2018-05-21 Off-duty

From Transformers: Lost and Found

Date 2018/05/21
Location Minimus Ambus' Office
Participants Minimus Ambus, Prowl
Summary Minimus used to have some decorations.

There is a form of solace in routine. In doing your duty. In taking care of what needs to be done, because it needs to be done. It has been an old standard, from crisis to crisis, the way that Minimus deals with crisis and turmoil: retreat into a bastion of order, of structure, and force his internal reality to conform to the external.

It is a solace that he has, as of now, entirely rejected.

He is in his quarters. He has been since Ignition relieved him of duty. He hasn't answered any comms. Or email. Or evinced any signs of life.

Prowl kept busy. It was easy to. But he still had to recharge, and in these quiet moments at the end of the cycle, he mourned the loss of his crewmates. The tremendous relief that came with the victory against Unicron tempered some of the pain, but it was hard not to let his thoughts drift to Lieutenant and Rodimus in particular, when he stirred each sunny dawn in Iacon. It was also hard to justify grieving to himself, when there were others so much closer to their fallen brethren.

After Minimus had failed to respond the ninth comm ping, Prowl was going to let himself in. Thankfully he's already an asshole so this is par for the course. "Minimus," he begins, softly, standing before the entrance to the private quarters within the office.

Minimus is awake. You can tell because he answers Prowl ... more or less. He sits up on the slab, his hand curled in a fist; the other hand rests loosely on his knee. His mouth is flat. His answer is a sigh. It hues exasperated.

The doors aren't closed but the lights are off. The empty shell of his medium frame armor lurks like an empty shade over the edge of the slab, unoccupied.

Prowl crosses the dark room, nearing close enough to keep his voice low. It's hard to find the words, naturally. "I'm here as a friend, and I'm worried," he begins, simply enough. "I'm not asking you to rush out and engage, and you don't owe anyone a response, but you shouldn't isolate too excessively. Is there... anything I can do to help?" He pulls his gaze away to study the vacant stare of the nearby armor.

The lifeless eyes of the armor stare blankly off into the distance. It's easy to imagine some of Minimus's scowl having transformed the features of the armor permanently, but really, it is remote, empty, soulless. All the soul is in the small figure sitting sullenly on the corner of the slab. His boot scrapes against the floor as he shifts, slightly, and his voice rasps to life: "Lights, fifty percent."

In the half-light, Minimus looks at Prowl. His gaze narrows slightly. He contemplates a number of things that he could potentially say. He says none of them. Time begins to pass in a noticeable silence while he thinks.

Prowl ought to be more patient. But he's not. "At least permit your friends to... I don't know, take you somewhere, somewhere relaxing. Give your mind a break - ?" It's clumsy, but Prowl is doing his damnedest to navigate empathy. "I just don't want you sitting in the dark for weeks," he tacks on through a murmur.

Minimus's fisted hands tightens, barely perceptibly, and his jaw hardens as he looks away from Prowl again. He says, "I don't wish to go anywhere relaxing."

"Then perhaps the Incident Room, where we can review what went right, and what's left to tackle," Prowl follows, tension building.

Tension draws Minimus's shoulders taught. There's a little metal scrape of his fist. His eyes dart back to Prowl's features, and for a moment the enlivening spark of fresh rage might be an answer, a solution to all this moping, but the spark is short-lived; it sputters and dies out as Minimus's gaze drops, and he says mutedly, "I'm off-duty."

Prowl gears up for a spicy verbal sparring match that peters right out. His doors tilt, lopsided, as he watches Minimus' attention fall to the ground. His grudgingly cultivated empathy kicks in, and the dull pain prompts him to sit beside the much smaller mech, atop his berth. He says nothing, for now, bent forward with his fingers laced over his knees.

Minimus's head tilts slightly so that the angle of his gaze falls onto Prowl's... feet. He considers for a long moment, and then he says, "Isn't victory by ultimate heroic sacrifice enough? What do you want to analyze now?"

"I don't-" Prowl looks up at the dimly lit ceiling lamps, tempering himself. "I don't want to analyze anything." He turns his helm to look at Minimus squarely. "He told me to stop helping, you know. Just stop trying to help. Or 'whatever the frag I think I'm doing'. But it's all I can do here. So I'm going to try."

"What--" Minimus Ambus starts to lift his hands to his head, discovers he would have to unfist his one hand, and puts it down again. He turns out his open hand in a gesture. "I can't tell if I've just been staring at the ceiling too long or if that just didn't make any damned sense."

Prowl goes back to hunching. "I was attempting to smooth out some stupid misunderstanding, weeks ago, with Rodimus," he vagues. "My point is I know I'm not the best at this, but you're not going to drive me off so easily. You haven't eased my concerns."

Minimus flinches obscurely, glowers at Prowl for a beat, and then scoots backwards on the slab until his back hits the wall. In this, the smallest core Minimus of his root, he can't both put his back to the wall and let his feet hang off the side because his legs aren't long enough.

Prowl looks back when Minimus shuffles away, waits a few seconds, then slides to join him against the wall, arms folded. His smirk is cautious but clear, as he bumps against a shoulder with his elbow. "You ought to decorate your room a bit. Even I have some flair, though the only mech to enjoy it was Soundwave, and he was busy hurling me across the room for daring to spy."

"I used to have some decorations." Minimus is weirdly quiet about this admission. He barely stirs as Prowl approaches, and sits there beside him, staring downward and at an angle out towards the rest of the room.

"A colorful cup of styluses wouldn't count," Prowl peers down without turning his head.

Minimus lifts the fist he has held closed throughout this interview. He holds it out in the air before and between them, and opens his hand. The glint of yellow gold sparks bright in the half-light.

The points of the Rodimus star have been ground so hard against his metal skin that he has managed to leave grooves in his paint, but there's no doubt as to what it is he holds.

Prowl stalls sharply in his meager momentum when Minimus reveals the poor Rodimus star. A better mech could be eloquent and encouraging here, Prowl tells himself. A better mech would be able to leave Minimus with a full spark. But all Prowl can come up with is a quiet, "I'm sorry." He lifts a hand and lets it fall over the Minimus' palm, fingers loosely weaving.

Minimus Ambus sits there for a moment, still and quiet. Then his head thunks back against the wall. There's a brilliant scarlet flare of hue in his eyes, and then he cuts out his optics entirely because crying is basically the worst thing ... in the world. Out loud in a very slightly quavery voice he says, "I do also have a cup of colored styluses."

Prowl tightens his grip. "It's- That's fine, it counts," he crumbles in the face of Minimus unraveling. He'll linger in silence for a little while longer, then attempt lighter small talk, until the hour grows long, and there's no real excuse to stay. But he'll offer. And he'll ask if he can continue to check in, when he stands before the berth again, his hand still threaded through Minimus'.

Minimus is not really resistant, although neither is he enthusiastic, and his answer at the conclusion of things is, "Well, it's not like closed doors really stop you anyway," which is not the most encouraging thing he has ever said in his life. But he also hasn't expressly said 'Prowl, go away,' or anything to that effect, so--. Perhaps it's something.

Prowl's smile tightens, and there's a noticeably twitch in one door. But the answer is, ultimately, satisfying. Before he leaves, however, "I'm thinking of staying in Iacon. You should... think about remaining. With me. Here." Beat. "Just think about it."

Minimus says nothing. Like he did when Prowl first arrived, he sighs.

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