2016-05-21 Minimus Life Crisis

From Transformers: Lost and Found

Minimus Life Crisis
Date 2016/05/21
Location Lost Light - Command: Rodimus's Office
Participants Rodimus, Ultra Magnus
Summary See title.

A small plaque outside the door reads 'Captain's Office -- Rodimus of Nyon'. There is a drawing printed out and taped to the door. It's hilarious and a little inappropriate.

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.

It's getting on towards late in the evening -- toward the sensible sleep shift, if not to it quite yet -- when Minimus Ambus ventures forth from Ultra Magnus's demesnes through the halls of the command deck to find Rodimus's office. There is little hesitation about his slim green and white figure as he strides along the hall to slip inside. Rather than timidity or awkward shyness, he walks with a slightly abstracted air like something is on his mind, but not like he is unauthorized to be here or might be caught doing something that he shouldn't. When he crosses the threshhold into Rodimus's office, he moves rather like someone who belongs here.

When the door opens, Rodimus flinches as though he's been caught doing something he should. He's settled cross-legged in the oversized Magnus chair, a datapad in hand. He throws the datapad casually on his desk, but there's nothing casual about the inevitable consequence of the careless toss: an empty energon cube filled with styluses overturns, and the first datapad comes to rest against a stack of others to knock them over too. "Hi!" says Rodimus with a brightness that fails to conceal ... anything.

Minimus Ambus watches the domino effect his arrival has triggered with a kind of beleaguered aggravation. He turns his head to survey the damage with a slightly exaggerated focus, and then levers his gaze -- as with effort -- back to Rodimus in the large chair. He says: "Hello, Rodimus."

Rodimus unfolds, rising sheepishly to his feet. He sweeps up the fallen datapads and leans over to press a kiss on Minimus's forehead before turning to clean up the mess. "One sec," he says, somewhat distracted, as he returns his desk to a state of controlled chaos.

Minimus Ambus rests fingertips against Rodimus's back, their pressure warm and solid for a moment's beat before he moves to start helping him order things. "What even is all this...?" he says with a sigh coursing through his vents, as he says almost every single time he comes in here and helps Rodimus clean up after himself. It's like a refrain.

It actually looks like research on the historical place of outliers in Cybertronian society, but Rodimus hasn't gotten very far. He scarcely opens the datapads before he gets bored and moves to the next. Maybe if they had pictures. Or vids. EXPLOSIONS. The one he threw onto the desk appears to be a legal text, except he's covered the page with scribbles, lining the margins with soldiers who fight in the middle above the text.

File it under: trying.

"Nothing." Rodimus sweeps the pile away so that he can turn, catching Minimus's hand. He folds it in his own, then twists his wrist to lace their fingers together. He grins down at him.

"You're reading about outliers," observes Minimus Ambus, surveying the text. As Rodimus sweeps the stack aside, he leans after it to try and regather it into a more ordered stack. He's doing so one-handed, because he readily yields up his hand and twines his fingers in the warm clasp of Rodimus's. His expression a little quizzical, he glances up at him in a somewhat sidelong way. "Or possibly illustrating about outliers..."

Looking down at the illustration, Rodimus startles. "No -- no! Definitely not illustrating about outliers." He takes the datapad from Minimus, but that means he has to keep BOTH hands, one in each of his, so that he can't grab another. "Perceptor wants to take, uh, precautions. So that we're prepared if outliers cause trouble." He pauses. "Again. Doesn't sound like a terrible idea, but I'm worried that it's not all that different than the functionists. I don't want to start dividing us up again."

Minimus Ambus frowns. "That sounds suspiciously like reasoning in advance of our data for a scientist of Perceptor's caliber," he says. His fingers twitch and flex in Rodimus's hands, brow plating pulling down gravely over his optics as he looks up at Rodimus. "I'm generally in favor of caution, but I'm also generally in favor of fairness. Who are we expecting to violate the law, exactly? Based on ... their abilities? Seriously, Rodimus, is that an empty drink you've just left lying there on the floor? Oh, no, that's where you keep your styluses. Please tell me there isn't any residue--"

Rodimus uses his hold on Minimus's hand to pull him away from the desk and start him toward the door to his private quarters. A hand at the small of Minimus's back keeps him moving when he might go back for the cube. "No, it's clean, it's fine. And it's not that he expects them to violate the law, but I mean -- think about it. If we really wanted to hold Skywarp, it'd take some doing."

"That argument ignores the true point, however. If Skywarp were to refuse to be held, he would be violating the agreement that allows him to serve as a member of this crew, and there would be commensurate consequences. Rodimus, if you refused to be held, keeping you in would 'take some doing,' but we don't Rodimus-proof the brig because we assume we're going to throw you into it." Minimus gets balky, bracing in the broad plant of his feet as Rodimus tries to steer him with the mess still everywhere. He scowls more vehemently and begins to eel away from him, twisting in his grasp. "How long would it take you to clean this up? Putting that away would take less than a minute."

Rodimus throws his hands into the air, freeing Minimus and telegraphing exasperation, but there's still a smile -- a faint, resigned smile -- on his face as he looks after Minimus. "And I can always pick it up later," he argues. "I'm pretty sure the brig is already Rodimus-proof, anyway. You really think it's that bad an idea to just -- be prepared?"

<FS3> Ultra_Magnus rolls Organization: Good Success. (1 2 4 5 8 1 7 7 4 1 6 3)
<FS3> Rodimus rolls Organization: Success. (6 7 1)

Minimus goes about to quickly clean up the remains of the mess as though just to prove his point to Rodimus that it just would not take that long to pick things up and put them away. Marginally hampered by the fact that he doesn't actually know where everything goes, he at least goes about putting things in some semblance of order as he talks. "In theory, it's not a terrible idea. In practice, it strikes me as a difficult idea to implement in an evenhanded way. Unless we are purpose-designing protocols for the suppression and containment of every single crew member aboard, which -- well, some of those exist already, but I'd hoped we were getting past that kind of thinking." (How ... optimistic.)

Rodimus helps. No, he does, really. He does a marginal job of not making things worse and in fact helping Minimus put things back where they were -- which is organized. By some ... logic. It's definitely a system that won't stand up to Magnusian scrutiny. "Nearly every other member of the crew can have their weapons systems removed or deactivated. You can be removed from your armor. My guns can be disconnected or severed. Outliers -- there's nothing you can do. I get where Perceptor is coming from. Look at Soundwave. Sure, we had a dampener, but what if we didn't?"

Minimus makes a disgruntled noise in the depths of his frame. He is quiet for a moment, finishing up in the evening of the stack of datapads, and then lets his hands fall, one resting against the surface of Rodimus's desk, the other hanging loose at his side. "It's not that I don't see your point," he says. "But it's a precaution that must be implemented ... cautiously. You're not wrong to consider the functionist implications."

"Yeah." Rodimus scrunches his nose and looks down at Minimus, rueful. "I want to put together a panel of outliers -- Autobots, Decepticons, and Neutrals -- to help advise on it. On what's ethical." He looks at him hopefully, like he's expecting headpats. Minimus would have to stretch to reach, but far less than Rodimus would have to reach to headpat Magnus.

"That sounds suspiciously like you are deliberately creating a committee," observes Minimus Ambus. The faintest flicker of a smile lights his features, twitching his mouth up at the corners. He nods, slowly, and adds, "--But I don't know how else you could proceed and be fair." Rather than headpat, he reaches to take his hand again. He catches Rodimus's hand and then enfolds it in both of his, curling his fingers in a warm clasp. He's not reorganizing the room, but he's at least restored some semblance of not active chaos.

Rodimus beams. Headpats. That they are metaphorical does not dampen his enthusiasm. "Perceptor should be coming to you to talk about it. If you wanna grab some of that--" He nods over his head at the desk. He can't gesture. His hands are occupied, fingers folding over Minimus's, his other hand reaching for his hip. "I pretty well cleaned out the library."

"Maybe later," Minimus says, for once in his life setting aside the prospect of a task for the prospect of something nearer to hand. He widens his eyes slightly as he looks up at Rodimus. "As intrigued as I am by your artistic efforts."

"Maybe not that one." Rodimus looks back with a squint, trying to pick it out from the pile. It's no use. They all look the same. Turning back, he pulls Minimus's hand to tuck up against his chest, and brushes his thumb over the side. "Guess that wasn't why you came in though, huh?"

"No." Leaving his one hand in the warm clasp of Rodimus's against his chest, Minimus reaches up with his other to brush at the line of Rodimus's helm with the backs of his fingers. He says, "I came to see you. Where were we?" He glances over his shoulder toward the door to the office, and then back up at him. "I'd like to talk to you."

Rodimus pauses to search his conscience. A little slowly, he asks, "What's up?" No, he's guilt free. His smile warms again as he looks back, leaning his head into the touch of Minimus's hand.

Minimus tugs Rodimus in a little closer as he rocks forward onto his feet. He presses his lips to the corner of Rodimus's mouth and smiles. Again, the smile is brief, and there's something a little melancholy about it, but it's a smile just the same. Shake of his head slight, he drops back onto his feet to start toward the improved privacy of Rodimus's inner room. He started it earlier, he's clearly OK with going back there.

Oh, clearly when Minimus says talk he means cuddle ferociously. Rodimus grins -- almost leers, really -- and says, "Oh." He frees his hand from Minimus's hold so that he can wrap his arm down over his shoulder from behind, leaning down to say, "Well, lead on, then," as he follows behind with a warm and ready eagerness.

Minimus makes a little startled noise, tilting backward into the wrap of his arm. He whuffs a little chirr of air on the way deeper into Rodimus's room, but he turns back to face him as they step inside. He wraps his arms around Rodimus's torso and presses in tight for a moment with surprising strength in their squeeze. "I'm sure you've heard by now all about what Drift and I talked about," he says, thereby confusing the issue by starting to talk again.

Rodimus smiles in the most obnoxiously encouraging way. "I heard you've probably been doing a lot of thinking," he says, the dance of his gaze teasing in its brightness. He lifts his hand to frame Minimus's face, thumb tickling at the edge of his facial insignia. "More than you usually do, even."

"I have." Minimus is much more serious about this acknowledgment than Rodimus's teasing would suggest he ought to be. His lips thin for a moment as he studies his features. He draws back a little, hands resting loosely at Rodimus's hips rather than pressed tight against his back, and stands still and straight as he says, "I've been thinking about the impact my behavior could have on the crew."

Wait, no. Not the right response. Rodimus stalls, hand stiff, then dropping to his shoulder. "Maybe I better wait for you to finish catching me up," he says, frown puzzled but patient as he studies Minimus.

Minimus Ambus parts his lips, about to say something, and then loses his first words to a hiss of wordless sound as he shakes his head. Trying again, he says, "When I joined this crew, I did so as Ultra Magnus. Objectivity, impartiality, lack of bias ... that is what Ultra Magnus means. His name, his legacy." He lifts a hand away from Rodimus's hip, and then the other; he opens them in the air between them. "But that's not really me anymore, is it? You, Drift and myself are the top three command level officers aboard this ship. If we are all entangled with each other, who can the crew trust to lack bias between us? I think you know that already. Or else you wouldn't have invited Soundwave into that meeting to determine appropriate discipline for Drift."

Rodimus leans back, shouldering the wall with his spoiler pulled back, high in a reveal of the tension he otherwise seeks to eliminate in the casual slouch. "But we did. You, me, Soundwave, we figured out what was right and did it."

"Yes," Minimus says. His teeth set against the lower lip, watching him with a flicker of his vivid scarlet eyes. He lifts his hand, reaching toward him as though to try to eat away some of his tension with his fingers, and his fingers hover for a moment, curling in hesitancy rather than entirely bridging the gap. "Eventually, yes. But there remains the question. About the trust of the crew. About me. And they don't know about it, now, most of them, but-- It's not really a question I can pretend away. I've been thinking about it."

Rodimus takes Minimus's hand and then pulls him closer. His expression is determined. He keeps hold of his hand, and wraps his other arm around his shoulders. "That's another question Perceptor raised, and Windblade. The trust of the crew. Not with this, though. Asking how we could possibly trust Soundwave enough to restore his command. There are always going to be questions of trust. There's no perfect answer. But that doesn't mean we just -- walk away from trying." He's talking about the Decepticons. Yep. Definitely.

"It's not just about their trust," Minimus says in a quieter, gentler voice. "It's about ethics. It's about placing myself in a position that compromises what it means to be Ultra Magnus. Don't--" Minimus tightens his grip on Rodimus's hand. The pressure of his clasp is so great it is as though by this single touch he might anchor him against all comers. He says, "I asked Skystalker if it troubled him. As a member of this crew, knowing ... about us. He said no, it doesn't. He asked if it makes me happy. And it does, Rodimus. It makes me happy. You make me very happy. You--" He struggles for a moment with his words, and then he smiles suddenly in a lightened flash across his features as though he's found the perfect metaphor, which is, of course, very difficult for him. "I was forged to bear great weight," he says, "but you make it all lighter."

Rodimus's hand slides from Minimus's shoulders down over the curving roof of his alt-mode to anchor at the small of his back. 'Ethics' makes him wince. It's slight, but easy enough for Minimus to catch in the closeness and familiarity. "I want to make you happy," he says in a soft, hushed voice, half-mumbled past numb lips in a deadened mouth. There's a gentle disorder in the cosmos: Minimus is smiling, and Rodimus is watching him, caught in a formless anxiety.

The smile fades quickly from Minimus's lips. He reaches up, his hand a warm pressure at the back of Rodimus's neck. He leans in close to bump their foreheads and noses together, as though he can chase away some of those shadows of doubt by dint of touch. "What I have been thinking, Rodimus," he says, "is that I would choose this over serving as executive officer. If I had the option. That I would want this. Want you. And ... for once in my life I think I do. Have the option. I have the choice." A little shyly, he qualifies it: "If-- if you think I do."

Rodmius fairly mashes his head against Minimus's, butting his head with an aggressive affection that presses forward into and against him. The light of his gaze dims, eyes flickering dark, only to flare with the startled catch of breath and engine. "Wait, what?"

Minimus's "uhm" hums behind closed lips. He tries to figure out a new start to saying what he just said. He seems momentarily at a loss. His fingers, tight against the back of Rodimus's neck, give a little tremor. His gaze drops, and then lifts again. He studies Rodimus's mouth, perhaps for its absence of smile. "I could-- step down," he says. "Serve under another officer. A lesser post. I wouldn't-- it would resolve the ethical issue."

Rodimus smiles! Rodimus frowns. Rodimus grimaces. Rodimus's mouth does a lot of things, but what it doesn't do is open to speak. He butts his head against Minimus's again, then releases him and steps away, shaking out his hands. There's not a lot of space to pace, but he sure tries. Thinking is hard enough for him; thinking while standing still is impossible.

In the ensuing quiet -- well, quietish; the restless pace of those giant puppy feet is not exactly silent -- Minimus Ambus lets his arms fold across his chest, ducking his head as he scuffs backward over the floor until he bumps lightly against the edge of Rodimus's recharge slab. He gives him space to move around, but he still grows in restlessness despite his effort at patience.

When Rodimus comes back to Minimus, it's to take his hand again. He stands at a cool remove, but the lace of his fingers shades desperate. "I don't even know where to begin. Magnus--" He breaks off. More quietly, he says, "Minimus. How can you think I could care about you and be happy to see you -- diminished? To lose what you have, because of me? I did it to Drift once already."

Minimus shakes his head very slightly. He meets Rodimus's gaze with earnest intensity. "Because of you, Rodimus?" he says. Squeezing in the twined press of their fingers, he says, "Because of me. Because I can't continue with my ethics in doubt. When we started this ... I told you I needed to maintain my professionalism." He steps forward into him again, bridging the distance Rodimus so carefully left between them, and reaches up to grip his shoulder with his other hand. "This is beginning to interfere. Maybe not yet. Too few know, yet. But I have spent a lot of my life hiding a deeply personal secret. It's not how I want to continue on."

Rodimus shrugs off Minimus's hand, but only so that he can take it. With both his hands held in both his own, he sinks to take a seat on the berth, one leg drawn up in a hook, the other dangling off the side. He stares at their hands. "It's not fair. Why should you have to give something up, just to be happy?"

Minimus sits down beside him on the berth, angling his other leg to bump gently against his dangling one, small foot tucked against giant foot. The size contrast is a little incongruous in context. "Rodimus ... I've never chosen anything but duty before," he says, his voice little more than a hush.

Looking up at Minimus, Rodimus works up half a smile and says, "Minimus life crisis, huh?"

Minimus looks pained. Loosing his fingers from their joint clasp, he reaches up to pinch the bridge of his nose between thumb and middle finger. "This, this is why it's impossible to tell you nice things."

Reaching to slip his fingers beneath Minimus's hand, Rodimus frames his face with a gentle hold of his helm, fingers fanned back to either side while his thumbs draw lightly over his cheeks. He moves closer, tipping his face to Minimus's without quite closing the distance in the way his stance promises. The smile fades as he holds his gaze in a searching silence. At length, he says, "You know the ethics won't ever entirely go away, not really, not as long as you're on this ship. It might resolve an issue. There are others."

"For me," Minimus Ambus says quietly, "the primary problem is the impartiality of Ultra Magnus. If he -- if I -- am not in that position, at the center of an entanglement at the center of the command crew ... the remaining problems may exist, but-- not so pressing." He vents a low trickle of breath through his systems, turning his head slightly aside, and then returning his gaze to meet Rodimus's. "Like you said, there are always going to be questions. I was prepared," he adds, softly, "when I reviewed your presentation, for the per se -- for the compromise. So long as we were circumspect. But if I'm not your direct subordinate -- if Drift isn't my direct inferior--"

Rodimus coaxes Minimus closer with a gentle tug, not to try and steal a kiss, but to move back, making room for Minimus to curl up against him. He looks a little lost -- still sorting through his thoughts, trying to organize them, trying to understand where Minimus is coming from, and where this might take them all. "I never wanted to make you less, or take from you," he says quietly. "I'd hoped I could give you something."

Minimus tilts into Rodimus's side, tipping his head up to bump his temple against Rodimus's as he leans into the heat of his frame, one hand resting against his back. He noses against Rodimus's check, next sigh venting quietly. "I don't think you understand," he says. "How much you've given me already. This doesn't make me less. Do you really think it does?"

For all that he's the one that said it, Rodimus prickles with a protective growl and says, "No, of course not." (Rodimus, you literally just said that.) "Nothing could ever make you less than you are. But -- it is...." He trails off, winds his arms around Minimus, and holds him close. "What would you do?"

Minimus makes a snortish sound on the verge of a laugh. "This," he rumbles back, "clearly. Just this, all the time." Minimus Ambus, professional cuddler. Clearly, no one would believe that. Still, he slides his arm around Rodimus's waist, burrowing somehow closer in the wrap of his embrace. More seriously, he says: "I'm capable of performing a number of functions on this ship. I'd clearly need some time to transition into my new role. Perhaps a post in communications or logistics."

"That sounds good." Rodimus hooks his chin to rest atop Minimus's head, definitely to cuddle closer and not at all so that Minimus can't see his expression. His voice is warm, though, and the stroke of his hand down Minimus's side reassuring. "The first one, I mean. Not the rest. That sounds boring. This, though--." His hand rests over Minimus's hip, and there's a grin audible in his voice: "An unusual but important support role."

Vent soft, Minimus is quiet for a long moment, arm curled close and tight around Rodimus's waist, head tucked in against him. He seems more relaxed in the warmth of the silence than he has in a long time, in so far as that's a word that can be used to describe him. Pulling his head back, he reaches up to curl fingertips beneath Rodimus's chin, scarlet gaze flickering up and over his features. He says, "If this bothers you, I don't have to commit to it now. But I have to decide soon. It's been troubling me since Getaway first brought up your relationship with Drift. It should probably have been troubling me before that."

Uncertainty betrayed by Minimus's glance, Rodimus's grin is proved a hesitating, halting thing. He tightens the wrap of his arms, tucking his head to bury it in Minimus's shoulder as he draws him up and closer yet. His shoulders shift with the heave of a carefully cycled vent, and then he says, "Who would you even recommend to take your place?" in a tone that sounds a little more 'what would I do without you'. (Work, Rodimus. You'd do work.)

"Mm," hums Minimus, in a tone that sounds like 'that IS hard'. He apparently suffers no delusions of modesty here. His fingertips stroking in a slow curve over the back of Rodimus's helm, they dawdle at the jointure of neck and back, lingering along the line of his spoiler, before he resumes the stroke again at the top of Rodimus's head. It's a slow, thoughtful pet. "Soundwave can certainly handle the administrative work. He and I have already been working the personnel assignments together, and it would be good for crew integration. The timing for promoting him wouldn't be ideal."

Rodimus makes a small, incredulous noise when Minimus names Soundwave, but hears him out to the end, where he snorts: a harsh vent. "No, ideal is definitely not the word for it." Funny how neither of them suggest Drift, especially since -- hesitatingly -- Rodimus tests the idea of, "Hound?"

"Mmm," Minimus hums a little longer and then tilts his head in a slight inclination. "He would certainly take the duty seriously." He strokes his hand in a firmer glide down Rodimus's back, pressing in a long scrape of knuckles as he tilts his head up. "If I hadn't come along, who would you have asked?"

"Prowl," Rodimus suggests with a snigger of laughter. Leaning into the touch of Minimus's hand, he says, "Windblade might be trained for it, but she's not ready for it. She just tried to turn over the Camien delegation to Chromia, even. Soundwave makes some sense, but--." It's a big but. On so many levels.

"Prowl!" Minimus sounds totally offended. He leans back to give Rodimus a glare, however briefly. He makes a little chuffing noise. "If you just need someone who scowls at you effectively, you could always promote Cyclonus."

Rodimus grins, delighted by Minimus's offense. "Look, no one's going to be as good as you," he says lightly, but no, really, "so might as well go with -- I don't know, something totally ridiculous. Whirl. Slugfest."

"Is this you attempting to change my mind by being horrible?" Minimus Ambus asks, plaintive in the face of delight. "Whirl is chronically irresponsible and almost always drunk. And Slugfest eats paper towels. Why not hire Mercy away from Ratchet and have parties planned for every staff meeting, instead."

"Mercy it is." Of course Rodimus goes for the party option. He pulls Minimus in to nuzzle his cranky face with obnoxious delight, then repeats his earlier question a little more honestly, quietly: "I just can't imagine anyone by my side but you. I need to think about it."

"I'll still be here," Minimus says, soft to Rodimus's quiet. "Just -- not so close. Not so fraught." Then he muses thoughtfully, "Actually, since as I'd need to be assigned a habsuite in crew quarters with the diminished privileges of rank, I'd probably be in here a lot." (What is this, bribery?)

"Stop tempting me," says Rodimus, who clearly reads it as bribery. "I don't wanna think about it for a while. You want to -- I don't know, watch something?" Explosions are going to feature.

"I want..." Minimus hesitates for a moment. He turns, shifting against Rodimus as he lifts his hand to once more frame his face in the curve of his hand. He presses kiss to his mouth, firm and fierce in the quiet expressiveness of touch, as though with heat and certainty in this he might chase off all the doubt and questions he has brought with him tonight. His eyes flicker as his fingertips linger against Rodimus's skin. His voice low, he murmurs a centimeter from Rodimus's lips, "All right. Whatever silly thing you want to watch, I'll watch it with you." (He's probably a pain in the ass to watch things with, but at least he's definitely going to cuddle.)

In deference to Magnus's good taste, Rodimus aims for a better sort of action flick.

...there are still a lot of explosions.

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