Cartoon Tune

Northeast Portland 
#11
 Ingvar watched as Killian climbed the little hill he claimed not to stand on, assessing the other man through level blue eyes. Such passion. It was an important thing for a leader. Ingvar usually reserved his for romantic intimacy. Perhaps that once made him a difficult boss—better a distant, unknowable face on a business card.

 Ingvar hmmed with a brusque nod, moving to fish the potatoes out of the pot with a long-handled spider strainer. He placed them on a cutting board one-by-one, careful not to let any roll away from him. “No offense intended,” he began, grabbing a paring knife with his off-hand and slicing through the moderately-soft tubers with ease. He looked up at Killian, talking as he cut. “Intentions are vital to every undertaking. But I figured you were not the power-hungry sort.” He placed a saucepan on the stove and moved to the fridge, extracting cream and a sealed bag of minced onions and garlic. The sauce took shape as he continued. “Have you broached this topic with the others? If there is to be a vote, that must be done.” Was this the type of thing one scheduled? Ingvar did not know for sure. Being pack-less has suited him well enough up to this point. Still, “I plan to renovate a structure on the land where I met Kenna. It would make a decent base of operations.”
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#12
 Studying what he did with the potatoes, Killian washed his hands a mimicked the movement, taking a few potatoes for himself to slice and add to the pot. "No, you have every right to question my motivations and abilities. I don't want anyone to feel like I'm forcing them to sign on some dotted line. A pack's not a contract, it's a haven."

 He opened his mouth to answer Ingvar's question, but stopped when the man continued, his brows raising at the turn of good fortune. Maybe all of this could work. "That sounds great. If you two are already comfortable with the land and you think it would support a group -- I would be interesting in touring it, maybe that's where we all can meet. I have spoken to the others. They're skeptical, like you." He added the last bit with a smile. "But they're willing to talk about it and decide all together. I think that's the most anyone can ask for right now. So what do you say?"
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#13
 Ingvar masked a slightly upturned nose by sautéing aromatics, letting the fragrant sizzle and pop ease the tension built within him. Why it was there, he could not say. A lazy assumption of responsibility? A casual acceptance of what he saw as a duty? Who knew. Still, perhaps he was a wrong choice. Age did not bring clearsightedness. He knew this very well.

 He arranged the cut potatoes in a casserole, layering them with freshly grated cheeses and marinating the lot with the cream sauce. Glancing at timers and calculating, Ingvar leaned on the counter, taking his beer in hand, finishing the slightly-warm liquid in a single swallow before grabbing a second. He grinned at the floor to hear that the skeleton of their little pack was just as wary as he but nodded with affirmation as Killian asked his final question.

 “I accept,” Ingvar confirmed, popping the top from his bottle. “A group discussion should be interesting. And, for the record, the land will support. The area is over 100 acres. Mountainous, of course, but undeveloped and remote.” And absolute pennies of its actual value. When the pack’s use of the land was done—if it were ever to be done—Ingvar would return to sell for massive profit. Twenty, thirty years would do wonders for the value of vacant property. “I expect the sale to be made before Thanksgiving, as long as the sellers will cooperate with me.”
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#14
 "Incredible." If this all ironed out, they couldn't ask for a better set up. Remote but close to home, a backyard wilderness. "I'll set up a group message. For now, enough shop talk. This smells amazing."

 It was a rich, abundant meal that could feed a gaggle of humans. The aromas filled the expansive kitchen and Killian's beast tipped his muzzle into the air, tongue swiping over his jowls expectantly. Once everything was at the table, Killian raised his glass. Not typically one for sentiment, he indulged, encouraged when it seemed like the puzzle pieces were clicking into place. "To a bright future."
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