[IDW] Silver Linings

There was going to be a trial.

Of course there was a trial. Ultra Magnus couldn’t be convinced otherwise, no matter how much Cyclonus wanted to bury the matter. He wasn’t the only victim, Ultra Magnus reminded him. Justice must be served.

Cyclonus would have rather returned to his quarters and forget the whole terrible thing happened. But Tailgate’s panicked flight through the halls had been quite public, and now there wasn’t a single resident of the Lost Light who wasn’t asking questions.

Cyclonus didn’t know who had opened their mouth. He was certain it wasn’t Ultra Magnus or Tailgate. He suspected one of Atomizer’s friends and allies had started the rumor as certain lies were being spread that painted Atomizer in a more favorable light. Cyclonus supposed that it didn’t matter. One way or another, the truth would out.

It only meant that Cyclonus’ involvement came into the light, too. Immediately thereafter, he didn’t have a moment’s peace. The option to hide in the shadows, to let it slip into the night, was gone. He had to pursue justice, whether he wanted to or not.

This, he reasoned, was almost worse than never telling anyone at all. He almost preferred that they not believe him, so that he might lick his wounds in peace.

Alas, it was not to be.

His only consolation was that he did not have to endure any of it alone. Tailgate was with him every step of the way, though Cyclonus did not ask him to be. The one time Cyclonus suggested that he didn’t need looking after, Tailgate stubbornly refused. He insisted that the best way to get through this was together.

Even if it meant accompanying Cyclonus to the medbay. He lingered in the waiting area upon Ratchet’s insistence, but he never went far.

“Well,” Ratchet said as he peered at a scan readout. “All traces of the drug are gone from your system. You won’t need a secondary flush.”

Cyclonus inclined his head. “Then the memory loss?”

“Is likely permanent.” Ratchet set the datapad down and leaned a hip against a nearby table. “None of the other three victims were able to recover any of their lost memories either.”


Ratchet rubbed his chevron. “A third came forward after Tailgate’s public tussle with Atomizer. He had assumed his own memory loss was due to overindulgence of high grade and purposefully ignored the signs that pointed otherwise.”

Cyclonus cycled a ventilation, staring past Ratchet’s shoulder. “I should not have let Tailgate stop me.”

“From killing Atomizer? If we were still at war, I’d be inclined to agree.” Ratchet lowered his hand, folding his arms over his windshield. “Mechs like that… nothing short of reprogramming will help them, and it’s arguable which is a worse punishment.”

“Yes, and now I have to deal with that…” He gestured to everything beyond the medbay, struggling to find a proper word.

“Circus?” Ratchet supplied with an arched orbital ridge.

Cyclonus blinked, confused.

Ratchet waved a dismissing hand. “Earth term. But it’s apt. And yes, if there’s one thing the mechs on this ship enjoy, it’s a good drama. I’m sorry that you’re in the thick of it.”

Cyclonus’ frown deepened. “Is there anything else that need concern me?”

“No.” Ratchet shifted his weight. “I checked your coding. It matches what I have on file from your last maintenance. He didn’t leave any surprises behind. Physically, you’re fully healed. However, I still suggest–”

“–that I meet with Rung, yes, I know,” Cyclonus finished for him. He rose to his full height. “I do not think it necessary, but I appreciate the suggestion.”

Ratchet stared at him for a long moment before nodding, as though to himself, and waving Cyclonus to the door. “If you change your mind, you know where to find both of us.”

“I do appreciate your care,” Cyclonus said as he left the examination room, Ratchet close behind. “And your discretion.”

“It’s my job.” Ratchet lifted a hand, perhaps thinking to pat Cyclonus on the shoulder, before he dropped it again. “Though if you would be willing to take a suggestion of mine, use the side door on your way out. To avoid the circus.”

Cyclonus dipped his head in a shallow bow. “I will. Thank you.”

Ratchet offered him a thin smile before spinning on a heelstrut and heading toward the next exam room and no doubt, his next patient. With this ship of fools, there was always someone in need of medical care, whether the outcome of another game of lobbing or a mishap in the training center.

Tailgate waited for Cyclonus in the reception area, hands folded in his lap, legs swinging in the chair. His visor brightened when he saw Cyclonus step out of the hall. He leapt to his feet, his field bleeding worry.

“Everything is fine,” Cyclonus said before Tailgate could speak. “Ratchet says that I am fully healed. You needn’t concern yourself so.”

Tailgate bounced on his heels. “I’m going to be worried anyway,” he said, or muttered rather, before he looked up at Cyclonus. “Ratchet really cleared you?”

“Yes. I am in full health. Though he did suggest we leave through the side door.” Cyclonus gestured toward the side hallway with a tilt of his head. “Unless you wish to be bombarded with questions.”

“Ugh. I’ve had enough of those.” Tailgate moved to his side, his hands folded behind his back. “I mean, I know some of them are trying to help, but most of them just want to be nosy ’cause there’s nothing else to do right now.”

Cyclonus dared rest a hand on Tailgate’s shoulder, guiding him to the backdoor. “It has been some time since Rodimus made a detour for entertaining pursuits. I suspect he is trying to prove he’s a better captain than Megatron.”

Tailgate laughed. “He doesn’t have to be serious to prove that. It’s Megatron.”

Cyclonus inclined his head. “You do have a point.” It mattered little to Cyclonus. He had not been here for most of Megatron’s reign of terror, so any disdain he might feel for the former Decepticon was muted by unfamiliarity. He could not place the blame for Cybertron’s destruction on Megatron alone.

That path to devastation had been set before Megatron ever took up arms against his oppressors. Not that Cyclonus would ever admit as much aloud. He was aware of his position amongst mostly Autobots. There were few who would have sympathy for him.

He realized, in the darker hours, that it was probably one of the reasons Atomizer had chosen him. Atomizer selected victims that had little chance of going to the authorities, or who would find ways to lay blame in other directions, rather than suspecting they were assaulted.

If not for Tailgate, well, Cyclonus knew he would be another statistic. Another notch of victory for Atomizer.

He gave Tailgate a pat on the shoulder. “It is still comforting to see Rodimus taking this more seriously, however.” Though Cyclonus did not believe they were going to find the Knights of Cybertron any more than anyone else.

He pressed the panel to open the door and peered into the hallway. Not a spark in sight. Some of the tension eased from his cables.

“All clear,” Cyclonus said.

The minibot giggled. “It almost feels like we’re spies sneaking around the enemy base like in those movies from Earth.”

“You’re not wrong,” Cyclonus admitted as the door closed behind them, and they turned toward their shared suite. “The real task is to see if we can make it back to our suite before we are waylaid by the curious.”

Tailgate sidled up beside him. The gentle touch of Tailgate’s fingers to his own startled Cyclonus. He wondered if Tailgate meant for them to hold hands, but their height difference made it infeasible. Did Tailgate despair of that?

“Or we could not hide in the same four walls and go elsewhere,” Tailgate suggested.

The trial was meant to be private. That didn’t stop word from spreading about it, with mechs constantly showing up to ask questions Cyclonus had no interest in answering. The habsuite he shared with Tailgate was no longer a solace. Anyone could find them there and often, other mechs came looking.

He’d taken to being elsewhere just to have a moment’s peace. He spent a lot of time hiding, desperate for solitude.

Well, solitude from the curious masses. Tailgate was never far from his side, and a few of their shipmates had made it a point to support them without asking questions. Rung only offered his services once. Cyclonus had low-key growled at him.

He appreciated the offer. But he’d survived a lot worse than a mech taking liberties with his frame. He didn’t need Rung’s assistance. He would get by just fine on his own.

Rung smiled that enigmatic smile of his, offered a hand for Cyclonus to shake, and then added, “Then if you ever need someone to help you hide from the masses, don’t hesitate to give me a comm.”

That offer was much more welcome.

Rung was not the only one. Skids, also, didn’t ask questions. He said he’d had enough of people trying to pry into his own past that he understood. All he did was ask “what can I do?”

He appointed himself the official deliverer of their daily ration of energon. He brought it for both Cyclonus and Tailgate when they didn’t want to brave the common room. It was Skids who suggested to them various locations around the Lost Light that were known to be isolated.

“Do you have a preference?” Cyclonus asked.

“We could go to the Hideout.” Tailgate’s visor beamed up at him as he giggled again.

The Hideout, the term Tailgate had given one of their new hiding places. It was one of the many empty workshops in the same corridor that housed Brainstorm’s and Perceptor’s. It had been Brainstorm, actually, who pointed it out to them, mentioning that the doors could be programmed to lock and that if they chose the one across from him, they were guaranteed privacy.

No one wanted to be near Brainstorm in the middle of a new project. Like a certain engineer back on Cybertron, things occasionally went boom around Brainstorm.

There was a good reason Perceptor had chosen the workroom on the furthest end of the hall.

Said workshop had been outfitted with a viewscreen, a collection of Earth shows, and a few pieces of scavenged furniture. Cyclonus suspected that once the fervor died down and more mechs learned about The Hideout, it would become a quiet place for small groups to meet.

For now, however, it was a secret that few knew, and a place that he could find solace.

“Very well.” Cyclonus altered course, heading for the workshops on the other side of the ship. It would take some maneuvering to get there without being seen, but it could be done. “Did you have something in mind?”

“Bluestreak mentioned a series called Mission: Impossible,” Tailgate replied with a bounce on his feet. “We could start that.” His enthusiasm was almost infectious as he reached up and squeezed Cyclonus’ fingers again.

“It sounds like a good plan to me,” Cyclonus murmured.

He only hoped they could make it there without incident.

Tailgate became his constant. Not that he wasn’t before, but now even more so. Cyclonus no longer pretended disinterest in the minibot, and Tailgate no longer labored under the misconception that Cyclonus was ashamed of him.

Where he’d gotten that idea, Cyclonus didn’t know. He attributed it to his own poor behavior and resolved to rectify that in the future, as much as possible.

He was lucky. He appreciated it. While he believed it would be easy to survive by drawing on his own strength, he had underestimated the impact of sitting in the large space they’d turned into a courtroom, waiting for Atomizer to go to trial.

There were two others here – Brainstorm and Hoist – the first of whom fidgeted in the seat in front of Cyclonus. The latter sat as still as stone. A third victim, Ultra Magnus had said, refused to press charges or testify. He didn’t want to believe himself a victim.

Cyclonus did not blame him. If not for Tailgate’s encouragement – and admittedly Ratchet’s – Cyclonus would have likely done the same. He wanted to put it behind him, not continue to have old memories brought to the surface. Given the way the others tended to bombard him with questions, he wished he could go back to anonymity.

Brainstorm, at least, could dive into his laboratory and very few would follow him inside. Cyclonus didn’t know how Hoist avoided the masses and sincerely hoped the engineer-cum-field medic had his own measure of support.

None of them could return to the shadows now. Because this was the proper way to do justice.

No matter how much Cyclonus wanted to take his sword and chop Atomizer into little pieces before piercing him through the spark. Whatever punishment the Autobots offered, it would be a mercy only to Atomizer.

He folded his arms over his chestplate and he stared straight ahead, over the heads and shoulders of the board that would serve as Atomizer’s judge.

Cyclonus did not want to do this. He did not want to be here. He did not want to feel Atomizer’s smirk cast in his direction, or watch the others squirm in front of him, as uncomfortable with the proceedings as Cyclonus felt.

He did not care for Ultra Magnus droning off the list of charges, for Xaaron’s opening statements, for Atomizer lazily drawling that he was ‘not guilty’ for all kinds of obscene reasons.

He did not care for any of it.

Warmth settled on his right thigh. Cyclonus startled and looked down to find that Tailgate was resting a hand on his armor.

“It’s gonna be okay,” he whispered.

Cyclonus wanted to believe him. He unfolded his arms, held Tailgate’s hand, and tried not to squeeze the minibot’s fingers off. He took small reassurance from the comfort.

It was not okay.

The judges argued. They could not come to a consensus.

Rodimus was appalled.

Megatron suggested leniency, forgiveness, therapy.

Xaaron reminded them that such deeds were punishable by execution by most of Cybertron’s old and forgotten laws. Especially when the potential to re-offend was so prevalent.

Ultra Magnus worried that the evidence wasn’t enough to justify execution. That they couldn’t afford to make up the law. He floundered when Trailcutter pointed out, quietly, that the Tyrest Accord didn’t really count anymore, did it?

Old wounds. New wounds.

It was a mess. A mess that left Atomizer slouched in his chair, looking for all the world as though he’d won, and Cyclonus trying to keep his ventilations even.

It was not okay.

He should have killed Atomizer when he had the chance.

Spark containment.

Ultra Magnus tried for reassurance. “It is the most humane option,” he said. “At least until we have determined a more legitimate law to follow.”

“Humane,” Cyclonus repeated. The word tasted foul in his mouth. Hoist must have felt the same because he didn’t stick around for an explanation.

Brainstorm lingered without saying anything. He fingered the handle of his ever-present briefcase. His optics were dim, shoulders hunched.

“At least he won’t be able to hurt anyone else. That’s what’s important, right?” Tailgate asked.

Cyclonus would not admit to clinging to the minibot’s hand as though it were a lifeline. Nor would he admit to trembling and drawing upon the strength of the Great Sword at his back.

“Yes, Tailgate,” Ultra Magnus nodded in agreement. “Like this, there is no risk of him escaping or freeing himself. He will be kept in cold storage in the medical bay and only a fully-fledged medic has the capability to restore him to his frame.”

It was such little comfort to be no comfort at all.

“Well, that’s good,” Tailgate said.

“Is that all?” Cyclonus asked, his words and tone tight. He felt as though he were barely clinging to control and did not want to lose it here.

Ultra Magnus cycled his optics before nodding. “Yes, Cyclonus. There is nothing further you need do if you wish to leave. I’ll let you know if anything changes.”

He jerked his chin upward. “Thank you,” Cyclonus gritted out.

He spun on a heel, forgetting that he held Tailgate’s hand, and nearly yanked the minibot with him. Tailgate scrambled to catch up, and the guilt poured over Cyclonus.

“I am sorry, Tailgate. Did I hurt you?”

Tailgate shook his head. “No. I was just startled.” He squeezed Cyclonus’ hand. “Are you okay?”

Cyclonus set into a slow, measured pace, trying to look as though he were not fleeing and making sure Tailgate didn’t have to jog to keep up. He cycled a ventilation, and it sounded as though it rattled.

“No,” Cyclonus admitted quietly. “I am not.”

Tailgate, blessedly, did not offer an empty platitude. He only squeezed Cyclonus’ hand again as if to say, I am here.

He didn’t know where he intended to hide, and was surprised to eventually find himself at their hab-suite. For once, it was not surrounded by curious mechs. Perhaps they were all too busy gossiping in Swerve’s.

Once inside the safety of their suite, however, Cyclonus stopped. He stood in the middle of the room, at a loss for what to do now. There was an anger, a fury, building in his core. He longed to spin back around, discover wherever they had stashed Atomizer, and finish the job the Autobots were too soft to complete.

He knew very well it was not the solution. It would only be a temporary peace. He knew, in their optics, it was justice.

It did not feel like such.

“Come on,” Tailgate said, jogging Cyclonus from his daze. He pulled him toward the berth.

“It is not time to sleep,” Cyclonus said, confused. He felt slow, dull-witted, and he followed Tailgate like he had no rudder to steer his own course.

“I know. Lay down anyway.”

Cyclonus blinked at him, but rational thought slipped through his fingers. He removed the Great Sword, putting it in the stand beside the berths. He obeyed because he didn’t know what else to do.

Tailgate had preceded him and held out his arms with invitation. Cyclonus obeyed the silent request, too, letting Tailgate maneuver him until he stretched across the berth. He rested on his front, his torso blanketing Tailgate’s legs, his shoulders and head pillowed in Tailgate’s lap. The minibot’s hand petted his head, his horns.


“Because I don’t know what else to do either,” Tailgate said softly. He shrugged and kept petting Cyclonus gently. “But I can be here for you, listen to you if you want to talk, or just keep you company if you don’t.”


Cyclonus wasn’t sure what to say in response to that. He curled his arms around Tailgate, resting his head on Tailgate’s hip, focusing on the steady motions of Tailgate’s hands. It was oddly soothing, helping to calm the tremors in his spark, the jarring seesaw of anger and disappointment and exhaustion.

“Thank you,” Cyclonus murmured, some of the tension easing out of his frame as he focused on the purr of Tailgate’s engine and little else.

Tailgate’s vocalizer hummed. “Anytime.”

Cyclonus jerked online, battle protocols running wild and his cooling fans spinning at full capacity. His spark flickered and flared as he stared, unseeing, into the dim of his hab-suite. Sound rushed through his despite the silence.

That was…

That was a memory purge was what it was. A purge of something he only half-remembered and would have preferred to forget. He should not be so surprised, given the disappointing events earlier today. He’d still foolishly hoped that he would have a restful evening.

Cyclonus leveraged himself upright, only to pause when he realized there was a weight against his left side, pinning him in place. Oh. Right.


They’d pushed their berths together days ago, once Cyclonus realized he slept better with their fields entwined, and Tailgate was all too happy to make the suggestion. It didn’t completely banish the nightmares, case in point, but waking next to another felt like a comforting indulgence.

Cyclonus cycled a ventilation and very carefully extracted Tailgate’s arm, tucking it back against the minibot’s side. Only then could he sit upright and swing his legs over the side of the berth. His array was thrumming, he realized belatedly.

It wasn’t the heat of pleasure, just the mild thrum of excitement, anticipation. The memory purge had been strong enough to activate systems Cyclonus hadn’t touched of his own accord in decades.

At least his panels hadn’t opened. Lubricant hadn’t leaked through either. A small favor.

Cyclonus sighed and slid off the berth, wobbling a little on unstable knees. This, at least, was familiar. He rarely slept through the night peacefully, only usually it was all manner of nightmare that was to blame, horrific things that he could remember. Half-imaginings of an assault that he’d never fully recall were something new to add to the repertoire.

He scraped his hand down his face and drifted toward the window. He didn’t want to leave the room and risk the chance of running into a curious member of the crew. Nor did he want to leave the comfort of Tailgate’s field. He would never admit aloud how much comfort he drew from it.

He should not be this bothered, Cyclonus lamented. He had suffered worse that he could remember, much less something that was only dim images. The perpetrator had been caught. Justice was apparently served. Ratchet reassured him that no nasty surprises had been left behind in his system. He was fully recovered.

There was no reason he should still be haunted.

Cyclonus braced against the edge of the window, peering out at the stars. Rodimus and Megatron didn’t seem to be in a hurry to find the Knights of Cybertron. Currently, they cruised along at an average speed, which for all intents and purposes, made it seem as if they were standing still.

Once upon a time, this view would have brought him calm. Right now, it did nothing to ease the tremors in his frame, or the unexpectedly rapid pulsing of his spark, or the quick ventilations.

Cyclonus bowed his helm, offlining his optics. He reached for calm, and it slipped through shaking fingers. He couldn’t seem to remember how to center himself. Perhaps because he was too busy burying all of the anger.

He had listened to Tailgate. He had handed Atomizer over to Ultra Magnus to face proper judgment. But he still wished he had taken his own. Maybe feeling Atomizer’s energon over his fingers would be all the balm he needed. Atomizer didn’t deserve humane treatment.

He was neither contrite nor apologetic. If anything, he carried an air of smug pride around him. He was smart enough not to brag about the number of unwilling Cybertronians he’d taken to berth, but like Ultra Magnus, Cyclonus bet it numbered in the hundreds. Cybertronians, after all, could live for a very long time.

Sometimes, the Autobots really were too civil for their own good.


He tensed without meaning to. He recognized Tailgate’s voice, but a part of him had hoped that Tailgate would continue to sleep. Cyclonus had his moments of pride. He didn’t like Tailgate to see him so weak.

“Why are you up?” He heard two taps as Tailgate slid from the berth, and then counted Tailgate’s steps as he approached. There were six of them. “Couldn’t sleep?”

He decided to keep it simple. Cyclonus inclined his head. “Yes,” he said, and tried to offer Tailgate a smile as he looked down at the minibot. “Please do not let me disturb your rest.”

Tailgate shrugged. “I wasn’t that tired anyway.”


Tailgate’s field reached out carefully. Asking for permission without presuming, and that consideration was enough for Cyclonus to open up a little.

“Want to go for a walk?” Tailgate asked.

Cyclonus’ shoulders hunched. There was a time he would have gladly accepted. Now, all he could think of was the potential attention they would earn stepping out the doors.

“No, thank you,” Cyclonus replied politely. He rested a hand on Tailgate’s shoulder. “But don’t let my disinterest stop you. I can understand that being cooped up in this room with only myself for company must be boring for you.”

Tailgate laid a hand over his, nothing but warm acceptance in his field. “No. I’d rather be here with you.”

“I should not monopolize your time,” Cyclonus said, trying to fight down the shivers. “I know you have other friends.”

Tailgate shrugged his free shoulder. “They can wait.” He rested his hand over the one Cyclonus had on his shoulder. “You’re not just a friend either, Cyclonus. Remember?” His fingers curled around Cyclonus’.

“I do.” Cyclonus worked his intake and returned his gaze to the window, an easier vista than the adoration he caught in Tailgate’s gaze. “Thank you.”


Worse were the times when, for no particular reason, the memories rose out of the depths of his subconscious and viciously attacked. Often in the middle of the day, the middle of a shift, the middle of a casual stroll around the more abandoned hallways in the Lost Light.

His spark pulsed erratically. His vents became uneven. He felt dizzy, weak, his knees refusing to hold his weight. All sound was magnified, including that of his own vents. He was hot and cold.

He was always too far from the comfort and solitude of his habsuite. He was always alone. Neither of those details helped him feel better.

He found storage closets and tucked himself away. He found corners and hoped no one would see him in a state of such weakness. The gossip was bad enough.

He closed his optics, but it only helped him see the fractured images stronger. Ghostly touches. Murmurs in his audials, the voice clearer now that he’d assigned it a name. Unwanted pleasure, like an echo in his lines.

His hands drew into fists, claws to his palms, scraping paint. He was not under attack. He only needed to convince his defensive protocols of that. But his armor clamped tighter to his frame, and he realized he was shaking.

He tried to meditate, to focus on the beat of his spark, to draw his sense of self inward. But there was no solace to be found there, only a sense of irrational fear that he could not escape.

This was the gift Atomizer left behind. More than the scattered memories and the humiliation, he’d also given Cyclonus this unremitting discomfort, a fear that lurked around every corner, waiting to strike. It was a villain he could not fight or face head on. He had no defense against it.

He could only wait for the moment to pass.


He blinked, unfurling from a protective curl, the voice appearing out of the dark. How…? What…?


He looked up, and sure enough, there Tailgate was, standing there looking both worried and upset. He crouched down in front of Cyclonus, hands gently laying on Cyclonus’ knees as he looked up at him.

“How did you…?”

“You commed me.” Tailgate’s hands were warm, a comfort. “What’s wrong? Did something happen?”

Cyclonus, for the spark of him, could not remember sending the comm. “No,” he answered, still struggling to comprehend. “Nothing happened. I merely…” He shook his helm. “I apologize for disturbing you. I did not mean to do so.”

Tailgate’s hands squeezed his knees. “Don’t be sorry for needing me.” His field reached out, soft and soothing compared to the chaotic frenzy that Cyclonus’ had become. “I’m actually happy that you did. Not because you’re upset, but because you trusted me and because you said we’d do this together, and now I know you actually meant it.”

“I did,” Cyclonus agreed quietly. He cycled a ventilation, feeling calmer by degrees, not that the tremors had eased.

“Can you get up?”

He feared that if he tried, he’d topple right over. His legs felt as stable as gelatin. He’d rather not make a fool of himself all over again.

“Not at the moment, no,” Cyclonus replied.

“Okay.” Tailgate patted his knees. “Do you need me to call Ratchet or someone? Maybe he was wrong when he said you were fine. Is this because of–”

“Tailgate.” He interrupted the minibot as gently as he could. The rapid-fire questions, while evident of Tailgate’s concern, were only worsening his anxiety. “Physically, I am fully functional. This, like everything else, will pass.”

“Then I’ll just sit with you!” Tailgate said brightly and tucked into the tiny space next to Cyclonus, his softly purring engine a welcome and familiar noise.

It wasn’t a cure, but it was a salve.

When Tailgate reached for one of his hands, Cyclonus let their fingers tangle. Company was better than none, he realized.

Especially when that company was Tailgate.

Sometimes, a little forward planning allowed them privacy in the oil reservoir. Cyclonus particularly enjoyed the large windows, which gave him a near unrestricted view of the galaxy around them.

Though sometimes, that peace was ruined by the fact his processor would not cease ruminating on things he could neither fix nor forget. Moments of quiet left him too much time to ponder.

But, like what was becoming a wonderful and unexpected constant, there Tailgate was to pull him from his spiraling thoughts. It was he who brought the tarp, though Primus only knew from where. He’d stuffed his subspace with treats of various kinds – the rust sticks he preferred and the tart energon jellies that were Cyclonus’ favorite.

He’d laid out the tarp, much to Cyclonus’ amusement, and then plopped down on it. He looked up at Cyclonus, visor bright and beaming, and patted the empty space next to him. The rumpled tarp, calling it padding was generous, looked as undignified as the winding escape route they’d had to use to get here.

Tailgate’s field, however, was open and hopeful, and Cyclonus could no more deny it than he could deny the growing warmth in his spark.

He lowered himself down to the tarp, wincing when one of his armor spikes tore a hole into the flimsy material.

“Don’t worry. It’s disposable,” Tailgate said with a little chuckle. He offered Cyclonus the box of goodies. “Want some?”

“Yes, thank you.” Cyclonus reached for the box, only for Tailgate to move it aside at the last second.

“Wait, wait! It’ll be more romantic this way,” the minibot protested as he plopped the box in his lap and fished out one of the fluorescent cubes.

Now he presented it to Cyclonus pinched between two of his fingers. “I mean, if you’ll let me.” Tailgate’s field blushed with embarrassment. “You don’t have to if you don’t want to.”

Cyclonus blamed Swerve for this. But the quiet hope in Tailgate’s posture, and the way he’d gone to such lengths to offer Cyclonus a moment’s peace, meant Cyclonus couldn’t say no. He’d entertain this ridiculous notion.

“It just so happened that you picked my favorite one,” he murmured and leaned forward so that Tailgate could more easily reach his lips.

Tailgate wiggled with excitement, though he tried to restrain himself. He offered the cube to Cyclonus, who opened his mouth for Tailgate to set the rust-dusted goodie onto his glossa. The tart flavor instantly set his taste receptors ablaze, and he knew the moment he bit into it, the sweet-sour filling would do the rest of the work.

He closed his mouth, making certain to catch the tip of Tailgate’s fingers as he did, prompting a squeak from the minibot. His faceplate flushed with heat as he pulled his fingers free.

Cyclonus savored the goodie for a few seconds before he swallowed it. “Thank you, Tailgate.”

“You’re, um, you’re welcome. Another?” Tailgate scooted closer, their hips touching, his field buzzing with warmth where it brusheed Cyclonus’ own.

Amused and touched, Cyclonus nodded. “Yes, but did you not bring some for yourself?” He plucked the box of rust sticks from Tailgate’s lap. “Fair is fair, yes?”

“Oh, you would…?” Tailgate’s field burst with happiness. “Of course!” He pressed closer, enough that Cyclonus could feel the heat of his armor.

Cyclonus selected one of the rust sticks, offering it to Tailgate, who revealed his intake hopefully. Tailgate’s free hand rested on his thigh, Cyclonus noticed, the warm weight of it almost negligible but not at all unwelcome.

He fed Tailgate the treat, prompting the minibot’s engine to purr. “Thank you,” he murmured, fiddling with the box of goodies and pulling out another one for Cyclonus. “Is it weird that it tastes better that way?”

Cyclonus blinked before he let himself laugh softly. “No, Tailgate, I do not think it is weird. I do believe it is a matter of perception.” He leaned closer. “I would like another, if you are willing.”

Judging by the bright blue goodie he was offered next, Tailgate was more than willing. This time, Cyclonus made it a point to make a pleased noise, his glossa flicking over Tailgate’s finger. Before Tailgate could draw it back, Cyclonus carefully wrapped his fingers around Tailgate’s wrist.

He held the minibot’s gaze and licked the length of Tailgate’s finger, ensuring that he didn’t miss a single speck of the powdered flavoring that dusted the goodie.

“Um.” Tailgate’s ventilations hitched. “Cyclonus, what are you…?”

“It makes such a mess,” he said. “I’d hate for it to get in your gears.” He almost didn’t know where the playful streak came from, save that Tailgate seemed to draw it out in him. He wanted to feel that delight in Tailgate’s field again.

Tailgate’s visor brightened further. “You… you are a tease, Cyclonus,” he accused. “I didn’t know you were such a flirt either.”

Cyclonus picked up another rust stick and offered it to Tailgate, who almost climbed into Cyclonus’ lap in his haste to accept it.

“There are many things we do not know about one another,” Cyclonus said, and then thought, to the Pit with it.

He pulled Tailgate the rest of the way, the minibot planted in his lap, legs to either side of Cyclonus’ hip. When Tailgate didn’t protest, only wriggled to get more comfortable, Cyclonus’ spark settled. There was something comforting about Tailgate’s presence, the warmth and weight of him.

Cyclonus rested his arms around Tailgate, hands linked at the base of Tailgate’s spinal, his own legs curled beneath the other mech.

“The blame is largely mine,” Cyclonus admitted. “I have kept you at arms length.”

Tailgate wiggled his aft. “Not anymore,” he pointed out, and rummaged around for another goodie. “I’m a little closer than that at the moment.”

“Yes, you are.” Cyclonus smiled as he accepted another goodie, the sweet flavor coating his glossa, and the sharp burst of energy settling into his tank. “This was a good idea, Tailgate. Thank you.”

There was something in the quiet of the moment that helped him distance himself from the chaos surrounding the revelation, the trial, and the upcoming punishment. It was easy to focus on Tailgate, on the flex of the minibot’s field, rather than the darkness that lurked around the corner.

He fed Tailgate another rust stick, the pleased sound rising in Tailgate’s vocalizer like sweet music. His energy field rolled out, warm and comforting and edged with desire as Cyclonus nipped at his fingertips again. His hand took to exploring Tailgate’s back kibble, tracing seams, dragging up to play with his tires.

Tailgate shivered in his lap, his visor a deep, deep blue.

“I think you’re right,” Tailgate murmured as he traced Cyclonus’ lips when Cyclonus stopped to savor one of the goodies. “It is more comfortable this way.”

Amusement threatened to rise. “Is that so?”

Tailgate wriggled his hips, pressing their chestplates together, until Cyclonus could feel the echo of his spark. “Yes,” he said. “Probably because I’m exactly where I want to be right now.” One arm draped over Cyclonus’ shoulder, Tailgate’s fingers toying with the edge of Cyclonus’ wing.

He pressed his forehead to Tailgate’s. “I apologize for taking so long. I only wanted to be sure that you knew what you wanted.”

“Mmm. I might be able to forgive you,” Tailgate said, in something like a sly tone. “If you feed me another rust stick.”

“I believe I am up to that task.” Cyclonus chuckled and reached for the box of treats, just as a loud and obnoxious beep echoed in the oil reservoir.

He blinked and looked at Tailgate. Hadn’t they locked the door?

The obnoxious noise sounded again, this time followed by the distinct sound of an override acceptance. The doors whooshed open.

“Why was the door even locked?” Rodimus complained loudly as Cyclonus and Tailgate hurried to separate, a task made more difficult by their intimate position.

Rodimus stormed inside, Megatron at his heels, only to draw up straight when he saw the two of them hurriedly rising to their feet.

“Oh,” Rodimus said, and he had the grace to blush. “Look what you made me interrupt, Megs!” he declared loudly, with a backhanded whap to Megatron’s chestplate. “You and your security protocols. I swear you and Magnus are getting too close.”

“I apologize,” Megatron said, though it was a sideways glance of annoyance to Rodimus. “There is, however, a regulation stating that this door is to be unlocked at all times.”

“You didn’t interrupt anything,” Cyclonus was quick to correct while Tailgate shoved goodies into his subspace, and Cyclonus knelt to fold the tarp. “We were just leaving.” His spark beat all too fast in his chassis, though he had no reason to feel so alarmed.

It was more that the moment had been shattered.

“You don’t have to go!” Rodimus said, smiling brightly as he waved his hands wildly. “Actually, we are the ones who should go.”

Cyclonus shook his head. “It’s quite all right.” He stuffed the tarp under his arm and checked, but Tailgate had gathered the rest. “Tailgate?”

“Yep. Got it all.” Tailgate beamed up at their co-captains. “Good luck with whatever it is you were going to do in here.”

He grabbed Cyclonus’ free hand, as bold an action as everything he’d done lately, and pulled him toward the door. Cyclonus followed, impressed and amused, leaving their two co-captains to their business.

At least it was fun while it lasted.

Cyclonus chose not to be there the day the medics put Atomizer into spark containment and forced stasis. It still angered him to think that forced isolation was the worst punishment the Autobots could devise, especially since it was meant to be temporary.

He didn’t need to see Atomizer being stripped of the freedom of his frame. It wasn’t going to make him feel better. He preferred instead to spend the time with Tailgate, tucked into The Hideout.

They’d started another movie series, something about Star Wars that quickly bored Cyclonus. It was the type that usually fascinated Tailgate, but halfway through the first film, gentle touches had turned to caresses and then bold groping. Tailgate climbed into Cyclonus’ lap and the movie was forgotten.

Tailgate came to Cyclonus with single-minded determination. His smaller fingers dove into Cyclonus’ seams as though trying to map them out. He intended to return the favor, but couldn’t keep from shivering, his armor flaring to allow Tailgate greater access.

“You are missing the movie,” Cyclonus said, once, before another wave of warmth overcame him, pleasure a deep throb through his entire sensor net. His array tingled behind his panels.

“This is better,” Tailgate reassured, his ex-vents sending gusts of warmish air against Cyclonus’ armor, teasing the cables beneath. “Unless you want me to stop?”

“No.” Cyclonus pressed a kiss to Tailgate’s shoulder, his own hands quite busy as they explored the interesting ridges of Tailgate’s hip tires. “This is quite enjoyable.”

Tailgate laughed softly. “It sure is,” he breathed, wriggling to get a little closer, until his legs were wrapped around Cyclonus’ waist, the warmth of his array panel buzzing against Cyclonus’ abdominal armor.

His spark throbbed. Warmth and comfort spread through his frame, his sensor net. They never went much further beyond this, but already, it was more than Cyclonus ever thought he would enjoy again.

It was too easy to lose himself in these moments, too easy to shudder when Tailgate touched him, to soak in the pleasure. It was too easy to feel content and calm, to ignore the shadows that kept getting banished to the furthest, deepest corners of his processor.

We’ll get through this together, Tailgate had said.

Cyclonus was finally starting to believe it.

It was unexpectedly easy to give in to temptation where Tailgate was concerned. Stolen moments in relatively private spaces gave room for gentle touches, exchanged kisses, teasing caresses.

It wasn’t that Cyclonus did not have an interface drive, only that he hadn’t paid it much attention before. But the closer he drew to Tailgate, the more the need in Tailgate’s field called to his own. The more he wished to see Tailgate flush with pleasure, and the more he wanted to hand himself over to Tailgate’s care.

It was how they found themselves, again and again, here in this moment. Pressed together on couch or berth, hands roaming, and the air between them growing charged and heated. It was why today, out of so many days, Cyclonus no longer wanted to stop.

He wanted to see this through to the logical conclusion.

He pressed his mouth to Tailgate’s head, to the stubby horns, drawing each of them between his lips and grazing them with his denta. His claws gently dipped into seams, scraping the cables beneath, drawing curls of static. Tailgate squirmed atop him, panting heated vents, his own hands no less busy.

Their engines rumbled in tune, energy fields already entwined.

It was Tailgate who drew away first, thinking always of Cyclonus.

“Um, Cyclonus?” Tailgate prompted, sounding a little breathless. His hips wriggled in Cyclonus’ lap, heat wafting from his armor. “We should, um, probably stop now.”

“Are you uncomfortable?” he asked as he pressed another kiss to Tailgate’s mouthplate.

“No, I just…” Tailgate squirmed again, his field sizzling where it touched Cyclonus’. “If we keep going, I’m not going to want to stop and so we should probably stop before you get uncomfortable.”

His concern was endearing. But Cyclonus was not afraid, and he no longer wished to keep abstaining for fictitious reasons.

He took Tailgate’s wrist and brought Tailgate’s hand to his mouth, pressing a kiss to his palm. “And what if I don’t wish to stop?” he murmured as Tailgate shivered, his engine kicking into a higher pitch. “What if I wish to take this to a more logical conclusion?”

Tailgate’s intake bobbed as his visor grew very bright. “You do? With me? I mean, it wouldn’t upset you or anything?”

Cyclonus kissed Tailgate’s fingertips. “I know very well who I am with right now, and yes, Tailgate. I do. With you.”

“Are you sure?” Tailgate asked, or whispered rather. There was something painfully earnest in his tone that whisked away any last uncertainty Cyclonus might have carried. “Because Rung told me–”

“Tailgate,” Cyclonus interrupted gently, to save whatever pearl of wisdom Rung had imparted on the minibot. “I am certain. I trust you.”

Tailgate’s field bloomed with warmth and his visor brightened. “… Oh,” he said, in the smallest, most awed voice. “I, um, thank you, Cyclonus.”

He pressed his lips to Tailgate’s palm. “Gratitude is unneeded.” Cyclonus’ fingers tickled down Tailgate’s backstrut, feeling the minibot shiver against him. “I wish to share pleasure with you.”

A soft moan vibrated in Tailgate’s intake. “So do I,” he said, breathless. “How should we….? I mean, do you want me to or would you rather or–”

Cyclonus’ lips curved again. Tailgate’s concern was endearing. His free hand slid down to cup the minibot’s aft.

“I would like you to spike me, if that is all right with you,” Cyclonus said, a thrill running through him at the mere thought. His array warmed further, valve cycling into readiness.

Tailgate’s visor sparked with surprise. “Really?”

“Do you often know me to be uncertain?”

“Not at all.” Tailgate wriggled in his lap, their plating sliding together in a delightful chime of metal on metal that sent vibrations straight into Cyclonus’ heated array. “But Rung said–”

He cupped Tailgate’s cheek, pressing their foreheads together. “Tailgate, I appreciate that you sought Rung’s advice, but please trust that I will speak up if I am truly uncomfortable.”

“All right.” Tailgate leaned into the touch. “If you say so. But I’m going to hold you to it.”

“I believe you.” Cyclonus pressed a kiss to Tailgate’s forehead as he stroked the minibot’s aft and then teased further, his fingers brushing Tailgate’s hot panel.

Tailgate shivered, his hands tightening on Cyclonus’ shoulders. “That’s, um, good,” he breathed and gave Cyclonus a little push. “Then will you lay down? That would kind of make this easier.”

“Anything you wish.”

There was no anxiety, nothing but a growing sense of excitement as they shifted position, Cyclonus reclining on his back and Tailgate easing between his thighs. White fingers stroked the edges of Cyclonus’ still shuttered array, and another shiver rattled Cyclonus’ armor. One hand rested on Cyclonus’ knee before stroking down, teasing in and around the joint.

“Will you open for me?” Tailgate asked, his visor a bright, vibrant blue.

Cyclonus worked his intake. He did not know where to place his hands and opted to tangle them in the berth covers as he manually triggered his valve cover to open. He was already aroused, he knew this much, and the first touch of Tailgate’s fingers to his valve sent lightning up his spinal strut.

Cyclonus’ engine revved. His thighs pushed further apart, spike knocking against his panel, though he opted to deny the request to extend it. For now. He preferred to concentrate on this sensation, of Tailgate focused as he traced Cyclonus’ rim and explored each sensor node one by one.

Heat filled his faceplate. He knew he looked wanton. He felt out of control as he rolled his hips toward Tailgate’s fingers, seeking more.

Cyclonus threw an arm over his optics, biting his lip to contain his moans. His free hand gripped the cover.

The berth shifted. Tailgate’s hand vanished from his valve. Confused, Cyclonus peered out from under his arm. Tailgate was looking at him, head tilted, as his field pulsed concern.

“You know,” he said slowly, as if choosing his words carefully. “I’m pretty short.”

Cyclonus blinked. “Yes…?”

“It’s hard to see your face like this,” Tailgate said and sat back on his heelstruts. “Mind if we switch it up a little?” The glow of his visor shifted into a different hue as his gaze wandered away. “I kind of pictured this going a little differently.”

Cyclonus leveraged himself upright, tilting his head. “You’ve thought about this?”

“About us? Yeah. A lot.” Tailgate tried to shrug, but it was far from nonchalant. He rested his hand on Cyclonus’ knee. “Of course, it always went a bit smoother in my fantasies.” He laughed a little.

Cyclonus pushed himself to his knees and caught Tailgate’s chin, pressing a kiss to the minibot’s mouthplate. “It is never smooth in reality,” he murmured, pressing their foreheads together. “That is how you know it is real.”

Tailgate’s ventilations hitched. His hands sought and found Cyclonus’ hips, squeezing them. “In other words, stop thinking, start feeling.”

Cyclonus smiled. “Yes. That.”

“Okay.” Tailgate pressed the side of his head to Cyclonus’. “Then can you be on top of me?” His face heated tangibly. “I kind of like the idea of you being over me.”

“I can do that. Lie back.” Cyclonus gestured and watched with growing affection as Tailgate shifted into position and held out his arms, the arousal in his field doubling in intensity.

Cyclonus crawled over Tailgate until he straddled the smaller mech’s hips and pressed a kiss to Tailgate’s mouthplate. “Like this?”

“Yes.” Tailgate’s hands found his sides, fingers tickling into seams, before they slid down and cradled his hips. “I mean, so long as you’re not uncomfortable or something.”

His concern was touching. “I am quite comfortable.” His knees pressed to the berth as he straddled Tailgate’s hips, his open array dripping lubricant. “But I would be even more so if you touched me again.”

“I can definitely do that,” Tailgate said, his ex-vents tickling up at Cyclonus.

One small hand remained on Cyclonus’ hip, but the other gently stroked inward, taking a circuitous path toward Cyclonus’ panel. He half-expected to feel anxious, awkward even, but his spark swelled with desire. He rocked his hips downward against Tailgate’s exploratory fingers, a tingle zapping down his spinal strut as the first of them bumped against his anterior node.

A sharp intake and Tailgate’s fingers found Cyclonus’ anterior node again, this time with intent. They were gentle as they brushed over it, each little touch sending bursts of heat through his sensor net. Cyclonus’ cooling fans clicked on as his valve began to lubricate.

“Tell me if I hurt you,” Tailgate whispered as his fingers ventured lower, as they traced the rim of Cyclonus’ valve, exciting the sensors therein, before one dipped into the damp opening.

Cyclonus moaned, a tingle spreading up his backstrut. Tailgate’s fingers teased over interior sensors. Heat filled his array, his thighs pushing further apart, allowing Tailgate more room.

He pressed his forehead to the berth beside Tailgate’s head, hips rolling onto Tailgate’s fingers, inviting more.

“You are not hurting me,” he said, his words lost to the berth, but Tailgate must have heard him because he pushed deeper, his touch gaining confidence.

Another low moan escaped Cyclonus. His valve stirred, calipers twitching restlessly. Lubricant welled, trickling out around Tailgate’s fingers. He could not reach far enough to grace Cyclonus’ ceiling node, and the ache of desire to be touched was consuming.

Tailgate’s thumb rubbed at his anterior node, while his fingers curled, rubbing along the interior of his valve. Cyclonus vented heat, his cooling fans clicking on. His hips rocked onto Tailgate’s fingers incrementally, his spark pulsing faster with anticipation.

“You’re so wet,” Tailgate murmured, his voice thick with both longing and awe. “You really do want this.”

Cyclonus pushed himself up to his elbows so that he could look into Tailgate’s visor. “I have no need for false platitudes. I want you, Tailgate.”

Tailgate’s free hand squeezed his hip, his panel popping with a quiet sound. Cyclonus didn’t have to look down to know that his spike had emerged. He felt the damp head of it against the inside of his thigh.

“Oops.” Tailgate’s faceplate filled with heat.

Cyclonus felt a smile curl at his mouth. Only Tailgate would react like this. “I take it that means you want me as well?”

“Of course I do!” Tailgate blurted out and his fingers vanished from Cyclonus’ valve. He instantly felt the loss. They settled on Cyclonus’ hip, opposite his other hand. “For a long time. I thought you’d never notice.”

Cyclonus pressed a kiss to Tailgate’s mouthplate. “Well, I did. And now I wish to reciprocate. I want to do this with you, Tailgate.”

To prove his words, he slid down until he straddled Tailgate’s hips, the minibot’s spike tapping against his array and nudging his anterior node. Another shock of pleasure danced up Cyclonus’ spinal strut. He rolled his hips, stroking the length of Tailgate’s spike with the swollen rim of his valve.

It should have felt awkward. Strangely, it did not. Tailgate’s hands were small, but effective on his hips. They stroked him gently, encouraging. Their panels touched, heated and buzzing, and Cyclonus felt a shiver buzz down his spinal strut.

He pressed his forehead to Tailgate’s shoulder fairing and ex-vented. His claws tore furrows into the berth cover, but Tailgate didn’t protest. If anything, his field grew stronger, sweeping over Cyclonus with another wave of tingling need.

“We can stop here,” Tailgate suggested, barely above a whisper, as though he feared breaking something if he spoke louder.

“No.” Cyclonus rocked his hips downward, the head of Tailgate’s spike brushing the swollen rim of his valve. “I want to do this.”

I need to do this.

He didn’t add the latter.

“Okay.” Tailgate cycled a ventilation. “Should I…?”

“No. I’ll do it,” Cyclonus said, his tone sharper than he intended, but effective.

He worked his intake, claws ripping into the berth cover, as he lowered his hips, catching the broad head of Tailgate’s spike against his rim. He heard Tailgate’s vents hitch, a thrum of arousal racing over the minimech’s frame, and then Cyclonus rolled downward, taking Tailgate into his valve slowly.

One arm encircled him, clever fingers tracing seams and the length of his backstrut. The other continued to rest on his hip, kneading his armor reassuringly. Tailgate shook, perhaps from the effort of holding himself back, but he didn’t try to rush Cyclonus either. His field was a warble of pleasure, wrapping around Cyclonus and dragging him further toward ecstasy.

Cyclonus bowed his head, focusing intently on sensation, as he rolled his hips downward, swallowing Tailgate inch by inch. His valve rippled, calipers slowly widening, sensor nodes lighting up one by one. It was so very present, an immediate sensation.

He drew air sharply into his mouth, pressing his forehead to Tailgate’s shoulder. He exhaled damp heat against Tailgate’s armor, feeling his claws rend into the sheets, as he slowly, methodically sank down into Tailgate until he could feel the baseplates of their arrays come together.

Tailgate throbbed inside of him. He felt the minibot tremble, perhaps from the effort of keeping himself still. Tailgate’s hand never stopped moving, gently petting Cyclonus’ back. His engine rumbled, cooling fans cycling on with a whirr.

Pleasure streaked like lightning down Cyclonus’ spinal strut. Tailgate’s thickness stretched him, just a shade too broad, but still perfect. As Cyclonus squeezed, his sensor nodes lit up with delight. If he ground his hips in a circle, the head of Tailgate’s spike brushed his ceiling node.

“C-Cyclonus, can I…?”

“Yes.” His mouth wandered, pressing wetly to Tailgate’s shoulder, not quite a kiss. “Please do.”

The berth shifted, as did Tailgate beneath him. Cyclonus rose up a little, digging his knees into the berth, and Tailgate gripped his hip. The minibot rocked upward, feet braced on the berth, thrusting into Cyclonus, slow and deep.

Heat flooded Cyclonus’ frame, pooling southward in his array. He’d forgotten interfacing could feel like this, as if every pleasure node in his frame was activated. His own panel popped aside of it’s own accord, his spike surging free into the charged air between them.

Cyclonus drew in a shaky ventilation as his valve rippled around Tailgate’s spike, charge gathering quickly in his array. His field went flush with Tailgate’s, the edges knitting together.

“Is this okay?” Tailgate asked, his voice strained, the need in his field as sharp and desperate as Cyclonus’ own.

In answer, Cyclonus rolled his hips down, their arrays coming together, static sparking between them. Tailgate throbbed within him as Cyclonus’ squeezed, his sensor nodes gripping eagerly onto Tailgate’s spike.

“Do not stop,” Cyclonus urged, the buzzing at the base of his spinal strut sending a wash of heat through the rest of his frame. His spark pulsed in longing, pleasure like a burst of lightning through his sensor net.

“I won’t,” Tailgate breathed. One hand abandoned Cyclonus’ hip, vanishing, until he felt warm fingers wrap around his spike.

A moan wheezed from Cyclonus’ intake. He pressed the side of his head to Tailgate’s, pre-fluid spattering down as Tailgate gave his spike a squeezing pull. His valve rippled around Tailgate’s spike, the heat building in his array. Overload peeked at him around the corner as his claws tore furrows into the berth.

“I want you to overload first,” Tailgate murmured, his voice echoing in Cyclonus’ audials and surrounding him as thoroughly as his field.

He stroked Cyclonus’ spike, slowly, surely, with confidence that Cyclonus could not have expected of him. Tailgate’s thumb teased the tip, rubbing over Cyclonus’ transfluid channel opening. He thrust upward and held himself within Cyclonus, the head of his spike bumping incessantly against his ceiling node.

“I want to watch you overload,” Tailgate added, sounding more and more confident with each word.

His voice was seduction in Cyclonus’ audial. He was swayed by Tailgate’s attention, the pleasure he offered. Tailgate’s desire for him was a heady aphrodisiac.

“Please, Cyclonus?” Tailgate asked softly, almost a plea. “Will you overload for me?”

He heard a rending sound as the berthcover became tatters. His thighs trembled, valve cinching down tight, as overload overcame him. He spurted into Tailgate’s fist, ventilations staggered and sharp. He pressed his face to Tailgate’s intake, felt the twitch of Tailgate’s cables against his lips.

Pleasure consumed him, swallowed him whole. It stripped away rational thought, chased away the shadows, until there was nothing but the light of ecstasy. He heard Tailgate on the edge of his senses, moaning and whispering about how sexy Cyclonus was and how it wasn’t fair.

And then Tailgate followed him over. Cyclonus felt the hot spurt of Tailgate’s transfluid in his valve, the tightening of Tailgate’s fingers on his hip, the metal of Cyclonus’ armor oddly creaking, but holding strong. Tailgate murmured his name, his hand abandoning Cyclonus’ spike to gently stroke his hip, though he left a mess behind.

Cyclonus pressed a kiss to Tailgate’s intake and then dragged his lips up to press another to Tailgate’s mouthplate. He felt limp, exhausted, and wanted to collapse there and then, but didn’t want to crush Tailgate beneath him. So he pushed himself to his knees and then tilted to the side, his valve still twitching with the echoes of pleasure.

His cooling fans spun. There was damp between his thighs. His entire frame vibrated with the lingering pulses of pleasure. He felt sated and content.

He waited for the panic to set in. His spark beat a satisfied rhythm. Tailgate tucked in at his side, one hand resting to lay over Cyclonus’ chestplate, one leg hooked and curled over Cyclonus’. His spike remained extended, though it was depressurizing. Cyclonus could feel the softness of it against his armor.

There was no panic.

Tailgate gently patted his chestplate, right over Cyclonus’ spark. It took him several long moments to realize that the droning noise was actually Tailgate talking.

He rebooted his audials, and the static clarified into words.

“–you okay? Please, don’t make me call Ratchet,” Tailgate was saying, his field flickering between joyful content and the rising thread of unease.

Cyclonus stirred. “No. There is no need to summon the medic, Tailgate.” He rested his right hand over Tailgate’s, the both of them now resting over Cyclonus’ spark. “I apologize. My processor was settling.”

“I didn’t hurt you?” Tailgate’s armor had been clattering. It quieted now that Cyclonus responded.

“Far from it.” He looked down, straight into Taiilgate’s visor as he peered up at Cyclonus. “I had forgotten the joy of interfacing. I needed the reminder.”

Tailgate’s field flushed with pleasure. “Oh,” he said, and snuggled closer. “If you need more reminders, I volunteer.”

Despite himself, Cyclonus chuckled. “I will keep that in mind.”

“In fact,” Tailgate purred as he wriggled against Cyclonus’ side. “I could volunteer right now. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the look on your face when you overloaded.” His words were bold, but his field flushed with embarrassment. “I want to see it again. I mean, if you want to with me again.”

Halfway on top of Cyclonus now, Tailgate’s frame shivered. His field opened again, full of desire, his spike re-pressurizing against Cyclonus’ side.

Cyclonus’ spark gave a lurch of interest. He released Tailgate’s fingers to cup his hand around Tailgate’s head, his thumb gently sweeping over Tailgate’s mouthplate.

“I do,” he said, surprising himself with how much he meant it.

Tailgate’s visor lit up with delight. He straddled Cyclonus’ leg, his knee nudging against Cyclonus’ open, wet array. His armor barely brushed Cyclonus’ anterior node, but it was enough to make him shiver, for his spark to start pulsing again.


Cyclonus’ thumb swept his mouthplate again. “Yes, really.” Amusement tugged at his spark. “Thank you, Tailgate.”

“Pretty sure I’m the one who should be grateful here,” Tailgate said with a soft laugh. He patted Cyclonus’ chestplate, his field buzzing strongly against Cyclonus’.

“I meant in regards to your presence,” Cyclonus said. His hand stroked Tailgate’s back before sliding up to tease at a tire. “Thank you for staying by my side and supporting me despite all else.”

“Oh. That.” Tailgate shifted, knee moving so that he straddled Cyclonus’ torso, bringing their faces closer together. “You don’t have to thank me, Cyclonus. I wanted to.”

“And it is the fact that you wanted to that makes me grateful.” A small smile quirked Cyclonus’ lips. “But this could go on all night and clearly, we are both interested in other pursuits.” He reached down and gingerly wrapped his fingers around Tailgate’s spike, giving it a light squeeze. “Or am I wrong?”

Something akin to a squeak escaped from Tailgate’s vocalizer. “You’re not wrong,” he said, breathless, his hands kneading patterns on Cyclonus’ chest. He pushed into Cyclonus’ grip. “Please don’t stop.”

“I won’t,” Cyclonus promised, teasing Tailgate’s tire again, prompting another squeak from the minibot.

He would never admit aloud how adorable he found it.

He tightened his grip around Tailgate’s spike, stroking it firmly. Tailgate shuddered, arching against him, his field hot and open as it enclosed Cyclonus’.

“I love your hands,” Tailgate moaned, his fingers curling into seams on Cyclonus’ chest and holding tight. He rolled his hips into Cyclonus’ fist, spike pulsing.

Cyclonus chuckled and rubbed his thumb in incessant circles around the head of Tailgate’s spike, only pausing to briefly tease the transfluid slit with the tip of his thumb. “You enjoy them on you?”

“That. This.” Tailgate rocked harder, his vents stuttering out bursts of air. “Love watching you polish your sword. Or practice with it.”

Cyclonus’ faceplate heated, though he bore the compliment with grace. “Ahh, I see.” He pinched a tire and watched Tailgate jerk, a shiver racing down the minibot’s plating. “Then you would enjoy if I were to put my hands all over you, I imagine?”

Tailgate moaned, his head dipping, his visor burning brighter. He wriggled, aft rubbing against Cyclonus’ groin and teasing the head of his spike at it slowly repressurized.

“Yes,” Tailgate panted, his spike throbbing in Cyclonus’ grip. He tilted forward a bit further, thrusting against Cyclonus’ now. “Everywhere.”

Cyclonus rubbed Tailgate’s tire and slid his hand down Tailgate’s back, claws dragging light curls of paint. Tailgate shivered with delight, his spike pulsing pre-fluid.

“That is something I am keen on doing,” Cyclonus purred as he cupped Tailgate’s aft. “Perhaps, even, in the washracks.”

Tailgate’s weight dipped forward, elbows bracing on Cyclonus’ chestplate. His valve was open, dripping down onto Cyclonus’ groin.

“That’s not fair.” Tailgate shook above him, his field ripe and needy. “You’re going to make me overload.”

Cyclonus worked his intake and stroked Tailgate faster. “I fail to see how that it is unfair. Perhaps I wish to see you overload like this. Perhaps it is your pleasure I wish to witness.”

Another moan escaped Tailgate’s intake. His frame was hot, vibrating atop Cyclonus’. His spike pulsed an eager rhythm. Static erupted from his vocalizer.

His head bowed, the tip of his forehead pressed to Cyclonus’ armor, right above his spark.
“Not fair,” he breathed, but the denial was striped in pleasure, another bitten off cry rising from his vocalizer.

Cyclonus’ spark warmed. Arousal surged through his frame, but he directed his focus at Tailgate, at watching the minibot come undone through his careful ministrations. He drew lines of pleasure with his clawtips, squeezed Tailgate’s spike, and was rewarded with the first of many hot spurts of transfluid.

Tailgate moaned, hips rutting into Cyclonus’ fist, his entire frame rocking atop Cyclonus’. He shuddered through his overload, making the sexiest of sounds, as he dampened Cyclonus’ fingers with his transfluid.

He sagged atop Cyclonus’, ventilating sharply, his cooling fans making his smaller frame vibrate. His engine purred happily, his field pulsing the same, and where his field joined with Cyclonus’, he felt the joy himself.

Cyclonus massaged him through the last of the tremors before uncurling his fingers from Tailgate’s spike. He rested both hands on the minibot’s back, above his aft, and ignored the pings of need from his own hardware.

He could wait.

Tailgate hummed and lifted his helm, his visor a deep blue. “Thank you,” he said, his hips wriggling a little. “But now it’s your turn.”

“You can take a moment to savor, you know,” Cyclonus said, both touched and amused. “It is not a contest.”

“I am savoring,” Tailgate insisted, pushing himself back upright, his aft rubbing against Cyclonus’ pressurized spike. “And right now, I want to savor this.”

Cyclonus’ braced his elbows on the berth, pushing himself half-upright. “You are certain?”

Tailgate’s visor gleamed at him. “Have you ever known me not to be?”

Cyclonus arched an orbital ridge. “On several occasions, yes. And often times, when you ought to be but stubbornly aren’t.”

Tailgate laughed and braced his hands on Cyclonus’ lower abdominal point. “Okay. Good point. But this time, I know what I’m doing. I’m sure.” He scooted backward, the rim of his valve brushing the head of Cyclonus’ spike, and dampening it with lubricant. “Thought about this, too.”

Cyclonus worked his intake. “You did?”

“Yeah.” Tailgate cycled a ventilation and rocked his hips, teasing Cyclonus’ spike with the plush rim of his valve. He could see only a few glimpses of blinking blue biolights. “Thought about what you’d look like. How you’d feel in me.” His field rippled, heat registering on Tailgate’s faceplate. “How good it would be.”

Cyclonus pushed himself fully upright, catching Tailgate’s aft with one hand, cradling the minibot in his lap. Tailgate squeaked at the shift, his hands landing on Cyclonus’ shoulders to steady himself.

“I apologize,” Cyclonus said, both hands holding Tailgate by the hips now. “I thought this might be more comfortable.”

“No. This is… good.” Tailgate shivered, his thighs splayed around Cyclonus’ hips, his valve cycling and dripping onto Cyclonus’ spike. “You gonna spike me now?”

Cyclonus tilted his head, pressing his forehead to the top of Tailgate’s head. “Yes. If you want.”

“I want.” Tailgate moaned, tightening his thighs around Cyclonus’ waist. “I really, really do. And I’m ready, I promise. I, uh, might have practiced a little.”

Cyclonus’ spark stuttered. Heat went flooding southward as the image of Tailgate practicing filled his thoughts. Tailgate lying on a berth, slowly working a large false spike into his valve, perhaps thinking of Cyclonus.

Cyclonus’ engine rumbled. His hands flexed on Tailgate’s hip as his mouth went dry. “That is reassuring,” he murmured, his spike pulsing an eager beat. “Do let me know if I hurt you.”

“You won’t. I know you won’t.” Tailgate wriggled his hips and tried to sink down, managing to tease Cyclonus with the brush of his valve rim. “Do it, Cyclonus. Please.”

Tailgate sounded eager, ready, and Cyclonus could not deny him. He pressed his mouth to the crown of Tailgate’s head and lowered Tailgate down onto his spike, slowly, achingly slow. The head of his spike slid past Tailgate’s rim and into the dripping channel.

Tailgate had not been speaking falsely. He opened to Cyclonus easily, his valve taking Cyclonus’ spike eagerly, the fit snug but welcome.

Cyclonus shuddered, charge already crawling out from beneath his armor. The plating on his back rippled as he inched into Tailgate’s valve, sensor nodes and receptors exchanging charge at a rapid-fire pace.

“See?” Tailgate panted as his grip on Cyclonus’ shoulders tightened. His calipers rippled around Cyclonus’ spike, urging him deeper. “Won’t hurt me.”

He leaned forward, head tucking up under Cyclonus’ chin, his once again pressurized spike nudging Cyclonus’ abdominal armor.

“Would never hurt me,” Tailgate added and then rolled his hips down, taking Cyclonus deep, until the head of his spike rubbed against his ceiling node.

Cyclonus gasped, flexing his fingers on Tailgate’s aft. His spike pulsed needily, surrendering to the flex and tug of Tailgate’s valve.

Tailgate moaned and worked his hips, leaving no confusion as to who was in charge here. It was not Cyclonus, who could only shudder helplessly as Tailgate rode his spike with urgent and eager rocks of his hips. Lubricant dribbled free, dampening Cyclonus’ thighs, but it was a mess lost to the pleasure.

Cyclonus tightened his arms around Tailgate, though he still left room for the minibot to move, for Tailgate to ride him faster and faster, slamming their units together. His valve clutched at Cyclonus’ spike, energy crackling between them. Their frames pressed together, and Cyclonus swore he could feel the flurried pulse of Tailgate’s spark despite the layers of armor between them.

“Is good.” Tailgate shivered, pumping his hips faster and faster. He slammed himself down, rolling his hips in circles, the head o Cyclonus’ spike rubbing again and again over his ceiling node.

It was only a question of who would overload first.

Cyclonus drew in air through his vents, but it did nothing to quench the heat pulsing rapid-fire through his circuits. One hand remained on Tailgate’s hip, but the other wrapped around Tailgate’s back, clutching the minibot close. Every rev of Tailgate’s engine seemed to vibrate through Cyclonus’ own frame, exciting every sensor node he possessed.

His spike throbbed in the welcoming clench of Tailgate’s valve. Tailgate’s ceiling node sent zaps of charge into the sensitive head of his spike. Cyclonus twitched, helpless to the pleasure that coursed through his lines.

“Cyclonus,” Tailgate breathed, his vocalizer striped in static. “I’m not gonna… can’t…”

“Then don’t.” Electricity zapped up Cyclonus’ backstrut, and heat pooled in his groin, his spark throbbing to the same beat of his spike.

Tailgate moaned a growl, his hands clutching at Cyclonus’ upper back. His thighs tightened, trembling, and then he overloaded, his valve rippling around Cyclonus’ spike in repeated waves. He wailed his pleasure, spike spurting and covering Cyclonus’ abdomen in transfluid.

The heated splatters zinged straight to Cyclonus’ processor. Tailgate writhed in his arms, lost to the pleasure, and the flexing of his valve pulled Cyclonus into an overload of his own, not that he wasn’t already there. He held Tailgate deep, transfluid spurting against Tailgate’s node, dragging out Tailgate’s pleasure.

He felt swallowed by Tailgate’s field, the joy and pleasure in it, and hoped his own reflected the same. His processor whited out, however briefly, and his cooling fans spun at max. There was nothing but heated air to drag in, and the echoes of pleasure left him feeling invigorated.

Cyclonus tipped backward, cradling Tailgate to his chest, and sagged into the berth pad. Between them was a wet, sticky mess, though that didn’t seem to bother Tailgate. He only cuddled into Cyclonus’ chestplate and heaved a happy sigh.

“See?” he murmured, nuzzling into Cyclonus’ intake. “Didn’t hurt me.”

“I am glad to be proven wrong,” Cyclonus replied, stroking Tailgate’s back while his other hand lingered on the minibot’s hip. His frame continued to hum with joy.

Tailgate giggled.

Cyclonus’ lips pulled into a soft smile. And it was in that moment, as they cuddled together on the berth – sticky and sated – that Cyclonus realized he was content. His spark was settled, and the ever-present sense of tension was gone.

He didn’t dare think it was erased. He was sure it was lurking around the corner waiting to strike again.

But he had the tiniest and fiercest of guardians in his arms right now, and somehow, that brought him more calm than any other thought.

Cyclonus stood outside the door and asked himself again if this was what he wanted to do. He was under no obligation. There was no proof this would work.

He was tired of living under the shadow of Atomizer’s actions. He wanted to move on. He wanted to look forward to the future, instead of dreading when his past might swallow him whole.

He wanted to heal. He wanted Tailgate not to worry anymore.

He was strong enough to do this.

Cyclonus cycled a ventilation and pressed the call button. He waited, anxiety growing into knots in his tank, before the door opened. His spark throbbed faster. Cyclonus did his best to pretend otherwise.

Rung peered out at him, surprised but then pleased as he smiled. “Cyclonus,” he said, and stepped back, gesturing. “Come on in.”

Cyclonus cycled another ventilation and stepped into Rung’s obvious with a quiet thank you.

He could do this. He was strong enough.


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