Chapter 1

It was Friday afternoon when Max was in his history class sitting at his actual desk fidgeting nervously as his teacher, Mrs. Jones passes back their graded big exams. The exams were a big part of their grades and Max was hoping that he did well on it. Acing the test would really mean a lot to him.

"Will you just calm down," said his friend Collin. "You're making me nervous."

"I can't help it," said Max, cautiously, I studied hard for that test. I don't want it to seem like I put all of my time in this for nothing."

"I'm sure we did fine on our exams," Collin went on. "Besides, you was the one who helped me the most on what to study for."

"Yeah, that's true," Max said, as he looked back at the teacher.

As every second passed by, it seemed to Max that it was like time was standing still. He was also getting anxious. It was like he was in an actual trial, waiting for his own fate of being guilty or innocent. As usual all of his worries would almost turn him into a wet sponge, due to extreme sweating.

"Is something the matter Mr. Russo?" asked Mrs. Jones concernedly. "You look as if you've seen a ghost."

"He's just anxious about the big test," said Collin. "He just doesn't want to fail."

"With all that sweat, he could use himself to clean the chalk board," his other friend Kevin said from behind him. "At least the school would save some money."

The majority of the class snickered as Mrs. Jones reassured Max that everything was going to be okay. Five minutes later Max got his graded test. It turns out that his hard work paid off for him. He scored an 89 out 100 points which he missed his 'A' by one point. Even though he didn't ace the test, he was amazed and joyful of his results.

After the final bell ranged and everyone left, Max stayed to talk to Mrs. Jones as he always does at the end of each week. Last year Max was a 'C' average student, but somehow after talking to a adviser and a guidance counselor he started to bring home better grades. Even he was starting to mature a little bit, and starting to be more independent. He even thanks the teachers like Mrs. Jones for helping him get to where he is now. That is why if he needs someone to talk too Mrs. Jones is the first person to go to.

"I am so proud of you, Max," said Mrs. Jones, beaming in excitement, "I knew you could do it."

"Thank you, Mrs. Jones," said Max, with a smile, "I couldn't have done it without you"

"Well, if you keep getting good grades like this you will have the honor roll in no time," said Mrs. Jones.

"And I will be accepted into good colleges as well," Max beamed with joy. "I might be as lucky as Justin."

"I bet," Mrs. Jones chuckled. "So how's he doing?"

"He's doing okay I guess," Max said, turning away a little bit. "He's quite busy with his corporate business and all."

"I can't believe I'm saying this but, what about Alex?" she asked, as Max laughed out loud.

"She's doing great as well," Max said. "In fact her college life is coming along strong."

"That's good to hear," Mrs. Jones said, as she looks at Max. "But what about you?"

"What do you mean?" Max asked curiously.

"How are they treating you at home?" she asked clearly.

Max knew what she was talking about; it was like she was good at reading people's expressions. Max wasn't the type of person to share certain things to teachers. But he is talking to Mrs. Jones and he knows that he feels safe around her. Plus whatever was said in the classroom stays in the classroom when it comes to both of them.

"They mean well to me, really," Max explained. "It's just that I don't think they appreciate what I do for them. I mean I do the best that I can do, but I feel like they just can't see it."

"Did you tell them how you feel?" asked Mrs. Jones, as if she's trying to find a solution.

"Actually, I haven't," Max said honestly. "I didn't want to bug them with little stuff like this. I would always say to myself that it's some phase that I'm going through."

"Well, I'm sure that it wouldn't hurt to try," suggested Mrs. Jones. "Just try to find the right time to tell them. They should understand you then, don't you think so?"

"I guess," Max said slowly, as if he has second thoughts. "That probably would work, but have you actually met them?"

"I know how parents are, believe me," chuckled Mrs. Jones. "But just give them a chance and see how things pan out."

"Then I guess I'll give it a shot then, Max said, as he starts to gather all of his things. "Well, I got to get going. I don't want to be late for work. Fridays are always the busiest afternoons at the Substation."

"Have a good weekend, Max," said Mrs. Jones cheerfully. "And good luck with everything."

"Thanks," said Max, as he leaves the classroom.

Collin waited for Max by their lockers so they can travel home together. He was so excited that Max had passed his test that he couldn't stop smiling. As Max approached he gave him the biggest greeting that he ever received. Max was surprised by his upbeat behavior.

"Wow," said Max, I feel so special today."

"An eighty nine percent," exclaimed Collin. "Even I didn't get that high. I only got an eighty two."

"That's still a good grade," said Max, as he got his belongings.

"I know," said Collin. "But do you know what this means? You're actually smarter than you think."

"Yeah," Max said, as he thinks to himself. "You're certainly right about that. Thanks dude."

Then Kevin and his other buddies came down the hall as Max and Collin walked toward them. He grinned at the both of them as he approached them. He looked as if he was a small boy excited to open gifts on a Christmas day.

"Wassup, Fellas!" Kevin said excitedly, "I heard someone got a high score on their big test today."

"I know," said Max. "Isn't it amazing?"

"Sure is Bud," said Kevin, with a smirk. "So, who's up for some blasting fun tomorrow?"

"Blasting fun?" asked Collin. "What's that about?"

"Aww, don't tell me you guys forgot already!" exclaimed Kevin, "The big 'Sheng Dig party at my crib!"

"Oh, I totally forgot about that, man, Max said as he puts his hands on top of his head, "It's supposed to be the biggest one you have thrown yet."

"You know it," Kevin said. "Plus my parents will be out of town for the whole weekend for a business trip and I have the whole pad to myself."

"Is there going to be an adult present?" said Collin, "My parents won't let me go to parties without an adult present."

"That goes for me too," Max said honestly, "I really don't want anything to go down between my family and I. Our relationship is already in a dry period right now."

"Nah, man," Kevin said in confidence. "My big brother is collaborating with me too, and he's over eighteen."

"That's reasonable, I guess," said Max. "When does it start?"

"Just like other parties," said Kevin, with a wink. "Seven to eleven, can't be too late. Even the cool kids have church Sunday morning."

"Okay, we'll see what we can do," said Collin. "It shouldn't be that bad."

"I'll ask my parents tonight," said Max excitedly. "Man, this is going to be awesome. I got a good grade and a party to go to."

"Then it's settled," Kevin beamed, "Oh, one more thing. I'm inviting lots of girls from all the junior class."

* * * * * *

Max was just overwhelmed with joy and happiness as he takes the commute home. For the first time in his life he was thankful of all of his efforts and hard work. He couldn't get over of what Collin had said to him, that he is actually smarter than he thought. In fact, maybe Max was smarter that what people think of him. He has been trying to get it together for the past just to make his parent and siblings proud of him, and he tries to make wiser choices in his situations. If only he can get his family on board with more of their love and support. Ever since Alex became the family wizard, and Justin became owner of Wiz Tech, Max had very little attention from his family. Only they want Max to be the most supportive of being there for the substation business and for Alex and Justin which can be a tad bit too much and overbearing.

Later at dinner the whole family was sitting together and discussing how their day was. But as usual, it was all about wizard stuff. After fifteen minutes into their meals, Max already wishes that he was somewhere else instead of their crowded loft apartment, feeling out of place.

"I really think that business is doing better," said Jerry. "So far, these past weekends the station kept reaching its capacity."

I can't believe it either," Theresa beamed. "Isn't it amazing?"

Well, I think it's because that we work together as a team," said Alex, taking a bite of her food.

"Thank you, Alex, for taking those words out of my mouth," said Justin sarcastically. "That really was a great thing to do."

"You're welcome," said Alex slyly. "That's what sister's do from time to time."

"Whatever you say Ms. Evilene," Justin sneered, as Alex kicked him under the table.

"Alex and I are actually starting a walk for hunger charities for the ones in need," said Harper, proudly.

"That's wonderful, Harper," said Theresa. "I'm very proud of you both."

"Me too," said Jerry. "At least both of you guys are doing something that's valuable as Justin's work."

"Wow dad," said Alex in shock. "That's a first."

"I know," said Justin. "I'm just as shocked as you are."

Max just sat there playing with his food while he was whisked away in his own thoughts that had a stronghold on him. He didn't realize that they noticed that he was disengaged from the group and was questioning why he isn't responding to their discussions. It was Teresa that snapped him out of his thoughts.

"Honey, are you okay," Teresa asked as Max shrugged off his thoughts.

"Yeah mom," said Max, trying to stay focus.

"You seem, sort of distracted lately," said Jerry. "Is there anything you want to tell us?"

"No dad, there is anything for me to tell you, Max said, without looking at him.

Jerry shook his head while everyone exchanged looks at each other. Max sighed and pushed his plate away.

"Is it going to be like this every evening?" asked Theresa. "Not opening up to us?"

"I think it's time for you to start being more a part of this family like we raised you to be," said Jerry to Max in unison. "We don't have time for black sheep. We're a family and we are to do and participate in family stuff together."

"Isn't that what I'm doing?" asked Max with no expression.

"You sure not doing a very good job about it," said Justin. "Just like mostly everything else."

"What does that supposed to mean?!" Max raises his voice in anger.

"I mean I know that Alex is not perfect," Justin went on. "But you are just one big slacker."

Max was outraged and embarrassed. He was being labeled negatively in front of his parents by his brother, and they are not doing anything about it.

"Now, now, let's not get upset you two," Jerry stated, "I'm sure that we will work something out.

Max rolled his eyes and looked away from them as Justin continued to eat his meal like he had won a huge battle.

"Now, Max," Jerry said with a stern look. "Things can't be going on like this. If you ever want to take over the substation one day you have got to start pulling your end of the bargain."

"I am," Max said, desperately. "I don't even know what you're talking about."

"We're talking about your attitude lately, your suffering grades in school, and how you are just goofing off," Theresa said, eyes narrowing at Max."

"What that is totally outrageous!" shouted Max. "And I'm not getting poor grades in school I'm doing much better than I did in the previous years. I even got an eighty nine on my history test that I took on Monday, that's a great accomplishment."

"You have to get all good grades in your classes all year around," Justin said snidely. "You can't be idiotic to expect that only one good grade can change anything."

"But I have more than one grade-," Max cut himself off because he was frustrated at the people at the table. "You know what? Just forget it; it was all obsolete ten seconds ago."

"Besides, how would we know that you're telling the truth?" asked Alex. "When you don't have any proof of it in the first place."

"Alex, I just got the test back today," Max said, as he rose from the table. "It's now in my room, I'll show it to you guys and you all will definitely see that I'm not fooling around with anyone."

He got up and rushed to his room and got his graded test out of his book bag and dash back into the dining room area. Just when he got back no one was at the table. They were sitting in the living room watching a wrestling match on T.V. Max was just loss for words. So, he just gave up because no one wasn't interested in what he has to show. Instead he goes over and asks for permission to go to tomorrow's party.

"Um...mom?" asked Max nervously. "There's this party that Kevin is throwing tomorrow, and I would really like to go."

"Is his parents, or a trusting adult is going to supervise this party," Theresa asked sternly.

"And there is no alcohol present, right? Asked Jerry, as well.

"No, there will be no alcohol present," said Max clearly. "And Kevin's brother who is over 18 will be supervising the party."

Jerry and Theresa sighed and looked at each other. Then back at Max.

"You are to be back by midnight and no later than that," said Theresa. "And be on your best behavior."

"Oh thanks mom," said Max cheerfully. "You're the best."

He was waiting for his mom to say something but she and the others were cheering for the person that was winning the match on T.V. Max decided to let them watch the game, so he went back into his room. Once he was inside, he chose to look out of his own balcony which no one in his family didn't notice he have one. He reflected on his day as he looked out into the New York city skyline. Maybe he didn't get appreciated for what he did that day but he could always hope for days to come.

"One day," said Max. "One day, I will make a difference to the world. I'll be a role model, a leader, maybe an activist! But one day I will be the person who is not misunderstood, and people could finally accept and love me for who I am."

Max was so wrapped in his own world that he didn't notice a figure that was sitting next to him. It was his uncle Kelbo.

"Wow, that was an interesting speech," said Kelbo was a wide grin. "If that was the case, then I would've have you spoke at my graduation."

Max turned toward him in shock.

"Uncle Kelbo," exclaimed Max.