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2018-05-09 How to Say It

From Transformers: Lost and Found

2018-05-09 How to Say It Log Title:
Date 2018/05/09
Location Rodimus and Fortress Maximus's Habsuite
Participants Rodimus, Fortress Maximus
Summary Rodimus gives Fort Max some advice on apologizing.

The picture on Rodimus's wall keeps falling. He has not invested in a good frame and he is too impatient to hang it properly. So when he's stretched on his slab and it topples over him yet again, causing him to startle in a clatter that sends it flying, he has only himself to blame. The Bob original goes flying across the room toward Max's side, knocking things over as it goes. Nothing important or breakable, let's hope. Max looks up from his datapad as something crases down and skids to his feet, knocking over Eyebrows's little food bowl. Thankfully Eyebrows only needs to eat bits of leaves salvaged from the botanical lab, so it isn't as if there's goo spilled on the back of the painting.

"Rodimus?" Fort Max gets to his feet and steps around the painting, kneeling down next to it to brush the bits of plant matter off. "You've got to be more careful with this. It was a gift, wasn't it?"

Groggy, Rodimus rolls over and pushes himself up. It's a luxury, this fumbling, fuzzy-headed slog toward wakefulness, and he indulges in it. He may even play it up. Then, after a moment, he realizes what Max is holding and he bolts the rest of the way upright, alert in a moment. "Bob's painting!" He pushes off and over to pick it up and brush the planet off, checking it over with all the care that his hanging treatment fails to show. "Frag, yeah, it was a gift. Sunny and Bob. Slag, it just keeps falling over. What are you even supposed to do with wall stuff?"

As Rodimus names Sunny, Max seems to pull back for a second, looking briefly pained. He shakes it off quickly, regarding the painting suddenly as if it's made of delicate leaves itself and his big hands could shatter it at a touch. "I-I see. I'm not really sure. I don't know much about art. The artist I know is, um, Sun...streaker, who probably wouldn't want to know his painting keeps falling over. Bob's painting." His optics go a little wide. "So that's who did it. Bob's paintings are amazing, aren't they?"

"Bobs amazing." Rodimus reaches to take the painting out of Max's hands and return it to the wall. It takes him some fidgeting to get it back in place on the single hook -- and after a few minutes of fidgetting, he realizes that the hook pulled free, so has to stop to find it. "Honestly, Sunstreaker and Bob are like -- the best company you could ask for." Not something many people say about Sunstreaker, probably. "Especially when you're feeling low." Double true, now.

"He is," Fort Max says without hesitation. "...They are," he adds, quieter, staring downwards. What a perfectly good time to examine one's feet. "He looks after you, I noticed. That's...it's very thoughtful of him. People have the wrong impression about him. You just have to get past his defenses and not-not hurt him." A sudden urge to excuse himself and bury himself in Unicron-related work kicks in, or maybe just to escape to Iacon, a city he really has no attachment to. But Max resists the avoidant tendency for once.

"Bob lets me pick him up sometimes," he adds instead, as if that'll make the conversation less awkward. Rodimus looks up, having recovered the hook, to give Max an encouraging grin. "He does? That's awesome. It's a good feeling, right? An armful of Bob? Little more than an armful, actually," he admits. Reluctantly. He is not as large as he is in his head. "It's been a while since we've gone and thrown sticks. I bet Bob loves it on Cybertron, wild as it is. Lots of sticks. You should go. Get Sunstreaker. Throw some sticks with Bob."

The temptation to make an excuse to run to Iacon and pretend he has business to do there grows stronger, but Max shakes it off. He does freeze in place and then seem to slump where he sits, joints hissing.

"I can't. We had a fight, some time back. A bad one. I'm not sure he wants to see me right now, and I wouldn't blame him." He can't quite meet Rodimus's optics. What a good time to make sure Eyebrows's bowl is in order.

Rodimus leans the painting up against the wall to give Fortress Maximus his full attention. He sits back down on the bed and looks over at him, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees. "So who owes who the apology, or is it a little of both?"

"Nailed it in one. I think. He realized I didn't know about his past in the war and didn't tell me, and when I found out I felt like he'd lied to me and blew up. It brought back a lot of awful feelings and guilt and anger that has nowhere to go with Overlord dead. And I said things I regret now." He lets his hands fall to his side, looking over at Rodimus. "Then after Whirlwind and I had our-our disagreement, he blew up at Whirlwind over it because he thought Whirlwind was hurting me, and then I lashed out at him for that and almost-I lost control and almost threw a chair at him. We were best friends before all this..." His optics dim black. "I don't know how to apologize. I don't know where to start."

Rodimus's eyes narrow in a wince, but it's without judgment. He's sympathetic as he looks at Max, and he reaches over a moment to place a hand on his shoulder in a bracing squeeze. It's okay. "I usually start with 'I'm sorry.' And trust me, I've got practice. I don't know how bad it was, or what you said, but I gotta say: you might not ever be friends again. Not like you were, anyway. Can't be like you were. Maybe you can be something else, but if you want to apologize, start with 'I'm sorry' and know that Sunstreaker might not say it back. Might give you a painting Bob made. But might not say it." He pauses, then hastily adds, "He wasn't apologizing for anything with this painting, though. I'm talking like. Metaphorically, not specifics."

Max shakes his head with a little, weak smile. "I didn't think so. He always spoke highly of you, Rodimus. He cares about you a lot. Never told me the details, but you did something to earn his loyalty forever." In response to the shoulder-squeeze he seems like he's about to return it, hesitates, and then just accepts it graciously with a soft sigh. "I'm used to apologizing in dramatic ways when I can't take the guilt anymore, and I have a feeling that wouldn't work. I-I dropped him right when he needed it, too. That anger from the transformation, it gets to him, and you'd think I would get that. You'd think I'd get being eaten from inside by something that just flares up in you and hurts people you care about. Though I guess beating myself up over it isn't the same as just going and saying 'I'm sorry.' Thanks..."

"This is uncomfortably like the ashes of my dating life," Rodimus ... jokes. His hand falls as he considers Max. His tone is frank, edging on blunt as he says, "Who are all of those big, dramatic apologies really for, though? Feeling awful about something -- sure, you can do that, and you can feel like you're a good person, you have to be, because look how much it hurts. Or you can do something about it. And try to make it right. I know you can. Question is, why haven't you?"

"Sorry, didn't mean to bring up bad memories." This time Max does set a hand on Rodimus's shoulder. Though as Rodimus speaks, his optics go wider and his biolights flicker in uncomfortable recognition.

"...It's for me. They're always for me. I'm big and dramatic. Okay, that's a ridiculous statement, but you get me. I'm used to leading armies, intimidating prisoners, keeping order, just...filling a room. So subtle is hard. And the reason I haven't is...slag, some part of me keeps going, 'but what about the lives lost? What about Garrus-9?' And I know I'm using that as an excuse now. They weren't his responsibility. They were...they were mine."

"Wait, hang on. This is drinking stuff." Rodimus shifts under Max's hand to pat down his compartments until he's reached past the usual fuel to something stronger: engex, bright and thick, disguised as simple energon cubes. He keeps one, passes one. "Okay, that's some heavy stuff, but I know how you feel. It's easier to blame other people than own your scrap, isn't it. And it's not always fair. But there's a difference between something being your responsibility and something being your fault." He pauses, briefly, and drinks. "Which I'm definitely better at telling you than living for myself, but it's true."

<FS3> Fortress_Maximus rolls Drinking: Success. (8 2 4)

"Ha, kind of is, isn't it. Told you I was dramatic." Fort Max takes the cube in his hand and downs some of it, feeling it burn down his intake. He's in his room; if he ends up collapsed on the floor, it isn't as if this is a bad place for it. "Well, if it helps, you're great for talking through it. And yeah, as long as I'm blaming someone else it feels like less of a weight on my own shoulders. It's Prowl's fault. It's Sunstreaker's fault. It's Overlord's doing, but Overlord is something that just happened to us. So every time I think I should apologize, just overlook it, that feels like me betraying all the fallen. Again. But Sunstreaker never meant to harm them. I don't know what he was thinking, but his brother cares about him. I know he's not an evil person. So..."

"He made a big fragging mistake is what he did -- or we did, maybe," Rodimus says, expression and tone softening as he looks down at his hands. "No one really stopped to look at Sunstreaker and think about how awful all of it was and how he was doing. We do that, you know. We just kind of ignore those things." He glances at Max sidelong, who might know a thing or two about the way Autobots disregard PTSD in their soldiers. "And a lot of people paid for it. That's the problem, sometimes, is a lot of other people pay when one person messes up. Isn't fair. But it is."

"He never told me much about what happened to him," Max admits quietly. He catches the aside glance and nods. "I didn't ask. I should have. I should have realized for someone like him, who I knew and trusted, to have done something as extreme as betray the Autobots meant he'd have been through a lot. That if he was really going to lash out at Whirlwind like that, on my behalf, something must have touched a nerve neither of us intended. I know what it's like to go through hell and then be expected to just carry on like normal, like nothing happened." He takes another sip of enjex.

"Well, even if our friendship is never what it was after that, I'm glad he at least has you. You're a good person."

Rodimus wrinkles his nose in a skeptical grin, but doesn't fish for compliments in denial. He shakes his head, once, and says, "I'm glad I've got him. And Bob. I mean it, throw sticks with Bob is like. The best way to pass an angry hour, you know? I hope you and Sunny find some kind of peace again. For Bob's sake. How's Whirlwind doing with everything?"

"I miss Bob. And, thank you." Max smiles at Rodimus, setting his cup aside for the moment. "Whirlwind, um. Sunstreaker ended up reminding him of someone who'd hurt him, over and over. But I talked to him about it and he's okay with me talking to Sunstreaker-he seems to want us to make amends, I think. He's too good. Just a really...kind and forgiving person. I'm sorry I ended up pouring my troubles all over you. I feel like I do that a lot now. Not much of a 'fun' roommate, am I..."

"Yeah, but I throw things at you, so--." Rodimus glances over at the painting that fell off the wall and then back to Max. "I think it mostly works out. Anyway, don't worry about it. Listening to mess you made makes me feel a little better about my own." That's ... poorly phrased of him, but well meant. Like many things Rodimus has said. "Look, we can talk about fun stuff instead: what's the plan for when Unicron gets closer?"

Max visibly relaxes. This is way more of a comfort zone for him than talking about his own guilt issues. "I'm glad you asked. Been going over a few strategies. Why don't I get your feedback?" He pulls up the datapad, ready to talk over giant planet-battling over Enjex. It might get less coherent as it goes on.

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