[TFA] Terms of Service

If Optimus had things his way, he would have sulked in the small room he called his own for the next week. He would have wallowed in his own self-pity and self-hatred until the eviction notice finally forced him out, leaving him to flounder in a society that no longer felt he was of worth.

But a summons from Ultra Magnus was something he could not ignore. There was a tiny niggle of hope, buried in the back of his spark, that maybe the Magnus had changed his mind. Maybe there was forgiveness or a chance. Maybe there was hope.

The smarter, more realistic side of himself dreaded the meeting. There were worse punishments yet, and perhaps Ultra Magnus realized that Optimus had gotten off relatively easy. Perhaps they would strip more from him. His citizenship maybe. Would it be exile? Would he be formally charged? Would he find himself in the Stockade next to thieves and murderers and political dissidents?

He was a murderer. Maybe it was where he belonged.

Optimus’ fingers twisted together. He knew his anxiety showed on his face, but he didn’t have the strength to put up a brave front. Whatever further punishment Ultra Magnus decided for him, Optimus would accept it.

He deserved it.

He arrived at the Magnus’ office and was a bit surprised how quickly they ushered him inside. No one would look him in the optic, and he was taken immediately to the Magnus’ private office, and left alone to buzz the door and announce himself.

Steeling himself, Optimus cycled a ventilation and pressed the call button. The door opened, and when he stepped inside, it closed and locked behind him. Optimus worked his intake. That wasn’t ominous at all.

“Optimus, welcome.”

He blinked. That was not the response he’d been expecting.

Ultra Magnus’ office was understandably large, and the furthest wall was nothing but a long run of windows overlooking Iacon spread out below. Ultra Magnus himself stood in front of the bank of windows, his hands clasped behind his back, but he’d half-turned when Optimus entered. There was even a smile on his face.

“Thank you for coming,” Ultra Magnus said, still in that pleasant voice. “Please join me. Are you in need of fuel?”

Optimus blinked again. “I – umm – No, sir. I’m fully fueled.” His stabilizers carried him forward before he could think otherwise, crossing the massive floor and circling around the desk to join Ultra Magnus at the window.

It was a bit dizzying to be this high up, but exhilarating, too. He could see all of Iacon stretched out below him, and it looked even larger from here. Larger and untouchable.

“Thank you for the offer,” Optimus said as he stood at parade rest, unsure of how to proceed. The last time he’d stood before Ultra Magnus, it had been to castigation and a stripping of a rank he’d never managed to embrace.

“Are you certain?” Ultra Magnus’ smile was soft. He half-turned, gesturing with one hand to a nearby table with a tray on it – a decanter of oil, a tray of energon goodies, and a few small cubes of looked to be high grade were laid out on it. “I have plenty to spare.”

Optimus twitched nervously. He licked his lips. Was it ruder to accept or decline? Was he committing some kind of faux pas by refusing?

Ultra Magnus reached behind him and grabbed the plate with the goodies. It looked so small in his hands even as he turned to offer it to Optimus.

“I’ve been told they are quite delicious,” he said.

Optimus lifted a hand and thanked Primus it wasn’t shaking. “I appreciate your generosity, sir,” he said as he picked two goodies from the plate. There were still many left, but hopefully, two was an appropriate amount.

Ultra Magnus set the tray back on the table and turned toward him. “You are most welcome, Optimus.” He smiled softly. “Now, I’m sure you are curious as to why I summoned you here today?”

“Yes, sir.” He braced himself. “I assumed it had something to do with… with my failure.” The tips of his antennae burned. The goodies felt, at once, heavy in his hand.

“The unfortunate accident, yes.” Ultra Magnus nodded solemnly. His gaze slid to the window. “Iacon is beautiful, is it not?”

Optimus blinked. “I… yes, sir.” What an odd segue. “The greatest city in all of Cybertron.”

“That it is.” Ultra Magnus chuckled softly, and his gaze slid back to Optimus. “Please feel free to indulge, Optimus, while I explain why I called you here.”

“Yes, sir.” He shoved one of the goodies into his mouth, and barely resisted from moaning as the sweet, syrupy energon exploded over his glossa. He’d never tasted anything so refined before.

“Good.” Ultra Magnus inclined his head and stepped closer, near enough that Optimus could taste the edges of his field now. “You were an exceptional student, Optimus. You studied hard and trained harder. You would have graduated at the top of your class, if I’m not mistaken.”

Optimus licked his lips clean and jerked his head in a nod. “Yes, sir. That was my intention.”

“You would have succeeded. You have the potential within you, Optimus. Perhaps not to be a hero, but to be a servant to the Autobot cause most certainly.” Ultra Magnus’ smile softened, turned indulgent. “I hate to see such potential go to waste.”

Optimus’ ventilations increased in pace. “What do you mean, sir?” Could it be? Was this the dash of hope he’d been begging the universe for? He nervously squeezed the goodie, and forced himself to eat it, lest he make a mess.

“I mean, Optimus, that I have, through great effort on my part, and no few strings pulled, managed to find you a commission.”

Optimus’ optics rounded. His spark stuttered. He nearly choked on the sweet, jellied energon. “I don’t understand.”

Ultra Magnus rested his hands on Optimus’ shoulder, big and heavy and warm. His thumbs swept inward, resting on Optimus’ clavicular strut.

“I do believe it is possible to offer you a position within our space bridge repair force, and with it, the title of Prime,” Ultra Magnus said as his thumbs stroked over Optimus’ clavicular strut, gentle and oddly intimate. “It will take much pushing on my part, and even as Magnus, I can’t guarantee that I will be successful. But I am willing to put forth the effort for you. That is, if you are willing to put in the hard work necessary.”

“Of course I am!” Optimus blurted out, surging forward, until he remembered where he was and rocked back on his heelstruts. “I mean, I’m sorry, sir. But yes, I promise. I will work very hard. I am grateful for any opportunity you’ll give me.”

He didn’t deserve it, but Primus, he would. He would do whatever it took if it meant they wouldn’t expel him or jail him. All he needed was a chance. He would prove Ultra Magnus’ faith in him. He swore it!

Ultra Magnus leaned closer, the weight of his hands on Optimus’ shoulders somehow heavier. “Are you certain?” he asked. “This is a big responsibility, Optimus. I will be putting an enormous faith in you. I need to know that you will work hard. That you will do what is necessary. That I can trust you.”

Optimus worked his intake. “Yes, sir. I will. I’m just so grateful for the second chance. I promise I won’t let you down.” Whatever it was, he would do it.

Ultra Magnus smiled. “I believe you,” he said, and his thumbs started stroking again, soft sweeps that brushed over Optimus’ intake now. “It is a space bridge repair position, I admit. It is not much, but–”

“Anything, sir,” Optimus insisted, that tiny nugget of hope daring to bloom into something larger. “This is more than I could have hoped for. I will do whatever it takes to prove your trust in me.”

“Excellent.” Ultra Magnus’ field pushed at his, thick with approval and delight. He tilted his helm even as one hand shifted to cup Optimus’ face.

Optimus froze. W-what? What was Ultra Magnus doing?

“I knew there was potential in you. This is a minor setback. One that can be overcome with hard work and dedication,” Ultra Magnus murmured even as his thumb swept over Optimus’ cheek. “You are loyal, aren’t you, Optimus? To this city, to the Autobots, to me?”

He swallowed thickly. “Yes, sir. I am.” His ventilations stuttered. Ultra Magnus’ field pushed at his again, only now it was warm and sticky.

“Good.” Ultra Magnus’ engine purred. “You are quite stunning, Optimus. Has anyone ever told you that?”

Some of the color drained out of Optimus’ face. “No, sir. I’m, um, I’m quite average.” A tremble whipped down his spinal strut.

“You are far from average, Optimus,” Ultra Magnus murmured, and his thumb swept downward, brushing over Optimus’ lips.

Optimus could not have gone more still if he tried. “Sir, I don’t–”

“I am putting myself on the line for you, Optimus,” Ultra Magnus said in a smooth, even tone. “I am Magnus, this is true, but even I have limits. Everything you do from now on will reflect back on me. Do you understand the risk that I am taking?”

A shiver crawled under Optimus’ armor. His hands formed fists at his sides. “I do, sir. But–”

“Then you understand why I must know I can trust you,” Ultra Magnus interrupted, still in that even tone, though the press of his field was more apparent now. Heavy like thick oil, and so very hot. It prickled against Optimus’ own. “I must know that my faith in you is not misplaced, and that you will be obedient to the Autobot cause, such as you weren’t when you made the poor choice to go Archa Seven.”

Oh.

Optimus cycled a deep ventilation. “Yes, sir. I understand. What would you have me do?”

Ultra Magnus smiled, and for a moment, it almost felt genuine, were it not for an undefinable something that lurked behind his optics. “There is some paperwork that I need for you to sign,” he said as his thumb moved over Optimus’ bottom lip, stroking it again and again. “Along with your personal reassurance that my faith in you is not mistakenly put.”

Optimus’ knees wobbled. He remained standing only because he knew if he ran out the door right now, that was it. This was his last chance.

“Yes, sir.”

“Good.” Ultra Magnus’ hand slid away from his face. The one on Optimus’ shoulder slid to his upper back and further down, until it rested at the base of his backstrut. “The paperwork is on my desk.”

He guided Optimus by the hand on Optimus’ back, urging him toward the desk. “You should look it over, ask me any questions you might have. I want to be sure that you understand the responsibility I am giving you.”

Optimus forced his stabilizers to move. He was very aware of the hand on his back, inches from his aft. The weight of Ultra Magnus’ field against his, the way it pushed and tugged, as if taking over. The heat of him and the fact that Ultra Magnus’ fans were audibly whirring.

There was a datapad on the desk. It was the only thing on the desk as a matter of fact. The rest of the desk was scrupulously clean. A small stylus cup rested in the corner. Ultra Magnus’ in and out box were completely empty. The keyboard for his personal console was tucked to the side. His monitor was powered down.

As if he’d been waiting for Optimus.

Optimus braced himself and reached for the datapad, which was already powered on and open to a document. He expected a lot of legal jargon, but it was actually rather simple.

He picked it up and started to read – or skim, rather. He couldn’t really focus. The hand on his backstrut started to move, short little sweeps down, each stroke coming closer and closer to his aft. Ultra Magnus crowded against his side, so very present and overbearing.

“I, um, don’t know much about repairing space bridges,” Optimus admitted, his vents stuttering as Ultra Magnus moved until he stood behind Optimus, leaning over him. He felt the warmth of Ultra Magnus’ ex-vents over his antennae, and they burned with a mixture of shame and dread.

“You will have a team,” Ultra Magnus murmured, his hands stroking down Optimus’ sides now, until one of them found Optimus’ aft and cupped it. “You are to be their commander. Ensure they stay on track. Log missions. Et cetera. You will report to me.”

That was highly… irregular.

Optimus wondered if part of his duties would now extend beyond space bridge repair. What if Ultra Magnus intended for Optimus to become some kind of personal… um, soldier? Or something.

He didn’t dare think of the possibilities.

“Oh, I see,” Optimus said, and was ashamed that his vocalizer filled with static a little.

Ultra Magnus hummed his amusement. “Do not worry, Optimus. I’m sure you will work hard to prove that you are worthy of this opportunity.” He ex-vented again on Optimus’ antennae.

Optimus opened his mouth to respond, but it dribbled off into a stuttered noise as Ultra Magnus’ lips enclosed around the tip of his antennae. Denta gave it a soft nip, and a glossa flicked over it.

Optimus gasped a vent, sagging a little where he stood. Sensations both hot and cold went running through his frame.

Oh, Primus. Was he going to stand here and let Ultra Magnus do this? Whatever this even was? Did Ultra Magnus want him like that? Did he seriously want to frag Optimus? Was that why he’d been called here?

Realization slammed into Optimus. His spark squeezed.

Was this how he was supposed to prove his loyalty? With his frame? Was that all he was worth now? Some kind of… frag toy? Or a… a buymech?

How could Ultra Magnus do this? He’s supposed to be a leader! He’s always been Optimus’ hero, and here he was, manipulating him. Backing him into a corner.

Despair crowded at the back of Optimus’ intake. He trembled, hands tightening around the datapad. His armor clutched tight to his protoform, his field a wobbly mess.

Ultra Magnus hummed around his antenna before releasing it with a slow slide of his mouth. “You are so responsive,” he murmured. “Is this your first time?”

Optimus’ optics shuttered. “No, sir,” he said, swallowing over a lump in his intake. He didn’t elaborate. He didn’t want to think about the happier times, or the knot in his spark where the happiness he, Sentinel, and Elita shared had come undone.

“Mm. Pity.” Ultra Magnus’ hand slid down Optimus’ aft again, only now his fingers went further, slipping between Optimus’ thighs, the tips of them brushing the panel concealing his interface array. He rubbed the panel gently. “Open for me, Optimus.”

It was not a request. That was clear in Ultra Magnus’ tone.

Optimus gnawed on his bottom lip. His shoulders hunched. What would happen if he refused? Would the datapad be taken from him? The opportunity as well? Would he find himself facing all of those dreaded repercussions he feared when he first received the summons?

Ultra Magnus’ field pushed at his harder, as if swallowing him whole.

Optimus’ helm dipped. He obeyed, a shudder racing down his backstrut, as his panel snicked aside, baring his valve and spike to the air. He wasn’t aroused in the slightest, and both of them reflected that.

“Very nice,” Ultra Magnus said as two of his fingers traced over and around Optimus’ rim, exploring it gently. His other arm circled around Optimus’ frame, his hand flat on Optimus’ chest. “If I am to fit inside this pretty valve of yours, I must prepare you properly.”

Optimus’ ex-vents surged out of him in a shuddery mess. The datapad crackled in his grip.

One finger found his anterior node cluster and gave it a gentle rub. Optimus’ knees wobbled. The most distant stirrings of pleasure woke in his array, and he wasn’t sure if it was actual arousal or anxiety that made his valve twitch.

“Have you taken anyone of my size before, Optimus?” Ultra Magnus asked as he circled Optimus’ node again and again, his lips nuzzling each of Optimus’ antennae in turn.

Optimus curved forward, away from Ultra Magnus’ touch, but there was nowhere to go. He was trapped between the desk and his leader, Ultra Magnus’ presence all consuming.

“No, sir,” he said, truthfully. He didn’t dare admit that he’d taken Sentinel and Elita both at once. He didn’t want Ultra Magnus to get any ideas.

Well, anymore than he already had.

“I see.” Ultra Magnus sounded pleased. He pressed harder against Optimus’ back, his finger dipping into Optimus’ valve as a thin stream of lubricant finally dampened the sensitive protomesh walls. “Well, I have taken someone as small as you before. I will fit with a little work.” He leaned closer and nuzzled the back of Optimus’ helm.

His finger dipped deeper into Optimus’ valve, curling to rub along the ring of sensor nodes just behind his rim. Optimus sucked in a ventilation, his frame twitching, as a tiny jolt of pleasure lanced through his array. Those nodes were particularly sensitive and never failed to excite him.

“Mmm. Very responsive,” Ultra Magnus murmured. His mouth wandered lower, tucking into the curve of Optimus’ intake. His lips brushed over Optimus’ cables, a parody of lover’s intimacy. “Have you finished reading the datapad yet?”

Finished? Optimus couldn’t remember the last time he’d looked at it. He’d been too focused on Ultra Magnus touching him, on tracking the motion of every finger, every ex-vent, braced for every new invasion.

He swallowed thickly as the wet noise of Ultra Magnus slowly fragging him with one finger became louder when Ultra Magnus added a second. Together, they were the width of a regular spike, and Optimus’ calipers clutched at them. Greedily, if you asked him. His frame didn’t seem to care that his spark wasn’t in it. Little bursts of pleasure kept peppering in his array, his nodes sparking to life.

“No, sir,” Optimus admitted, the datapad screen wavering in front of his optics. “I’m sorry.”

“That is quite all right.” Ultra Magnus kissed his intake cables, his vocalizations causing little puffs of warm ex-vents to tease Optimus’ neck. “I’m sure I am distracting you. Set it down, Optimus. There will be time to read it thoroughly later.”

Later.

Optimus slowly lowered the datapad. “Yes, sir.” He rested his hands on the desk to either side of it, braced against the overpowering weight of Ultra Magnus’ frame and field over him.

His aft rubbed against Ultra Magnus’ upper thighs. Two fingers worked in and out of his valve, twisting and stroking, until lubricant trickled free and slicked Optimus’ thighs. His shoulders hunched, his antennae and neck treated to a soft assault of lips and glossa.

“Please, Optimus. We are in private. You may call me Ultra,” his leader murmured, glossa flicking over the tip of Optimus’ antennae.

He eased a third finger into Optimus’ valve, and Optimus hissed quietly. It was a stretch now, forcing the width of his calipers wider. Not bad, not painful, but definitely more tangible. Not that his valve seemed to care. It greedily cycled more and more lubricant and spat charge from his nodes.

Optimus shaped the name of his Magnus with his mouth, but couldn’t bring himself to say it. “Yes, sir. I will… try.”

“That is all I ask.” Ultra Magnus’ lips descended to his audial, ex-venting warm and wet over it. He pressed hard against Optimus’ back, trapping his hand between himself and Optimus’ aft, his fingers still working deep and firm within Optimus’ valve.

“You grip me so tightly. I cannot wait to feel you on my spike,” Ultra Magnus murmured, even as his free hand slid up Optimus’ chestplate, fingers brushing over his intake before they found his lips. He traced them slowly, intently. “However, there is something you could do for me first, if you are so inclined.”

If. He spoke it as though Optimus had the choice.

Somehow, he suspected he did not.

“Of course, sir,” he said, though his internals tightened into uneasy knots, and the goodies he’d consumed sat in his tank like hunks of unprocessed ore.

“Excellent.” Ultra Magnus gave one last stroke to his valve before he withdrew his fingers and leaned back.

The heat of him retreated, and Optimus shivered as cold washed in. He didn’t know if he was overheating because Ultra Magnus was so warm, or because the stress was making his temperature spike. His own engine was producing this pathetic whining noise and he couldn’t seem to make it stop.

Optimus slowly turned, hoping his shame didn’t show on his face. Hoping Ultra Magnus didn’t want him to look eager for it. He couldn’t bring himself to fake it.

No sooner had he turned than Ultra Magnus cupped his face – with the hand still sticky with Optimus’ lubricant – and leaned down, brushing his mouth over Optimus’. The kiss was almost chaste, just a brush of lips together, before Ultra Magnus returned, pressing his mouth firmly to Optimus’. He made a humming noise of delight as Optimus felt the wet poke of a glossa against the seam of his lips.

He shuttered his optics and relented, parting his lips to allow the glossa within. Ultra Magnus purred with pleasure and deepened the kiss, his glossa laying claim to Optimus’ mouth, his grip on Optimus’ helm falsely romantic. Optimus barely responded, passive as he let Ultra Magnus explore his mouth and kiss him as though they were lovers.

His hands clenched at his sides, so tightly into fists that his knuckle joints ached. He was shaking, he knew he was. He could hear his armor clattering, and he couldn’t seem to make it stop.

“Mmm.” Ultra Magnus ended the kiss, but not without nuzzling Optimus’ face with his own. “I can taste the candies on your glossa. Did you enjoy them?”

Optimus cycled a ventilation. “Yes, sir.”

Ultra Magnus’ lips curved, almost indulgent. “You may call me ‘Ultra,’” he reminded Optimus as though he’d forgotten. His thumb swept over Optimus’ bottom lip, over the wetness his glossa left behind. “You have a beautiful mouth. I should like to see it wrapped around my spike.”

The shudder worked its way from Optimus’ pedes up to the crown of his helm. He couldn’t bring himself to speak so he simply nodded and started to lower himself and his gaze. He focused on Ultra Magnus’ frame, his optics skirting over the prominent Autobot symbol on his leader’s chesplate.

It felt like the badge were mocking him.

Optimus lowered himself to his knees, Ultra Magnus’ hand slipping to rest on the top of his helm instead of cupping his face. He lifted shaking fingers, resting them on Ultra Magnus’ hips, and braced himself.

“Only a taste,” Ultra Magnus murmured as he urged Optimus toward his panel, which was slowly spiraling open. “I am so pleased with your performance so far. I truly believe that my faith in you is not being misplaced.”

The reminder, Optimus knew, was not accidental. Ultra Magnus wanted him to remember exactly what his frame was paying for. How cruel of him.

Optimus’ face burned with humiliation. He wanted to duck his helm, hide from Ultra Magnus’ approving gaze, but he couldn’t. Not with Ultra Magnus’ spike emerging, pressurizing quickly, pre-fluid already beading at the tip. He was massive, proportioned to his size, his spike a bright blue unit ribbed with bands of white. Optimus’ jaw ached just looking at it.

Ultra Magnus’ hand on his helm was a steady, forward pressure. It pushed him closer and closer to the Magnus’ spike, until the tip of it bobbed millimeters from his lips. Optimus’ tank churned, but he obediently parted his lips and allowed Ultra Magnus to slip into his mouth. He tasted pre-fluid immediately, and Ultra Magnus throbbed on his glossa, so hot and firm already. How long had he been aroused? Had he been fantasizing from the moment he sent the summons for Optimus? Had this been his plan all along?

Probably so, given the way Ultra Magnus’ fans whirred and his vents thrummed and his frame radiated heat like a furnace. Every inch of him was control, though the pressure of his fingers grew firmer.

“Ah, but you are beautiful,” Ultra Magnus praised from above as he urged Optimus deeper onto his spike, the thick length rubbing firmly against Optimus’ glossa. “This is a talent I did not know you had, Optimus. You should include it on your resume.” He chuckled as though it were a joke.

Optimus tried not to purge. His fingers shook where they gripped Ultra Magnus’ hips. He just wanted this to be over.

He forced himself into action. He shifted his weight on his knees and swallowed as much of Ultra Magnus as he felt he could fit. He lashed his glossa around it, oral lubricant welling up in his mouth and dribbling out the corners. He had to divert his oral ventilations. His jaw did indeed ache.

Ultra Magnus gave a soft sigh of satisfaction. His hips rolled forward, ever gently, pushing himself deeper into Optimus’ mouth. His field buzzed against Optimus’, plucking at the edges and demanding more. The tip of his spike bumped against the back of Optimus’ intake and lingered there, grinding against the soft protomesh.

His fingers shook around Optimus’ helm before he abruptly drew back, the tip of his spike painting over Optimus’ lips.

“Ah, forgive me,” he said, his voice regretful. “Any more and this would have ended too soon for us. You are quite skilled, Optimus. You should be proud of yourself.”

Hot and cold warred for control within him. “Thank you, sir,” he rasped.

Ultra Magnus smiled at him and cupped his jaw. He urged Optimus to stand with a bit of pressure on the bottom of his jaw. “I seem to recall giving you permission to call me by name,” he said. “But now there is something in the way you say ‘sir’ that I’m growing fond of. Continue, if you like.”

Optimus blanched. Now this, too, would be tainted.

He swallowed, still tasting Ultra Magnus on his lips and glossa. “Yes, sir,” he said, going cold all over, like ice dripping into his lines. His knees wobbled again as he remembered the size of Ultra Magnus’ spike.

Ultra Magnus hummed an approving noise and leaned down to kiss Optimus once more. It was less claim this time as it was a brush of their lips together, Ultra Magnus nuzzling against him.

“There is a part of me that wishes to keep you,” he said, before he rested a hand on Optimus’ hip and gave it a squeeze. “Now, it is unfair of me to demand all the pleasure for myself.” The hand shifted, moving inward, fingers dipping between Optimus’ legs to play with his valve again. “I should like to taste this again. Would you like that, Optimus?”

Oh, Primus.

Optimus’ vents stuttered. Heat built at the back of his optics, the shame making his intake close tightly. If he spoke the truth, would Ultra Magnus throw him out? Would it be a rejection of this, his final chance?

Did he even deserve to reject Ultra Magnus’ generous offer? This was what he deserved, wasn’t it? For failing to save Elita. For failing to protect Sentinel. For failing.

Optimus bowed his helm, and felt a shudder race through his frame. “I am a loyal Autobot,” he said instead.

“That is all I wanted to hear.” Ultra Magnus’ finger rubbed firm circles on his anterior node, making his hips jerk and his array pulse with heat.

Ultra Magnus pulled away and placed his hands on Optimus’ shoulders. They slid down to cup Optimus’ aft and lifted him with ease, placing him on the desk.

“This, I think, will be easier,” he said as he urged Optimus to lie back, even as he nudged himself between Optimus’ knees, his spike rubbing over Optimus’ inner thighs. “That and you look enticing on my desk.”

Optimus’ hands bunched at his sides. “Thank you,” he said, unsure of what else he could say honestly. All of the tension returned, his armor clamped so tight he wasn’t ex-venting heat properly, and the tremble came back, making him ache from clenched cables.

Ultra Magnus’ hands swept from his hips to his knees, urging them to press in around his hips. He pulled Optimus’ aft to the very edge of the desk and rolled forward, the head of his spike nudging over Optimus’ rim. It painted itself in Optimus’ lubricant, and rubbed teasingly against his anterior node cluster.

Optimus’ face filled with heat. He shuddered, a mix of shame and arousal. He wanted to cover his face, but he suspected that seeing his expression was part of what Ultra Magnus wanted. Because Ultra Magnus was staring at him, optics devouring Optimus’ face.

“Do you ever self-service, Optimus?” Ultra Magnus asked. One of his hands palmed Optimus’ array, the heel of it scrubbing over his spike sheath, where only the head of his recessed spike dared poke into view.

“I-I do,” Optimus admitted even as his antennae spit sparks out of sheer embarrassment. He had a feeling he knew where this was going.

Ultra Magnus hummed thoughtfully. He kept rolling his hips forward, spike rubbing over Optimus’ thighs, his rim, his node, everywhere but actually sliding inside of him. “And do you prefer your spike or your valve?”

“N-no preference,” he admitted. Because after this, he wasn’t sure he’d ever want his valve again.

“Hmm.” Ultra Magnus rubbed over the head of his spike and little by little, Optimus’ array responded, until his spike reluctantly pressurized into Ultra Magnus’ warm grip.

He gave it a squeezing stroke as his free hand held Optimus’ hip, keeping him in place for a shallow grind of his spike against the rim of Optimus’ valve. “Would you show me? I want to make sure I learn how best to touch you.”

Oh, Primus. Oh, no.

He’d been right.

“Y-yes, sir.” Static crackled in his vocals. Heat gathered behind his optics, but he rallied enough to swallow it down.

He forced his right hand to unclench. He forced himself to reach down the length of his frame, to wrap his own fingers around his spike the moment Ultra Magnus released him. He forced himself to remember nights spent hunched over, stroking himself as he tried to keep his cries quiet, while thinking of Sentinel and Elita and whoever else decided to haunt his fantasies.

“Beautiful,” Ultra Magnus murmured as he held Optimus’ hips and ground against his valve, the head of his spike catching on Optimus’ rim and rubbing over it repeatedly. “I want to see your pleasure, Optimus. I want to see you overload. Will you do that for me?”

He gnawed on his bottom lip. “Yes, sir,” Optimus forced out as he squeezed his spike and started to stroke, his hands shaking where he held himself.

Nausea and shame coiled and twisted together in his tanks, but it wasn’t enough to stop his frame from responding. From pleasure throbbing into his array, blooming through his groin in a slow spread of warmth. His valve cycled hungrily, lubricant soaking his aft and dripping onto the desk. His spike pulsed, the smallest drip of pre-fluid squeezing from the tip.

“Excellent,” Ultra Magnus purred before he tilted Optimus’ hips and finally sank into Optimus’ valve in one slow, steady push. His spike parted the squeeze of Optimus’ calipers with ease, grinding against Optimus’ valve walls and exciting every node along the way.

Optimus whimpered, his backstrut arching, thighs trembling where they pressed against Ultra Magnus’ hips. It felt good, despite it all. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been filled so deeply, or the last time someone had nudged his ceiling node with such ease.

His optics flickered. He panted several droughts of desperate air through his vents. He squeezed his spike as it throbbed, his free hand clawing at the desk. He knocked over something in his blind pawing – the datapad he thought – and ended up gripping Ultra Magnus’ hand by the wrist. He held tight, squeezing, though it did little to affect Ultra Magnus’ reinforced battle armor.

“Ahh.” Ultra Magnus sighed a moan, his energy field rippling with bliss and satisfaction. His spike throbbed a happy beat. “I knew you would feel good.”

Ugh.

Optimus gritted his denta. He expected Ultra Magnus to frag him roughly to pound him into the desk. Instead, the Magnus pulled back and started thrusting into him slow and deep, each drag of his spike in and out of Optimus’ valve only serving to stir the pleasure higher and higher within him. His hands cradled Optimus’ hips, pulling him into each thrust, his thumbs stroking over Optimus’ armor as if in comfort.

Ultra Magnus’ face was one of delight and concentration. His field rippled and flexed against Optimus’, hot and hungry, sucking him into the maw of it. His engine rumbled, the pitch of a mech surrendering to arousal.

And then he leaned forward, over Optimus, nuzzling against his face as though they were lovers and this was just a naughty little tryst for fun’s sake. His lips traveled over the curve of Optimus’ jaw before they found Optimus’ mouth. He kissed Optimus, as slow and deep as every thrust into Optimus’ valve, until his spike worked deep and ground hard against Optimus’ ceiling node.

He gasped, twitching beneath Ultra Magnus, unconsciously stroking himself faster. Shivers and charge both danced up his backstrut. He squeezed his spike, jerking himself with every trick he knew, anything to make himself overload faster and get this over with. His valve clenched around Ultra Magnus’ spike, cinching tight, greedily slurping up the charge Ultra Magnus’ spike fed him.

Optimus’ squeezed his optical shutters closed and tightened his grip on Ultra Magnus’ wrist. He bucked up against Ultra Magnus, driving his spike deeper, and pushed into his own hand. He squeezed his spike, stroking himself faster and faster, as the arousal in his array coiled tighter and tighter.

He hated it. He hated it so fragging much, but his frame didn’t seem to care. Instead, his engine revved loud enough to be audible, his field flared, and lubricant seeped out from around Ultra Magnus’ spike. He squeezed down as though trying to keep Ultra Magnus within him, and fingered his spike head, and whined into the kiss Ultra Magnus insisted upon, glossa plunging over and over into Optimus’ mouth, to the same tune as his spike in Optimus’ valve.

Overload, when it finally took him, was a relief. Optimus whimpered as a weak stream of transfluid spurted from his spike, and his valve fluttered madly around Ultra Magnus’ spike, charge leaping from his nodes to latch. He writhed beneath Ultra Magnus, gasping for cold air, tearing his lips away from Ultra Magnus’ mouth to pant into his own shoulder.

This left his intake and neck ripe for the taking, and Ultra Magnus took advantage of it. He purred hungrily, denta and glossa licking and sucking at Optimus’ cables as he pushed harder and faster into Optimus’ valve, taking him with more vigor than Optimus would have expected of the old mech.

He grabbed onto Ultra Magnus to keep from getting squished beneath the older mech’s bulk and tried to swallow down the cries as Ultra Magnus fragged him deep every time. As he pressed harder, forcing Optimus’ thighs to the limit of their flexibility, and ground against his sore ceiling node fiercely. The desk rattled and squealed beneath them.

Optimus hoped no one could hear them. He hoped the sound didn’t carry. He prayed there wasn’t a camera here to witness his shame.

And he prayed that Ultra Magnus would be finished soon.

It was the only prayer Primus granted.

Ultra Magnus ex-vented into his intake, his grip on Optimus’ tightening. His rhythm stuttered as he thrust fiercely into Optimus, bottomed out, and finally, Optimus felt the hot splash of transfluid deep within him. Ultra Magnus moaned into his audial, murmuring something nonsense that Optimus couldn’t hear through the static.

Ultra Magnus’ hips made little jerks as his spike spurted, the rest of his frame absolutely still. His field swallowed Optimus whole and spat him back out, back into his frame, as the last of overload retreated from Ultra Magnus. His vents whirred noisily, his cooling fans even more so, as Ultra Magnus braced his arms on the desk and pushed himself upright.

His hips were still pressed to Optimus’, his spike buried deep. Optimus dared unshutter his optics. Ultra Magnus was looking at their frames, where they were still joined, and Optimus didn’t know what to call the expression on his face. Hunger. Possession. Lust. A mix of all three.

“That was wonderful,” Ultra Magnus said as he stroked his hands down Optimus’ sides. “You did so well, Optimus. I am proud of you.”

Optimus peeled his fingers away from his spike, which was rapidly depressurizing back into the safety of its sheath. “T-thank you, sir.”

“Mm. I do love it when you call me ‘sir’,” Ultra Magnus murmured, and his glossa swept over his lips. He leaned back, his spike easing from Optimus’ valve, achingly slow. “If I did not have another meeting this afternoon, you are enough of a temptation that I would enjoy you again.”

His hands stroked over Optimus’ sides again, his field pulsing warmly against Optimus’. “I knew my trust in you would not be displaced,” he added as his spike finally slipped free.

Optimus cringed as his valve contracted. He could feel the fluids dribbling downward, seeping out of him. As much as he wanted to snap his thighs back shut, he couldn’t. Not with Ultra Magnus still firmly emplaced between his knees, and especially not with Ultra Magnus now reaching for his valve, his fingers stroking around Optimus’ swollen, soaked rim.

“Beautiful,” he murmured, before he tapped Optimus’ array with one finger. “Close your panel, Optimus. You wouldn’t want to make a mess.” He chuckled softly. “That would be interesting to explain to the cleaning staff.”

A protest rose and died on Optimus’ glossa. He shuddered as he obeyed, trapping Ultra Magnus’ release within him. He wondered, when he stood, if it would slosh against his valve panel. If it would seep past and stain his thighs.

He wondered if that was Ultra Magnus’ intent all along.

“I did not hurt you, did I?” Ultra Magnus helped Optimus off the desk. His stabilizers wobbled beneath him, but his knees held, for all that his joints felt like jelly.

He shook his helm. “No, sir.”

“Good.” Ultra Magnus dug around in subspace and offered Optimus a mesh cloth. “Here. You seem to have made a bit of a mess.” He gestured to the few spatters of transfluid on Optimus’ abdomen and hips.

His face burned with humiliation. Optimus ducked his helm. “Thank you, sir.”

He wiped at himself in vain, even as Ultra Magnus reached around him, scooping the datapad off the table. He tapped his fingers over the screen, and the datapad chirped cheerfully back at him.

Optimus did not know what he was doing. He couldn’t see either, so he focused instead of making himself presentable. Or as presentable as he could given the paint scrapes on his thighs and on the transsteel of his chestplate.

“I have added my designation glyph to your file, Optimus,” Ultra Magnus said as Optimus tucked the dirtied mesh cloth into his subspace. He assumed Ultra Magnus would not want it returned. “All it needs now is your signature.” He offered the datapad over.

Optimus took it once again, alarmed to find his fingers were trembling. “Thank you, sir.” Static etched his words, and his thoughts felt stretched and distorted. All he could manage was obedience.

“This is yours to keep, Optimus. Feel free to read it in depth,” Ultra Magnus said as he gestured for Optimus to move back around to the front of the desk. “Once you have signed your agreement, you will be contacted for your new assignment. Your new title is already yours.”

Optimus’ hands tightened on the datapad. “I understand, sir.” He looked down at the screen, at the glyph denoting Ultra Magnus stamped in the upper right hand corner of the terms and conditions now. It hadn’t been there before.

He dreaded to see what the terms were. He doubted the words ‘frag toy’ had been used, but there were ways around that, weren’t there? After all, Ultra Magnus had never once said to him, ‘you must frag me to get this opportunity’. It was all implicit. Manipulation.

Deceptive.

“I knew you would. You have always been a very good student.” Ultra Magnus offered Optimus his hand. “Congratulations, Optimus Prime. I know that you will do myself and the Autobots proud.”

Optimus startled at hearing the title attached to his own name. It suddenly felt a lot less like the honor he thought it would. It was tainted now, stained with the same transfluid that spattered his hips and thighs, despite his attempts to wipe it away.

He offered his hand and shook Ultra Magnus’, his field crackling against his leader’s. A mech he had once admired, possibly to a fault.

No. Not possibly. Definitely.

“Thank you, sir,” he said, and was grateful his voice didn’t crackle, despite the tautness in his frame, the heat in his optics, and the urge to hide in a dark corner.

“You are most welcome.” Ultra Magnus squeezed his hand before releasing him. He sat in his chair behind his desk as though it were business as usual. “Memorize my comm, Optimus Prime. I’m certain I will call you back to Cybertron from time to time, for private missions, you see.”

Private missions.

Was that code for more fragging sessions?

Optimus could barely contain his shudders. He felt like he’d made a deal with Unicron. He felt like he was being used and discarded, and he longer had anyone to pull him out of the dark. He’d left Elita to die, and Sentinel would hate him forever for it.

He didn’t deserve to be pulled from the mire.

He dipped his helm in a bow. “Yes, sir. I will stand at the ready.”

“Good.” Ultra Magnus smiled, bright and approving. “You are dismissed, Optimus Prime. Perform well. I know you will be a testament to my name.”

Optimus snapped off a salute, if only to hide the nausea crawling up his intake. “Thank you, sir. I will.”

He spun on a heelstrut, hoping Ultra Magnus missed the disgust in his face. He honestly wasn’t even sure if it was directed at Ultra Magnus or himself anymore. He’d bought and paid for his position with his frame. He didn’t know what to think of himself now.

All he knew was that he needed a shower. A scalding one.

And soon.

[IDW] A Sticky Wicket

High school is supposed to be the best years of your life.

Clearly, the people who say this only remember their high-school years through rose-colored glasses. Because Josie can’t think of a single moment of high school she actually enjoyed. Except, perhaps, Chemistry.

For Josie, high school is more like the worst days of her life, and with final testing around the corner and college looming on the horizon, and her stupid car breaking down, well, this is officially the worst day ever.

An opinion she solidifies when a storm washes in out of nowhere, full of wind and lightning and odd-colored clouds, and some kind of swirling vortex appears in the air above her.

‘Why me,’ she wonders mere seconds before it vacuums her up and swallows her whole, sending her tumbling into an endless, starry abyss.

Just great.

She lands hard enough to rattle her senses, but not knock her out. She hits a chilly metal surface feeling like a ragdoll, her limbs flopping in all directions, and cries out when her ankle twists beneath her, shooting pain up her left leg.

Ouch, ouch, ouch.

Dizzy, Josie forces her hands beneath her and manages to get to her feet, albeit resting most of her weight on her right leg. She dusts off her knees as her spinning head finally stops.

God, what hit her? Or more like, what did she hit?

She rubs at her eyes as the noise of something humming, whirring, clicking and whooshing fills the air around her. Odd sounds. She drops her hands and looks up.

Josie shrieks.

There are five towering metallic things – robots, she tells herself – standing over her, looking down at her like she’s some new thing they should squish. Well, okay, one of the really big ones is kind of cowering behind the tiniest one.

They are an eye-hurting clash of bright colors and bright eyes – blue, she dimly notes.

One of them, the one who doesn’t have any eyes by the way, opens his mouth and makes this weird whirring-click noise. Another one, who has a bright red symbol attached to his face, reaches for Josie.

Fuck that.

There’s a gap. A small one, but so is she.

Twisted ankle or not, she’s out of here.

She lurches forward, hissing as putting weight on her ankle sends jagged bursts of pain up her leg. It won’t kill her though, and these things possibly will so she pushes through the pain and hobble-runs toward the really big ones. There’s a space between their legs and massive feet, and freedom just beyond it.

She’s small and hopefully quick and maybe they’ll get too tangled up in each other to even see her.

Maybe.

The hand misses her. She feels the whoosh of air against her back, but she knows it’s going to come back around again. She dives between the two feet, wriggles forward, and squeezes out from between the two huge robots. There’s some kind of huge computer console in front of her, and there’s all kinds of dark space beneath and around it.

Hiding isn’t better than running, but it’s better than nothing.

Josie limp-runs toward it as the ground starts rumbling, and the robots start making those weird chitter-click noises again. She finds the safety of the desk just as one of their shadows fall over her.

She scrambles and slides her body under one of the console legs. There’s a narrow space here, the kind a mouse would fit in were it human-sized, but Josie laughs a little wildly to herself. She’s the mouse now.

She drags her twisted ankle behind her and keeps moving forward, until she’s tucked against the wall and beneath the console. It looks like it’s bolted to the floor, thank god. They can’t just lift it away from her.

Panting, Josie crouches in the darkness. Her body is covered in sweat. Her heart’s pounding a mile a minute. The floor is rumbling now as they move around. She can see their feet and hear each loud thud.

How did she get here? How can she get home? Why is she unlucky? And ow, her ankle hurts.

One of them kneels down. It’s the smallest one, she thinks, because then a head presses to the ground and she can see one blue optic peering under into her hiding space. It speaks a buzz of static and sound at her, despite not having a visible mouth, before a slim hand tries to wriggle beneath the console.

“Leave me alone!” Josie shouts and squeezes herself as far back as she possibly can. Her back presses to cold, humming metal.

The hand doesn’t come anywhere close, but it’s still enough to make her heart thump harder.

The face doesn’t have any expression to it, but the eye flickers. The face vanishes until all Josie can see are feet. She hears them talking again, or at least that’s what she assumes all the chitter-clicking is.

“We apologize.”

Her eyes round. That’s English.

One of them kneels down again. A hand comes into view, knuckles against the floor and palm upward.

“We assumed you would speak Galactic Standard,” says the voice. A really pleasant voice actually. Kind of soothing. The fingers wriggle gently. “You must be frightened. Please. Come out. We will not hurt you.”

Josie sucks in a breath. Does she dare believe them? “How do I know I can trust you?” she yells, her voice sounding tinny in the small space.

The fingers go still.

“Oh, well, you don’t,” the voice says diplomatically. Each word has a little humming noise that comes with it. “But I promise we mean you no harm. It appears you may be injured. We only wish to help.”

Josie chews on her bottom lip.

She can’t hide under the console forever. They speak English, so that has to be some kind of good sign, right? And they hadn’t immediately stepped on her. They were probably just as surprised by her arrival as she was.

“Where am I?” she demands.

“You are in our clinic,” another voices answers, this one softer and sweeter. “We are the Decepticon Justice Division, and it is our creed to care for any who need our help, especially the Decepticons on our List.”

Clinics are good. Right?

Josie twists her fingers together.

“Okay, I’ll come out,” she says. “But don’t try to grab me.”

The hand vanishes immediately. The floor rumbles, and she can tell they are taking several steps back.

“As you wish,” the first voice says.

Josie hopes she isn’t making a terrible mistake. She inches back out from the console, dragging her throbbing ankle behind her. She pulls herself to her feet once she’s out, but keeps her back pressed to the console. Maybe she can duck back under it faster than they can grab her, if she needs to.

She squints in the bright light. There are only four of them now. The biggest one, with the cross-mark on his face, is gone.

“Who are you?” Josie asks. “And where is this clinic? How did I get here? What are you?”

The smallest one chuckles. “Many questions, it has.”

“Wouldn’t you, Vos?” The big one with the bright-red face says as he rests a hand on Vos’ shoulder. “I am Tarn, the leader of the group you see here.” He squeezes Vos’ shoulder. “This is Vos, and to my left is Helex.” His free hand gestures to Vos’ right. “This is Kaon.”

Kaon nods and straightens his shoulders. “We are currently in the Oberon sector, orbiting the planet Raetaen,” he says, identifying himself as the soft and sweet voice. He had been been the one offering her his hand, too. “As for how you arrived here… that is a question we were hoping you could answer.”

“D-does the honored g-guest need a b-blanket?”

The meek, almost hesitant voice burbles up from out of nowhere. Josie blinks and peers to her left, down a long and brightly lit hallway. The biggest one from earlier is peeking out from around the corner. All she can see is his head and massive shoulders.

“Good question, Tesarus!” Tarn says with a broad gesture before he looks down at Josie. “Might we offer you a blanket?”

“Or perhaps a bath?” the other, very large one asks. Helex, if Josie remembers correctly. He’s very eager as he leans forward, a pair of small hands clasped together as his large ones rest on his hips.

His torso sloshes. Sloshes. Does he have a washing machine for a stomach?

“Hungry, it must be.”

“I’m not an ‘it’,” Josie says, her thoughts spinning so quickly. “I’m Josie. A ‘she’. I’m a human from the planet Earth.”

Aliens, her mind shrieks at her. Somehow, she’s on a spaceship with aliens. Robot aliens. Either she’s dreaming or something really, really weird is going on.

“I have heard of this planet,” Kaon says as he folds his arms over his chest. He nods solemnly. “It is far, but not unreachable.”

“The b-blanket?” Tesarus asks again.

Josie sways on her feet. “I could use a blanket,” she says. If only because Tesarus sounds so pitiful. He’s kind of cute, the way he hides all the way down there, as if she, a little human, can hurt him.

“Yes, Tesarus. Bring our guest, Josie, a blanket,” Tarn says. His hand slips from Vos’ shoulder, and he performs a fancy bow toward her. “It is a pleasure to meet you, Josie. We are currently attending to a fatigued member of the Decepticons right now, but as soon as we have finished our duty to him, we would be happy to escort you home.”

“Injured, she is,” Vos points out. One long, spindly fingers gestures to her feet. How he knows that, she has no idea.

“Needs a bath,” Helex says and wriggles around, making his stomach visibly slosh. And maybe he does have a washing machine in there, but it doesn’t look like it’s filled with water.

Kaon raises a hand. “Tarn, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but my databanks inform me that humans are a delicate species. You mustn’t use your voice to calm her.” He points a finger toward Helex. “They cannot have oil baths.” The finger then moves toward Vos. “Do not offer her your face. It would likely kill her. As would the goodies you are thinking of offering her.”

The floor rumbles. Josie grasps the edge of the desk to keep from toppling over. Tesarus has returned, with what has to be the biggest stack of cloth Josie has ever seen.

“I b-brought the b-blankets,” he says quietly, and then inches to stand behind Vos, offering them to Josie from over Vos’ head.

“Poison, goodies are,” Vos says. “Disappointing, that is. Feed her, how do we?”

“This is most troublesome,” Kaon says and folds his arms again. “We are within shuttle range of Space Station 5701, however. Perhaps there are supplies that will allow us to better care for an organic guest.”

Tarn nods. “Yes. Very good.” He claps his hands together. “Kaon, you and Tesarus will take the shuttle and see if we can find our guest something to make her stay more comfortable until we can get her home.”

“A sssspace ssstation?” Tesarus says, and the metal of his body starts clattering. His eyes get really bright. The blankets tremble in his hands.

Kaon half-turns and rests a hand on Tesarus’ arm. “You’ll be fine, Tes. You’ll be with me.”

“No bath?” Helex says and his shoulders sink. His little hands droop to his sides.

“Not yet, at any rate,” Kaon says.

“See her, Nickel needs to,” Vos says with a little huff. He’s still pointing to Josie’s foot. “Injury, she has.”

“Yes, yes, indeed.” Tarn folds himself down to one knee, not that it makes him much smaller in Josie’s opinion. “Is this satisfactory, Josie? Will you allow us to care for you until such time as we can see you safely home?”

He offers a hand to her, knuckles against the floor, palm open. He doesn’t have a face, but his eyes are very big and blue behind his weird mask. His voice seems earnest. And they do seem like they are actually interested in taking care of her.

Josie takes a deep breath before she nods. “Yes, please,” she says and takes a wobbly step forward, hissing as pain lances through her ankle. “And yes, I’m hurt. Though it’s only a twisted ankle, I think.” One class in CPR training does not make her a nurse.

“Excellent!” Tarn’s eyes got brighter, and his voice more excited. “Would you allow us to carry you to our doctor?”

As he asks, Vos kneels down close to her and offers his cupped hands to her. His thumb is within arm’s reach, and when she grabs it for stability, she’s surprised by how warm he feels. There’s a low buzz on her hand as well. He feels, well, he feels alive. And she supposes they are.

“Gentle, I will be,” Vos says as Josie limps into his hands and carefully seats herself into his palm. “Promise, I do.”

“I believe you,” she says and manages to smile. “And yes, thank you. A doctor would be nice. And thank you for wanting to take me home and for being nice and not squishing me.” That last one is really important to her.

Tarn stands up and gestures to his chest. “We are caretakers, not villains,” he says. “And you are most welcome. Now Vos will take you to see Nickel, Kaon and Tesarus will find supplies to better care for you, and Helex will help me try and figure out how you got here. Please, rest and relax. We will see you home.”

“Thank you,” Josie says.

Helex jitters as if excited. “And then you can have a bath later!” he says, in a not-quiet-at-all whisper.

Despite herself, Josie laughs. She clings to Vos’ thumb for balance as he stands as well, and it’s a bit disorienting to be this high up. But it feels better, too, cause she’s less staring up at them, and feeling so small.

“Like Nickel, you will,” Vos says to her. “She is a she, too.”

“I look forward to meeting her,” Josie replies. Which is very true.

What a weird, scary, and interesting day. Part of her almost doesn’t want to go home. She’s curious about her strange rescuers. And honestly, it’s not everyday someone gets a ride on a spaceship with real-life aliens!

At least, she’s safe. That’s the best part.

“Thank you,” Josie says, again. Because politeness is important.

“You, our honored guest, are most welcome,” Tarn says.

[IDW] The Frame That Feeds

Somehow, and Ratchet still isn’t sure why, it’s never just one.

Vampiric mechs – and thank you Swerve for that term – apparently enjoy feeding in groups. Luckily, Ratchet doesn’t mind. His frame can support the increased drain, the quote-unquote vampires are more at ease and satisfied, and Ratchet…

Well.

Triple the vampires; triple the pleasure. If more mechs knew about the good side effects, they’d be opening up their lines in eager offering. But maybe Ratchet will keep this little secret to himself. There’s plenty of him to go around.

And plenty of pleasure for them to offer in return.

In the beginning, Ratchet had volunteered out of necessity. When it was discovered that the three mechs had been infected by an unknown pathogen, one picked up on their exploration of a supposedly uninhabited planet, plans had been discussed. This pathogen, somehow metallic in nature, had infected their personal coding and altered it in subtle ways.

Outward appearance remained the same, for the most part, with the rest of the physical changes minor. Primary denta were replaced by fangs. When startled, angry, or hungry, sharp talons emerged from their fingertips. They experienced upgrades in their capabilities, including the capacity to move quicker and enhanced sensory reception. But they also ran colder and quieter.

All of that was manageable.

The new inability to consume energon, however, was not. Their frames became incapable of processing energon, engex, or high grade. Only if it was pre-digested, so to speak, could they process it. If it was warm and fresh from a mech’s lines, their systems could function properly. And yes, it had to be from a mech’s lines.

Attempts to donate energon and serve it in a cube were disastrous.

The sound of Drift purging had been horrific.

Ratchet, as chief medic and built to donate anything from energon to coolant to spare parts to his patients, had volunteered himself. He trusted Perceptor and Brainstorm to come up with a solution to the problem, but in the meantime, he would allow himself to become a source of sustenance for the three newly-turned.

It is the least he can do. He can’t contribute to repairing them, wouldn’t even know where to begin as it is science beyond his education. But he can, at least, be a willing participant, someone to ease their worries and reassure them that he would never let them go hungry.

Duties are rearranged. New schedules are drawn. Now, Ratchet takes half-shifts during the day, and then retires to his hab-suite. He putters around, makes sure his fuel is topped off, and he waits.

Perceptor always shows up first, with Drift not far behind. Ratchet suspects it is a seniority thing. Perceptor is the eldest of them, and also the first-turned, and the rest of the vampires look to him for guidance. Sunstreaker always arrives last, and he’s the hungriest, the first to bare his now pointed denta.

Ratchet’s internals quiver with excitement. His frame heats up. After a week of this, he already knows what to expect, and he’s so ready for it. Anticipation makes his spark shiver, and he hopes his eagerness doesn’t show in his field. He’s not some new-adult with an untouched interface array for Primus’ sake!

“You lock the door behind you?” Ratchet asks, careful to keep his tone gruff.

Sunstreaker nods. “Of course, Ratchet.” There’s a deference in his tone now. It’s in the way he looks to Perceptor first, and the way he lets himself be guided.

Only later will that aggression emerge.

Ratchet’s valve clenches weakly. He can’t wait.

“Good. Then let’s get started.” Ratchet pulls out his chair, what’s become known as the feeding chair, and lowers himself into it. Joints creaking, armor rattling, the weight of centuries resting on his shoulders. “I’m sure you are all hungry.”

“Not as much as you might think.” Drift chuckles. His optics are bright, focused on Ratchet, much like his fellow vampires. They all stare at him as though he’s something delicious, an energon buffet, a tray of assorted goodies.

It’s almost enough to make Ratchet preen, save that they aren’t admiring his frame, but remembering how good his fresh energon tastes.

They look at him as though trying to decide the juiciest place to bite. They all have their favorites, but sometimes, they do switch things up for a change of pace. The bites tend to heal over a period of recharge due to something in their saliva. Perceptor’s fascinated by it. Says that he hopes to replicate whatever it is afterward.

Imagine the advancements! The applications for medcenters across the universe!

Pah. Silly scientists.

“Speak for yourself,” Sunstreaker growls, attracting Ratchet’s attention. His armor jitters. His optics are paler than the others. For some reason, he’s struggling the most with the changes. Because he’s a twin perhaps.

“Hush,” Perceptor murmurs, barely loud enough to qualify as a command, but it works as one. Both Sunstreaker and Drift snap their mouths shut, though Sunstreaker licks his lips again, allowing Ratchet a glimpse of pointed denta.

A tremble dances up his spinal strut.

Perceptor’s gaze focuses on Ratchet, his optics glowing brighter, even behind the targeting reticule. “Ratchet, if you don’t mind, I will begin here,” he says as he drags his fingers from Ratchet’s right hip to his right knee.

Ratchet gestures toward himself. “I’m at your service, Perceptor.”

He watches, avid, as Perceptor lowers himself to his knees on Ratchet’s right side. He strokes another hand down Ratchet’s thigh and leans in close. Ratchet hears his fans spin to life, his vents sucking in a burst of air as though tasting Ratchet with his chemoreceptors alone.

Perceptor’s field shivers with desire and hunger both. His engine rumbles as he leans close, scrubbing his cheek along Ratchet’s thigh armor. He’s cold to the touch, as though the virus leeches heat from his systems. His lips follow the path of his cheek, and then his glossa as well, leaving a streak of oral lubricant behind.

Ratchet shivers. He works his intake. He rests his right hand against Perceptor’s back, behind his scope. The other forms a fist and rests on his left thigh.

Perceptor is a tease. A master of anticipation. His engine hums, glossa laving a wet path before he circles back to mid-thigh. He licks a long, narrow transformation seam and it takes all Ratchet has not to groan aloud.

Primus, just get on with it!

Perceptor’s hands curl against Ratchet’s thighs. He ex-vents a burst of heat, and his lips part, pointed denta glinting in the overhead light. He looks up then, asking permission without words.

Ratchet jerks his head into a nod.

The corner of Perceptor’s lips curve into a smirk. His attention returns to Ratchet’s thigh, denta rasping against his plating, before Perceptor bites. His denta sink past armor, down to the protoform.

Ratchet jerks with a little grunt. There’s pain, a quick flash of it, like a pinch to his cables. But then heat comes in the wake, a flush of fiery pleasure that makes him tremble. His valve cycles faster, lubricant pushing at his panels. His spike gives a twitch of interest, surging to thickness.

He swallows again, intake bobbing. Perceptor’s glossa flicks over the bite marks before he clenches his jaw harder and pierces an energon line. Ratchet’s energon begins to trickle free. Perceptor hums, his field rippling with pleasure and satisfaction.

One down, two to go.

Ratchet looks up, but Drift is already approaching him. His optics are so very bright and focused. He circles around Ratchet’s back and presses against him from behind, engine revving hard enough to vibrate their frames. He presses a kiss to the back of Ratchet’s head.

“You okay?” he whispers into Ratchet’s audial.

“You know I am,” Ratchet mutters and reaches up with his free hand, petting Drift’s head. “Get to drinking, kid.”

“Not a kid.” Drift nuzzles into his intake, lips teasing along cables and sensitive dermal metal. He licks at Ratchet’s neck, each tiny lap of his glossa sending jolts through Ratchet’s frame.

Drift is nowhere near as much of a tease as Perceptor, but he still kisses and licks all over Ratchet’s intake before he settles on the juncture of neck and shoulder. His denta graze over the heated cables and then they sink in, easily piercing Ratchet’s secondary energon line.

Ratchet groans, aloud this time, as pleasure and heat float in the wake of the initial sting. He sucks in a vent, leaning back into the embrace of Drift’s arms, the flick of his glossa, the firm grip of his denta. Perceptor suckles from him slowly, and Drift even more so, Ratchet’s systems registering the trickling drain, but no alerts on his HUD yet.

One more remains.

“Finally,” Sunstreaker mutters. Has no patience at all, that one. Then again, given that he always has to wait, it’s not unexpecteed.

Sunstreaker drops to his knees and makes a beeline for Ratchet, pushing between Ratchet’s legs, his palms skimming a path along Ratchet’s inner thighs. Sunstreaker’s engine revs, his field prickly with hunger and need, and he nuzzles Ratchet’s interfacing array with his cheek.

“I’m going to have this later,” he murmurs as he licks a wet path up Ratchet’s panel.

Ratchet groans.

He drops his hand from petting Drift and strokes the crown of Sunstreaker’s head. “First things first,” he says. “Feed.”

Sunstreaker smirks at him, echoes of his twin in the look, and burrows lips and denta into Ratchet’s hip joint. Ratchet braces himself. Not one for subtlety, Sunstreaker isn’t, and he barely searches before his denta sink into Ratchet’s hip joint. He purrs a hungry sound as he starts to suck, long and deep pulls of Ratchet’s energon.

Ratchet moans and slumps into the chair, letting Drift’s embrace take the weight of his upper half. He rests his hands on Perceptor and Sunstreaker respectively. He finally frees his field, projecting comfort and pleasure both into it. He’s found that if he doesn’t, the three vampires fret about his safety. They won’t take what they need either, and Ratchet much rather they drink to their tank’s satisfaction. Ratchet, after all, can replenish himself with anything.

Ratchet’s engine purrs. He licks his lips, optics shuttering, as he sinks into the sensation. Three different glossas flicking over his armor. Three different pinpricks through his plating, his lines. The steady decrease in his energon levels – though never so low as to be worrisome.

More than all of that is the pleasure. The heavy, syrupy waves of it which radiate outward from each bite. There’s something in the oral lubricant of the vampires. Some kind of aphrodisiac that makes Ratchet tremble, makes his cooling fans click on and audibly whirr. His frame hums and his spark whirls excitedly.

His valve clenches hungrily. More lubricant pushes at his panel, trying to nudge around the seams. His spike is no better, thickening in the sheath, the head rubbing against his closed panel. Ratchet trembles, vents coming faster, his fingers kneading at Perceptor and Sunstreaker.

He could overload just like this, with their denta in his lines. Had, in fact, done so before. The first time they bit him, and he hadn’t known what to expect. He’d anticipated pain, grinding his denta to endure it, willing to make the sacrifice to assist his friends and fellow Autobots.

He had not been prepared for the pleasure. For the thick waves of it. For the way his array sprang to life, and the quickening of his spark, and a hunger of his own. Not for energon, but for pleasure, for overloads, for ecstasy.

The first feeding had been a frenzy. A mess of fluids, energon and transfluid and lubricant alike. It had been unorganized and frantic, a twisting of four different frames on the floor as they never made it to the berth, and Ratchet doesn’t remember much of it, save that he’d been overwhelmed by the overloads.

They’d learned since then. How to organize, how to work together, how to indulge without hurting one another.

How to–

Ratchet’s thoughts dissolve. He moans aloud as Drift cups his jaw, turns his head, makes it easier for him to access Ratchet’s neck. He bites a little harder, more energon flowing into his mouth, his glossa palpating the line caught between his denta.

Sunstreaker’s fingers scrape patterns into his armor. Kneading his thighs like a turbofox. He’s purring like one, too. Engine soft and rumbling, his expression one of bliss as he sucks and sucks and sucks. He looks so content and peaceful, lines of war-stress easing from his face.

Perceptor, the first to feed and always the first to stop, eases himself away from Ratchet’s thigh. His lips and denta are stained with energon, but his optics are bright. Energon trickles from his bite marks, and Perceptor is quick to lean down and lap it up. Each flick of his glossa makes Ratchet twitch, another low moan rising in his intake.

Perceptor straightens and licks his lips clean. He grins, slow and sultry, his free hand cupping Ratchet’s face, opposite of Drift’s grin. He rises up and leans in, and Ratchet will never admit how he trembles, how anticipation curls hotly throughout his internals.

Ratchet sighs when Perceptor’s mouth slants over his, and Perceptor’s glossa pushes inside. He tastes of energon, stripped of all flavor, hot and bitter. It’s the taste of Ratchet’s own energon, and something about that realization never fails to make him purr with need.

Perceptor’s field pushes and pulls against Ratchet’s, sizzling with need. His free hand drifts over Ratchet’s abdomen, teasing into transformation seams. His pointed denta nip Ratchet’s lips, scraping the delicate dermal metal.

Ratchet moans. His interface array springs open, panels spiraling aside to free his array to the warm air. It wisps over his exposed equipment, taunting him with sensation.

Energon levels at forty percent and holding steady. Ratchet’s in no danger of shutting down or offlining. Instead, his engine growls and charge dances out from beneath his armor. He presses against the back of Perceptor’s head, encouraging the scientist to deepen the kiss.

It is, after all, time for his reward.

Drift’s fangs retract next. He laps over the bitemarks and leaves soothing kisses in their wake. Drift’s fingers shift to pat over Ratchet’s windshield, and his other hand slides down to stroke Ratchet’s neck, opposite of where Drift had bit. Drift presses against him, hot and needy, his field screaming less of hunger and more of arousal, his ex-vents teasing Ratchet from behind.

Ratchet shivers. He shifts restlessly on the chair, hips rolling forward, his spike bobbing free and his valve seeping lubricant. It pools beneath his aft, his rim twitching. He squirms, desperate for someone to touch him.

Sunstreaker is the one to oblige. His fangs retract, he gives a cursory swipe of his glossa to the bite marks, and then he tackles Ratchet’s array. He makes a hungry, pleased noise before he swallows Ratchet’s spike to the base, the head of it bumping the back of Sunstreaker’s intake in one smooth motion.

Ratchet moans into Perceptor’s kiss. His hips buck toward the warmth of Sunstreaker’s mouth, but firm frontliner hands keep him in place. Sunstreaker’s mouth and lips are hungry, eager, as they work Ratchet’s spike, intake flexing around the head and glossa stroking along the length. He sucks Ratchet like transfluid is just as sustaining to him as Ratchet’s energon. Which maybe it is. Sunstreaker swallows him down more often than not, and drinks Ratchet’s load everytime, and he never purges it.

Ratchet shudders at the thought, sustaining the vampires with transfluid as well as his own energon. His internal temperature skyrockets, pleasure spooling tighter and tighter within him. Perceptor’s kiss is relentless, a steady press of his mouth and glossa, sometimes deep and exploratory. Other times light and brushing.

Ratchet quivers in the middle of them. Drift’s fingers stroke his seams. His mouth laves a hot, electric pleasure on Ratchet’s intake. Perceptor’s field hooks into his, spiraling the need higher and higher. Sunstreaker’s mouth abandons his spike, and Ratchet doesn’t even have a moment to mourn that because Perceptor’s hand curls around it. And then there’s a warm, wet mouth on Ratchet’s valve, licking him long and deep.

He whimpers. He writhes among them. His hips make little aborted rolls forward, against Sunstreaker’s eager mouth. Into the suckling motion on his anterior node cluster. And the long, wet strokes of Sunstreaker’s glossa against his swollen rim. And the careful scrape of denta against his node.

Perceptor squeezes his spike. Strokes him base to tip and back again. He fingers the head, teases around the transfluid slit, and squeezes him back down to the base.

Ecstasy roars inside of Ratchet.

His thighs tremble. Charge dances out from his substructure. He squeezes his optics shut as he focuses on the pleasure. His spark spins faster and faster, his frame blasting heat, though it is all too quickly leached by the chilly frames surrounding him.

Ratchet trembles, cables going taut.

Sunstreaker nips his anterior node, and Ratchet jerks. Need sparks through him like a flashfire. It tightens faster and faster in his tanks. He pants against Perceptor’s lips, fingers shaking where they grip Sunstreaker’s head and Perceptor’s shoulder.

He’s close, so close.

And then Sunstreaker growls against his array. He abandons Ratchet’s valve as Perceptor’s hand abandons his spike, only for Sunstreaker’s mouth to replace it all over again. He swallows Ratchet down to the base, and sucks hard.

Ratchet jerks and overloads hard, backstrut curving as his spike pumps down Sunstreaker’s intake, transfluid spilling into the frontliner’s mouth. His vents dump heat into the room, his entire frame rattling with ecstasy. Sunstreaker swallows every drop, mouth working Ratchet gently. He makes little happy noises in his intake, the vibrations caressing Ratchet’s spike.

Ratchet slowly descends from his pleasure high, not that he falls very far. He’s still firm in Sunstreaker’s mouth, still hard and aching, his valve cycling hungrily, and his entire frame taut with tension.

Three bites. Three feedings. He’ll need at least three overloads to clear the need from his system.

Oh, what a trial that will be.

Panting, Ratchet sags back into Drift’s embrace. Perceptor nuzzles his cheek, lips leaving little kisses over his nasal ridge.

Sunstreaker lets Ratchet slip free of his mouth. His cheek scrubs over the length with a happy purr. He gives it a parting kiss and pushes Ratchet’s thighs further open, burying his face against Ratchet’s valve again, giving it long and savoring licks. Ratchet quivers, lubricant seeping freely only to be caught by Sunstreaker’s glossa. He’s making hungry, desperate noises as he licks into Ratchet, teasing at the nodes just inside his rim.

“One,” Perceptor counts aloud, and his hand drifts down again. Down to Ratchet’s spike, bobbing free in the chilled air.

“Time for number two,” Drift adds on a murmur, his lips caressing the sensitive metal surrounding Ratchet’s audial.

Ratchet shivers. “Well get to it then,” he grunts, leaning back against Drift.

Perceptor chuckles. “Your clear interest makes this all easier to bear, Ratchet,” he murmurs and kisses Ratchet again, though it’s short and sweet. He squeezes Ratchet’s spike. “Mind if I borrow this?”

“I insist,” Ratchet replies. He licks his lips, still tasting Perceptor on them. “I don’t have all night.”

Sunstreaker chuckles against his valve. “Same old Ratchet,” he murmurs, and nips at Ratchet’s anterior node cluster. The tiny sting makes his hips jerk and his valve contract hungrily.

“Don’t you start,” Ratchet growls.

Sunstreaker laughs again. He gives a parting kiss to Ratchet’s node before he backs away, his face liberally streaked with lubricant. He licks his lips, cleaning them, and Ratchet’s mouth waters. He’s so pretty dressed in interfacing fluid.

How did he get so lucky, he wonders, as Perceptor takes advantage of Sunstreaker moving aside. He swings a leg over Ratchet’s hips and straddles his lap, his groin hovering over Ratchet’s spike. Lubricant drips from an already open panel, sizzling hot where it paints the head of Ratchet’s spike.

“Shall I?” Perceptor asks as he rolls his hips, teasing the head of Ratchet’s spike with the plump heat of his valve. It’s the only part of them that remains naturally warm.

“I won’t beg,” Ratchet growls as his hands find Perceptor’s hips, trying to urge the scientist downward. He bucks upward, the tip of his spike teasing along the wet fold of Perceptor’s valve.

Perceptor chuckles. His smirk does sinful things to Ratchet’s spark. “You will not have to,” he says before he cants his hips, catches Ratchet’s spike and sinks down onto it.

Ratchet groans, his spike throbbing as Perceptor’s calipers grip onto it and start flexing mercilessly. Charge leaps from his sensor nodes, making contact with Perceptor’s receptors.

Perceptor shivers. His fingers curl, slipping into seams, stroking the cables beneath. Behind Ratchet, Drift moans, ex-venting hotly against Ratchet’s audial. He hears a panel open seconds before something rigid and wet slides against his back. Drift rolls his hips, his spikehead leaving streaks of lubricant over Ratchet’s dorsal armor.

Drift grabs Ratchet’s jaw. He turns Ratchet’s head, and Ratchet goes with it willingly, eager for his lips to meet Drift’s. He groans into the kiss, Drift’s kisses a taste and a tease all at once.

Perceptor lingers in his lap, taking him deep, still for several vents. He quivers around Ratchet’s spike as though savoring before he starts to move, thighs working as he lifts and drops himself.

Ratchet moans, his hands tightening on Perceptor’s hips, less to guide as to ground himself from the pleasure wreaking havoc on his frame. His lines spark with fire. Even more so when there’s a careful touch on his valve, that of curious fingers. He doesn’t have to look to know that they belong to Sunstreaker.

He can’t thrust up into Perceptor, or down against those fingers. He can only sit on the chair, pinned between two frames, as those skilled fingers curl and rub, teasing the first and second ring of nodes within his valve. As Perceptor rides his spike, faster and faster, his valve clutching and squeezing it hungrily. And Drift ruts against his back, making urgent noises in his intake, while he covers Ratchet’s face and mouth in kisses.

The pleasure comes faster, hotter, searing.

Ratchet once again finds himself twitching and writhing between them. His cooling fans spin faster. His engine roars and rattles the frames around him. His spark dances and twirls as charge races through his lines. His spike throbs faster, soaking in the charge Perceptor’s valve offers. His own squeezes down on Sunstreaker’s fingers, and he whimpers as a thumb rubs over his anterior node in small, tight circles.

They are so careful with him. Grateful and appreciative. From the moment they realized their bites caused him pleasure, and how startling it was. Then and there, they’d almost quit. Forced themselves into stasis until a cure could be found.

Ratchet had to convince them, one by one, that the pleasure was hardly a trial. That he was willing to continue, so long as they were. And if one thing led to another, well, Ratchet was hardly opposed.

The second feeding went better. Less a frenzy, and more a controlled shift from hunger to desire, one Ratchet actually remembered come the morning, his frame sore and sated and curled up in Perceptor’s arms.

Hardly a trial at all.

Now Perceptor is riding his spike with increasingly urgent motions, and Sunstreaker is fingering him perfectly, his fingers having memorized all of the best ways to make Ratchet squirm, and Drift’s mouth is hot and teasing on his neck.

Ratchet can’t stop trembling, making aborted motions in the middle of them, and there’s no stopping the overload that crashes over him. He moans as he spills deep inside Perceptor and his valve clasps down on Sunstreaker’s fingers. Drift swallows his moan with another one of those deep kisses.

There’s a wet splatter against his backstrut as Drift overloads with a deeply satisfied sound. He nuzzles Ratchet’s face as Perceptor grinds down over his spike, his valve spiraling deliciously tight as he overloads as well. Their fields spike with pleasure, swallowing up Ratchet’s, and burying him in waves of ecstasy.

Drift nips his lips and draws back, enough that Perceptor can turn Ratchet’s head back toward him for a kiss. One soft and sweet and appreciative. Ratchet hums into the kiss, even as Perceptor’s weight shifts, and he draws back, Ratchet slipping free of his valve. Fluids trickle free in his wake.

“That’s two,” Drift says against his audial as he helps Perceptor tug Ratchet off the chair, though he finds it hard to stand given the rattle in his knees. “More?”

“More,” Ratchet agrees, his vocals striped with static.

Perceptor chuckles. Over his shoulder, Ratchet sees Sunstreaker lick his fingers clean, his optics bright and burning. Ratchet shivers.

His legs wobble as they tug him toward the berth. Ratchet stumbles, lubricant slicking his thighs, dripping to the floor. His spike remains pressurized, throbbing in denied hunger. Need claws through his lines, and his ventilations stutter.

He clambers onto the berth, Sunstreaker wriggling beneath him as Drift plasters himself against Ratchet’s back. He doesn’t have to do anything as Sunstreaker makes urgent noises, his thighs goading Ratchet toward his valve in open invitation. Sunstreaker smells of heat and arousal, and he tugs at Ratchet, something desperate in the motion.

His optics are bright. He’s dragging in air through his mouth. His lips are swollen as though he’s been gnawing on them.

Ratchet hasn’t had the chance to kiss him yet.

He topples forward, braces his weight on his elbows to either side of Sunstreaker’s shoulders, and he slants his mouth over the frontliner’s. He moans as their glossa tangle, and Ratchet thrusts blindly. Sunstreaker’s thighs cradle him, the wet of his valve teasing along Ratchet’s spike, until someone’s hand is there, guiding Ratchet home.

He shivers as he slips into Sunstreaker’s valve, into the gripping, squeezing heat. Sunstreaker whines beneath him, bucking up urgently, but there’s no room for him to move. Not with Drift draped over Ratchet, his spike nudging at Ratchet’s valve, the head rubbing a delicate pressure against Ratchet’s rim.

He doesn’t thrust. Ratchet doesn’t quite have the energy or the leverage for it. He doesn’t need to. Drift’s grip on his hips is firm, and he takes Ratchet in quick, deep plunges that rock Ratchet forward. Drift sets the pace, driving into Ratchet who in turn, rocks into Sunstreaker. He grinds their arrays together as Sunstreaker whines beneath him, his kisses hungry and sharp.

Sunstreaker doesn’t mind his denta. He always leaves bites, even when not feeding, unlike the others. He sucks on Ratchet’s glossa as though it were a spike, and Ratchet swears he can feel the frenetic whirl of Sunstreaker’s spark where their chestplates are pressed together.

Sunstreaker’s need is vibrant and clear. He’s the only one who hasn’t overloaded so far, and it shows in the way he writhes, the way his armor flexes, revealing prettily polished cables beneath. In the frantic clasp of his valve and the rub of his spike against Ratchet’s abdomen.

He’s making all of these needy noises, desperate things that he’d never allow otherwise. It’s both adorable and arousing. Ratchet has to kiss him, has to keep deepening the kiss as his hips sink forward, his spike plunges into Sunstreaker, and Drift drives into him from behind.

Sunstreaker whimpers as he overloads, backstrut arching, his frame pressing against Ratchet’s. He trembles, helm tossing back, hands tight where they grip Ratchet. His valve spirals tight, spike spurting against Ratchet’s belly. His calipers ripple, milking Ratchet’s spike of charge, and it’s enough to tug Ratchet over the edge.

He buries his face against Sunstreaker’s shoulder as the ecstasy crashes over him, his spike spurting over Sunstreaker’s quivering sensors. Sunstreaker groans as a second, smaller overload ripples through his array. He pants, the heated ex-vents caressing Ratchet’s audials.

Behind him, Drift mutters a curse. His fingers dig into Ratchet’s hips as he slams deep, circling his hips and skirting deliciously close to Ratchet’s ceiling node. Not close enough, however, and it’s little more than a tease.

Drift makes little aborted thrusts into him, his pelvis impacting Ratchet’s aft, before his field swells and bursts. Pleasure lights it up.

Ratchet moans as Drift’s overload washes over his sparking sensors. His legs tremble and it’s all he can do to keep from collapsing his full weight on top of Sunstreaker. He presses his forehead to Sunstreaker’s shoulder, panting for cooler air, his limbs feeling as unstable as gelatin.

Drift strokes over his aft, grinds another moment more, and then slowly withdraws from Ratchet’s valve. His calipers twitch in Drift’s wake, and once his spike is free, fluids trickle out, teasing over Ratchet’s valve.

His entire frame hums with pleasure. His processor spins as fast as his cooling fans.

Sunstreaker starts pawing at him. “Come on. Come up here.” His thighs squeeze in on Ratchet’s hips as he squirms.

“Wha…?” Ratchet knows he’s not coherent, but he’s quite sure he’s fried a circuit or two, and his entire frame is floating on a pleasure high.

A finger strokes along his valve rim. “He wants to clean you,” Perceptor says, his tone both amused and aroused. “Would you oblige him?”

Ratchet groans. “I can barely move.”

“Then allow me to help.”

Sunstreaker squirms beneath him. He scoots down the berth, Ratchet’s spike slipping free of his valve, twitching in the cool air. Hands on Ratchet’s frame shift him around, guide him where Sunstreaker wants him, which is apparently perched upon the frontliner’s face. Sunstreaker moans, thick and hungry, his arms encircling Ratchet’s waist as he tugs Ratchet down on top of him.

He buries his face against Ratchet’s valve, lips and glossa diving into the mess of fluids soaking Ratchet’s rim. He groans, almost toppling forward if Perceptor were not there to catch him. Ratchet clings to Perceptor, his hips rocking down toward Sunstreaker’s mouth as Sunstreaker licks and sucks and nibbles him. He laps up every dribble of fluid from Ratchet’s valve, making all of these delicious noises as he does so.

Ratchet, who’d been trying to cycle down from overload, never makes it. The pleasure returns, simmering in his lines, in his array. He circles his hips, anterior node throbbing against Sunstreaker’s nasal ridge, as the frontliner slurps up every dribble soaking Ratchet’s thighs and array.

Perceptor nuzzles Ratchet’s face. “Are you well?” he asks.

“I can’t believe you’re asking me that,” Ratchet groans, his fingers hooked into Perceptor’s seams. His vents are fully open, dumping heat into the room at a rapid pace.

Perceptor chuckles. “I ask because Drift and I have a request if you are willing.”

Ratchet twitches as Sunstreaker licks into him, building the heat around his array into an inferno. “You mean drinking my energon isn’t enough?”

A shadow passes over Perceptor’s face. His field fritzes around the edges, guilt peeking around the corner, and Ratchet instantly feels like an aft. It had been meant as a joke, but he is also more than aware that all of them – even Sunstreaker – hate what they’ve become.

“I’m teasing, Perceptor,” Ratchet says as a shiver races down his spinal strut. Sunstreaker is suckling on his node now, his glossa flicking over it, making concentration difficult. “What do you – ahhhh – what’s the request?”

Perceptor strokes around the curve of Ratchet’s head. He seems almost hesitant, as though now he fears asking more of Ratchet than he should.

Drift, however, seems to have no such qualms.

“Can you take us both?” he blurts out from where he’s kneeling on the berth at Ratchet’s side. “In your valve, I mean. Both of us at once?”

Sunstreaker nips Ratchet’s anterior node in that moment and he gasps, sucking in a sharp vent. His limbs wobble. He sinks down on Sunstreaker’s face, array clenching and squeezing out more lubricant. His rim twitches weakly.

“Ratchet?” Drift prompts, and his own field echoes of the hesitation in Perceptor’s, as if he fears he’s crossed a line, too.

“I can,” Ratchet answers, barely more audible than a moan, his valve cycling harder and faster. Release peeks at him from around the corner, coy and tempting.

But he’s open and relaxed and ready.

Ratchet forces himself back to his knees, lifting himself off Sunstreaker’s face. The frontliner whimpers and makes a grab for him, but Ratchet leans forward against Perceptor.

“Sorry, Sunny,” he says. “I need to borrow all that good work you’ve done down there.”

“Thank you,” Perceptor says and pulls him into a kiss, one Ratchet is all too willing to embrace.

His processor spins dizzily. He’s surrounded by heat and pleasure. Perceptor is kissing him, so soft and sweet, but something urgent in it regardless.

The berth thumps, rustles, and wobbles. Ratchet leans harder on Perceptor and feels hands on his frame. He’s urged forward, into straddling Perceptor’s lap, his spike poking Perceptor’s belly as Perceptor’s spike teases over his valve. The head of it bumps against his throbbing anterior node, and Ratchet shivers. Anticipation curls inside of him, stoking the flames of his arousal.

Then there are hands on his hips and warmth pressing against him from behind. A second spike nudges at his valve, so that both bob against his rim, teasing the delicate metals and exciting his exterior nodes.

Ratchet’s forehead rests against Perceptor’s shoulder. He clings to Perceptor’s waist as he rolls his hips down, trying to encourage at least one of those spikes to slip inside of him. There’s a need yawing deep within him. His ceiling node begs for attention.

Someone, Perceptor he suspects, finally obliges. Ratchet groans as the spike rubs past his swollen rim and fills him in one long, slow push. His spinal strut tingles. His engine roars.

The spike pushes deep and then stills. Ratchet pauses, drawing in shuddery ventilation after shuddering ventilation.

A second spike nudges at his rim, pressure at the caudal lip of his valve. Ratchet trembles, a low moan escaping him as the nudging increases until the second spike slides into him with a slick pop.

His rim quivers, calipers spreading wide to accommodate the second spike. Ratchet’s cooling fans spin so fast that they whine as inch by glorious inch, the second spike pushes into him, clicking past each caliper and leaving raised charge in its wake.

Arms encircle his waist, hands pressing against his belly. Drift’s chin hooks over his shoulder and he ex-vents into the sensitive cables of Ratchet’s neck. Ratchet twitches when Drift laps wetly over the bitemarks he’d left behind. It’s a jolt to the system, a reminder of the ecstasy each feeding session brings him, until finally, Drift is buried within him, his spike throbbing in counterpoint to Perceptor’s.

“You okay?” Drift murmurs against Ratchet’s audial, the whisper of it making Ratchet shiver.

Okay? He’s more than okay. He’s teetering on the edge of overload, stretched to his limits, every node pulsing, his lining molten with heat, his array poised on the precipice. He fears if they move, he’ll overload. But he craves that ecstasy.

“Fine,” Ratchet moans. “Just move already!”

Perceptor chuckles. “So stubborn,” he says as he strokes along Ratchet’s sides, teasing into his seams and fingering the charged cables beneath. “As you wish.”

They move, and Ratchet’s grip tightens to the point his hands creak and warnings crop up in his HUD. He’s putting too much stress on his fingers, his tools, but he desperately needs those pinpricks of pain to ground him.

Perceptor retreats as Drift plunges forward. Perceptor advances as Drift reverses course. Their spikes grind together, perfect counterpoint, so that Ratchet never once feels empty. It’s a dizzying sensation, a push and pull, a tug on his calipers, and a grind against his nodes.

Ratchet rocks forward and back, rubbing his spike against Perceptor’s abdomen, and sinking further onto Drift’s spike. His thighs ache from the strain, but it is secondary if not tertiary to the unfurling ecstasy building within him.

Ratchet’s thoughts splinter in a thousand directions, leaving only the focus on pleasure behind. He rocks between them, his valve spitting charge, his frame desperate, their spikes gliding in and out of him so effortlessly.

The overload peers at him, beckons with sly optics, and Ratchet gives chase, his engine whining into red-line and his fans spinning so fast they vibrate his frame. He pants, finding nothing cool to calm his overheated frame, as he pounces and grabs hold of overload.

It snatches him and tears him asunder. His valve clamps down, spiraling around the spikes dueling for space within him. They push deep, sinking in all at once, throbbing in a perfect counter-rhythm that drives the pleasure higher.

Ratchet gasps, fans whining as he trembles, his frame twitching between them. Pleasure strips him raw, so bright that his limbs tingle and lights dance behind his optics. The wash of their overloads, nearly in tandem, is lost to his own pleasure, despite the charged fluid sending another jolt through his sensor nodes.

Ratchet tilts forward, sagging against Perceptor, his valve clutching weakly at their spikes. His entire frame thrums, his field a purr as it fills the room and flirts with the three vampires. He feels sated, his valve swollen and throbbing, but at least there’s no pain. None at all. Only a lingering bliss that makes him feel like he’s floating.

He barely feels them slip free, only registering his world tilting beneath him as they work together to stretch him across the berth. Ratchet doesn’t even have the wherewithal to draw his knees together. His valve is swollen, hot, begging for relief. The good kind of sore that will linger in the morning in wonderful reminder.

The gentle touch on his valve rim makes Ratchet stir. He can barely move, exhausted and sated. But his rim twitches weakly, calipers flexing enough to push free a trickle of mingled fluids.

“Can I?” Sunstreaker murmurs as he cups Ratchet’s face and strokes around his swollen folds.

Ratchet makes a blind grab, hooks his hands around Sunstreaker’s chassis and tugs. “Do it,” he says.

What’s one more overload in a sea of them? Especially when Sunstreaker’s field blooms with affection and gratitude, and yet despite his haste, he’s ever so gentle as he guides himself to Ratchet’s valve. As his spike sinks into the mess Drift and Perceptor left behind, and all Ratchet’s valve can do is quiver weakly around it.

But it’s good, it’s so good, the way Sunstreaker pumps into him, slow and deep, so deep he finally stirs that ceiling node, sorely neglected all night. Ratchet’s engine purrs. He nuzzles into Sunstreaker’s hand, his thighs pressing in on Sunstreaker’s hips. He can barely move, but he manages to roll up into Sunstreaker’s thrusts, the pleasure unspooling within him like a slow and steady wave of warmth.

The last overload creeps over Ratchet before he knows it. He breathes a moan, one lost to Sunstreaker’s kiss, as Sunstreaker pushes deep, circles his hips, and finally overloads. The wash of transfluid over Ratchet’s deepest node extends the ecstasy, leaving him floating.

Exhaustion seeps in at all directions. Ratchet purrs into Sunstreaker’s kiss before the frontliner withdraws, though not without several parting strokes to Ratchet’s frame. They are gratitude and affection both.

Sunstreaker pulls back, and Ratchet lets him go. Next comes his second favorite part.

They all three converge on him, pulsing gratitude in their fields. Three sets of hands are grateful and respectful and gentle as they wipe down his frame and feed him sips of coolant and energon.

Ratchet hums deep in his chassis, bracing against Perceptor as Drift and Sunstreaker quickly strip the berth and replace the cover. Perceptor nuzzles his head as he strokes fingers down Ratchet’s backstrut as though counting each and every bolt.

Once they are done, Ratchet is eased back onto the berth, and he sighs as he sinks into the plush surface, his entire frame humming with satisfaction. Drift feeds him more sips of coolant and energon, and Sunstreaker attends to him with a polishing cloth, and promises to fix all of his scrapes and scratches and give him a repaint when this is all over.

Ratchet can’t remember a time he’s felt so good, so cared for, so rested. It’s something he could easily get used to, and a part of him almost wishes they aren’t going to get cured, just so he can indulge in this a while longer.

Perceptor kisses him on the chevron and murmurs a ‘thank you’. The back of his fingers stroke around the curve of Ratchet’s cheek.

“Same time tomorrow?” Ratchet replies, though his words are striped in static. Recharge tugs at him. His energon levels are a sultry fifty percent after the energon sips, though they’ll be back to normal in enough time for his vampires to feed tomorrow.

“So long as First Aid clears you,” Perceptor says.

It had been one of the caveats established from the day Ratchet volunteered. He is allowed to continue being their support, but only if he is cleared daily by First Aid or Ambulon.

“Bad enough that we are monsters,” Perceptor had said. “We will not cause undue harm if it can at all be prevented.”

Ratchet had agreed, if only to avoid the sickly, clinging guilt in all three of their fields.

“He will,” Ratchet grunts, and nestles deeper into the berth.

Perceptor smiles, and with one last caress of his fingers, departs. Drift is next to say goodbye, pressing a kiss over Ratchet’s chevron.

“Thank you,” he says. “For letting us indulge ourselves in more ways than one.”

“Stop bein’ sappy,” Ratchet grumbles as his chevron tingles. “And thank me by bringing me some of those energon goodies you make tomorrow. You know the ones I like.”

“I do.” Drift chuckles and brushes their nasal ridges together. “Sleep well, Ratchet.”

Drift takes Ratchet’s nearest hand in his, laying a kiss over Ratchet’s fingertips, before he, too, is gone.

“Your turn to cuddle the old grump, huh?” Ratchet says as he’s left with Sunstreaker, who’s puttering around his habsuite, tidying up the mess.

Sunstreaker jerks his head into a nod. Always surly in the aftermath, that one, as though the guilt’s eating him alive, no matter how often Ratchet reassures him that it’s okay. That Ratchet agreed to this for a reason.

Kid still doesn’t think he deserves it, mercy or kindness. Still thinks he needs to punish himself a thousand times over for a single, desperate mistake.

“Hey, come here,” Ratchet says, twitching his wrist and his fingers. He honestly doesn’t have the energy for anything else. “I’m still owed a little something.”

As in a berthmate. That’s how it’s been. They rotate out depending on who’s on what shift and who can be spared. But they never leave him alone in the aftermath. Someone always sticks around to monitor his vitals, share his berth, and yes, cuddle. It is Sunstreaker more often than not, given that he has the least of duties, other than looking after his pet.

Speaking of…

“Who has Bob?” Ratchet asks.

“Tailgate,” Sunstreaker replies, his backplate visibly shuffling. “Daffy bug’s fond of the little weirdo. Slag if I know why. Listens to him even.”

How interesting. “Cyclonus doesn’t mind?”

“Don’t see where it’s his problem.” Sunstreaker shrugs and putters around for a few seconds more before he drags himself to the berth. He’s careful, more careful than people give him credit, as he eases in beside Ratchet.

He’s the only one who never says thank you. At least, not aloud. Ratchet knows he’s grateful. Can read it in Sunstreaker’s field as easily as he reads the guilt and the self-castigation. There’s gratitude in the way Sunstreaker carefully polishes him.

“That’s better,” Ratchet murmurs and forcibly rolls himself into Sunstreaker’s embrace. He’s still hot, a little achy from the exertion, and the chill of Sunstreaker’s frame is satisfaction. “You all right?”

“Should be asking you,” Sunstreaker grumbles. But he tucks himself into Ratchet’s intake, while one of his hands gently strokes into Ratchet’s hip, caressing the marks his fangs left behind.

“I’m perfectly fine.” Ratchet sends the command for his lights to dim and shutters his optics, focusing on counting the hums and clicks of Sunstreaker’s systems. “As I always am.”

“Good.” Sunstreaker’s fingers stroke his hip, again and again, a motion so delicate as to be soothing. His field wraps around Ratchet in a secondary embrace, pulsing gratitude.

Ratchet sinks toward recharge, satisfied and relaxed and sated and comfortable.

It’s for this, too, he thinks. Not only for the pleasure their feeding brings him, but for the care and the company afterward. For feeling useful and adored, for offering Sunstreaker solace and Drift acceptance and Perceptor a chance to be himself.

Maybe he’s selfish in not wanting to share this experience, in wanting to keep it to himself. Maybe he ought to ask for other volunteers.

Or maybe they are all four satisfied with the status quo and see no need to change it.

Either way, Ratchet’s going to keep his mouth shut. This ecstasy is his to keep for now. Or at least until a cure is found.

[IDW] Play By Numbers 03

Epilogue

There wasn’t much left standing in the wake of the clash of titans, but Starscream still managed to find a decent vantage point. It helped, he supposed, that the city and its residents were still licking their wounds, so to speak.

No one paid him much mind or attention. No one was there to see him standing on the roof of a building, watching the Lost Light as it rose steadily into the air. Part of him half-expected it to depart in much the same manner it had before – with an explosive exit.

But, no.

There was nothing to keep the ship from departing. It did not hesitate. It rose steadily, the smallest of crowds beneath to see it off. Starscream had refused to join them.

He couldn’t explain the weird tug in his spark. He couldn’t decide what he felt as he watched the ship rise, knowing that it carried Rodimus not-a-Prime aboard. Knowing that in less than a day, he’d somehow grown attached to the Autobot.

Perhaps there was something addictive about Primes. Or flashy grounders. Or loud-mouthed, arrogant, vulnerable speedsters.

Something.

Starscream gnawed on his bottom lip. He folded his arms over his chestplate. He refused to ping the Lost Light’s comm suite like a lovelorn fool. He and Rodimus had said all they needed to say to one another.

His comm pinged. Starscream answered it while his gaze remained locked on the ship. “What is it?”

“Got a message for you, sir. From the Lost Light.”

Starscream’s orbital ridges drew down. “Pass it through.”

“Yes, sir.”

A datapacket came across the line, coded for privacy, but one Starscream at least had an access key for. Curious, he tapped the attached file and opened it, only for his optics to widen in surprise.

It was a message from Rodimus.

Just in case was all it said. Well, that and a comm code which was no doubt Rodimus’ private line.

Starscream’s spark warmed, dancing in its casing. He saved the file, tagged Rodimus’ comm in his internal suite, and cast a smile toward the departing ship.

Maybe the baby Prime wanted to be kept after all.

Starscream’s lips curved into a grin.

And then he composed a message of his own.

~

His ship had been prepared.

His crew had been altered. Some had opted to remain behind. Some had opted to be as far from Rodimus as physically possible. Some were forced to be here.

Some had died.

Still, the Lost Light felt like home. Felt like the only place Rodimus could go. What did that say about him?

He fought back a sigh as he strode the unsurprisingly empty corridors. Maybe everyone was buckled up and down, half-expecting another disastrous take off. He couldn’t blame them.

Rodimus headed for the bridge without any enthusiasm in his steps. How could he be excited? This wasn’t a grand launch toward a heroic adventure. This was a limping exit toward a usurped quest.

One he now shared with Megatron.

Ugh.

Rodimus cycled a ventilation. Optimus’ disappointment sat on his shoulders like a disapproving gargoyle, weighing him down. Judging him. Waiting for yet another failure in a string of them.

Rodimus rubbed his optics with the heel of his palm. Primus, what was wrong with him?

He arrived at the bridge and jabbed his free hand at the access panel. As he waited for the doors to open, his comm chimed. His private comm for that matter with an ident code it took him several seconds to recognize.

It was Starscream. He must have gotten Rodimus’ message, though spontaneous and perhaps ill-advised it had been.

‘See you when you get back.’

That was all it said. Nothing more, nothing less. But there was implied promise in it. Support. Encouragement.

Rodimus grinned like an idiot.

Wow.

The door whooshed open, and Rodimus stepped onto the bridge. He froze, however, upon sight of Megatron standing there next to Ultra Magnus. From here, all Rodimus could see was the former Decepticon tyrant’s back, but it was more than enough.

Rodimus ground his denta. The urge to turn and stalk out was almost more than he could resist.

It was not too late to turn back toward Cybertron. Surely there wasn’t a mech on this ship who would be sad to see him go.

No.

He would do this. Megatron wasn’t the only one aboard who owed.

If Starscream could rule Cybertron, then Rodimus could most certainly do this. This was his ship and his quest. Like frag he’d surrender it to Megatron. Not that easily.

Rodimus set his jaw and strode onto the bridge.

He could do this. Maybe not right away, because that was Megatron right there, but he’d do it.

Eventually.

[IDW] Play By Numbers 02

Part II – Lies for the Liars

Starscream felt the moment Rodimus stopped fighting him. The tension vanished from the baby Prime’s frame, and he melted into Starscream’s arms. His valve opened up, accepting Starscream’s spike with greedy cycling of his calipers. He moaned around Starscream’s fingers, sucking on them as surely as if they were a spike.

Starscream’s lips curved. He nibbled at Rodimus’ audials and rocked into Rodimus’ valve, his spike throbbing with pleasure. Rodimus’ valve was utterly delightful, eager and welcoming. It seemed to want nothing more than to drag Starscream’s spike deeper and keep him there. Even better that Rodimus kept pushing his aft backward, into the cradle of Starscream’s pelvis. He writhed against Starscream, his field screaming his lust, his need.

What a treasure Starscream had found in the slums. Or had Rodimus found him? Either way, for the first time in months, Starscream considered himself lucky.

There were many different kinds of power. And the ability to reduce someone like Rodimus to a whimpering, moaning mess of need was one of them. Starscream was proud of himself, proud of the pleasure he stirred in the flame-colored mech.

This was not what he expected when he let Rodimus follow him back into this slum apartment, infested with all manner of being. He expected he would boot the primeling out on his aft once he’d had a tedious, and vaguely satisfying overload.

He’d not expected Rodimus to reveal a deep-seated resentment and frustration, one that Starscream could empathize with all too well.

Starscream now had a vulnerable little Autobot Primeling in his arms, and he wasn’t quite sure what all he intended to do with that. Except, perhaps, make Rodimus moan and writhe, as he made quite the pretty picture when he did.

What an opportunity had fallen into Starscream’s lap.

Well, almost his lap.

Now there was a thought.

Starscream purred against the back of Rodimus’ head, his fingers eclipsed by Rodimus’ warm and willing mouth. The Autobrat sucked like he was made for having a spike in his mouth, and Starscream groaned. He hoped to sink past Rodimus’ lips again tonight. But first…

He drew back on his heelstruts, reluctantly drawing his fingers free of Rodimus’ mouth. The primeling gave a whimper of protest, his lips chasing after Starscream’s retreating fingers. Yes, definitely something of an oral fetish in this one.

“Wha…?”

Starscream’s damp hand smoothed down Rodimus’ back, briefly flicking over the join of spoiler to his backstrut, before he hooked his fingers over the top of Rodimus’ left spoiler. “Come here.”

Rodimus’ aft pushed back, forcing Starscream’s spike deep. He shivered, rolling his hips, grinding Starscream’s spike against his ceiling node.

“I am here,” he said.

“In my lap, you dolt,” Starscream said as he curved his free arm around Rodimus’ waist, tugging him backward. “You’re going to do some of the work.”

Rodimus grunted, his arms drawing inward, his elbows digging into the cheap berth. He pushed his weight up, and it was enough for Starscream to tug him entirely back, his spike sliding even deeper as Rodimus’ aft rested on his groin, his thighs splayed wide over Starscream’s.

He wobbled, balance unsure, before he abruptly reached up and back, curving his arm around the back of Starscream’s neck. He ex-vented heat, hips rolling, a low groan rattling audibly through his chassis.

“This better, your highness?” he asked as his knees dug into the berth, giving him just enough leverage to roll his hips, riding the length of Starscream’s spike. His valve quivered and clutched, spitting charge at Starscream’s spike as though angry for the delay.

Starscream slid a hand around Rodimus’ slim waist, his fingers seeking out the mech’s overly decorated spike. It was as gaudy as the rest of him, but it throbbed hotly when Starscream gripped it, and pre-fluid dribbled from the tip.

“Much,” Starscream murmured. He nibbled his way to Rodimus’ neck, denta seeking out the charged cables.

The tiniest pressure made Rodimus shiver, made his spoiler twitch where it was pinned against Starscream’s chestplate.

“You aren’t unattractive, baby Prime,” Starscream added as he bit harder on Rodimus’ cables, hard enough to leave the indentation of his denta behind. A mark, something for the Autobot to carry back to his ship and crew.

A gasp rattled out of Rodimus’ intake. “I don’t want compliments. I just want my overload.” His valve rippled around Starscream’s spike, spiraling down tightly, as though trying to keep him pierced.

“Such impatience. You’ll never be like Optimus at this rate,” Starscream said with a dark chuckle.

He squeezed Rodimus’ spike, giving it a long, slow pull. Rodimus arched in his arms, rocking into Starscream’s grip, even as his valve suckled at Starscream’s spike, calipers rippling madly.

“Shut up,” Rodimus snapped. His free hand slapped down over Starscream’s, forcing him into a tighter grip on the primeling’s spike. “No one asked you.”

Primus, but he was a fun one to play with.

Starscream chuckled. He ex-vented a burst of damp heat against Rodimus’ nibbled cables, provoking another shiver. “As you say.”

His hand slid from his grip on Rodimus’ left hip, talons dragging a light pressure over red and gold armor until he found an inset vent. The slats were just thin enough for him to slide a talon between them, teasing the delicate structures beneath.

Rodimus sucked in a sharp ventilation. His backstrut arched, a shudder wracking his entire frame. His spike throbbed harder, more pre-fluid leaking free.

“Oo, did I find a sensitive spot?” Starscream asked, his lips dragging their way back to Rodimus’ audial. He ex-vented hotly, and Rodimus’ field burst with arousal, flashing fire all around Starscream.

He must have.

“You’re an aft,” Rodimus growled, yet he pushed against Starscream, his hips eagerly rocking back and forth between Starscream’s spike and fingers.

Such a contrary primeling.

“Oh, really?” Starscream hummed his amusement, latching onto that as a means to stave off arousal as Rodimus started to wriggle and writhe atop him, heat billowing from his vents. “Perhaps I just let you go then? Leave you empty and aching?”

Rodimus’ hand clamped on the back of Starscream’s neck. “Don’t you dare!”

“Then you should consider being nicer to me.” Starscream’s denta dragged back down to Rodimus’ cables, charge dancing out to meet his glossa. “Or do you not want this overload?”

Rodimus made a sound not unlike a whimper. He shivered, pressing back against Starscream, valve leaking copiously around Starscream’s spike. His thighs were splattered in it; he could feel it slithering into his seams. The scent of arousal was so thick in the room that it drowned out all the other odors: rust and grime alike.

Mm. This was much, much better.

“Stop torturing me!” Rodimus demanded, his vents puffing heat into the room, enough that Starscream’s own internal temperature ticked upward.

“You have no idea what torture truly is, Rodimus,” Starscream growled and he sank his denta into the primeling’s neck cables.

Rodimus’ nearly-shrieked, his back curving as he slammed his aft down, forcing Starscream’s spike so deep it rolled over and against his ceiling node. Charge flickered out from Rodimus’ substructure, lighting up the room. He wriggled in Starscream’s lap, his hand clamping tight on Starscream’s, forcing him to stroke Rodimus faster, and more aggressively.

Liked pain with his interfacing, did he? Starscream had an inkling as to why, given the grief and shame he’d picked up in his field earlier. But whatever. Starscream was not a psychologist. He was not here to fix Rodimus.

Though, if asked, Starscream wasn’t sure he could answer why he was here.

Starscream dug his talons deeper into Rodimus’ chest vents, raking the internal circuitry, as the heat of Rodimus’ arousal flooded his frame. He panted, dragged in air through his vents, hips working and working. He was close. Starscream could taste his charge, his need.

“Give me your overload,” Starscream demanded into Rodimus’ audial as he finally started to thrust, pumping his hips up to the same tune as Rodimus slamming down. Rodimus’ calipers rippled up and down his spike, and it took all Starscream had not to give in to the ecstasy they offered.

“H-hah.” Rodimus’ belligerence stuttered and was all the less believable for it. “You t-think I’m gonna l-listen to y-you?”

Starscream chuckled darkly. “I guess we’ll find out, won’t we?” He squeezed Rodimus’ spike, pinching the tip between his thumb and forefinger.

Rodimus jerked in his arms. He wheezed a ventilation. His valve clamped down, rippling arrhythmically now. It was hungry, grasping at Starscream’s spike as if he was the only relief to be found.

Starscream slid his talons out of Rodimus’ vents and planted his hand flat on Rodimus’ chestplate. He pushed Rodimus backward, pinning Rodimus against his chestplate, and thrust up, charge igniting between their nodes. His lips made short work of Rodimus’ neck cables, licking soothingly over the bites, before he found a section yet to be touched. Begging to be marked.

So he did.

He gripped the base of Rodimus’ spike and gave him a long, hard pull up, even as he sank his denta into Rodimus’ neck cables, until he tasted energon on his lips.

Rodimus seized. His head tossed back, his hips jerking, as he overloaded. His spike spurted, thin streams of transfluid striping the air, as his valve clamped down tight, milking Starscream’s spike for an overload he wasn’t going to give the baby Prime. Not just yet.

Rodimus whined his pleasure, hands clamping on Starscream’s neck and hand as though they were a lifeline. His field flashed out, tangling into the strings of Starscream’s own and giving them a sharp, desperate tug.

Starscream resisted, though it pained him greatly. His spike throbbed desperately, loving the dripping embrace of Rodimus’ valve.

‘Not yet,’ he told himself. ‘Not yet.’

He continued to work Rodimus’ spike, his fingers firm but gentle as they stroked the softening length and teased over the sensitive head. Rodimus squirmed on his lap, making delicious sounds.

“Nnn,” he moaned. His fingers slid to Starscream’s wrist as though trying to tug his hand away from his spike. “Sensitive,” he whimpered.

“I know,” Starscream purred with a nip to Rodimus’ audial. He worked his hips, spike stirring against Rodimus’ throbbing nodes.

Rodimus hissed a ventilation, his backstrut arching. “Then let me go.” He squirmed again, valve cycling around Starscream’s spike and soaking his lap in lubricant. Charge spat intermittently from his nodes, taunting Starscream.

Starscream hummed in his chassis, pretending as though he hadn’t heard. He nibbled on Rodimus’ audial, stroking Rodimus’ spike again, until Rodimus’ fingers pressed in on the back of his neck, and he hissed through his denta.

“Starscream!”

He chuckled darkly, rolling his hips to grind against Rodimus’ ceiling node. “I told you,” he murmured, mouth traveling down to lick over the marks he left on Rodimus’ intake cables. “You have no idea what torture is.”

Rodimus’ ventilations stuttered. He squirmed, knees digging into the berth. He dropped his hand from the back of Starscream’s neck and tipped his frame forward, trying to wriggle free of Starscream’s lap.

Very well.

Starscream abruptly let him go, and Rodimus tumbled forward, barely catching his upper half with his hands before he faceplanted onto the berth.

“You’re such an aft,” he grumbled.

Starscream grinned as he stroked a hand down Rodimus’ nicely arched back, ending with a pat on the primeling’s aft. “So I’ve been told.”

Rodimus rocked forward, sliding the last few inches off Starscream’s lap – and his spike. He hovered there on hands and knees, a shiver racing across his plating, his swollen valve dripping with lubricant. His biolights pulsed fitfully, his anterior node a plump little angry nub.

Starscream couldn’t resist touching it.

His palm slid down Rodimus’ aft, his fingers drawn toward the inviting valve. He stroked the swollen rim, lubricant slicking his fingers, before he brushed over that blinking nub.

Rodimus hissed a ventilation and arched his backstrut. His spoiler twitched, even as his valve visibly contracted.

“You’re insatiable,” he groaned as he rocked forward, out of Starscream’s immediate reach.

Starscream’s hand wrapped around his spike, both coated in Rodimus’ lubricant. “Well, I haven’t overloaded yet,” he said as he pumped himself, though lightly. He still had plans for his spike and Rodimus’ mouth both.

“Gah.” Rodimus huffed and flopped over onto his back as though it took great effort, his limbs trembling. He lay there, thighs splayed, array on display.

Starscream’s mouth filled with lubricant. There was something inviting about Rodimus, something that demanded he touch.

Damn irresistible Autobots.

“Why not?” Rodimus demanded, and his tone was almost petulant. Shaking fingers slid down his frame, down his chestplate, his abdomen, and made unerringly for his array.

He scrubbed his palm over the tip of his half-pressurized spike before he bracketed his anterior node with two fingers.

“My valve not good enough for you?” Rodimus slid his hand further down and slipped two fingers into his valve, shivering as he stroked them in and out, the yellow glistening with pale lubricant.

Starscream licked his lips. He watched Rodimus’ fingers as he stroked his own spike, squeezing it to stave off the overload hovering around the corner. The taste of Rodimus’ charge had been delicious.

“Good enough,” Starscream replied, his gaze tracking up the length of Rodimus’ frame to the tempting curve of Rodimus’ lips. “But now I want your mouth.”

“Hah.” Rodimus’ fingers abandoned his valve. He dug his elbows into the berth, forcing his torso upright as he tilted his helm. “What makes you think I’m going to let you have it?”

His actions belied his belligerence. His glossa swept over his lips as his optics flashed with heat.

Starscream’s internals tightened with need. He forced himself to release his spike as he moved forward on hands and knees, until he straddled Rodimus’ hips. Only then did he grip his spike again, giving it a long, firm stroke, squeezing free a pearl of pre-fluid.

Rodimus tracked it with his optics, licking his lips again. He worked his intake.

“Because you want it, too,” Starscream challenged, his ventilations quickening. “Don’t you?”

Rodimus pressed his lips together. His hands curled into fists where they pressed against the berth cover. He stared back at Starscream, defiant.

But a spike started to nudge at Starscream’s inner thighs. Rodimus had never fully depressurized, and now he was firm again. If the need yawing in his field was any indication, Starscream was right.

What an addictive feeling.

Someone had an oral fetish, and Starscream was more than happy to satisfy it. And capitalize on it.

“It’s okay,” Starscream murmured silkily. He held Rodimus’ gaze as he stroked his spike and gathered pre-fluid on his fingertips. His spike throbbed, eager to sink into something warm and wet. “You can have it. Because afterward, I’m going to ride this pretty little spike of yours again. Until neither of us can see straight.”

Starscream rolled his hips, catching the head of Rodimus’ spike against his array, feeling the heat of it against his valve rim.

Rodimus visibly shivered. He flopped back to the berth, hands finding their way to Starscream’s thighs. His fingers slipped into seams, holding tight.

“If you tell anyone–”

Starscream interrupted him with a smirk. “Like they’d believe me.” He huffed a laugh and scooted forward ever so slowly, letting his valve leave driblets of lubricant behind on Rodimus’ chestplate.

Starscream felt like he was staking a claim, and maybe he was. He was kind of thinking about keeping Rodimus now. A pretty little prime to call his own.

“They would,” Rodimus muttered, and he sounded bitter about it.

Starscream saved that response and tucked it away for later exploration. There was quite a lot of rancor within the little Prime. He wondered if he could make use of it.

Something to contemplate at a later date however. For now, his spike throbbed, eager to sink into that hot, willing mouth, and Rodimus licked his lips again, quite eager to swallow Starscream down.

“I don’t intend on telling anyway,” Starscream said as he slid several more feet forward, until the head of his spike could brush Rodimus’ lips, painting them in his pre-fluid. “I don’t feel like sharing.”

“Sharing?” Rodimus’ lips moved against his spikehead, glossa flicking over the tip and slurping up the pearl of lubricant. “Are you staking a claim, Seeker?” He lifted his chin, as though purposefully highlighting the nibble marks on his neck.

Starscream curled a hand Rodimus’ head, lifting him that much closer. He directed his spike against Rodimus’ mouth, the heated derma twitching as Rodimus’ ex-vents caressed it.

“I just might,” Starscream said. “Open.”

Rodimus’ hands slid around Starscream’s waist, pressing in against the base of his backstrut. His optics darkened to a cerulean, filling with heat. But he obeyed, lips parting, glossa emerging to lick the length of Starscream’s spike. He made a low sound, one of need and hunger, before he pulled, forcing the first third of Starscream’s spike into his mouth.

They moaned, somehow in unison, Starscream hissing air through his denta. He curved forward, hands hitting the berth, his spike slipping deeper into Rodimus’ mouth. The heat gathering internally roared into a bright blaze, one that narrowed down to the point of pleasure where Rodimus’ glossa stroked over the head of his spike.

Rodimus sucked on him, making little delighted noises. His lips sealed around Starscream’s spike before he tugged on Starscream’s waist, as if urging him deeper.

Well then.

Starscream panted as he shifted his thighs further outward and tilted his hips forward, letting the last few inches sink into Rodimus’ very hot and welcoming mouth. The tip of his spike nudged the back of the primeling’s intake, but all Rodimus did was moan and make a delighted noise. His engine roared, his hands flexing on Starscream’s waist.

Starscream knew it.

He panted as he rocked his lips in small, aborted thrusts. He worked Rodimus’ mouth like one might a valve, and it was as welcoming as one. Lips and glossa were soft and hungry. Denta dragged along a line of tiny sensory nubs, and Starscream’s backstrut shivered.

His spike throbbed harder and faster, dribbling a steady stream of pre-fluid down the back of Rodimus’ intake. Starscream moaned, and very so slowly, released the tight grip he held on his arousal. He let it roar through his frame, rattle over him.

Starscream hung his helm, his optics shuttering. He panted through his intake, fingers clawing at the berthcover, as a coil in the pit of his tanks tightened and tightened. Rodimus moaned around his spike, the vibrations seeming to travel up Starscream’s transfluid channel and into the very center of his array.

Rodimus tugged again, and the base of Starscream’s spike nudged against his nasal ridge. Fully sheathed in Rodimus’ intake, feeling the delicate tubing flex around the head of his spike, and Starscream shattered.

His hips pumped in tiny increments, his spike throbbing as he spurted transfluid down Rodimus’ intake, and Rodimus swallowed every last drop. Rodimus moaned, his field shivering with heat, exploding with need.

Overload throbbed through Starscream’s entire frame. His valve spasmed, cycling down on nothing in delayed need. He worked his hips in the tiniest of circles, lingering in the welcome warmth of Rodimus’ intake, as Rodimus’ glossa fluttered gently around his spike. He almost didn’t want to withdraw, but needs must.

Starscream panted as he shifted back, reluctantly withdrawing his spike from Rodimus’ mouth. Rodimus moaned around it, lips and glossa working Starscream’s sensitive unit until he was finally free.

He shuffled backward on shaking knees, finding his way back to Rodimus’ hips. Starscream planted his hands on Rodimus’ chest as his valve hovered over Rodimus’ firmly pressurized spike.

“That what you wanted?” Rodimus asked as he swept his glossa over his swollen lips, nearly tempting Starscream to kiss him. His hands remained on Starscream’s hips, grip tight and unyielding.

Starscream huffed a laugh. His thighs wobbled beneath him, but he shifted his weight to his knees, enabling him to rock his hips, rubbing his valve up and down the length of Rodimus’ spike. He painted it with his lubricant, feeling Rodimus shiver beneath him.

“You tell me,” Starscream panted as he caught the head of Rodimus’ spike with the rim of his valve. “Did I quench your thirst?”

Rodimus laughed, an honest laugh that seemed to resonate from within his chassis. “That was terrible, Starscream.”

His lips pulled into a crooked grin. He looked down at the primeling, who finally appeared relaxed, all of the tension gone from his frame. Well, non-arousal related tension at any rate.

“Mm, let me make it up to you then,” Starscream said as he rolled his hips again, this time letting Rodimus slip into his valve. He shivered as the head of the primeling’s spike teased the cluster of nodes just within his rim.

The lingering tremors of his previous overload roared back to life, pinging heat and need through his array. His calipers rippled, the first line of them clutching at the head of Rodimus’ spike, trying to pull him deeper.

Rodimus groaned. His backstrut arched, his grip on Starscream’s hips tightening. He braced his feet on the berth and tried to thrust up, but Starscream rose on his knees.

Nope. This was going at his pace. Simply because he loved it when Rodimus got that frustrated look on his face. When his field rippled with need.

“Let me thrust!” He pouted.

“All in due time, baby Prime.” Starscream purred a laugh. He flexed his fingers on Rodimus’ chest, talons leaving little scratches in the bright yellow plating. He could feel the strong thrum of Rodimus’ spark beneath his palms, the frantic beat of it.

Mmm. Now there was an idea.

Starscream circled his hips and sank down further, his valve eagerly swallowing Rodimus’ spike inch by precious inch.

Rodimus’ ventilations hitched. His hands flexed on Starscream’s hips. “You are a tease,” he accused.

Starscream laughed. “You have no idea,” he murmured. He shifted his weight, moving his hands from bracing on Rodimus’ chestplate, to bracing on the berth to either side of Rodimus’ shoulders.

He leaned forward, his lips skimming Rodimus’ chestplate to the nigh invisible seam. “Why don’t you open here, too?”

Rodimus made a strangled noise. “What?”

Starscream’s glossa traced the seam. “Live dangerously, Rodimus,” he murmured, ex-venting hotly. He let his hips sink down ever so slowly, until Rodimus was root-deep in his valve, throbbing hotly.

“I’m not baring my spark to you!” Rodimus huffed, even as his hips rose up, working deep into Starscream’s valve.

Starscream ground down, until the head of Rodimus’ spike graced his ceiling node. He tightened, rippling his calipers up and down the length of the primeling’s spike. “Not even a little?”

A gasp worked its way out of Rodimus’ intake. His optics flashed. “I’ve never bared my spark to anyone. I’m not about to start now.”

Not with you, was the implication here.

Hmm. Fair enough.

“Pity.” Starscream dragged his lips up the length of Rodimus’ chestplate and nosed his way into Rodimus’ intake, inhaling greedily. “Maybe next time then.” He licked over one of the marks of his denta from earlier.

Rodimus made a strangled noise. His hands tightened on Starscream’s hips, pulling him down even as he thrust up. Their armor clanged together, Rodimus’ spike throbbing harder and harder in Starscream’s valve.

Starscream sank down against him, riding the motions of Rodimus’ frame, his valve eagerly clutching at Rodimus’ spike. Charge exchanged rapidly between sensor and receptor nodes, until Starscream’s entire array tingled. He licked and nipped at Rodimus’ intake, feeling every vibration of Rodimus’ vocalizer against his lips.

Rodimus’ field rose up and stroked over his, tangling the edges of their fields together until they pulsed in harmony. Rodimus’ engine growled, vibrating both of their frames, and Rodimus’ grip abruptly shifted, to wrapping around Starscream.

He had only a sparkbeat to contemplate why before Rodimus rolled them, half onto their sides, half onto Starscream’s back. He had to flick his wing to the side at the last second to avoid denting it. Rodimus never ceased thrusting into him, though now the angle had changed, and each thrust pounded against Starscream’s ceiling node and a sensor cluster at the back of his valve.

Starscream moaned, his thighs tightening around Rodimus’ waist as the primeling pressed his forehead to Starscream’s. His optics were bright and wide, desperate. One hand slid down, curving around Starscream’s thigh, pushing his leg back and up, opening him wide.

He thrust harder, hips churning as though desperately seeking pleasure. A low whine rose in his intake, one of intense need.

As if only Starscream had what he wanted.

It felt like power, all in the palm of his hand.

Or, errr, the clutch of his valve.

Either way, Starscream rejoiced in it. He purred his pleasure, curled a hand around the back of Rodimus’ head, and tugged the primeling down into a kiss that was as much denta as it was lips. He bit at Rodimus’ mouth, eagerly devouring Rodimus as his valve hungrily swallowed every desperate thrust.

Pleasure built inside of him, each wave of it crashing one against the other until it was an endless pulse of ecstasy. Rodimus made all of these cute, needy noises. Soft gasps. Desperate whirrs of his vents. Rattles of his cooling fans. He moaned into the kiss, hands tightening where they gripped Starscream, his field a tangled mass of greedy hunger.

Starscream sucked on his bottom lip before plunging his glossa into Rodimus’ mouth, deepening the kiss. The heat of him consumed Starscream, and every plunge of Rodimus’ spike lit up Starscream’s internal nodes like fireworks.

Overload was inevitable.

In the heat of the moment, Starscream wasn’t even sure which of them tumbled over the edge first. Whether it was Rodimus spurting heat against his ceiling node, or Starscream’s valve clamping down like a vise, sensors and receptors exchanging charge so quickly that it felt like a jolt of electricity in their arrays.

All Starscream knew was the pleasure, eclipsing all else. The roar of his fans, the whine in Rodimus’ intake, the frantic, stuttered impact of Rodimus’ hips against his until Rodimus sagged on top of him, panting and squirming.

He pressed their foreheads together, his hips resting in the cradle of Starscream’s thighs. His field wrapped warmly around them both in a kind of relieved embrace. He hummed, deep in his chassis, as he ex-vented puffs of heat against Starscream.

Tremors of pleasure wracked Starscream’s frame. His valve twitched, rippling around Rodimus’ slowly depressurizing spike.

He’d lost count of the number of overloads. He felt languorous. Sated. Satisfied.

“Mmm.” Rodimus rolled his forehead against Starscream’s before brushing his lips over Starscream’s. He then broke into a goofy grin, his optics so very blue.

Starscream narrowed his optics. “What?” He half-tensed, expecting to be teased.

Rodimus’ glossa swept over his lips. “You kissed me.”

“Your point?”

Rodimus brushed their nasal ridges together. “I guess I wormed my way into your spark after all, huh?”

Starscream rolled his optics and his frame both, until he straddled Rodimus once more, with the primeling’s spike still within him. There was a hot, sticky mess between their frames.

“You’re ridiculous,” Starscream said, and as soon as he began to shift back, hands clamped on his thighs, keeping him in place.

“Let me guess,” Starscream drawled as he settled back into place, feeling Rodimus’ depressurizing spike shift within him, “you don’t want me to move yet.”

Color entered Rodimus’ face. He lifted his hands. “Sorry,” he said, almost sheepish.

Starscream waved off the apology. “We all have our quirks,” he said, and lifted one corner of his mouth in a smirk. “Perhaps I’ll indulge you at a later time. For now, I am filthy.” He grimaced and squirmed.

“We both are,” Rodimus retorted.

Starscream slid off of him, feeling fluids coating his thighs and array. Rodimus’ groin was liberally spattered as well. Starscream plopped his aft on the berth, grabbing a corner of the berth cover to wipe up the worst of it.

“I noticed,” he said, trying not to look too close at the soiled berth cover.

Rodimus sat up as well, pulling a cloth from subspace and wiping it over his spattered armor. He was covered in scratches and scrapes, Starscream’s darker crimson leaving fairly obvious marks in his plating.

Definitely claimed.

Starscream looked at him. He grinned. “You got a little something,” he said, touching the corner of his own mouth.

Rodimus’ glossa flicked over his lips, though he had a perfectly workable cloth in his hand. “Did I get it?”

“Yes.” Starscream tried not to grimace and failed miserably. “You’re a weird little Autobot, you know that?”

Rodimus gave the rag one last half-sparked swipe over his frame before he tucked it back into subspace. “I’m weird whether or not I’m an Autobot.”

“Mm. Fair point.”

Starscream sat back, bracing himself against the rusting wall of the rented room. Technically, they’d had their overloads. They should go their separate ways. But Starscream felt oddly reluctant to go.

There was something there, something in the silence, that was both familiar and comforting.

“So,” Rodimus said in a perfunctory tone. He leaned back, tilting his head toward Starscream until Autobot blue optics glowed brightly. “Let’s talk about Megatron.”

Starscream’s spark stuttered. “Excuse me?”

“You barged into my affairs, so I’m barging into yours.”

“Affair?” Starscream jerked back, horror written into his feature. “I was never in Megatron’s berth.”

Rodimus’ orbital ridges lifted. “That is an awful vehement response there, Screamer. You sure about that?”

“Positive,” Starscream hissed, his wings hiking upward, sadly betraying his agitation. “Megatron was many things to me, but lover was never one of them.”

Rodimus tilted his helm, something incisive in those blue optics, that spoke to a deeper intelligence than he often displayed. “But you wanted him to be.”

Starscream’s engine growled, before he sighed and shifted away from Rodimus. “There may have been a time,” he admitted, however begrudgingly. “But any torch I carried was rather quickly extinguished when I realized he had no use for my mind or my ambition.”

Rodimus made a non-committal noise. “Well, not that I can blame you. I mean, there’s a reason he got so many people to follow him. He’s got that, I don’t know, that special something, just like Optimus does.” He paused and his field nudged at Starscream’s own. “I wouldn’t think of less of you, if you know, you had fragged him.”

Starscream rolled his optics. “Yes, because your approval is the only thing that I have ever cared about.”

“I’m just saying.”

“I know what you’re saying.” Starscream huffed. “Stupid Autobots. Did you all have nothing better to do than speculate about the berth habits of your enemies?”

“I wouldn’t know. Well, except for the part that there’s this whole file dedicated to trying to figure out why you and Megatron hated each other so much, yet he never managed to kill you. And vice versa.”

Starscream snorted. “As I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, Megatron is impossible to kill.”

“So are you.”

Starscream smirked. “My one claim to fame,” he said airily.

“It must’ve stung, then, when Megatron didn’t have the decency to die.”

He shot Rodimus a narrow-opticked look. “What game are you playing, Autobot?”

Rodimus shrugged though it was far from dismissive. “Hey, you pry into my woes, and I’m going to pry into yours.”

“Just because you had story time doesn’t mean I need to share mine.”

“Maybe. But who else are you going to talk to?”

Starscream’s mouth opened, and closed. The brat had a point. That didn’t mean he had to cooperate, however.

“Just because you’re angry he’s now sharing your quest, that doesn’t give you the right to poke at any open wound,” Starscream said.

“Oh.” Rodimus’ lips curved into a sly smirk. “So it does hurt.”

Blast.

Starscream rubbed his forehead. “No. I realize now that Megatron dying would have only made him a martyr in the optics of the fools who still believe in him.”

“Fools,” Rodimus echoed.

“Yes, I’m well-aware I used to be one of them,” Starscream hissed. “But I have since learned the error of my ways.”

Rodimus chuckled. “The error of your ways?” he repeated. “I’m not one of those lost mechs out there.” He gestured to the city at large. “You don’t have to give me some pre-planned speech.”

“What? You think you’re owed some kind of honesty just because you’ve fragged me?”

Rodimus tilted his head. “Is that your standard reaction to anyone trying to have a conversation with you? Do you always revert to waspish attack mode?”

Silence.

Starscream stared at Rodimus. He gritted his denta until he tasted sparks. Rodimus was poking at an open wound, and there wasn’t a roll of static bandage to be found. “What do you want from me?”

“Nothing.” Rodimus shrugged. His gaze wandered away, focusing past Starscream to a rust stain on the wall. “I mean, I could ask you all kinds of things, like exactly why you were gulping down sub-standard engex in a dive bar, but I guess it’s really none of my business.”

“No, it isn’t.”

“Exactly.” The baby Prime audibly cycled a ventilation and scooted to the edge of the berth, dangling his feet over it. “Guess I’ll be on my way. I’d ask for a handful of creds, but I got the feeling this one’s on the house.”

Starscream narrowed his optics. “If you’re trying to imply that I’m treating you like some kind of buymech, I am not amused.”

“Neither am I.” Rodimus looked at him, frowning, his optics so dim as to be grey. “But you are Starscream, and these are the kinds of games you play.”

“I am not everything the rumors make me out to be,” Starscream hissed. His wings snapped back, rigid and quivering.

“Prove it.”

Starscream’s hands curled into fists. He stared at Rodimus, who tilted his chin in challenge, and Starscream realized that he’d been played. How on Cybertron could he have let a primeling Autobot outmaneuver him.

It was unacceptable. But that was exactly what happened.

“I don’t want Megatron dead,” he said at length.

Rodimus tilted his head, his lip curling.

“I want him humiliated,” Starscream elaborated, his ventilations quickening and his spark shrinking into a tight ball. “I want him stripped of his relevance. I want him to be beaten where it matters, in the optics of those who worshiped him. I want everyone to see him for the failure he is.”

“You mean the one everyone expects you to be.”

He shot Rodimus a glare. “I meant what I said.”

Rodimus held up his hands. “Hey, you don’t have to get snappy with me. I get it, okay? I know a little something about people only expecting failure from you.”

Starscream opened his mouth to disagree, only to snap it shut. Because, like it or not, Rodimus was right.

He was a Prime, and not a Prime. He compared himself to Optimus, yes, but only because everyone around him also insisted on doing so. He held himself to an ideal not even Optimus Prime could match and chastised himself for failing to accomplish it. Not that he had any choice otherwise.

It was so easy to fail when even the simplest mistake could be considered a grievous error. When mechs watched your every move, waiting for your efforts to crumple.

“Yes,” Starscream finally said. “I want to stand over Megatron with success on my shoulders so that he can see I am where I was always meant to be despite him.”

“Or because of him.”

“Never that!” Starscream snarled, his wings hitched upward. “Megatron had nothing to do with anything I managed accomplish. He was nothing more than a noose around my neck, and a chain around my wrists.”

Rodimus leaned back on his hands, his expression perfectly neutral. “You sure about that?”

Starscream’s engine growled. His thrusters warmed, preparing to spit fire, though that would have been unwise given the fire hazard of a berth they currently occupied.

“Quite.”

“If you say so.” Rodimus shrugged, dismissive, but there was something calculating in his tone, in the way he looked at Starscream. “But you know, mechs don’t put up with the things you did without a reason. We never could figure out if you wanted to kill Megatron, if you were just desperately seeking his approval.”

“Approval?” Starscream’s wings jerked so high that his hinges ached. His vocalizer strayed at the upper end of his vocal range.

He shrieked.

It took all he had not to launch himself at the berth and claw Rodimus’ vocalizer out for even suggesting such a thing.

“I never wanted anything from that idiot, least of all his approval!” Starscream growled, his energy field bursting forward, clawed tips on the furthest tendrils.

Rodimus, however, didn’t so much as flinch. “No one tries that hard to throw success in someone’s face if they weren’t secretly seeking their approval.” He paused, and amended with, “or absolution.”

Starscream drew up straight, his frame going taught. There was self-reflection in Rodimus’ tone. An eerie echo of Starscream’s own.

“You wouldn’t hate him if you didn’t care so much,” Rodimus added lastly and then fell into silence. He stared at Starscream as if daring him to contradict.

Starscream sucked in several ventilations, alarmed to find that they rattled. He performed a systems check, forced himself to cycle back. He made his armor smooth; he loosened his wings. He pulled back into himself, inch by inch, his field retreating.

“It’s complicated,” he finally said, at length.

Rodimus arched an orbital ridge. “That’s a cop out.”

“Yes, well, it’s the truth.” Starscream made a vague gesture. “Emotions. Feelings. Motivations. There’s nothing simple about them. It’s not as easy as saying hate or attraction or admiration or… other things.”

He balked at calling it ‘love’. Starscream was pretty sure he couldn’t identify the emotion if he felt it, but he knew for certain that ‘love’ had nothing to do with how he felt for Megatron. Loathing was inaccurate perhaps, but certainly not ‘love’.

Ugh.

“It was a long war,” Starscream added. “And it’s–”

“–complicated,” Rodimus finished. “Yeah, you said that already.” He rolled his shoulders and ex-vented audibly. “Yeah, I guess I can get that. I mean, I admire Optimus a Pit of a lot but there are times…” He trailed off with a wince. “Yeah. I get complications.”

How easily admiration could turn to resentment, Starscream observed. Except in Rodimus’ case, the worse Optimus had ever done was chastise Rodimus, possibly belittle him.

Well.

Starscream sighed to himself.

Sometimes, belittling was all it took. Who was he to discount how much of an effect that could have? With Megatron, belittling and disrespect was only how it started.

They were a lot alike, Starscream realized as he looked at Rodimus. A lot alike and they could truly help one another. Rodimus could do good work here on Cybertron, help bridge the gap that still existed among the three factions, for all that everyone had cast aside their badges.

He was charming, eloquent. Attractive. Starscream wouldn’t mind keeping him.

Megatron had taken his quest. Surely, he needed another.

“Anyway. Guess I’d better go,” Rodimus said with a sigh. He rubbed a hand down his face. “If I’m too late, they might just leave without me. Probably assume I’d abandoned them or something.” He scowled.

The offer died on Starscream’s lips.

“Surely your second would order a delay,” Starscream said as Rodimus hopped down from the berth. He followed the primeling down, hissing as sore cables protested the motion.

Rodimus smiled, but it faltered at the edges. “I’d like to think that, but honestly, I’m not even sure.” The smile faded until it was gone. “I messed up a lot of things. I don’t even know if anyone will be happy I showed up.”

“Then why go?” The question slipped free before he could stop it, and Starscream had to resist the urge to smack himself. He swore that he’d sounded… disappointed.

Rodimus shrugged, though it was far from dismissive. “Because I’m many things, but not a quitter. Because it was my quest to start with. Because I’ll be damned if I leave a crew I’ve failed already in the hands of Megatron.” The last was spoken with a vehemence that Starscream was all too familiar with.

Yes, he and Rodimus were a lot alike indeed.

Starscream unfolded his arms and curved a hand under Rodimus’ chin, pulling the Autobot’s face closer to his. “You are not a failure,” he murmured as he pressed their lips together, giving Rodimus another one of the kisses he so craved.

Rodimus sighed into the kiss, his lips moving against Starscream’s, chaste though it was. “I could argue otherwise.”

Starscream’s free hand groped for Rodimus’, and curled his fingers around Rodimus’ wrist. “I won’t hear a word of it.” He pulled back from the kiss as he pulled Rodimus’ hand toward his face.

He’d plucked the right one apparently, as carved numbers came into view. One-hundred and one over eighty-nine. Starscream wondered if he were to hold an actual election, if his numbers would even be so close.

Mm. No matter.

He held Rodimus’ gaze and grazed his lips over the scored marks.

“You are a work in progress,” Starscream said, and pressed a kiss to the very center of Rodimus’ palm, right over the slash. “You are not a failure.”

Rodimus’ ventilations hitched. His fingers curled inward, stroking Starscream’s cheek before he pulled back, freeing Rodimus’ hand.

“Then neither are you,” Rodimus murmured as he turned his face into Starscream’s gentle grip, pressing a kiss to Starscream’s palm. Only then did he face Starscream again with a little laugh. “Primus help me, but I never thought I’d see the day where I’m actually encouraging you.”

Starscream barked a laugh and released Rodimus’ chin, only to poke the Autobot in the chestplate, right above his badge. “Maybe I’m worming my way into your spark then.”

Rodimus chuckled. “Maybe you are.” He snagged Starscream’s hand and tugged, pulling Starscream into an embrace.

He stiffened, not expecting the hug, until he realized it was not an assault, but a gesture of affection.

Well then.

Starscream relaxed as Rodimus nuzzled the side of his head. The Autobot dragged his lips along the curve of Starscream’s jaw before he pecked his mouth over Starscream’s.

“There. One last kiss for the road,” he said with a smirk.

Starscream snorted. “You are such an odd mech, baby Prime.”

“Right back at you, Screamer. I–” Rodimus broke off, a strange expression on his face.

He stepped back, releasing Starscream, and lifting a hand to his comm. “This is Rodimus. Go ahead.”

He told himself he did not miss the Autobot’s embrace. That Rodimus’ willing warmth was not something he wanted to keep.

Rodimus’ expression darkened further, until it skidded into resignation. “Acknowledged, Magnus. I’ll be there asap.” He dropped his hand and cycled a ventilation. “Well, that’s that.”

Starscream folded his arms over his chestplate. “Don’t expect a tearful goodbye from me.”

“I know better than that.” Rodimus chuckled softly before he gave Starscream a sloppy salute. “Well then, see you around, Starscream. If I survive long enough to make it back to Cybertron again.”

“You will,” Starscream said.

“At least one of us has faith in me.” Rodimus backed toward the door, hitting the panel with an elbow. “Good luck with, you know, all of that.” He made a vague gesture toward Cybertron at large.

Starscream tilted his head. “Given that you’re about to embark on a quest with my former leader, I think you’re the one that’ll need all the luck.”

Rodimus barked a laugh. “Isn’t that the truth though?” He lingered in the doorway, fingers tapping on the jamb as though he wanted to say something else, only to shake his head. Perhaps he thought better of it.

“Take care, Star,” Rodimus said.

And then he was gone before Starscream could say anything else, not that he had the words. Something had been too busy squeezing his spark to provide him a competent means of saying goodbye.

The door rattled shut behind the Autobot.

Starscream audibly ex-vented. He rubbed a hand down his face, his thoughts awhirl.

Primus help him.

He hadn’t wanted to say goodbye.

[Crown the Empire] Reign 18

Cyclonus walked into the command center, and straight into a maelstrom of anger, one strong enough that it smacked him like a physical blow.

This was the first time Cyclonus had ever seen Grimlock so angry. The ire in his leader’s energy field prickled at Cyclonus’ own, making his armor clamp down defensively. He half-expected to find they were about to return to war, and one hand went to the sword he no longer carried before he caught himself.

His leader’s voice poured into the command center, rattled into every nook and cranny, forcing those who listened to stand at attention, whether they were supposed to or not.

“This is unacceptable, Prime!” Grimlock growled, his hands firmly clamped on the railing around the command dais.

Grimlock glared at the main screen, upon which Optimus Prime could be seen. He was seated behind a desk, perhaps in his office, his hands folded in front of him. The Autobot Leader looked far healthier than the last time Cyclonus had seen him. Clearly, that week of rest and recovery had done him a fair bit of good.

Or perhaps it was Soundwave’s tender care. Cyclonus had been hearing some interesting rumors, courtesy of Tailgate, who somehow managed to know everything despite being a maintenance bot and former Neutral.

Optimus audibly cycled a ventilation. “You agreed to this, Grimlock. You signed the petition.” His tone was steady, unbothered. At least on the outside.

Cyclonus looked closer, however, and saw the tiniest of tremors in Optimus’ fingers.

“To have him arrested,” Grimlock snarled. His armor fluffed out aggressively. “To have him pay for his actions. Not to see him give a speech of pretty lies and walk away a free mech.”

Oh.

Cyclonus understood immediately. This was about Metalhawk. The chatter was everywhere, mechs muttering about Metalhawk’s arrest, his trial, and his punishment. If one could even call it that.

On the outside, it looked as though Metalhawk had pretty much gotten away with murder. Except he hadn’t managed to succeed in assassinating anyone.

“He has been stripped of his rank, and forced to publicly acknowledge the treaty,” Optimus replied, sounding strained.

Cyclonus wondered how long they had been having this discussion. Though he also doubted discussion was a proper word. It looked as though Grimlock ranted while Optimus bore it with a patience he had always carried.

“That punishment was decided by trial, and fits within the parameters of what we have established are suitable actions to take,” Optimus countered.

“It is a farce.” The railing rattled beneath Lord Grimlock’s grip. “He tried to kill Starscream. I should have his helm as a trophy in my quarters!”

Optimus sighed, and one hand rubbed at his forehelm. “The key word in your statement is ‘tried.’ We cannot punish him for a murder that was prevented.”

“I see no difference,” Grimlock snapped. “This is not justice.” Beside him, Starscream was unusually silent, standing with thinned lips, and his arms crossed over his cockpit.

Cyclonus was actually surprised to see their commander present. Last he heard, Starscream was restricted to berth rest, and duty so light it didn’t count as duty at all.

“It is. Within the terms of a treaty that you signed,” the Prime insisted. “Ask any one of your officers if you do not believe me.”

Grimlock shoved back from the railing, leaving little impressions in the metal. “It is not a matter of trust, Prime,” he spat, and began to pace, back and forth in the small space, though his visor never left the screen. “He almost killed your third. Does that mean nothing to you?”

Optimus flinched, and looked more tired than before. The glow of good health seemed to fade away. He rubbed harder at his forehelm before lowering his hand.

“What would you have me do?” he asked, softer this time. “Exile him? Imprison him indefinitely? Execute him?” He shook his helm, his optics dimming. “You know why we cannot.”

Grimlock’s field seethed, filling the entire room, leaving no few of the remaining Decepticons to flinch. “Ever the politician, aren’t you, Optimus? Hiding behind your laws while the rest of us suffer.”

“That is not what is happening here, and you know it, Grimlock,” Optimus snapped, and then blanched as though realizing he’d been driven to an emotional response. He sat back in his chair, his shoulders slumped. “His punishment is the most we can within the boundaries of the treaty.”

“Then that treaty is useless,” Grimlock hissed.

A rush of silence swept through the command center. Cyclonus’ own hackles raised. He took a step forward. It was not his place to denounce his leader publicly, especially in front of the leader of another faction. But he was tempted.

He did not want to see another war, no matter how much he loathed Metalhawk.

Optimus stared into the camera, stared at Grimlock, his gaze going nowhere else. He cycled a ventilation, his optics dimming to pale pools of blue.

“Do you wish to break the treaty?” he asked. It was so quiet Cyclonus was surprised the microphone even picked up his voice.

Grimlock stopped pacing. “What?”

Optimus leaned forward and steepled his fingers. His tone remained calm and soft, though again, his fingers trembled. “You may demand a re-trial. You may demand compensation. Anything else is beyond the reach of the treaty. So I ask you again, Lord Grimlock, do you wish to break the treaty and return us to war?”

Silence.

Cyclonus held his ventilations. Both of them had a point. Having seen the treaty himself, he knew how Optimus’ hands were tied. But he also knew that Metalhawk was a disease, an infection, a symptom of what caused the war, and mechs like Metalhawk needed to be eradicated.

But then… what would exiling or executing Metalhawk solve? What would it prove? Nothing save that the Decepticons were as violent and unforgiving as the Neutrals assumed them to be.

“No,” Starscream said finally. “We do not.”

Grimlock’s gaze whipped toward his second. He hissed a wordless admonition. But Starscream did not flinch.

Instead, he stepped forward, meeting Optimus Prime’s gaze directly. “It was my spark he threatened,” Starscream continued, his wings arched and still. “Let him lose the one thing he values. Let him fade into nothing. That is enough for me.” He smirked. “And be sure he knows it was me who offered him mercy.”

Optimus inclined his helm, gaze shifting to their leader. “Lord Grimlock?”

“I will not discard the treaty,” Grimlock gritted out, his arms folding over his chestplate. “And it would be better to end this call before I change my mind.”

Optimus leaned back once more, a small sigh escaping his vents. “I understand. If you wish, we can speak again later.”

“Don’t wait for my ping.” Grimlock tilted his helm toward the Decepticon on his left, signaling him to cut the feed.

Optimus’ face vanished, replaced with a split-screen image of multiple locations around Iacon – notably those where paroled Decepticons were doing their duties.

“You do realize that if you had discarded the treaty and opted for war, you would have given Metalhawk exactly what he wanted,” Cyclonus pointed out, the first to dare break the silence as even Starscream had not said anything.

Though he was sure Starscream only bided his time. There was a calculated look on their Air Commander’s face, and he gave Grimlock a shrewd glance.

Lord Grimlock turned to face him, his visor stormy. “I am aware of that,” he said testily. “That does not mean I have to like it, however.”

“The treaty is not a failure,” Starscream added, shifting to lean back against the console, his frame language speaking of relaxation, but not the tight clamp of his armor. “The same terms that protect me from facing prosecution for my actions during the war, are the very same reason we cannot seek anything worse for Metalhawk.”

Grimlock gave him a harsh look. “I know that as well. I am not stupid, Starscream. I understand the terms of the contract.”

“Then act like you do,” Starscream retorted, just short of a snap. His wings twitched. “Don’t throw a tantrum on the command bridge because Optimus did everything he could do within the bounds of an agreement we all made.”

Silence.

Cyclonus worked his intake, his gaze shifting to all of the Decepticons in the command center who were suddenly not paying a bit of attention to the interplay between their leaders. They were all working very hard, gazes focused on their consoles, but some of them, Cyclonus saw, looked as though they were ready to bolt.

How many of them had lived under the rule of Megatron and Starscream? How many of them had sat through arguments that turned to violence in the space of a sparkbeat? How many times had they turned off their audials so they didn’t have to hear the sounds of metal against metal, or refused to turn so they wouldn’t have to see it? How many of them despaired that the cycle was about to repeat itself?

“It is not a tantrum,” Grimlock finally gritted out, though some of the frenetic whirl of fury seeped out of his field. “It was a statement. We agreed to peace, and we’ll defend it, but we’ll not let ourselves be bullied until we end up back where we started.”

“We.” Starscream echoed the word as though tasting it. “Have you assimilated that much? Truly become one of us, have you?” His gaze dropped pointedly to Grimlock’s chestplate, the new brand affixed on it.

Primus. If Cyclonus hadn’t known that they were lovers, he wouldn’t have believed it.

Grimlock tilted his chin. “I may not have begun a Decepticon, but I’ve had my fair share of discrimination. I made an oath when I took this throne, and I intend to keep it.”

One wing twitched and then another. Starscream inclined his helm. “Fair enough.” He paused, looking around the command center, his gaze briefly passing over Cyclonus. “For now, I believe your shift is over, is it not, Cyclonus?”

Cyclonus stepped forward now that he’d been acknowledged. “It is,” he said, capturing Grimlock’s attention in that moment. “There is also the matter of Acid Storm.”

Starscream cycled his optics and pushed to his pedes. “What of him?”

“Per the terms of Metalhawk’s punishment, he was surrendered to us,” Cyclonus answered. He felt, in that moment, the tension creeping out of the room as the surrounding Decepticons relaxed. “He is in the brig as we speak.”

“Then the treaty was not so useless after all,” Grimlock said, something of triumph gleaming in his visor. He tossed a glance to Starscream. “Should we have a talk with him?”

Cyclonus stepped up between them, logging into the command console and registering himself as on-duty. “Sunstorm is there now, but otherwise, he’s not going anywhere.”

“Good to know.” Starscream pushed off the console, the picture of ease. “Thank you, Cyclonus. Let us know if you need anything?”

“Will do.”

He pretended not to watch as his two leaders left the room, though his exterior sensors were trained on them. He suspected there would be another discussion, beyond the optics and audials of the rank and file. Cyclonus had no wish to be a spy on that wall.

Still.

Perhaps the cycle had been broken after all.

~

“You are still angry,” Starscream said, quietly, as they walked down the hall, heading for the brig. Fatigue tugged at him, but he refused to remain confined to his habsuite.

He was mobile. He could do datawork. He could oversee. He simply couldn’t do any of the heavy lifting. Which was fine. Grimlock hovered over his shoulder so much that he could do anything heavy.

Grimlock rumbled at him, his gaze focused on the corridor ahead of them. Yet, he didn’t seem to notice the soldiers that scurried out of their path. Starscream wouldn’t call it fear in their fields, but it was a near thing.

Megatron had often taken his anger out on the nearest soldier, whether that soldier had been the one to cause his fury or not. Decepticons had long ago learned to be wary of the anger belonging to any leader.

“Not at you,” Grimlock replied, terse.

Starscream folded his arms over his cockpit. “You owe Optimus an apology.”

Grimlock slammed to a halt and whirled to face him, looming without trying. Starscream would be lying if he said he didn’t flinch. That for a moment, his spark rippled with unease. All he saw was a shadow, a darkness, falling over him, and his first instinct was to drop to his knees and beg. He didn’t even know what he’d done, but the words were there, on the tip of his glossa.

Until he remembered this was Grimlock, and not Megatron, and Grimlock had never hurt him.

Then again….

Megatron had never hurt him up until a certain point.

“For what?” Grimlock demanded.

Starscream held his ground, staring up at his leader, and his lover. He had not let Megatron cow him, at least not until the end. He would not let Grimlock bully him either. He could still walk away.

“You are lucky that argument was over a vid-call and not in person. Think for a moment how that would have been from Optimus’ point of view.”

Or mine, he almost added, but held back at the last moment.

A large mech. A dangerous mech. Growling and fierce. Decepticon brand so bright on the chestplate. Angry and determined. Unwilling to take ‘no’ for an answer. Threatening violence and retribution.

Grimlock ex-vented harshly. He leaned back. “I am not Megatron,” he said, proving that he was no idiot.

He’d connected the dots quickly enough.

“I know that.” Starscream gave him a sidelong look. “Optimus knows that. But there are moments where it is easy to forget.”

For himself, who had suffered for millennia. And for Optimus, who had spent weeks in Megatron’s control, reduced to nothing but a toy for Megatron’s pleasure.

Grimlock’s shoulders slumped. He reached up and rubbed at his forehelm, above his visor. “You’re right.”

“I know I am.” Starscream glanced around them, saw they were alone, and stepped forward, grabbing Grimlock’s free hand. He gave it a squeeze. “It is nothing a private apology won’t fix.”

Grimlock squeezed his hand in return. “I will contact him later.” He peered down at Starscream. “Do I ever frighten you?”

“No.” Starscream shook his helm. Little white lies never hurt anyone. “At least, not on purpose. There are some things that take time. It’s not your fault.”

“Perhaps. But I don’t intend to make it worse.” Grimlock tugged Starscream into a brief embrace before releasing him. “At least Acid Storm’s punishment is something I do have a say in.”

Starscream nodded and moved past Grimlock, taking the lead as they continued toward the brig. “Yes, but I’d suggest holding judgment until we hear his motives. Perhaps it is all a misunderstanding.”

“You don’t accidentally pass someone a deadly virus, Starscream.”

His reply was a non-committal noise. He didn’t want to pass judgment on Acid Storm until he’d learned all the facts. Seekers were rare as it was, and Starscream did not want to lose another. Nor did he want to appear a bloodthirsty leader bent on vengeance.

Vengeance, after all, was what had taken their war so far.

When they arrived, Scourge was on duty. He nodded a greeting to them. “I suspect you’re here for Acid Storm?” he asked.

Starscream cycled a ventilation, bracing himself. There was a niggle in his tank, one he didn’t want to name anxiety, but perhaps that is what it was. “Yes. Is Sunstorm with him?”

“Just got here. They’re in Interrogation Two. Want me to ping him?”

“No,” Grimlock said. “Let them finish. We’ll wait.”

“Yes, sir.” Scourge settled back behind the monitoring station, his optics drifting over the various displays. “Do you wish to see anyone else?”

“Just Acid Storm for now. Are any of the others kicking up a fuss?” Grimlock replied.

Starscream didn’t linger. He’d let Grimlock handle the minutiae. For now, he wanted to see what Acid Storm had to say when he thought only Sunstorm was listening.

He left them to their discussion of the remaining brigged Decepticons. Less than Starscream had hoped, but still too many mechs loyal to Megatron. A blind loyalty, he snorted. What was Megatron doing for them now?

Starscream found the appropriate room and peered in through the two-way mirror. Only Acid Storm and Sunstorm were within, the former shackled to the table. He looked in remarkable health, even polished to a gleaming shine. Apparently, he’d been doing very well for himself in Nova Cronum.

Starscream keyed his code into the surveillance system and activated the microphone. Perhaps not the most ethical thing to do, but he suspected Acid Storm would not talk to him where he might be willing to talk to his trinemate.

“Misfire is here,” Sunstorm was saying, his voice gentle. Starscream often found Sunstorm a cold mech, but here, his vocals were warm. Affectionate. “I’ve been courting him.”

Acid Storm snorted and shifted on his chair. “That idiot?” He shook his helm, disdain set into his features. “I’d rather have no trine then settle for whatever scrap your lord and master managed to dig out of the morass.”

“That’s unfair, Acid Storm.”

“A lot of things are,” Acid Storm gritted out, and fixed his former trinemate with a glare. “You may be willing to bow and pay lip service to that beast who leads us, but I’m not. He’s an Autobot in disguise.”

Sunstorm leaned forward, his wings flicking. From this position, Starscream could not see his face unfortunately.

“Perhaps we could use a little Autobot sentiment,” Sunstorm said. “It is better than Megatron sending us into the slaughter as though we are nothing but drones.”

“Which would not have happened if our Air Commander had protected us, as he was meant to do!” Acid Storm snapped.

Starscream’s spark clenched. He folded his arms, his gaze focused on Acid Storm, for this here, was the spark of the matter. This much he knew. It was not about Megatron or Grimlock. It was personal.

“It is not that simple,” Sunstorm said, quietly.

“It is,” Acid Storm insisted, and his hands clenched into fists. “It always has been. I do not understand how you can follow him when he has done nothing but lead us into one disaster after another!”

Sunstorm leaned forward, his palms flat on the table. “I follow him because I believe that despite it all, he has always wanted what was best for us.”

“Then you are a fool.” Acid Storm snorted, his face twisted with disgust. “Starscream cares for nothing but himself.”

“One might argue that you do the same, considering how you tried to murder him, and then fled rather than face the consequences of your actions,” Sunstorm retorted, and his voice was cold. Gone from it was the affection that lingered for his trinemate.

Acid Storm sneered. “I did what I thought was necessary for all of us. It was a sacrifice I was willing to make.”

“Yet, not enough of one to remain behind and fight for what you felt we deserved or needed. You could have been a voice for change, Acid Storm. You could have helped me.” Sunstorm shook his helm and leaned back, his voice dropping into something pained. “We could have done this together.”

“Not with Starscream in charge,” Acid Storm insisted, venom in his tone. “I don’t trust him. I never will. He turned on us when he made us bow to Megatron, and then he turned on Megatron, too. He’s turned on everyone who ever trusted him. Eventually, he’ll turn on you, too.”

Starscream worked his intake, unable to swallow over the lump in his intake. There was nothing but truth in Acid Storm’s words. He couldn’t hear whatever Sunstorm said in reply, not over the rush in his audials, the truth so blatant and terrible in front of him.

Starscream was no idiot, neither was he naive. He had known for quite some time that despite his efforts, few respected him and even fewer trusted him. He often wondered if he would drown under the weight of his failures, until he dragged himself back into the light, refusing to keep to the shadows where they placed him.

Still. It never became easier to hear the truth. He told himself it did not hurt. He was used to it. He still believed if he repeated himself often enough, the lie would become truth.

Movement from his peripheral vision alerted him to Grimlock’s presence. Starscream did not know how long he’d been standing there, but knowing his luck, probably long enough.

Starscream cycled a ventilation and hunched his shoulders. “Well,” he said as he muted the conversation. “He’s not wrong.”

Grimlock stepped closer, until their armor brushed. “He is. He’s a child who knows nothing of the sacrifices you’ve made.”

“Because I made it a point not to show them.” Starscream’s gaze remained on the two in the room, Acid Storm full of righteous fury. Sunstorm, wings tilted with disappointment and regret.

“And it doesn’t matter what I sacrificed, because he’s right. I led my Seekers to the slaughter, and I left them here to be Shockwave’s toys.”

Grimlock’s field buzzed against his, warm with comfort. “That was not your intention.”

“Do the humans not have a saying? The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” Starscream quoted, and shook his helm. “No. Acid Storm has every right to despise me, to wish me dead. I can’t blame him. I wouldn’t trust me either.”

“I trust you.”

He said it so easily. Of course he would. Grimlock had no idea.

Starscream gave him a long, sardonic look. “And you’re a fool for it.”

Grimlock turned toward him, one hand reaching toward Starscream’s face. He cupped it so gently, tilting Starscream up to look at him. There was nothing in his visor but determination.

“I trust you,” he repeated, slowly. Carefully. “Because you trust me. Because we are two mechs society has consistently told would be worth nothing. And yet, here we are, kings on a throne. Rebuilding our planet. Together.”

We. Us. Together.

Words Megatron never seemed to know.

Starscream worked his intake. He searched for words, but had none to offer in the face of that genuine honesty. Nothing he could say here in public. Nothing he dared yet admit.

The door to the interrogation room opened. Grimlock’s hand fell away from his face, and Starscream instantly mourned the loss of warmth. Yet they both turned to greet Sunstorm, who didn’t look surprised to see him.

“Did you come to interrogate him?” Sunstorm asked, his face carefully schooled of expression.

“The thought had crossed my mind,” Starscream admitted, finding his poise and draping it over himself. He gestured to the window. “However, judging by what little of that I caught, it won’t do any good.”

Sunstorm inclined his helm. “Yes. He despises you, Starscream. I do not think that is going to change.”

“I thought as much.”

Sunstorm’s gaze shifted to Grimlock. “What will you do with him, sir?” He moved toward the window, looking in at his former trinemate. “An assassination attempt on Megatron would have been met with public execution.”

“I am not Megatron,” Grimlock rumbled. “And as my second reminds me, my spark was not the one threatened.”

Starscream shook his helm. “I cannot deny that Acid Storm’s distaste for me is justified. More than that, I know that there are those who share his opinion. They just haven’t spoken up.”

“That doesn’t answer my question,” Sunstorm said.

Starscream glanced into the room. Acid Storm stared boldly at the window, as though he knew they stood there, debating his fate.

“Was he happy in Nova Cronum?” Starscream asked.

“You cannot be serious,” Grimlock growled.

Sunstorm sighed and scrubbed a hand down his face. “He was courting two Neutral Seekers. He would have a trine if you sent him there.”

“You seek to reward him?” Grimlock demanded.

“No.” Starscream shook his helm. “A reward would have been to surrender my title to Acid Storm and exile myself. That would have been a victory to Acid Storm.”

“You are within your rights to execute him,” Sunstorm pointed out, though it must have pained him to do so. “If he had challenged you directly, it would be a different story.”

Starscream knew all this. Internally, he raged and boiled. There was a part of him that wanted nothing more than to storm into that room and put two blaster shots into Acid Storm. Helm and spark.

He would take great satisfaction in watching Acid Storm turn grey. It would certainly send a strong message to his opponents. Starscream would not take attempts on his life lightly. He was their Air Commander for a reason.

If they were still at war, Starscream might not have even hesitated.

Times were different now. They labored under peace. He needed his Seekers. He needed their loyalty. He needed to be a different Starscream than the one who had bowed and scraped to Megatron. He needed to change, and he couldn’t do that if he kept falling back into the same old patterns.

“Let him stew for now,” Starscream said. Because when he looked through that mirror, at a mech bitter and afraid, he felt only pity. “Let him believe all kinds of ill things about me. Let him think he is going to die.”

“And then?”

Starscream cycled a ventilation. “And then send him back to Nova Cronum. He can be the Neutrals’ mess. Put a No Travel glyph on his designation. He can never come back.”

“It is to be exile then,” Sunstorm said, his tone perfectly neutral.

“Exile or execution,” Starscream said. “I am not about to let him wander freely around Iacon holding such hatred in his spark. And it is not logical to keep him locked up for long. It is tantamount to torture.”

Grimlock shifted his weight. “That would be fair to you?”

Starscream inclined his helm. “It is the best possible solution to be found right now. Anything else might alienate the rest of the Seekers toward my leadership.”

“You have a point.” Sunstorm’s wings flicked, first one and then the other. “Thank you, Starscream. He’s a fool and an idiot besides, but he was once my trinemate. I flew beside him for centuries.”

Starscream tilted his helm in a nod. “There is that factor to consider as well. Are you truly courting Misfire?”

“Yes. I had hoped to do so with Acid Storm at my side, but clearly that avenue is lost to me.” Sunstorm folded his arms over his chestplate. “If Misfire agrees, then we’ll have to continue the search for a third together.”

“I wish you luck,” Starscream said. “Hopefully, our people will begin responding to the beacons and return. Surely, there is someone for you out there.”

“One can only hope.” Sunstorm dipped his helm toward Grimlock. “Sir. If you’ll both excuse me, I am going to go share this information with those who are willing to listen.”

“Dismissed,” Grimlock replied.

They watched Sunstorm go, resignation the strongest of emotions in the yellow Seeker’s field. But he was a strong Seeker, strong enough to succeed Starscream some day. Sunstorm would be fine.

As for Acid Storm… Starscream glanced in at the querulous Seeker once more, but Acid Storm’s expression had not changed. He still looked as if he wished he could shoot lasers from his optics.

They would leave him alone for now then.

“That’s twice today you’ve offered someone mercy,” Grimlock commented.

Starscream straightened his shoulders and fell in step beside his Intended. “Maybe some of the Autobot in you rubbed off on me.”

Grimlock barked a laugh. “Must’ve been all of it. I never had much to begin with.”

“Perhaps.” Starscream’s lips twitched. “You’re off shift now, and so am I. What say you we return to my habsuite.” He paused and amended it with, “Our habsuite.”

“Ours, hm?” Grimlock took Starscream’s nearest hand and gave it a squeeze. “I like the sound of that. Though of course–”

Starscream held up a hand. “There will be days you bunk with your brothers, yes, I know. Just as there will be days I will share a berth with Skywarp and Thundercracker, though platonically.”

“Right.” Grimlock pulled his hand up and pressed Starscream’s knuckles to his mouthplate, the warmth of his frame tangible through it. “Then shall we return to our suite?”

Starscream worked his intake, warmth filtering through his spark. “Yes.”

~

Knock Out stood up from his chair and stretched his arms over his helm, trying to ignore the ache in his backstrut and in his helm. He’d not been built for crouching over a datapad, trying to cram as much information into his processor as possible. But if Breakdown wanted to learn, Knock Out intended to teach him. And Knock Out couldn’t teach if he didn’t know himself.

Thus the refresher course. Thus the wobble in his optics. Thus the desperate need for energon, coolant, and – Knock Out looked down at himself, at the drab state of his armor – and definitely a wash and polish.

Perhaps not even in that order. There was a scratch on his right thigh, and he could not, for the spark of him, remember how it had gotten there. It was unacceptable.

Knock Out circled around his desk in an office that could use more than a little organizing, and palmed open his door, fighting off a wave of fatigue. As the door opened, two containers full of liquid appeared in front of optics: one blue, one pink.

He blinked.

One was coolant, one was energon. Little flakes of his favorite flavor bobbed in the energon. The coolant blend was one specifically for racing frames.

He blinked again.

Each container was held aloft by a different hand. Breakdown held the energon; Snarl held the coolant.

“Him Knock Out hiding in office forever,” Snarl said, urging the coolant closer to him, looming without trying as he was both taller and heavier than both grounders.

“You work too hard,” Breakdown agreed with a smile, nudging the energon closer as well.

Knock Out felt compelled to take both, too flummoxed to do otherwise. “You are off shift,” he informed Snarl. “And you are supposed to be scrubbing the surgery ward,” he said to Breakdown.

“Don’t have shifts,” Snarl retorted.

“I finished already,” Breakdown said.

“Well then, why are you here?” Knock Out asked, the scent of both fluids calling to him. He didn’t know which he wanted to indulge in first, and had to admit, he was touched that both were looking out for him.

The two mechs exchanged glances, which Knock Out was not sure he appreciated. It seemed conspiratorial. Had they been making friends when he wasn’t looking?

“You,” they answered, in tandem.

Knock Out’s mouth opened and then shut. He honestly wasn’t sure what he was supposed to say to that. “You need tasks?” he asked. “Cause I can certainly find some. There’s a whole storage bin full of broken tech, and plenty of scavenged parts to scrub.”

“Or we could help you,” Breakdown suggested instead. “I’m pretty handy with a buffer.”

“Me Snarl have good wax,” the Dinobot added, digging something out of his subspace and showing it to Knock Out. It was indeed a tin of wax, high quality stuff no less.

Knock Out arched an orbital ridge. “And you are both offering to… assist me?”

They nodded in unison. How peculiar. Still, the offer of two sets of hands was one Knock Out would not take lightly. Many hands made for light work, after all, and there were spots on his back he still could not reach properly.

“Very well,” Knock Out said. “When my shift is over, I will accept your offer. Until then…” He made shooing motions with his occupied hands. “Breakdown, give me an inventory of the supplies in the operating theater. Snarl, fix something.”

“Whatever you say, sir,” Breakdown said with a beaming smile.

“Me Snarl fix broken capacitor,” Snarl added with a toothy grin.

The two idiots shared another glance, bumped fists, and turned to amble off. Leaving Knock Out to blink at their afts, still holding a container of energon in one hand and a flagon of coolant in the other.

Odd. Just plain odd.

He shook his helm and returned to his office. The sooner he got his work done, the sooner he could jet out the door when Spinister showed up for a shift he had assured Knock Out he could cover. After which Knock Out would allow himself to be pampered in the washracks.

All in all, not too bad of an afternoon.

~

“You know what this place needs?” Brawl asked as he leaned back in the chair, wriggling his aft to make himself comfortable.

Why did the Dinobots have all the best slag? Where did it all come from? And why wasn’t Swin acquiring this stuff for the Combaticons? He was seriously slacking in his acquiring duties.

“No? What?” Slag asked as he reached across the table between them so that they could tap their energon cubes together.

Weird Earth custom. Brawl had grown to like it. Sometimes, it was fun to slam their cubes together as hard as they could to see if they would break. Made a mess. Onslaught bitched. Swoop squawked at them. Fun times.

“A bar.” Brawl settled back into the chair and fished around in the cushion for the remote he knew was stashed here. Unless Slag had it. “Y’know. A good selection of engex. Some tunes. A beat to dance to maybe. A place to hang out. That kind of thing.”

“Ohhhh.” Slag nodded slowly and pulled out the remote, giving Brawl a toothy grin.

Damn it. He who had the remote picked the movie. It was the rule they had both decided on. Oh well, at least Slag had good taste. Well, when he wasn’t in a random romantic mood.

“That nice. Good idea,” Slag said, clicking the vidscreen on.

Brawl pulled out his auto-injector and plunked it into the cube. He envied Slag his mouth in that moment. He bet this stuff tasted good. This was supposed to be some quality high grade. Not the best, but better than the swill Astrotrain used to brew in the Victory’s basement.

“Yep. Maybe I can poke Swin.” He shrugged, rattling his treads. “See if he can sponsor someone to get one going.”

Slag clicked through the options and settled on an action movie from Earth – something with lots of explosion and death and a rocking soundtrack. Good choice.

“It good plan,” Slag said, slurping down more of his energon.

“Yup.” Brawl wriggled his aft, propped one pede on the table and made himself comfortable. “Sure is. Wanna spar later?”

Slag snorted a laugh. “So you Brawl lose again?”

“Hey, I’ve won at least half the time!”

“Lost other half.” Slag sounded smug as he gave Brawl another one of those toothy grins. “Me Slag kick you Brawl’s aft after movie.”

Brawl grumbled subvocally. “We’ll see about that.”

Slag’s grin only widened

~

Grimlock knew, from the moment Starscream climbed into his lap, that recharge was not what his Intended had in mind. Which was fortunate, because Grimlock didn’t want to recharge either. He had things he wanted to say, and now was as good a time as any to say them.

“Mm, that’s better,” Starscream said, his thighs bracketing Grimlock’s waist, his aft nestled quite firmly on Grimlock’s pelvis, directly above his quickly heating panel.

“Is it now?” Amusement leeched into Grimlock’s tone. He cupped Starscream’s aft with one hand, and let the other curve around his Intended’s waist. He tugged Starscream even closer. “I’m still not sure this is medically advisable.”

“Pah. I’m fine.” Starscream’s glossa flicked over his lips. “A little pleasure won’t hurt me.”

Grimlock rolled his hips, grinding his panel against Starscream’s aft. “There’s nothing little about this.”

The Seeker burst into laughter. “I wasn’t referring to the size of your equipment.” He draped his arms over Grimlock’s shoulders. “Though I do appreciate your girth.”

“I appreciate your appreciation.” Grimlock’s engine rumbled. He pressed his forehelm to Starscream’s, loosing his field so that it wrapped around them both. “But first, can we talk?”

Starscream’s field chilled. He leaned back, his optics searching Grimlock’s visor. “That is never a good sign,” he said, his armor clamping tight. “Is this the part where we continue to argue over my decision not to rain fire and brimstone on Metalhawk and Acid Storm?”

Grimlock shook his helm, projecting as much calm and affection into his field as he possibly could. “No. It has nothing to do with either of those decisions. I get that they were the better choices.”

“Good.” Starscream gave him a wary glance, his field drawing even further inward. “Then it must be about us.”

“It is.”

Starscream frowned, his hands sliding away from where they’d joined behind Grimlock’s neck to rest on his shoulders. “Do I want distance for this?”

“No, not at all.” He hated the quiver in Starscream’s field. It made him loathe Megatron all over again. “In fact, I’d prefer as much closeness as possible.”

Grimlock tugged him closer, until their chestplates pressed together, and he could feel the distant thrum of Starscream’s spark. The hand curved around Starscream’s waist moved until it cupped the back of Starscream’s helm. He pressed their forehelms together so Starscream could look nowhere but into his visor.

“I adore you,” Grimlock said.

Starscream worked his intake. “I gathered as much,” he said dryly, some of the tension sifting out of his field, though his armor remained clamped. “It does, however, sound like there is a ‘but’ somewhere in there.”

“Stop putting words into my mouth,” Grimlock said. “Just listen to what I’m trying to say before you make any negative assumptions.”

Starscream’s optics briefly shuttered. He cycled a ventilation, in and out. “All right,” he said, and his optics unshuttered.

Grimlock performed a systems check and brushed his thumb over Starscream’s cheek. “I adore you,” he repeated, because it was the truth. “Right now we are courting, and if that’s all there ever is to it, I will be content. But I want you to know, if you’ll let me, I’ll have you as my conjunx someday.”

Starscream’s optics widened. His mouth opened, but no words emerged. His hands twitched where they rested on Grimlock’s shoulders.

“How can you know that?” he finally asked. “How can you possibly know that. You barely know me.”

“I know enough. I know that there’s nothing in your spark that will surprise me.” He leaned back so that he could look into Starscream’s optics, letting his fingers stroke around Starscream’s face. “It doesn’t have to be now. It doesn’t have to be soon. It doesn’t have to be ever. I’m willing to wait until you’re ready.”

Starscream’s helm tilted into his hold. “That could be a very long time, Grimlock. I’m not… well, I’m pretty damaged.”

“Aren’t we all.” Grimlock pressed his mouthplate to Starscream’s forehelm, projecting as much affection into his field as he could. “I want you as you are, not as you will be. I noticed you before you changed, Star. I noticed you a long time ago.”

Starscream’s hands slid down, curving around Grimlock’s torso as he leaned forward, tucking his helm under Grimlock’s jaw. “The things you say,” he murmured, but given the shiver of warmth in his field, it was not borne of anger.

“I mean them.”

“I think I’m starting to believe that you do.” Starscream pressed close, their chestplates in contact, until Grimlock could count each of his sparkpulses. “If you’re willing to wait, then I’m willing to see where we go.”

Grimlock’s hand slid back around Starscream’s frame, gently stroking beneath his wing hinges. “I’m willing.”

“Good.” Starscream shifted, rising up on his knees to press a brief kiss to Grimlock’s mouthplate, his optics dark with need. “Until then…” He paused to roll his hips, grinding his panel against Grimlock’s armor. “I believe you interrupted me earlier.”

Grimlock chuckled. “Indeed I did.” The hand cupping Starscream’s aft slid around to cup Starscream’s array, rubbing gently over his protective panel. “Any requests, my Intended?”

“Make me scream,” Starscream purred.

“Mmm.” Grimlock’s engine rumbled as Starscream’s field finally slid against his, buzzing and hot. “Gladly.”

He held Starscream tightly and bore him down to the berth, his hands roaming wherever they could reach. It may indeed be centuries before he and Starscream would ever officially be mates, but Grimlock was willing to wait. He had all he ever wanted here and now.

A little waiting never hurt anyone.

[Crown the Empire] Reign 17

To say that he’d practically danced out of the command center would be an absolute lie, and Grimlock would defend himself until the day his spark grayed. Yes, he’d been eager to get off-shift and see what ruin Starscream and Ratchet had left in his absence. No, he hadn’t pranced out of the command center.

He’d ignored the smirk in Krok’s optics, and made his escape. He headed straight for Starscream’s habsuite, simultaneously worried and elated. When he arrived, it was ominously silent behind the door, yet he let himself inside anyway.

The main lights were dimmed, only bright enough to highlight the furniture. Biolights on the futon indicated the presence of a single mech, as did the dim illumination of a lighted datapad.

Grimlock gave a long, pointed look around him. “Where is everyone?” He’d expected chaos. Where was the noise?

Ratchet rose from the futon, his datapad vanishing into subspace as he stretched his arms over his helm. “Your Intended is recharging as he should be. Your brothers are in Dinobot Central – cute name by the way – with Wheeljack. I intend to join them.”

Grimlock ignored the disappointment swamping his spark. He’d looked forward to being around everyone he considered his family.

“Oh, I see.” He hoped he didn’t sound as disappointed as he felt. “How is Starscream?”

Ratchet waved a dismissing hand. “Snappish. Irritated. Cutting. In other words, he’s absolutely fine.”

Well, at least they hadn’t killed each other.

Grimlock inclined his helm.”Thank you for looking after him.”

“It’s what I do.” Ratchet smiled softly. “He still needs to be on berth rest. So he’s in no condition to–”

“Ratchet, I do have some restraint,” Grimlock said, cutting off his creator before he could finish that sentence and embarrass the both of them. “I’ll check on him and then crash on the futon.”

Ratchet folded his arms and grinned. “You had better. Don’t think I won’t come back in here and drag you out by your audials, if I have to. I’ve interrupted worse.”

Could this conversation get any worse?

Grimlock rubbed at his forehelm. “Isn’t it time for you to recharge? Old mechs need more of it after all.”

Ratchet whapped the back of his hand against Grimlock’s shoulder. “Don’t you start.” His hand came back, gently this time, resting on the crook of Grimlock’s arm. “Swoop wanted to talk to you, so come see him when you online.”

“Yes, Mama.”

“Don’t you start that either.” Ratchet grinned at him, though it was lopsided. He gave Grimlock’s arm a squeeze. “I’m proud of you, kid. Just thought you should know.”

Grimlock turned, leaned down, and briefly pressed his forehelm to Ratchet’s chevron. “I know. Now get out of here. You know Wheeljack doesn’t recharge well if you’re not next to him.”

“He is a bit of a cuddler.” Ratchet pulled free, his field nudging Grimlock’s with affection. “Recharge well, kid.”

“You, too.”

Ratchet left, and Grimlock was free to make his way back to Starscream’s berthroom as quietly as he was capable. He couldn’t help but lumber unfortunately, though he did his best not to stomp around.

The door to Starscream’s berth was open, surprisingly, but inside it was dim, with nothing but muted running lights and Starscream’s bio lights. Starscream lay on his front, helm turned away from the door, but as Grimlock stood in the doorway, he stirred.

“About time you got here,” he said, voice wreathed in static, as though he’d only been dozing rather than recharging. “I had to entertain that mess you call a family for hours.”

Grimlock chuckled and stepped further inside, picking his way across the floor. “I’m sure you provided ample entertainment.” He sat on the edge of the berth, angling his frame toward Starscream, even as the Seeker, pushed himself upright, one hand rubbing over his optics.

“Mmm.” Starscream made a noncommittal noise. “Anything important happen?”

“You’re not on duty for another week, Star.”

Wings flicked, first one and then the other. “Your point?”

Grimlock shifted, lifting one hand to curl around the edge of a twitching wing. “No, nothing important happened. Unless you count that Optimus asked me to approve a petition to arrest Metalhawk.”

“It’s about time.” Starscream’s wing pushed into his touch, letting his fingers slide along the edge. His field pulsed fatigue and warmth both, his optics dimming. “Shut the door and come to berth. Your creator insists I need more rest, and I actually believe him.”

Grimlock snorted a laugh and pushed to his pedes. He closed the door and locked it – Starscream could never sleep with a door open – and returned to the berth.

“I was told to leave you in peace,” he said as he eased onto the berth, unsurprised when Starscream all but clambered on top of him, curling against chest. He rested one arm around the Seeker, spark throbbing at the feel of static bandages and temp plating.

“Recharging with me is peaceful,” Starscream retorted. His engine thrummed softly, vibrating against Grimlock’s armor. “I didn’t ask you to ‘face me, Mama’s boy.”

Grimlock chuckled. “I know.” He stroked a hand down Starscream’s back, careful to avoid the sensitive wing hinges. “How are you feeling?”

Starscream made a non-committal noise, his frame relaxing as he rested his helm on Grimlock’s chestplate. “I’ll be better once I can get back to work. Inaction is torture.”

It was Grimlock’s turn to hum noncommittally. He listened to the sound of Starscream’s vents, not labored, but even and calming. He tracked the steady pulse of Starscream’s spark. He felt the even hum of Starscream’s engine. Wings ceased flicking, resting against Starscream’s back.

Grimlock’s hand stroked down Starscream’s back once more, and then rested on the base of it. He offlined his visor and listened to his Intended cycle back toward recharge. He would guard Starscream’s sleep before he would allow himself his own.

~

Grimlock onlined to an annoying ping in his comm suite, one that refused to be ignored. He groaned and tried to roll over, but a warm weight on his chest prevented him from doing so.

He onlined his visor, registered that the ping came from Cyclonus, and looked down the length of his frame. Starscream lay sprawled on top of him, deep in recharge, his face relaxed and his wings calm. Grimlock had an arm over Starscream, draped loosely across his waist.

Primus, but he was beautiful.

Grimlock shifted Cyclonus’ ping to a temporary queue, telling him to wait a moment, and stroked his hand down Starscream’s back.

“Star.”

“Nnn.” Starscream stirred, but just barely. He nuzzled Grimlock’s chestplate, helm turning from one side to the other.

Grimlock’s spark squeezed a little tighter. “Star, wake up. I need to get up.”

Starscream’s fingers twitched, talons emerging to lock into his seams. “Can’t. Recharging,” he said, more lucid this time.

“Yes, but I have to work.”

“Ugh.” Starscream lifted his helm, optics dim as he peered at Grimlock. “You owe me more time than this.”

Grimlock gently stroked his backstrut. “Duty calls, Star.”

His Intended heaved a great sigh and disengaged his claws, sliding off of Grimlock’s frame and onto the berth, as Grimlock shifted to make room for him. It took all of his self-control to force himself off the berth and away from the warm weight that was Starscream. If he had a choice, he’d linger here all day.

“What’s on the docket today?” Starscream asked as he wriggled about to make himself comfortable.

Grimlock almost forgot to answer the question, as he was paying too much attention to Starscream’s aft. “Ratchet said Swoop wanted to tell me something,” he said, and tapped his comm. “And I’ve Cyclonus pinging me.”

Starscream laughed into pillow. “If Swoop’s not in Dinobot Central, then he’s with my trinemates,” he said.

“What? Why?”

Starscream shrugged, but it was far from dismissive. “They fly together a lot.”

“Do they.” It wasn’t a question. Grimlock suspected there was more going on here than he knew. However, he’d find out soon enough.

He leaned forward and brushed the back of his hand over Starscream’s visible cheek. “Rest well. I’ll be back tonight.”

Starscrea’s optics had already shuttered. “You’d better,” he murmured, the very picture of relaxation.

Every inch of Grimlock wanted to stay. He forced himself to spin on a heelstrut and head for the door. He had responsibilities. He was leader. He could not cuddle his Intended for the remainder of the day.

In the hallway, Grimlock finally answered Cyclonus’ ping, if only to distract himself from leaving Starscream behind. “Yes? What is it?”

“Shockwave wants an audience,” his third in command replied, somehow managing not to sound irritated at the wait. “His repeated requests have become bothersome.”

Grimlock had purposefully put Shockwave off as long as possible. He didn’t want to give in to any of the scientist’s demands, but he did have some honor. Shockwave did deserve some leniency for saving Starscream’s life. He might even prove to be of use in the future. He only had to be tempered. Never freed, but definitely watched.

“I’ll speak with him now,” Grimlock replied, adjusting course for the brig instead. “Is there anything else?”

“Nothing that can’t wait.”

“Understood. Thank you, Cyclonus.”

“Yes, sir.”

The comm went silent.

Less than ten minutes later, Grimlock strode into the brig, nodding a greeting to Cyclonus’ third-in-command, a hulking rotary by the name of Blackout. One who didn’t look at all the worse for wear given that Starscream had bludgeoned him to unconsciousness, stole his blaster, and escaped the medbay.

Grimlock sincerely hoped Blackout wasn’t the sort to hold a grudge. He still intended to encourage Starscream to apologize as soon as possible.

“Shockwave’s already in Interrogation One, sir,” Blackout rumbled at him, looking down at Grimlock with four optics that blinked in succession. “Cyclonus called ahead.”

“Thank you, Blackout,” Grimlock replied. He remained steadily delighted that he’d made an excellent choice in picking Cyclonus as his third.

Grimlock paused at the window before entering the room, looking in on the purple scientist. Shockwave sat in a chair, neither of his arms shackled, though he remained unarmed. He stared forward, his single optic focused on the door. He did not fidget, or look around him.

As cold as ice, that one. Without an ounce of humility or humanity in him.

Time to get this over with.

Grimlock keyed his code into the panel and stepped into the room. The door slid shut behind him, locking with a definitive click. Not that he expected Shockwave to try and escape.

“Grimlock.” Shockwave tilted his helm in greeting. “How kind of you to finally respond to my numerous requests.”

“I’ve been busy.” He pulled out a chair, the legs screeching across the floor. “There are matters far more important than you.”

Shockwave made a vague gesture with the one hand. “As a matter of course,” he agreed, charitably. “However, there is the matter of a promise that was made. I wish to receive what I am owed. And as I am told you are a mech of your word, I do expect to receive it.”

Grimlock leaned against the table, threading his fingers together and bracing his elbows against the edge. “What do you want?”

“Freedom, but I know that will not be given to me without some caveats,” Shockwave said, his helm tilting by a fraction. “All I wish is to continue my research. I have no interest in politics, or leadership. The science is all that matters.”

“Caveats,” Grimlock repeated, and tried not to let his disdain for Shockwave show.

He might have failed. He didn’t much care.

“You will submit what you intend to research for approval,” Grimlock began. He’d put some thought into this, but not much. “You will be supervised at all times by someone who actually knows what you are trying to accomplish. All supply requests will go through your supervisor and me. You will not have free reign. You will bunk in the brig, and released at times determined by myself or my command team.”

Shockwave shifted in his chair. “You give me no leeway.”

“You deserve none,” Grimlock retorted coldly. “You saved Starscream’s spark, and for that I am grateful. But I’ve not forgotten what you did to Swoop or First Aid. And while I hold no love for the Twins, your treatment of them is reprehensible. I know there were others, Autobots who didn’t live long enough to see freedom.”

Shockwave’s optic brightened. “Sacrifices must be made for progress. It is universal law.”

Grimlock’s tanks churned. “Not anymore.” He narrowed his visor at Shockwave. “Those are my terms.”

“Who will be my supervisor?”

Grimlock barely kept himself from laughing. “That is a very good question. If you can find someone who is willing to do so, I must approve of them.”

Shockwave’s optic narrowed. His field flickered, the first sign of irritation. “You are making this unnecessarily difficult.”

“You are in the brig for a reason, Shockwave,” Grimlock retorted and leaned back in his chair, giving the scientist a hard stare. “I must do what is necessary to protect my Decepticons and the terms of the treaty. If you don’t like the terms, then you can stay in your cell.”

Shockwave ex-vented noisily. “How am I to find a capable supervisor?”

Grimlock rose to his pedes, bracing his hands on the table and leaning forward. “Draft requests. I’ll make sure that Cyclonus’ mechs deliver them to the proper recipients.” He doubted anyone would agree, but he’d let Shockwave try.

“Am I restricted to Decepticons?”

“If you believe an Autobot or a Neutral would be willing to take responsibility for you, you are more than welcome to try,” Grimlock replied.

“Very well.” Shockwave’s tone was tight, his armor even more so. “Then I accept the terms of my release. For now.”

Grimlock pushed off the table. “Good for you.” He turned around and strode to the door. “Blackout will be in to return you to your cell. Have a good evening, Shockwave.”

“And to you, Lord Grimlock.”

The door shut and locked behind him. Only then did Grimlock cycle a long ventilation, letting his field burst with disgust, his armor shivering. It took all he had not to leap across the table and rip out Shockwave’s spark.

Shockwave deserved no mercy. And yet, he would receive it. Because Grimlock was better than Shockwave ever could be.

Swoop was worth more than that.

And speaking of Swoop….

Grimlock spun on a heelstrut and started down the corridor. Time to find his youngest brother, he supposed. After he sent a quick comm to Cyclonus to inform him of Shockwave’s deal.

~

Skywarp was in heaven, or the closest thing to it at any rate. The only thing that could have made this better were if Thundercracker were fully repaired, or they were in mid-air, flying to their spark’s content.

Still, happiness abounded.

He was currently snuggled between his two lovers, Thundercracker at his left and Swoop at his right, both of them radiating heat that kept Skywarp at a soothing, pleasant temperature. Thundercracker was hotter, given that his frame still worked to self-repair, but Swoop cuddled closer.

Yep. Perfect.

“I can hear you grinning, you know,” Thundercracker murmured without unshuttering an optic. “You should be recharging.”

Skywarp tried not to wriggle and disturb Swoop as well. “Don’t wanna,” he said, turning his helm toward his trinemate. “Feeling better?”

“Sore. Achy.” Thundercracker shifted, making the berthcovers rustle. “Damn Starscream.” The curse was a common mix of affection and exasperation.

Skywarp patted the nearest part of Thundercracker he could reach – an upper thigh. “He didn’t yell. That’s a good thing.”

Thundercracker made a noncommittal noise. “That depends on your point of view, I suppose.” One arm shifted, his hand moving to lay on Skywarp’s abdomen, just below his nose cone. “I’m off shift for another two days at least.”

“I know. I have to take all the ones you can’t,” Skywarp grumbled. Well, that was kind of inaccurate. Sunstorm took most of Thundercracker’s command shifts. It was all the other, boring things that Skywarp had to take. Like supervising the construction crews.

Thundercracker chuckled as he stroked Skywarp’s ventrum, slow and steady motions Skywarp could not help but respond to. The times Thundercracker eagerly came to him, with charge in his lines and heat in his spark, were the best times ever. Skywarp didn’t mind the odd relationship he had with Thundercracker.

Well, odd to anyone on the outside looking it. To Skywarp, it was perfectly normal. Thundercracker’s systems just spun a different way than everyone else’s. It didn’t make Skywarp love him any less. And then they added Swoop to the mix, and all that did was add flavor to their relationship.

Skywarp’s engine purred. He shifted on the berth, abdomen lightly pushing into Thundercracker’s fingertips. He hoped they would venture lower, lower, perhaps ghost over his interface panel and explore there, too.

Oh, Primus how he hoped.

Skywarp’s optics dimmed as he let himself enjoy the sensation. “Someone’s feeling frisky,” he murmured. Heat pulsed through his lines, his focus on the path of those gentle fingers.

The berth shifted as Thundercracker leaned close before Skywarp felt the brush of lips over the curve of his jaw. “It happens,” he murmured.

Skywarp shivered. His fingers shook where they rested on Thundercracker’s thigh, not yet daring to move in either direction. He didn’t want to shatter the moment.

He felt another hand, this time on his right hip. It could not possibly have been Thundercracker’s, even though it did slide unerringly inward, toward the growing heat of Skywarp’s panel.

He brightened his optics and turned his helm, looking directly into Swoop’s mischievous gaze.

“Me Swoop want to play, too,” the Dinobot said, one finger sliding along a seam, nudging at the cable bundles beneath.

Skywarp’s arm had been pinned under Swoop, yet he never felt the Dinobot move. Sometimes, Swoop could be rather sneaky.

“Then consider yourself invited,” Skywarp replied with a grin, only to gasp and arch as Thundercracker’s hand joined Swoop’s, two sets of fingers tracing slow circles around Skywarp’s interface array. “I’m a lucky, lucky mech.”

Swoop chuckled and nuzzled into Skywarp’s intake, his lips and denta nipping a path of pleasure over his cables. His fingers were the first to find Skywarp’s panel, rubbing the heel of his hand over it.

Skywarp bucked up against Swoop, until Thundercracker pushed him back down with a firm hand on Skywarp’s hip.

“Oh, no,” he groaned, his hand tightening around Thundercracker’s thigh while the other stroked Swoop’s backplate. “You’re both going to torture me now. What did I do to deserve that?”

Thundercracker rumbled at him, his lips wandering to Skywarp’s audial and giving it a nuzzle. “Because it is such fun.”

Primus.

Skywarp moaned and licked his lips. Pressed between the two of them? Driven toward ecstasy with both of his lovers? This really was heaven.

“Try and hold back,” Thundercracker murmured. His hand joined Swoop’s once more, stroking around and over Skywarp’s panel, tracing the seams of it.

“Ask for the impossible why don’t you,” Skywarp grumbled. His optics lit again, and he looked down, spark skipping at the sight of two pairs of gray hands, one darker than the other.

Another shiver danced down his spinal strut. His field reached out, and sizzled where it made contact with Thundercracker and Swoop’s.

Swoop laughed and shifted, throwing one of his legs over the nearest of Skywarp’s, his hips rolling so that he rubbed his array against Skywarp’s hip. The soft scrape of metal on metal sent vibrations through Skywarp’s armor.

“Me Swoop like you like this,” he said, denta leaving playful nips on Skywarp’s intake before moving down to his chest vents. “Make you Skywarp scream.”

“He does get rather loud,” Thundercracker agreed, his vocals rich with amusement. “Noisy, too.”

“Me like him Skywarp noisy,” Swoop said.

“Mmm. Me, too.” Thundercracker’s mouth moved back to Skywarp’s jaw, getting closer and closer to his lips.

Skywarp made a strangled sound. “Am I just supposed to lie here and take this?” he demanded, his pedes pushing at the berth as he rocked his hips, panel pinging him for release.

“Yes,” his lovers said, in tandem, almost as though they’d planned it.

Skywarp snickered. “Well then, carry on.” Like frag he was going to protest. Lie back and get inundated with pleasure? Sign him right up!

A loud chime, however, chose that moment to ring through his and Thundercracker’s hab-suite. Skywarp cycled his optics and looked at his trinemate.

“Uhh.”

“Ignore it,” Thundercracker said as his heel rubbed hard against Skywarp’s panel, exciting the head of his spike beneath. “If it’s that important, they’ll ping us.”

Swoop ex-vented warm air into Skywarp’s vents. “Yep. Me Swoop say ignore, too.”

“Fine by me.” Skywarp licked his lips and bucked his hips again. “Can I open my panel now?” he asked as his plating juttered, and he sent another override.

The door chimed again. Longer this time, as though whoever looked for them had held down the call button.

Skywarp thumped his helm against the pillow. Thundercracker sighed and pressed his forehelm to Skywarp’s shoulder. Swoop laughed as he buried his face against Skywarp’s cockpit.

“Wanna bet it’s Starscream?” Skywarp groaned as the chime sounded again.

“He’s supposed to be on berth rest,” Thundercracker said.

“Yeah, well, so are you, and yet here you are, groping me,” Skywarp retorted with a laugh. He patted his lovers and made motions to get up. “Better answer it. He’ll sulk if we don’t.”

Swoop snickered, but was the first to pull up and off the berth, finding it easiest to extract himself. “Me Swoop get it.”

Skywarp grinned. “You’re a good mech, Swoop. Don’t let anyone tell you different.” He winked. “Hurry back.”

Swoop’s winglets gave a little flutter as he winked in return. “Don’t start without me Swoop,” he replied, and eased out of the berthroom.

Thundercracker moved closer in Swoop’s absence, all but laying on Skywarp’s side. His mouth wandered back toward Skywarp’s jaw, his ex-vents tickling at Skywarp’s intake.

“That’s not waiting,” Skywarp said.

Thundercracker’s field stroked his, warm and thick with arousal. “There’s enough of you to go around,” he said, and dragged his mouth to Skywarp’s.

Their lips met, first a bare brush, and then a deeper kiss. Skywarp moaned into it, their glossas touching, Thundercracker’s mouth warm and soft against his. The rare moments when Thundercracker had the urge to be intimate, to interface, those were some of the best moments of Skywarp’s functioning. He felt so lucky then, as though he were being given a precious gift.

“Mmm.” Skywarp hummed into the kiss. “I hope Star goes away quick. I want to continue this.”

“If we’re lucky, Swoop will scare him off,” Thundercracker agreed, nuzzling their nasal ridges together.

“It’ll take a lot more than my brother to scare me off.”

That was not Starscream’s voice. Neither was it Swoop’s.

Skywarp went still, even as Thundercracker broke away from the kiss. Both of them looked toward the door, where none other than Lord Grimlock darkened the doorway. He loomed larger than usual, his visor a baleful gold.

“Lord Grimlock,” Thundercracker greeted, finding his manners and his poise long before Skywarp could. “Is there something we can help you with?”

Skywarp eased away from Thundercracker, if only so he felt less like he was caught with his panels open in front of his creator, or something equally humiliating. He felt the weight of Grimlock’s gaze on them, measuring and assessing, and didn’t know Grimlock well enough to guess what he found.

“You can tell me your intentions,” Grimlock said, his arms folded over his chestplate.

Thundercracker sighed and rubbed his faceplate. “We already had this conversation with your creators and Starscream both.”

“And now you’re going to have it with me.”

Skywarp thumped back against the berth, his hands covering his face. Primus, this was getting irritating. He’d never met a mech more protected in his entire functioning. “Since when do three consensual mechs need permission to date each other?”

“Since you decided the third mech was going to be my brother,” Lord Grimlock said, his tone oddly even for all that he loomed in the doorway as a very large, very unmoving threat.

“Shouldn’t it be his choice?” Thundercracker asked.

Lord Grimlock cycled a ventilation. “I never said it wasn’t. I can’t stop him from seeing you, and I won’t. But I can make things very difficult if this is some kind of game to you. Especially since you never answered my question.”

Skywarp forced himself to sit up, his wings twitching restlessly. “Like we told your overprotective creators: this isn’t a game. I don’t know what this is, but I’m serious about it. Until someone decides they want out, I’m in.”

“I am not one to share the particulars of my private life,” Thundercracker added, moving to sit up next to Skywarp. “But I feel the same as Skywarp. To force a definition on something might place us in a position that none of us are ready for. Our current arrangement seems to work as it is.”

Grimlock stared at them. It was unnerving to be under the force of that stare. Skywarp didn’t know how Starscream could stand to berth him. Grimlock was every definition of the word intense.

Swoop, by contrast, was sunshine and light, humor and affection. He was charming and adorable, funny and smart. Skywarp still couldn’t believe he was dumb enough to think ill of Swoop. Or that Swoop was gracious enough to forgive him for it.

“You Grimlock stop it!”

Grimlock jerked forward, stumbling into the room, as Swoop pushed him inside. The flying Dinobot scowled, his lips curled with disapproval.

“Be nice,” Swoop added as huffed his ventilations and stared up at his eldest brother. “Me Swoop choose them. Me Swoop want them. My choice, not yours.”

Grimlock huffed and stared down at Swoop. “Me Grimlock know that,” he growled, armor fluffing. Swoop still didn’t back down. “But me Grimlock protect you Swoop. Always. That my job.”

Swoop’s winglets flicked. He threw himself at Grimlock, wrapping his arms around the larger Dinobot’s frame in a tight embrace.

“Me Swoop know,” he said. “And me Swoop happy. But you Grimlock need to not worry. Take care of yourself. And him Starscream.” Swoop laughed softly. “Me Swoop fine.”

Grimlock cycled a ventilation and returned the hold, his hands patting Swoop’s back. “You Swoop grow too fast.”

Awwww.

Skywarp’s spark warmed. They were pretty adorable. They reminded him of his hatchmates, forever and a war ago. Geez, but he hadn’t thought about them in ages. All of them were dead now, like so many other Cybertronians.

“Are you done interrogating us?” Thundercracker asked, doing a remarkable job to hide the annoyance in his tone, though not his field. “We were kind of in the middle of something.”

“TC!” Skywarp hissed and whapped his trinemate in the shoulder. “Don’t say that in front of him.”

“Why not? It’s true.” Thundercracker shrugged.

Grimlock all but glared from his visor.

Swoop laughed and eased out of his brother’s embrace. “Him Thunder, right. We busy. So go.” He pushed Grimlock toward the door and made shooing motions. “Go back to him Starscream. Go.”

“Fine. But me Grimlock watching,” he rumbled with a glance over his shoulder.

Swoop gave him another push, and out Grimlock went, seeing himself to the main door. Skywarp heard it swish open and lock behind their leader, and the minute it did so, Swoop launched himself at the berth, tackling Skywarp back into it.

“We were busy, yes?” Swoop said as he nudged a knee between Skywarp’s thighs, one hand reaching for Thundercracker.

Just like that, Grimlock’s unfortunate visit and threat were forgotten. There was nothing but joy, acceptance, and desire in Swoop’s field. He would stand against his brother for them.

Warmth fluttered into Skywarp’s spark.

Skywarp chuckled and wrapped a leg around the Dinobot’s waist, bucking up against him. “Very.” He slanted a look at Thundercracker. “Still going to join us?”

Thundercracker accepted Swoop’s hand and let himself be pulled closer to where they were entwined on the berth. “Yes. Though I think I’ll watch for round one.” He visibly squeezed Swoop’s hand. “You both put on a good show.”

Swoop laughed. “Fine by me.”

Skywarp beamed. Yep. Pinned between his two lovers. He couldn’t imagine anywhere else he’d rather be.

~

Starscream absolutely was not lonely. He was, however, bored out of his processor. Grimlock hadn’t lingered long before he’d had to leave for one of many numerous tasks. Thundercracker and Skywarp weren’t answering their comms.

Sunstorm had only given him a clipped reply of, “I have been informed you are on medical leave, Commander. I am not allowed to give you any information yet.” Then he’d had the audacity to end the comm.

Starscream was left with nothing to do but read datapads, watch mindless entertainment on the vidscreen, or recharge. None of it sounded appealing.

Of course, he could have ignored both Knock Out’s and Ratchet’s medical advice, and roamed the entirety of New Iacon as he pleased. There was no rule that said he had to obey them. But after getting up and pacing around his habsuite twice, fatigue settled in, and he conceded defeat.

He took the downtime for what it was and tried to enjoy it. He dozed. He consumed unhealthy amounts of energon and rust sticks someone had kindly left for him – he suspected Grimlock. He consumed datapads of fictional novels he’d been meaning to read for ages, and didn’t finish a single one of them.

They were no longer as interesting as he thought they might be. Sparkling tales seemed even much more that in the wake of the war. Scientific journals were nonsense, gibberish lost to the classes he never managed to take. Romance novels paled in comparison to his own weird, yet satisfying love life.

The datapads weren’t a complete waste of his time, just most of one.

So he would never admit to leaping with delight, spark thumping excitedly, when he heard someone input the code to his quarters. Very few mechs had access to his private suite, and of those, only one would come by without a prior invitation extended.

Instead, Starscream buried his face in the book he wasn’t reading, and pretended complete disinterest as the door opened, and Grimlock let himself inside.

“Have you even moved since I left?” Grimlock asked, amusement rich in his vocals.

Starscream made a show of powering down the datapad and stowing it. “Yes. Of course I have.” He peered up at his Intended. “Anything interesting happen?” He hoped if he asked it enough, Grimlock would share with him, medical orders be damned.

“Nothing of consequence.”

Starscream narrowed his optics. “I don’t believe you.”

“And I don’t think you need to get excited over nothing when you’re still recovering,” Grimlock retorted, his voice smug. One hand rifled around in his subspace, only to produce a box, which he then handed to Starscream.

“What is it?” he asked, suspicious. “A bribe?”

“A gift.” Grimlock eased onto the futon beside Starscream, taking up nearly twice the room, and leaving their frames pressed together. “We are courting after all.”

Starscream’s grip tightened around the box. “Indeed we are.” Given all that had happened as of late, he’d, well, not forgotten. But he’d definitely not given it much attention.

He plucked at the ribbon, untying the lopsided bow, and lifted off the lid. Inside were an assortment of energon candies in various flavors and colors. Some were dusted with flavored metal shavings. Others were drizzled in some kind of oil.

“Where did you get these?” Starscream asked, even as his mouth filled with oral lubricant, and his tank clenched eagerly.

“Swindle has a surprisingly far reach, for all that we are out of touch with the rest of the universe,” Grimlock said. He sounded proud of himself. “I won’t tell you what they cost me.”

Starscream worked his intake, selecting a bright yellow goodie with a dusting of what looked to be sweet rust. “If it’s Swindle, I don’t want to know,” he murmured, before he popped the candy into his mouth, the sour-sweet flavor bursting over his glossa.

His engine rumbled with pleasure. He hadn’t tasted delights such as these in decades. He’d forgotten how good energon could taste.

“You like?” Grimlock asked. He draped an arm across the back of the futon, his fingers toying with the tip of Starscream’s furthest wing.

Starscream licked his lips and plucked another from the box. “Is it not obvious?” He popped the goodie into his mouth, this one syrupy sweet and drizzled with oil.

If he wasn’t careful, he’d sit and eat the whole box. So he leaned forward and set it on the nearby table, out of reach.

Grimlock chuckled. “I hate to assume.” He stroked the edge of Starscream’s wing, his field reaching out and brushing Starscream’s own. “How do you feel?”

“Well enough to get back to work,” Starscream said, only partially a lie.

“I think your medic would disagree with you.”

Starscream snorted and licked his lips, cleaning the last trace of the goodie from them. He had to resist the urge to reach for the box again, instead settling into Grimlock’s side. The Decepticon leader radiated heat like a furnace, but there was something comforting about it.

He listened to Grimlock’s engine purr. A happy, sated sound. He felt lulled by the steady strokes of his wings. Lulled, and more than a little aroused. Heat lazily pulsed into his lines, his circuits. He squirmed on the futon, wriggling closer to Grimlock.

He would never admit aloud how much he had missed Grimlock in his lover’s absence.

His wing pushed into Grimlock’s hand, and he shivered when another light stroke sent a tingle of pleasure through his frame.

Grimlock softly chuckled. “I don’t think that’s medically advisable,” he murmured.

“There’s nothing wrong with a little touching,” Starscream said with a sniff. He tried not to squirm, but Grimlock’s strokes were perfect. He’d gotten used to a certain amount of pleasure, damn it.

“A little?” Grimlock hummed, his hand leaving Starscream’s swing to stroke down his side, tickling at his ventral seams. “Should I stop then?”

Starscream leaned closer to him. “Don’t you dare,” he growled.

“Well, in that case….”

The futon shifted, Grimlock’s hand vanished, and Starscream had a moment to be outraged before he felt himself lifted right off the futon and placed on Grimlock’s lap. Sometimes, he forgot how much larger and stronger Grimlock could be. And yet, he never felt unsafe around his new leader. Not like he had around Megatron.

Perhaps because Grimlock had never raised a hand to him. Had only ever treated him carefully.

Now, he sat with his back to Grimlock’s chestplate, his wings tucked between them, his thighs hooked over Grimlock’s. Hands rested on his hips, though one was already pushing inward, petting over his warm interface panels.

Starscream shivered, leaning back into Grimlock’s embrace. “This is better,” he murmured, hips pushing toward Grimlock’s hand.

Grimlock laughed quietly, his frame radiating heat against Starscream’s. “I will have to be careful,” he murmured as he stroked circles around Starscream’s panel. “Open for me?”

It was always in the asking.

Starscream’s spark bloomed with heat as he sent the command, letting his protective panel transform away. The head of his spike peeped into view, his valve twitching as cool air whisked over exposed components.

Starscream clamped his hands on Grimlock’s arms, his optics shuttering as he let himself indulge in sensation. Grimlock’s fingers worked gentle magic as they stroked over his array, softly rubbing the head of his spike until it fully pressurized into Grimlock’s fist. Grimlock’s other hand rested on Starscream’s thigh.

“Mmm.” Grimlock’s helm nuzzled against his, mouthplate brushing the back of Starscream’s helm. “Next time, I should do this in front of a mirror. So I can watch your face.”

A shiver worked its way up Starscream’s backstrut. He cycled a ventilation and unshuttered his optics, looking down to watch Grimlock’s fingers stroke over his spike. It looked so small in the Dinobot’s grip, but something about the size difference sent another wave of heat through him.

“Just my face?” he asked.

“All of you,” Grimlock corrected, and gave Starscream’s spike a squeeze. “You are beautiful, especially in pleasure. There’s little I like more than seeing you come apart in my hands.”

Hnngh.

Warmth throbbed through Starscream. He groaned, his hips rolling up into Grimlock’s fist. His hands clenched tightly around Grimlock’s arms, though not enough to dent the reinforced armor.

His helm tilted back, laying on Grimlock’s shoulder, his wings trapped between their frames. “And here I thought you didn’t like my spike,” Starscream gasped out as charge rattled through his lines.

More pre-fluid gathered at the tip of his channel, moistening the way for Grimlock’s fingers. His valve seeped, fluttering wildly on nothing.

At least until Grimlock’s other hand slid from his thigh, his large fingers tracing the rim of Starscream’s valve.

Starscream groaned, pleasure peppering up and down in his backstrut in waves. His vents roared.

“I like it just fine,” Grimlock rumbled, his vocalizations a deep purr in Starscream’s audial. “And as soon as you’re fully recovered, I’d like to feel it within me.”

Lust crashed over Starscream. His valve rippled as two fingers pushed into it, curling and stroking the inner nodes. His spike throbbed in Grimlock’s grip.

He shivered, his processor filling the blanks as he imagined pushing into a valve he had yet to see. For all that Grimlock had driven him crazy with pleasure, from his spike alone, Starscream figured Grimlock didn’t care for his valve at all.

“Don’t mock me,” Starscream said.

Grimlock’s helm pressed to his, his ex-vents ghosting over the back of Starscream’s neck. “I would never,” he rumbled, and squeezed Starscream’s spike as he thrust two fingers deep.

Starscream’s back arched, his vents caught on a gasp. Charge flickered through his lines, his spark pounding. He moaned, static lining his vocals, and panted air through his intake.

“You have no idea how often I have wondered how you’d feel inside of me,” Grimlock continued, his hands working Starscream’s array faster, and with determination.

His frame shifted beneath Starscream, hips moving in tune to Starscream’s rocks, as he pushed his spike into Grimlock’s fist and clenched around Grimlock’s fingers.

Starscream gnawed on his bottom lip. “You lie.”

“I do not.” Grimlock growled, the vibrations rattling through Starscream’s frame. “You have a beautiful spike. My only regret is that I do not have a mouth to properly taste it.”

Starsream groaned, his processor spinning. Pleasure stole his thoughts, his computing abilities. He rhythmically clenched Grimlock’s arms, rolling his hips faster and faster into Grimlock’s talented hands.

Grimlock’s fingers plunged deeper, and Starscream cycled down tight on them, his nodes aching with need. He shook in Grimlock’s hold, panting desperately.

“It’s nothing special,” Starscream gasped out, his optics dimming as he focused on the pleasure and nothing else.

“I would beg to differ.” Grimlock squeezed and stroked him, each motion feeling as though he savored it. “I enjoy how it feels in my hand. I imagine it in my valve, exciting my nodes, and I imagine you bringing me pleasure, and that is more than enough for me.”

Starscream whimpered. Grimlock’s words were intoxicating. They sounded genuine, as though he meant every compliment, and Starscream fed on the praise. He felt overcharged on it.

Pleasure swelled over and through him.

“Soon, my Intended,” Grimlock purred, his voice rumbling through Starscream’s entire frame. “Until then, let me feel your pleasure.”

Overload dragged him, stripping him raw. Starscream all but shrieked as his spike spurted, and his valve clamped down, trapping Grimlock’s fingers within him. His engine red-lined, vents roaring, pleasure flooding his frame, and charge erupting from beneath his armor.

It seemed to carry into infinity, until Starscream dropped down again, sagging in Grimlock’s lap. He panted for cool air, even as Grimlock’s hand still gently worked his depressurizing spike, and his fingers rested in Starscream’s valve.

“Nnnn,” Starscream moaned, his processor spinning.

Grimlock rumbled approval. “That sounded like a good one.” His fingers twitched within Starscream’s valve. “Want another?”

“Like that? It might kill me.” Starscream forced his optical shutters back open, only belatedly realizing he’d squeezed them shut.

Grimlock chuckled and nuzzled his helm. “You may have a point there.” His fingers gently withdrew from Starscream’s valve, and his damp hand rested on Starscream’s thigh. “We have pushed it enough already.”

“Mmm.” Lazy satisfaction coiled in Starscream’s lines. Even the gentle strokes of Grimlock’s fingers over his exposed equipment was nothing more than a light buzz of pleasure. “Thank you.”

“It was my pleasure.” Grimlock patted his thigh, engine rumbling and making Starscream’s frame hum. “Eventually, I will court you properly.”

Starscream shifted about on his lap. “I’d say this is a pretty good start. Though if you want to keep impressing me, you can carry me into the washracks and help me get clean.” He smirked, expecting an immediate rebuttal.

He did not expect Grimlock to stand, easily shifting Starscream from his lap to an embarrassing bridal carry. Starscream squawked, his arms flailing.

“What are you doing?” he demanded, hands scrabbling at Grimlock’s chestplate.

Grimlock looked down at him, visor glowing with amusement. “Taking you to the washracks. What else?”

Starscream cycled his optics, feeling heat steal into his faceplate. “I didn’t expect you to actually do it.”

“Why wouldn’t I?” Grimlock sounded genuinely confused, even as he adjusted Starscream’s weight and headed toward his private washrack.

Starscream didn’t have a good answer for that. So he opted not to give one. Instead, he focused on the warmth growing in his spark, warmth that had nothing to do with his most recent overload, and everything to do with the way Grimlock treated him.

Like he was important. Like he mattered. Like he was valued. Worthy.

Starscream worked his intake. He should not be touched by such a simple thing, and yet he was. He tried to imagine any of his past lovers taking care of him, and it was a laughable idea. And no, he didn’t count Megatron in that list.

Megatron wasn’t one of his lovers. Megatron was a disaster. A grievous mistake.

Grimlock was Megatron’s complete opposite in every way.

“Starscream?”

He cycled a ventilation and shook his helm. “Sorry, thoughts wandered.” He offered Grimlock a crooked grin. “Make sure you get my wing hinges, my lord. They could always use a good scrub.”

Grimlock chuckled, his hands squeezing where they cradled Starscream so carefully. “Whatever you want, my Intended.”

Starscream’s spark squeezed again.

My Intended.

More and more, he was loving the sound of it.