2017-03-03 Lean On Me

From Transformers: Lost and Found

2017-03-03 Lean On Me
Date 2017/03/03
Location Fritz and Frisk's Habsuite
Participants Fortress Maximus, Fritz
Summary Fortress Maximus needs a sympathetic ear, and Fritz provides it.

Frisk's side of the room is an absolute mess. Claw marks litter the walls (with only minor semblance of pictures or writing), there are organic things everywhere, and the furniture has somehow been moved into very strange positions. Yet, worst of all is probably the multitude of objects strewn around his side in one form or another. They are anywhere from haphazardly pinned to the walls to seemingly dropped on the floor without a care. The only thing that potentially makes it bearable for everyone else is the fact that the mess stops entirely once it reaches a certain point on the floor, almost as if there is an invisible wall down the exact center of the room. If Frisk himself is asked about the disaster that is his half? Organized Chaos! Feels like home.

The other half of the habsuite is much neater, so much so that it seems barely lived in. There are few personal possessions, beyond some framed pictures of various planets on the wall and a strange looking crystal sphere set on the edge of the desk. The sphere glows even when light isn't shone upon it, a mixture of colors that are hard to keep up with when looking directly at it. This is Fritz's side. One would think he, like Waspinator or Red Alert, may spend more of his recharge time in the vents, if not for the peek of a trunk hidden beneath the berth. It might be where he keeps his most precious things, the object locked up tighter than a bank vault.

Rung did encourage Fortress Maximus to actually try and keep up with those connections he was making. And Fritz is a friend, right?

So despite the fact that the past week has him wanting to fall back into old habits, retreating inward and taking out his aggression on practice dummies until the system overheats. But isn't that just playing into what Vortex said about him? Besides, he's not sure he wants to feed into that aggression right now. Better to stifle it.

But he's not usually one for social calls. To make up for the fact that he's showing up unannounced, he knocks on Fritz's habsuite door holding a tray with two mugs of warm Enjex and a plate of sweets. That's normal, right, to bring a habsuite-warming gift?

He was also about 70 percent of his actual size when he last met Fritz. Hopefully seeing Fortress Maximus in his full Maximum size won't be a problem.

Fritz has finally finished fussing with the handheld gaming device that big black-and-pink Decepticon gave him, and he's pleased with the modifications he's made to the programming of the game. It's a lot more fun now, especially since he was able to create a difficulty level somewhere between Easy and Normal that focused more on the puzzles and story elements than the monster fighting bits. Less monsters spawned, which meant less time needed to grind up levels so he could fight more monsters...he prefers it this way. And with Frisk out of the room, he can sprawl on his berth and play and giggle or curse or make running commentary to himself as much as he wants without being embarrassed.

Which is why he's a bit put off when there's a knock at his door. As he had when Waspinator dropped by, Fritz assumes it's someone for Frisk, and pauses his game so he can get up and see who it is. When the hab door slides open, however, he is certainly not expecting to see Fortress Maximus standing there with...treats? And looking much taller than he had when Fritz had last spoken with him.

"Oh! Hello, Fortress Maximus." Fritz shuffles a little awkwardly, four hands coming together to wring at each other, though at least he keeps his optics on Fort Max's (very far away) face. "Um. What's up?"

"Fritz. Hi." Oh, right. Visiting involves conversation. "I-um. I was wondering if I could...if you wanted to talk. If I'm not imposing. If I am, just say the word." He means 'imposing' in the sense of taking up time, of course, because it's a little hard for Fortress Maximus not to appear imposing in the other sense while basically filling the doorway. "I thought about just asking if you wanted to meet at Swerve's but crowds don't sound so great right now, and besides I figured us only meeting up to get overcharged together doesn't exactly set the best precedent and I am imposing aren't I? Sorry, sorry, I'll go..."

He says the above in a breathless blur worthy of Blurr. It's clear from the wan look on his face that he hasn't been recharging well.

Whatever worries are plaguing Fortress Maximus at the moment, he needn't bother entertaining them; all thoughts of sending the visitor away and continuing his game are forgotten. He even stops fidgeting, for once. "No, no, you're not imposing! We can sit down and talk, if you'd like, I'm happy with that." He'd said as much at Swerve's last time, right? He can't remember, the end of that was a bit fuzzy in his memory. "Um, come in, sorry if it's not really neat, I wasn't expecting anyone to stop by while I was off shift." Fritz moves out of the way so that Fortress Maximus can step through the door, and when he does Fritz will ping it to close before looking back up at the much larger mech. His voice is layered with barely-hidden concern as he asks, "Did something happen?"

Fortress Maximus ducks a little to enter the doorway so the treads don't get caught and steps carefully into the habsuite. He's started picking up on how to carry himself around much smaller mechs without overwhelming them. "Thank you..." He sets down the tray on the floor between them and sits down there rather than the berth, knees curled up under him so he isn't taking up that much of the floor.

When Fritz immediately catches onto Max's mental state, a faint, sad smile crosses his face. "Y-yeah. Yeah, it did. A few things. First I ran into this Decepticon, and I just...blew up at him, he didn't even do anything. Nothing worth that, anyway. I just lost at him until he cowered in fear, and then when I caught myself and apologized he acted like no one had ever apologized to him before. I'm not...usually a bully. I don't know what happened there."

A pause. "And then I met Vortex..."

Fritz doesn't sit, not yet, as Fortress Maximus settles onto the floor. Instead, he moves to his desk, where his crystal sphere sits on its stand to keep it from rolling off. At the moment it's not on, so it looks more like an Earth crystal ball than anything, the surface a milky white edging toward translucent gray, as if the whole thing is filled with a still cloud of smoke. He keeps his focus on Max even as he picks the sphere up, and it's then that he comes back over and, even though he could sit on his berth, settles on the floor on the other side of the tray.

Fritz listens to that description of a Decepticon and smiles a little himself, though it's hidden by his faceplate. That behavior sounds familiar... "I think you met Waspinator," Fritz supplies, shyly helpful. "He's, erm. He's kind of. Always like that..." The sadness his expression shifts into is more easily read than the smile. He doesn't know what to say for comfort to that - he knows how it feels to have an emotion suddenly burst out of you, even if it was always terror for him instead of anger, but. That doesn't seem like it would help much.

"Vortex...?" Fritz hums absent-mindedly in thought. "I haven't met him but...I think I've heard about him. He's, um. He's not very nice." Understatement. Rolling the sphere in his hands a bit, Fritz's fingertips find the on switch, and it comes to life, a swirling myriad of colors shifting continuously over its surface. "A friend of mine gave me this, to help when I'm stressed out." Fritz leans forward, sheepishly offering the sphere to Fortress Maximus over the tray of goodies he'd brought. "Do you want to hold it...?"

"Waspinator, I think that's right. He was definitely a wasp-former." Max cups his mug in one hand, looking into it with a guilty expression rather than drinking from it. "And yeah, Vortex. Combaticon interrogator." He says the word 'interrogator' with a hint of venom. "Really should have been more on my guard, but he got into my head when I wasn't expecting it. I'm not sure how else to put what he did..." A free hand goes to his forehead. "He actually got me talking about Overlord--"

He stops short right after saying That Name aloud, immediately focusing on anything but it. Thankfully, Fritz gives him something to focus on. He sets the mug down and takes the sphere in one hand. "It's...lovely. What is it?"

"I hope I never meet him." It slips out before Fritz really thinks about it, though once he realizes what he said, he finds he's not afraid of having admitted it. Besides, it's not like Fortress Maximus would tell Vortex that Fritz was afraid of him, after what Max just told him about that particular first meeting. Giving a little shiver at the name 'Overlord' (even he knows about that mech's reputation and horrible deeds), Fritz is about to say he's sorry when the needed distraction of the sphere comes into play.

"I'm not really sure." Fritz takes his own mug in two hands, the other two settling in his lap. "My friend Azize, she said that it's something her people make to help, um...'calm the troubled waters of the soul'." Fritz sips from his mug and makes a soft pleased sound before continuing. "She told me some of them can sing, too. This one doesn't though."

"I hope you never do either." If Vortex could mentally dissect Fortress Maximus like that, Max doesn't want to think of what he might do to Fritz. The fact that Tex might have more reason to target Max than Fritz doesn't occur to him at all. And the nice thing about your trauma being tied to Overlord is that people aren't likely to ask further questions. Unless they read up on the history of Garrus-9, and have a very strong stomach.

Max focuses his optics on the swirling colors of the sphere. "...I did read in a psychology datapad about how colored light can affect mood. Granted, the author was a hardcore Spectralist and probably had a few biases there." He actually smiles a little again. "It is nice, though. A little hard to get worked up when you're looking at something serene...your friend gave this to you?" Azize doesn't sound Cybertronian, but maybe she was from one of the colonies.

Through the open hatch at the bottom of Fritz's faceplate, through which he's been sipping from the mug Fortress Maximus brought, Max will be able to see Fritz mirroring that smile, a side effect of the giggle that escapes him. "Yeah, I guess they would be pretty biased, huh?" He gives another sweet little laugh before nodding. "It usually helps me calm down when I'm anxious or scared. Sometimes having it with me to look at can even keep me from fainting, though that's only if I look fast enough." There's a tinge of pink to the top of his cheeks, Fritz being a bit embarrassed to admit this unfortunate tendency of his, even if most mechs who spent more than a few hours in his company usually found out about it pretty quickly. "She did, back when I worked for her. She's an organic, she lives on a space station in the Delta sector. She took me in when I, uh..."

Feeling instinctively that confessing to Max that he was a defector would be a Bad Idea, Fritz decides to fudge the timeline a bit. "When I left Cybertron with the other neutrals."

Max's face flushes pink when Fritz actually smiles and laughs; he quickly tries to cover up that blush by taking a sip from his own mug. "It is very effective." Already he's feeling less, well, on edge. At least he isn't quite as afraid of himself right now, which is something. He blinks. "You can tell when you're about to faint?" Shows how much experience Mr. Point One Percenter here has with fainting. But there's no mockery in his voice, only mild concern.

At Fritz's mention of being a neutral, he only nods. "I noticed no badge." He indicates his own Autobot badge on his chest. Seems he looks every time. "I know some of us don't react well to the Neutrals." Fritz sounded reluctant to admit that, and Max wants to put his friend at ease. "To be honest, I used to resent Neutrals too early on, because I couldn't imagine anything outside the war. But when I started to think about it, I realized I was wishing all the horrors of war on someone who didn't have to experience them. For no reason. Some of us are soldiers and some aren't. That's...fine. Besides, if we'd all had to fight, a lot more of us wouldn't be here right now."

Fritz beams, a happy creamsicle to hear that the sphere is helping Fortress Maximus feel better; from what he said, he's had a rough week, and he could use some calm. " I can't tell. It just happens so often that when I get scared or startled, I assume that I'll end up fainting..." Sobering somewhat, Fritz nods and glances away at Fort Max's assessment of faction mechs resenting Neutrals. He can only imagine what some of them would say if they knew he'd been part of a faction only to leave it; Waspinator, at least, hadn't seemed bothered, but Waspinator was a special case.

"That's why I, uh, why I le--didn't join a faction." Close one. "The fainting, and the fear and the anxiety...I knew I'd be useless and end up dying without helping any cause at all." A small, sad smile, not unlike that Fortress Maximus wore earlier, now curves Fritz's mouth. "Maybe that would have been a good thing, though...taking the focus away from a real soldier, who could do something good with the opportunity...I could've been useful, in a way..." An internalized old jeer of Linebacker's, when Fritz failed again and again at whatever task the Autobot set him. At least you're not entirely worthless, we could still use you as cannon fodder. It's a thought he hasn't mentioned to anyone since Azize, but Fortress Maximus will understand, right?

<FS3> Fortress_Maximus rolls Socialize: Failure. (5 2)

Max stares at Fritz with mild horror. "What? No! I mean, no, that would not have been a good thing. There were enough casualties as it is. And no decent 'real soldier' would let someone fall in their stead if they could help it." There's a hint of guilt in his voice again.

No, he probably couldn't have done a thing for the Garrus-9 guards by the time Overlord started his little 'simple proposition.' But he still stayed silent. Let them die to keep Overlord from getting information he took by force in the end anyway.

"I didn't mean to imply you'd be useless, Fritz. A good CO would know how to put all of their soldiers to best use, unless they were desperate for ground troops. Besides, if you'd died, you wouldn't be here. I'd never get to meet you."

He almost considers putting a servo on Fritz's shoulder, but hesitates and stops. Nah, he wouldn't want that. It'd be overbearing.

Instead he takes a long drink. "For what it's worth, you're here helping a soldier now."

<FS3> Fritz rolls People Pleaser: Good Success. (2 5 6 8 2 3 5 6 5 7 7)

Fritz winces at the look of horror and the following small outburst, too busy feeling guilty himself to notice Fortress Maximus' regretful undertone. Oh, he shouldn't have brought that up, it only dragged the mood down again, he was supposed to be making Fort Max feel better, not dragging pity out of him with those old, pathetic thoughts...

"I-I know you didn't, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said anything!" The fidgeting has come back, the hands in his lap clutching at each other while the other two tighten in their grip on the mug, optics glued to the tray between them. "I know you didn't mean it that way, I didn't mean to say - to make you think - sorry I - what?" In the midst of his frantic apologies, the rest of that filters through his processor. Fritz's blush is so bright and hot he's surprised when his faceplate doesn't melt clean off.

"O-Oh. I. Yeah, that's true." Fritz chews his lip, struggling not to smile again, now's not the time after what he'd just said; the excess pleasure at Fortress Maximus insinuating such nice things, that he's happy to have met Fritz, instead manifests in the way he fidgets restlessly where he sits. "I g-guess I am." Fritz ducks his helm. "I'm glad to hear that, th-that it's helping. I don't know what you're going through. What I do know is that you deserve a break from all of those bad thoughts. A permanent break, if I had a say in it, but unfortunately I used up all my miracle magic." Going for playful to cover up his bashfulness, Fritz wiggles the fingers of one hand at Fortress Maximus.

"It's fine, really!" Max shakes his head as Fritz panicks. "I just didn't like the idea of you having perished in the war. I saw enough of that." Especially since Fritz seems like he'd be more suited to life outside of war. Vortex is right in one respect; what is Fortress Maximus going to do now that soldiers aren't as necessary and he's not in a state to work in security?

And then Fritz blushes and Max actually has to fight off a smile, since he doesn't want to make it look like he's making fun of Fritz. He loses when Fritz wiggles his fingers at Max, and actually chuckles this time, deep and resonant. "Honestly, I have the feeling we could both use that kind of break. Especially since I'm the one who came here dragging all my troubles with me to you. Well, and candy, that's something..."

Fritz had seen enough of that, too, even if he'd only been a soldier for a short period of time. Good thing they've moved on from Fritz's blunder, or he would have sunk deeper into guilt at saying he should have been used as fodder when Fortress Maximus witnessed centuries more of that very thing than Fritz could ever imagine.

"I can't say I would be against being happy all of the time," Fritz agrees, glancing down at the candy. "I don't mind you talking to me about stuff like that. I like it, actually. It's nice to know you think of me as someone you can come to if you need it." Really nice, frankly. "And thank you for the candy and the warm energon, I'm sorry I didn't say so when you came in...I was worried so I forgot my manners." What he was worried about is obvious, considering Max's state when he'd come in. Studying the candy for a moment, Fritz picks up one of the goodies and - yeah. It's a bit too big to fit in the hatch of his faceplate. Setting his mug down, he uses the now-free hands to reach up and unhook the covering, setting it on the floor beside him. The freckles that usually peeked above it are almost literally the tip of the iceberg, the faceplate having hidden a considerable amount of the now-visible marks smattered across his cheeks and nose. Fritz pops the candy into his mouth and hums again as he chews.

"Ooh, and they're really good! Thank you so much for these, Fortress Maximus."

"Well, like we said back at Swerve's. Some people will offer you sympathy, but not really get it. And I mean, I can talk to Rung. Should," Fortress Maximus adds, "should talk to Rung about it. But it's not really the same? He's my therapist, so that's more like...more like..."

He trails off and loses his train of thought when Fritz takes off his mask and oh wow, he's really, really cute. Max always worries thinking of smaller-scaled bots as 'cute' is condescending, especially coming from someone like him, but jeez. He realizes he's staring and blushing a bit and quickly looks aside, rubbing the back of his neck.

"I wasn't sure if you liked the sour or sweet kind so I got a mix of both," he says, a little too fast again. "And you can call me Max, if you want." He's had people he hates call him Max at this point, why not?

Fritz eats another candy before he responds, and yes that's one of the more sour ones. He chews it with just as much relish as its sweeter brother. "Rung, oh, that's right...I should probably talk to him sometime too...I think I was supposed to schedule an appointment but I, um, never got around to it." Translation: he didn't think his issues were worth wasting the time of a professional, when there were mechs dealing with much larger problems who needed that help more than he did. "I know what you mean...with a therapist, it's their job, you know? They're supposed to act like your friend so you feel comfortable...with a real friend, someone who isn't paid to listen, who doesn't have to but does anyway..." When Fort Max trails off Fritz assumes that he, too, is having difficulty coming up with the right words to describe what he's thinking. Busy staring at the candy as he attempts to find the right thing to say, Fritz also misses the staring and blush. "It's like you said. Not the same," he says eventually, lamely. Well, he tried.

"I like both of them, they're very good!" Looking back up, Fritz's smile this time reveals those wee fangs in his top row of teeth before he's taking another candy as if to prove through example that he does really like them, though it stops partway to his mouth as Fritz is now the one staring in something akin to wonder. "Call you...Max? A-Are you sure?" A nickname is a big deal, okay! It's a friendship level up! Feeling that he should reciprocate such a tremendous offering, Fritz forces fluid down his intake.

"I-In that case, um...Max...would you use my real designation? It's, it's Whirlwind." Kind of the opposite, asking someone to use Fritz's actual name instead of the insulting moniker he'd been given years ago, but the sentiment is the same.

"Going to Rung is a little intimdating at first." Max folds his hands and rests them on his knees, sounding hesitant. "You wouldn't think so, since he's so calm, but it's committing to talking about things. And I'm still not...great at that. But I do think it helps. I'm a mess," he finally admits, "but probably less so because of him." He doesn't bring up that his visits were, at least at first, mandated by medical. He's tried not to be too resentful over that.

Oh slag, Fritz has little fangs too. This is not the time to develop a crush, Max, not on someone you could literally crush! His issues manifest in violent thoughts, and what if those thoughts really do become actions, and...

And Fritz just revealed his name. Fortress Maximus blinks his optics at that, staring. "Your designation is Whirlwind?" He honestly thought it was Fritz. A bit cruel, perhaps, but they say all the good names are taken. "Then...absolutely. Whirlwind it is." He holds out a hand to shake. "Is it alright if I ask why you don't usually use it? If it's not too personal."

Fritz listens and absorbs this. Yes, that's another part of why he hadn't made the appointment yet; sure, he could drop hints and mention certain intrusive thoughts or upsetting memories, as long as it wasn't dwelled on for too long. Digging deep into those troubles? Unpleasant at best. "Maybe I should...see him sometime..." It's said mostly to himself, Fritz looking off at nothing as he contemplates actually going through with it, insides feeling like wriggling protoworms at the idea of doing something so simple as making an appointment. Why hadn't he stayed with Azize, she always called to set up things like that for him.

"Y-Yes?" Fritz's nerves fade somewhat when Fortress Maximus agrees, and he leans forward to shake the offered hand. "Why I...? Oh, no, it's okay, it's just, um." Keeping hold of Max's hand a moment longer than necessary because he's so distracted by trying to figure out how to phrase this, Fritz haltingly replies, "Someone a long time ago gave me that nickname, since when I faint sometimes I, um, I make that kind of noise. 'Frrrtz'." His impression of himself is not nearly as loud and staticky as the real thing. "And everyone started using it until even mechs I didn't know would call me Fritz was easier to go along with it." Finally dropping Fortress Maximus' hand, Fritz flumps back into his seated position.

"If you want, I can mention you to him at my next appointment. If you'd rather he contact you," Max adds, though he isn't sure it'll help much.

"That's...rather cruel," Fortress Maximus admits, frowning. He has no personal experience with this problem. When you look like Fortress Maximus, people call you whatever the hell you want them to. Usually. "I think Whirlwind suits you better." Is it because of the multiple arms, or does Whirlwind have a high top speed, maybe? Max hasn't seen him in action. "What designation do you want me to use around others? You probably want to reveal your name on your own time, I'm guessing. But thank you for trusting me with it."

<FS3> Fritz rolls Bravery: Good Success. (2 8 7 6)

"Could you please? That might be easier..." Fritz tries to distract himself from having caused another mood dip by dunking one of the sweeter candies in his mug of energon before eating it. He merely shrugs at Fortress Maximus' assertion of the nickname being cruel, preferring to brighten somewhat as he says, "I-I thought so too...only Lieutenant calls me that, other than you, now. I like Lieutenant, he's very kind." Not that Lieutenant himself would believe that, but that's not something Fritz knows about. "You can use Whirlwind, i-if you don't mind...Max." He has to suppress a giddy giggle at using the nickname. "A-Anyway...that's what's on my file, anyway, anyone who reads personnel files can see it...I think I'm just not used to mechs actually using it, instead of ignoring it."

Emboldened by Max's agreement and compliment toward his real name, Fritz scootches along the floor, around the tray, so that he's sitting right next to Fortress Maximus and beaming up at him. "I'm glad you came to talk to me."

"Ah-yes, yes he is. I have a lot of respect for him." Yes, even after that time Lieutenant showed up overcharged out of his gourd and tried very awkwardly to flirt with Fortress Maximus. He apologized! In retrospect it's kind of funny! And perhaps now that mental image will be replaced by that of the broken datapad in Max's habsuite that he's put off telling Lieutenant about. It isn't like waiting a day or two is going to make the replacement fee more expensive or the explanation more humiliating.

He rubs the bridge of his nose, trying to banish the thought and focus on Fritz with a smile. "Well, I'll intimidate people into using your real name. Kidding," he adds quickly. (Though he suspects he could.)

Max is not used to closeness with anyone. Fritz, well, Whirlwind inching next to him...surprises him. Yet he's not as tense as he thought he might be, even with such a fragile-looking mech next to him. This time he does manage to put a hand on Fritz's shoulder. Well, part of a hand. Allowing for the scale difference and all.

He looks down at Fritz and smiles. "I am too. Thank you, Whirlwind." He's not 'all better' by any means, but he's...better than before.

Fritz laughs lightly, cheeks heating as an unbidden fantasy enters his processor: Max, kind and strong soul that he was, driving off Linebacker during one of those many horrible sessions Linebacker used to put him through. It was a nice thought, a good thought, one that settles in his spark like an invisible amulet. A rope he can grasp to climb out of the bad thoughts when they come back. Max is large, and rather intimidating, true, but there's something heroic about him, in Fritz's mind, as he thinks about how he would absolutely have been quite fine with seeing Max intimidate those mechs who used to hurt him.

Pulling himself out of his imaginings, Fritz's blush grows at the hand on his shoulder, completely uncaring about how it dwarfs a good amount of his frame. "You're welcome." He returns the smile. "You can stop by any time you want, or give me a call. Like I said, I don't mind talking to you, about anything, doesn't even have to be bad thoughts, or if you wanted to stop by and play with the sphere, or hang out, or - " Realizing he's the one babbling like Blurr now, Fritz shuts up and awkwardly grabs one of the remaining candies. "Um, did you want a goodie?" Smooth.

Max isn't really used to people looking up at him like that, either. With awe or fear, sure. More often fear. Which was fine with him during the war; he was made to be terrifying. But lately he's picked up on more pity, the sort that feeds into his paranoia and feelings of uselessness. How many people know about Garrus 9? How many read up on the history and see it when they spot him in the halls? Are there rumors about his 'stability' or how easily he went down against Overlord? He asks himself this every time a stranger makes eye contact with him. That little chat with Vortex certainly didn't help matters.

But that look, that warm level of trust even beyond what his trusted subordinates on Garrus would give him? That's new, and nice. He hopes he can stay worthy of it.

"Thanks," he says again, finally starting to relax with a sigh. And then he blinks. "What? Oh, of course."

He takes one of the sour ones. Those are the best.

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