Author Topic: A Difficult Conversation (Max/Lea) [COMPLETED]  (Read 383 times)

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Offline Judith Eastman

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A Difficult Conversation (Max/Lea) [COMPLETED]
« on: October 10, 2019, 07:10:42 pm »
[Beforehand - Judy & Max's quarters]

"Go get 'em."
It wasn't for nothing that these were Judy's parting words from Max, rather than the usual "love you". She'd just had to give him a combination order/pep talk to do something he didn't want to do, but knew he had to. The circumstances of his life were changing, the list of his priorities was expanding, and he owed it to Lea to discuss it with her, because the status quo wasn't a solution.

He had to do it on his own, not just because Judy had a panel to speak at, but because it was still his life, his old friend, his job, his responsibility.

[Puzzles - back office - after closing]

After the bar, and the kitchen, closed up, Max almost got cold feet. He could go back to his quarters, make a midnight snack, and welcome Judy back from her long day on the moon, or so he told himself. He could talk to Lea some other time.
No.
Now was the time. He was stronger than this.

He knocked on the door to Lea's office.

"Lea?" he asked. His voice was hesitant, almost trembling. He was a little sweaty. His hands shook, like his wife's often did.
"Is now a good time to talk to you? I think we need to talk about my working arrangements going forward."

He really hoped Lea would understand. She'd taken a part-time commitment elsewhere, and spent less time at the bar, when she started nursing studies. But she'd been up-front about it, rather than trying to have her cake and eat it too like he had thus far. Despite all the reassurances from Judy at the beginning of the work day, he still felt guilty and cowardly.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2019, 05:37:12 pm by Judith Eastman »
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Offline Leanna Mazal

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Re: A Difficult Conversation (Max/Lea)
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2019, 07:13:12 am »
[Puzzles, Lea's office - after closing]

Since she had put a hold on her nursing studies and with Fells moving in, it had allowed Lea to go back to doing her share of late shifts, knowing that she had someone to go home too and not be so reliant on her Mother to watch Ari. The thought of her boyfriend and daughter made her smile and all of this was for them and to continue building and enjoying a comfortable life, without the worry or having to look over her shoulder anymore.

Even her now being pregnant, wasn't hampering anything either, finding a way to cope with the nausea and desire to eat more. Speaking of food, she could definitely eat something about now, although was mindful not to be too weird with her choices, since she was yet to tell everyone about the baby. However as she was about to get up, she heard the knock on the door, followed by the hesitant voice of her head cook.

Not overly surprised over why he wanted to talk to her, as she had noticed the amount of time, that he had been spending away from his responsibilities and how she was forced to take action and bring in extra help to cover his absences. This wasn't a conversation that she had been looking forward too and yet it couldn't go on for much longer.

Walking over, she opened the door and looked at her friend and head cook, wishing that it hadn't come to this but it had and it needed to be sorted. " We do need to talk about it Max and I wish we didn't have too, but you've left me no choice" she replied honestly, as she gestured to the sofa.

Offline Judith Eastman

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Re: A Difficult Conversation (Max/Lea)
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2019, 11:13:57 am »
[Lea's Office]

Max entered and sat down on the couch. His fear and shame were palatable, as he had thought of his actions in a very harsh, critical light.

"I'm sorry, Lea, because I've been a coward for the last two months. I knew that things were changing in my life and that I was going to need more time away, but I didn't have the courage to admit it. I tried to convince myself that I could do it all, and I'm sorry," he said.
"I wanted to be an active grandpa, get involved in charity work, spend time with Judy, and still be a full-time head chef. I've let you down, and I don't want to keep letting you down, because you're family too."

Max could end up crying if he kept beating himself up for much longer. That much was discernible already. He felt consequences that he had hid from for two months crashing down upon him.
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Offline Leanna Mazal

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Re: A Difficult Conversation (Max/Lea)
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2019, 11:29:20 am »
[Lea's Office]

The feelings of shame, fear and the shear weight of the situation, almost threatened to overwhelm Lea slightly as she took a seat next to Max. Her abilities more heightened and sensitive at the moment, owing to the life growing inside of her and fought to regain some focus as Max essentially poured his heart out too her. Wishing that he had the sense to come to her before it got to this point, where she could of helped him and taken some of the stress away. She had known him for so long and yet understood why he thought he could do it all, but at the same time, she had every right to dismiss him for his unreliability.

However she wasn't like that and besides he was right, that they were family despite him, almost causing a wedge between them and how he could of seriously caused a tonne of issues with the Kitchen. It had left her torn and now was the time to sort this out, once and for all, so she didn't have to make that decision.

" I know you don't want to let me down and I appreciate that you're sorry Max, but I wish you had come to me sooner, rather than leave me facing the prospect of dismissing you for good, because I don't want to do that, but then there's been times, when you haven't showed and it's almost caused issues, we don't need" she replied honestly.

" I understand how much your life has changed and you know I'm happy for you in that regard but I never thought we would end up in a situation like this".

Offline Judith Eastman

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Re: A Difficult Conversation (Max/Lea)
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2019, 01:32:04 pm »
[Lea's Office]

Max knew Lea was right. He'd said it himself. He'd gone from an asset to a liability, he thought, in the financial language he so disliked.
"I know you have every right to dismiss me and send me away. I've made a complete pig's breakfast of it," he said.

But he wasn't going to offer to resign in shame, because he really didn't want to do that.

"I know I lost the right to ask for favors many times over, but I have a suggestion. I'll work in the kitchen three days a week, and you will choose which three. I can help train the new head chef, whether it's Pieter or someone new, so the kitchen can work smoothly without me," he offered.
It was an emotionally difficult ask. He really didn't want to admit that he was not going to stay in the head chef role forever. As much as he loved the new avenues of his life, he wasn't ready to cut off from the old. That as why he had waited so long, and why he was now in this position.
If he had asked two months ago, when Judy had just retired and he was in good standing, he could have asked for the things he truly wanted - for his three days to be synced with Judy's consulting schedule (Tuesday and Thursday, plus one other day), and for himself to devote his working hours to innovating new culinary creations like he loved to do. Now, he would be lucky to stay in the kitchen at all.

"Whatever you decide, Lea, I want you to know that I'm very sorry about letting it get this far."
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Offline Leanna Mazal

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Re: A Difficult Conversation (Max/Lea)
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2019, 01:59:16 pm »
[Lea's Office]

His comment about making a complete pig's breakfast of it all, was putting it mildly and yet she knew she had to be honest with him, just like he was being with her now. Still he wasn't making it any easier for her as she really didn't want to let him go, not after five years of always being reliable and an important figure in the business. Yes she understood that life changed and so did priorities but she had least been upfront and honest and yet there was no point on dwelling on what should of happened.

The damage had already been done and now they had to find a solution that would benefit, not only the both of them but to also keep the business going. So when he spoke again, she listened, agreeing that he had lost the right to ask for favours right now, as he would need to earn her trust again. However considered his suggestion as he then apologised once more.

" There's no point in dwelling on what's already been done, because we can't change that Max, no matter how much we want too .... However I do accept your apology and agree with your suggestion" she replied, looking over at him, her tone serious.

" I would like you to work, Monday, Thursday and Sunday, you'll be joint Head Chef with Pieter for now and you have to promise me, not to repeat this, because at the moment, I need to trust you again".

Offline Judith Eastman

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Re: A Difficult Conversation (Max/Lea)
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2019, 02:15:44 pm »
[Lea's Office]

The wave of relief that washed over Max came out in the form of joyful tears. They streaked from his eyes down his cheeks (had he shaved this morning? He was now aware that in his trepidation over this meeting, he may have forgotten to) and onwards from there.

"Thank you, Lea. Thank you. I won't fail you again," he promised once he got them under control.

Then, he got a small ping on his personal communicator. A message from Judy, "take your time".

This reminded him.
"Despite everything I told her, about how it's all my fault for neglecting my responsibilities, Judy wants to apologize as well. She..."
He trailed off.
"She can explain it herself, but she wants to make it up to you too. I can take you to her, if you want to hear her too."

[Outside Puzzles]

Judy stood outside, patient but a little anxious. She was worried for Max's well-being - in the off-chance that Lea were to fire him, he'd be heartbroken - but she also had words to say herself. She felt guilty for offering Max the temptations and opportunities that lured him away from his responsibilities, and she wanted to make it up to Lea as well.
She had two offers, one for if Lea chose to fire Max, and one if Lea kept him.

The chef's wife tapped her heel on the deck somewhat anxiously.
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Offline Leanna Mazal

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Re: A Difficult Conversation (Max/Lea)
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2019, 02:31:23 pm »
[Lea's Office]

The tears of relief and joy that followed, were felt by Lea not only seeing them physically but also emotionally, thanks to her abilities and the bond that had almost been broken. Still she knew that she had made the right decision, before she received his heartfelt thanks and gratitude.

" I believe you"she replied softly, before his comm went off.

When he then explained about Judy and how she also wanted to make it up to her. Lea wasn't sure that she was ready to see her or not. It was one thing to deal with Max but he couldn't take all of the blame for this.

However she decided to at least hear Judy out and go from there.

" Okay Max, I'll hear her out and you can bring her here if you'd like, before I go home".

Offline Judith Eastman

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Re: A Difficult Conversation (Max/Lea)
« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2019, 03:11:58 pm »
[Lea's Office -> outside -> Lea's Office]

"Thank you, Lea," Max answered.

He went out, where he saw his beloved waiting. She looked a little tired, a little anxious, but overall in better shape than he was.
She saw that he had cried, but had not run out crying, and took it as a sign that he had not been fired.
They stepped into each other's warm embrace.
"Lea agrees to hear you out too," Max said after a solid minute.
"Wonderful," Judy answered.

She stepped in, with the very emotional chef at her side, and sat down, setting her large handbag on the ground.

"I'm sure Mr. Williams has already told you all about how he got it wrong for the last two months, but I don't think he's told you that Mrs. Williams set him up," Judy opened, using only her married name to underscore her closeness with Max.
"When I retired, I should have had a conversation with him about individual time vs couple time going forward. Will he work less, how much, when. Instead, we decided to play it by ear. And each time an opportunity arose to do something nice together, I offered it to him, and when he kept saying yes, I didn't question how it was impacting his work. I tempted him; I stole him away from you and from his work."

Max wanted to interrupt Judy, repeat points he'd already made, but she didn't let him. She held up her ring finger to his yap, a gesture that took much strain but had distinct meaning, and then finished.

"In ancient Hebrew law, a thief is obligated to return what he had stolen. Since I can't return his time, I'm offering the next-best thing. My time, every Sunday, gratis. I do know my way around a kitchen. I'd also prefer to have Max's days closely clumped together as much as possible, so we can take trips together without disrupting anyone's schedule, but it's really not my place to make demands."

Max's eyes lit up when he realized the genius of his beloved's offer. She was a culinary talent rivaling himself, and working together in the kitchen was their greatest joy. That Sunday was such a sought-after day off only made the package sweeter.
He only hoped Lea would see it as a win-win the same way he did.
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Offline Leanna Mazal

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Re: A Difficult Conversation (Max/Lea)
« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2019, 03:27:51 pm »
[Lea's Office]

After Max had thanked her and left to get Judy, Lea took a moment to gather her thoughts and grab a drink, so she could prepare herself for speaking to Judy. However by the time, Max reappeared with his wife in tow, the Betazoid was focused and ready to hear her out.

Appreciating the use of her married name as she explained how she was also at fault for taking Max away from Puzzles. Understanding why as she did with Max and yet found herself agreeing with Judy how she had stolen him away, without realising the impact that it was having.

" I appreciate what you've told me Judy and as I said to Max, it shouldn't of come to this, not when it could of have had serious consequences".

Then as Judy continued and offered to work Sundays, as well as asking if Max's shifts could be clumped together. Lea considered it, just like she had with Max.

" I'm afraid I can't guarantee that his days will be clumped together, owing to the fact that Pieter is also away with the Phoenix and I can't have anymore issues, however if you want to help him out on a Sunday, then that's okay with me, as long as you abide by the Kitchen rules".

Offline Judith Eastman

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Re: A Difficult Conversation (Max/Lea)
« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2019, 04:33:07 pm »
[Lea's OFfice]

"Of course, of course," Judy answered, finding the reminder on kitchen rules a bit amusing. "And Lea dearest, if you're worried about those kitchen rules, I should really remind you that at our age, such things get rather too painful."

Max looked at her with a knowing smile at the innuendo. It wasn't that they didn't have their fantasies. They just had an awareness of their physical limits, some of which was gained the hard way.

"Now, I think I should take Max home to unwind, but we should make plans sometime, like back in the olden days," she then said.
Max was remarkably grateful for what seemed like a peaceful end to the whole episode, and a valuable lesson for him. For now, he just wanted to wash it all away, and if he knew Judy, the word "unwind" meant they'd sit in the hot tub and do just that.
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Re: A Difficult Conversation (Max/Lea)
« Reply #11 on: October 11, 2019, 04:41:44 pm »
[Lea's Office]

The reminder about the rules had been serious and Lea wasn't in the mood to listen to any innuendo or otherwise. " Not at all Judy, it was more as a reminder about this whole situation, rather than me knowing those kind of details" she replied, thinking of an embarrassed child with their parents.

She was glad of the change of conversation, when Judy mentioned taking Max home and how they should make plans sometime.

" I'm sure we will and I should be getting home too".

Offline Judith Eastman

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Re: A Difficult Conversation (Max/Lea)
« Reply #12 on: October 11, 2019, 05:36:41 pm »
[Lea's Office -> Passageways]

"Well, good night, Lea," Judy answered as they headed away.
"Night," Max echoed.

The two of them headed off, hand in hand. They'd gotten through this battle, as they had done before.

Near the end, Max gathered the energy to sweep Judy off her feet and carry her to their door.
"You're a brilliant woman, you know that?" he asked her.
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