading home?" 


Max shook his head, and moved towards his back office.  His limp giving away his injury, he grabbed the ice bucket he had filled earlier.  He stretched into the recliner with a sigh.


Uncle Caleb pulled up his pant leg. "This is fine?" Caleb removed the Crocs he wore when he was in the kitchen- ugly and embarrassing, but comfortable for cooking. "Ribs bothering you much?"


Max opened one eye.  "Killing me."


Caleb left the room, returning with a rustling noise that Max could not fathom until the ice wrapped in plastic was placed on his ankle.  Another was deposited on his ribs.


"You should get Ben to check it out."


He was not going near another Winchester brother for awhile.  "I can have Ryker help me out if need be."  He grew up with Ryker too at the coven, and he knew a lot about healing herbs. "Did you know?" Max asked, broaching the conversation that had his uncle traveling to him. 


Caleb took a seat on the coach, stretching his legs on the coffee table.  "No, I didn't.  James keeps his blocks up, and I make it a point to stay out of the girls' heads. It is a very scary place." His uncle cleared his throat. "James called Dean and told him."


It brought Max back to full alertness. "How did that go?"


"Dean told his son he hoped he realized he was going to have to marry Josie because he would be affecting the whole family if this went bad." Caleb grinned. "James is freaking out."


"What about my dad?" Max shifted up, making sure the ice stayed in place.  It was at least numbing the pain he felt.


"Josie's going to call him tomorrow.  I am going to pay him a visit, too, try to smooth over his feathers."


He hadn't spent time alone with his father in a long time.  He would have to plan a climbing vacation soon-they could both use the break. "Dad likes James, but he's not going to like the fact they kept it a secret so long."


Caleb crossed his ankles. "Like father, like son."


"Yeah, I guess so." Max removed the ball cap he kept on while he cooked and tugged the cord from his hair.  "Is this what it's going to be like, Uncle Caleb? What being the odd man out feels like? Blood thicker than water, because they will always be brothers, and I won't be."


Caleb planted his feet back on the floor, moved closer to Max. "Kid, I've been there. It's not like that."


Max looked up at the white plaster ceiling, noticing the water stain.  "I asked my dad about it." They had a few conversations, especially in light of the way the coven treated his father as a respected leader. "I noticed you guys treated him differently, but I thought it was because he was The Advisor.  He said he was honored to be associated with The Triad and felt included, but that it wasn't always like that." 


"Dude, I'm related to Joshua."


"You're step-brothers." Max didn’t know if it counted when your parents married when you were older. "I always try to treat Ryker like he's one of us, because he is one of us, but JT and James don't feel the same way, especially when it comes to me."


"Kid, there were some days that I thought that Dean would step over me to get to Sam, some days that he did."  Caleb rubbed his forehead.


Max's energy was waning -- not enough sleep, somewhat hurt, and working all day was catching up to him. He turned his head. "What did he do?"


Caleb licked his lips, then gave a half grin. "When Sam was younger he accidentally shot me and Dean took the blame for it.  A total cover up."


The water stain was looking enticing again.  He would never have thought that was possible with JT and James, but now he was not so sure. "That would pretty much suck."


"I understood I was second when it came to the Winchester brothers, but there were times when Sam would get jealous of the relationship that Dean and I have." Caleb leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees.  "There are some things you only share with your best friend.  There's that saying- you can't choose your family, but you can choose your friends."


"But that's not the motto of The Triad.  You're The Knight; you're supposed to be a team, a family."  Max had no doubts where his loyalty lay. It was shaking that he could no longer be sure JT and James were of the same understanding. "Maybe Ben should be the next Knight?"


Caleb shook his head. "Have you seen him use a sword?  The guy's a menace."


Max was not in the mood to be cheered up. "He's their brother."

"I chose you," Caleb remarked.  "Dude, I'm sorry this happened. Your dad was worried you would be treated differently from Dean's sons. But you're the same to me, maybe not, because you are my protégé."


He spent extra time with his uncle once he was told he was going to be The Knight, just as James spent time with Sam and JT with his father.  "I think that is why he made Dean your godfather, so that there is a connection." 


Max had heard the conversation before.  Caleb was everyone else's godfather, but his. "You still resent that?"


"Yes." Caleb kept his face serious. “Believe it or not, you were a big deal. The first boy. I was family, and Dean was already the godfather of the entire Brotherhood."


Max's mouth twitched. "Sorry, man, but Dad made a well-played move. Dean is The Guardian."


"Your Dad is a pretty smart guy." Caleb eased back into the sofa; put his feet up on the coffee table.


Max sighed.  His father was not his problem. "So what should I do?"


"I can't tell you that."


Fair enough.  He was well past being an adult.  "What did you do?"


"Dean counts on me to make up for things Sam lacks, the same with Sam." Caleb crossed his hands behind his head in a makeshift pillow. "I made an effort to reach out to Sam, too. We took up bowling.”


Max snorted. "I'm not bowling for anyone."


"I'm not asking you to. You and the lady's man already have a thing-golf." Caleb faked a shudder. 


It brought up another image to Max's mind. "I wouldn’t mind using my nine iron with James right about now."


Caleb was not going to let him go down the vindictive road. "The point is if I didn't accept how things were, and understand it, then look what I would have missed."


Max sighed. He needed to close his eyes for a few minutes. "Point taken.


"I do think you have it worse – I imagine that Sam and I would have gotten more into it if we had been closer in age."  Caleb shrugged. "Get some sleep.  I got this watch," Caleb said, and Max relaxed into the recliner.


He awoke to murmurings; took a moment to get his senses back online. His uncle was still here, the ice on his ankle was not completely melted, the same with his ribs, meaning Caleb had changed it sometime during the night.


He pushed off from the recliner.  The least he could do for his uncle in return was make Caleb breakfast.  His slipped on his Crocs, and went out to the kitchen. Uncle Caleb and JT were waiting for him.


"Hey, how you doing?" JT had the baseball hat in his hand, twisting the bill, folding it and unfolding it in a nervous habit.


Max didn’t answer right away, ignoring the question and opening the industrial size refrigerator. "I'm good."


He was looking at the food, but not making any connections with it.  In frustration he took out the basket of fresh eggs.  One of the coven members brought him a weekly delivery. He thumped them on the stainless steel counter, and hoped he only broke a few.


"I'm really sorry. James made me promise, and convinced me that it wasn't my business to say anything." JT had moved closer, but still stayed out of touching range.  "He's my little brother, and he was afraid what would happen."


Max turned around. "JT, I'm the next Knight.  I'd do anything for you and James, put down my life for you, and I thought we were like brothers, and you could tell me anything."  He was not going to take another step towards his best friend.  "No secrets, remember?"


JT reached out and grabbed his forearm. "You don't think I wanted to tell you? I tried, but there was never a good time to come out and say that my brother was dating your sister.   I told both of them to come clean, but they wouldn't."


"You were afraid I was going to hurt James."  Max let JT's hand stay, but he did not return it.


JT looked back at Caleb, before bringing his gaze back to Max.  "You have a temper, and I didn't want you to do anything you would regret. You live with James; we're the next Triad. . ."


"And Josie's my baby sister," Max reminded JT.  "He should have asked.  He should have talked to me about it."


"And you would have been okay with it?" JT's eyes narrowed.  "What if I wasn't there to break it up?" 


Max was taken aback with JT's reply.  JT was always in the middle of Max's and James's arguments, which usually resulted in wrestling and fighting.  He always played peacemaker. Max smirked.  "You may not believe it, but eventually I would have been okay with it. Maybe like in 20 years or so."


JT snorted, and patted Max's arm.  "James is really sorry.  I am, too. I promise this won't happen again."


He understood what his best friend was saying; there would be no secrets between them. "I only have one sister, JT," Max replied.  He looked behind his uncle for the other visitor that had to be lurking.  "Where's James?"


"Waiting outside for the all clear," Caleb replied, picking up an apple from the basket of fruit as he walked past them to the backdoor. He patted JT on the back.


Caleb opened the door to reveal James wearing his overcoat, leaning against the wall.  "Maybe you want to try The Four Seasons?  Or have you been to Florida?" James looked up when he noticed the door had been opened.  "Good luck, and remember the light is good."


James stepped in looking a mess, very disheveled for a person with a usual neat, preppy appearance.


"Who were you talking to?" Caleb asked as he peaked out and looked around before shutting the door.


"A homeless man, died in the 1983." James shrugged, and waved a hand to towards his temple.  When James was under stress, his blocks and abilities became faulty.


"Does he want to be salted and burned?" JT asked, always sympathetic first.


"No, he's fine." James would not meet Max's eyes, but answered his brother.  "Harmless."


Caleb tapped the back of his head.  "My favorite nephew and I are going to the bar for a drink. Do you have Bloody Mary mix?"


"Check the refrigerator," Max replied as they cleared his kitchen leaving him alone with James.


Max paced back and forth, eyeing his knives.  He watched James crumble beneath the scrutiny. His uncle had taught him to be menacing when needed, he never said he could not use it against family.


"I'm sorry that I am dating your sister." James looked at his shoes while making the lacking apology.


"Is that it?” Max bit out.  It was a sucky apology.


James looked up momentarily. "Umm, and that I didn't tell you."


Max gestured with his hand that he needed more. "What else?"


James opened and closed his mouth, then frowned.  He rested against the stainless steel table. "That's about it."


Max reached out and gripped the table, shaking it.  James wasn't allowed to relax. "What about JT?"


James frowned.  Then moved further away from Max, realizing he was the prey. "What about him? He's having a Bloody Mary."


The kitchen was open, so the occupants of the main dining room could hear them.  Max also knew that Caleb was keeping tabs on them psychically. He lowered his voice, "You made him promise not to tell me."


"He's my brother." James took a breath, locked a steely gaze on Max.  "He wants me alive and well."


Max pointed at James, but did not touch him.  If he laid hands on the next Scholar now it would end in bloodshed. He felt a tick in his facial muscles as he gritted his teeth. "He's the next Guardian and you're playing him."


"Pot, kettle, black." James said each word slowly, rested his hand back on the table.


Max placed his strong grip on top of James's hand.  James tried to remove it, but Max was secure.  "I'm not playing JT, but fine, it stops now."


"And me and Josie? Are you going to have the same attitude?" James remained still.


Max exhaled, feeling his nostrils flare. "Is she a one night stand?"


"No." James's eyes glanced away. "We've been together for awhile."


"So you have feelings for her." Max released his grip somewhat.


James pulled his hand away. "Max, can you just hit me or something. Please?" He groaned, lifted his chin out. "Just take your best shot."


Max gave James's face a slight double tap. "I'm not going to do that, but if you hurt her in anyway . . ." He never wanted to see his sister upset or have a broken heart. It may be irrational of him, but he wanted to protect her.


James rubbed his cheek. "Do you know your sister?  You should be worried about me."


"Jimmy-" Max growled, and it was effective.


"I'm not going to hurt her." James put his hands up.


Max backed up to the refrigerator, opening the door and going to the ingredients he needed.  "I'm going to make breakfast and you're welcome to stay."


"Will you make Grand Marnier French Toast?" James asked for his favorite breakfast.


Not all was forgiven, and in no way was Max prepared to be nice to James. "That's off the menu permanently." He raised an eyebrow and James had the good sense to look sheepish. "You two can come back into my kitchen now," Max announced.


JT stood in the doorway for a moment, Caleb behind him.  He looked worried, probably expecting to find some sort of bloodshed.  He grinned when he found they were fine.


"I told you so," Uncle Caleb remarked, patting JT on the back.


"Told him what?" James asked, taking interest in what Max was whisking together.  Max lifted flicked some of the omelet mixture at James.


"That you would be setting a date soon."  JT smiled, remained near Caleb.  "According to Dad, you two are going to be in-laws soon." JT pointed to Max and his brother.


"That's, that's, no, and even if that did happen, which it is not, it would not be for a really long time, decades even," James sputtered. “I have oats to sow.”


Uncle Caleb walked over to the knives, and blocked Max from accessing them.


James must have caught on that his antics were to his detriment. "But, whoever she marries will be a lucky man.  She's a great girl with a great brother."  


Max shook his head at the blatant sucking up.  "I’d come up with something better to say to my dad." He gestured for his uncle to pass him a knife.  He held up the tomato he needed to chop.


Caleb passed him the knife and answered James, "I’d make it quick, Slick. Your dad thought it was a good idea for you ride to Josh’s with me tomorrow to explain yourself in person. I called Carolyn; she’s going to make dinner.”


“I think it would be wise to give the situation some time, to give Joshua some space to think things over.” James crossed his arms over his chest. “I’ll pass.”


“Now your logic kicks in?” JT snorted. “You should have been thinking with your bigger brain earlier in the game, Bro.”


Max let the knife slap against the cutting board much harder than he needed to. Caleb cleared his throat. “It wasn’t a request, James.”


James rubbed his neck. “Can I at least enjoy my last meal without you three gloating?”


JT took the seat next to James. “You’ve made the last few months hell for me. I deserve some kind of reward.” He shoved an elbow into his brother’s side.


“That goes double for me,” Max said with a quick look over his shoulder as he put the eggs in a hot pan and layering the tomatoes on top.


Caleb leaned against the table near the Winchester brothers. “I’m just really enjoying the reaffirmation that I made the right choice about having children.”


“I didn’t mean for anyone to get hurt.” James wrapped his arms around his head.


“That’s why we’ll forgive you.”  JT tagged his brother again, but it was gentler with a lack of epitaph from James.


“Eventually,” Max growled. He knew he would be revved up when his father found out what Josie had been up to with James. 


“That’s what Triads do, right Uncle Caleb?”  JT asked as Max added some herbs to the frittata before he flipped it.


Caleb flashed Max a smile. “That’s what families do.”