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2017-02-18 You Understand

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2017-02-18 You Understand
Date 2017/02/18
Location Lost Light: Recreation -- Swerve's
Participants Fortress Maximus, Fritz
Summary Two mechs walk into a bar, and find out they have more in common than expected.

Often referred to as the heart of the ship (by Swerve), the bar is rarely empty, rarely quiet. Central to the whole is the bar itself: just tall enough for a minibot to serve over the edge and lined with stools capable of accommodating bots of any height. Large, clear vessels stand behind the bar, containing the brews of the day. Behind the bar, an engex distillery assures there's always something new.

Round tables are scattered across the floor. Seats fold up from the floor beneath. Large booths along the sides of the room have room for a half-dozen or more, if they don't mind getting cozy, while monitors here and there find occasional use showing old vids.

A sign outside the door says:

                        No Guns, No Swords, No Bombs                         

Underneath is written: I MEAN IT!! LOCK YOUR WEAPON SYSTEMS DOWN AND DUMP EVERYTHING ELSE IN THE BIN BY THE DOOR. It is signed with a little frowning Swerve face.

On the other side of the door is a SHAME LIST. No, really, that's what it says. It has the number of days that various people are banned from Swerve's and counts down at the start of the morning shift.


Fortress Maximus has been scarce the past few days, which is not really unusual. It's just that usually he's made himself scarce because he likes being alone, or at least thinks he does. This time it's because of that whole accident with the mass displacement gun. It isn't that he can't glare down anyone who does tease 'Fortress Minimus' over being smaller. He's just a bit embarassed.

But he seems to be at least mostly back to normal. Probably has to do with that point one percenter spark. If anyone looked very carefully they might notice he looks a little smaller than usual, but given Max's usual size, that's still...well, big.

Thank Primus, because sitting in his room on his off-duty hours was actually getting a bit boring. He's making himself socialize now, and by 'socialize' he means 'sit by himslf at Swerve's with a drink he's not really touching much.'

<FS3> Fritz rolls Kicked Puppy: Good Success. (6 6 7 5 6 5 7 2 2)

Fortress Maximus isn't the only one who's been having a rough few days recently. After the incident with Gyro, Fritz is feeling even more downtrodden, his resolve to try and make up for being such a failure completely drained from him. He'd done as Gyro asked, and then went back to his own habsuite and sat, for a very long time, on his berth with his glowing sphere, wondering again if he should leave. He only made a mess of everything here, at least with Azize he had been useful... When neither his sphere nor his playful hacking managed to make a dent in his poor mood, he'd decided to try another of his old methods: drinking.

Fritz winces slightly as the colorful display at the doorway announces his presence, a myriad of bright oranges and whites, and shuffles quickly over to the bar to hoist himself up onto a stool next to a rather large mech. He doesn't know their name, and doesn't ask, his misery not exactly desiring company right now. Instead he slumps in his seat, slouching even worse than usual, Gyro's visor being in his habsuite a heavy weight on his shoulders. When the serving drone passes by he places his order, and if the aura of pathetic downer doesn't draw attention to him, the tankard, of the same design though half the usual size of what Dinobots would order, set in front of him probably will. Fritz pulls out a purple curly straw and sticks it into the very strong engex, giving a sad little slurp as he pulls the tankard closer with all four hands.

<FS3> Fortress_Maximus rolls Socialize: Success. (3 8)

Oh. Someone's sitting next to him. Usually Max manages to come across, well, Max enough to avoid that, unless it's someone wanting to hear war stories. So he weighs his options. He could move seats, which would come across like he was directly insulting someone, and he only wants to insult some robots. This guy's a stranger, and...

Now that Max looks at him, this guy's also obviously completely miserable. Awkward. The former warden's done the 'drink until you don't feel feelings' thing before, so he knows it when he sees it. His first inclination is to leave well enough alone, but man, that mech looks like he's having a really rotten day. And Max really ought to make himself talk to people more. And he'd feeld pretty guilty if he just let this guy sob into his drink alone.

"That looks pretty strong," he rumbles, setting down his still-untouched glass. "You usually start with a...whatever that is?"

<FS3> Fritz rolls Balance: Success. (7 3 1)

With the tankard close enough, Fritz can settle his chin on all of his hands and slurp broodily through the straw currently stuck into the lower hatch on his faceplate. His legs swing unconsciously several feet from the floor while he loses himself in his thoughts. He'd known Gyro was unhappy with him, but he hadn't known Gyro was so mad that just seeing Fritz would make him purge...because that must be his fault, too, somehow. It always is...

Fritz is so deep in his zoning out that the unfamiliar rumble of a voice startles him, and he flails wildly, just catching the edge of the counter to keep himself from falling off of his stool. As it is, he's barely got one leg hooked over it, and he's half hanging off as he looks up at the source of the voice. "U-Um." He drags himself back up, four servos clenching in his lap as he avoids meeting the other mech's gaze. "Usually, yeah...I dunno, I like it, I guess. It's called a Demolishor." He peeks up at the mech next to him. "Um. I don't think...we h-haven't met, have we? I'm Fritz." Automatically, from thousands of years of habit after dealing with organics for so long (not only humans shook hands, it seemed) Fritz holds one out to shake.

"It looks like a Demolisher," Max comments, honestly a little impressed. Fritz is nowhere near his size and bulk and putting away something like that. "I don't think we have. Fortress Maximus," he introduces himself, though the hand puzzles him at first.

Wait, he remembers this from his time stationed on Earth. It's clear his handshake is out of practice, but at least he keeps a very gentle grip. "Not to be nosy, but if you're here to drink something away, I can warn you it doesn't really work. Or at least not for me. Not without something to distract me instead."

"Nice to meet you, Fortress Maximus." While still shy - the wringing of two hands in his lap enough to give that away - Fritz at least drops the stammering, for now. "Yeah, um, Swerve kind of said the same thing when I first ordered it...told me to make sure I called someone to pick me up off the floor after I drank it, haha..." The laugh is hollow, though not because of the joke itself; it's the thought that he wouldn't have anyone to call. "He was really surprised when I drank it all..."

Fortress Maximus' much larger hand dwarfs Fritz's, white fingers disappearing in the grip of Max's blue. As he pulls back, Fortress Maximus' insight into why he's here (not that it's hard to guess with how he's been moping) has what freckles are visible standing out more against the light-pink backdrop that his cheeks become. "O-Oh, I'm, I'm n-not I'm just--" Fidgeting, Fritz drops his head miserably. "I know, and it takes two of these for me to even feel it..." An arm lifts half-heartedly to gesture at the tankard. "But nothing else is working, so I thought I might as well try."

"Oh. It's like that." Max looks away, staring into his own glass and giving Fritz a little bit of space. At least he can tell he's not spooking Fritz. Just as he doesn't necessarily want to insult everyone, he doesn't want to intimidate them either. (Just some people. You know. Some.)

He finally decides to take a sip of his drink, which is a little bitter for his tastes. His fault for picking something randomly off the menu without looking. "Let me guess. 'Have you tried meditation?' 'Why don't you look into hobbies?' 'You just need to learn to relax and have some fun!'"

Fritz isn't sure what Fortress Maximus means by that, so he turns back to his drink and takes another dreary slurp, his mouth just visible in the open hatch before the straw disappears into it. But when Max goes on, Fritz's helm jerks back up, and he nearly pulls the straw out of his drink with how quick the movement is. "You--You too?" He's heard all those things and more from well-meaning mechs and organics. Azize hadn't been that obtuse, the color-changing sphere the closest she'd ever come to suggesting Fritz 'relax'. These suggestions had been better than Linebacker's beatings, sure, but were ultimately useless. "I-I mean...I've been told other things..." Which he won't say now. "They just don't understand...if I could relax, calm down, 'chill out', don't they think I would do it? Don't they think I'd be tougher, stronger, more confident, less stressed and anxious, if I could just will myself to be that way?" His voice has grown stronger as he went on, even if it's a bit desperate. "Don't they realize if I could just change at the snap of a finger I would?"

Fritz almost immediately regrets his outburst, slapping two hands over his faceplate, optics widening. "I-I'm sorry, I g-got c-c-carried away..."

Max stares at Fritz's outburst with widened optics, not because it's unexpected (though it is) but because that could have come from his own mouth. Well, probably with less stuttering and a lot more volume, maybe a fist-slam on the bar, but the content is what matters.

He takes a longer drink. "No, it's fine. Really. Where else can you rant if not at a bar? Besides, it's true. If you could just press some magical button that turned you back into the person you were supposed to be before...before, and just BE happy, you would have done that already. And the worst is that everyone's well-meaning! Some of them, anyway. And they say things like 'oh I know how you feel' and they don't! They don't know how I feel, they didn't go through it, I can't forget it no matter how hard I try and..."

This time it's his turn to notice he is, in fact, shouting. Looking slightly ashamed himself, he glances away and lowers his volume. "Uh, yeah. Me too."

<FS3> Fritz rolls Bravery: Success. (1 4 3 8)

Already feeling kind of bad, Fortress Maximus' shouting makes Fritz cower, but he doesn't bolt like he would've, because he's intent on listening to the words being shouted. At the end of Max's tirade, Fritz grips the stool with all of his hands and manages to scooch his stool closer before shifting the tankard over too and taking another swallow of his drink.

"That is the worst part," Fritz agrees, looking up at Fortress Maximus with a steadier gaze than before. "You can't tell them they're wrong, that they don't understand, they don't know, because they're just trying to help...but it's not the help you need, and if you say that they get offended and angry." He made that mistake about twice before learning to nod and pretend those words were helping in any way. "Though..." Fritz's optics drop to his renewed wringing of hands. "I wish I had a before...I've always been a failure. It was okay when I was just a mail carrier, because nobody cared. They didn't expect me to be...you know." Vague wave of a third hand. "Useful."

Max locks up for a split-second when he thinks his shouting scared Fritz. Way to go, Max. But Fritz doesn't leave or awkwardly excuse himself; in fact, he seems more into the conversation. "People want to help because nobody likes feeling helpless, or like they have no control over a situation." He should know. "If I see a problem, I try to fix it. Efficiently." Sometimes explosively. "So I've started to think, maybe that's why. There's a problem, obviously, and it needs to be fixed. Even if it's not their problem, it's ours."

He studies Fritz as the other robot retreats back into himself. "Mail carrier...oh, you're prewar." Granted, Max couldn't have imagined this fragile-looking mech being an MTO. "I've always been a soldier. Never really struggled with it." That's not entirely true, but he's not going to talk about that. "Didn't think much about people who had to learn how to do that. But communications is important." He steeples his fingers. "What about here? You don't need to be a soldier anymore here."

"I guess that could be why..." Fritz likes Fortress Maximus so far, and he doesn't want to ruin it with a disagreement, yet. He chews a little on his straw as he goes in for more of his drink, which is about half gone. He doesn't even feel a buzz through his circuits yet. "I think...maybe that's part of it, they want to feel like they're in control, but I also think..." Fidget, hand wringing, darting optics between Fortress Maximus and said hands, "I think there's a part of them that wants to feel good, if that makes sense. It's something everybody probably feels, I think, though nobody wants to admit it. I think a lot of the time...they're trying so hard to help because they want you to thank them. They want you to be tearfully grateful for their selflessness in advising you. I think part of it is...is this selfish desire to be a 'good person'. To puff out their chassis and think, yes, I did a good deed, I helped that pathetic little mech, I'm amazing. It's an ego boost for them, sometimes, more than it is a real desire to make you feel better."

He goes quiet for a few moments after that, taking to staring at his tankard, which is good because then Fortress Maximus probably won't see the way his expression stutters. Fritz won't admit that he hasn't been a soldier for a very long time; those built for the war very rarely are okay with that. "I know I don't, but...the war and everything...it's still hard to shake. And I keep messing up normal stuff, too, getting scared so easily, making mechs angry without knowing why...every time somebody talks to me it's because I'm sad or I fell or I messed up. Like right now." A guilty glance up at Max. "You started talking to me because I was upset, right? That's the only time anyone does...Sorry. I-I should stop talking now."

Max's first inclination is to bristle defensively at Fritz's assertion. He wasn't just talking to Fritz to make himself feel better! He was...well, no, some part of him really did think 'at least someone else looks like they're having a rough time too,' which is a pretty awful thought to have. He winces, rubbing the back of his neck and avoiding eye contact.

"...Yeah. I mean, it's nothing personal. I'm not good with this sort of thing." By 'this,' he gestures all around him. Does he mean talking? Drinking? Actually meaningful conversations? He doesn't say. "I just don't usually start conversations with people. Never know what to say. But," he adds in a lower tone, "for what it's worth, I'm glad I did. It's nice to have someone get it."

Is that the ghost of a smile. "And for what it's worth, feeling like an object of pity? It's the worst. So if I ever make you feel that way, you have the right to scream at me."

Fritz realizes his error in saying all of that one after the other when Fortress Maximus responds. "Oh! I hadn't meant - I didn't think you were - " he babbles, all hands gesticulating wildly in his attempts to explain. "You didn't say any of those well-meaning things to me, that's what I meant, those are the ones - the selfish - oh, Primus." His slouch, which had straightened somewhat throughout their conversation, returns with a vengeance. "I didn't mean to say you were like that, I just meant it seemed like a pattern...that I was only noticeable when I was upset or did something wrong." Heaving a great sigh for such a small body, Fritz rests his forearms on the bar and gives a sad little laugh. "I guess it's pretty obvious I'm not very good at it, either." He manages to look over so that Fort Max can see the way his faceplate shifts with the weak smile beneath it. No ghosts here.

"Oh, no, no I could never yell at you." The smile grows bigger. "But the same goes for you. You seem very good at shouting." Fritz gives a giggle at his own joke before cutting it off quickly. "Um, because big mechs are usually - um. I-I'm glad too. Um." Fidget. "S-So...do you like it here? On the Lost Light?"

Max finishes his drink, setting the empty glass down. "It's fine, it's fine," he insists, waving his hands. "Really! I get what you mean. Honestly? I feel more comfortable this way, with someone who isn't a sparkling conversationalist either. No offense. Around talkative people I just tend to, you know. Let them talk." Or try to ignore them.

But hey, Fritz is smiling! That's actually pretty nice. This is nice. The compliment manages to elicit a real grin out of Fortress Maximus. "I'm a bit of a natural. S'useful on the battlefield. And it's...you know, it's not so bad. Better than Cybertron would be, I think. I'm adjusting. It's something."

<FS3> Fritz rolls Bravery: Failure. (4 1 5 5)

"You do?" Only Azize has ever said something along the lines of enjoying time spent with Fritz. Blue optics brighten in an expression that can only be described as @U@, and he reaches up and almost, almost takes off his faceplate to show Fort Max the brilliant smile beneath it. But...his hand drops. No, he's not confident enough to show Max exactly how freckly and boyish his face is. The large mech might end up making fun of him anyway for it - Linebacker and his lackeys always did, when they managed to knock off the faceplate or straight up yank it off themselves. The smile should be obvious regardless, with how his optics shine and his faceplate moves, especially when Fortress Maximus grins himself. "I-I'm the same way...it's nice to, you know. Have a conversation where I'm not talked over all the time."

Kicking his feet a bit, like a happy little kid, Fritz nods. "Makes sense. And...yeah, that's why I came here. Cybertron right now is...I like it here better. Especially now." Because now he knows there's someone who understands, and that cheers him up exponentially. Following Fort Max's example, Fritz leans forward and slurps down the remains of his drink, before ducking his head a bit shyly, cheeks pinkening again, as he says, "Would you, um, like to talk a bit longer? I can get your next drink."

"There's value in quiet. I mean, some quiet," Max amends. "Not the 'too quiet and then you start to hear yourself think' type. I mean, uh," he turns a little red himself. "Anyway." The energon might be making him a little more frank than usual, or maybe he actually does feel comfortable enough around Fritz. Probably a combination.

Well, this is downtime, and while Max would usually just slip back into his quarters, there's nothing to do there. No real hobbies or busy work to keep away the aforementioned Too Quiet. "Well, sure, why not. Thank you. I'll try one of those things you're having. I'm a big bot, I can probably handle it."

Okay, that he's probably going to regret later.

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