London | February 9, 1986

It’s a few days after The Hospital Visit and Max had promised Darius some good ol’ fashioned hang out time. She stands in front of his door, knocking continuously. She’s clad in her Sunday afternoon clothes- ripped acid wash jeans and a Who T-shirt. Her coat is in her hand and a strange muggle instrument strapped to her back. How she got in the building is a mystery.

Darius pulls open his door, unsurprised to find Max on the other side. He’s wearing a black sweater and gray pants today, really mixing things up, and he has a mug of tea in one hand. ”Hey Max,” he says in greeting. “Come on in. Can I get you anything? A drink? Snacks?” He leaves her to close the door, and wanders into his living room.

"Snacks please. I had to take Roxie to my mum's and I skipped lunch. How are you?" Max takes a second to look around his flat, seeing as this is the first time she's seen the place. As she nosily walks up to the mantle, she recognizes their picture and smiles. "Aww, I can't believe you still have this. Those were good times, hmm? Well crazy times. But they made us who we are." She smiles at him and deposits her keytar on the couch.

Darius shifts course for his kitchen instead. He takes out some cheese, which cuts itself into slices with the wave of a wand, and sets out some jam and crackers to go with it. Craning his neck to look into the living room, he smiles. “That was a good day. I like being reminded that not everything of my life in London before was terrible.” He carries the cheese plate out and sets it on his coffee table. “I see you’ve brought the keytar, by the way. Taking my lead and busking for ice cream money?”

Max laughs as she crouches down to turn on said keytar and adjust some nobs. "I'm honored to be part of your not-terrible past. That was a fun day indeed. And no, actually. I brought Persephone because," she whirls around for dramatic effect, "We're gonna jam!" Noticing the cheese plate, "Literally and figuratively." Taking a seat on the floor, she begins to load up a cracker with goodies. "But first, update me on your life please. Now that we're not in a hospital setting…or drunk on the dancefloor."

Darius actually takes this all in stride. He disappears down a hallway momentarily, and when he returns he’s carrying his old guitar with him. It’s a bit beat up at this point, but it’s a guitar. He sits down on the floor across from her, setting the guitar in his lap. “Oh. Not too much, really. I work a lot. I was in the highlands for a few days recently. What about you?”

Upon seeing the old guitar, Max brightens. “YES!” She claps a bit for him and then pops the cracker in her mouth. She at least waits until she’s finished chewing before speaking again. “Eh, I’m doing well actually. For once. Settling in again. Meeting people. You know.”

“Really? That’s great.” Darius does an admirable job hiding any surprise. There’s a pause while he pops a cracker into his mouth and chews as well, but once he swallows he asks, “So who’s Jonas?”

"You don't miss a beat do you?" Max smirks at him and pulls Persephone from her perch. She fiddles with some dials before sighing. "Jonas is a guy I'm seeing. I knew him from San Francisco and we both moved back here at the same time."

Darius takes a bite of a piece of cheese and offers a tight-lipped smile. Brushing off his hands, he picks up his guitar and starts to tune it. “So what’s he like, then?” he asks, looking down at the neck of his guitar, which in turn adds to the casualness of his question.

Max begins to play the synth sting to A Flock Of Seagulls, 'I Ran'. She's actually quite good for being an amateur. "Darius, if you ask me questions about boys, I'm going to ask you questions about girls." Grabbing another loaded cracker, she eats it at grins at him. "You ready for that?"

Darius looks up at her under his eyelashes before promptly beginning to play his guitar in time to her song. He doesn’t know the chords to this one exactly, but does a decent job improvising. “I think that depends on the level of depth we get into. I feel like I just threw you a softball though.”

"What's a softball?" Max asks innocently. She continues to plink along, riffing off of what Darius plays. "Well ok, let's dance then." Getting to the sweet solo, she adds a bit of flair of her own. "He's really sweet. Thoughtful. We've eaten food together. We saw a movie. What do normal people call that? Dating, right? How about you? Dating anyone?"

“Actually, I don’t know? My ex used to say that,” Darius muses thoughtfully. He even stops playing guitar for the moment. That moment stretches out at Max’s description of what ‘dating’ means, and her subsequent question. “…Yea, I guess I am too then,” he replies, only to go back to playing right after.

Max let's the solo draw out until quickly flicking a tone knob and switching gears. It's a simple enough opening, but she gets pretty into 'Jump' by Van Halen. "I get up! And nothing gets me down!" She sings out to him. "What's 'er name? Doesn't sound like Paige," she sings to match the first verse.

Darius refrains from singing for now, but does keep playing along. “It’s way too soon for names. It’s not like she’s my girlfriend,” he points out. “She’s just an interesting person I have shared a few meals with.” He pauses a moment before adding, “I don’t actually want a girlfriend, right now.”

“Not like she’s my girlfriend,” Max repeats with a lilt, mimicking him. “What does it take to be someone’s girlfriend these days?” She continues to jam until he adds his last part. This brings her to a dead stop. “I don’t wanna be that guy, but I’m gonna. You have said that exact phrase for four years now. Even I think with miss Switzerland. What’s with the commitment-phobia?”

“A conversation about it at least, I should hope,” Darius counters. “And enough time to really get to know one another. An agreement to be exclusive, or whatever.” He stops playing again to tick these requirements off with his fingers. “And that’s not true. Elena was definitely my girlfriend. I didn’t want to marry her, but we were in a committed relationship at least.”

“Fine, fine, fine, fine, fine. I walked right into that one,” Max says as Darius goes down the rabbit hole. “She’s not your girlfriend then. How long has she not been your girlfriend for?” Changing the tone on the keytar again, she gets real cosmic-sounding and attempts Space Oddity. “And apologies to Elena. She deserves better.”

Darius sighs and leans back, propping himself up with his arms. He has stopped playing, and almost looks a little sad. “Is it so bad to just… enjoy spending time with someone, without worrying about what the future might look like?” He asks, sounding as if he’s genuinely looking for Max’s thoughts on this. “I never lied to Elena, or led her to believe I wanted to marry her. I actually told her I didn’t think I’d ever get married, which was true at the time at least. I’m not trying to be a bad guy, here.” He flicks some lint off his sweater before finally answering her other question. “We met last month. But have only really been seeing each other for a few weeks, really.”

Max continues to play, nodding along to what he’s saying. The change in his voice causes her to look up and she catches the sadness there. “Nah, it’s not bad. It’s a little UNUSUAL. I mean don’t we all just want to know if we’re wasting our time and affection on someone who doesn’t share the sentiment? That’s all I mean. But you’re free to live your life and not have to explain to anyone why you do what you do.” She adds an electric flourish, grinning. “Not even me. Though maybe me, you know I live for your gossip.” She blows a kiss at him to lighten the mood. “Good. If she makes you happy, that’s all I need to know. Now, do you have an electric guitar here? I don’t know if you can still shred.”

“Not really?” Darius replies, tilting his head at Max. “Maybe eventually I’ll want that. And I have in the past. But right now… well, I don’t know if ‘happy’ is the right word per se. But she’s very… calming.” He pauses after the word, as if he’s just figured that out for himself. Rather than continue to explain, he gets up and picks an odd box-like object off a shelf. “Not an electric guitar, but this’ll have the same effect.”

“Calming. My stars, that’s the most romantic thing I’ve ever heard,” Max giggles at Darius a bit before coughing it away. “Hey, if that’s what you’re looking for, fantastic. Is the sex good at least?” She beams up at him, knowing she’s most likely pushing his buttons. Yet when the strange box comes out she recoils a bit. “What is that?”

“It’s not romantic,” Darius says defensively, but at the same time, the comment makes him think. Pointedly ignoring her second question, he picks his guitar back up and plays the opening riff of ‘You Really Got Me’. Rather than the acoustic songs that came out before, his magical box makes it sound just like an electric guitar – just without all the cables and stuff.

Max takes note at the lack of sharing, yet shrugs it off. Maybe he’s had enough prying for today. She focuses her attention on the magic box and once the electric sound filters out, her mouth drops open. “Now THAT is the coolest thing I have seen in a long time. DARIUS!” She jumps up to her feet, eyes wide. “WE SHOULD START A COVER BAND!”

Darius stops playing again as he breaks out into laughter. “A cover band? Who would we cover?” After pausing to glance between all two of their instruments, he adds, “And we don’t have a drummer. Or bassist. Or… singer.”

“Who WOULDN’T we cover??” Max beams at him, clearly just having come up with the best idea ever. “And those are mere details. We can find people or we can just charm the shit out of a drum kit. I can sorta sing, but I’d have to work with it. Who cares, it’d be so much fun.”

ABBA,” Darius responds. “I’m drawing a hard line at ABBA.” He starts I’m on a new song, playing quietly to himself for a moment. “Yea, okay. I’m down. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a band. Maybe this time it will actually help with the ladies,” he says with a playful grin.

“Yeah agreed, no ABBA,” Max adds flatly. Her eyes start to get bigger and bigger as she thinks of the possibilities. “I’ve never been in one so you can call this a childhood dream fulfilled. Ooh what if we make costumes!” She attempts a flying kick off the couch, a la David Lee Roth. It’s maybe not so successful. “You could wear zebra striped leggings and I’d wear a bodysuit with a leather jacket.” She’s off in her own world at this point. “Oh shit, we could even get a grand piano and I could play Purple Rain while you stand on it during the guitar solo.”

“Uhh. No costumes either. That’s another hard line,” Darius says as he continues to play. He purses his lips at Max. “I said I wanted to impress the ladies, not cause them to question my sexuality. I need a drink, by the way… do you want anything?” Setting his guitar to the side, he moves to the kitchen.

“You’re missing out. I bet I could put some really cute stuff together.” Max settles back down and sits in front of her keytar. She ruminates her costume idea for a moment before turning her attention back to playing. “Psh. Sexuality is just a construct by a patriarchal society, man.” She channels her San Francisco brethren here. “And I’ll have whatever you’re having.”

Darius leaves all of that, browsing through his various bottles of liquor as an excuse to change the topic. “You’re having scotch, then,” he calls back, pulling down two glasses and pouring a finger’s width of scotch in each. As he starts to root through his ice box, he adds, “With ice.”

Max starts to play Beethoven, which sounds a little odd coming from a synth. Her classical piano skills are more fine tuned than her rock skills, luckily. “Scotch it is! So how has work and stuff been?”

“Ehm… honestly? It’d be better if my friends or ex-girlfriends stopped getting attacked by dark wizards,” Darius calls from the kitchen. When he emerges with two glasses of scotch a moment later, he’s frowning down at the floor. But he perks up a moment later, and sets her glass on the table before going to sit on his couch. “Other than that it’s great. I’m all settled in at this point, and I love what I do. It’s better than the hospital in Geneva. What about you? I mean, are you looking for a job?”

“Hey, it’s not like I got bored, called up a dark wizard and asked him to jolly up my evening. I have no idea where he came from or what he had to do with modeling. Or Paige. Or that other guy that we met there.” Max trails off, then gleefully takes the scotch. “Well that’s good. I’m glad you’re fitting into your new life so well.” There’s a slight bitterness there but she washes it down with her drink. “I’ve been making calls around town. I tried to get in touch with my old partner back when we had the gallery but he’s moved on to other things. I guess I’m still trying to figure it out. Figure it ALL out.”

“There have been times where it’s felt like that’s what’s happening. Except it’s a Paige usually attracting the trouble, not you,” Darius says with a sigh. He has a sip of his scotch, quirking an eyebrow her way as he swallows. “Gallery? So you want to get back into the… art stuff?” Darius is very cultured.

“That….may be true.” Max switches off her instrument and kicks off her shoes. She then joins Darius on the couch, drink in hand, sitting to face him with her back against the armrest. “Yeah the art stuff. I’m a damn artist, or have you forgotten? Been making weird stuff since I was five. Now of course my tastes are more refined. But I’d love to get a group together and exhibit stuff in my own place. The art scene back home…ah…back in San Francisco was really wild. You’d hate it.” She jabs at his side with a foot, giggling.

“Right, of course I remember,” Darius says with a very serious nod. “So you’ve been… making art. And you want to put it on display so that people will buy it.” He glances around at his own sparsely-decorated living room. “I would buy your art.” But catching her slip, he lifts his eyebrows at her in surprise. “Do you really think of San Francisco as home now?”

Max smiles and stifles a laugh. She corrects him in the nicest way possible. “I want to create a space where other people put their art, which may get bought, and we’d divide the proceeds. I could also host more famous artists and sell tickets to the public. My art is my own, but I love the community. Though, of course I wouldn’t say no if someone ever threw money at me for a sculpture.” She looks into her glass, stirring the ice cubes around slightly. “I did, at least. For a while.”

Darius nods slowly as she explains, staring off into the middle-distance. "Got it," he says once she's finished. "You would curate the art. Like a museum. A museum of things for sale." He kicks his legs up on the coffee table, and gives her another searching look. "You weren't in San Francisco that long. What made it home, for you?"

"Sure, you can boil it down to that." Max seems slightly frustrated, but she lets it go. "Well that's where Roxie grew up. That's all she knows and for three years that was my reality. No drama, no parents, no people dying around me, no ex husband…well no ex really at all…just a clean slate where not everyone knows my business. Some people would pay for an experience like that. And now I'm back, I almost got killed again, and you and Paige. Well…whatever about you two. If it weren't for Jonas, I don't know, it would be near impossible to deal with this place."

“Right,” Darius agrees, listening intently now as he watches Max. “That’s basically what I was after as well. Switzerland never felt like home to me, though. Maybe next time I should just go to San Francisco.” He grins a little, but without much humor. “But wait. Me and Paige? What about me and Paige?” He narrows his eyes in confusion. “You shouldn’t have to worry about me and Paige.” He takes a thoughtful sip of the scotch. “I’m glad you’ve found someone though. He sounds nice? You’re not going to ask me to punch him at some point? I’m still not the punching sort.”

"Switzerland is not California. Like, did Zeppelin ever play Geneva?" Max grins at him. "It was actually maybe not as bad as I made it seem when you visited me that day. I was in a bad place at that moment, it happens sometimes. But other than the few, it wasn't the worst place to exile myself." She takes a long sip of her Scotch. Damn he really has a good one here. "Of course I worry about you two. You're my best friends. And I had sort of hoped you guys would be…I dunno." She switches subjects. "I'm sure you'll meet him at some point. And no. We're past punching people now Darius, we're mature. We make voodoo dolls these days."

“They did, actually. I want to say… in ‘71? I might be off,” Darius replies, because of course he knows. He continues to watch her rather intently, and frowns a little. “We’d be what?” he pushes. “Happily coupled up by this point?” He sounds a little bitter, but washes it away with another sip of the scotch. “Well I don’t know how to make voodoo dolls, so you’re on your own though. But I’m glad you seem happy for now, at least.”

At least Max is well aware when her foot is in her proverbial mouth, seeing as she's done it about a thousand times. Darius' happy couples comment spells that out for her. She places her glass on the coffee table and reaches down for her sneakers. After slipping them on and neatly tying them, she gets up from the couch and heads over to pack up the keytar.

“Max,” Darius says as a complete sentence. “Please come back. I’m not trying to fight with you.” He rubs his brow with one hand, looking mildly upset as he ducks his head.

Max pauses for a second, trying to locate the damn strap to her instrument. "It's cool…" she replies lightly. There it is! She fishes it out from under the table and quickly clips it onto the instrument. "I'm used to it?" She frames this as a question, but after years of their shared history, it is certainly a statement. "I can tell you're exhausted from work. I should let you get back to your afternoon."

“No, it’s not cool. Max…” Darius trails off, hesitating as he struggles to figure out what to say. “I just don’t want you involved in any of that stuff, is all. You’re one of my best friends. I know you’re also friends with her, but… I’m still good by myself, right?” He asks it quietly, as if the question – or the assumed answer to the question – is something that’s been bothering him.

Max finally stops packing up and turns to look at Darius, face flat. "Still good by yourself? What does that mean?" She earnestly tries to figure out what he's getting at. She probably should have finished that damn good Scotch.(edited)

“I mean, I know I’m the shitty friend here. But you’re not going to cut me out just because I’m pissing off Paige, are you?” Darius actually sounds genuinely concerned. “I don’t want her to be a part of our friendship. That’s why I never talk about her with you. We have better things to talk about, surely?”

Max stares at Darius in disbelief before letting out a wholehearted laugh. "So THAT'S what this thing has been about. You could have just started there and skipped over the whole mopey-I'm-only-going-to-half-answer-your-questions bit." She holds open her arms, beckoning him in for a hug. "C'mere, stupid." She says this with all the love in the world, of course.

Darius gives her side-eye, but he sets his drink aside and gets to his feet anyway. “I don’t understand what just happened,” he admits. Despite this, he goes to hug her anyway.

"Of course you don't. I promise to explain it to you when you're older," Max says as she hugs Darius. "But listen, you never have to worry about that, ok? You and I are solid. Forever. No one will ever get in the way of that." She pulls back, yet still holds onto his arms. Giving him a serious look, "Just don't turn into an asshole or anything."

“I’m not an asshole…” Darius says as if defending himself from a schoolmarm. “Well, I’m not an asshole most of the time, at least. I think. Anyway, finish your scotch? I want to see how much Floyd you can handle on that thing.” He nods to indicate her keytar.

"I said don't TURN INTO one. But glad to hear it's on your mind already. That's a positive step forward." Max eyes the scotch and sighs. "You don't have to twist my arm there." She pulls the strap over her head and carries the keytar to the couch. "Well, comfortably numb is actually really easy. What else did you have in mind?"

“Money, maybe?” he asks, going to tap the music box with his wand again. When Darius starts to play his guitar again, the box kicks in with the bass line.

And the two best friends jam away into the late afternoon, drinking scotch and talking about whether or not TRON was better than WarGames (it was).


ArannahMithren Nilli

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