The Maxwell Thomas Project
Chapter Ten
Eric Case

Legal Stuff
The following story contains descriptions of graphic sexual acts between two consenting male teenagers.. if you don't quite get what that means... THIS IS A STORY ABOUT GAY PEOPLE! It is a "fictional" story, and any likeness to events which may have happened in real life is coincidental. This story should not be read by people under the age of 18, homophobes, or if it is illegal to view material of a sexual nature wherever you are.
Copyright 2000 The BookCASE - Eric Case. Do not post this story to any website other than the bookcase with the exception of the Nifty Archive, or ASSGM without permission from the author.. me. Just ask and you'll get it; I wanna keep track of where it's posted is all.

To those whom it may interest, this story, and all my others - some of which won't be on nifty - are available at my website "The BookCASE", so you can check it out and let me know what ya think. Oh and if ya go puleeaaze sign the guest book! :) - The BookCASE

Okay so it's kinda taken me a LONG time to get this, the final chapter of Maxwell Thomas, out to all of you. I've been on vacation away from home for most of the summer, and subsequently it's been kinda hard to keep up with writing as well as keep up with answering emails. I know I've said before that I try to answer all my email but in this case I'm really gonna have to say I'm sorry to everyone who's written me in the last couple months cause even though I have read each and every one of them, it comes down to writing my stories, or answering my email and if I don't write I'm gonna get even MORE email asking me to write lol. I'm gonna honestly try to answer some of the 200+ messages but I can't promise I'll get to everyone's. If you sent me a substantial one then chances are better you'll get a reply but I'll hafta

Chapter 10:

The clouds seemed to part just enough to let the sunlight fall onto the field giving it a golden hue. It had already rained that day making the field soft as the team took the field. The warm-up stretches were done in silence as even the captains refused to speak until the game began. Even Coach Harrison seemed to take on a totally different attitude. It was championship time, and the team now had all the pressure on them as the news of the gay trainer had spread. The stand they had taken was the talk of both their school, and the school of their opponents.

"It's gonna rain," Leo remarked to no one in particular as he and Max stood at the door to the locker room.

"Looks like it," Max said nodding. "All the eyes are gonna be on us today and a lot of people are expecting us to blow it now," Max said turning his head to look at Leo who just shrugged.

"Don't much matter who's lookin'. All they gonna see is us slaughta these fools," Leo replied in a matter-of-fact flat tone. They might have been downplaying their nervousness to each other, but from where I was seated just inside the door I could tell both were nervous. "Shiiiit," Leo said drawing out the word in his Texas twang as he and Max watched the first drops of rain start to fall.

"We still play as long as there's not lightning," Max said distantly as he stared up at the sky. "Plus the sun's still shining. Can't argue with that!" He continued coming back to earth/

The whole atmosphere had a beautiful effect since even though there was rain falling onto the field, the air was still lit with the small amount of light piercing it's way through the break in the clouds. "Even the folks up in heaven comin to watch this game," Leo said with a smile and a chuckle.

"Yeah maybe my mom's watchin," Max said with a half smile. Leo's eyes cast their gaze to the ground as he realized the implications of what he'd said. "Hey don't worry about it," Max said popping him on the shoulder with an open palm and getting a nod from Leo. Leo's gaze turned to stare over Max's left shoulder and I turned my focus to the man standing a few paces behind Max.

Max stood there looking a little misty-eyed with an awkward look on his face. "Uh.. hey dad," he said finally.

"Hey Max," his dad said after taking a short breath. "Look I uh... I just wanted to come over and tell you how very proud of you I am. You're more of a man than I'll ever be, and I'm gonna try to change, I promise you I will," he said trailing off then slouched his shoulders. Max's dad seemed to snap to attention again suddenly and pulled a plastic bag out of his coat and held it out for Max. "I thought you might want this. I thought it might give you a little extra luck."

Max reached out and took hold of the bag and opened it up to look inside. When he saw his lucky turtle-neck inside he caught his breath and smiled looking up at his dad, then grabbed the man into a big hug as a few tears broke loose from his eyes and cascaded down his strong face. "Thanks dad," he said giving an extra squeeze.

"No Maxwell, thank you," his father said. "Now go give 'em hell. I'll be rootin' for ya."

"Locker room!" Yelled Coach Harrison. Max shot his dad a quick smile as he turned to head to the locker room and I noticed the deep sigh Max's dad let out as he watched Max jog lightly toward the tunnel entrance.

The team assembled in the locker room having stretched out and listened to the coaches give their pep-talk. The players seemed ready but at the same time, they didn't have the same level of vibrancy I was now accustomed to seeing. It was like they were ready for the game, but still a little nervous. Not intimidated by their opponent, but by what the game meant. The team split into offense and defense and I stayed close to Max listening intently to the eleven positions' responsibilities for the day and after the defensive coordinator had gone through the positions the team broke down for a prayer and then sat in silence as they waited for game time.

I sat there looking around the locker room at the guys who couldn't sit still. It seemed the longer we waited the more nervous players were getting. There wasn't much I could do since it wasn't my place to address the team so I sat silently thinking about all I'd read in the last two days getting ready for this game on player technique. I figured I was just about ready when the red light went on above the locker-room door. "Time to go gentlemen!" Max said standing up. The team waited in thenarrow tunnel that went from the players area, under the south stands onto the field. I walked out of the locker room with the rest of the coaches and support staff as we made our way to the bench, then the loud speaker came on. The team would form a large huddle at center field that sat at the end of a tunnel of cheerleaders and the players would make their way down the tunnel as their names were announced.

"Ladies and gentlemen," the voice began. "Welcome to the Eagle County Football League Championship game. The visiting Borland Bulldogs have already taken the field lead by their head coach Marvin Atkinson. And now we are proud to announce your home team heros, the Westfield High Nighthawks!" The announcer then went down the list of names and positions with their jersey numbers and the players ran down the tunnel. The cheers weren't all that loud since most of the fans from the high school had given up on the team since their decision to keep me as their manager saying the fags would never win. Some of the people had been cool about it though and their applause were greatly appreciated.

The first half seemed to go by in a hazy mist of defensive missed tackles and offensive screw-ups. Our own classmates laughed at our mistakes and did little to instill that Nighthawk Pride for which our school had been so well-known. The Bulldogs were roughing us up pretty badly and I could tell Max was hurt even though he was one of the few players who never visibly let up. He just hadn't kicked it into that higher gear yet.

At halftime we were trailing 28-10 and were close to the breaking point. Coach Harrison was absolutely livid and sent the team to the locker room saying "you guys can go in there and sort this out! I've got nothing more I can say. If you wanna win this game you're gonna have to pull yourselves together and work!"

With that the team broke into a slow jog towards the tunnel and assembled in the locker room after hearing the laughter from the stands. Once in the locker room the players started little arguments about who missed what and when. I looked nervously at Max who I could tell was pissed. He looked to Leo who looked around the room and stood up. "Would y'all SHUT UP?!!" He bellowed silencing the room.  

"We're gonna have to stop this in-fighting bullshit guys. We all know a lot's riding on this game. That first half was damn sad. We all know it. We fucked up, but we've been here before. This is only my second season on the team and I already think of you as a part of my family. I love all of you like brothers. Everyone in this room has worked their asses off this season and we've all earned the right to play on this team. One of the guys in here isn't a player though... but he's as much a part of this team as anyone else. Leo, me, Marvin, Daniels, everyone. When things went sour at school this week, we almost left him behind. We almost forgot to keep our family together, but we woke up before it was too late and we're back. We're strong, we're ready and we're the best. This game's about more than the players on the field today. Lord knows if we mess up we're gonna be a laughing stock, and we'll hear a lot of jokes, but more importantly we will have crumbled under the pressure put on us from the outside. NO ONE pulls us down. NOTHING makes us crumble. We are the best team to ever take the field under our team's banner and when we win today it'll be for us. Our supporters have left us. Half our schoolmates and "fans" are here to watch us get slaughtered. We've got no one but the people in this room right now. We leave no one behind. We let no one fall down, and if they do we're damn sure gonna help them up!" Max said his voice growing in volume and depth. Now when we win this game today... when we kick the hell outta this other team and win it. We're gonna win it for Jared, Westfield Highschool, The Nighthawks, and Nighthawk Pride! Yes we're down but still we'll rise from the ashes, because we're a team. Together, as we've proven all season, nothing can stop us, and no one can defeat us!" And with that the team rose to it's feat cheering and screaming.

I looked around the room and could easily see the fire was back. The twelve pistons were warming up and starting their rhythmic churning. Even I was excited and though deep down I had doubted our chances of a win. Now I was almost sure that the next two quarters would be a big come back for the Nighthawks, but hey, who knew?


The second half began as we attempted to claw our way back from our seventeen point deficit, and for awhile we did pretty well. In the second half we managed to put 14 points on the board and held the Bulldogs to a scoreless quarter, but going into the forth quarter still trailing 28-24, we gave up another touchdown. One thing that had changed, though, was our fans. In the second half they started getting some life back into them as they saw the score starting to equalize and began to cheer for us. This raised Max's spirits until the Bulldogs started taking cheap shots whenever he made a tackle. Every time he hit the ground in a pile, fists and feet would be hitting him, and the refs were blind to the whole thing.

At the 6 minute mark of the third quarter Max and his defense were on the sidelines watching the offense run the ball as best they could when I pulled Max off to the side, thankful that it was raining hard enough to hide my tears as he dropped to one knee next to me. "Max come out of the game, you're gonna get really hurt if you stay in!" I said in a pleading tone. My voice was shaky and I could help but shiver just a bit as the cold of the air and nervous energy of the close game got to me.

"We gotta win," Max said shaking his head putting some of the weight of his upper body onto one arm rested firmly on the ground. "If we don't you can't be the manager next year," he continued.

"No Max, Coach Harrison said that whether we win or lose today I can stay on next season," I said grabbing Max's free arm.

"It's mroe than that Jared!" Max said raising his eyes quickly to meet mine. "This game's about more than just you being manager now, but that's still what it's all about... I can't explain it, but I have to stay in."

"But you're gonna get hurt!"

"I'm already hurt," Max said standing defiantly, "but I owe it to myself and the team to knock the piss outta these guys! And once we've got them beaten beyond the point of a come-back, maybe I'll think about leaving!"

Max almost seemed to grow as he shook off the pain in his shoulders and turned to walk back to where Coach Harrison stood. I heard a brief exchange of words along with Max nodding as he fastened his helmet back on moving his arms awkwardly. "It looks like Maxwell Thomas is coming back into the game," came the voice over the loudspeakers of the stadium. The Westfield fans rose cheering as their hardworking champion faked confidence reaching his huddle. I could see he was in pain even if everyone else was too caught up in the game, as Max's name was announced and he jogged back onto the field.

The defense held for four downs and the offense marched down the field for a touchdown leaving us with a 35-35 tie game with just over a minute remaining. The kickoff team took the field and ran an onside kick and recovered the loose ball when Leo jumped up and snatched the floater out of the air.. The celebrations were short lived as the offense got down to business and tried to drive into field-goal range, but on second and 3 with under a minute left, they fumbled the ball.

"Shit! Fumble?!" Aawww MAN!" Max said angrily from the sidelines as ref signaled first-down Bulldogs. "We just recovered the onside kick and then we fumble!"

"Damn we're gonna need one of those patented Max Thomas turnovers," Charlie said slapping Max on the shoulder.

"They execute every play perfectly," Max said frustrated during the brief moment that he wasn't drinking water and panting to catch his breath. "I can't read their offense, they're not giving me anything to pick up on. Their runningbacks look at the ground until the ball's snapped, their O-line is straight in their stance, the receivers don't even look in at the quarterback. I can't call anything cause I can't see anything!"

"Just chill Max. Aint no amount of complainin' gon' fix it. We gotta deal with this and deal with it right all day all night baby!" Leo said trying to cool Max down.

"Max," I said quietly, resting my hand lightly on Max's left arm. He turned his eyes to meet mine and let some of the tension out of his shoulders and nodded waiting for me to continue. "The only play they get any yards off of to the inside is that pro-pass they've thrown 4 times. Their tight-ends make up their whole receiving game and even though we're down, we're holding their running game down pretty well. It's just the double-option pro-passes they run from their two tight-end set, and that number 88's pattern out to the flat."

"Yeah I know, but on the pass to the flat, it's a delayed route and by the time he leaves I've checked him and moved on. Anderson's down so we have that rookie covering the tight-end and this shit... this stuff ain't workin."

"Yeah but the tight-end number 88 is totally giving his plays away," I said, my smile broadening as Max's head tilted slightly. "When he's blocking for the run, his head is always tilted down more than when he goes for a pass. When it's a passing play, his heads up just a bit more and he's reading the defensive backs to find the soft spot on his route, and when it's that pass to the flat, his right foot is back about a half foot further than when it's the pro-pass cause with the flat he's gotta open up with that right foot so he trails it back more."

Max's smile broadened as he replayed the game in his mind then looked down at me and smiled. "You picked that out from the sidelines?" Max asked smiling quizzically.

"Yupyup you betcha," I answered happily like a Jack Russell terrier to his big buddy the Rotty.

Max snapped up his chin strap and with a wink headed back to the sideline calling over his shoulder "I love you little man."

The defensive huddle broke and the players jogged to their positions as the Bulldogs' offense came to the line. "Strength right!" Max yelled. "Bravo, Charlie, one, one," Max continued calling the inside linebackers to blitz. Then he set his focus on the tight-end watching intently and glancing back and forward between the QB and number 88. "Gotcha," Max said as he shifted to the right over the tight-end. The center snapped the ball when John Reynolds, the Bulldog QB finally called hut and the play began. Max dropped back into a short hook zone but let the tailback go past him, instead focusing on number 88 who had blocked down on the defensive end. He waited patiently as he watched the tight-end slide off of Christianson our defensive end, and started sprinting to the flat. Max scraped out with him keeping a fair distance until the QB turned and fired the ball towards 88. In the blink of an eye 88 touched the ball, Max flattened him, the ball came loose, and Max picked it out of mid air. "BINGO!!!!!" Max yelled signaling the interception and he sprinted towards the goal-line. The runningback managed to catch Max about ten yards into the backfield, but only slowed Max's progress while Max rumbled his way towards the end zone, gathering a couple more Bulldogs as he went until he reached the five yard line. Max took two more steps and fell forward reaching out with the ball so that it just crossed the goal-line.

The referee blew the play dead and Max got up onto his elbows waiting for the pile to get off of his back when 88 from the Bulldogs jumped onto the pile knocking several players back onto the pile with him. The ensuing cry that came from the bottom of the pile turned everyone's head. It was Max, and the list of expletives that left his mouth were enough to turn several faces white. Max nearly always stayed composed on the field, and if he was making as much noise as he was at that point, something was definitely wrong. "Get off of me!" Max bellowed. "Ahhhhh God! Get the fuck off of me!!!"

"Oh shit," I heard Leo yell. "Coach! Max is down!" The pile finally separated itself and got up, and the refs came running over. The head referee grabbed 88 by the sleeve and told him he was out of the game. Max was up on his knees with his facemask buried in the grass shaking by now shifting his weight forward and back. He rolled over onto his back with his arms folded oddly on his chest. Leo knelt next to his captain as if to protect him from danger and waited for the Coach and trainer to come out onto the field. I followed closely behind Coach Harrison as he made his way onto the field.

"Make sure you tell them! Jared made the call!" Max said through gritted teeth.

"Yeah Max I'll tell em," Leo said resting a hand on Maxwell's shoulder. "I'll see you in awhile."

Leo backed off to the huddle and the EMS worked reached Max. "What's hurting?" he asked.

"Everything," Max gasped as tears ran freely from his eyes. My eyes welled too as I, for the first time ever, saw true fear in Max's eyes.

"Let's get him out of his equipment," the EMS worker said taking out a pair of scissors.

"No don't cut my jersey!" Max said quickly.

"We want to get you out of your equipment Max. If you need to go to the hospital you don't want the jersey to get lost there do you?" Harrison asked playing with Max. Max looked at the EMS worker (the trainer) and nodded. He quickly cut the jersey up the sides and unstrapped the shoulder pads. Max's helmet and shoulder pads were then removed leaving his already-swollen shoulders visible. His shoulders were both swollen where his clavicle met his acromion at the acromioclavicular joint, which looked like shoulder separation and his left shoulder was out of it's socket. Then his left collar bone was bent at an odd angle and came to a point jutting slightly outwards in the middle. 

"Two separated shoulders, one is also dislocated, and this here looks to me like a broken clavicle," The EMS worker said quietly.

"Ohhh God," Max groaned with his eyes clenched tightly shut. Tears rolled from them freely as his legs continued to writhe.

"I can put his arm back in here, or he can ride to the hospital with it still out, it's up to him," the EMS worker said looking at Max's arm. "I think it might only be partially out of the socket - subluxation, so if we shift it, it should go back in."

"Just do it!" Max said grinding his teeth.

"Okay," the trainer said. He moved Max's arm slightly getting a deep growl from Max who dug his left foot into the ground and pushed, ripping up a large piece of turf

"Better bring the ambulance and get him taken off in the stretcher," Coach Harrison said to the Event Medical Services worker who radioed the ambulance to come out along the track. The ambulance workers brought out the stretcher.

"Okay let's get him on. Get him on the gurney and we'll lift him onto the stretcher," The EMS guy said standing up.

"No," Max said quickly. Then to the relief and joy of the fans Max sat up. Those who were seated rose quickly to their feet. Even the Bulldogs' fans stood and applauded as Max looked up at Coach Harrison. "Just help me stand up and I'll walk over."

"We're not supposed to do that," the EMS worker said quickly, but Max wouldn't take no for an answer and refused to be strapped to a board. Rather than wrestle him down, they helped Max stand, and he walked slowy to the stretcher a few yards away and sat down swinging his feet up. Once he was on his way to the ambulance, the coaches, attendants and I started back towards the sidelines with the stretcher.

"Hey COACH," Max yelled.

"Yeah Max?" Coach Harrison answered turning his head.

"Make sure you don't let anyone get a hold of my jersey! That's got championship victory on it!" Max said with a big smile as we reached the sideline. He was greeted by the rest of the team who shared looks of worry that changed to smiles as they saw Max sitting happily on the stretcher. His shoulders were starting to get even more swollen and bruises were visible all over his body but somehow he seemed able to tune out the pain putting on yet another show of strength and will for the players and fans. As he was loaded into the ambulance he shouted to keep his cup warm referring to the championship trophy. With that, the doors were closed, the ambulance left, and the extra point was good leaving us with a 41-35 lead over the Bulldogs with  25 seconds left on the clock. We made our final kickoff deep so that the Dogs would have to try to score from their own 15 yard line in just two plays.

Leo led the defense out onto the field, after having given them a quick pep-talk about keeping Max's touchdown unanswered, and as the final seconds ticked off the scoreboard, the fans went nuts. We had done it! Despite all the jokes and all the wisecracks the Nighthawks had downed the Bulldogs. We were the county champions, and the sideline went nuts. Slaps on the back, hugs, and tears of joy broke loose between our players. The other sideline reflected the dejection of the loss as their players shed their own tears, though they had no root in joy. The two teams met at center field and shook hands. I stood near Coach Harrison and Leo as they exchanged words, and then we made our way off the field through the tunnel to the cheering fans singing the Nighthawks fight song.

"Well that's the season," Leo said quietly.

"Yup we finally won the championship," I answered happily.

"Ehn, I dunno J-man. I hate seeing the end of the season win or lose," Leo said shrugging.

"Why's that?" I asked puzzled.

He slowed down and let the rest of the players pass us. "This is the last time that we all are ever gon' play together again. Ten of our players are seniors so they're moving on. Tonight's party time, and the whole weekend will be big celebrations, and next week will be nice with school and all, but our season's over. Next Friday we turn in our equipment and some of us start thinking about our team nex' year. Others gon' start thinkin' more about college. Averman aint back next year, and aint goin to college so this his last season."

"You're back next year though right Leo?" I asked.

"I s'pose," Leo said. "Long as don't nothin go wrong between now and then."

"Well," I paused. "At least you're coming back next year, so you and Max will still be playing together for another year."

"Yeah," Leo said quietly. "Once we're finished in here, you and me'll go over to the hospital to see how he's doing."

My heart sank all in an instant as I remembered the fact that Max was on his way to the hospital.

*    *    *

I knocked on the door to Max's room and entered closing the door behind me as Max told me to come in. Leo and I had gone to the hospital and Max had been released since his injuries weren't life-threatening. His left arm was in a sling, while his right was free. It had turned out his right shoulder wasn't separated, it had just been a strained deltoid that left a knot in the top of his shoulder. Then, of course, there was the broken clavicle that was now set and so Max's sling on his left arm served the triple purpose of immobilizing his entire left shoulder. I sat down on the side of his bed and smiled back at Max who gave me a tired smile. "You played really really awesome today Max," I said softly.

"Thanks," Max answered closing his eyes for a moment.

"Leo was kinda upset about the season being over. He's gonna miss the team as it is now," I said playing with a loose thread in Max's blanket.

"Leo's just an emotional guy," Max said smiling. "Besides, it doesn't matter when we move on, cause others take our place. That's the way it's always been and it's the way it'll always be. That's highschool football and life, period. Our comfort is in hoping that the team we leave behind or the world we leave behind is a little bit better for having us."

I looked at Max's beautiful face and smiled. It was like he had everything figured out and I was still so lost and confused.

"Thanks... Max... for what you did for me today," I said lightly resting my hand on his stomach. Max half smiled and let out a heavy sigh. "You gonna be okay?" I asked.

"I'll be fine," he answered. "Can you gimme a hand with somethin'?"

"Sure what do ya need?" I asked smiling happily.

"I have this friend who I'm interested in, but I'm not sure how to tell them about it," Max said quietly with a weird little smile.

My heart leapt as I asked "boy or girl?"

"He's a guy," Max said looking down. "I was sorta hoping he could take extra care of me cause I'm hurt and all."

"Oooh so you think maybe that because you're an invalid now he'll take advantage of you," I said smiling and rubbing the soft skin of Max's stomach, feeling the muscles underneath.

Max let out a deep sigh and closed his eyes, then opened them looking at me. "I'm not really used to feeling this way about anyone," he said shyly.

"Well how do you feel?" I asked moving over and resting my head on his chest still rubbing his stomach.

 "I think I'm in love with you," Max whispered. I closed my eyes tight as my heart began to soar and tears welled in my eyes. "I know it's kinda awkward," Max said slowly. "I'm real sorry about the whole thing Jared, it's just when you're around me I feel so... I dunno. It just seems right. Ever since I first saw you I thought you were cute, but now that I actually know you, I just can't help it, and even though you deserve so much more and so much better, I still..."

"Max," I said lifting my head and meeting Maxwell's soft brown eyes with my own blue eyes, still running tears. "Max I love you too. I love you sooooo much that I've cried myself to sleep every night just thinking about you wishing you could tell me just what you're telling me right now," I said wrapping my arm around him giving him a light squeeze.

"It's gonna take me awhile you know.. to loosen up," Max said awkwardly.

"I'm really not that big," I said giggling.

Max burst out laughing. "Not that kinda loosening up," Max replied still laughing. "It's hard for me to be open emotionally, and feelings like these.. I've been suppressing them all my life."



"Just tell me that you love me, and we'll call it even," I said.

"I love you Jared," I said quietly. Max smiled and we settled down together. As we lay here together, and I've run through these events recalling the beginnings of our relationship together, I can't help but feel a little special. I mean of all the people for Max to fall for, it ends up being me! I guess life's kinda funny that way though. The way Max and I are pretty much what each other need. Still, though, I'm definitely looking forward to the future, and for the first time I feel like my life's back on track. And since my life's an ongoing project, I'm glad that it's Max's project - The Maxwell Thomas Project.

*    *    *

And there you have it! The Maxwell Thomas Project, chapter 10, and the story, completed. Whew! That sure took some time!! I was on Nifty the other day and realized that I started writing that story waaaaaaay back in March! I've had soooo much email about this story and you all asked for the next chapter, and I'm sorry this one had to be the last one but that was pretty much the way I had planned it from the start was for another 10-part series. Sooooooo there you have it. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it (heck I hated it half the time lol) sooooo this is signing off.
Thanx for reading!