Date: 30 April 2015
Summary: Whirl and Hot Rod finally catch up again! Hot Rod fills Whirl in on an important detail re: Nyon.
What an interesting past few cycles this has been. First Whirl gets to see Nyon reduced to nothing but ash and charred bodies, then he gets to meet Megatron who destroyed a pair of hands right in front of his optics before murdering the only surgeon who could properly replace his claws, then after all of that business he's invited to stay in Kolkular with the other Autobots but instead of actually meeting any of them he runs into Barricade who proceeded to throttle him in front of a bunch of people including Orion Pax who just stood there and watched.
Yeah, it's been super interesting.
As of right this second, Whirl is stumbling through the halls in a confused daze, completely and totally lost as usual. "Would've been nice if they gave us a map!" he vents loudly to absolutely no one. "Everything in the damn place looks the same. Oh! Look at that! A giant Decepticon sigil! Haven't seen THAT in a room before!"
By that standard, Hot Rod's had it easy. I mean, yes, lingering guilt, regret, and all of those good, brooding things, but Orion Pax said nice things, Arsenal's alive after all, and Hot Rod still has his hands! And two eyes! Life is great.
"Could be worse. It could be the Autobot sigil. Remember seeing those all over the--" Come on, Roddy, you can do it. You can say it. "--Acropolex?" he finishes after scarcely a pause. Hot Rod approaches from a side hallway. He gestures as he talks, hands sweeping to depict the way the first face emblems plastered every available surface. "So you're about the last person I'd expect to see /here/. In one piece." By which he means 'hello'.
"Ugh! I DO remember that. It was so creepy sometimes," Whirl responds, instantly recognizing that voice and knowing exactly who it is before he actually spots him. "Always watching me when I was doing.. things to people. And myself."
He turns now, facing Hot Rod and staring him down with that unblinking cyclopean gaze. "I could say the same about you. Here I was thinking you wound up a blackened corpse sitting somewhere under a pile of rubble, only to find out you're alive and well." And living with a bunch of Decepticons but so is he so he can't really say anything about that. "I can't believe I thought you would actually be dead, you're far too stubborn to die."
Hot Rod's features twist with an, "Ugh," that he scarcely gets a chance to voice before Whirl goes on. The memories that he sparks linger. He has /seen things/. He has seen things /no one was meant to see/.
"Yeah, no kidding. Like Backdrop was telling me to be careful earlier, too, but I told him that's not going to happen -- because, really, it won't." Hot Rod closes on Whirl to clasp him on the shoulder in a manner that Arsenal would find disappointing. "But I'll turn up okay, no matter how bad it gets." With a slight note of hesitation, he adds, "Not that it didn't get pretty bad. Don't get me wrong -- I /am/ glad to see you. I wanted to show you what Zeta up to, same as I showed Pax. But don't the Decepticons kind of have it out for you?"
Whirl glances at the hand on his shoulder before looking back at Hot Rod. Too bad Arsenal isn't here to encourage them to hug it out, right? Guess a mechly shoulder clasp is all that will be exchanged.
Whirl throws his arms around Hot Rod and gives him the biggest hug he can possibly give, even going so far as to lift the guy off his feet for a moment before plopping him back down. "They do, but they're under strict orders from Megatron to treat me as a welcomed guest." Megatron's actual words were to treat him as they would any Decepticon which resulted in the aforementioned throttling by Barricade, but what ever this works too. "What about you? Did you finally cave in and join up?"
"Oh, come on!" Hot Rod lowly, and rather unbelievably, complains when Whirl returns clasp with pick-up-and-drop hug. He doesn't even try to get out of it. (Maybe he knows better.) Somewhere, surely, Arsenal's mood lifts and she's not quite sure why. His grin is boyish as he settles back on his feet -- a little embarrassed, but pleased. His tone settles something just a little south of normal. Although minorly subdued, he seems buoyed by Whirl's presence. "Nah, not me. Arse did, though, /and/ Backdrop. Jackpot's taking bets on who's next. Naturally. I don't know. So you walked away from Zeta, huh? Good. You're better than him."
Arsenal joining the Decepticon's is a bit surprising to Whirl (he's not privy to all the conversations she and Hot Rod had about it) but it's not nearly as surprising as Backdrop joining them. He's so tiny and hilarious, not exactly the type to come to mind when you think Decepticon. "Eh, you can't blame them too much. What else could they do? Nyon got all exploded, not really an option anymore." Beat. "No offense, I'm sure this is all really hard for you."
"But yes! Zeta! THAT FRIGGIN' GUY." Whirl gives an exasperated sigh. "I'm all about moral ambiguity and such but he's taking it to a whole new, disturbing level. I may be a monster but I'm not the devil, I couldn't be a part of all that."
If only Whirl knew how many times Hot Rod had been left on the metaphorical couch. It shouldn't be surprising at all. "I don't blame them," Hot Rod says with a certain fierceness. "The Decepticons have been the only ones to extend a hand and help for a long time. Everyone's always been free to leave. Without that freedom to go, their staying before would've meant nothing. And hey, at least they didn't leave to join the Autobots." /No offense, Whirl/.
Whirl can't but feel like that last part was supposed to be a personal jab at him but he's already explained to Hot Rod his bullshit reasons for joining the Autobots so many times to no avail that he just doesn't bother anymore. "Okay so the Decepticon's swept all your friends off their feet and now you're left all alone. What happens now? What do YOU do now? Joining the 'cons is looking sweeter and sweeter every day in my opinion." Whirl: unknowing Decepticon recruiter, apparently.
Don't worry: it wasn't intended to be a jab. Hot Rod's just that thoughtless.
"Not all of them!" Hot Rod insists, although the other rebels have found other corners to hide in while they debate their own loyalties. "Whatever. The rest of them -- they can make their own decisions. I told them as much. So." The end of his short, ill-fated run at leadership. Good thing that will never happen again
Hot Rod drags his hands down his face and says, "Yeah, yeah. I know. I just -- I don't know about the Decepticons. Some of them are great, don't get me wrong. Like I was telling Backdrop, Soundwave's a good guy, and Deadlock's okay." He pauses slightly. No, bad example. Better move on, quickly. "Swindle, Swift Blade, Thundercracker -- Blast Off," he adds, a little sly. "But some of them are pretty nasty. I've seen some stuff -- I don't know. They might not be as bad as Zeta, but they're trying pretty hard to get there. But they've also been the only ones really fighting for what's /right/." The lingering touch of brooding mope fades as his passion renews. "But I don't want to think that to get to the right things, we really have to be that awful. We have to be able to win without losing our sparks. Without /compromising/ any further. We've already lost enough."
Whirl listens as Hot Rod lists off examples of decent Decepticons and he tries really hard not to bust out laughing when he namedrops Deadlock. Wasn't that the guy Pursuit was talking about the other cycle? The one with the big file about how terrible he is? Of course it is. That urge to laugh quickly subsides at the mention of Blast Off, Whirl just giving Hot Rod a hard stare.
"You don't want to think it but you're going to have to. Look at the changes such awful actions have brought already. Do you think the Senate could've been dissolved in anyway that didn't involve mass murder? Do you think a monster like Zeta can be defeated without becoming a monster yourself?" Whirl gives Hot Rod a shrug, like he was sorry to have to break this to him. "You have to do what ever you can to survive, even if it means losing your spark. And I mean that both physically and psychologically in case you didn't pick up on that."
"I don't believe that," Hot Rod says. In the face of Whirl's careless shrug, his determination firms. "I've always been fighting /for/ something: for Nyon, for freedom. And yeah, maybe that didn't work out," he says, before Whirl /can/. Only /more tactlessly/.
"The only good Autobots didn't want to fight, and the worst of the Decepticons are only fighting for themselves." Hot Rod opens his hands, palms up. "But there's got to be a middle ground, Whirl. There's got to be a place we can stand where nothing like Nyon ever happens again. I'm not an idiot--" REALLY. "--and I know it's not going to happen /without/ a fight. But it's got to be the right one."
Whirl was totally going to say something extremely tactless about Nyon before Hot Rod beat him to it. Now the moment is gone and he can't comment on it without looking like a total jerk, thanks a lot Hot Rod.
"I don't know what you want me to tell you," Whirl admits with another half-hearted shrug and a shake of his head. "I'm probably the worst person to talk to about this sort of thing. Hell, I thought I'd be dead by now so having to deal with all of.." He waves his claws around in a sort of nebulous manner. "..this is kind of difficult for me too. Usually when I have to deal with difficult subjects I just go and get high instead. By the way, the Decepticons have a room in here somewhere where you can just hang out and get high. Just thought I'd mention that." Definitely a plus towards the Decepticons in his mind.
You're WELCOME. Hot Rod really gets a lot of joy out of ruining Whirl's fun.
"Nah, mech. You don't have to say anything. Just glad to see you here. Glad to know you don't stand with Zeta," says Hot Rod with a slow smile. "Although the idea of you joining up with the Decepticons is kind of blowing my mind a little here, I'm not gonna lie. You really going to join up?" Because obviously the drug room -- which Hot Rod, straight edger that he is (okay, not so much), isn't showing much interest in -- is the final selling point for Whirl.
"Oh Primus no, I'm not joining up with them." Even though Whirl wants to a lot more than he's willing to admit (and he's already admitted quite a bit) there's no way that could ever happen. Right? "I'm just staying here for as long as Pax and the other Autobots are, I'm not picking up a purple badge. There's just NO WAY Megatron, or any other Decepticon really, would be cool with that. Though.." He scratches at the back of his head with a claw. "..I'm kind of enjoying my time here. Other than that whole thing with Barricade- By the way, I got attacked by Barricade, it hasn't been so bad. Plus, you know, Blast Off's here and.. well, we don't have to sneak around in back alleys or abandoned buildings just to get in an interface. It's.. exhausting, honestly. My whole body is sore and my mind is like WOAH but it's also kind of awesome."
Whirl scoffs. "ANYWAY, yeah. Good to see you're alive and well."
"'By the way'," Hot Rod repeats with an incredulous note. "Then again, since he didn't kill you, maybe that does count as a 'by the way'." Not that he knows much about Barricade's /particular hate/.
Hot Rod's expression goes a little glazed as he considers the fact that Whirl and Blast Off are now a) in close proximity and b) don't have to hide. What is the Cybertronian equivalent of a black light, and /what would it reveal/. "That's -- that's ... great. I'm just surprised the risk hasn't taken the thrill out of it for you," he teases, maybe only half-kidding.
Whirl is totally okay with Hot Rod not knowing the details regarding Barricade's hatred for him as it's not something he's proud of and certainly not something he wants to talk about right now so he just leaves it at that.
The glazed look on Hot Rod's face does not go unnoticed and it's enough to encourage Whirl to continue with even greater detail but that comment makes him stop and consider. "The risk of getting caught and the danger involved definitely made it more exciting, yeah, but this is exciting too. It's a different kind of exciting.." He kind of stares off into the distance for a bit before he catches himself and focuses back on Hot Rod.
"I can stand here and talk about how great my romantic life is right now for hours and hours but that would be ridiculous. How are you doing with this whole 'Nyon is gone' thing? And I mean /really/ doing, don't lie to me about this."
Hot Rod watches Whirl as he stares off all mushy-like. Despite himself, he grins. It's a grin that falls /right off his face/ as soon as Whirl returns his gaze. He looks away.
(He looks away heroically, /nobly/. The first impulse to curl in on himself is stamped beneath the straightening square of his shoulders as he lifts his head.)
"Yeah, you know -- not great. I know it had to be done. I know I didn't have a choice--" Whirl knows that Hot Rod pushed the button, right? --right? "--but it was still.... Scrap, I don't know. I have to stay here. Help. Make sure it was worth it. But sometimes I just want to drive until I run dry and not think about it all, especially after spending time with the others who got out."
Whirl listens and nods with Hot Rod's words, glad he could get Hot Rod talking about what happened. He knows it can't be easy but more often than not it helps to talk about- wait, what did he just say?
Whirl STARES hard at Hot Rod. Like, REALLY HARD. Give him some time and he could probably burn a hole through the other mech with that intense stare. "What.. did you do, Hot Rod?" He leans in, that stare still honed in on him. "What choice are you talking about?"
"The--." Hot Rod breaks off. /Now/ his shoulders curl in. His spoiler droops. His chin tucks. "Zeta was killing everyone. We got as many people out as we could. And then I detonated phase charges we'd planted--" When? Why? At a good point, and for a good reason!! "--to bring down Zeta's Omega Destructors. Pax and the others -- they held them off as long as they could. But.
"Nyon was already. Already gone. Nothing I could've done would've stopped that," Hot Rod snaps with a heated, defensive surge. His chin lifts again and his eyes flare. "Most of the people in range were already dead -- and those who weren't, would've been. I stopped them. So that they couldn't go after the rest."
Whirl can only stare in what might be considered horror if you really squint hard enough and also if Whirl had a face as Hot Rod divulges the whole story. It's quite horrifying and really shocking to think that not only did Hot Rod plant a bunch of charges around the city FOR WHATEVER REASON but that he actually pushed the button to bring it all down. Nyon, Hot Rod's home, the one he was fighting for, trying to protect. He blew it up, he blew it all up.
And yet Whirl finds it difficult to be angry. Once the initial shock of this mind-blowing discovery passes, he finds that his feelings on the matter is more sympathetic than anything. Hot Rod did what he believed his best and considering the destruction and despair the Omega Destructors were bringing upon the city, blowing it up was the merciful thing to do.
"This changes everything, Hot Rod," Whirl grabs Hot Rod by the shoulders, leaning in and staring him dead in the optics. His tone is flat and serious, "This changes everything." He then draws the mech in for another hug but unlike the first one this is meant to comfort, not embarrass.
"You did the right thing."
When horror looks like |o| and sympathy looks like |o|, Hot Rod's left with words, tone, and /action/ to understand. The words make him flinch; the tone makes him look away; the grab for his shoulders makes him tense.
But just for a moment. When it's clear that it's not prelude to Whirl snapping him in half and throwing him down some kind of awful Decepticon torture pit -- hey! you never know! -- Hot Rod doesn't just relax into it the embrace. He slumps, leaning hard against Whirl, and buries his head against his side.
Hot Rod's words are a little unclear, muffled as they are. "I know. Most of the time, I know, anyway. But it was the worst thing I've ever done. And I never want to make that kind of choice again. I have to believe it's not always that kind of sacrifice to stop monsters, or I can't -- I just can't."
Yes, the horrible mutilation forced upon him makes any deep, heavy, or emotional conversation awkward and confusing as all hell but he doesn't really have a choice.
Whirl just holds Hot Rod close, letting him try to hide himself in the embrace and bury away at his side. There's really nothing he can say that would help put the mech's mind at ease because there is a very real possibility that Nyon is just one of many soul-crushing decisions that will have to be made before this conflict ends. So he says nothing for now, opting to just hug it out for as long as Hot Rod needs it.
To be honest, Hot Rod could probably hug it out for longer than he does. But this is Decepticon HQ, and for all that it's still /relatively/ friendly territory, it's not exactly home.
(In fact, home is a pile of ash, so let's just move on from that concept entirely.)
Hot Rod bumps his head against Whirl's shoulder just once more and then straightens away. He has pretty good control over his face -- not perfect, but he doesn't look shattered. Maybe just a little wrecked around the eyes. He visibly searches for something to say. It stretches a little awkward as he studies Whirl's face(ish), but in the end, he just says, "Thanks." Then he adds, "You've been a great friend. I'm /really/ glad you're here."
The awkward stretch of silent staring that follows their hug doesn't bother Whirl in the slightest. In fact, he wishes more people communicated entirely with silent staring, it would make him feel less weird.
"No problem," Whirl says rather nonchalantly, belying his flattery at being called a great friend. "Anytime you need it, I'm always here to listen and offer terrible advice." He diverts his gaze just a bit, reaching up with a claw to scratch at the side of his head. "I'm glad you're here too, I was really worried when I saw what happened to Nyon. You're a good guy, Hot Rod, and a good friend. You helped me out when I was in a bad spot, gave me a place to live and let me be a part of something." Even though he walked away from it to join the Autobots but he has a weak spot for HANDS. "I'll always remember that."
Silence just isn't really Hot Rod's thing. Usually. Whirl will have to find other friends to stare at silently. Maybe Shockwave! Empurata party, right? No, wait, that's robo-racist.
Hot Rod can't manage nonchalant. He looks flustered -- obviously touched, and obviously ill-equipped to handle it. So he gives Whirl a friendly punch in the shoulder. "Yeah, okay. Come on. Let's get out of here." No more feelings. He has reached his feels capacity. The faint flush of pleasure lingers, despite his attempt to play it off: an edge of happiness that chases away the dark to a simple lingering shadow. "You're totally lost. No, don't deny it. Come on. Main hall's this way. If you get lost again from there, not my fault."