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Mann & Machine - Relationships

Core Reflections

The two principles I had when trying to map out the ideas for this AU were A) I wanted each character to have One Key Foil who drives a lot of their character, and B) I wanted each of the 5 core relationships produced by the first principle to have a different nature. I think I succeeded.

Scout & Demo

A sort of mutual understanding. They've both got some issues with agency and familial expectation, though in drastically different forms, and they both have a lot of unresolved grief and a strong need for attention. Now this would be a great relationship if only they didn't make each other more prone to reckless and unhinged behaviour...

It'd categorise this relationship as brotherly. On Demoman's end, he's an only child and he's never really had someone like that who he can relate to, whereas Scout has always had a surplus of brothers but been left out, somewhat, by age gaps and the situation Spy left behind him. So, for Demo, this is something very unfamiliar, and for Scout, it's something that's familiar in a very deja-vu sense, where he can't actually recall something similar but retains an echo of it, somewhat. This is not to say that either of them especially /needed/ a relationship in a similar vein, more that due to the circumstance it was primed to fall in place very easily.

Soldier & Sniper

They're giving each other therapy. Are they aware of this fact? No, no they're not. They think they're getting together to throw rocks at the pond, grab fish with their bare hands, and feel despondently patriotic. But they're giving each other therapy because they always end up talking about their issues, which are quite similar and thus inevitably turn into a paired whingeing session. Incredible.

The idea of this one, I think, is that sometimes you just need a mate. Not necessarily your best mate, but you need someone who you can hang around, who's detached enough to show you a view of the world that's different from yours but close enough to care. Shorter times, but with big impacts. I don't even know that they'd stay especially close after then end of Mann and Machine, even; they might, for sure, but they might also fade out of each other's lives without much fanfare. It's something built on melancholy, I guess. Mayflies following each other through the trees.

Pyro & Pauling

They hold each other close in much the same manner as one might hold a treasured childhood friend who moved away. They've grown into people they don't really recognise anymore, and even though they care for each other deeply, each ends up stuck looking at a long-dead spectre. They've grown up in each other's absence, and even though they prefer to pretend it's not so, they both recognise the fact deep down. Still, with everything hovering over their heads, they don't really get the chance to get to know each other again - at least, not in the same way they once did.

Okay. Listen. Listen. If the entire premise of Mann & Machine blew up halfway through and everyone dangerous exploded these two would move into a little house in the suburbs and IMMEDIATELY get together and it'd be terrible because they'd fail to communicate properly and get into arguments over everything that happened and say horrible things to each other. Both of them are unquestionably in actual capital R Love with versions of each other who are almost entirely dead and neither of them wants to properly admit that and it makes a certain primal part of them incredibly bitter. Yes circumstances prevent them from falling in love with the Actual Living versions of each other but even if they didn't I don't think they'd actually try to because so much of both their psyches are held together by sheer force of "Pretend It's True".

Heavy & Spy

Two men who know each other inside out precisely because they've made all the opposite choices. Often found buried in books together. It's a type of love, although which exactly isn't something they seem hasty to discuss. Best not to upset the balance they've found, anyway.

I guess the thing about this pair is that there's a sense of what could have been. In another world they could have been best friends, living near each other and visiting each other's families. In another world they could have met when they were younger and fallen in love and run away together. Hell, in another world Mann & Machine could play out and they could have had something more conventional all the same, but for the way their histories have fallen into place. So within MnM they have something else, where they know they're the right people but it's the wrong time and it'll always be the wrong time, because the right time was years ago before they made all their choices and their mistakes. So they're displaced, somewhat, from where the story tells them they should be. And that's just how life is, sometimes, because life isn't a story. They have something, something that feels like it's never quite going to bloom like it could have, and that's alright.

Engineer & Medic

They're pretty obsessed with each other, in a mutual way where they understand the other and are perfectly fine with the reciprocity. Blood and tech and all that. Is it entirely ordinary or even healthy, precisely? Well. Absolutely not but let them have their fun okay

I spent a lot of time altering different aspects of how I wanted this dynamic to work in order to find the one that I thought was the most interesting and eventually I landed on "take a relationship à la R & J with all the expected levels of obsessive behaviour and reckless bonding and desire and shit and then competely remove the romantic/sexual context of it". So. Yeah. Both of them spend a lot of time tinkering with the other and probably stare a lot and they're always whispering shit and plotting and hanging around each other and all that jazz. They've sorta both found their other half but it's more in the sense of adding an extra hemisphere to their brain. Three hemispheres. Would the word hemisphere change if there were three of them


Soldier & Scout

They get along okay, but they aren't particularly close. On Scout's end, he finds Soldier's prolonged periods of existential crisis and paranoia to be offputting; and on Soldier's, he finds Scout's tendency to be an egotistical irritant becomes much more potent when you're attempting to recover from ego explosion. They'd get along better if it weren't for the everything, but the everything is very much there.

Scout & Pyro

They're friends. They share some interests, which is always fun. Scout gets the idea they share some sort of kinship to do with their histories - but Pyro's quite tight-lipped about his past, so it's hard to know for sure. Sometimes Pyro feels like Scout understands a bit more of her than he lets on, but she's not really out to share that information, and Scout is busy with his own issues. It's for the best that they don't talk about dangerous things, anyway, even if it leaves their relationship a shallower than it could be.

Scout & Heavy

They're. Fine? They were closer before everything went down, but now Heavy's kind of distant and Scout's dealing with his dad troubles and it's a bit. Like they don't really understand enough other properly. Anymore. They're too different to really /get/ where the other is coming from, sometimes, and so they avoid talking about those things.

Scout & Engineer

They get along alright, but they don't really spend a lot of time together because they simply don't often meet on the battlefield or off-duty. It works, but there's no real pull to seek each other out.

Scout & Medic

They're friendly. Medic is perhaps a little too interested in Scout's organs, but he's like that with everyone, so no harm, no foul. They tend to rile each other up a lot, which can cause. Problems. Explosions. A lot of blood goop. But it's nothing the team hasn't seen before.

Scout & Sniper

They're friends. That's the beginning of it, and the end of it. Scout talks, and Sniper listens, and occasionally they swap. So it works out.

Scout & Spy

It's tense and more than a little bitter. How are you meant to react to your father leaving you, working alongside you for years and only telling you the truth of everything when you're all in genuine mortal danger? How are you meant to react to the fact that he stands by his choices? How are you meant to react to the fact that you weren't really even meant to be a possibility?

Scout & Pauling

They get each other, at least. It's awkward, what with their past interactions and everything, but they do get each other. Doesn't mean they don't argue about things, though.

Soldier & Pyro

They don't interact much. It's a bit like looking in a mirror gone wonky for both of them, and that can get too uncomfortable. They get along fine, sure, but honestly they don't even like to think about each other for too long.

Soldier & Demo

Friends! They've been friends since the beginning and they're still going strong. It's a comfort, to have someone who's gone through a lot with you, familiar from old times but nevertheless changed alongside you in the present. Even if going to sports games and out to bars isn't really an option anymore.

Soldier & Heavy

Eh. It's alright. They go from arguing to peaceful and back again. They work well together off the battlefield and make surprisingly good chore buddies, but it's nothing to write home about.

Soldier & Engineer

They spend a lot of time talking to each other out of necessity, since Engineer is the one who has to repair Soldier's outsides when he takes damage. As a result, they know each other well - perhaps they don't quite understand how the other thinks, but they're close enough to understand what. They quietly - well, quietly by Soldier standards - have a lot of faith in each other.

Soldier & Medic

They have an excellent working relationship on the battlefield, but offsite they don't tend to spend a lot of time with each other. Except for the Bird Incident, but that was a one-off and resulted in what could politely be called "Threat Jenga" from all the other mercs.

Soldier & Spy

It would be better if Soldier didn't keep interrogating him about Canada. In truth, Soldier doesn't actually care about Canada, but he likes winding Spy up. Spy is aware of this, but is he going to be the bigger mercenary? No he's not he's never done that in his life.

Soldier & Pauling

Soldier's a bit... messy about things. Pauling doesn't really get him. The paired enthusiasm is fine, if a bit creepy for anyone witnessing it, but on a deeper level they're both talking to confused brick walls.

Pyro & Demo

Friends! They're both overdramatic at times and are often found in the garden, bemoaning the soil quality or digging up worms. They don't have an awful lot in common, but they appreciate each other for what they are.

Pyro & Heavy

Sometimes Pyro gets the idea that Heavy sees him as a bit much like his sisters. Which... perhaps isn't a bad thing, or entirely incorrect, but Pyro just wants to head-on rush those robots without getting told off for being reckless, damnit! As for Heavy, something about the way everyone acts around Pyro gives Heavy the unsettling feeling that something went a bit off a long time ago. Something feels wrong about the everything surrounding Pyro, and it makes him nervous.

Pyro & Engineer

Good friends; even if Pyro didn't have to keep showing up for maintenance, she'd keep coming back anyway. They have very different views on mechanics, but the theory doesn't matter so much as the building horrible contraptions in the workshop bit. Hee hoo flamebot 3000 with the sparkly gloss paint.

Pyro & Medic

Pyro and Medic are around each other often enough, but they just never clicked. Perhaps it has something to do with expecting something similar to you in form to be similar in spirit, and balking at the difference?

Pyro & Sniper

Sniper is a bit reclusive. Pyro gets the impression that she's not quite the right person for him to open up to, so generally they only really interact when it comes to strange animals found outside.

Pyro & Spy

It's cordial, at least, but not especially close or anything.

Demo & Heavy

Demoman sits down next to Heavy and immediately becomes an old man in his 80s complaining about things to his friend down the road. That's how the bond they sit down and gossip and complain about things, old man style. Do they get each other's struggles? Sort of. But mostly they get that Grey Mann is a little BITCH-

Demo & Engineer

tbh i don't think there's any universe in which these two have access to the same laboratory in which they aren't friends. mad science non-squishy edition

Demo & Medic

They're not exceptionally close. Friendly, sure, but not close.

Demo & Sniper

They get along alright. Unfortunately of late Sniper has been spending too much time Moping About and Demo kind of doesn't really get why.

Demo & Spy

You can't be best friends with everyone but goodness Demo comes close. How does he endear himself to Spy, you ask? Shit-talking the English. And Wine Night.

Demo & Pauling

They're alright! They spend more time unwinding together than they do anything incredibly substantial, but it's fun.

Heavy & Engineer

They're not super close. For some reason they tend to get caught up in these weird cycles of being unusually formal with each other. It's weird, but neither of them has figured out why, exactly, it happens that way. They prefer to exist in each other's vicinity rather than make any waves.

Heavy & Medic

Friends! Their sort of bloodlust comes in pretty well-complimentary flavours, and they have a lot of Weird Philosophy debates (like, "if you bisect someone, which half is being amputated?").

Heavy & Sniper

They're chill. They go for walks to catch Fresh Dinner on occasion, but it's not a regular thing.

Heavy & Pauling

Pair of gun freaks

Engineer & Sniper

Not super close. Sniper shows up a lot for maintenance, but he doesn't much like talking about said maintenance so that doesn't really help in terms of getting to know each other.

Engineer & Spy

Fluctuates wildly between a mutual urge to kneecap each other and a mutual appreciation of each other's skills. Depending on the day they could be at each other's throats or cheerily discussing new ways to cause untold bot-related chaos.

Engineer & Pauling

Is pretty sure she knows more than she lets on, but isn't going to pry unless it becomes necessary. Otherwise friendly

Medic & Sniper

They don't talk a lot. They used to be a little closer, but Sniper prefers to avoid talking about anything health-related, nowadays, so they only have the occasional Guys Standing On A Verandah Moment.

Medic & Spy

Medic has been giving Spy questionable advice since the paternity test. Is it good advice? Well, probably not. But it's not intentionally bad, at least...

Medic & Pauling

Enjoys excursions with her. Doesn't get invited often, though, because he causes a lot of chaos.

Sniper & Spy

They don't get everything they've ever done, but they get enough bits to carry a conversation in between polishing various Sharp Objects. It's less a game of closeness and more one of simply existing.

Sniper & Pauling

He's conflicted. He always wonders how much she knew, but then again, he also wonders how much she doesn't.

Spy & Pauling

Knowledge keeper to knowledge keeper connection. Knowledge keeper to knowledge keeper conversation


Scout & His Mom

Loves her. Would do anything for her. What else is there to say.

Scout & The Administrator

She scares him, but he won't admit it. Not of his own free will, anyway.

Soldier & The Administrator

As far as he's concerned, she's just the person keeping them all in a job. Not much else to it. Right? Right???

Pyro & The Administrator

Pyro keeps his head down and plays dumb where he can. His current incarnation was designed as a knockoff imitation to placate a potential resource, and he'd prefer not to become a potential threat when he never really was meant to be part of the plan in the first place.

Demo & Tilly DeGroot

Would be nice to make her proud, huh? Well - she's proud of him. Of course she's proud of him. But showing it, well. That's the sticking point, isn't it? Old cycles and discomforts don't break easily, it seems.

Demo & The Administrator

It's. Fine. He doesn't like the situation, not really, but he tries not to think too hard about dissatisfied old women who boss you around.

Heavy & His Family Back Home

Constantly stressed out of his mind that something will happen to them. Perhaps his view of them is a little unfair (his sisters certainly think so!) but the more he comes to rely on the machines around him, the more he fears for the more mundane life he left behind.

Heavy & The Administrator

While things are good, he'll keep his head down, but the moment she tries something it's on sight.

Engineer & The Administrator

Actually thinking seriously about assassinating her, but is a little concerned that won't help and also that she might assassinate him back.

Medic & The Administrator

Oh yes she's very evil but we can deal with that LATER. Look. Organs.

Sniper & The Administrator

She's a scary boss woman, but he's not really worried about it so much as he just tries to do his job.

Spy & The Administrator

Oh, there's a shitton of resentment on Spy's end, but he keeps it firmly under wraps because he doesn't want to test if she knows anything about his past.

Pauling & The Administrator

Pauling would trust the Administrator with her life. Not that she has any choice in the matter.