[IDW] Better Than Misery

He initially started with Rodimus across his lap, his captain – no, not captain, here he was only Rodimus, sometimes Roddy if Ratchet was feeling affectionate – balanced precariously over his thighs, gold hands clutching at Ratchet’s calves.

The first swat, ringing so loudly in the air, had made Rodimus squirm. The second, third and fourth – all harder than the first – made Rodimus thrash and throw his hands back to protect his aft. Ratchet smacked them away and laid out three more in sharp succession, his hand pressed firmly to Rodimus’ back between his spoiler to keep him pinned.

Rodimus wriggled, arms jerking back, hands trying to save himself.

Ratchet stopped and sighed out of exasperation. “Discipline is not meant to be avoided,” he said. “Give me your hands.”

Rodimus’ spoiler drooped. His field went all wobbly, reeking of guilt and shame, as though disappointing Ratchet was worse than the punishment. But he meekly offered his wrists, and Ratchet wasted no time snapping a pair of magna-cuffs around them. Rodimus could reach over his head with his bound hands if he wanted, but he had no protection for his aft.

Ratchet adjusted Rodimus’ position, pinned him down by the spoiler again, and rested his hand on Rodimus’ aft. He stroked the warming metal gently, well aware he’d promised Rodimus that the night wouldn’t end unless all the crimson paint was gone.

At some point, Ratchet knew he’d have to move on to the paddle. His hands, even with the sensors dulled, could only take so much.

Rodimus trembled on his lap. His field and frame language both offered conflicting stories.

Ratchet cycled a ventilation. “You sure you want me to keep going?”

Rodimus’ head dipped, expression buried between his arms. “Yes.” His field rippled, a dizzying blend of fear and anxiety and yearning.

“You know you don’t have to.”

Rodimus nodded. His hands curled into fists. His engine rumbled.

“I won’t be angry if you want to stop.”

“Just!” Rodimus bit out the word, his vocalizer spilling static, his legs giving a little kick. “Please, Ratchet. Please. I need it.”

Ratchet cycled another ventilation.

“Very well,” he said and stroked Rodimus’ aft, keeping the touch delicate and light. Teasing almost.

Rodimus was tense, very tense, braced for it. So Ratchet waited. He petted, and he stroked, and he waited until the tension eased, until Rodimus started to relax.

Then he struck. The loud noise of metal impacting metal rang in the stark emptiness of Ratchet’s hab-suite. He knew his room was all but sterile, that it held little personality compared to the loud clutter of Rodimus’, but perhaps that was best right now.

Rodimus gasped. His aft wriggled beneath Ratchet’s hand, but not too far out of reach.

Ratchet swatted him again, several times in a row, aiming to the sides, to the bottom, to the top, and against the curve of Rodimus’ aft. He varied the strength of the blows, made sure several criss-crossed, his palm tingling and Rodimus squirming harder and harder.

Little gasps slipped from Rodimus’ vents. His field flared and fluttered. His backstrut arched, his hips squirming in an attempt to avoid Ratchet’s hand.

He gripped Rodimus firmly, the younger mech nearly tipping to the side of Ratchet’s lap as his thrashing increased in earnest. His plating started to warm beneath Ratchet’s palm, tiny nips of charge peeking out from his substructure. His spoiler twitched.

Swat. Swat. Swat!

Rodimus breathed a curse and tried to turn on his side, tilt his aft away from Ratchet’s relentless touch. He made a noise, half pained, like an engine struggling to turn over. He panted, his face flush, his frame radiating heat. Anyone would look at him and think he were undergoing torture.

Ratchet paused, his own vents whirring. He rested his hand on Rodimus’ aft, his other hand aching where he gripped Rodimus to keep him in place.

“This isn’t working,” he said.

“Don’t stop,” Rodimus pleaded, one blue optic pale and desperate as it peered at Ratchet. “I’m not–”

“I didn’t say anything about stopping.” Ratchet shifted Rodimus’ weight and stood up, slinging his captain over his shoulder.

Rodimus squeaked. These brats. They never seemed to understand just how strong Ratchet was.

“I know you wanted my lap, kid, but you’re squirming too much for that to work,” Ratchet said as he looked around his habsuite, immediately dismissing his over-burdened desk and its accompanying chair. The berth would have to do.

Three steps later and he had Rodimus slung over the edge of the berth, his aft and lower half dangling over the side while his upper half rested on the berth. Ratchet tugged him forward until his thighs rested against the side of the berth, which left him standing flat on his feet.

Too comfortable if you asked Ratchet. He’d have to rectify that.

He pulled a crate out from under the berth and rummaged around in it, looking for his spreader bar. It was the perfect thing to keep Rodimus off-balance and unprepared.

“Ratchet?”

“Hush. You know what to say if you want this to end.”

Rodimus fell silent. In his peripheral vision, Ratchet could see Rodimus trembling. His field was still that chaotic mess, enough to make Ratchet dizzy and his medical coding take notice.

Fix. Fix. Fix. Fix. It chanted at him.

Ratchet shouted back. He was trying, damn it.

Fumbling fingers found the bar. Ratchet snapped the crate shut and shoved it back under the berth. He moved to kneel behind Rodimus, twisting the bar to extend it as he did so.

“Spread your legs,” Ratchet instructed, tapping Rodimus at the knees. “Until I tell you to stop.”

Rodimus complied, his engine stuttering as he slid his feet across the floor, inch by inch, until gaping armor plates showed Ratchet how his cables strained and quivered.

“That’s good,” Ratchet said, with another touch to Rodimus’ knees.

He fitted the spreader bar in place, looping straps around Rodimus’ ankles. He still had his feet flat to the floor, but balance would prove to be precarious. He would have to lean forward against the berth if he didn’t want to topple over. Which meant he had nowhere to squirm away from Ratchet.

Ratchet rose to his feet and rested a hand on Rodimus’ lower back, just above his aft. He could feel the younger mech trembling beneath his fingers. Rodimus’ vents whirred, chuffing humid heat into the air. He had his elbows pressed to the berth, his face buried between them.

Ratchet moved close enough that his upper thighs pressed against Rodimus’ left hip. He could both see Rodimus’ face and reach his aft like this. Which was even better than before.

He slid his palm down Rodimus’ aft, sensing a definite heat. His sensors pinged back the low-key activity of repair nanites, drawn to the closest thing Rodimus had to an injury right now. There would be more, by the time the night was through, swarming to repair the damage to his paint nanites, even replace them if needed.

“Ready?” Ratchet asked.

Rodimus shifted, his aft minutely pushing toward Ratchet’s hand. His elbows dug harder into the berth.

“Please,” he said, muffled into the berth.

Ratchet’s spark clenched. There were times when he loathed Rodimus. When he held little respect for the mech who should be his captain.

And there were times he felt nothing but pity for the younger mech, one cast in the shadow of someone considered the greatest, and left to uphold a legacy too large for his shoulders. Especially one who carried the dark, traumatizing weight of his own terrible decision.

“Be still,” Ratchet said, and he struck, without giving Rodimus the chance to brace himself this time.

A muffled yelp rose out of Rodimus’ intake, but it was quickly drowned out by the sound of Ratchet’s palm impacting Rodimus’ aft. Over and over again. A rhythmic beat of metal on metal, until Ratchet’s palm stung, and Rodimus’ lower half wriggled, and his aft blazed to Ratchet’s sensors.

Rodimus’ legs visibly trembled. His upper half sank flat onto the berth, bound arms above his head as he buried his face into the berth cover. His field leaked discomfort, the low buzz of annoying irritation that slowly blossomed into a fire of pain.

Yet, he said nothing, not even the words to end it. Just tiny gasps, and little moans, and maybe a sob that got caught in his vocalizer and echoed in the static. His frame temperature spiked in jagged bursts, his armor clamping and unclamping.

It was like he said, however. His interface panels remained sealed, and Ratchet didn’t detect so much as a hint of arousal from Rodimus. This wasn’t a sexual thing for him.

It never had been.

Ratchet’s hand started to ache, registering minor damage. He’d reached the point he could no longer continue without external aid.

He landed one final slap against Rodimus’ aft and let his hand rest there, tingling as heat emanated from Rodimus armor and a few lines of crimson were stripped from the brat’s aft. Ratchet still intended to have him nearly protoform bare by the end. That was the agreement.

Rodimus whimpered. His face rubbed at the berth before he turned his helm, one optic peering up at Ratchet. His engine revved, vibrating against Ratchet’s other hand, still pressed to Rodimus’ lower back, helping him stay pinned in place.

“Can’t use my hand anymore,” Ratchet said, answering the unasked question. “You still okay with the paddle?”

Maybe asking for so much consent was ruining this for Rodimus. Maybe it was helping him. Ratchet couldn’t be sure.

But Rodimus jerked his helm in a nod, his faceplate streaked with color and his lips swollen as though he’d been gnawing them.

“Please,” he said, voice crackling. “You said you’d break me.”

“I said I’d try to fix you,” Ratchet corrected even as he reluctantly lifted his hand from Rodimus’ aft and withdrew the paddle from subspace.

Rodimus’ lips curved, though it was far from his cocksure smile. “A wise mech once told me that sometimes there’s no difference between the two.”

“Pah. Using my own words against me.”

“Not like you’d listen to anyone else.”

Ah. The brat had a point.

Ratchet dragged his fingers down Rodimus’ backstrut and up again, a stroke meant to be more soothing than arousing. “That’s sort of the pot and the kettle, isn’t it?”

The glint in Rodimus’ optics faded. “Yeah, it is,” he admitted. He turned his head, face lost to the shadow of his arms, his hands forming fists above it. “Come on, Ratchet. You know what you gotta do.”

Ratchet adjusted his grip on the paddle. It was a heavy thing, and packed a serious punch. Against Rodimus’ lighter, more aerodynamic armor, it wouldn’t take long to make a point. It would hurt like the Pit, too.

But that was what Rodimus had asked for.

“You know what to say,” Ratchet said as he rested the paddle against Rodimus’ aft, the cool metal soothing to Rodimus’ bruised armor. It wouldn’t be soothing for long.

Rodimus’ vents blasted. His field bubbled out in a flurry. “Do it.”

Ratchet worked his jaw, and obeyed.

He started with light taps, little chimes of metal on metal. They weren’t pain, not quite, but for sensors already overstimulated, it had to feel like someone was clawing him. Rodimus sucked air through his denta, his hips twitching.

“More, rust you!” he hissed, vocalizer edged in a growl.

Ratchet didn’t respond. This would go at his pace or not at all.

The taps turned to hits, less force than he’d used with his own hand, but enough for each blow to ring in his audials. For Rodimus’ engine to rev, his cooling fans clicking on with a whirr. He whimpered into the berth, rubbing his face into it.

“Tell me why,” Ratchet said as the next strike was true, a firm blow that vibrated through his fingers, and made Rodimus snarl, his field flaring with pain.

Rodimus lurched forward, against the berth, but it left him nowhere to escape from the paddle. Or the next three strikes, each in succession, blows raining down over the same area to the tune of a growling engine and loud bangs.

Rodimus yelped and squirmed. He rocked backward on his heels, but the spreader bar kept him unbalanced and it was easy enough for Ratchet to push him back down onto the berth. The bar also kept him from trying to scoot to the left or the right.

He was vulnerable. Defenseless.

Rodimus’ engine whined.

Ratchet struck again, lower this time, at the top of Rodimus’ thighs where lifted armor gave peeks at the shiny cables beneath. Rodimus hissed, his field leaking pain, his fingers clenched so tight Ratchet could hear the hydraulics creak.

“Tell me,” Ratchet repeated as another strip of paint vanished, Rodimus’ aft now a patchy mix of crimson and silver, heat radiating from it so brightly it showed up as spots of injury on Ratchet’s sensors.

Fix. Fix. Fix. Fix.

“Why am I doing this, Rodimus?”

Thwock! Thwock!

Rodimus keened, and yes, that was truly a sob this time, a desperate sound caught in Rodimus intake, his head turning back and forth, scrubbing his face against the berth. His elbows dug into the berth, pulling him forward against the edge of it as he rocked on his heels.

“Why are you being punished?”

Ratchet adjusted his grip, refusing to admit that his own hands were trembling now. Rodimus wriggled about on the berth, and Ratchet kept a hand on his back to pin him in place. The speedster’s engine made a terrible sound, a revving growl, and Ratchet’s sensors pinged back the frantic spin and whirl of Rodimus’ spark. But his field still spat that terrible yearning as he trembled on the edge.

He paddled Rodimus again, harder, each percussive sound rattling through his own frame and echoing around his spark.

Rodimus’ field leaked pain now. He had to be in agony. His aft plating was nearly stripped silver, and it emanated heat. His upper thighs were streaked silver as well and he sagged against the berth as though losing energy.

“Tell me, Rodimus,” Ratchet insisted, his tank and internals twisting into knots, even as his own ventilations stuttered.

Rodimus writhed, his spoiler twitching. His legs trembled and he made nonsensical cries, an endless stream of whimpers. He fought it, however. He was certainly tenacious and obstinate, determined to bear it as long as possible.

Save him from stubborn Primes!

Ratchet growled. “Tell me!” He reared back and struck Rodimus again, with far more force than he’d used all evening.

Rodimus howled and lurched forward, bound hands scrabbling at the berth, the loud thwock echoing around them. He whimpered, his field a dying, broken thing as it warbled at Ratchet.

“R-Ratchet…”

He leaned closer to Rodimus, his hand sliding up Rodimus’ back to his spoiler hinges, fingers hooking around them. He pressed down, pinning Rodimus to the berth, resting the paddle against Rodimus’ blazing aft, as Rodimus’ engine roared and his armor clattered.

“You know what I want,” Ratchet growled, utilizing a tone of voice that always demanded obedience in the medbay. “What you owe everyone. Say it!”

The paddle rose and fell, smacking against Rodimus’ aft in a ringing blow that made Ratchet’s fingers ache and the paddle vibrate.

“I’m sorry!” Rodimus wailed, and he collapsed to the berth, his engine stuttering and starting. “I’m so sorry.” He sobbed into the cover, optical cleanser leaving wet streaks down his face. “It’s m-my fault and I’m s-s-sorry.”

Ratchet tossed the paddle away and heard it clatter in the distance. “That’s all I wanted to hear,” he murmured, and rested his hand on Rodimus’ backstrut, just above the furious heat of his aft. “Good job, Rodimus. You did very well.”

Rodimus’ armor rattled. His vents came in hitches. His armor trembled, but his field, oh, it was a beautiful thing. His field was settled, compared to the wild frenzy of before. It was warm and affectionate, needy in the way it clung to Ratchet’s own.

It was not a fix. It was not a solution. It was not a cure. It was but a moment of peace, static mesh on a wound, or a temporary weld. Something to keep him together until a permanent solution could be found.

“I forgive you,” Ratchet said quietly, though he doubted Rodimus truly heard him over his clattering armor and quiet whimpers.

He knelt down, joints creaking, and quickly released the spreader bar from Rodimus’ ankles, tossing it back under his berth. He’d clean it up later.

Ratchet stood once more, one hand smoothing down Rodimus’ backstrut as the other reached to release the magna-cuffs, his field rippling out to stroke over Rodimus’ like he might a distressed patient. Rodimus shifted, drawing his knees together, balancing his weight.

Rodimus’ aft was a blaze of silver, with streak marks in his upper thighs where Ratchet had aimed lower. He would be quite tender for several cycles, and there would be no recharging on his back tonight. But then, Ratchet already knew he wouldn’t be.

Ratchet dug a nanite gel out of a thigh compartment and squirted a generous amount on Rodimus’ aft. The younger mech moaned a broken sound as the gel sizzled where it made contact, but he melted into the berth as Ratchet gently smoothed the gel over his bruised plating.

“D-Don’t.”

Ratchet paused, shifting his weight so that he could peer at Rodimus’ face, only one optic visible as Rodimus had turned his head.

“Don’t use too much,” Rodimus whispered.

Ratchet narrowed his optics. “I’ll use however much I think you need,” he said, and went back to coating Rodimus’ aft in the quick-dry gel. “I can’t have the captain–”

“–Co-captain.”

“Co-captain,” Ratchet amended. Only in times like these would Rodimus admit he shared a captaincy. “I can’t have the co-captain walking around with a limp and looking beat all to the Pit.”

Rodimus’ face turned, buried against the berth again. “Why not? It would probably make some of the crew pretty happy to see.” His spoiler flattened against his back, armor clamping down tight.

Ratchet cycled a ventilation. “You’re not doing this for them,” he said and withdrew his fingers, wiping them clean of the nanite gel. “You’re doing this for you.”

“And you.”

“This is not about me,” Ratchet retorted, just shy of a snap. He had to rein himself back, his engine revving. He turned entirely toward Rodimus, his hand resting on Rodimus’ lower back. “It’s not my forgiveness you need, Rodimus. You need to learn to forgive yourself.”

Rodimus trembled beneath his hand. “Easier said than done.”

“I never said it was easy.” Ratchet lightly tapped his sore aft, making Rodimus jerk. “Come now. Up on the berth.”

A thin whimper rose from Rodimus’ intake, but he obeyed, climbing onto the berth and resting on hands and knees, still hanging his head. He couldn’t seem to meet Ratchet’s gaze, and wouldn’t for some time yet.

Ratchet hoisted himself onto the berth and stretched out on his back to make himself comfortable, already braced for the – and there it was. The clambering weight of a speedster straddling his hips and covering his frame like a flame-painted blanket. His hands clutched at Ratchet’s side as he buried his face against Ratchet’s windshield, still trembling. His knees clamped around Ratchet’s hips, his field back to that yearning.

“Can I…?” Rodimus’ words were muffled against the glass.

Ratchet rested his hands on Rodimus’ back, beneath the sensitive spoiler. “Yeah, you can.” He triggered his array to open, and manually extended his spike. Any medic worth his degree could do that.

Rodimus made an inarticulate noise, and Ratchet heard the snap of an interface cover sliding aside before his spike was engulfed in moist heat, Rodimus taking him as deep as he was capable given their position. A soft sigh whooshed out of Rodimus’ vents, one of relief. The clatter in his field calmed, his grip on Ratchet’s sides less a clutch and more of a cuddle.

His face was still streaked with optical fluid. Ratchet supposed he would worry about cleaning that in the morning. He rubbed his face against Ratchet’s windshield, like a youngling hiding from their nightmares, his ex-vents whooshing out in a soft rhythm.

Rodimus squirmed a little, his heated armor sliding against Ratchet’s in a way that was not unpleasant. His spike twitched in the confines of Rodimus’ valve, but that was all he allowed himself.

“Hurting?” Ratchet asked.

Trickles of pain leaked out of Rodimus’ field, a complementary color to the relief and peace that flattened it. “Not as much as I wanted,” Rodimus replied.

“Yeah, well, that’s where I draw the line, kid.”

“I know.” Rodimus breathed a sigh and finally went still, his head pillowed on Ratchet’s chestplate, his ex-vents fogging the transteel.

His valve fluttered around Ratchet’s spike, though the intensity of it eased. It was as much an embrace as his arms around Ratchet’s chassis, his fingers hooked in a seam.

Ratchet continued to stroke down Rodimus’ backstrut, long and lengthy sweeps of his hands. A speedster engine purred beneath his fingertips. Rodimus’ field buzzed up against his in a sweet kiss, almost coy, as it withdrew again.

“Thank you,” Rodimus murmured sleepily. Adorably. Unfairly.

Ratchet cycled a ventilation as Rodimus slipped into recharge atop him, defenseless and trusting, his field warm and his frame warmer still. Ratchet continued to pet him, because Rodimus whimpered if he stopped, and the sound broke his spark.

Ratchet gnawed on the inside of his cheek.

He was getting too old for this.

~

Ratchet caught a stasis nap in little bursts, his sensors too attuned to Rodimus’ well-being for him to slip into full recharge. So when Rodimus stirred, Ratchet onlined fully, his built-in scanners automatically skimming over Rodimus’ frame to search for injury.

There was none of concern, to be expected. Rodimus’ aft was still ablaze, and no doubt he ached. He’d be moving tenderly for the rest of the day. Perhaps the paddle had been too much.

“Mmm.” Rodimus rubbed his face against Ratchet’s windshield as he stirred. He pushed his hands into the berth, shifting himself upright, and peered down at Ratchet. “Good morning.” He twitched his hips, his calipers fluttering around Ratchet’s half-pressurized spike.

“You hurting?” Ratchet asked, one hand sliding down to rest on Rodimus’ hip, just above the worst of the silver-streaked metal.

Rodimus’ smile was soft and sultry, even as he shifted his weight backward, settling more firmly on Ratchet’s spike. “Nothing a little love won’t fix.”

Ratchet barely kept himself from rolling his optics. “You are impossible,” he said.

Rodimus chuckled. “Irresistible is, I think, the word you’re looking for here.” He rolled his hips, stirring Ratchet’s spike in his valve, welling lubricant making for a soft and slick glide.

“Not nearly as much as you think you are.” Ratchet’s free hand rested on Rodimus’ thigh, sliding inward toward his groin. He drew up his knees, just shy of touching Rodimus’ back and aft.

“Hmm. I think this begs to differ.” Rodimus licked his lips as he wriggled, his calipers fluttering around Ratchet’s spike, threatening to draw out a moan.

He fully pressurized, not entirely by choice, cursing his own weakness when it came to pretty mechs with personalities that were no good for him. Rodimus was the epitome of danger and sparkbreak for an old clunker like Ratchet.

Yet he couldn’t stop himself from touching, fingers sliding over sleek plating, dipping into broad gaps, caressing cables beneath. All while Rodimus shivered and moved atop him, a slow and steady dance of his hips, a rise and fall that caressed and squeezed Ratchet’s spike. It was building him to a lazy, throbbing heat, sending tingles all throughout his sensornet.

Ratchet groaned. His hand clenched on Rodimus’ thigh, thumb within inches of stroking Rodimus’ array cover. Rodimus had yet to pressurize his spike, and probably wouldn’t. Lubricant was slick and messy between them, and the scent of Rodimus’ arousal was intoxicating.

Enjoy your reward, medic, a dark and deceitful part of Ratchet purred. He drank in the sight, Rodimus’ flushed face, his lips parted for oral ventilations, his fluttering spoiler, his rolling hips. The glint of the lights over his armor, the flutter and flash of his biolights. That smile, half-smirk, half-lazy authenticity. Steel over satin and confidence hiding the uncertainty.

“You’re thinking too hard again,” Rodimus said as he shifted back, his weight settling on Ratchet’s hips and freeing his hands.

“You could stand to think a little more,” Ratchet retorted.

Rodimus barked a laugh. “Now where have I heard that before?” he asked even as one hand slid down his side, his fingers curling around Ratchet’s hand and tugging it loose.

Ratchet allowed it, watching him curiously, his fingers tingling where Rodimus touched them. He watched as Rodimus pulled his hand up, achingly slow, until he could ex-vent damp heat over the tips of Ratchet’s fingers.

He shivered, hips bucking, driving his spike deep into Rodimus.

“Brat,” Ratchet growled.

Rodimus winked at him and drew two of Ratchet’s fingertips into his mouth, lips and glossa flicking softly over them. Ratchet groaned, his backstrut arching, and his hand clamping tighter on Rodimus’ thigh. Even more so when Rodimus sucked his fingers deeper, denta scraping gently along the length of Ratchet’s fingers.

His mouth was so hot, his glossa so wicked. Ratchet sucked in a ventilation, his hips rolling up, pushing deep into Rodimus, who ground down to meet his thrusts. Rodimus panted around his fingers, his field rising and falling against Ratchet with heat and desire.

Rodimus held his gaze, everything about him confidence and sin, his hips dancing to a rhythm Ratchet’s creaky old frame couldn’t meet. He could only groan and shudder, holding on as Rodimus suckled his fingers and rode him to overload, pleasure spilling through his frame like liquid fire.

Ratchet’s backstrut arched. His spark throbbed. He spilled deep into Rodimus, his transfluid washing over sparking nodes as Rodimus clamped down on him. His calipers were tight, gripping, as though he sought to keep both Ratchet and his transfluid inside.

Rodimus moaned around Ratchet’s fingers, his optics brightening with pleasure. It was better than the sickly nature of his field the night previous. The sticky guilt and the clinging despair. There were times Ratchet’s darker side was glad for it. He told himself that Rodimus deserved it. That he’d made mistakes and gotten people killed and he was an arrogant aft.

Logic won out eventually. Logic and compassion and Ratchet fell all too quickly back into Rodimus’ sway, his spark going out to this young mech who took too much on his shoulders in a desperate bid to be something great.

Someday, Ratchet would figure out a way to tell him that he already was.

His fingers slipped from Rodimus’ lips as the younger mech moaned, leaning forward, his vents roaring. He slammed himself down, metal impacting metal, and visibly shivered, overload making blue fire dance over his armor.

He was beautiful like this, stunning in his surrender, and Ratchet’s spark throbbed even harder.

Careful now, he told himself. Mechs like Rodimus, they weren’t meant to be kept. Especially not by cranky old medics with anger problems.

“Mmm, now that’s what I call a good morning,” Rodimus murmured as the last tremors of overload rattled his frame. He tipped forward, catching himself at the last moment, as he stretched out atop Ratchet’s frame, nuzzling into Ratchet’s intake.

Ratchet rolled his optics. “No time for more recharge, brat. We have to get up and get clean, and I need to look at your aft.”

Rodimus chuckled and wriggled said aft. “Oh, you have to inspect the goods, is that it, Ratchet?”

Primus save him. Ratchet hooked an arm around Rodimus’ mid-section and abruptly rolled to the left, keeping Rodimus pinned to his front. Rodimus yelped and clamped onto him, holding on as Ratchet swung his legs over the side of the berth and stood.

“Haven’t you ever heard of cuddling?” Rodimus grumbled as his legs dangled for a few seconds before he grudgingly put his feet on the floor. He pouted up at Ratchet, and it was almost tempting enough for Ratchet to kiss that sulk away.

He didn’t.

“That’s not a word, I’d have heard of it,” Ratchet retorted instead.

“Oh, and now you’re quoting Magnus at me.” Rodimus held up his hands and backed away a step. “Fine. I can take a hint. Let’s go get cleaned up, shall we?” He grinned, and it was almost as though he hadn’t been trembling in Ratchet’s arms last night, swallowed by his own guilt.

“Yes. Let’s.”

Ratchet’s private washrack was neither ostentatious or large. In fact, two frames was a tight squeeze, but the very fact that it was private made it a luxury, so Ratchet did not complain. Much.

Besides, it was hardly a chore to put his hands on Rodimus’ frame, though he was twice as delicate as he ran a soft cloth over Rodimus’ aft. Judging by his hiss and sharp intake, Rodimus was still quite tender. His armor did not blaze heat as it had the night before, but his internal temperature remained higher than it ought.

There was nothing to it. Rodimus’ paint nanites would not fully repopulate by the time he had to leave, and Ratchet could not manually repaint him given the tenderness.

“It’s fine,” Rodimus said with a shrug that was perhaps meant to be dismissive, but didn’t quite reach that level of nonchalance. “People will just think I was in some storage closet, getting fragged into oblivion.”

Ratchet didn’t bother to hold back his sigh this time. “I won’t use the paddle again,” he said, and grabbed the detachable sprayer, giving Rodimus’ back half a long rinse.

Rodimus whipped around, mouth dropped as if betrayed. “I want you to!” he insisted, his spoiler halves twitching.

Ratchet grabbed his chin, though he was gentle about it. “And I said I’m not going to. You think you know what you want, what will help, but you don’t, Rodimus.”

“It is helping,” Rodimus insisted, his engine revving, vents opening and turning the fall of the sprayer to a fine mist.

“It’s static mesh.” Ratchet eased his grip and rested his hand on Rodimus’ shoulder instead. “There’s only so much patching you can do before a plate needs to be replaced.”

Rodimus shook his head and turned out from under Ratchet’s hand. He snagged the sprayer, his back to Ratchet, as he rinsed off his front. Ratchet expected a smart retort, or some kind of sly attempt to redirect the conversation with flirting or charm.

He got neither.

Ratchet sighed and pinched his chevron. “I really wish you would reconsider speaking with Rung.” This was far from healthy and Ratchet shouldn’t be encouraging it either.

Yet, it was growing harder and harder to say no when Rodimus came to him, all drooping shoulders and pale optics and trembling armor.

Rodimus’ shoulders slumped and the solvent turned off with a click. The abrupt cessation of sound was startling, and made the soft drips of the sprayer all the louder.

“I know,” he said, and it was so quiet, Ratchet almost missed it. “And I will. I’m just not ready to be forgiven yet.”

Fair enough.

Ratchet cycled a soft ventilation and moved closer to Rodimus, taking the sprayer from his dangling hand. He returned it to the hook.

“Come on,” he said, patting Rodimus on the shoulder. “Let’s get you dried off. You need more nanite gel before you leave. And that is not up for debate.”

Rodimus nodded. “Yes, Ratchet.” He turned to face Ratchet, his expression one Ratchet knew few had ever seen. It was miles away from confidence, and held echoes of the mech he’d been before he’d briefly carried the matrix.

Ratchet broke.

He gave into temptation, gently taking Rodimus’ chin in hand and leaning down to brush their lips together. Rodimus sighed an ex-vent, the warmth of it ghosting over Ratchet’s lips. He shivered, his spark spinning faster in his chassis, threatening to throb right out of it’s chamber.

Primus save him.

Maybe the one in trouble here wasn’t Rodimus after all.

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[G1] Misconstruction 06

Hours later, and Sunstreaker was still sulking.

Sideswipe had hoped the battle would prove to be enough of a distraction. Frag, he could’ve used the distraction himself. But honestly, the Decepticon attack had been half-sparked at best. The poor slaggers looked exhausted, run down, and made of scrap.

Megatron was starving them down there.

Sideswipe could see the concern in Optimus’ optics. The pity. It hadn’t stopped him from beating Megatron until the warlord called for a retreat, already blaming Starscream for what was his own fault.

Maybe it would help Megatron see reason, Sideswipe had caught Optimus murmur to Ironhide as they all trudged back toward base. They were muddy and annoyed, but in good spirits otherwise. Especially since the battle had resulted in nothing more than minor damage and some mild bewilderment.

Minor damage except for Skyfire. Whom Starscream had seen, screeched at, and attacked as though personally offended Skyfire existed. Thank Primus for the Aerialbots, swooping in at Skyfire’s defense, and driving Starscream away.

Skyfire was still in the medbay getting patched.

Meanwhile, Sideswipe and Sunstreaker were in the rec, sitting at the usual table, trying not to look as pathetic as they felt. Sunstreaker sulked, and continued to sulk, brooding over his cup of midgrade, while his armor sparkled and shone. He’d dragged Sideswipe into the washrack immediately after the battle because mud. Ugh.

He was so damn weird sometimes.

Sideswipe leaned back in his own chair, thoughts twirling. He had most of his attention on the door, watching for Skyfire, though he’d never admit how concerned he was. Starscream had been vicious, though from what Sideswipe had seen, the Aerialbots had prevented any damage beyond superficial.

Still…

Starscream had a mark on him now, as far as Sideswipe was concerned. It didn’t matter whatever twisted tangle of emotions existed in their past. Skyfire was theirs.

“Would you stop staring at the door?” Sunstreaker muttered crossly and kicked Sideswipe’s leg beneath the table. “You look like a lovesick idiot.”

Sideswipe rolled his optics. “No, I don’t.” He took a pointed sip of his energon and looked at his brother. “Besides, you’re the one obviously pouting. I’ve never seen Wheeljack scurry away from a table so fast. And he’s nice to everyone.”

“I am not!” Sunstreaker reared up, indignant.

Sideswipe’s optical ridges crawled upward. He took a noisy sip of his energon.

Sunstreaker’s bottom lip poked out, though not for long. “I’m not,” he repeated and sank back into the booth, shoulders hunching.

Their bond buzzed with disappointment. Blame, too. Sunstreaker thought he’d ruined it for the both of them, but honestly, Sideswipe was pretty sure it’d been ruined before Skyfire ever showed up at their door. They were who they were, and nothing could change that.

Also, babbling out the kinds of truths that made mechs run away was probably something they shouldn’t have done on a first date that wasn’t. Sunstreaker wasn’t only to blame. Sideswipe was just as culpable.

“You’re supposed to remind me,” Sunstreaker muttered with a slanted look at Sideswipe. “You should’ve stopped me.”

Sideswipe leaned in, bumping shoulders with his brother. “It’s not your fault,” he said as he hooked his chin on Sunstreaker’s shoulder and ex-vented a burst of air over Sunstreaker’s audial.

Sunstreaker shivered and cringed away from him, ticklish. “Still ruined it.”

“Mm. That’s debatable.” Sideswipe ex-vented again, chuckling when Sunstreaker squirmed away. He pushed himself back upright. “Look, we’ll apologize for being such losers, and just kind of leave it at that. Okay? We should be getting pretty good at apologizing by now.”

Sunstreaker snorted. “Speak for yourself.”

A large frame filled the door of the rec. Sideswipe’s gaze was drawn toward it, and his spark did an unfair pitter-patter beat as Skyfire came into view, his paint scratched and static mesh slapped over his armor in at least three different places. Shallower gashes – caused by Starscream’s talons were visible in his plating, not enough to require a bandages, but injuries nonetheless. They would scar, if Skyfire didn’t care for them properly.

Sideswipe liked scars.

Beside him, Sunstreaker went stiff and suddenly, there was nothing more interesting to him than the cube of energon he cupped with both hands. The empty cube even.

Skyfire moved slowly, as though he ached, and he probably did. Ratchet gave out pain chips liberally, but sometimes, they couldn’t do anything for the dull throb of nanites swarming over an injury.

Skyfire made a beeline for the dispensary and drew himself a cube before he turned to survey the rec room. Sideswipe watched, without making it obvious he watched, and wondered if it was worth it to beckon Skyfire over. Maybe Skyfire didn’t want anything to do with them right now.

Wheeljack noticed Skyfire. His indicators lit up in bright colors as he waved a hand to summon the shuttle over.

Like called to like. Scientists could always babble to each other. Sideswipe fully expected Skyfire to take the invitation.

Instead, Skyfire shook his head. He offered a tired smile and actually gestured toward Sunstreaker and Sideswipe’s table in the corner. Sideswipe didn’t know who was more surprised: himself or Wheeljack.

“Oh, Primus. He’s going to come over here,” Sunstreaker said, his voice pained. He shrank into himself, as though by making his frame smaller, Skyfire might forget he existed.

“Well, he’s a nice mech,” Sideswipe said as Skyfire started heading their direction, though slowly and with a bit of a limp. “Maybe he wants to let us down gently.”

Escape filtered through their bond and Sideswipe shot Sunstreaker a glare. No, they weren’t going to get up and leave. They were warriors. If they could face down any of Megatron’s combiner teams, or deal with being tossed off a bucking Seeker mid-air, then they could certainly face the kind of gentle rejection mechs like Skyfire offered.

Sunstreaker wanted to argue. Sideswipe could see it on his face. But by then, it was too late. Skyfire was within talking distance of their booth, and if they left now, it would be obvious they were trying to avoid him.

“Hello,” Skyfire said, polite and genial. “May I join you?”

“If you want,” Sunstreaker said, trying to be casual, but only managing a few shades below aggressive. It sounded more like a challenge.

One Skyfire seemed to absorb in stride as he pulled out a chair, gave it a few pokes to see
if it would sustain his bulk, and then lowered himself carefully into it. “Thank you,” he said, setting his cube onto the table and shifting around to get comfortable. “You both came away unscathed?”

“For once,” Sideswipe said with a chuckle that he hoped was more confident than nervous.

Given Skyfire’s half-amused look, he wasn’t sure he succeeded.

“Ratchet was in a pleasant mood,” Skyfire said as he pulled a few packets from an arm compartment and sprinkled the contents into his cube.

Nutrient additives, Sideswipe realized, and made a face of disgust. He didn’t know which was worse: being forced to consume medical grade, or being forced to add nutrient packets to regular energon. Both were disgusting.

“He generally is, when the Autobots are largely uninjured,” Sideswipe replied. He leaned back in the booth, trying to effect an air of nonchalance.

Skyfire’s lips curved in that soft smile that made Sideswipe’s spark flutter. And apparently Sunstreaker’s, as he’d started to squirm again.

“I wager it’s also because he cares about you two,” Skyfire said, and took a delicate sip of his energon, only to make a face that barely disguised his disgust.

Somehow, that made him intensely adorable. He was so polite, so friendly, for someone so large and imposing. Sometimes, Sideswipe had trouble reconciling that in his head. It made him wonder what was lurking in Skyfire’s spark, if he was that gentle on the outside.

Sometimes, the nicest people were the real monsters.

“Why didn’t you sit with Wheeljack?” Sunstreaker blurted out, and again, there was that hint of outraged aggression, that few people could recognize for the insecurity that it was.

Sideswipe nearly facepalmed. He hissed at Sunstreaker instead. Primus’ sake! Have some tact! Not that, you know, Sunstreaker possessed any.

“Because I wanted to sit with you,” Skyfire replied.

Sip. Sip. His wings fluttered.

He was so fragging weird.

“Why?” Sunstreaker demanded, leaning forward now, his armor clamped tight, his fingers shaking.

Sideswipe rested a hand on his shoulder, but Sunstreaker shook him off. He didn’t need to be restrained, damn it.

All right then. Good to know.

“What Sunstreaker here means is that we’re aware we did not make a very good first impression,” Sideswipe said, trying to ease the tension, though it occurred to him, there wasn’t any.

At least, not from Skyfire at any rate. Meanwhile, Sunstreaker looked as if he was going to rattle right out of his armor, and that anxiety was spilling over into Sideswipe, too.

“Or a second impression,” Sideswipe amended, and then laughed self-deprecatingly. “Or, I suppose, a third, too.”

Sunstreaker rolled his optics. “We don’t have good impressions,” he said with a snort. “Only bad ones. As you’ve found out. So go on. Say it.”

Skyfire tilted his head, looking genuinely puzzled. “Say what?”

“What you came to say obviously,” Sunstreaker snapped, heedless of Sideswipe’s urgent hisses in his direction. “You don’t have to pretend and make small talk. Just get it over with and dump us already.”

Skyfire’s orbital ridges drifted upward. “Dump you?”

Sideswipe resisted the urge to clap a hand over his brother’s mouth. Yes, okay, the tension was making him itchy and ansty on the inside, too. But that was not the way to go about bringing it to an end.

“Earth term,” Sideswipe clarified hastily, kicking Sunstreaker under the table loud enough for the clang to echo and Sunstreaker to glare at him. He’d probably left a scuff. “For rejection.”

“Rejection,” Skyfire repeated and set his cube down the table, folding his hands in front of it. “I believe there has been something of a misunderstanding. I came here to apologize about our date going nowhere, not reject you.”

Sideswipe stared. His engine stalled. Beside him, Sunstreaker made a choked noise.

“Apologize,” Sideswipe echoed, his voice embarrassingly faint.

Skyfire inclined his head. “Yes. I extended the invitation and though the battle was not my fault, I still wanted to offer my apologies. I’d also like to try again when we have an opportunity. That is, if you are still interested.”

Sideswipe’s mouth moved, but his vocalizer did not seem to produce sound.

“Are you serious?” Sunstreaker blurted out, again lurching forward, but the edge of the table clanged against his chestplate.

Skyfire’s smile broadened, but there was no mockery in it. “Yes. Honestly, as far as first dates go, that was hardly the worst.” He reached for his energon once more, giving it a serene sip, the serenity ruined by the disgusted face he immediately made after.

Sunstreaker’s gaze slid to Sideswipe’s, and he looked utterly lost. Sideswipe wondered if the same expression showed on his face, because once again, Skyfire’s behavior bucked the trend. It just didn’t make sense.

“So…” Sideswipe trailed off, unsure what he was going to say or ask, only knowing he needed to do something before he and Sunstreaker came off as complete idiots. “What’s next then?”

Skyfire’s field became palpable then, a warm and friendly thing that nudged against Sideswipe’s like the occasional lost insect in the Ark. “Next you tell me whether or not you’d like another date.”

“We do!” Sunstreaker blurted out, and then his face flushed a horrible shade of pink. “I mean…” He growled and coughed into his hand. “Yes. We would.”

He didn’t fool anyone. Least of all Skyfire.

“Good.” Skyfire all but purred on them, and Primus did it tingle all the way down. Sideswipe felt his own face flush. “Then I suggest this rule. We make no assumptions about one another. We have a question, we ask it, but no longer do we assume. At least, not on purpose. Yes?”

Assumptions, after all, had brought them nothing but trouble.

Sunstreaker nodded. Though he nudged Sideswipe across the bond as if to demand he make a note of reminding Sunny from time to time.

“Yeah.” Sideswipe said. “Sounds good.”

Sunstreaker’s foot nudged his beneath the table. His pulse across the bond was almost youthful in its giddiness.

Skyfire smiled and forced down the rest of his doctored midgrade, though this time he took it like a shuttle without so much as a grimace. “Primus, that is foul,” he said. His nasal ridge twitched.

For some reason, one Sideswipe couldn’t give a name to, he found that ridiculously funny. He laughed, and heard Sunstreaker chuckling, too.

It was all so…

… normal, Sideswipe decided. Normal was the best word he could find here. Sitting together, talking, laughing as they refueled.

It was perhaps the most normal he could remember feeling. And it had all begun out of a single, angry misunderstanding.

Amazing.

[G1] Behind the Scenes 03

03 – Daydreams

Sometimes, Wheeljack thinks about Prowl when he self-services, and he finds himself overloading, with a mixture of shame and yearning throbbing through his spark.

He thinks about Prowl’s face, before and after overload. The way he looks at Ratchet with so much trust and love, it’s as if his spark is going to burst.

He thinks of Prowl’s bumper. Of his aft. Of the jut of his doorwings and how they shiver right before overload. Or the way he melts at a single look from Ratchet, and how soft and open he is around Ratchet, and that gentle smile he gives Ratchet when he thinks no one is looking.

Those things clash with Wheeljack’s other image of Prowl. The one who is firm and stern, who can give orders on the battlefield, or quiet a room just by walking into it. The almost shy Prowl who hides himself in his office.

But clash or not, it doesn’t stop Wheeljack from whimpering into the berth, his fingers wrapped around his spike or shoved deep in his valve.

It feels kind of like a betrayal, servicing to the thoughts of his best friend’s serious partner, probably mate. Not like he’d ever touch Prowl without either of their permission, or that he even wants to keep Prowl for himself. He just likes thinking about it. Imagining it. Pretending, even, sometimes.

Prowl’s amazing, and Ratchet’s so very lucky.

Wheeljack groans and throws a pillow over his face. Two overloads and he’s still so firm, his spike is aching.

He sighs and activates his comm.

He really, really hopes Ironhide isn’t on shift right now. Because clearly, this is a problem best suited for two.

[One Wish] One and Only

There’s always a moment of panic right before Sunstreaker opens the door, when he fears what he’ll find on the other side.

His vents hitch, a shudder runs through his armor, and his fingers tremble. Cold sluices through his lines and rattles through his spark.

Please, he begs. Let this not be another nightmare.

Then he opens the door, Prowl smiles at him, and the panic passes. Sunstreaker finds he can ex-vent again, though his spark starts up with that silly double-pulse it always does when Prowl reaches for him. You’d think after years of this, things would be different.

It’s not.

They’re better.

“Are you ready?” Prowl asks.

“Always,” Sunstreaker says and takes Prowl’s hand, still marveling that he can do so. That this Prowl is his Dent who was his Prowl. Because Prowl loves him so much that even when he didn’t know who Sunstreaker was, he still knew.

Sunstreaker worries that he’s too happy. That if he smiles any harder, his face will crack and all the darkness will come seeping out. It’ll swallow him whole, and he’ll wake up, gasping all over again, groping across a cold berth for a warm frame that was never there.

He shivers at the mental image.

“Are you all right?” Prowl asks as he presses the call button for the lift. The apartment Sunstreaker and Sideswipe share is only a few floors shy of the penthouse.

Sunstreaker still marvels that he has a window, one that he can look out on the art district of Iacon, and see half of the city stretched in front of him. He can look down on other mechs scurrying in the streets below, and he can look up at lofty towers with flight mechs flitting around them.

Iacon shines like a gem, in the sunlight and the streetlight. It’s not a perfect city, not by any means. But it’s a far cry from the Urayan Wastes.

Sunstreaker smiles, and it’s genuine. The last trebles of unease are gone. The warmth and weight of Prowl’s hand in his are too solid for them to be anything but real.

“Just thinking,” he says as he leans in, bumping shoulders with the Praxian. “Long day for you?”

“No longer than usual, though I did depart shift early. My commander all but shoved me out the door.” Prowl squeezes his hand, and his field nudges at Sunstreaker’s, thick with warmth and affection. “Apparently, they are still amused and delighted by the fact I have finally found someone to spend time with.”

Sunstreaker’s cheeks heat. “It’s been years.”

“Novelties are novelties. What can I say?”

The lift arrives, empty of other passengers, and they step inside, with Prowl selecting the second-lowest level. Apparently they are to take a transport to their destination, wherever it may be, rather than drive.

Prowl had been oddly mysterious about this outing. But then, he often is when it comes to introducing Sunstreaker to something in Iacon. Sunstreaker is far from worried. Everything new Prowl has shown him has been an experience Sunstreaker wants to repeat. Whatever it is, he trusts Prowl.

“Still, has nothing else interesting happened?”

Prowl’s smile darkened around the edges. “The incidences across all of Cybertron are increasing. Kaon is progressively suffering from unrest. And that resistance group is growing in numbers. But they are darker things that no one wishes to linger on.”

“Oh.” Sunstreaker nibbles on his bottom lip. He’s heard of it all. How can he not when it dominates the news clips every evening, and makes headlines on the datanet.

“Such things have no place with us tonight, however,” Prowl says with another squeeze to Sunstreaker’s hand, this time as the lift dings and deposits them on the second floor. “Tonight we need only focus on one another.”

“Isn’t that, I dunno, selfish?

Prowl tows him toward the ticket booth, purchases two, and together they join the small crowd of mechs waiting for the transport to arrive. Judging by the schedule, they would not wait long.

“To some, perhaps. But we can’t allow ourselves to stop living when something threatens us.” Prowl turns to face Sunstreaker, perhaps heedless to the stares they are getting. For all that he is only holding Sunstreaker’s hand, others are staring as though they are engaged in public interfacing. “Otherwise we give in to despair.”

Sunstreaker supposes Prowl is right. He still isn’t sure he understands, and makes a mental note to ask Sideswipe later. When his twin isn’t sulking, that is. He and Jazz have had another row, Sunstreaker has no idea what about this time, and aren’t speaking to one another.

Sunstreaker is quite sure Sideswipe is to blame. Again. The stubborn brat. Sunstreaker has never seen someone fight against their own happiness as fiercely as Sideswipe is. It’s as if he enjoys being miserable.

“To that end, I have invited my lovely partner out for the evening, during which we will enjoy a walk through the Epicenter, purchase some of his favorite sweets, and attend the Festival of Lights,” Prowl continues as he pulls Sunstreaker’s hand up toward his mouth, his lips brushing over Sunstreaker’s knuckles. “That is, so long as you are not opposed.”

Sunstreaker works his intake, fighting back a shiver of warmth, though it’s already pooling in his belly and his tank. “I’m not,” he says. “Opposed, I mean. It sounds like fun.”

“Good.”

The transport arrives then, tooting a cheerful chime of warning. Prowl lowers Sunstreaker’s hand, though he keeps their fingers knitted together, as if a public claim that they are together. Sunstreaker’s cheeks heat, though he doesn’t extract his hand from Prowl’s.

He’s proud of his Enforcer lover. In Iacon, Prowl is quite the prize. He’s tall and stately and gorgeous, and the way he seems to only have optics for Sunstreaker is intoxicating. He doesn’t notice the appreciative stares people send his way. He doesn’t notice the way the ticket collector ogles his aft.

Sunstreaker tries not to look smug. He waffles between being embarrassed by the attention, and wanting to preen. He doesn’t mind the envious looks. It’s the hateful ones that make him uneasy. The ones that look as though they want to storm across the transport car, physically separate Prowl and Sunstreaker, and berate him for daring to date above his station.

Those make Sunstreaker edge closer to Prowl, frame angled to keep them in his sights, unwilling to turn his back and make himself vulnerable.

The transport honks another cheerful string of sounds to let them know it is soon to depart. Sunstreaker’s free hand grabs a dangling loop to help keep his balance as the transport lurches into motion.

The first time he’d taken a public transport, he’d been overwhelmed by it all. The press of people, moving not under his own power, the streets of Iacon blurring by, faster than he can track. Now, he feels like he’s been doing it all his life. How quickly he adapted.

“Your next gallery show is in a few weeks, is it not?” Prowl asks, just loud enough to be heard over the rattle-rumble of the transport.

Sunstreaker cycles a ventilation. “Don’t remind me.”

“Why?”

“I’m nervous enough as it is.”

Next, Prowl says. It’s only the second, after the first Sunstreaker attended, as a small guest artist to another larger, more better known designation. Memories of the event still make him twitch sometimes. There he’d been, tucked in a corner, barely able to ventilate as stranger upon stranger came and peered at his art as if judging his spark just by looking at it.

Sunstreaker can’t remember a time he’d felt like fleeing with so little threat to give him reason to do so.

“Why? As I recall, your first did very well.”

Sunstreaker works his intake. “I don’t like crowds,” he says, by way of explanation, though that is only part of it.

He’d sold all his pieces. He’s been told that it’s almost unheard of for a beginning artist to be so high in demand. But Sunstreaker couldn’t shake the feeling he still didn’t belong in a gallery.

“Have you prepared for it?”

Sunstreaker nods, his fingers feeling chilled where they wrapped around the loop. “I have one or two more canvases I need to finish, but other than that, yeah. I’m as ready as I can be.”

Prowl squeezes his hand and leans in closer, head tilted toward Sunstreaker’s. “Will Sideswipe accompany you again?”

And therein lay the worst of the anxiety. “No,” Sunstreaker admits, and he feels his face heat.

He’s told Sideswipe to stop treating him like a sparkling, and their last argument had Sideswipe throwing his hands into the air and saying ‘fine.’ And in the end, he’d said that if Sunstreaker is grown enough to take care of himself, then he didn’t need a sitter at his gallery openings.

Sunstreaker had been too proud to say that wasn’t what he meant.

“Ah.”

A single word encompassing a wealth of understanding.

Embarrassment tints Sunstreaker’s field. “There are a lot of people,” he mumbles, ducking his helm. “And I can’t read them all. They’re really aggressive, and I’m not supposed to hit them, but some of them wouldn’t back off until Sides got them to.” And what’s worse, this gallery is twice the size of the other one.

Sunstreaker had been personally invited, by a well-known artist who had been at his first gallery opening, albeit as visitor and not showcase.

“Shall I come then?”

Prowl had, sadly, missed Sunstreaker’s first opening. He’d been working overtime, unable to escape from the Prime’s clutches, and he’d sent his apologies along with more gifts than Sunstreaker could reasonably need.

“Only if you want to,” Sunstreaker says.

“Then I will.” Prowl squeezes his hand again.

The transport slows to a stop, announcing their arrival at the Epicenter.

They join the crowd of mechs disembarking, most of whom turn in a steady stream toward the shopping district. It’s a wonderful evening, Luna 1 shining brightly above them, as streetlights hum as they mark the way.

Sunstreaker can already hear the vendors, shouting their wares and their sales and trying to coax passing mechs into visiting their booths. The air is thick with the scent of sweet treats and savory nibbles and dozens of energon stands, all with their own specialties. Lanterns rise up above the walkways like little floating lights, marking the paths and giving proof to the name of the festival.

Prowl’s hand stays linked with his, and Sunstreaker is grateful for it. The crowds here are thick and noisy, and while getting lost isn’t a problem, getting bumped around by strangers is. Most don’t care two creds about the other mechs around them, and politeness seems to have fallen by the wayside.

Sunstreaker has to remind himself, again and again, that Iacon is civilized and he can’t go around punching mechs out of his way. That if someone shoulder-checks him, he shouldn’t turn it into a brawl.

Luckily, Prowl steers them off the main avenue, to the smaller side streets, still populated by vendors, but less crowded. The vendors here are more specialized, less commercial and more privatized. Mechs like Sideswipe and Sunstreaker, who make their items by hand, and are unique for it.

He and Prowl take their time, wandering from stall to stall in no set pattern, with credchips freely spilling from Prowl’s fingers on anything Sunstreaker looks at least twice at. Sunstreaker is more cautious with his creds, a lifetime of frugality hard to forget.

“You don’t have to buy me everything,” Sunstreaker grumbles as another box of rare and unusual paint colors is tumbled into his hands. “You’re spoiling me.”

“I know,” Prowl says, his smile soft and indulgent. If anything, he looks happy to throw his creds around. “But I enjoy making you happy, and I enjoy supporting mechs whose entire livelihood is dependent upon these booths. It is the least I can do.”

Fair enough, Sunstreaker supposes.

They continue on, until they are laden down with bags, and Sunstreaker’s tanks are stuffed full of sweet treats and candies and delicate sips of high grade and engex. He did manage to find a few things for Sideswipe, who’s been feeling a tad neglected as of late.

Ha. Serves him right. It’s payback for all the times he left Sunstreaker alone while he went carousing around Uraya with whatever temporary berthmate he’d picked up that evening. And then later, apparently, Ricochet.

Sunstreaker wants to spend every moment he can with Prowl. He wants to make up for lost time; he wants to soak in happiness when they’ve spent so much of their functioning struggling. Prowl is so very busy, and there have been weeks where Sunstreaker has only spoken with him across a vidcomm or exchanged texts. On top of that, Sunstreaker has his own studies to keep him occupied, as he slowly forges his way into the art world.

Is it so wrong that he wants to snatch every opportunity he has?

They break free of the crowd, finally through the main shopping thoroughfare, and enter the statuary maze. Though maze is a generous term. The walls are hip height to a mech of Prowl’s stature, meaning the average minibot can barely see over them. But twisting, turning paths lead the wanderer to various artistic creations, ranging from metal-twisted statues to those carved of stone and other materials.

Sunstreaker pauses to admire each of them. Right now, he only paints, but he’s dabbled in sculpting before, to little success. The wireworks, however, are of particular interest to him, especially if he can incorporate Praxian crystal. He’s been debating designing something for Prowl, something to remind him of his homestate.

Prowl lets him linger as long as he wishes, never once urging Sunstreaker to hurry. He stands there, comments if something appeals to him, and his field lightly presses against Sunstreaker’s. Every casual touch is one of affection and subtle claim, and Sunstreaker’s spark spins faster and brighter.

“Someday, something of yours will be on display in a venue as popular and enduring as this,” Prowl says.

Sunstreaker’s face heats. “I think I’m a long way from that, if ever.”

“You would be surprised.” Prowl’s thumb sweeps over the back of his hand where their fingers are linked. “You have talent, Sunstreaker. You have determination. What you lack is confidence, and that, love, will come with time.”

Love. Sunstreaker’s spark throbs. There’s a certain flush of warmth, of giddiness, that strikes him every time Prowl addresses him as such.

Sunstreaker flushes. He finds himself smiling before he can help it.

Prowl’s pace gradually slows until he eases them to a pause beside the largest of the mercury fountains, the soft patter of the liquid metal as it falls back into the pool nearly drowning out the murmur of conversation from other mechs loitering nearby. It’s a pretty thing, aesthetic despite it’s lack of function, and carefully aimed lights glitter a multitude of colors over the droplets.

Prowl sets their purchases on the bench beside them. Here in Iacon, they don’t have to worry about thieves snatching things out of their hands.

Sometimes, Sunstreaker still finds it hard to realize that he’s no longer in Uraya. That things are different now.

“It’s pretty,” Sunstreaker observes as Prowl’s fingers entangle with his own. There’s a rhythm to the fountain’s noise, almost like a song.

“It is nothing compared to you.”

The heat isn’t going to leave his cheeks, is it? “You’re full of compliments tonight,” Sunstreaker says, his vocalizer crackling around the edges, betraying his embarrassment.

He’s still not used to Prowl’s blunt honesty either. He doesn’t know that he’ll ever grow accustomed to the genuine compliments.

“Because you deserve them.” Prowl draws Sunstreaker’s hand toward his mouth, lips grazing over his knuckles. “And so much more.” He lowers Sunstreaker’s hand and presses it against his own chestplate, holding it in place.

Beneath his fingertips, Sunstreaker can feel the steady thrum of Prowl’s spark, though it seems to be pulsing an arrhythmic beat. Sunstreaker works his intake.

“I dunno. If I get any happier, the universe might explode,” Sunstreaker replies, though it’s something of an inside joke between he and his twin.

The times they sit together on the futon in the main room, shoulder to shoulder, watching a film on their vidscreen, consuming energon without concern, feeling safe in their apartment tower, with security downstairs. When Sideswipe tilts his head against Sunstreaker’s and smiles so softly, the tension easing out of his frame.

‘I’m happy,’ he says, sometimes, and he says it with that same hesitant tone, shoulders hunched, optics cast skyward as if expecting the stars to fall because he dared crack a smile.

‘Even if Jazz does drive me crazy,’ he always amends.

Sunstreaker snorts a laugh at him. Jazz, he thinks, keeps Sides on the tips of his feet, which is a good thing, because Sides is too arrogant for his own good. Sunstreaker tells him so all the time.

Prowl chuckles, dragging Sunstreaker out of his memories. “It is still my hope that there will come a time when you no longer fear the future.”

“I wouldn’t call it a fear,” Sunstreaker hedges, but then Prowl’s hand rests on his chestplate, gentle and warm, right over his central seam, where layers of armor protect Sunstreaker’s spark below.

Sunstreaker’s ventilations hitch. There is something in the gentle touch that suggests he should be paying attention. “Prowl?”

“I love you,” Prowl says as he catches Sunstreaker’s gaze with his own. “I do not know a moment where I am happier than when I am with you.”

There’s a lump in his intake, and the heat in his face doubles intensely. Some of the dots start to collect, and anxiety wars with joy.

“Prowl, what are you…” The words catch on the lump and die. Sunstreaker starts to shake, shock coursing through his entire frame. He wants to deactivate his audials just in case he’s wrong, in the same way he wants to turn up the gain on the off-chance he’s right.

“I love you,” Prowl repeats, forging onward, because he is afraid of nothing. “And if you’ll allow me, I wish to spend my life you. Spark and spark.”

Sunstreaker’s optics widen. “Y-you mean…?”

Prowl’s hand tightens around his. “Yes, I am asking you to be my conjunx,” he says. “If you’ll have me.”

If.

If he says.

A sharp, sudden tremble races through Sunstreaker’s frame, emotions tumbling through his circuits like spilled bolts. Sights and sounds sharpen, the sharp rapport of the fountain, the low murmur of mechs conversing around them, the bright lights, the glow of Prowl’s optics, the feel of Prowl’s spark beneath his fingers.

He sees again, the nightmare, waking to find his berth empty, no one on the other side of the door, an aching loneliness, a consuming sense of abandonment. He thinks, truly, that no one is allowed this much happiness.

He never thought. Not once.

He’s…

“Sunstreaker?” Prowl leans close to him, concerned.

“I’m– I’m a guttermech,” Sunstreaker croaks, so afraid of the nightmare, he can’t stand it. He doesn’t dare blink. What if that’s enough to end this dream? “I’m– and you…”

He can’t complete a sentence. He can’t talk over the lump in his intake, the condensation slicking his frame, the frantic stammer of his spark.

Prowl’s hand slides from his chestplate to cup his face. His thumb makes a light sweep over Sunstreaker’s cheek, so warm. He smiles, that soft, quiet smile Sunstreaker often clung to in the dark hours after Prowl vanished.

“You are Sunstreaker,” he says. “And I love who you are. There is nothing else that matters.”

Sunstreaker’s knees wobble. “You mean it.”

“Yes, I do.”

No hesitation. Not an ounce of it in his field, in his voice.

There’s a dream here and all Sunstreaker has to do is reach for it. “I…”

“Sunstreaker?”

He wants to keep it. He wants it more than anything.

“I love you, too,” Sunstreaker says, finally and his fingers curl against Prowl’s chestplate, yellow scrapes against black.

Please, Primus, don’t wake me. Let me stay here.

“I want to be yours,” he adds, all in a rush, before he loses his nerve and the static eclipses his words. “I want you to be mine. I want… I want it all.”

Prowl’s field floods against his, heat and affection and longing and relief, and then Prowl’s mouth closes over his, lips sealing together. Sunstreaker all but sobs into the kiss. His spark feels as though it will implode.

He feels caught up in one of Sideswipe’s stupid datanovels. The ones which always end with a happily ever after. He can hardly believe it, is very afraid to, but Prowl’s kiss is a reassurance and so is the warmth of his frame. Sunstreaker’s free hand clutches at Prowl’s side, holds onto him.

Sunstreaker wants to believe it.

He doesn’t want to let go.

Prowl’s lips slide away, his forehead pressing to Sunstreaker’s. His ex-vents tickle Sunstreaker’s face.

“I would have you here and now, if it wasn’t against the law,” he murmurs, his thumb sweeping over and over Sunstreaker’s cheek.

Sunstreaker makes a sound, he doesn’t dare call a whimper. “Let’s go home.”

Prowl kisses him again, fierce and triumphant, and Sunstreaker melts into it.

This time, there is no gradual meander, no wait for a public magna-car. Prowl summons a private transport, a sentient one, and hands over a credchip that makes Sunstreaker hiccup. They tumble into the backseat like a couple of over-eager younglings, and off they go.

Their driver weaves in and out of traffic as though someone is chasing him, and Sunstreaker is happy for the haste. He can’t bring himself to let go. His hands are magnetically attracted to Prowl’s frame, and his lips, too.

Prowl wants to talk.

Sunstreaker would rather drown in his kisses. His spark feels fit to burst and already Sideswipe is pinging him, trying to figure out why Sunstreaker’s broadcasting noisily across their bond.

Sunstreaker ignores him.

Prowl still tastes of the sour-sweet candies he favors, cadmium-dusted rust sticks with a gooey center, like a sparkling seeking out treasure. His mouth is warm and inviting, his field pliant and open, and Prowl groans as if pained when he has to pull away from Sunstreaker’s mouth.

“Soon,” he murmurs, his optics bright and warm, his field as much an embrace as the press of their frames. “I opted for my apartment. Is that–”

“–Fine. Perfect.” Sunstreaker’s spark throbs as the transport rumbles around them, their driver politely not commenting on the wildness of their fields, and the emotions therein. “I don’t wanna tell Sides yet. I just…”

Want to keep this to himself for now. Have proof-positive in his hand that it’s real. Wants to online tomorrow and know it’s not a dream before he lets himself soak in the giddiness. Before Sideswipe’s realism tries to punch holes in his excitement.

“I understand.” Prowl’s thumb brushes over the slats of his head vents and Sunstreaker shivers. His fingers scrape Prowl’s chestplate again, yellow on black, leaving marks for his co-workers to spy come the morrow. “Besides, it would be rude to throw our good fortune in their face.”

Sunstreaker snorts a laugh.

And then they are home, to the spiraling tower housing Prowl’s apartment. They tumble out of the transport, and Prowl doesn’t bother to retrieve his credchip, leaving it instead as a tip for their driver. He honks appreciatively at them before he zooms off.

Prowl tugs Sunstreaker toward a private lift, so no one can see them pressed together, lips locked, and vents stuttering. The lift climbs slowly to the top, nearly the penthouse, transsteel sides looking out on shining Iacon, the Festival of Lights glittering in the distance. The fireworks have started, and Sunstreaker’s not even sad he missed them.

Prowl’s apartment is almost the penthouse, but not quite. He’s claimed he doesn’t need as much space as the penthouse offered, though Primus knows he can afford it. Prowl’s rich. Stupid rich. His caretakers had been wealthy, and he’d invested his inheritance smartly, and he works because he wants to, not because he has to. Yet, he never looks down on those without. He’s a fragging contradiction.

Sometimes, Sunstreaker is uncomfortable in his apartment. Surrounded by all the elaborate decorations and delicate furniture and fancy objects and gadgets he’s never seen, Sunstreaker feels uneasy. Like he doesn’t belong.

Tonight, however, is not one of those times. He barely notices the crystal chandeliers, and the enormous entertainment center, and the motion-activated lights. He only has optics for the berthroom, bags of purchases left in the entryway behind them.

Charge crackles out from beneath his armor, his engine purring.

“I love you,” Sunstreaker says against Prowl’s lips, over and over. It becomes a mumbled litany, and Prowl responds each time with a kiss and a stroke of his field, growing warmer and more urgent.

Sunstreaker’s drowning again, and he doesn’t care about surfacing for air.

Lights pop on around them, only to quickly dim again. They stumble to the berthroom, the berth big enough for two, and the bank of windows peering down at glittering Iacon. From up here, the ground looks very far away, and with it, anything resembling a problem.

Prowl sweeps him up when Sunstreaker trips over his own feet and carries him the last few paces. He lays Sunstreaker on the berth as though he’s something precious, something breakable, and Sunstreaker starts to shake all over again. He clutches at Prowl, trying to drag him closer, even as their lips meet again.

Prowl follows him onto the berth, a blanket of heat and affection and refuge. Sunstreaker holds his head, keeping their mouths pressed together, his optics shuttering. He makes another desperate sound and Prowl matches it with one that reassures, a hum and a purr all at once.

“Shh,” he says, and nuzzles Sunstreaker’s face, his hands tickling over Sunstreaker’s frame, exploring seams and sensors he’s already mapped. “I’m right here.”

Such a simple thing.

“Prove it,” Sunstreaker says.

“I intend to.” Prowl draws back, kneeling as he is between Sunstreaker’s knees, his thighs bracketing Prowl’s. His sensory panels arch behind him, beautiful and vibrant.

Prowl looks down at Sunstreaker, and his optics shine nothing but love.

“I’m going to kiss you again,” he murmurs as his hands rest on Sunstreaker’s knees and slide gently down his thighs, toward his hips. “And then I am going to taste your intake, followed by your clavicular strut, and then your windshield.” His hands continue a path opposite his words, trickling up Sunstreaker’s hips and sides. “I will go further still, until I am faced with your hood and your central seam.”

Sunstreaker trembles, Prowl’s words wrapping around him and lifting him up. They drizzle into his audials, and sweep through his sensory circuits, and float around and around in his processor, until he feels like the world is spinning.

Prowl’s fingers glide inward, over his abdominal armor, and then up, tracing the bottom edge of his chestplate. “And then, if I am lucky, you will show me your spark so I can give it the love it deserves,” he murmurs, hands sliding upward, thumbs lightly dragging along Sunstreaker’s central seam. “Will that suffice?”

Sunstreaker’s spark throbs hard enough to ache. “Yes,” he whispers even as his chesplates jutter, threatening to snap open, spill his sparklight into Prowl’s hands without any restraint whatsoever. Static lurches through his lines, his vents billowing excess heat.

Prowl purrs, hands sliding back down, until they brace his weight on the berth to either side of Sunstreaker’s chassis. “Good,” he says, and kisses Sunstreaker again.

Sunstreaker moans because he knows what is coming next. He already knows the heat of that pleasure, the static-burn of spark-contact. It’s all he can do to keep his spark concealed as Prowl follows through with his promise. As his lips leave a soft, tingling path slowly downward.

Sunstreaker shakes, already on the cusp of overload, charge spilling out from beneath his armor and echoing off Prowl’s plating. He gasps when his chestplates part of their own accord, just a fraction, but the noise audible nonetheless. There’s a moment, a treble of fear, and it cools Sunstreaker’s enthusiasm by several degrees.

Only Sideswipe has seen his spark before now. He hadn’t expected to feel so vulnerable, so bare. And Sunstreaker reacts on instinct, throwing a hand over his parted chestplates, though rays of sparklight peek through his fingers, reflecting on Prowl’s bumper. His other hand grasps at Prowl’s arm, closing around it above Prowl’s elbow.

“I don’t– I can’t– I’m not–” Sunstreaker stutters and growls, angry with himself for his inability to articulate the sudden wave of emotions and fears crowding at his spark.

“It’s all right.” Prowl shifts his weight, rests his hand over Sunstreaker’s, hiding away more of his sparklight. “I only meant to get acquainted. We will bond another night.”

Sunstreaker works his intake. “I want to,” he whispers, his hand trembling under Prowl’s. “I just…”

“Our entire relationship has been a collection of firsts for you,” Prowl says with that keen understanding he always seems to have. “This is yet another of them. Say the word, Sunstreaker, and we will stop.”

He shakes his head. Stopping is the last thing he wants. He aches for it, yearns to feel Prowl’s touch near his spark, for the physical manifestation of Prowl’s love for him.

Prowl starts to move back, and Sunstreaker squeezes his hand. “Don’t want to stop,” he manages out, through a mouthful of static and gasping vents. His fingers curl right around around Prowl’s hand, and he slides his hand away, slowly revealing his spark. “I just…”

“I understand.” Prowl leans over him, his lips brushing over Sunstreaker’s.

The kiss is gentle, sweet, exploring like it is the first time all over again. Sunstreaker sighs into it, even as his spark surges forward, eager where his processor still shouts at him to watch for the morning.

He refuses to be mastered by his fears. He wants this, he does. And if he must, he will reach out and seize it.

Sunstreaker moans into the kiss, his glossa tangling with Prowl’s, the heat of his partner’s frame and field surrounding him, so dizzying.

Prowl’s lips wander away, pressing to the corner of his mouth, across his cheek, and then down into his intake. Sunstreaker tips his head back, and shivers as Prowl ex-vents against his cables, tickling the sensitive structure with heat.

Both hands clutch at Prowl now, backstrut arched, urging his chassis toward Prowl. He can see his spark flickering excitedly, reflecting against Prowl’s armor, and then, in Prowl’s optics. He leans back for a moment, staring at Sunstreaker’s spark with nothing short of appreciation, before his mouth descends.

Sunstreaker whimpers as lips and glossa explore the edges of his spark chambers, barely tasting the most outward corona of his spark energy. It’s like an electric shock straight to his center, and pleasure throbs through his lines. His entire sensornet hums.

Prowl murmurs something, but Sunstreaker can’t make it out through the rushing in his audials. Awareness narrows down to a pinpoint, a focus on the gentle touch of Prowl’s mouth to his spark chamber, the brush of his field against Sunstreaker’s spark. He’s careful, reverent, loving.

Sunstreaker trembles, the last of his apprehension crumbling under a wave of Prowl’s affection for him. Overload flashes through his frame like a thousand tiny fireworks. Sunstreaker moans as his spark dances and the pleasure strips him of every thought, save one.

Prowl’s lips close over his, the kiss gentle and tasting of hot metal, of ozone. His fingers stroke Sunstreaker’s seam, even as his armor automatically starts to close.

“Lovely,” Prowl says against his lips. “Your designation suits you.”

Sunstreaker’s face flushes. He brushes his lips over Prowl’s, energized by the pleasure suffusing his frame. Anxiety, what anxiety? There’s nothing in his spark but delight and joy right now.

“It’s my turn then?”

Prowl smiles. “If you wish.”

“I do.” Sunstreaker sits up and Prowl moves back to give him room. “Switch places with me?”

“Gladly.”

Another hot meeting of their mouths gives way to the two of them shuffling around the berth, as awkward as two mechs with random bits of kibble can be. Sunstreaker chuckles softly, unable to resist touching as Prowl mutters a curse and eases onto his back, flicking his sensory panels into a comfortable position at the last second.

Charge blooms beneath Prowl’s armor, evidence of his own unsated charge. Yet, he’s ever patient as Sunstreaker straddles his hips and makes himself comfortable. Prowl’s hands find Sunstreaker’s thighs, palms warm as they smooth up the length of them before he’s cupping Sunstreaker’s hips.

Sunstreaker shivers and flattens his hands on Prowl’s belly, fingers tickling his visible abdominal cables, hiding in the shadow of his bumper. Prowl’s ventilations hitch, his glossa sweeping over his lips. His field presses against Sunstreaker’s, yielding willingly, but there’s a hesitation in it as well.

So. Prowl is anxious, too. Somehow, that’s reassuring to Sunstreaker.

He leans down, presses a kiss to Prowl’s chestplate, just below his Enforcer badge. “Will you open for me?”

Prowl’s fingers tickle into his hip seams, teasing the cables beneath. “I have… been modified,” he says, and there’s a hint of a blush to his field. “Since Uraya.”

Sunstreaker nods. “More armor?”

“And locks,” Prowl confirms. “I apologize, but my chestplates will no longer part unconsciously. Please don’t consider it a failure on your part.”

“And here I was thinking you didn’t want me,” Sunstreaker teases. He brushes his lips over Prowl’s central seam, ex-venting into it. “It’s fine. And it doesn’t answer my question anyway. I asked if you would open for me.”

He leans back, rests his hands on Prowl’s bumper, and slides his thumbs down the length of Prowl’s central seam. He had noticed a bit of a change to Prowl’s frame, but considered it a consequence of needing a near-full reframe after Starscream had mutilated him so.

He doesn’t blame Prowl for wanting more security. If anything, perhaps Sunstreaker should consider more of his own. He’s painfully unprotected.

Prowl shivers, his optics darkening in hue. His backstrut curves, and there’s the tiniest of clicks, multiple ones, before his bumper splits down the middle and swings parallel to his chassis. There’s another layer of armor here, and this one needs to split as well, beneath it a third layer which spirals open. The whorls of metal carry the gleam of the newly-forged, but behind it, Prowl’s spark pulses beautifully.

“Thank you,” Sunstreaker murmurs and sweeps his hands inward, gently teasing the edges of each armor plate, as Prowl moans softly. “Sensitive?”

“Yes.” Prowl shifts beneath him, restless, more charge spilling from beneath his armor. His ventilations quicken and his spark reflects it, pulsing faster and faster. “When did you become a tease?”

Sunstreaker chuckles. “Always have been.”

He shifts his weight, leans forward, pressing a kiss to the bottom-most edge of Prowl’s spark chamber. A muffled whimper greets him, and he dares drag his mouth further up, until he can taste the spark-charge on his lips. Prowl’s fingers dig into his hip seams, holding tight. Sunstreaker can feel them trembling, and Prowl, too. His field is hot and heavy, wrapping around Sunstreaker.

“You’re close?”

“Unbearably so,” Prowl murmurs, backstrut curving again, nudging his spark closer to Sunstreaker’s.

“Mm.” Sunstreaker leaves a parting kiss at the lower edge of Prowl’s spark chamber again before he leans back, his hands sliding up to Prowl’s shoulder. “Sit up for me?”

Prowl cycles his optics, but he obeys, both of them shifting about until Sunstreaker is resting on his lap, Prowl’s arms wrapped around his chassis. His knees bracket Prowl’s hips. Sunstreaker slides his arms over Prowl’s shoulder, feeling the gentle warmth of Prowl’s spark wafting against his own chestplate.

He shivers and sweeps his glossa over his lips.

“Better?” Prowl asks.

“Almost.” Sunstreaker steals Prowl’s lips for a kiss, a distraction as he lets his own chestplates part, his spark eagerly revealing itself this time. It leaps toward the warmth Prowl’s offers, though there is a moment of confusion.

Not Sideswipe, it pulses. Not Sideswipe?

No, not Sideswipe, Sunstreaker thinks. Simply the only mech outside of his twin who has ever professed to care for him, and then proceeded to prove it.

Sunstreaker’s spark throbs warmly.

He ends the gentle kiss. Prowl, he notices, is trembling beneath him, as if their roles have been reversed, and now Prowl is the one who needs reassurance and guidance. Both of which Sunstreaker is more than happy to provide.

“I love you,” Sunstreaker murmurs as he presses their foreheads together, the furthest edges of their spark energies starting to mingle, sending rays of pleasure down his spinal strut. “I’m going to be your conjunx.”

Prowl’s hands tremble around his chassis, pressing in on his backstrut. “Yes, and I am going to be yours.”

A low moan slips free of Sunstreaker’s mouth. He tightens his arms over Prowl’s shoulders, brings their chests closer together, the secondary spark corona mingling together, sharing heat and charge.

There are only surface impressions here, the overwhelming bloom of Prowl’s love for him, an indescribable happiness that has to be felt rather than told. But the touch of Prowl’s spark to his is electric, and Sunstreaker moans again, a tremble racing up his backstrut and down again.

He pulls Prowl closer, as close as he can manage, hips rolling, the metal of their armor sliding together in a whisper of contact. The outermost edges of their sparks knit, the secondary layer meeting in little kisses of charge, until the energies of their sparks start to pulse in tandem, sending wave after wave of bliss throughout Sunstreaker’s frame.

He ex-vents a shuddery cycle, a clear sense of Prowl surrounding him. Loyal and determined, stubborn and kind, uncompromising and fierce, guardian and fighter. He briefly wonders what sense Prowl gets from him, but it’s gone and swept away with another burst of charged pleasure, searing through his lines.

Sunstreaker gasps. The merges with Sideswipe, for spark stability, never feel like this. They are warm and soothing, like slipping into an oil bath. But this, even as shallow as it is, feels like electric fire in his lines, loving touches to every one of his sensor nexuses. It makes him shake, like he’s going to rattle right out of his armor, and he’s holding Prowl so tightly he can hear their armor creaking.

If sharing feels like this, will he even survive spark merging?

The very thought makes Sunstreaker moan, his backstrut bowing, overload picking him up and tossing him into surrender. He clutches Prowl, rattling inside and out, as a blaze of heat pulses through his sensornet, flares through his spark, snatching at Prowl’s and dragging him along.

Prowl’s mouth claims his in a desperate kiss, and Sunstreaker returns it, his spark flaring and dancing, pulsing to the same beat as Prowl’s. His frame becomes a thing of motion, pushing and sliding against Prowl’s, charge crackling out and lighting up his armor, extending the overload until he feels like he’s drowning in it. The force of it leaves Sunstreaker weak and shaky in the aftermath, collapsing forward against Prowl, panting for ventilations.

Their sparks part, until only the furthest coronas are barely touching, like a soft caress. Sunstreaker sucks in several gulping ventilations, his forehead pressed to Prowl’s shoulder. He’s still shaking, and it’s the good kind of shaky. He feels like he could recharge soundly for once, without the threat of memory purges.

Prowl’s hands stroke down his back as he leans his head against Sunstreaker’s. “Thank you,” he murmurs.

Sunstreaker struggles to stir. “For what?” he mumbles, seeking coherency somewhere in the echoes of the overload. It’s left him almost giddy.

“For that gift.”

His chestplates start to close, slowly as if reluctant, and the last of their spark energy separates. “Feels like I got one, too,” Sunstreaker says. He hums low in his intake, nuzzling Prowl’s shoulder. “Wanna lay down now, I think.”

Prowl hums a laugh. “Indeed. I did not know a mere spark-share could be so exhausting.” He leans back, putting some space between them, which allows his own chestplates to seal, all three layers of them.

“Though I think to call that mere does it a disservice,” Prowl adds and a shiver visibly runs through his armor.

“It was pretty good.” Sunstreaker leans forward, lips leaving a trail of kisses along the curve of Prowl’s jaw. Their cooling fans rattle and purr, struggling to dispel the heat they’ve generated.

Prowl’s fingers tease along his backstrut. “Only ‘pretty good’?”

“Hush, you. Sound like your brother.” Sunstreaker shifts his weight and forces himself to withdraw from Prowl’s embrace, if only because he does want to lay down. His limbs feel as useful as rubber tubing, and there’s a heavy ache of satisfaction in his lines.

He stretches out across the berth, on his back, and is not surprised when Prowl covers him soon after like a blanket, their legs tangled. Prowl’s bumper notches against Sunstreaker’s chestplate, his sensory panels lying flat against his back, as he embraces Sunstreaker’s chassis.

Like brother, like brother, Sunstreaker thinks, amused. He’s often caught Sideswipe and Jazz snuggling like this, Jazz always on top of Sideswipe like a particularly clingy blanket.

“Do I now?” Prowl asks.

“You two are as different as the colors you share, but you’re the same, too,” Sunstreaker replies with a little laugh. “Except you try and pretend you’re not vain, whereas Jazz flaunts it.” Campily, granted, but flaunts it nonetheless. Jazz enjoys fishing for compliments.

Prowl chuckles. “I will concede to that.” His engine rumbles in tune with Sunstreaker’s, a soothing sound. “Though you are one to talk.”

Sunstreaker snorts a laugh. “Never said otherwise.” He strokes a hand down Prowl’s backstrut, between his sensory panels. “Thank you for asking.”

Prowl’s weight shifts on top of him, until their optics can meet. His expression is soft right now, open, where so often it is carefully schooled for the sake of others. Prowl is in a position of authority, and a certain neutrality is expected for that. But here, in this berth with Sunstreaker, he can be himself, and Sunstreaker thoroughly respects that gift.

“One day we will merge,” Prowl murmurs as he leans up, his lips brushing over Sunstreaker’s in a near-kiss. His ex-vents make for soft bursts of heat. “And I will know all of you, and you, all of me.” He shifts back, resting his head on Sunstreaker’s chestplate, over his central seam.

Sunstreaker trembles. “You might not like what you find.” He doesn’t let his processor wander to the darkness, not here in this sweet and soft place. Prowl knows, of course, of all the gladiator work Sunstreaker has done, the mechs he has incidentally killed as a matter of survival.

He doesn’t quite know, however, how different Sunstreaker is when caught up in the battlelust. He has yet to see Sunstreaker in the grips of survival, denta bared, energon staining his fingers. He’s professed that his memories of his time as Dent are not as clear as they ought, and the most recent of them the haziest. He doesn’t know how thoroughly Sunstreaker had offlined Starscream.

Sunstreaker fears the sight and knowledge might change Prowl’s opinion of him. Prove him for the guttermech he was born, the sort Prowl would have never taken home to his caretakers, Primus protect their sparks.

“I love you,” Prowl says, repeats, his hands stroking up and down Sunstreaker’s sides. “And if there is one thing of which I am certain, that will not change.”

Sunstreaker’s intake bobs. He squeezes his optics shut.

“Nor am I the innocent you think I am. Perhaps it is you who will be appalled by the truths in my spark,” Prowl adds.

Sunstreaker shakes his helm minutely. “Impossible.”

“Well, then. Is it so hard to believe I feel the same way about you?”

Sunstreaker pets the leading edges of Prowl’s sensory panels. “Curse you and your logic.”

Prowl chuckles and noses further into Sunstreaker’s intake. “You are not the first to say that.”

“You do realize that you’ll know Sideswipe, too?” Sunstreaker rebuts with a huff. Not that he’s trying to dissuade Prowl or anything, but a little warning can’t hurt. Sideswipe’s a certain kind of special, honestly.

Sunstreaker loves his brother. He truly does. But they do have their differences.

“A small price to pay.” Prowl ex-vents audibly and his weight settles more firmly over Sunstreaker’s, his field as much an embrace as his arms.

“You say that now, but you haven’t been in his head,” Sunstreaker mumbles, but there’s no heat to it.

He shutters his optics, matches his ventilations to Prowl’s, and lets the soft sweetness of the moment snatch him up. The berthroom is quiet around them, with only the faint glow of Iacon outside the tinted window to break up the dark. That and their biolights.

He’s happy, Sunstreaker realizes. There’s joy in his spark, in his frame. His field is wrapped around Prowl’s, knitting firmly together, and he’s safe and sound. Prowl is a blanket of love and safety, and Sunstreaker need only reach across his connection to Sideswipe to know his twin is annoyed, but equally safe and content.

“Prowl?”

“Hm?”

“I’m happy,” he says, and it’s so quiet. He’s afraid if he says it too loudly, something will come along and snatch it away.

Prowl’s embrace tightens. “As am I.”

His reply is equally soft, equally careful. In this, they are not so different. Starscream’s machinations had left scars on them both.

But here, they are happy. Here, they are safe and content.

For now, it’s a dream, a wish, made reality, and Sunstreaker intends to hold on to it tightly this time. This dream is his to protect, and he’ll fight to do so.

No matter what.

[PbN] Praise

“You have such a talented mouth,” Starscream purred. He cupped the back of Rodimus’ head as he guided his spike deeper down the not-a-Prime’s intake.

Rodimus’ optics half-shuttered. Oral lubricant formed a wet sheen on the stretch of his lips. His glossa nudged at the underside of Starscream’s spike, exciting sensory nodes one by one.

“You can take me deeper, can’t you?” Starscream’s thumb swept over a pointed crest; Rodimus’ armor visibly trembled. “Of course you can, pretty.”

He rolled his hips forward, ever so gently, the head of his spike briefly greeting the back of Rodimus’ intake.

“Good. Very good.”

Rodimus moaned deep in his chassis. He shifted, his field rising with restless need. His fingers kneaded at Starscream’s thighs, arms trembling where they hooked around Starscream’s legs.

Hm.

Starscream’s spike throbbed, but it was nothing compared to the thrill of discovery.

“Look at you, doing so well,” Starscream all but crooned. “You look beautiful like this. I could enjoy you all night.”

Rodimus whimpered, a lovely sound. His optics shuttered entirely. His frame twitched, spoiler all but dancing.

His intake accepted more of Starscream’s spike, oral ventilations diverting with an audible click. Oral lubricant filled his mouth and trickled out from the corners.

So. Rodimus-not-a-Prime had a praise kink. Delightful.

Starscream’s hand smoothed over Rodimus’ head again. He felt the shiver in Rodimus’ field, the desperate press of a glossa on his spike.

“Your mouth is so warm and welcoming,” Starscream murmured as he licked his lips. “You can swallow me. I know you can.” He eased forward, inch by precious inch, his spike slowly being consumed by delicious heat.

“That’s it. Good job.”

The words felt glib, awkward, ridiculous even. But they worked.

For Rodimus moaned. His engine purred. His intake opened, and there he was, lips and nasal ridge pressed to Starscream’s panel as Starscream throbbed within the grip of his intake.

“Beautiful,” Starscream whispered, again, for it was truth.

He struggled to stave off overload. He memorized for himself the sight of Rodimus’ face, colored in bliss, the sheer delight in Rodimus’ field, the outright pride.

Starscream wanted to enjoy this as long as he possibly could.

[PbN] Call Me, Definitely

The beeping poked Rodimus out of recharge. He flopped out a hand only to realize the beeping wasn’t an external alarm, but a private line.

He slapped at his comm without onlining his optics or checking the call tag. “Whothewhatnow?”

Amused laughter floated into his processor. “Did I wake you?”

“Hm? Star?” Coherency filtered through the haze. “Something wrong?”

“No.” He chuckled again. “Unless you count the fact that I’m currently alone in my berth.”

“Huh?”

“Slag, Primeling. You’re slow on the uptake, aren’t you?”

“I was recharging.” Rodimus flopped over onto his belly and tucked a pillow against his chestplate, folding his arms under it. “I pulled a double, you aft.”

“I guess you’re not interested in what I’m doing right now then.”

“Depends on what it is.”

Starscream purred into the comm. “I have my hand on my spike. And all I can think about is your mouth instead.”

All traces of sleepiness vanished with a jolt of arousal. “Whoa.” Rodimus squirmed. “Are we gonna do this?”

“Depends?” Starscream hummed a little moan. “What are you doing, baby Prime?”

Oh, slaaaaag.

Rodimus squirmed again, heat pulsing a steady rhythm through his lines. He buried his face in the pillow.

“Primus, I miss you,” he groaned as he started pushing one hand between his frame and the berth, fingers wriggling toward his array.

“Then come back soon. Because I have a toy with your name on it,” Starscream said.

Rodimus worked his intake. “Guh.”

Starscream chuckled, and ex-vented noisily into the comm. “You didn’t answer my question, Hot Rod.”

Oh, he was so screwed.

But this was still the best wake up call ever.

[G1] Behind the Scenes 02

02. Public Obedience

Wheeljack, for all of his wits, could be a bit slow on the uptake sometimes.

Prowl had been quiet for most of the evening, tucked as he was against Ratchet’s side, one of Ratchet’s arms slung over his shoulders. He’d sipped on his energon, commented a few times, but mostly sat and listened while Ratchet and Wheeljack chattered.

Wheeljack didn’t think anything of it.

Then Ironhide joined them later, loudly throwing himself down into the seat next to Wheeljack, and nudging him by the shoulder with a knowing smirk. Why, Wheeljack didn’t think to question.

Until Prowl shivered. His optics shifted to a darker hue. He fidgeted, and Prowl didn’t fidget, but Ratchet continued on like nothing was the matter. His free hand made broad gestures, nearly threatening to spill his high grade.

Wheeljack looked between them, a slow realization dawning, as Ironhide’s grin grew broader and he leaned forward against the table, watching with nothing short of eagerness.

Primus.

Wheeljack’s fans threatened to spin up.

Ratch and Prowl didn’t much play in outright public. Behind closed doors with invitations extended to a select few, sure. But not generally right here in front of all and sundry and anyone around in the rec.

Prowl was notoriously private, but every once in a while, his deeply buried exhibitionist kink reared its head and Ratchet, exhibitionist to the extreme, was always delighted to comply. They really were a perfect match.

Prowl shivered again and abruptly set his energon on the table, though he kept his hand curled around the cube. He turned in toward Ratchet, almost hiding his face in the broad curve of Ratchet’s windshield.

“Ratchet,” he said, though it better came out a plea, a visible tremor racing across his plating.

Ratchet blinked, full of innocence, and looked down at his mate. His fingers stroked the leading edge of Prowl’s nearest doorwing. “Yes, Prowl?”

Wheeljack’s breath caught in his throat. He wasn’t the only one rapt. Ironhide stared, and Wheeljack almost swore that the large mech drooled.

Prowl’s free hand abandoned the cube and moved to slip around Ratchet’s waist, hidden beneath his voluptuous bumper. To the rest of the rec, it almost looked like Prowl was taking a nap on Ratchet’s shoulder. But this close, Wheeljack could feel the sudden heat and need in Prowl’s field.

“Here?” Prowl asked.

Ratchet sipped at his mid-grade. He winked at both Wheeljack and Ironhide over the rim of it before he lowered the cube again. “I don’t plan on moving. I’m comfortable. What about you two?” Ratchet’s optics all but sparkled.

“Never been better,” Wheeljack chirped.

“Pit, I just got here. Haven’t even had time to realize how hard this chair is yet,” Ironhide said.

Prowl shivered again, pushing harder against Ratchet’s side. Wheeljack realized, if he listened really, really hard, he could just barely make out the sound of something buzzing.

Oh, Primus. His own array throbbed hard.

“There. See?” Ratchet turned his head, brushing his lips over the crown of Prowl’s head. “We’re all comfortable here. So you can just relax, love. And enjoy.”

Love, he said, yet his lips curled like a devil’s, and there was nothing short of smug dominance in his field. Primus but Ratchet was a menace. Oh, sure. He was kind as all get out, and he cared deeply for his fellow Autobots. But there was a need for control a mile wide in his spark, and that Prowl gave it to him so willingly was like a drug for Ratchet.

Come to think of it, that was probably the reason he and Ratch never got to be anymore than friends. Wheeljack trusted Ratchet, but he couldn’t imagine giving himself over to someone like that.

Prowl made a sound, a barely audible whimper, and his movements became more restless, though to the distant observer, they wouldn’t see anything at all. Only this close, at this table, could Wheeljack and Ironhide see how much he squirmed, how his lips parted in a narrow pant, how his optics flared and flashed.

Ratchet sipped at his energon again.

Ironhide loudly cycled his vocalizer. “How many?”

Ratchet slowly licked his lips. “Three,” he said, as nonchalant as you please.

“Primus,” Ironhide groaned, and sat back, his hand falling to his thigh, but not going any further. Not even he was bold enough to self-service right here and now. “Yer a menace, ya know that?”

Ratchet chuckled. “Is that jealousy talking?”

“Not anymore. I can’t wrangle ya, Ratch. I ain’t ashamed to admit that.”

“Three,” Wheeljack echoed faintly, and his valve clenched on nothing.

But where? He wondered. One in Prowl’s valve, for sure. One in his secondary port as well. But the third?

Wheeljack’s optics widened in sudden realization. “No,” he said, with a realized gasp. “Ratch, you didn’t.”

“I did,” Ratchet said, and sipped demurely at his cube again, while his hand continued to stroke Prowl’s doorwing and Prowl continued to twitch and shake and make cute little noises at his side.

Sweet Primus on a pogostick.

Wheeljack’s face heated. What would that feel like, he wondered. To have a vibrating object lodged in your spike sheath, pressing in on your depressurized spike, exciting sensors but not being able to extend your spike. What torture. What pleasure.

“Ratchet,” Prowl murmured, something in his tone pleading. He quivered, his faceplate heating, turning colors from what little of it Wheeljack could see.

Ratchet turned back toward his partner. “Yes, Prowl?” he asked, but something in the way he said ‘Prowl’ implied a different designation.

Prowl didn’t reply, but his doorwings shivered, and he ex-vented noisily, a loud burst of heat from his vents. His cooling fans ticked on with a telling whirr.

Ratchet placed his cube on the table, cupped Prowl’s head with his free hand, and dragged his fingers up, sliding them around the curve of Prowl’s face before he pinched the tip of Prowl’s chevron.

Prowl jerked, barely perceptible, and gnawed on his bottom lip.

“You don’t have to wait on me, Prowl,” Ratchet said, both devious and affectionate, as he dropped his hand back to his cube, settling into the seat as casual as you please. “You’re free to do whatever you want.”

Prowl whimpered.

Wheeljack might have, too.

He didn’t realize he was holding his vents, leaning forward, entirely enraptured, until Ironhide’s hand on his shoulder brought him back to reality. Ironhide was amused, but there was heat in his optics.

Wheeljack shivered.

Looked like he had another long night of christening every surface in his laboratory ahead of him. Not that he was at all complaining.

Ratchet and Prowl were damn inspiring.

Especially now, as Prowl pushed harder against Ratchet’s side, his engine purring. Permission must have been all he sought, because his lips parted in a soundless cry as he jerked hard, doorwings fluttering, hand forming a fist against Ratchet’s belly. His headlights flickered, emergency sirens warbling on the lowest frequency Wheeljack had ever heard.

He’d never wanted to bite a set of LEDs so hard in his life.

Prowl’s field flashed, there and gone again, but not so fast Wheeljack wasn’t bombarded with dizzying heat and lust.

He groaned, his own hands forming fists if only to keep from touching his own equipment. His valve ached, and his spike throbbed, and he was reminded of his own exhibitionist streak.

Prowl sagged against Ratchet, the tension gone from his frame, his faceplate pink. He didn’t look at Ironhide and Wheeljack, however. If anything, he now actually looked like he was going to recharge.

“And that’s that,” Ratchet said, putting his now empty cube onto the table. “So if you mechs don’t mind, it looks like Prowl’s done for the night so I think we’re going to skedaddle.”

Ironhide snorted. “I’ll say.”

“Shut up, you.” Ratchet laughed as he scooted out of the booth, tugging Prowl with him. “Come on, love. Let’s get you cleaned up.”

“Yes, Ratchet.”

Wheeljack shivered again. “Have fun,” he said, bracing his chin on his palm and his elbow on the table. He hoped he didn’t sound wistful and jealous.

Prowl’s cheeks darkened a little. He looked between Wheeljack and Ironhide and dipped his head in a nod. “Thank you for the company,” he said.

“Anytime,” Ironhide said.

Wheeljack watched them go, and hoped no one noticed how hard he was staring at Prowl’s aft. There was no outside indication of all the toys stuffed into him, but Wheeljack could imagine them easily enough.

His finials heated.

“Well, that’s it for me, too.” Ironhide slapped his hands on the table and stood up, only to peer down at Wheeljack. “Are you decent enough to join me, or would you rather go back to your lab and desecrate another image capture?”

Wheeljack jerked to his feet, nearly slamming his knees on the underside of the table. “That was – It’s not – I wasn’t–”

“Oh, yes, you were.” Ironhide chuckled and cupped Wheeljack by the elbow, guiding him away from the table. “What’s worse is Prowl has no idea how sexy he is, too. Am I right?”

Wheeljack groaned and resisted the urge to bury his face in his hands. “Ratchet is a menace. If I didn’t enjoy it so much, I’d ignore his invitations.”

Ironhide snorted and patted Wheeljack on the aft. “At least we got each other, eh? What say you frag me through the berth tonight?”

“Deal.”

And if Wheeljack hurried out of the rec room with a little more speed than was casual, oh the frag well.