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2018-10-31 Ground Control to Major Max

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Ground Control to Major Max
Date 2018/10/31
Location Space
Participants Fortress Maximus, Fritz
Summary Fritz pays Max a visit while he's far above the world.

In the fight to regain control of Tempo, the Lost Light is going to need a distraction force to occupy the defenses. A very big distraction. And Fortress Maximus is nothing if not good at running a fearless main assault. Maybe that’s why he was chosen for this mission. Or maybe because he’s usually so big already, it’s not that much of a stretch...

And Brainstorm, like any self-respecting scientist, has a mass shifting ray.

This is why a nearly Titan-scaled Fort Max is floating alongside the Lost Light, tethered carefully, given time to adjust to his current state before he’s dropped down to Cybertron. He’s resting now, because even moving takes a lot of effort and fuel, and just enjoying the quiet. And trying not to be alarmed at how much the Lost Light looks like one of Rung’s models from this angle.

Fritz was obviously not happy about this plan. Brainstorm's inventions have already caused Fortress Maximus grief once before, weakening his spark and making him less capable than he used to be. And now, Max has gone and used a mass shifting ray on himself, potentially causing further strain on said spark; to say that Fritz is upset would be an understatement.

Yet he didn't protest too much, only tried to tell Max to be careful, stay safe, don't overextend yourself. He doesn't need Sunstreaker biting his head off again for trying to keep Max from the frontlines. So he keeps all that anxiety to himself, letting it manifest in how neurotic he's been the past few days about paperwork.

At least until a few moments ago, when he'd been peeled out of his office and told to take a break. Fritz doesn't want to go back to his room, so instead he heads to the storage bay, picking up a few magnaclamps and heading out onto the hull. Tightening his armor against the chill, Fritz settles down and looks up at the giant Max floating alongside the Lost Light.

<<"Max?">> he comms. <<"Are you awake...?">>

Max is slow to react but clearly awake, his biolights flickering and his eyes glowing at the familiar sound. Well, not sound, and even if he wasn’t in space he isn’t sure he’d be able to hear Fritz right now anyway.

He turns his head to get a better look at Fritz and smiles, zooming in on the orange mech. <<“You came out here. Thank you.”>> Even his comm sounds a little warped and strange from the scale difference. <<“It’s a little lonely.”>>

Fritz's doorwings flick, and he tries to push down the roiling guilt in his tanks at that. He'd been maybe putting off coming out here for a bit, not wanting to see the results of an action he very much hadn't wanted to be taken. <<"I'm sorry it took so long,">> he says at last. With his feet magnaclamped to the hull, he can stand up, and unconsciously reaches toward Max with one of his main hands. <<"I'm sure it is, which is why....I wanted to check up on you. How are you feeling?">>

Max shakes his head. <<“You’ve been busy, and it isn’t like there’s much to do out here.”>> His frame vibrates to suggest he’s chuckling. Is Fritz reaching out at him? It’s a little hard to see, but...

He reaches right back with an open palm, carefully so he doesn’t accidentally swat Fritz. << “I’m going to be fine. Promise. This’ll be the most fun I’ve had on the battlefield in years. And then I’ll come back to you. And I guess I feel...heavy? Is that possible without gravity? Medical said it’ll be a little painful when I’m on a planet...” >>

That’s an understatement and Fritz will know it, as the one who handles the paperwork.

<<"I should have made time before.">> Thanks for giving him that out, Max, so he doesn't have to admit that he's been avoiding it. When that palm, so large now that it fills Fritz's vision, approaches him, a tremor runs through his entire frame. He fights against the fear, and keeps reaching, until his fingertips brush plating. It's almost funny, how much worse their size difference is now. More space between them than there's ever been before.

<<"Just focus on what you have to do, that's how soldiers do it, right? Put everything else to the back of their processor?">> Fritz's weak smile bleeds through in his tone. <<"I know you'll come back to me, Max. I trust you to.">>

<<“Exactly. You’re becoming quite the soldier yourself.”>> Max gently scoops Fritz up and brings him closer to face level so he can see the bright smile, but it also highlights how tired he looks already. There’s a reason Medical said to start him off a few days early, to adjust, and also to shrink him back as soon as possible. Especially with his spark.

<< “...But thank you. I know this puts you through hell. The battlefield in general, I mean. You don’t deserve that. Even if it is nice to have someone care so much.” >>

<<"I wouldn't go that far.">> Shifting so that his magnaclamps attach themselves to Max's hand, Fritz settles into a sort of crouch. He can't help but return Max's smile, even if it's much more difficult for the giant tank to see. Hopefully that means Max won't notice how strained it is, how much that fatigue bothers him. <<"You don't deserve it, either, you know. Once this is all over...maybe you won't have to do things like this anymore.">>

<<“I hope not. I’ve been thinking that...”>> A distant look comes over Max’s eyes. <<“Whether I did this or not, my spark isn’t going to hold out for the battlefield forever. I know that. I’ve known it, just been in denial, I guess. G9, the coma, the spark gun, all the stress...” >> His eyes dim. << “I know I’m young to be talking about retirement, but sometimes I feel so old.” >>

<<"Sometimes I think age isn't only about how long you've lived.">> Fritz carefully shuffles across Max's palm so that he can lean against Max's thumb. It's taller than he is, even with his new, larger frame. <<"You've done, seen, experienced so much. Enough to make anyone tired, regardless of how long they've been functioning.">>

Max nods his head very slowly, pushing his thumb up in what is the closest he can manage to a cuddle right now. Well, the closest that wouldn't smash Fritz to bits. << "Sometimes I think it would be nice, once Cybertron's safe again, to take a few centuries off. Retire somewhere to a-a-what is that? The places with the cows? Not with cows, I mean, but...I don't know. Open some kind of sanctuary for organics and other creatures displaced by all of our wars and Unicron. Finally start going to school for therapy. I know that's hokey." >>

<<"So what if it's hokey?">> Fritz says the word oddly, even over comms. Clearly he's never experienced it before, he's just trying to pretend he has. <<"I don't know what the cow places are called, but I think a sanctuary is a nice idea. I could handle the paperwork for you, deal with the business end...we could find a quiet planet to work with, somewhere we're not misplacing any more organics.">> He gets a dreamy look on his face as he presses his cheek against Max's thumb. <<"Somewhere far away from war.">>

<< "We?" >> That was clearly something Max was waiting to hear from the upswing in tone and the way his biolights glow softly. <<"I'd been meaning to ask if you wanted to come with me. We could...I know last time we tried to get living arrangements together we weren't ready, but maybe now...I don't know if we'll ever be away from war for good, but I would hope maybe it'll give us a little break, you know?">>

Fritz flushes, which helps a bit against the cold vacuum nipping at his freckled cheeks. <<"Um, yeah,">> he says, fidgeting. <<"I'd...I'd like to come with you. And I know we weren't before, but I think...we could be, when this is over. And I know it's stupid to hope we can stay away from fighting for the rest of our functioning but...">> He resets his vocalizer, more out of habit than actual need, considering he's not actually using it for this conversation. <<"...A break would be nice.">>

Max brings his hands to cup around Fritz, perhaps realizing how cold it must be. He is, at least, radiating heat. Yet as he looks down at Fritz an anxiety hits him, and the words get trapped in his...processor? He's not speaking aloud. This shouldn't be so hard.

<<"Maybe we could be, you know. We could look into the Rites. Sometime.">>

There he goes, bringing things up as gracefully as he ever does.

Surrounded by Max's hands, the heat of his frame does sink better into Fritz's, and the slight shivering that had been running along Fritz's circuits eases. He curls up against Max's thumb, a sudden and sharp wave of nostalgia hitting him - once Max is back to normal, he won't be able to do this anymore, ever again, because he made himself too big for it.

Thankfully that awkward broaching of a serious subject brings Fritz back to the present, and his vents make a startled stuttering noise. <<"The--the Rites?">> he repeats, somehow managing to squeak through comms. <<"You--you want to--with me--?">>

<<"Is this a weird time to bring it up?">> asks Fortress Maximus, currently the size of an actual fortress, floating out in space while his boyfriend clings to his hands. Yes, of course it's a weird time to bring it up. But it's also a time right before he goes into a life-threatening battle.

<<"I wanted to have the guts to bring it up before...before I go up against Megatron's entire defense

force, or something like that.">> There's another frame-shake of a laugh, and he averts his gaze as best he can. <<"We don't have to do it now. But I want to. I've thought about it for a long time. If we're going to retire together, why not?">>

<<"No, it's, it's fine. There's never a right time for these things anyway, right?">> Fritz gives a shaky laugh, unheard in the silence of space yet carried by his comms to Max. <<"I...I'd been thinking about it, too, but I didn't...I guess I didn't...I didn't expect you to want to, so soon.">> All four hands up in his lap, nervously wringing as he tries to find the words to keep talking. <<"After the whole, um. Nanite thing...but, but we can. After you come home, if you want, or when we retire, or---whenever. No rush?">>

<<"No rush.">> Now Max is blushing, trying ineptly to hide it with his free hand. <<"I know, it is soon. And we need time to adjust. We can do it whenever we want. It's...nice to think about.">> He dims his optics, bringing Fritz a little closer to his chest. Not all the way there, of course.

<<"Well, first we have to get Tempo back. I'll keep in contact with you during the battle as long as I can. You don't have to watch, but...">>

<<"It. It is, nice. To think about.">> Fritz presses his face harder against Max's thumb, as if that can slow the tide of warmth and embarrassment currently flooding his systems. <<"I don't think I can watch, from up here. But I'll stay in contact. Just....come back. That's all I want, right now.">>

<<"I'll come back. I can't promise what sort of shape I'll be in, but I'll come back. No more comas, though.">> Max holds his hands to his chest as if it's the closest thing he can do to returning the forehead-press at the moment. <<"Do you...I know you're busy, but do you mind staying here a little longer? I know it's space and it's cold, just...">> It's also very empty.

Unfortunate that Fritz still isn't close enough to press a hand to Max's chest, over his spark. He hugs that thumb harder instead. <<"I'm on break,">> he says, huddling down. <<"I can stay for a bit longer. And...if I ask, I'm sure Rodimus will give me some wiggle room.">> (edited)

<<"Tell Rodimus you need a break to reassure your big sparkling of a boyfriend, how's that.">> Max smiles down at Fritz, beaming. <<"Thank you. We can talk about how nice the sanctu...farm! Farm, that's what it's called. We can talk about the future for a while.">>

<<"I'm sure he'll be okay with that. He's still getting back to work, anyway.">> Fritz laughs, and nuzzles Max's thumb. <<"Okay. Tell me more about our farm.">>

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