Bluff Stern Parley
It was a conversation Max wished wasn't necessary, but it was a long time coming. Whatever origin point it might've had, whatever amicable start they'd had, it had devolved into... what exactly? Max wasn't sure. Each time he'd tried to give Dakila advice - delegate, take some time off - it had gone ignored. When he tried to get an important point across - importance of not talking about pack where it could get twisted - they'd ended up getting muddled in it.

And then Max had dropped the nuclear option, a reactive response to a perceived threat. A genuine one, really, as he found himself looking for anything out of the ordinary as he sat on the patio and waited. Unconventional warfare wasn't often applicable to civilian or werewolf life, but in this case he was confident he could spot a cop in a crowd of locals. To him, it hadn't seemed like such an extreme move, but he had the experience of a pack where violence wasn't something they shied away from, encouraged in a way, and blinded by a degree of hyper-vigilance that had the wolf wanting to fight rather than be caught unawares.

He couldn't in good conscience call the way Dakila had led was good, all their personal clashes aside. The man had been overworked and unwilling to do anything about it when opportunities came up. All those things compounding with a bomb dropped and Max overreacting as an instinctive response to finally force Dakila to listen, where he had no faith the man would keep to his word.

Seemed he wouldn't, but with both Emily and Natalie against it Max had little choice but to accept it.

It was done, though, and they just had to ride it out and see whether or not it'd blow up in their faces. Max felt like it would. That or the paranoia would drive them all insane.

Rather than think about it, he stuffed a doughnut in his mouth, chewing sullenly as he waited for Dakila to show up. There wasn't... there didn't seem to be a safe place for this any more, but Bluff Stern's patio had been a good enough meeting spot for now. Early enough in the day that the second floor was largely abandoned, cold enough that they were alone on the patio. He'd ordered some things which he'd been slowly picking his way through as he waited.
At the start, Dakila had thought he and and Max had a lot of things in common. Fundamentals in their outlook, even. It had only been after some time, some blunders on both their parts, that he had begun to realize how... very wrong he'd been.

Did either of them trust each other? Dakila felt... maybe not. Which wasn't what he wanted. Hence, agreeing to meet up, in spite of the fact that his optimism was dulled lately. Not dead, just hazy. He had no way of predicting Max anymore, not without seeing exactly what it had been like in his unusually sculpted werewolf upbringing. And that wasn't an option. So he simply had to come into this hoping for the best.

Spotting him on the patio--and getting no indication that he was being followed by anyone, now or ever--Dakila approached.

"Hey," he said as he joined him, not wary, but not with warm friendliness, either. Partially same reason he didn't call out Max's name--discretion. But also... other reasons.
Dakila arriving and the neutral greeting were things Max took in stride, giving the man a wave as he swallowed the last remains of his doughnut. Whatever common ground they'd started on back in February had taken too many hits. Dakila's bad choices and Max's bad reactions to them.

"Hey, man," he finally said, straightening in his seat. "Pull up a chair. Like a girlfriend once said to me, let's talk." He injected enough humour into his tone to make it clear he was joking, eyebrow quirked and giving a self-deprecating smile. Obviously fishing for a laugh, but he was wondering if it'd fall flat.
Oh, it fell flat alright. Dakila made a soft exhale like a laugh as he sat, but that was pretty much it. He looked at the man across from him steadily after a moment, not really sure what Max was angling for here other than clearly needed to sort this all out.

For the best, maybe, that they both saw something had gone quite wrong.

Still, Dakila stood by what he'd had to do. The fact that he felt like he was on the verge of potentially another scolding didn't sit well with him, but he'd hold that feeling back, try and be amenable.

"For what it's worth, I've witnessed no evidence of anyone investigating me outside of the office."

Just to get that out there.
The rather small laugh was nothing but a courtesy, Max figured. Maybe it was too soon to joke about relationship conversations. Tough crowd. Whatever had happened, Max couldn't say he disliked Dakila, just... didn't agree with some choices.

"That's good to hear," said Max, genuine. Wouldn't have been a good feeling for Dakila if it turned out someone was getting too curious for their own good. Max was happy to be proven wrong on that count.

Still, rip the band-aid off, Max.

"Before we start I'd like to apologise, for the challenge." Max didn't function with an overblown sense of pride at the best of times, so he didn't have a problem pulling back a challenge, admitting it had been badly placed. "I had my reasons at the time, but they don't hold up now. I don't want to challenge you. What you said, it was a lot to deal with and... I'll admit to having a rough time of it myself, these days. You're not alone in pushing yourself too far. I overreacted."
Dakila was glad that he had been able to keep himself in check when Max managed to surprise him--but in a good way this time. The apology could have easily been left undone--Max clearly hadn't re-issued the challenge that night or the next day. In some ways, much easier to sigh about and waft away in the sea of terrible that they were trying to move past. But Max was willing to step up and admit he'd been wrong.

Softened a little, Dakila nodded, indicating that he heard him.

"We're all struggling," he said, not sure that ever... changed? Had there ever been a point in the last three years where he felt, truly, like any day was easy? "I'll forgive it. I'll admit at the time I was stunned. I had just offered to step down if that was what the group wanted and I felt like you were trying to call a bluff that wasn't there. Like you didn't really believe I'd give up my spot willingly and had simply said it to appease you all into cooperation."

He watched the man steadily, pretty sure he wouldn't see any indication that he'd been right after all, but still... looking. He never knew anymore.
Max couldn't hide the surprise at Dakila's interpretation of it. He'd known the reaction hadn't been good, but somehow he hadn't anticipated that Dakila had read it like that. Had Max ever given Dakila any indication that he felt he was manipulative? He didn't think so. Dakila had just been deaf to a lot of Max's suggestions or worries.

"Jesus, no. You don't look like you want the job, most of the time," Max said, grimacing at being read so... incredibly incorrectly. "Challenges aren't personal, based on my experience with my old group, it's about the pack. I didn't think about how a... civilian pack would react to it."

Challenges... happened. An indication that something was wrong and needed to be fixed and, for whatever reason, the leader hadn't picked it up.
Max wasn't wrong, exactly. Dakila had never asked for this job, he had never married himself to it. But with the pack... he wouldn't give up on them. He wouldn't walk away from them when there weren't any better options. And there simply were not. That much he wanted. To be here for them, as long as they would have him. And in the event he eventually did get replaced, he'd still do anything and everything for those who still looked to him.

Dakila looked at Max steadily, though, hearing him. But. "If you had issued the challenge at some point other than the one you did, I might have understood. But I was poised to step down and you threatened to rip me off of the stand. I'm sure you can see how that would be construed as aggressive."

Didn't matter that it wasn't personal, really. Didn't matter that Max came out of a completely different box than the rest of them. Those things were good to know in the aftermath, but they didn't change the fact that the timing itself had been completely errant.
Tilting his head in agreement, Max reached for his glass to take a sip. He wasn't denying that, the move was aggressive, even if he wasn't bothered by violence on most days. It was just... another one of those things.

The glass got put back down, Max giving a little nod of his head.

"I do, which is why I'm apologising for it," he said reasonably. He wasn't here for his health, after all. He was trying to accomplish something. "Can't say much to defend it. Just have to remind myself that a decade spent in the military has had the unfortunate effect of desensitising me to the concept. I keep it in mind to best avoid it, but- yeah, it's been rough, and the news was... alarming." He shook himself a little, shaking off the echo of the feelings of that night, the crushing disappointment, the confusion, the threat perception.

Got his hackles up, seeing red and seeing threats, crashed into his already shaken defences. Torn to shreds by a vampire. Sent into a panic by a psychic blowing up lightbulbs. Fucking shitty hand of cards dealt out these past months. Aggression as a matter of course stepped up to the plate and the context of the situation took a backseat.
Dakila nodded, any further acceptance on his part coming silently. Nothing to add. Max had messed that whole thing up and confounded the mood of a situation already on fire, but it was behind them now. They'd settled it. Max had rescinded the challenge, Dakila was still here, doing his best to make the best of it all. Looking forward to mending and rebuilding. So far it seemed well enough--though it was harder when he had removed himself from the day to day for a lot of it.

Folding his hands on the table, Dakila found himself without anything to prompt further conversation. Max apologized, Dakila had made his feelings clear, and it hadn't blown up. Whatever else was on Max's mind, the detective honestly couldn't say. And guessing wouldn't have gotten him anywhere, he no longer felt like he could predict this man for a moment.
The apology out of the way, Max knew everything wasn't sorted just because that was out. He wasn't quite sure how to approach it. How do you tell your Prince you have the impression he's been disregarding any advice you have for him? Would Dakila even care? Trends seemed to point to the other wolf finding the priorities of his human boss more important than the pack he was supposed to lead.

That little factoid was best left unsaid, he imagined. Focus on the simple things.

"Alright," he said, giving himself some more time to think, but nothing in particular came up. Mostly just a lot of hopelessness directed at their general situation. "It was important for me to say that to you, whatever comes next."

He didn't expect things would go smoothly, he expected guaranteed trouble.
Dakila nodded again. "I'm glad you felt you could say that."

Frankly, at this point, all he could do was listen to the others when they had anything to say. Dakila had already made his own case, the game was set and in motion. He wasn't so worried, all too accustomed to dealing with unrest and tragedy. But the fact was that he was still here because they had wanted him to be, in the end, and he would do the best he could with that faith. Wasn't like he or anyone else could change the facts simply by wishing.

"We'll keep sorting things out."
Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)