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Sink or Swim

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Billy should have been happy about it.

A new lifeguard, Craig Kreener, had shown up in Hawkins over the summer from the city. With the pool being open every day of the week for the summer season, and only 4 lifeguards working full time, the pool's manager had jumped at the chance to hire another one.

Honestly, Billy should have been really happy about it.

Working double shifts throughout the week was killing him, the constant work-outs and summer heat beating down on him all day, he was fucking exhausted.
Unfortunately, though, the new lifeguard was a total douchbag. Some city slick with his eye on the prize; young high school girls with rockin' bodies ready for summer.

It was pathetic.

And what the hell kinda' name was Craig anyway?

Billy was far from impressed. He may be a dick and an asshole at times, he was getting better, but he took his job seriously. Growing up in California near the beach, Billy had seen his fair share of accidents happen at the water.

Bodies washing up with the tide.

Kids going missing in the undercurrents.

Victims of drowning, the result of people not paying attention.

So, he really couldn't stand Craig's laid back attitude towards his job as a lifeguard. Hawkins may be just a public pool, but for gods sake there were so many little kids running around and mindless parents not watching them. Thankfully, they had never had any problems at the pool except for a few little ones falling on the concrete and scraping their knees, but nothing involving the water.

Want another reason why Billy couldn't stand Craig?

The dick didn't even like kids...

Teaching kids how to swim was not only a physical part of Billy's job, but it was actually something he enjoyed doing. Having a handful of tiny arms hanging off of him in the shallow end, walking along the bottom while his students splashed around beside him, it never ceased to make him happy. His youngest girl was only 5 years old and she would have to hang onto his arm for a few minutes at the start of every lesson, still a little scared of treading the water. He helped all his kids gain confidence while letting them have fun.

When Craig had been asked if he would assist with a few lessons, the asshole declined stating that kids weren't his thing.

Billy had just rolled his eyes and called him a pussy.

So yeah, it was widely known around the workplace that Billy and Craig did not like each other.

Shocker.

Billy knew that Craig would only stick around Hawkins for the summer and head back to the city by fall.

He just hoped nothing bad happened before then...

 

 


 

 

 

It was Thursday night, meaning it was game night for the kids at the arcade. Ever since Max joined the party it became mandatory for them to spend one night a week at the arcade to try and outplay each other.

Billy was out in the parking lot with Steve smoking, leaned up against the camaro, waiting for the brats to finish. They'd grown a little closer over the summer. Billy thought Harrington was actually pretty cool to hang with, though he couldn't say the same for Wheeler or Byers.

Steve would lend an ear for Billy when he needed to rant and rave, complaining about anything and everything. In return, Billy would listen to all of Steve's drama and offer what comfort he could. Neither of them were great at emotions, but they had built their friendship on teasing and playful insults.

It worked for them.

Which was why Billy had taken the opportunity to complain about work while they waited on the kids. He'd worked every day for over a week straight because Heather was out sick and he had to work a double shift tomorrow.

He was beyond exhausted.

"I thought with the new hire you'd have less hours?" Steve questioned, stealing another cigarette right out of Billy's mouth.

"Yeah, you'd think that, but the dick won't cover anyone else for a shift. Heather's been out all week and I've been the only one covering for her. Adam's got another job besides the pool and Jessie can only work extra time on the weekends. It's gettin' to me," Billy groaned around his new cigarette, his body aching.

"Are you at least off for the weekend?"

"So long as nothin' changes, yeah. And my ass ain't leavin' the bed all fuckin' day."

Steve smiled and was about to make a smartass comment when another car pulled up beside them, the familiar rust bucket clanking to a stop in the next parking spot.

Nancy and Jonathan hopped out of the car and walked up to the camaro, both of them sending polite smiles to Steve and Billy.

It was a little tense.

"Hi Steve," Nancy greeted quietly, giving Steve a small smile.

"Nance. Jonathan," Steve smiled back, giving them both a little wave, feeling Billy stiffen beside him. It was no secret that Billy didn't care too much for Nancy or Jonathan. Billy didn't care Just as they were still very stand-offish to him.

Jonathan sent Steve a small nod, "Steve."

They looked over to the bad boy sitting next to Steve. It was also no secret that neither of them cared too much for Billy.

"Billy," Nancy acknowledged him, keeping her eyes down.

Billy took a long drag from his cigarette and blew the smoke right at Nancy, enjoying the uncomfortable twitch of her nose from the smoke.

"Wheeler."

"Hargrove," Jonathan nodded to him, not bothering to look at Billy.

"Byers," Billy drawled, turning back to look at the arcade. He kept up his bad boy attitude in front of them, mostly because around them he was just that; a bad boy who didn't tolerate them very well.

He'd play nice for Harrington though.

Steve always felt like the odd man out during these weird stand-offs. He was okay with Nancy, all-be-it a little awkward at times. He and Jonathan were alright, even if they never really spoke much. His friendship with Billy was probably the most normal out of them all. Weird how he was closer to the guy that broke his face than the girl who broke his heart, ironically in a relationship with the other guy who broke his face.

He really wished the nerds would finish up so he didn't have to suffer the tension anymore...

Ask and you shall receive.

Less than 30 seconds later, the door of the arcade burst open and all 5 gangling teens rushed out towards the parked cars with the boys shouting over each other while Max brought up the rear silently. They were all yelling questions at the same time while crowding up around Steve who couldn't make out anything they were saying!

"ONE AT A TIME!"

Oh boy, he used the mom voice.

They all went quiet, knowing better than to defy Steve when he goes into Mr. Mom mode.

"Now what is it you little shitheads want exactly?" Steve asked, addressing Dustin first.

"We wanna go to the pool this Saturday, can you take us?" Dustin begged, pouting with the others.

"Okay, one; you need to ask your parents before you go asking for a ride dumbass. Two; do I look like a taxi service?"

"No, you look like a skinny Popeye reject, but who am I to judge?"

"Even if I weren't working Saturday, just for that comment, I wouldn't take you anyway, pea-brain."

"Asshole."

"Language."

"English."

"Smartass..." Steve rolled his eyes and stole another cigarette from Billy who was smirking at the whole thing. The brats may be annoying as hell but Billy knew the kids meant the world to him.

"Can I go this weekend?" Mike asked Nancy, who just shrugged and told him it was fine so long as he asked their mom first.

"Jonathan, can I go with the guys Saturday?" Will begged softly, pulling Mike over to him to help him beg.

"I guess, but make sure mom's okay with it first."

"Great, so how are we getting there?" Mike asked, looking at the others for ideas.

Steve threw up his hands, "I'm working, don't look at me."

"I've got plans for Saturday," Jonathan shrugged, silently apologizing to the kids. Normally he'd be fine with taking them but he had an appointment he couldn't reschedule.

"I can take them all this weekend? Since you guys aren't available and I don't have any plans," Nancy offered. She'd have Mike ask their mom if it was okay for him to go, but she'd gladly spend the day with the kids.

While they discussed a time to go, Max slid up beside Billy and leaned against him.

"Do you care?" she asked. Their parents were gone for the week and wouldn't be home anyway, so Billy was in charge of her. Then again, that didn't really make a difference since Billy took care of her more than either of their parents did.

Billy was not happy about the kids going on his day off when he knew Craig would be on duty. He was hesitant to let Max go, really he was hesitant to let any of the brats go. He knew Max could swim fine, he was the one that taught her, but she's not a great swimmer and she doesn't float. Even growing up in California, Max always preferred to spend her time skateboarding rather than on the beach.

There was a reason she never learned to surf.

"I'm not working Saturday," he warned her, knowing she would understand. Max knew all about the asshole lifeguard and Billy's dislike for him. She also understood his reluctance to let her go if he wasn't working.

"Please?" she pleaded, moving to his chest to stare up at him with big, blue eyes.

"Don't do that."

"Do what?"

"You think every time you say please, I'll do whatever you want."

"Pleaseeee?"

Billy rolled his eyes, shaking his head at his sister's persistence. She was giving him the pouty lips now, not giving up even when he tried to push her off him.
But if there's one thing his little, brat sister was...it was a stubborn brat. She wrapped herself around his torso like a damn octopus!

"Maxine!"

"Please!"

"Please, Billy? Let her come with us?" Will joined in with the pleading. They all knew Billy had a soft spot for Will, taking a liking to the boy's quiet and shy nature.

Plus, the only two Williams had to stick together.

Billy blew smoke out his flaring nostrils with a heavy sigh, hating himself for going soft. Max seemed to realize he'd given in to her pleas and squeaked happily!

"You're the best!" She rushed over to discuss the specifics with the boys with Will right behind her, leaving Billy and Steve to watch them chatter excitedly.

Steve could see the uneasiness in Billy, he can see how apprehensive Billy is about the whole thing. He knew Billy was protective over Max, with their home life Steve couldn't blame him, so he quietly offered to go with them.

"Hey, you want me to go with them? I can take the day off if it's gonna bother you that much."

Glancing over, Billy just shook his head. He wouldn't ask Steve to take time off just to ease his worry. He may not trust Nancy very much, if at all, but he knew she wouldn't let anything happen to the kids intentionally.

"You sure? I don't mind," Steve murdered, nudging Billy with his shoulder.

"Nah, I'm sure Wheeler's got this. Off the ride, pretty boy," Billy lightly shoved Steve over and hopped down. "Max! Let's go!"

Everyone parted ways with quick goodbyes. The boys yelled that they would regroup once everyone had the okay to go to the pool, reminding each other to keep their radios on.

Nancy and Jonathan shared a kiss, making the kids groan in disgust.

Billy watched Steve flinch slightly as he turned away from the couple, clearly uncomfortable with their public display of affection. He would never understand what Nancy saw in Byers that would make her give up Steve like she did, a stupid move in his opinion.

Oh well, her loss.

"Max! Car! Now!"

 

 


 

 

 

Billy set an alarm for Saturday morning so he would be awake when Nancy came by for Max. The kids had agreed to go in the morning and hang around the pool until they grew tired of swimming. At 9:00, Billy dragged his tired body out of bed to make sure Max ate something before she left. He could already hear her in the shower getting ready, no telling how long the kid had been awake.

Who the hell wakes up before noon on the weekend anyway?

Grumbling tiredly, he made some coffee for himself first to try and wake up enough to at least function, sort of. He settled for eggs, toast and oatmeal, figuring that would keep Max full until lunch.

Hopefully.

The smell of food brought Max from the bathroom, fully dressed and ready to go with her swimsuit on under her clothes. She padded into the kitchen and swiftly stole his coffee mug from the counter, taking a large gulp before he caught her.

"You do not need caffeine!" Billy snapped, taking the mug away before Max could down any more coffee. He finished plating up her food and gave it to her, turning back to the stove to start his own.

Max scarfed down her breakfast quickly, practically bouncing in her seat ready to go. By the time the clock rolled over to 10:00, a car pulled up outside on the street and Max raced to the door. Outside, she could see the boys all piled in the car with Mike sitting up front with Will.

Nancy strolled up to the front door and smiled at Max, her smile becoming a bit more strained when Billy walked over to them.

"Morning, guys. You ready to go?"

"Yeah, let me go grab my bag," Max said and walked back to her room.

Billy watched Max head for her room before turning back to Nancy. He wanted to make a few things clear before leaving Max in Nancy's care.

"First thing, anything happens to her you call me." He handed her a small piece of paper with the house number on it, just for emergencies.

"Of course," Nancy agreed quickly as she pocketed the number.

"Second, don't let her stay in the sun too long. Your shitty Indiana sunshine ain't like California and she'll burn. Make her put on sunblock at least once every half hour."

"Okay, got it."

"Third, don't let her swim until at least an hour after she eats anything. She'll complain but she'll get sick, her stomach's not the strongest."

Maybe he should have packed Max a lunch to take, since he knew the kids would go for pure junk food all day.

Oh well.

"Last, do not let her anywhere near the deep end. She can swim fine but I don't want her in anything over 6 feet," he growled.

Nancy was a little taken aback by Billy's strict demands. She'd never seen this side of him before. Steve had mentioned before how Billy was a little overprotective over Max, but Nancy didn't really believe him...not until now. Before she could say anything though, Max returned to them with her bag slung over her shoulder.

Nancy glanced up at Billy one last time and gave him a small smile, a real one, before turning to Max.

"Why don't I go toss your bag in the trunk?" she offered, taking Max's bag from her and heading back towards the car.

Billy smirked, knowing he probably scared Wheeler. If she was smart, she'd listen to everything he said and be extra vigilant with his little sister.

"Alright, kid. You need me, I'll be home all day. So, don't need me."

Max rolled her eyes, "Very funny."

"Don't be home any later than 7. I mean it Max. 7:00, on the dot," he ordered, not giving her any room to argue.

"I got it," she groaned, bouncing on her heels. She wanted to go already! The pool awaited!

"You're on your own for dinner, I ain't cookin' anything. Don't spend it all at once." He handed her some cash for food, making sure she pocked it.

Max frustratingly gestured to the car, "Can I go now?"

Billy just ruffles her hair and pushes her out the door, watching the boys open the car door and move around.

"Don't drown, shitbird!"

"Don't tell me how to live my life!" Max yelled back, rushing down the driveway and lunging into the backseat.

As the car drove away, Billy shut the door and headed straight for his room. He collapsed on the bed, too tired to put on music or even turn off the light.

Within a minute, he promptly passed out.

 

 


 

 

 

At the pool, it's a mad house.

People are crowding the chairs to lounge in the sun. Girls are swarming around the hot new lifeguard. Kids are screaming, running around and jumping off the dive boards.

It's chaos.

Nancy is surprised by the craziness at the pool, used to seeing it run amicably and no where near as dysfunctional as this mess. Grabbing a chair for her and the kids stuff, Nancy warns them all to be careful and stay away from the deep end. Thinking back to Billy's thinly veiled threats, Nancy promptly called Max over and put a thick layer of sunblock on her before allowing her to swim.

Better safe than sorry.

After almost 3 hours of non-stop playing, an endless game of water tag, the Party decided to take a break to get some food.

Max could already feel her face getting hot. After being away from California's sun her tan had faded and the sunshine in Indiana was not the same. She was jealous of her brother's ability to tan so well, but with her genes it was amazing she was able to tan in the first place. She knew if she got a sunburn Billy would scold her for it and then tease her about it for days.

As the kids sat with Nancy to enjoy their mid-day snack, a loud commotion from the entrance gate made them all turn to see a group of older boys barrel in, laughing, yelling and shoving each other like they were children.

Nancy rolled her eyes at them and quickly warned the kids to stay clear of them. Will and Mike were a little apprehensive about returning to the water with the rowdy bunch of boys swimming around. Nancy didn't blame them, she didn't really want the kids in the water with those jerks anyway.

Max, Dustin and Lucas wanted to continue with their game though.

They headed back into the water after Nancy made them wait an hour so they wouldn't get sick, waiting for Nancy to finish putting more sunblock on Max.

The group of boys was still rough housing in the pool, clearly annoying some of the parents and causing all the younger children to get out. The jerks were not looking around them to see if they were bothering anyone, having no issue with bumping into others apparently.

Looking over to the lifeguard tower, Nancy glared at the new guy, Craig, who was busy flirting with a couple girls in thread-bare bikinis. She rolled her eyes, knowing that if any other guard had been on duty this kind of behavior wouldn't have been tolerated. She knew Billy would have thrown the group of boys out on their asses before they even reached the water. Looking back at the water, she smiled as the kids chased each other around the water playfully. It was nice to see them having fun without worry, something they all deserved.

Next to her, Will and Mike had taken over the lounge chair, squishing together on it in a mess of limbs beneath a giant towel, to watch the others play. Mike was cheering on Lucas while Will was rooting for Max.

"Get her, Lucas!"

"Faster, Max!"

"Come on, Dustin!"

Lucas, Dustin and Max continued to chase each other around the pool, laughing at each other while trying to ignore the assholes beside them. Nancy had warned them to stay away from the group of older boys but the jerks kept getting closer and closer to them, pushing them further towards the deeper end of the pool.

Max could feel her body trying to go under but she kept her head up and tried to continue the game. If she needed a break she'd just get out for awhile.

Lucas tagged Dustin and both of them swam towards her. Shrieking, Max tried to escape by going around the rowdy group of boys, keeping clear of flying arms and elbows. The assholes weren't even paying attention to anyone around them. She safely made it past them and turned to see Dustin swimming towards her.

Only, Dustin didn't see the body flying towards him.

But Max did.

"Dustin, move!"

Moving forward quickly, Max called to Dustin to move while pushing him down so he didn't get hit, moving herself in front of him. The older boy's elbow jerked back and caught Max right in the nose, whipping her head backwards into the pool side, cracking her head hard against the concrete.

Blood quickly began to fill the water as Max sunk beneath the surface. Dazed, she could only hear the ringing in her ears, the pounding pain across her face. Water slowly began to fill her mouth as she sank towards the bottom of the pool, watching the water around her turn red.

The last thing she saw was the splashing of legs before everything went dark.

 

 

Nancy jumped when she heard Dustin and Lucas start screaming, really screaming. Jumping to her feet she looked at the two boys and gasped at the bloody water around them.

Where was Max?

Rushing across the pool side, Nancy dropped to her knees and helped the two boys out of the water, crying out to them, "What happened? Where's Max?"

A small crowd of people had begun to come closer, seeing the panic. There was still no sign of the red headed girl and Nancy turned to Lucas, "Lucas, where's Max!"

As if breaking out of his shock, Lucas quickly pointed at the water as Will and Mike helped him and Dustin.

Nancy screamed when she caught the flash of red hair floating at the bottom of the pool. Without thinking, she dived in and struggled to reach the bottom of the pool, 16 feet down. Nancy wasn't a good swimmer but she had to get to Max, who wasn't moving and still had blood pouring from her nose. Kicking her legs as hard as she could, Nancy fought against the urge to float back to the surface, ignoring the burn in her lungs and eyes as she struggled down to Max.

Just a little bit further!

Snagging Max's wrist, Nancy kicked her legs up to drag them both back up, blackness crowding at the edges of her vision. The air in her lungs was gone, water filling her mouth with each stroke.

Where the fuck was that goddamn lifeguard!?

When they got out of this, Nancy was going to strangle the asshole when she got a hold of him.

If Billy doesn't get to him first...

Air, blessed air, filled her lungs when she broke the surface dragging Max up with her. Dustin and Lucas were waiting for her at the edge of the pool with Will and Mike behind them as well as a group of others.

And where was Mr. Lifeguard?

No where to be seen!

That's where!

Asshole.

Nancy pulled Max to the boys and they all pulled her limp body out of the water, Nancy following close behind. It was terrifying to see Max so still. Her long hair was fanned out around her like a halo, her skin pale and blotchy, lips a pale blue and she wasn't breathing...

She wasn't breathing.

"Oh God, Max! Max, honey, wake up!" Nancy slapped Max's cheek lightly, begging the girl to open her eyes. A few people around them were screaming for someone to get help, call someone, help her! The boys were all gathered around freaking out and worried sick. Poor Will looked like he was about to pass out from the stress.

"Get back!" Mike yelled at the gawkers, pushing them back to give them some room. Dustin joined in as well and they began to push people away, giving Nancy room to work.

Nancy tilted Max's head back and tried to remember the stupid CPR lessons they taught her at school. The anxiety of the whole situation was making her shake uncontrollably, but she had to get it together, for Max.

Save Max.

Help her.

Help! Her!

Breathing deeply, Nancy tried to stop her racing heart to focus on the task at hand.

First, tilt the head back.

Lung full of air.

Press down across the breast plate, 2 second pause between, 20 presses.

Another breath of air.

Repeat.

Nancy continued to preform as her eyes filled with tears. She felt like a failure. She was supposed to watch them all.

She was supposed to protect the kids.

This wasn't supposed to happen.

This shouldn't have happened!

'Please, Max...please, wake up!' she thought as she pushed another air-full into Max's lungs, openly crying now.

Max suddenly jerked up and coughed violently, turning to her side and vomiting water along with whatever was in her stomach, shaking with aftershocks as she fought to breath.

Lucas dropped to his knees beside her and patted her back lightly, trying to help her get everything out, while Dustin and Mike exclaimed their relief. Will kneeled beside Nancy and tried to calm her down too.

'She's okay.' That was all Nancy could think as she watched Max spasm on the concrete. The poor girl's eyes were bloodshot and her lips had turned an ugly shade of blue.

It was hard to look at.

A commotion from the pool side made Nancy look over, seeing the group of teens rushing off towards the entrance gate, taking off in fear. To make matters worse, a loud voice pops up through the crowd...guess who.

Craig pushed his way through the crowd of people, acting like he was suddenly in charge. He looked from Nancy to Max, scrunching up his nose at the sight of sickness across the concrete.

"Where the hell have you been?" Nancy growled, standing up on shaky legs to stalk over to the larger man. It was kind of funny to watch the guy cower when Nancy looses her shit with him, demanding to talk to the supervisor and the pool manager herself!

As she watches Craig dash off towards the main office to fetch someone, Nancy kneels beside Max and gently rubs her back while keeping the boys calm.

Billy is going to kill me...

 

 


 

 

By the time Nancy had finished ranting at the manager and demanding a medic, the kids had explained what happened and Max had been taken into the lifeguard locker room where a EMT had looked her over. They all wanted Max to go to the hospital but the girl refused, saying her nose wasn't broken and she could breathe fine now, her chest was still a little sore but other than that she felt okay. While the boys sat with Max and kept her company, Nancy had cornered Craig to unleash some pent up frustration.

"What the hell is wrong with you? Where were you during that whole fucking mess!" Nancy demanded, pushing Craig back against the wall.

"Ms. Wheeler, I was caught up with another client--"

"You mean you were too busy being balls deep in one of your fangirls?"

"Regardless of where I was, I don't see why you're angry now? The girl is fine, where's the harm?"

Nancy slapped him, hard. She could not believe the audacity of this man. In her sudden rage, she remembered the rivalry between Craig and Billy. She glared at him and decided to drive her point home.

"If you think you're getting out of this unscathed, you're dead wrong, because that little girl that almost drowned on your watch...she's Billy Hargrove's little sister," she revealed. "And I can not wait to tell him, and everyone else, all about your performance today."

She felt smug when the color drained from Craig's face. Turning back to head for the kids, Nancy threw one last remark over her shoulder before leaving him.

"Have a nice life, asshole."

 

 

When Nancy walked back into the locker room to check on Max, the boys all gave her sheepish looks.

"What's wrong?" she asked worried, thinking something must have happened while she was gone.

"We called Billy while you were dealing with that lifeguard," Mike explained. They all knew they probably should have let Nancy call Billy but Max had begged Lucas to call him.

Nancy bit her lip and tried to give them an encouraging smile, telling them they did the right thing. It should have been her that told Billy, because now she knew that his opinion of her would only plummet now.

Max had trouble breathing for a few minutes, her lungs were screaming at her. She was wrapped up in a blanket waiting with the boys beside her while Nancy paced back and forth as they waited for Billy to show up. Max was thankfully in the clear to go whenever, even though the pool manager continuously asked her to go to the hospital, fearing a lawsuit or something.

Unless she was dying, Max would never step foot in a hospital.

Before long there was the unmistakable rumble of the camaro pulling into the parking lot, tire squealing.

Max looked up to the entrance the second she heard the camaros loud rumble, looking for her brother. All she wanted was Billy at that moment.

And maybe to watch Billy deal with Craig.

Normally, she would never condone Billy's violent nature but she was slightly hoping to see her brother lose his shit.

"Max!" Billy's voice rang outside the entrance of the locker rooms, pounding footsteps coming closer.

"We're in here!" Nancy yelled, continuing to pace. If she wasn't worried about facing Billy before, hearing him so close, she definitely was now.

Within moments, the locker room door burst open and Billy rushed in. Pushing past Nancy, he dropped beside Max's prone body and grabbed her chin to look at the damage, grimacing at the dried blood against Max's pale skin. Seeing the blue tint surrounding her lips made him go cold, knowing what it meant. He looked for any other injuries on his sister.

"What the hell happened?" he growled at Nancy, ignoring her soft flinch at the rage in his voice. He didn't care if he scared her.

Something happened to Max, he was allowed to be pissed off.

"There was a group of older boys in the pool, they were rough housing. One them elbowed Max in the face and s-she cracked her head against the pool, she almost--she--" Nancy was almost in tears trying to explain what happened, how scared she herself had been when Max stopped breathing.

"You were supposed to watch them!" He was ready to advance on the trembling girl but Max reached out to snag his wrist in a weak grip, stopping him.

"She saved me, Billy..." she whispered, pulling Billy back down to her.

"Yeah, Nancy was amazing, Billy! She jumped right in when the lifeguard didn't show up!" Dustin exclaimed. The boys quickly joined in and they took turns explaining what happened.

"Where the fuck was Craig?" Billy demanded, looking at Nancy.

"I figured you'd want to ask him that yourself," she whispered with a small smile, knowing Billy would unleash his rage at the other man.

Lucas went to grab a wash rag for Billy when he asked for one, wetting down a warm rag. The boys all stepped back and let Billy and Max have some space.

"Thought I told you not to drown?" Billy said quietly, brushing some of the blood off Max's skin.

"When do I ever listen to you?" she teased, letting Billy wipe the blood away. Her nose still hurt really bad but at least it wasn't broken. The ache in her lungs had faded too. There would definitely be a bruise later on though. Max just hoped she was healed up before her mom and Neil got home, she knew Neil would only blame Billy.

Billy was gentle with his movements as he continued to wash Max's face clean, grimacing at the washed out red staining the rag. He knew that Max would be sore later on and tomorrow, almost drowning will do that to you.

Please don't let Neil and Susan come home early.

If Billy found out the names of the little shits that did this to Max, he'd hunt them down one by one and castrate them. None of this shit would have happened if he'd been working. Fuck, any of the other lifeguards wouldn't have let that shit happen!

"You're making the face," Max mumbled.

"What face?" he asked, what face?

"The rage for days face."

"I do not have a rage face, Max."

"That's the face." She motioned to his face, smiling slyly.

Billy rolled his eyes and tweaked her earlobe, making her squeak. When he was satisfied that Max was okay, he looked up at Nancy and asked her if she would watch them for a minute while he talked with Craig. Nancy was more than happy, tilting her head towards the back locker room where Craig was still speaking to the manager.

Perfect.

 

 


 

 

The last thing Craig expected was for the door to bust open and for Billy Hargrove to storm towards him, rage and murder in his eyes.

"Billy--" the pool manager tried to get between them but Billy just turned his glare on him.

"Get out."

"Billy, I understand that this--"

"No, you don't, and unless you want me and my sister to press charges against this place and you personally then get the fuck out of my way. Get out!"

The manager sent Craig one last look before disappearing out the door. There was no one to help Craig now, nor was there even a buffer between him and Billy.

"I didn't know she was yours, dude!" Craig pleaded, backing up with his hands up. "How was I supposed to know!"

"You were supposed to be doing your goddamn job!" Billy roared, rushing forward to slam Craig back against the brick wall. The smaller man grunted in pain as he slammed against the bricks, bringing his hands up in surrender.

"Please, man--I was j-just with a girl and I--"

"You were what? Too busy gettin' your cock wet? I know exactly what you were doing, you piece of shit!" Billy growled, slamming his fist into Craig's cheekbone.

"So who was it? Hmm? Who was so important that you left to have a quick fuck? That little blonde number, or maybe it was the tiny brunette that flocks around you all the time? Or maybe it was the chick who spends all her time oral fucking popcicles around you, the same girl who's only 15 years old!"

Billy continued with his assault, pushing the other man into one of the shower stalls and turning the water on. The ground beneath their feet quickly began to swirl with bloody water. Craig's soft pleas were drowned out by the sound of water and Billy's angry accusations, his face becoming molten with black and blue marks.

"My baby sister almost drowned because you were off gettin' underage strange, not doing your fucking job!" he cried, letting Craig fall to the floor in a bloody heap.

He watched Craig curl up on himself as he shut the shower off, letting the red water disappear down the drain. Stepping out from the stall, Billy grabbed a towel and dried himself off, tossing the towel down on top of Craig's battered body.

He leaned down and whispered, "The only reason you're still alive is because my sister is still breathin'..."

Leaving the broken man bleeding out in the locker room, Billy knows he's made his point clear and heads out to find Nancy and the kids.

He wanted to take Max home.

And maybe never let her near the pool ever again.

Ever.

 

 

Fin