From Transformers: Lost and Found
|Location||Lost Light: Recreation -- Practice Rooms|
|Summary||You know how good fences make for good neighbors? Good walls make for good friends.|
The message is loud, excitable and, most of all, urgent:
"RODDO! We found something GROSS AND WEIRD in the practice rooms! We're gonna poke it with stuff!! Hurry before science or a janitor scrape it off the floor!!!" And then the rest of the message got garbled as Frenzy snickered about the gross and weird thing NOT being Rumble's face and everything devolved into shouts and vague wrestling sounds before the comm message cuts off.
But that's all. Just a summons to see something odd and poke it with a stick until it or they are forcibly removed from the premesis. Sounds like fun! And not a trap! So the practice room door remains closed, waiting patiently- maybe even hopefully- for a pink chunkcar to arrive.
The last faint flicker of responsibility that Rodimus might feel dies under that invitation. Something GROSS AND WEIRD? That sounds AWESOME. Sure, it should probably be reported to the proper authorities, but--. Rodimus isn't any kind of authority. Not anymore.
He doesn't exactly drop everything and run, but he does pass back a 'brt' and then he brt-s over. He's firmly subdued any lingering sense that he should report whatever it is that Frenzy and Rumble are getting into, but it's harder for him to squash a protective caution that tempers his need to satisfy his curiosity for his own sake and turns it into a need to satisfy his curiosity and make sure that they aren't getting themselves into any kind of trouble or harm. And then, once that's satisfied, possibly poke with sticks. But first make sure they are okay!
There's a tiny corner of Rodimus's spark that he'd deny that's flush with happiness at friendly overture from the terrible two, even if it is likely it will end with him looking stupid, or them all getting in trouble, or them throwing something at him--. At the door, he hesitates, briefly wondering just how stupid he is, and then he enters.
Pretty stupid, then.
The door Rodimus just went through is definitly the practice room door. He can double check a map if he'd like but, yep. The practice rooms. Except... He doesn't enter the practice rooms. And as soon as the door closes behind him, there's nothing to disrupt what he sees. Nothing from the future, everything from the past.
The detail is excruciating. The layer of rust-colored dust that clings to everything. The dark tire marks along the ground- one pair identifiable as his even with all the frame changes. The graffiti is exactly where he remembers it, some of it discolored with age. Some of it still glistening as if its still drying. And in the distance he can make out the rise and fall of towers. Not as impressive or shiny as Iacon's but warm, inviting. From where he stands in the Rust Narrows, he can see the old city laid out beyond in every direction.
This is where Rodimus spent his formative years. Where he and his friends lived. Where he learned to survive and have fun while doing it. Where he later would become a rebel, ready to lose everything to save something greater. Nyon, his home.
A sliver of doubt slips through the crack of heartbreak that fractures Rodimus's air of easy cheer. Maybe this is the joke. Maybe it's him. Maybe Frenzy and Rumble just mocked this up to make fun of him and he's the joke and--
But the illusion is crafted with such care.
The doubt runs out of Rodimus, pouring from the cracks to leave him hollowed out. He's not quite thinking anything. He hardly dares. His thoughts grasp at what he sees with a light and delicate touch as though afraid that even the weight of his gaze will cause the image to break, but he's unable to stop himself from studying, even reaching out to touch with a quiet and profound hunger. There are so many empty places in side of him that he's trying to fill. He moves forward, and while it's not a conscious choice, it's his own tracks that he follows.
His own tracks lead him through a familiar path, one driven through often enough its practically etched into his spark. He can probably remember specific instances- over there he clipped a wall when he took a turn too tight. Over there he was told off for loitering- only to keep coming back to loiter some more. Racing friends who's names and faces may have already become victim to memory decay after so many years. But he can remember each action, remember others who proudly called themselves Nyonese.
It almost seems to underline how seemingly vacant this city is. No one to tell him not to loiter. No one accidentally running him over as he walks through the streets. No one-- except...
The path Rodimus takes is his own, woven through his memories and recreated in realistic detail. And it leads him to someone who's been patiently waiting. Soundwave silently observes the wall- THE wall, the one forgotten. The one taken and leaving a hole within Rodimus's memory file. And there it is now, exactly as it had been before it was deletedm it's every detail both new and old.
Seeing Soundwave is jarring enough that it takes Rodimus a moment to realize that the discordance he feels isn't just about seeing him here. Something feels wrong, something rings not quite right: then he realizes that he doesn't remember the wall.
It's an unimportant wall. There's nothing on it of note, and it has no particular significance for Rodimus. It's not part of any remarkable building, it was never tied to any key memories, and there's no graffiti on it that particularly catches the eye. There is just the usual splatter of glyphs, half-heartedly painted over and reestablished in thick and chipped layers. It's just a wall. A forgotten wall.
Realization breaks through Rodimus as he takes the last steps toward it, suddenly fierce in his hunger as he commits it to memory. There's always the possibility that Soundwave faked it, but it's not a possibility that ever occurs to him. He doesn't think to doubt. It's not enough for him to see it, either. He reaches out to touch it.
Soundwave's shoulders tense and he turns, blanks screen watching Rodimus. He doesn't speak, wary of himself and the situation. He just looks. Listens. And does his best not to intrude a Rodimus reaquaints himself with this wall. Something so negligible now so unforgettable.
There's something there, to the wall. Something sturdy... But it doesn't feel old and gritty. And his fingertips dip into the surface by inches before coming across something solid. As if the hologram wishes with everything it has that it was real- that it could be real for him, again.
Of course. It's not real, after all. Rodimus flattens his hand against the surface beneath the illusion, watching the way it swallows the edge of his palm. Then he leans forward, pressing the brow of his helm to the wall -- to the real wall, the one beneath the illusion, as his hand trembles.
He hates that tremble a little bit. His hand curls to form a fist and he punches the wall, trying to pull himself together enough to act like -- like a leader, like he imagines Optimus would, or like Soundwave would expect Megatron would, or to be anything like the captain he's supposed to be. Except he's -- not. He's not the Lost Light's captain.
No longer holding himself upright to mimic some imagined other, Rodimus folds. In an uncanny quiet, he sinks, dropping to his knees, and curls forward. He holds himself tight in the crossed wrap of his arms, to hold in place all of the pieces the fractured on first entering.
Soundwave is unsure of what he expected. Rodimus to be loud? Rodimus to crackle with heat? To leave? To say something? He didn't expect anything, he'd simply hoped... And Rodimus found a way to surprise him. He's got such a knack for that.
For someone so large and dense, Soundwave is surprisingly quiet. And there's hardly a breath of sound as he steps closer, crouching down onto his knees just behind Rodimus. He doesn't have to see the pain, he can feel it- it wrings out his audios and aches along the edges of his hollow chassis. Its a wash, and its hard to distinguish the flavors of hurt- loss? Failure? Mourning? It bleeds altogether.
Soundwave rests his hand between the angles that spoiler, the pressure firm. Attempting reassurance or comfort. He keeps his hand there, ready to remove it the moment Rodimus flinches way or even entertains the thoughts of wanting his space. His fingers brush against pink armor carefully while he remains silent. Nothing he can say would make this better. Not without turning this towards himself. No, this is a moment for Rodimus. He's here, of course. But he will let Rodimus have however long he needs. Its most deserved.
Rodimus shivers beneath Soundwave's touch. He grips his own arms hard enough to leave marks in the metal, and the press of his fanged teeth against his lip dimples the metal. Touch amplifies how clearly Soundwave can hear every thought, every feeling as they tear through Rodimus. Far from flinching or desiring space, Rodimus aches for that touch.
Well -- maybe not that touch (or maybe that touch), but for touch. He's always been demonstrative, rooted in his frame and physical in his expressions. He's quick to reach for others, to pair reassurance with a touch on their shoulder, or to catch attention with a nudge of his elbow. Soundwave can't be too surprised then, when without much warning or forethought, Rodimus shifts from his lumped kneel to aggressively tuck himself against Soundwave's side. He keeps his face buried, unwilling to look up as the loss tears through him.
The image of Nyon is a kindness: both in intent, and in how it's received. But Rodimus also can't help but notice the way his foot pokes through the hologram of trash pilled up by the side of the street. Nyon's gone. And if it's okay for him to let go and break down, it's because it doesn't matter any more, and there's no image he has to live up to as a leader, because he's lost that, too. His arms remain locked around himself. He doesn't reach for Soundwave, because he's not sure he could stand the response.
Soundwave's hand lifts as Rodimus moves-- Moves closer. There's no shortage of times he's been leaned against, he's sturdy enough to offer support in that regard. Still, he's taken aback by this turn of events. The hurt screams from the contact, echoing throw his frame... And it takes the practice of millions of years for his shoulders not to bow, tempted to succumb to it. He acknowledges and distances himself- it's not his to feel.
Rodimus doesn't have to reach for Soundwave. The large Decepticon, in one motion, manages to partially scoop the little Nyonese mech when he wraps his arm around him. He gently rubs his thumb against tense plating, internal system activating to create a soft, comforting hum. He can recall the moments he needed the help of careful contact, and he pulls from those experiences to return them to Rodimus. In full. Otherwise, he doesn't push Rodimus beyond what he's ready for, he'll get to it in his own time.
At first, Rodimus feels ridiculous. But no one's laughing at him, and Soundwave gathers him in, rather than pushing him away. Slowly, the shuddering subsides, and the tremors that lock his armor tight to his frame fade as tension eases through his cables. He relaxes, and the awful storm within gentles.
Rodimus remains a cracked vessel: the grief runs from him in gentle streams, no longer the torrent of a dry canyon in a flash flood that threatened to overwhelm Soundwave's senses; Rodimus's scoured clean by it, raw and aching but purged. But as he comes back to himself in the storm's breaking, self-awareness brings with it self-consciousness. He tenses all over again, bracing to be pushed away -- but not moving. Somewhere between sheepish and ashamed, each pole weakened by storm water, he says, "Sorry for--." He opens and closes his hands, trying and failing to find the right words.
"No," Soundwave says, his synthesizer disabled. "You have nothing to apologize for." He tilts his head down to better look at Rodimus but doesn't move beyond that. No pushing away. He examines the bundle made up of sharp points and angles in his arms, chassis still humming softly.
"But I'm sorry, Rodimus." The regret is clear in his voice, even if it sounds a little off without being able to speak through a mouth. "I just wanted you to know that. I didn't mean... To cause you pain."
Nothing to apologize for, Soundwave says. Tentatively, Rodimus lets himself believe that.
With a shudder, he draws a deep vent through his systems and straightens, angling points away from planes, and letting angles soften to curves and lines as he relaxes again. Rodimus looks up, his eyes bright -- Autobot bright; Matrix bright. He's carrying it, still. It does not speak to Soundwave as clearly as it did on the Quintesson station, but even unseen it's at least as aware of him as he is of it, bracket locked into place framing Rodimus's spark beneath the badgeless flames on his chest. "I know. I forgive you. Thanks for--." He trails off again, looking away and to the holgram around them. "It wasn't -- really about the wall, you know."
Soundwave is ignoring the matrix. Its not there. It never spoke to him ever. LALALALALA- he can't here it! Ignoring.
"I know," he repeatss softly. "But it was the only way I could show you how much I meant it. I know better than most that words aren't always enough." Soundwave hesitates before lowering his arms just a bit, not completely removing them. As if he's wary Rodimus will break apart for some reason if he doesn't hold him there. "... Hound helped."
Rodimus tenses and goes hot, flushing in the heat of sudden embarrassment as, lips scarcely moving, he says, "Please tell me Hound hasn't been behind a wall this whole time." Breaking down on Soundwave? Apparently he can live with that; doing it in front of Hound, though, and he'd rather just die.
Soundwave's systems hum louder and one might assume, had he a face, he might be smiling. "Hound is in the next room over. We have privacy." Probably, he's not sure how well those mutated audios can hear- or if Hound is pressed against the wall trying to listen. Probably privacy is the best they'll get.
Internals calming back to a gentle thrum, he looks away, off to the side. To some really poor grafitti that amounted to 'up yours, Iacon!' Heh... "Rodimus, you are... Important to me. What I did-- it won't happen again... I just want you to know that. And to know, it does not always have to be you comforting me. I'm well equipped to return the favor." Because that's what people see when they see him. Comfort.
Working his way through his own estimates of what Hound might be able to hear or just plain guess about what's happening, Rodimus eventually decides -- whatever. It's nothing that Hound hasn't seen in his 11 billion years of life already.
Rodimus relaxes again, and watches as Soundwave looks away. His gaze lingers, and he very consciously lets himself allow that study. It's only fair. He reaches for Soundwave's face to draw his gaze back toward him, looking past his own reflection in the screen. He hesitates, trying to find the right words. All he can find are the words, "Thank you."
It's hard to say if Soundwave matches that matrix blue gaze piercing past his screen. There is, at least, the distinct impression that he is trying. The vents at the edges of his not-face puff air at Rodimus as he tiltes his head forward. His screen onlines to throw up the well-worn and most used by Soundwave emoji. :right-facing-fist: He removes one arm JUST ENOUGH to curl his fingers and offer the fist bump.
Rodimus grins, and closes his fingers in an easy fist to answer the fist bump in kind: bump. He shifts, too, getting his feet under him -- not to stand, but in a movement that he doesn't quite manage. It's an impulse killed in forming as Rodimus studies the emoji that flickers over Soundwave's head-tilted features. There's only an itch, a not-quite. Rodimus looks away, looks around, with a slow vent that sighs through his systems. He tests the edges of his own mind with a light touch, trying to figure out what to say. Trying to figure out what he can say. Maybe he doesn't have to.
Soundwave kills the feed to his screen after a moment, letting it set back into shiny black, before he leans back a short margin. Rodimus doesn't have to say. Its the advantages of dealing with a telepath. And... He wouldn't quite need to even if Soundwave wasn't one. "Rodimus... Query: Could you show me around Nyon? If you would like."
Warmth breaks across Rodimus's features in a slow smile. Fractures remain in the guard of his heart, his self-control imperfect and his thoughts and feelings exposed by the breaks, but what pours from them now is nothing more complicated than love. "Yeah," he says, shifting to find his feet. There's love in the way his gaze follows the carefully reconstructed hologram -- images constructed with care, at the very least -- from the once-forgotten wall to the city beyond. The warmth spills over into the touch of his hand, too, as he reaches to pull Soundwave with him. "So it turns out a lot of Nyon was built on or around Metroplex, but I didn't know it at the time," he begins, leading Soundwave into the city as he continues. He gathers enough of the pieces of himself as they go to be able to present an unfractured facade when they leave -- but while they're here, he lets himself believe that he doesn't need to.