2018-12-28 Short Break

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Short Break
Date 2018/12/28
Location Cybertron - New Iacon - Break Room
Participants Rodimus, Prowl
Summary A quick break from day one of Soundwave's hearing.

Rodimus ducks beneath the sweep of a hovering camera as he makes his way out of the trial chamber. He walks at an easy, unhurried pace. His features are set in an even, thoughtful expression.

It's the kind of sober, serious expression that you might find in a psychology textbook when you're trying to look up what people look like when they are taking things seriously, and paying attention. It's also unmoving.

That's not a fact that the camera has noted, even in its infrequent passes over Rodimus in the crowd. He's gained a little extra attention: for his relationship with Soundwave, for sitting with his cassettes, for carrying the Matrix, for being Rodimus. All of these things earned him an extra moment on the newsfeed, but his mask has held. Perfectly reasonable people might think Rodimus attends with an air of quiet, sober reflection.

In the privacy of a back breakroom that's his final destination, a more familiar observer at close range would easily see it for what it is: a rictus mask, frozen in place. When Rodimus triggers the code to kill it, he's left hollow as he stares at the energon he's poured from the dispenser. A small viewscreen high on the wall continues to show Soundwave's continuing testimony.

And it continues, and continues, and continues.

Prowl had been surprised. He didn't think he'd be, knowing of Soundwave's surreptitious history, but the scale, the extent, the follow-up... It's not impressive! It's not. But it... feels like it should be. Or does it? Prowl has spend the better part of the day confused and troubled, but it's better than dwelling on his own hearing.

Prowl had followed Rodimus out into the break room, tilting slightly to study his vacant profile. "You could probably escape through the service panels, if you fold your spoiler up."

Rodimus twitches in surprise. The energon slops over the edge of the cube and onto his hand. He makes a face at it, then makes a deeper face as he starts to bring it to his mouth and reaches instead to rinse it off. He looks tremendously tempted, and his spoiler lifts, shifts, and angles as though considering just how far it might have to fold to let him sneak. Then the line of his spoiler flattens, and turns down, angling in a slump. "I can't sneak out. I've got to be there when Soundwave finishes, and meet him when he walks out, and leave at his side, and this is day fragging one, Prowl. Day one."

Prowl watches the slosh of energon. "Just... look forward to watching Starscream's dramatic charade of kinda'-sorta' remorse," he offers with a smile that doesn't quite make it past his flattened lip. "...I'm not trying to... provoke," he begins, as gently as he can manage, "but what exactly did you expect to hear?"

"Oh, Starscream." Rodimus pauses, shaking damp hands mostly dry and then igniting them to shed the last of the solvent in a puff of steam. Overkill. "Smokescreen started to put together a betting ring on how Starscream's was gonna go -- complicated, right, lots of different layers to how he'd invoke Megatron, the angles he'd take? -- but Mainframe and Jackpot turned it into a drinking game. Want a copy?" Please note him not answer the question.

Prowl is always acutely aware of when he's not given answers. "I'm not sure what I'll do after my hearing, so I'd better remain sober. You probably shouldn't engage either. You're a public figure like the rest of us. Viewers are going to criticize how stiff your expression is. How much you didn't openly flinch. That sort of slag." He waves his hand. "How much did you prepare for this, Rodimus?" he asks, rounding a table to look him in the eye.

Rodimus flinches now. His features twist in irritation and resentment. He stares at the energon -- fresh, warm, delicious -- and then slowly pours it out. "I read it, you know? Or -- I tried. I skimmed it. I thought I did. I thought I prepared. I thought I knew what to expect, but it's so different when it's Minimus's dry, honestly kind of impenetrable words on a datapad, and when it's Soundwave's voice speaking and acknowledging them all, one by one, in words I can't misunderstand. I didn't flinch enough? Frag, Prowl, I have no idea what my face would be doing if I hadn't locked it down."

"I didn't say it was good, or that it made sense." Prowl moves to pour his own glass of energon. He swirls it absently, looking back over at the screen. "It's a lot," he agrees. "Soundwave is a different mech, obviously. He wouldn't be doing this otherwise." He looks back to Rodimus, thumbs hooked on the lip of his glass. "You might want to find Minimus if you're still too wound up to refuel tomorrow. He knows a little more about forgiveness. I think. I hope."

The ventilation that cycles through Rodimus's frame is long and deep, as though it's the first ventilation after a break from vacuum or being submerged. Like the first breath in a day.

"He is different," Rodimus agrees. His voice is quiet, but the words steady him. The perfectly obvious, perfectly clear words. He watches the screen now, expression easier -- although he's not reaching for energon again. "You hope, huh? You're after Soundwave, right?"

"Yeah. I'm as prepared as I'll ever be. But what about you? You and everyone else are going to look like the most precious little misguided newsparks after us, but don't bank on it being easy. You worried about messing up any relationships?" Prowl asks, maybe too eager to share his dread.

Resting his hand lightly over the point of his hood, Rodimus says, "No," after only a brief moment. "No, I've made all my worst mistakes too publicly to be afraid of the rest of the secrets, I guess." He seems -- confident. Not cocky, but assured, and calm. He seems closer to peace, considering it, and he gives Prowl half a smile. "You know, I used to ask myself if I was only with Soundwave because at least then I could think I wasn't the worst person in the relationship. Awful, right?"

Prowl stares at Rodimus for a lengthy, uncomfortable moment, gently working his jaw. "Worst person? Is that how you felt with Minimus and Drift? I just figured you wanted a relationship with a different... pace." He finally offers his energon, tilting his helm. "Soundwave isn't as squeaky clean as Minimus," he mutters. "One day I'm going to write Minimus a ticket for jaywalking."

His expression lighting, Rodimus laughs: "Record it," he asks -- begs -- Prowl, with a casual wave of his hand as he turns the energon down. "And yeah, sometimes. Too much. Minimus is -- intimidating," he admits a touch reluctantly. "All of that integrity and goodness and sometimes I felt like it just made it easier for me to see the ways I didn't measure up. And Drift, he's come through so much, and he came through it with this empathy that just. Humbled me and also made me kind of mad? Like jealous? He's got a core in his spark of ununtrium."

Prowl smirks. FINE he'll keep his mild medium grade (Silverbolt's favorite) and maybe sip at it. "He'd be so wonderfully indignant. Have to catch him first."

"Measure up? Minimus has his own issues. They just don't involve the law, or... mmmass murder." Prowl's shoulders slump. But Drift's praise is readily dismissed. "I'm sure his spark of ununtrium is going to shine brightly when he outlines his time under Turmoil in front of the committee."

Closing his eyes, Rodimus rubs the brow of his helm. "I don't know if he will. But -- I take your point. It was stupid, anyway. Stupid and unhealthy. I got over that with Soundwave. I know that's not why I was with him." His gaze turns back toward the screen. Still going. "Even if it's a little hard to remember right now."

Prowl's left door twitches at the thought of Drift potentially slipping out of this. Maybe he'll write an angry e-mail. Something nice to focus on.

"No one would fault you for getting distance," Prowl says, words carefully paced. "I thought Minimus would cut everything off, when I told him. Soundwave sounded... I wouldn't say resigned. But there was an annoying acceptance about what could happen."

"No." It's easy for Rodimus to say today as he looks up at the monitor and rolls his head on his shoulders, bracing to go back out there. "He's come pretty far to be able to do this. I'm walking out of here with him. And besides, you tell me how distance'd read in the newsfeeds."

"...All of this would read better if that stubborn skidplate took off his badge," Prowl huffs. He settles into a chair. Looks like he's staying here for a bit. "You've got this, Rodimus."

Rodimus stops to reach for Prowl's shoulder, weaving past his doors without pinch or poke to squeeze the armor over his arm. "So do you, Prowl. I'll be there when you speak, too. As your friend."

Prowl takes a page from Rodimus' book and mock-retches. But then smiles. He's okay with this, clearly.

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