"Hidden Talent"

By Elise Q.

Title: Hidden Talent

Author: NephilimEQ aka Elise Q.

Rating: All audiences

Summary: The truth about Max.

Disclaimer: I do not own Wizards of Waverly Place…though I wish I did.

Author's Notes: I was inspired to write this and it only took me and hour and fifteen minutes. I felt that Max needed some vindication.

They didn't know what it was like.

To be the one that was never chosen, the one that was always passed over.

And he didn't know how to tell them that it was all an act, one that took so much effort to keep up.

He was constantly lying to everyone and it wasn't easy. His randomness and disgusting habits and experiments kept them at bay of asking questions, but it was the only thing that worked. The only thing. If Justin knew the truth...no, that would never happen. Because he would never tell them. No matter what. Besides, they would all find out at the same time anyway, whether he liked it or not.

He knew exactly how long he had: two months, eight days, eleven hours, and forty seconds. Now thirty-nine...and the clock kept going.

He wondered how they would all react. His dad with absolute shock, as well as his mom, but she would try to hide it and say that she'd seen it all along. That's what all parents did.

Justin would probably be furious, and just might lash out. Alex would...well, he knew exactly how she'd react. She'd be the only one proud of him.

Even though she ragged on him on a regular basis, at the same time she was the one who was closest to him. She knew a little of what he'd felt, and she would stand behind him.

He twirled his wand in his hand, letting a stream of faint electrical blue-white light escape from the end. He lay on his back on the roof of their building, staring up at the night sky, contemplating all of these thoughts in his head. It was the one place that he had to himself, the one place where he didn't have to worry about being seen.

The stars always seemed to speak to him in some way, as though their constant light was the one thing that reassured him. The one thing that was always constant...but then again, he knew that some of them were already gone, but their light still shone on, taking light-years to reach his own eyes. He hoped that he would live on in that way, but at the same time he was worried.

He knew Justin thought for sure that he was going to be the family wizard, and Justin was very good at it...but when he won instead, what would Justin do?

He quickly shook the thought from his head, letting the thin stream of light amplify and create a thick stream of light that wrapped around itself until it became a sphere of light.

At that point, he placed his wand back into his pocket and lifted a hand towards the glowing ball just above his head. As far as he knew, he was the only wizard that he'd ever known that could take over a wand spell and turn it into a hand spell.

He smiled as it pulsed with a white glow as his hand neared it, his fingertip barely brushing the surface of one of the blue white streaks, a sweet melodic sound coming from it as he began to run the rest of the fingertips of his right hand across the surface.

As he played with it, enjoying the sound that it created, he briefly wondered why he'd hidden his natural talent...he loved doing magic, but was forced to do spells wrong in order to make everyone else look good. It just wasn't fair. He then suddenly remembered why he'd hidden it. It had been that day when he'd overheard his dad talking to Justin about the wizard competition.

Max headed towards the lair, excited to tell his dad about what he could do. He'd just finished a perfect duplication spell, and they were still almost twenty lessons away from it.

He twirled his wand in his fingers, letting a small stream of golden white light trail from the tip, carefully controlling the flow by how fast he moved his wand. He smiled to himself. His dad would be so proud...and Alex and Justin would be so jealous. Oh, he couldn't wait to see the look on their faces.

He approached the lair, barely containing himself, but then he heard a few words coming from inside and he paused, wondering what they were talking about...and having the feeling that he should wait a few seconds. He peeked through the edge of the partially open door.

Carelessness on his dad's part.

"A wizard competition? What's that, dad?" Justin asked, his sister giving an inquisitive look as well.

He heard his dad sigh, and then start to explain. "You see, within each family there can only be one wizard, and when all of you are eighteen, you compete to be the family wizard."

"Really?" The tone in his brother's voice was eager, and he couldn't blame him.

"However," his dad continued, a somber tone to his voice now. "Once that person wins, no one else gets to keep their powers."

As Max heard this, he knew he couldn't tell anyone about the truth. Magic was the only thing that he was good at. He only had to look at a spell once and he had it memorized. That was just the way that his mind worked, and if anybody knew about it, particularly Justin, they would do anything to beat him...so he couldn't let them know.

Justin would eventually be able to get by on his smarts, and Alex was an amazing artist…he, on the other hand, didn't have much in the way of talent except for magic.

He had to win.

The memory ran through his head, and he let out a deep sigh. At least it would all be over soon.

He continued to play with the sphere of light above him, but then he felt a slight tugging at the edge of his magical shield. Someone was coming up to the roof. He quickly dissipated the spell and teleported himself back down to his room.

Seconds after he had arrived in his room, his sister barged in.

"Max! Did you take my toothbrush?" He thought about her question for a moment, and then realized that he'd been using it in one of his made up experiments that was over next to his bed at the moment. He merely nodded and pointed to his bedside table, watching with some amusement at her look of disgust.

"Never mind…I'll just get myself a new one."

With those words, she left his room. He sighed and quickly removed the illusion of a dirty room. He had slowly built up the illusion over several years, and had it perfected.

The one time that Justin had been in his room, he had been slightly apprehensive, but his brother had never noticed it.

That was how he knew it was good.

The truth of the matter was that he hated having a dirty room. It made it hard to concentrate for when he practiced. He glanced at his door and then, just in case, put a specialty lock spell on it, one that not even Justin could get past, and started a spell that he'd been working on for a couple of weeks.

It was tricky because it was a spell that combined two different opposing elements. But if he could get it right, he could use it in the wizard competition.

It was even harder, though, because he was combining wand magic with hand magic in order to create a spell that would be used through an incantation…which was possible, but it was only for vey high levels of wizardry.

He started the spell with wind, using his wand to begin. And then, after he was sure he had it under control, he began to add fire to it using a hand spell.

Normally, you wouldn't want to combine two opposing elements, but if he was able to get the balance just right, he would be able to create a spell that allowed him to manipulate the fire exactly the same way as you could manipulate a wind spell, and make it go wherever he wanted it to…even floating it through the tiniest of cracks.

He just had to be sure not to use too much fire, or too much wind. He combined them carefully, and then he felt it…he had it.

As the combination came together in such a way that only could be imagined, he inwardly yelled with victory. Yes! I, Maximillian Russo, have created a new spell on my own!

The only thing that he had to figure out now was what incantation to use.

As he mulled ideas around in his head, he controlled the fire-on-the-wind spell with the guiding point of his finger, memorizing the weight and feel of the spell.

Hmmm, I wonder what might work…let's see. What rhymes with wind? As he thought it all over, he kept up coming up short, never getting the wording just right. Finally he let his thoughts just wander for a bit, thinking that maybe he was just trying too hard. He admired his handiwork for a while, turning off the lights in his room, so that the only light came from the fire that rotated above him.

Suddenly, it all hit him at once. That's it!

He let the spell die out and then put out his right hand, palm facing upwards, and he began to speak. His voice was confident, no hint of the stuttering kid that the rest of the family knew.

"Wind and fire, opposing friends / movement and heat from opposite ends / come to meet in union wise / they now join hands in compromise…"

He concentrated…and it appeared. Yes!

It was beautiful as it spiraled out and upwards from the center of his hand and lit the room once more. He made it spiral three times around the room and then extinguished it.

As he went over to the light switch and turned it back on, his thoughts drifted to Alex and Justin once more. He only had a short while, and soon enough Justin would hate him for the rest of his life. He sank down on his bed, his shoulders hanging in defeat at that realization.

No matter how much he tried to make it seem in his head that his brother would eventually accept him, he knew the truth. Justin would never accept him.

He let the rest of his body fall back onto the bed, fully intent on going to sleep, though it was only nine o'clock.

However, he heard footsteps on the stairs, and he realized that his mom was probably coming up. He quickly placed the illusion back onto his room, and then undid the lock on the door.

Soon enough, there was a knock on his door.

"Come in," was all he said, but that was all that was needed.

His mom walked into the room, a serious look on her face, and he knew that she was going to have some sort of "serious talk" with him. He didn't know what it was about, but something in his gut told him that it had something to do with what had been on his mind for the past couple of days.


He sat up on his bed, looking her in the eye. "Yeah, mom?"

She moved around the pile of junk near the door and made her way over to his bed, gingerly stepping over another experiment on the floor near the base of his bed.

As she sat down next to him, she placed her arm around his shoulders, and he felt something stir in his gut once more.

She began to speak. "Max…I wanted to talk to you about something…something important." He nodded, wordlessly encouraging her to continue. She took a deep breath. "Maxi….mi hijo…I know that a lot of people in the family think that your brother is going to be the family wizard, but I want to tell you something…"

He suddenly tensed, but he tried to not let it show on the outside. He might just be paranoid.

She continued. "…Don't let anyone, and I mean anyone, tell you that you don't have a chance. One of the great things, is that you're so unpredictable. Just…don't give up, mi hijo, okay?"

He nodded, trying not to smile at her comments. Oh, if she only knew the truth.

"I won't give up, mom. I promise."

He looked her in the eye, trying to convey his sincerity, and for some reason a look of worry crossed her face. Oh, that's right. He was acting too serious which was completely out of character for him. He quickly followed it up with an inane comment.

"I mean, if I still want my fort of marshmallows and beef jerky, I have to win!"

She gave him a sideways look, but then squeezed him with the arm that was still around his shoulders. "Okay, Max. You sleep good, okay?"

He absently nodded, pretending to be fascinated with the experiment that was on his bedside table.

She stood up from the bed and made her way to the door, glancing back briefly. "Max…" Her eyes were focused on what he was staring at. "Is that your sister's toothbrush?"

He nodded and made his way over to the experiment, coming up with a stupid explanation. "Yeah, you see, the leftover toothpaste from her brush, combined with the two-week expired prune juice and the eggs, will prove that-" She cut him off, a look of disgust on her face.

"Never mind, Maxi…just, make sure that your homework is done, okay?"

He nodded, and she closed the door behind her.

He lifted the illusion and placed the lock back on the door with a flick of his wand.

As he made his way back to his bed, he wondered why she was so worried about him. He suddenly laughed at that thought.

Of course she was worried. He was the kid that his parents probably believed would end up in an institution one day. He smiled to himself as he changed into his sweat pants, forgoing the shirt.

Instead of climbing under the covers, however, he just lay on top of his sheets, stripping off the comforter from the first layer. From where he was on his back, he snapped his fingers, a faint spark emanating from the tips, and the lights went out in his room.

He softly whispered… "Wind and fire, opposing friends / movement and heat from opposite ends / come to meet in union wise / they now join hands in compromise…"

The spell spiraled from his fingertips, making its' way towards his ceiling.

He absentmindedly twirled his fingers in lazy patterns, watching the way the fire moved with them and almost seemed to play with him.

His mouth twitched slightly…and he smiled.

to be continued...