Characters: JJ, Drake, Max
Setting: Vol. 5, Act 15
Summary: JJ talks to Drake about his former friend, Max Fork.
Word Count: 622
Written For: My own prompt ‘FAKE, JJ + Any, Talking about Max,’ at fic_promptly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own FAKE, or the characters. They belong to the wonderful Sanami Matoh.
JJ sat hunched over beside Drake’s hospital bed, almost tangible waves of guilt rolling off him. “I’m so sorry, Drakey. I feel awful. I should’ve known something was off with Max.”
“Hey, it’s not your fault, buddy. Anyway, I’ll be okay. It’s not much more than a flesh wound; I’ll be outta here in a few days.”
“I was so scared when I saw you lying there against the wall, and that other guy, I don’t even know his name. There was so much blood… I thought for a minute you were…”
“I’m fine, JJ.”
JJ didn’t seem to hear him. “I just kept thinking about how badly I’d been treating you since Max showed up, giving you the brush off, leaving all the work to you so I could give Max the grand tour…”
“He was your friend and you were happy to see him,” Drake interrupted. “That’s understandable.”
“Yeah, I was happy, I’d missed him. Oh Drakey! Max never used to be like that, all cold and hard and disillusioned. He used to be a really nice guy,” JJ told his partner. “You would have liked the old Max; he used to be such an optimist, always seeing the best in everyone.”
“Just like you,” Drake smiled.
“I suppose.” JJ managed a weak, wintry smile. “I trusted him. But I guess losing his girlfriend the way he did, shot and killed by his own partner, just… broke him. It made him bitter, cynical, angry at the whole world. I never knew anyone could change so completely. He put on a good act when he got here, but underneath it… He just wasn’t the same man he used to be. The Max I knew died when his girl did. It’s sad, he really loved her; they were going to get married. But it’s weird too; he wanted me to feel sorry for him, and I guess I did because nobody should have to lose someone they love, especially not because someone they trusted screwed up, but more than anything else I was just so mad at him.”
“That’s only natural, JJ. He tricked you and then he betrayed your trust.”
“I think he wanted me to hate him, to lose my trust and faith in people the same way he had. Part of me wanted to hate him, but even as mad as I was at him over what he did to you and that other guy, I couldn’t. I would’ve saved him if I could have.”
“I know you would, JJ. You may have been a lot like Max once, back at the academy, all youthful idealism, but you grew up, saw what the world was really like and all the terrible things that can happen to people, and you accepted it while working to make the city safer for others. Max gave up hope, but you never have, and that makes you the better man.”
JJ blinked away tears. “You really think so?”
“I know so, and… I trust you. Nothing’s ever going to change that, so don’t you change either, because we need more people like you, people who see the best in others and work to make the world a better place in whatever way they can.”
“I’ll do my best, Drake. I promise. I’m gonna go now; you look tired, you need to get some rest. I’ll come visit tomorrow though. Don’t give the nurses a hard time.” JJ stood up and pulled his jacket on, feeling better than he had in days. He was lucky to have such a kind and caring partner; Drake always knew the right thing to say, and JJ made up his mind never to take their friendship for granted again.