From Transformers: Lost and Found
|Location||Minimus Ambus' Office|
|Participants||Prowl, Minimus Ambus|
|Summary||It's 4 AM and that means it's time for a performance review.|
It's whatever counts as an ungodly hour aboard the Lost Light, when Prowl chimes Minimus' door. His smile is too wide, doors too high, optics too bright when he greets poor Minimus with a brittle "good morning". Apparently it's the perfect time to inform Minimus that Prowl had finally passed his "god damned, outdated, moronic policing test". That's his excuse for visiting, despite lingering in silence afterwards, waiting. For something. The metallic license in his hands bends between his fidgetting. "Are- Are you busy?"
Minimus Ambus jerked awake to the chime at his door convinced that if this was coming in the middle of his sleep cycle it was going to be an emergency. He shot to the door and slammed it open running on a burst of adrenaline, all hot thruster and halfway to panic. He takes stock. He looks at Prowl. His eyes flicker, scarlet shutting off and then resuming again in a glow.
He scuffs backwards a few paces, and then turns in a pivot to trudge back across the room so that he can pick up the flattish pillow and the datapads that scattered to the floor as he dove to react to the emergency. The door is open. Prowl can clearly enter.
"Good morning, Prowl."
Prowl enters. Then realizes the time. He's not sure how he missed it, seeing as it's sitting right there on his freshly updated HUD. Well, he's here now. "Okay, fine, my wonderful news could've waited, but I've been sitting on something for a few weeks. I bet you can guess what it is."
Minimus picks up the pillow and puts it on the slab, and then starts picking up the datapads he scattered on the floor so that he can put those away in some semblance of order, neatly, on the bedside table. "At this hour, my capacity for hypothesis is drastically reduced," he states without particular inflection.
"...You never got back to me. About my offer." Prowl keeps himself flattened against the wall just to the right of the entrance, watching. "But I never suffer failure without learning something, so I'd like an... exit interview. What, uh, didn't appeal?"
Minimus's shoulders slump. He puts down the last of the datapads and then he sits down on the edge of the slab. He scrubs his hands over his face in a sliding, clicking scrape of his fingers. "Prowl..." he begins, and then stops.
"I'm serious," Prowl assures, as if he can stifle the growing awkwardness with the firmness in his tone. This is a simple, social transaction, and it doesn't have to be WEIRD, DANGIT. "Be honest. Everyone, /everyone/ has opinions when it comes to me. I'm not deaf to it. And I won't think ill of you. I just... want to know."
Minimus does not actually physically squirm. There's the verge of it in the twist of his fingers as they drop to his lap. He stares in a particularly beleaguered, almost-dead-eyed way in Prowl's direction, and then surges up off the slab so that he can pace over the floor of the chamber. He emerges, at least, from the comparative vulnerability of his sleeping quarters to stand, arms folded tight across his chest, behind the chair at his desk. He says, "What ... what do you want me to say?"
"Anything but 'it's not you, it's me'. But knowing you..." Prowl smirks, the sound humorless. "Just /tell me/ why you think I'd be a poor partner. This shouldn't be hard. I'm pretty certain you've called me a swaggering self-absorbed paranoid. But maybe keep it to... constructive criticism."
Minimus walks over to the desk. He sits down at the chair. He gestures at the chair across from him and says, "Very well. If you would like to do this like a performance review, take a seat."
Prowl is not sure why he's surprised. Or suddenly very wary. But he moves to sit, and puts on his best I'm-getting-lectured-by-a-Prime face. Hands folded in his lap, he stares straight ahead. "It doesn't need to be /too/ formal." Whatever that means.
Minimus looks at Prowl for a long moment, his jaw set and his eyes steady. He laces his fingers together and says, "I like you."
A beat passes. He sits there for a moment, considering his words, and then he says, "I've always respected your dedication to your work. The passion that you have displayed throughout the course of your career has never been less than full throttle. While you have, in the course of our acquaintance, been swaggering, overbearing, obnoxious, so convinced of your own righteousness that you were unwilling to even hear alternate opinions, and ultimately always prepared to sacrifice your ethics in pursuit of your goal due to your own self-importance ... you have grown, since I have known you, more self-aware. I told you once, that trust is earned, and I have observed that you have made efforts to earn it. In fact, ever since you came aboard the Lost Light, I have personally observed you actively working to better yourself against inclinations that had been ingrained over the course of centuries. I consider your determination and perseverance to be admirable, even alluring traits. I have occasionally even, for some reason I struggle to rationally explain, found you ... charming. You have made significant efforts to be thoughtful and personable towards me despite earning very little in return. It has not gone unobserved."
Prowl flinches at the very first 'critique'. His optics dart as his helm remains rigid. And it's downhill from there. By the time Minimus finishes his review, Prowl is almost frantic in his search to find the proper reaction, the proper emotion. Eventually, he settles on a short, dry laugh. It's hard to ignore the distinct swell in his spark. He ends up beaming, though his attention is on the wall off to the left, and his propped chin buries further against his fingers, obscuring his lips.
Then it begins to hurt. Oh right. They're in the middle of detailing why Prowl /can't/ have Minimus. The wound tears further when he looks back to Minimus with renewed longing. "So... why? What... W-what do I have to do?"
"Prowl," Minimus Ambus says. He cradles his head in his hands, framing his helm to either side. "I am exhausted. I fell in love extremely hard and it hurt. Every time I think I have found equilibrium, something happens to throw me off balance again. Every single time. I'll go weeks thinking this is fine, this is my new normal now, I have made order from chaos, and then Drift turns up and throws something in my face and I'm cracking holes in the walls again. I can't tell you how much bulkhead damage can be immediately traced to my inability to relate to people. Prowl-- I know you said that you didn't want to hear that it isn't you but I don't know what else to tell you." His hands clatter against the surface of the desk and he says in a worn, rundown, low voice, "I had this ... this extended conversation with Rodimus and he forced me to come to the realization that even though he retains this insanely high opinion of me ... love isn't enough. How can you want to be with someone who is this much of a--" He stares around his spotless office for a moment and then asks helplessly, "--of a mess? You think this has to be about you?"
"You're not a mess." Prowl pauses. "Well, you're a little bit of a mess, but certainly no more than me, or anyone else on this ship. And I'd hoped it was me, because that's something I could potentially work on." But this... Yeah. Okay. At least it's crystal clear, now, that Minimus is understandably weary. So Prowl relents, because it's a little /terrible/, how Minimus cradles his head and drops his hands.
"I have my reasons. For wanting this, I mean. I could give you a review as well. It would have to be in text." He gives no reason. "So... It's too soon then. Is that it?"
"I don't know," Minimus says in a slightly strangled way. He sinks back against the seat and looks at Prowl with a distinctly exasperated expression. "I don't want to build a pinnacle of false hope. I might not even be capable of this."
"It's fair," Prowl admits, as grim realization catches up to him. "I get it. I do." He flattens his hands on the desk and pushes up from his seat. "Look, don't worry about it. I'm sorry you're still... handling things. I didn't know. I /try/ not to know. I guess I got ahead of myself. You're exceptional, to me. I wanted... that." Vague hand gesture.
Minimus tilts his head, tracking Prowl with a slight narrowing of his gaze. He watches the hand gesture uncertainly and then his gaze drops. His lips thin a little and he cycles his fans, whirring into a little snort. "Considering what time we are having this conversation, I suppose I should not be surprised that my major critique here is of your timing. I can't say I understand... what you want. Or wanted. I'm sorry I--" He stalls out, without an end to the thought.
"Don't be sorry." Prowl's replies, somewhat distantly. "I said I'd give you stability. I'm not going to heap more drama onto your pile. My hope, at least-" He holds out his hand, across the desk. "-Is that we can still remain companions." It doesn't /sound/ like resignation, and his expression is hopeful.
Minimus reaches out to clasp Prowl's hand. His grip is extremely sturdy. Solid. His words are quiet. Even still a little apologetic. "You can't give me stability. I have to make that for myself."
Prowl stares at their clasped hands, and keeps the hold perhaps a few seconds longer than he should. When he pulls away, his smile is weaker, and everything feels brittle. "Regardless, let me know if I can help. I'll let you get back to recharge." He waves his forgotten license. "I worked hard for this, you know. I /did/ hope for some congratulations."
Minimus Ambus rises. His fingers curl a moment at his side as he moves out from behind the desk. He practically thrums with an inner tension for a moment, and then instead of yielding to the impulse to reach out to Prowl again, he backs up, and stands straight, and gives him a crisp salute.
Prowl seems satisfied. At least outwardly. "Thank you. Just in time to bust some crime, huh. Heh..."
There's more to say. A lot more, but Prowl doesn't chase the urge. Not tonight. "Good night, Minimus."