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 and then we cracked the sky [18+], men, monsters & the worst road trip ever
bird
 Posted: Aug 13 2015, 11:23 PM
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number one dad
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Max doesn't harbour any great pretensions at culinary greatness; like most things in his life that aren't violence, he is remarkable mostly by being competent at all. Still, it's mindless, easy work, and it distracts him enough that he scoffs a little at this, shaking his head disbelievingly. "Really?" he says, "What's normal?" Did Solberg ever live in a place like this? He tries to imagine it. He scrapes the parsley into the pan of vegetables with a slow drag of the knife, pausing only when Solberg proposes the wine.

Then, his first thought is: seriously? This isn't even subtext any more. Max is -- trying, now, but regret still aches where the hangover has only recently stopped hurting. He looks up, expecting distance where there somehow isn't any, expecting to say something like, look, it's just dinner, don't make this something it isn't, or maybe to hear it instead, for some value of this that comes out to a little more than the sum of food, or coffee, or three-quarters of a vodka bottle. When neither of them say it, Max drops the first steak into the cast-iron and goes to wash the blood from his fingers. He has to sidle past and around Solberg to do it. The mansion suddenly feels smaller than the car ever did.

(The old, suspicious part of him asks: since when did kindness from Solberg ever come so cheap?)

But it's just a drink, and a bottle of wine and a conversation makes this a nice dinner, not scavenging a dead man's fridge. Makes it a chance to be a person, for a couple of hours, and stop looking for ghosts in the walls. The last time Max drank wine was probably years ago, and he probably drank it straight from the neck of the bottle, but even he isn't so clear-headed or hard-hearted to refuse that much. "I wouldn't know where to start," he says, toweling water off his hands, and when he looks up this time, he shrugs. The smile he gives is small but it comes a little easier. "Your call."

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XANDER
 Posted: Aug 18 2015, 02:29 AM
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local advice god
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"Rich," Solberg answers, without the slightest bit of hesitation. "Rich is normal... was normal." To say Solberg lived anywhere might imply that he had any kind of permanent residence, which he did not. However, the places he took up residence were generally expensive, well-furnished, and pleasantly isolated, in the great habit of wealthy people wanting to forget they share the planet with lesser creatures. He had artwork on the walls. He could curl his toes in the thick carpets. It is another little token of who Solberg is, who he might be, and it is traded much more cheaply than the pieces before.

Max looks up from the pan, and looks at him. Solberg meets his eyes defiantly, as if to say, Make something out of it, I dare you. What is this? What isn't it? Though Solberg only turns to follow Max with his body, it is almost as if he grows in size, like a cat fluffing its fur or a bullfrog inflating itself with air. Solberg is being nice, or he is being selfish (most likely both), and he is not about to let Max's social anxiety get in the way. They fucked, the world is ending, there's a dead man in the trunk of a car, just shut up and make dinner.

Once given permission, Solberg leans away from the counter and breezes towards the wine cellar. "I'll take care of it." And with that he is gone, as airily as he came.

For ten minutes, Max has his space and his peace again. Solberg takes a gun and a flashlight into the wine cellar, but for the first time in (what feels like) a long time, he is not jumping at the shadows, even as the light dance off the bottles. He categorically refuses to be frightened. For one night - for one fucking night, after how majorly he has fucked up - he does not want to be afraid. He wants to be clean, and comfortable, and have a nice dinner. He can press 'Play' on his new, terrible life tomorrow.

And if you want, part of him whispers, You can press 'Stop'. The pills in his suitcase would let him do that.

Solberg makes himself heard before he reappears, ensuring his footsteps are audible so Max doesn't get jumpy and shoot him. He leans in the doorway and presents his prize with both hands. "Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009. It will do." It is a six-hundred dollar bottle of wine.

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