It started with a ping to his comm in the middle of the night, one Ratchet knew he should ignore, but he couldn’t bring himself to do so. Not now, not in the past, and certainly not in the future.
He roused himself from his berth, avoided the mirrors so he didn’t have to acknowledge his own shame, and scraped a hand down his faceplate. He didn’t want to contemplate the weight of his actions. He pushed it down, far down, to be retrieved later, after the fact.
For now, there’s only this.
He slipped out of his habsuite, out of his fancy apartment, and into the dark of night-cycle, where the streetlights were dim, giving the illusion of night. Cybertron didn’t have a sun right now, but they pretended where they must.
The ping had a location woven into the noise, one Ratchet had long since been taught to decipher. They didn’t need to be so secretive, not yet, but it’s good practice. The time would come, Ratchet suspected, when this wouldn’t be so easy.
Or maybe finding each other wouldn’t be the hard part. It would be everything else.
It’s a gritty motel in a gritty part of the city where mecha rented rooms by the hour. For business.
Ratchet frowned. Mecha shouldn’t be reduced to that kind of business, but such was the world they lived in. Energon got scarcer and scarcer, and more than twice, Ratchet had caught the shambling noise of a shuffling Empty in a passing alley.
He hurried. He opted for the spiraling ramp rather than the rattling lift, though there were no lights save those on his chassis. He ignored the chill up his backstrut from the dark.
Surely his companion felt at home here. It could not be so different from the Pits.
Several levels up, multiple doors down, and Ratchet rapped his knuckles on a rusty flap of metal at the end of the hall. A place this dilapidated didn’t have call buttons.
The door rattled open, and Ratchet hurried inside before someone saw him, not because he was ashamed, but because he stuck out like a patch of rust. He was clean, he was bright, and his arms were stamped with medic glyphs. He looked like he was made of credits, like he didn’t belong.
Compared to the mecha down here with nothing to share and nothing to lose, they’d be right.
“Next time, I pick the rendezvous,” Ratchet grumped as the door rattled back shut behind him. His backplate prickled.
A raspy laugh echoed from behind him. “Ratchet afraid?”
He snorted a ventilation. “Hardly.”
Ratchet turned in a slow circle, his optics flicking top to bottom, as they always did, when he met with Soundwave again. He looked for damage, for injuries, for half-afted attempts at welds and patches. Pit-medics were the worst kind of scavengers and butchers, and Ratchet would be damned if he left Soundwave this evening with so much as an infected scrape.
This time, there were none. Soundwave’s armor gleamed with a coat of fresh wax – he must have won his most recent match. Said clean treatment was often a reward for victory.
“But I know you have better taste than this,” Ratchet finally finished as his scans came up positive as well. Tension eased out of his frame.
Soundwave’s hand lifted, spindly fingers tracing the curve of Ratchet’s face. “That I do.”
Ratchet’s face heated. He buried it with a scowl. “Don’t you start romancing me. I know what I am.”
Soundwave laughed again. “As do I.” He leaned close, looming without effort, and pressing their forehelms together.
His field buzzed against Ratchet’s, ripe with desire and amusement both, but beneath them, respect as well. His ex-vents caressed Ratchet’s frame as Soundwave slowly drew them together, not that any force was needed. Ratchet wanted to touch Soundwave, wanted to feel the press of that glossy armor against his own – as rough and pitted as it was.
Right now, Soundwave outshone him.
It was easy, terribly easy, to sink into the embrace. To the warmth of Soundwave’s arms and the tickle of his fingertips, gliding into Ratchet’s transformation seams and stroking the web of cables beneath. His struts tingled, lines buzzing with static.
A gasp escaped Ratchet before he could stop it. His knees wobbled. He felt new-forged all over again, and the pleasure eclipsed the ache. His processor spun. He abandoned the guilt, and the thoughts of the hab-suite he’d abandoned to come here.
Ratchet’s hands were no less busy. This close, he could not resist touching. The sound his fingers made – dragging gently over smooth as liquid armor – resonated in his audials. He found every connector, empty of symbiote, and caressed the ports, charge snapping out to bite at his fingertips.
Soundwave shuddered over and around him. Charge rose, spicy and sharp, as Ratchet tasted it on his glossa. Or perhaps it was the scent of the wax, growing stronger as Soundwave’s armor heated.
“Don’t you have a berth?” Ratchet asked as his knees wobbled and only Soundwave’s arms, the delicate grip of cables wound about him, kept him upright.
Soundwave dragged their helms together, a soft susurrous of sensation. “Ratchet would prefer?” he asked as his fingertips danced down Ratchet’s backstrut, as though memorizing each individual plate.
“Of course I would,” Ratchet forced out, if only to conceal the moan that bubbled up in his vocalizer. “I’m not getting any younger.”
Fingertips curled around the back of his helm. Data cables tightened their grip. Soundwave’s field swallowed him whole. It was dizzying, to be so possessed. He wondered how Megatronus could not see this passion, this depth. He wondered how he’d gotten so lucky to taste it.
“As you wish.”
Ratchet’s spark throbbed as Soundwave swept him up, as if he were some delicate mech and not a heavy, sturdy medic. He clung to Soundwave, the pleasure intoxicating, and the care even more so.
He ignored the dust of the berth beneath them. Soundwave had taken care to cover the rusted slab of metal with a clean cover, but there was no concealing the filth. But that was what they had to do.
Ratchet grasped Soundwave’s helm, dragging his mouth around the edge of Soundwave’s faceplate, ex-venting bursts of damp heat that fogged the transteel. He felt Soundwave’s amusement, their field ruched together so intimately.
Soundwave settled over him, warmth and mass, their legs tangled, his datacables twisting and churning beneath them. But no more so than the charge, leaping out from Ratchet’s substructure to dance with the static sparks erupting from beneath Soundwave’s armor.
Their chestplates collided, and Ratchet swore he could feel the sturdy spin of Soundwave’s spark. Large and dense, capable of sustaining the needs of himself, as well as his symbiotes.
Ratchet had seen it only the once, glimpses of beauty through cracked armor as a mech had gotten a lucky shot, and paid for it with his life. Soundwave walked away from that match with more glory on his shoulders, and the peek of his sparklight had haunted Ratchet’s recharge for orns afterward.
Soundwave pressed against him, harder, greater need in his field. His fingers pushed deeper, tangling in cables, stroking the struts beneath. Ratchet arched, the clash of their plating together impossible to resist.
Miss me? Ratchet wanted to ask. But he knew better.
Megatronus had won a match today. He’d stood, glorious and triumphant above his peers, a god like the name he’d taken, his optics glowing with delight. And there, ready to congratulate, had been Orion.
Ratchet’s vocalizer crackled static, and Soundwave’s helm pressed to his. Ratchet breathed a kiss against the faceplate, his ex-vents coming sharper, quicker. His frame trembled, bursting heat, his field finally yielding to Soundwave’s. He held himself back only because the strength of the oncoming need demanded surrender.
A surrender Ratchet gave.
He held Soundwave against him, his spark throbbing, as pleasure eclipsed all else. His cooling fans stuttered to life, charge erupting from beneath his armor, lighting the dim of the room. He shuddered, gasping for vents, rocking up against Soundwave. The sound that came from his chassis was as much pleasure as it was pain.
One which Soundwave echoed.
His cables tightened around Ratchet, like an embrace, and he pressed close, as though the only safety to be found existed beneath Ratchet’s armor. His spark pulsed – Ratchet counted the faster oscillations, felt the wave of heat bursting from Soundwave’s vents.
He curled an arm around Soundwave, his fingers seeking out the port on his backstrut, where Ravage docked. He knew he’d found it when Soundwave shivered. When a low whine rose in Soundwave’s engine. He trembled, field a hungry thing against Ratchet’s own.
“I’ll catch you,” Ratchet murmured, and his fingers teased the tines of the connector, ignoring the bite of charge that nipped back.
Something tore, the berth cover perhaps, as Soundwave’s engine rumbled. He pressed down on Ratchet, hard enough for his armor to creak, and overload burst over Soundwave. A wave of electric fire crackled over his armor, the plating lifting and falling in a steady wave.
He was beautiful.
Ratchet stroked him gently, through the aftershocks, as he’d promised he would do. Those few seconds of lost control, of surrender, were always the hardest. Pleasure, to Soundwave, was as much ecstasy as it was pain.
The noise, he’d explained. The noise always crept in, during those scant moments of surrender.
Soundwave sank against him, nearly limp, but pressed to as much of Ratchet as was physically possible given their size difference. His field and frame hummed a discordant tune.
“Still with me?” Ratchet murmured.
Ratchet chuckled softly. “Did I fry your processor?”
Soundwave shifted, helm lifting enough that he could see Ratchet’s face, and Ratchet could see a hint of optics behind the transsteel of his mask. “Ratchet very skilled.”
Heat stole into his faceplate. “Yeah, well, you’re not so bad yourself.”
Soundwave’s field pulsed against his, warm and affectionate. It was all too easy to bathe in it, to indulge, to tell himself a lie. This was his, it could be his, if only he didn’t love someone else.
“You want me to stay?” Ratchet asked.
Soundwave pressed their forehelms together. “Affirmative,” he murmured, barely above a whisper. “Tonight, only.”
It had yet to be only.
Ratchet understood nonetheless.
Always Orion. Little wonder Soundwave was here then.
“I suppose I can stand to be a pillow again,” Ratchet said, trying to lighten the mood. It was, as always, like fighting against the dark.
Soundwave hummed low in his chassis, his response non-verbal, but a response nonetheless. His field wrapped around Ratchet as firmly as their tangled embrace. As though he soaked in the comfort Ratchet had to offer.
It started with a ping.
It always started with a ping. Whether from one or the other.
Ratchet came every time. Because he understood that ache. That agonizing pain.
He stroked his hand down Soundwave’s back, listening to the quiet ticks and hums of a frame that became increasingly familiar to him.
He understand that pain all too well.