2016-04-13 Olly Olly Oxen Free

From Transformers: Lost and Found

Olly Olly Oxen Free
Date 2016/04/13
Location Lost Light - Command: Rodimus's Office
Participants Rodimus, Ultra Magnus
Summary Rodimus and Ultra Magnus clear the air.

A small plaque outside the door reads 'Captain's Office -- Rodimus of Nyon'.

The room is fairly regulation. Where flames once ringed the doorway and magenta colored the walls, the ship's normal coloring carries through.

Center of the public space is Rodimus's desk, which is covered with doodles and scraps of some ancient Cybertronian dialect. More often than not, it's covered by datapads he hasn't quite gotten to yet. The other furniture in the room is suitable for a bot of Ultra Magnus's class -- or, with some adjustment, a much, much smaller minibot.

Not that much time has passed. Still, it seems remarkable how much can be crammed into a little time. It's possible that Ultra Magnus would let Rodimus keep his distance even longer, if not for the particulars of the instant crisis. As it is, Ultra Magnus hand-delivers the first reports on the bombing and the instant first medical charts that he receives to Rodimus. He's stopped only long enough to forward highlighted copies of the original Whisperer incident reports to Tailgate. It's not that he didn't provide all of the documentation to Tailgate when he took office -- there's just no reason not to give him the heads up.

He skips past greetings as he strides through the door, providing summations instead. "Getaway and Drift are both in medical. Drift is still in surgery but should be in recovery soon. You may actually already have gotten this from Knock Out already, but I have the initial reports for you in any event."

Rodimus's head lifts as the rest of him drops into a slouch, providing an unusual end result where his gaze remains level as he comes more or less to attention. A knife stands embedded in the metal surface of his desk, which has been recently cleared of its accumulated stacks of material. It has apparently been cleared in the most Rodimus fashion possible -- the sweep of his arm -- judging by the scatter of datapads in the corner.

Then Ultra Magnus's words register, and he rises. Rodimus braces his hands on his desk and leans forward, gaze intent. "Recovery," he repeats, more a reminder to himself than any sort of question or doubt. He reaches out for Ultra Magnus's reports with sudden need. "Anything new?"

"Yes and no." Ultra Magnus hands off the reports. The security report is very initial, with a temporary gating in place around the oil baths so as to prevent anyone from disturbing the crime scene, and the medical snapshot is basically chart notes that have been dashed off in a quick copy, basically a medical shortcut to ask again later. "There will be a complete investigation but it's only in the initial stages." With the reports no longer in hand, Ultra Magnus comes to rest before Rodimus's desk, his hands folded neatly behind him as he lowers his head and frowns there, "Forensically, it appears as though Drift was closer to the center of the blast so he /may/ have been the primary target, but until they're both recovered enough to be more thoroughly interviewed, it's hard to make anything of that."

The sideways skew of his glance briefly lingers on the datapads Rodimus has scattered on the floor, and it's this pause that holds his tongue for a moment until the vent of a sigh escapes him. Shaking his head, he returns his gaze from where it wandered to linger on Rodimus's features instead. He says, a little dryly, "For one thing, he has a habit of leaping into harm's way. There's no telling whether he might have thrown himself on a bomb to protect Getaway from an attack, for example, until we have more information."

Rodimus shifts to take a seat on the corner of his desk as he skims the reports. Just at the edge, he sits with one leg drawn up, thigh resting on the desk's surface, and his other leg stretched in a brace. The foot not bracing his leaning perch swings off the edge of the desk to thump arrhythmically against the side of the desk. He doesn't look up from the reports, but he does give a fuzzy sort of smile as Ultra Magnus speaks of Drift's tendency to throw himself into harm's way. "That'd be just like him." He pages back up through the report again when he finishes, double-checking on Getaway's condition after spending so much time going over Drift's. "Think Tailgate's ready for an investigation like this?"

"No, probably not," Ultra Magnus answers with ready frankness. "He lacks any formal training whatsoever. But luckily, he isn't without support. Many of his deputies are competent to assist, and I stand ready as well." His hands still laced together behind him, he watches Rodimus and his restless thumping. Where his gaze wandered at first, now it stays, weighted and thoughtful, like the faint shade of frown that turns his mouth down at the corners as he stands there.

Looking up when Magnus says he stands ready, Rodimus gives him a quick smile. "He might lack training, but he doesn't lack intelligence or sense -- or support." He sets the datapads face down on the desk and rests his fingers on the back. His gaze follows his touch, studying the bland backing metal. "I'm sure he'll find answers, given time. I guess we probably can't lock everyone in their rooms until he gets them, huh?"

"Not very efficient. In any event, we're parsecs from anywhere. If we don't dock anywhere and release no shuttles, no one aboard is going anywhere." Ultra Magnus considers for a moment, and then adds, "Hiding is an extremely limited solution to any problem."

"Yeah, I gue-- hey." Rodimus looks back at Ultra Magnus with his gaze narrowed in suspicion. "I wasn't hiding."

<OOC> Ultra_Magnus flips a coin. It comes up TAILS.
<FS3> Ultra_Magnus rolls Human Studies: Failure. (4 5 2 6 4 1 4 5)

"I apologize," Ultra Magnus says, except that then it becomes extremely apparent that this isn't an apology at all: he lifts a hand from behind his back and turns it out in a gesture that sweeps the room. "I can turn around and give you the opportunity. Perhaps if I count back from ten."

Rodimus stares at Ultra Magnus for nearly a full count of ten -- maybe a fast ten, but definitely not a three, or a five -- before he recognizes, "That was a joke." His eyes widen. "That--."

That wasn't a funny joke.

Rodimus breaks off, lips pressing tight, and pushes off the desk and into Ultra Magnus's space to give him a hard shove. (This is what got you in trouble in the first place, Rodimus.) Since that's a pretty silly thing to try, he just leaves his hand pressed against Ultra Magnus's side and leans in to him. "If I was hiding, what were you doing?"

Ultra Magnus gives no ground to Rodimus's shove, but stands still and solid before him like a massive blue and white statue. It's rare that he has found threat of any kind in the invasion of his space ... while in the armor, anyway. The low hum of his engines beneath his surface is a quiet putter, low steady heat beneath the pressure of Rodimus's hand. He looks down the disparity of their heights to give him a frown that seems to have more to do with weariness than anger. "I was waiting to see how long you would choose to avoid the consequences of your actions, given the option," he says. His gaze widens and grows brighter with a greater intensity burning in his blue and brilliant eyes. "How long would I have waited?"

"Scrap that!" Rodimus pushes again, which has the effect of bouncing him back on his heels and a step away. This also reduces strain on his neck cables. Magnus is too tall. "You don't get to tell me I'm hiding and act like you weren't avoiding it, either."

Ultra Magnus again fails to give ground. He's very good at playing wall. The brilliant and not-at-all-scarlet optics he is currently wearing narrow. Magnus slides his feet slightly wider in their plant, refolds his hands behind his back, and gives Rodimus a particularly impassive look. "What exactly do you imagine I was avoiding, Rodimus?"

Rodimus hesitates. He doesn't have a good answer for that, and it shows. "I -- don't know. I don't know! But you could've found me, too! Why's it gotta be my fault?"

"Because chasing you around to expound on appropriate behavior like a cadet instructor is beneath me," Ultra Magnus snaps at him in a sharp, edgy prickle. Pickle prickle. "In fact, it's beneath both of us. I was reviewing witness reports and discussing the situation with Tailgate, you know, while you were still in the brig," and his emphasis is hard and sharp, "and he made the point to me that it's difficult to keep you engaged for long talks. And I realized: the reason for that isn't because you have an attention span that lasts roughly the duration of the average musical chord. It's because you know all of this already. Perhaps not all of the specific regulatory citations I could prepare."

Two similes in as many seconds. He's really on fire today.

Surprise wipes Rodimus's expression to a blankness that's easily mistaken for incomprehension. Yet as Ultra Magnus speaks, while his expression is fixed, the lines of his body language round out of their bristle. The sharp, aggressive angle of his spoiler slumps into a droop while he settles his weight back on his heels. He's left without an argument -- or an answer. He just shifts his weight from foot to foot.

"You already know," Ultra Magnus says in a quieter voice, without the prickle. As the fight wilts out of Rodimus, he shifts. His hands loosen, dropping to his sides out of their tight clasp behind him. "I don't understand why you would embroil yourself in this kind of nonsense. I know you can be hotheaded--" He breaks off, and shakes his head.

Rodimus steps toward Ultra Magnus, but then jars to a halt. He turns to the side, and moves away to the desk. Rodimus places his hands on the edge and braces. After a moment, he gives the datapads on the desk a hard flick that would take them clattering on top of the pile of others if not for the fact that they run into the knife. "That's me! I'm hotheaded! I never think things through. I run from my problems, and when I can't hide, I'll lie. I never pay attention, and when I do, I don't care." He spits the words hot and fierce at his desk, anger sharpening the angles of his body again.

Magnus steps forward, his heavy boot coming to rest maybe a centimeter from Rodimus's foot. He invades his space, looming up beside him like a giant ... looming person. His frown is intent, his gaze serious. "Argue with me, not Soundwave, or anyone else." Where Rodimus got all shovey with Magnus, Magnus gets all grabby with Rodimus instead. His hand curves to curl broad fingers around his upper arm. "You care harder and more personally than any commander I have ever served," he says. On the one hand, that list is mostly Tyrest, which isn't much help, but then again, it also appears to include Optimus by construction, so there's that. "Are you going to tell me that you ended up in that mess because you showed forethought? I'm not sure it matters in the scheme of things who threw the first punch--" (It was Scotty, probably.)

Turning to Magnus, Rodimus looks up at him without the shielding blankness to protect him from the open hurt of his expression. "I don't want to argue with you," he says. There's no anger in his words when he speaks to Ultra Magnus; he saves that for himself. "And I really don't want to argue with you when Drift's lying in medical and we don't know who attacked him or why they did.

"Maybe I was avoiding you, yeah," Rodimus admits, looking away. "I know I messed up. I didn't want to disappoint you," he says, risking a glance back, "except I already had, and then I just didn't want to face you, I don't know, resigning or something stupid. I didn't expect Vortex to go off like that! I'm not making excuses -- I'm not! -- but he was needling me, and needling me, and he called me a coward, and everyone just can't shut up about how I fell off, because I can't do that right either--" Good thing Magnus doesn't need context, because that is so baffling without it. "--so yeah, I was mad, but I didn't think it was that bad, except everyone's acting like I just beat a subordinate or something, but I wouldn't!" It's also a good thing they don't breathe.

"I am certainly not going to resign," Ultra Magnus says firmly. His thumb glides in a slow stroke over the inside of Rodimus's arm, and then he draws his hand back, letting it fall to let his fingers clatter lightly across the surface of Rodimus's desk.

"You did disappoint me," he says. There is a simplicity to this, a quiet recitation of fact, that does not soften in the face of that plain hurt, for all that he might have some temptation to let it. "I expect better of you. I hold you to the highest standards. And I will continue to do so." There's a long intake of air with a hint of rumble that courses through his frame as he frowns down at Rodimus. "You shouldn't have allowed Vortex to bring you down to his level. You are the captain of this ship. Getting into an absurd scuffle in a bar while off-duty is ridiculous. Come to that, the idea of you being a coward is patently ridiculous."

Rodimus tips his head down, hesitates, and after a moment, leans forward to press his helm to Ultra Magnus's chest. He mumbles something. It might be 'sorry'. He then presses his head a little more determinedly against Ultra Magnus. "I never really thought you were going to resign. But I thought maybe--." He breaks off. He doesn't clarify. Instead he shakes his head -- still pressed against Ultra Magnus, yes -- and says, "Just felt more like a stupid Hot Rod than a super awesome Captain Rodimus."

Magnus does not draw back, though he is slow to lift his hand in comfort in the midst of what has been a stern talking to, in the theory that this is counterproductive. In the end, though, his hand lifts anyway, falling as a warm and solid weight across Rodimus's back. He can no more deny him this than he could refrain from saying, "That's probably because it was stupid behavior, Rodimus." He's very comforting, right? His arm draws more firmly across Rodimus's hips and waist as he leans forward into him. "I don't know what you thought," he says. "I was extremely annoyed with you. Particularly when the reports first crossed my desk and I discovered that you had somehow contrived to brig yourself. I almost snapped the datapad in half." Even his facial insignia frowned. "I am still frustrated with you," he goes on, with his arms around Rodimus, like the galactic champion master of mixed signals. "But I'm starting to hear that you may have been more angry with you than you were with Vortex."

Rodimus shifts into the curve of Ultra Magnus's arm to maximize the surface area of their contact. He turns his head to the side, pressing his cheek to the metal of Ultra Magnus's chest rather than his forehead, and sighs. The slow circulation of his ventilations whispers against Magnus's side, then steadies into a regular cycle. "Vortex was just being stupid, but no, I wasn't really mad at him. Then the way everyone reacted just made me more mad."

The next sound Magnus makes is the vent of a particularly exasperated sigh. It might be more believable if he made any move to divest himself of his commanding officer, but he stands there holding him in the solid wrap of his embrace, and his frown is left to linger unseen upon his features, admonishing no one. "This really isn't all baggage from your very silly field trip, is it?"

"No. A lot of it's about Sk-- wait, you know about that?" Rodimus draws back, pulling away to get a good read of Ultra Magnus's features.

Ultra Magnus gives him a level look and states with particular dryness, "Thank you for that assessment of my powers of observation, Rodimus." His features suggest an altogether milder form of exasperation than they have hosted so far, skewed with a shade of sardonic humor. As far as scary frowns go, this one is not, particularly.

Rodimus considers that a long, long, looong moment -- far longer than it really needs to be considered, in fact. "You never countermanded the course change or questioned the time spent in orbit."

"No, I didn't," Ultra Magnus says with an air of aggrieved patience.

Rodimus steps further out of Ultra Magnus's arms so that he can take his hand and lift it to his lips. He does not try to climb him to plant the same somewhere on his face. Not this time. "I should've just told you. It's like -- a thing, isn't it. I keep coming back to it. Just tell you."

Weight resettling backwards onto the heels of his great feet, Ultra Magnus watches Rodimus as he turns his hand over in his grasp, knuckles brushing against his jaw. He says quietly, "Would it be so hard?"

"Obviously, yes," Rodimus says in a mumble as he ducks his head against Magnus's hand.

"The worst thing I can do is disapprove," Ultra Magnus points out with more of that same exasperation. "You still outrank me, remember?"

Rodimus doesn't say anything to that. He just wraps Ultra Magnus's arm back around his middle and steps against his side again. Hint, hint. "It wasn't silly. It definitely wasn't very silly. Just because it wasn't -- I don't know. Whatever you do for fun. Make charts. Make charts for Drift," he adds with a sly look up.

"It was completely silly and very risky." Ultra Magnus vents a noise a little like a snort as Rodimus unsubtly bumps up against him for more pets -- but he still delivers. He winds the wrap of his arm a little tighter around Rodimus and presses with a slight squeeze that might make it difficult for him to escape. P.S.: don't tell him about the duty clock. He isn't thinking about it. "Yes, I made him a chart. I wanted to give him something personal that wasn't-- I don't know." He breaks off, frowns, shakes his head, and looks a little glowery. "Anyway, it was just a return gift. He gave me his musical collection. -- Were you about to say that a lot of it was about Skystalker?"

"Nope!" Rodimus pauses. He thinks. 'Just tell Magnus', he said. He literally just said. "Yes," he admits. "He's -- from Nyon. He got out."

Rodimus considers the rest of it all, and then summarizes it with a succinct, "It's complicated. But it's not his fault. Sometimes it's hard to let go of the times I messed up -- and then I just mess up more." He looks down, frowning. "Should ask him to sit in with Drift when we can't, maybe." We. Hope you were planning on that, Magnus.

<FS3> Ultra_Magnus rolls Chirolinguistics: Success. (7 5 1 4)

Ultra Magnus is quiet for a moment on hearing this. Venting softly in a slow whistle of air, he takes Rodimus's hand in his. His hand is too large to comfortably speak with, or to smoothly lace their fingers together in a gesture of affection, but he makes the effort to speak that way anyway: tracing in a careful working of his fingers along the seams of Rodimus's hands, light but sure. Always hard to let go of mistakes. I never do. Hard as it is, it's easier in the silence, somehow.

After a beat, he resets his vocalizer. He says: "I'm sure medical will be delighted."

Rodimus wraps his hands around Ultra Magnus's as his words still, clasping that large palm between his hands to pull it against his chest. "I don't care about medical." He really should care. The good will of medical is important. "I do care about Drift, though."

"I know you do. So do I. Don't tell him, his grinning face is ridiculous and terrifies me." Ultra Magnus makes a low, gently exasperated noise with the shake of his head, but he's not fooling anyone at this point. His arm wrapped around Rodimus's waist, he tugs gently to resituate him, drawing him forward across his chest again to press him tight there for a moment as he says: "He'll pull through."

Releasing the tension in his body with a long, final vent, Rodimus relaxes against Ultra Magnus's side with a warm purr of his engine. "Fine. Our secret. I like his grinning face, though. And I think you do, too. Everyone likes his grinning face -- except Soundwave, but he doesn't like anything, so whatever. Can't believe he was holding rightful punishment of Vortex hostage against this ridiculous scheme."

Neither confirming or denying that, Magnus says, "Mm." Almost absently, Ultra Magnus's broad fingers glide in a long, heavy stroke down the center of Rodimus's back. He says, "It is ridiculous, but it's not a bad idea for crew cohesion if you can be seen to be making active efforts with the Decepticons. How hard can it be?" he goes on to ask, with touching naivete. "You're the friendliest person I know."

Turning his face to hide his grin against Magnus's chest, Rodimus wriggles and rolls his shoulders, pushing into the touch of his hand. "I know that's not true, but I'll take the compliment, anyway. Sometimes I think it'd be easier if I could actually be the best version of me that you think I am -- or that I can be, maybe," he adds with a wry twist, well aware of just how far he is.

"I was about to say, I'm pretty sure I just spent at least a few minutes taking you to task for nonsense, so I don't think my vision is all that unclear," Magnus says in a slightly nettled way. "Perhaps not as long a lecture or with as many footnotes as originally planned--" He starts to draw back and then stops. His hand, sliding back up again, knuckles hard at the center point of Rodimus's spoiler at his back as though to bite into some last lingering tension in his frame.

The noise that Rodimus makes in answer to that pressure is less easily hidden against Magnus's chest, and escapes -- quietly, but still escaping -- with the throaty warmth of his engine. His knees might go a little weak. That's not a tension he should really shed. He shifts, bringing his arms up, but he can't exactly wrap his arms around Magnus when he's all Magnus-sized. Annoying. "Well, it's like you said," he says, the words a touch rushed. "What good is a long lecture with footnotes when I already know?" He plants his hands and pushes back a touch, looking up with a frown flickering into place. "Someone giving you a hard time about your vision?"

Ultra Magnus shakes his head, failing to explain. Looking down into Rodimus's face, he says, "There's no point. You're already punishing yourself more than I would have. If perhaps not for exactly the same things. Sometimes you confound me, Rodimus. Other times, I find you ... altogether familiar." He starts to ease back, in a slow, sliding scrape of his feet over the floor, but with a demonstrated reluctance to let go his grasp entirely.

Rodimus reaches to keep Ultra Magnus's hand as he pulls away, which is dangerous, since the next thing he asks is, "Let's go over our shift schedule and figure out when we can make time to sit with Drift?"

"I really have a lot of work to do, especially if I am going to be rendering all assistance to Tailgate," Ultra Magnus says with a slow, uncertain frown. "I don't know how reasonable it is for the captain and second in command to spend a lot of time on some kind of vigil..." He trails off, looking at Rodimus's face, because he knows that that's where he's going to find all his counterarguments. That's the thing about Rossum's Trinity -- the spark versus the processor, well.

"I know. And it's important work, and I'll do whatever I can to help -- even if that's just clearing your schedule of other stuff so that you've got more time to work with Tailgate," Rodimus promises. That may be reassuring or terrifying. He folds his hands over Ultra Magnus's and looks to him clear-eyed and steady. He doesn't plead or beg or whine or manipulate or anything of the sort. All he points out -- very earnest, yes; very full of feeling, yes -- is, "You can do some of the work from there, though. And we can take turns. And I'll ask Skystalker to be there, too. And I think it'd mean something to him, to know we were there."

Magnus starts to marshal another argument, of some kind -- you can see it on his face -- but what he says, capitulating as he often does not to manipulation or wheedling but to earnest feeling: "... all right." He looks down at his hand in Rodimus's clasp. "I have a chart in my office with our duty shifts on it already," he mutters. Something like guilt sounding in his voice, he starts to pull his hand back. "I keep it color-coded."

<FS3> Rodimus rolls Chirolinguistic: Success. (2 8 5)

Thank you, Rodimus presses into Ultra Magnus's hand as he pulls away, then lets it go. He turns away, facing forward and moving out of his office to head to Ultra Magnus's. "Okay. Let's go get planning, then. Have I told you lately -- ever -- how much I love your charts?" This is temporary enthusiasm at best, surely, but it will hold long enough for them to make good use of the charts.

"I can tell you with perfect truth that you have never told me that before in your life," Ultra Magnus tells Rodimus. "But you might like this one." He fails to explain why until he can show it to him, and even then, he lets it speak for itself. Some scrupulous and attentive past Magnus has carefully delineated the times when they are both off duty in green and gold.

It definitely makes working out the timing for the Drift watch easier.

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