The third time someone banged on the wall, demanding quiet, Ratchet barked a laugh. Where did they think they were? Upper Iacon? This was a seedy motel in a seedy section of the city, down in some of the darkest levels of Kaon. There was enough noise outside the window, that the ruckus he and Soundwave made barely qualified as a disturbance.
“Ready to give up?” Ratchet asked as he swiped the back of his hand over his mouth, flicking away the droplets of energon that beaded free.
Soundwave gave him that stare, the one that unnerved many of his opponents in the ring. Dark and silent was an effective technique, down there in the Pits. Here in this room, all it did was send another shiver of desire up Ratchet’s spinal strut.
“Negative,” Soundwave said, his datacables coiling restlessly about him, as though they were sentient beings ready to strike.
Ratchet chuckled darkly. “Didn’t think so.” His vents stuttered, cycling a deeper ventilation. He dropped back into the defensive stance Soundwave taught him. “Then come on. One more time.”
Soundwave tilted his helm, his weight shifting, the poor lighting in the room still managing to reflect off his armor, highlighting the many scrapes and dents in the paint. “Surrender after defeat?”
Ratchet waved a dismissive hand. “Yes, yes. You know I will.” He grinned crookedly. “I might surprise you this time, though.”
The raspy echo in Soundwave’s chassis was the closest thing he allowed to a laugh. He lifted a hand, spindly fingers curling toward Ratchet. “Come.”
Ratchet’s engine growled. He ground his denta and threw himself forward, trying to remember everything he’d been shown. He was pretty sure he wasn’t going to last longer than a few seconds, but maybe if he was lucky, he’d land a solid hit this time.
He was wrong.
He forgot, as he always did, about the datacables.
Light flashed in Soundwave’s visor right before Ratchet’s world turned upside down. His ventilations stuttered as his aft hit the berth, the rusted thing creaking beneath his weight. His vision filled briefly with static before it clarified into the barely tangible weight of Soundwave perched over him, amusement thick in the gladiator’s field.
Ratchet scowled. “Yeah, I yield,” he said, sinking into the berth. “Like I always do.”
Soundwave laughed in that odd way of his again.
“You know, someday I will be able to land a hit.”
“You will,” Soundwave said, a certainty in his vocals that wasn’t the least bit condescending. “For now, however, a different challenge?”
Ratchet’s cooling fans clicked to life. His frame flushed with heat. “Finally, something I can win,” he said.
Soundwave leaned down, nuzzling his helm against Ratchet’s, his field blanketing Ratchet’s in heat and need. “Surrender gladly offered.”
Well, he supposed their neighbors were going to start complaining for a different reason now. Too bad for them.