05: A New Mission
Ironhide had hemmed and hawed and debated with himself for a week before he decided enough was enough and he had to say something. Because Wheeljack never would, the self-sacrificing fool, and Ratchet wasn’t paying attention.
So while they three piled into Prowl and Ratchet’s quarters – the two idjits finally agreed to start sharing instead of pretending they weren’t – Ironhide chose his words carefully.
“Ya should stop invitin’ Wheeljack,” he said, blunt and to the point. So maybe he hadn’t been as careful as he should have.
Ratchet leaned back into the thin couch. “Why?” he asked as Prowl came around with the decanter of spiced mid-grade, filling his cube. “You bored of playing with him already?” His lips curled. A tease then.
Ironhide shook his head and lifted his empty cube, giving it a waggle. “He’s getting attached,” he said.
Ratchet scoffed. “Pft. That’s ridiculous.”
“Perhaps not.” Prowl’s voice floated from behind Ironhide before he moved into view with the decanter of energon. Should have known not to think he was done yet. “I believe Ironhide may be correct. I enjoy an audience, Ratchet, but not at the expense of someone’s emotions.”
Ratchet stared at of them, and he looked baffled. “You both are wrong. Wheeljack’s fine.”
Prowl carefully filled Ironhide’s cube as Ironhide shook his head. “Yer pretty blind for a mech ‘sposed to be diagnosin’ folks,” he drawled. “And yeah, it ain’t attachment like love, and it ain’t about keepin’ Prowl either.” He lifted his chin to thank Prowl, who replied with a head tilt of his own.
Prowl set the decanter on the table between them. Wise mech. Wouldn’t want to have to go fetch it again, now would he? “Wheeljack is a romantic,” he said, thoughtful tone at the forefront, as he tucked himself onto the couch next to Ratchet. “He envies you.”
Ratchet’s optics narrowed. He squinted at Ironhide, then his mate, and then back again. “You’re serious.” His arm slipped over Prowl’s shoulders, hand curving inward so that his fingers could stroke over the barely visible collar around Prowl’s intake.
They enjoyed this, the subtle displays of their relationship in front of those privy to the truth. It gave them the freedom to be themselves, and it had stopped bothering Ironhide decades, frag probably even centuries, ago.
They just spun themselves their own way, and Ironhide reaped the benefits of a sexy and adorable free show.
“Wouldn’t say it if I wasn’t.” Ironhide sipped his energon and leaned back. “Jack’s a mighty fun dance partner and I’d hate ta lose ‘im, but he wants more than I wanna give.”
Ironhide liked Wheeljack, he really did. But he’d always been something of a wandering spark, never one to settle and commit himself. He had the feeling Wheeljack probably started out thinking he just wanted some fun, but started aching for something with a little more permanence.
He’d seen the way Wheeljack looked at Prowl and Ratchet. Half in awe, half in lust, and one-hundred percent in envy. Not because he wanted to frag Prowl – which he did, frag, Ironhide wouldn’t mind tumbling that pretty himself so who could blame him? – but because he wanted what Prowl and Ratchet had: a meaningful relationship full of love and trust.
“He doesn’t want Prowl,” Ratchet snapped, defensive. Probably out of guilt because bringing in Wheeljack had been his idea from the start.
They’d asked Ironhide his opinion, too. At the time, he’d thought it was a great idea. Jack was the sort of mech ya could trust, and he tended to roll with the punches, so he wasn’t likely to cause a fuss.
Now, Ironhide wondered if maybe he should’ve been paying better attention, too. How could he have missed that longing? Wheeljack’s favorite genre was romance, sometimes with a hint of comedy after all. Loved the ballads, Wheeljack did, though Primus knew he couldn’t carry a tune with all the buckets in the world.
“No.” Prowl snuggled into Ratchet’s side, his sensory panels pinned between himself and the back of the couch. “He wants what I stand for.”
Ah. So Prowl had noticed, too.
“Not a game like what you play either,” Ironhide said, giving his cube a wiggle, though it was yet half-full. “But a sparkling tale. Knight in armor.”
Ratchet frowned. “It’s not a game.” His thumb stroked Prowl’s collar, hooking under the delicate platinum band and giving it a small tug. “It never has been.”
Ironhide waved a dismissing hand. “I know that, Ratch. Been knowin’ that. So quit dodgin’.”
Ratchet ex-vented noisily then and scrubbed his free hand down his face. “Fine. I’ll talk to him.”
“Sure that’s a good idea?” Ironhide asked.
“There’s been some kind of misunderstanding here. Clear communication is–”
“–only going to make him feel worse,” Prowl interjected as he slid a hand to Ratchet’s thigh, fingers gently stroking up and down the white armor. “Especially if we continue to invite Ironhide, yet exclude him from this moment on.”
Ratchet growled, his free hand grabbing Prowl’s and setting it aside. Not in the mood apparently. He’d gotten his fanbelts all in a twist.
“Then what do you suggest?”
Ironhide shrugged. “Redirection,” he said, and purposefully took a long, lingering drag of his energon.
Ratchet scowled. “What?” He sounded offended. Well, tough.
Prowl tucked his hands under his thighs, his optics turned toward the floor. Ah, that wordless chastisement must have stung. “He may have a point,” he said. “Perhaps if Wheeljack had a partner of his own…”
“I’m not going to… to… trick Wheeljack into being with someone else,” Ratchet snapped, jerking forward, nearly unseating Prowl from beside him. He visibly bristled.
“That ain’t it, Ratch! Primus!” Ironhide rolled his optics and finished off his cube, crunching it into non-existence. “We’re just sayin’, I dunno, see if there’s someone his type and see if they spark.”
Ratchet leaned forward entirely, bracing his elbows on his knees. “If there was anyone in the Ark like that, don’t you think I’d know?”
Ironhide smirked. “Who says they gotta be an Autobot?”
“A Decepticon?” Ratchet pinched his chevron as he sighed. “Seriously?”
“Why not?” Prowl, Ironhide noticed, did not pout as visibly as say someone like Sunstreaker or Mirage, but the flutter of his doorwings echoed his disappointment.
Bad Ratchet, neglecting his pretty like that.
“It only takes a spark,” Prowl pointed out.
“Yeah, to ignite a fragging powder keg,” Ratchet muttered, throwing the reply over his shoulder.
It did, at least, have the added effect of making him notice Prowl. He sat back up and groped behind him for Prowl’s nearest wrist, pulling Prowl forward. The tactician made a startled sound as he was tugged across Ratchet’s lap, his bumper and belly tucked over Ratchet’s thighs.
Prowl squirmed, but only until Ratchet’s hand landed on his back, between his sensory panels, pinning him in place. Then Prowl went still and strutless, sinking over Ratchet’s lap like he belonged there, his arms pillowing beneath his head, his legs twisted at what had to be an awkward angle to hang over the edge of the couch so that his pedes brushed the floor.
Ratchet’s other hand rested on the back of Prowl’s head, fingers stroking it gently, and that’s when Prowl’s engine kicked into gear, purring with content.
Sometimes, Ironhide swore he didn’t understand those two.
“Ya know, sometimes sparks can ignite other things, too, ya overprotective nanny bot,” Ironhide retorted, after what seemed an embarrassing amount of time. “Like, ya know, affection that leads to peace.”
Ratchet vented and leaned back, his hands still gently stroking Prowl, who’d gone so limp his sensory panels flattened against his back like a blanket.
He did, however, manage enough to stir and turn his head toward Ironhide, though his optics were hazy. “You had someone in mind?” His backstrut arched, aft bobbing a little, as Ratchet stroked along the length of his back.
“Nope.” Ironhide slid his optics toward Ratchet with a sly grin. “But I’m bettin’ the Party Ambulance here does.”
Ratchet went rigid, his fingers stalling on their path toward Prowl’s aft. “Ironhide!” he snapped, hissing a warning, as his faceplate burned pink.
“I am aware of Ratchet’s history,” Prowl said even as he made another quiet, urgent noise, prompting Ratchet’s hand to continue. “To whom is he referring, Ratchet?”
The medic sighed and growled, his hand stroking over Prowl’s aft and lingering there. “Starscream,” he said.
Prowl’s sensory panels froze. His optics cycled.
Ironhide sorely wished he had an energon cube to hide behind, if only to conceal his Sharkticon grin and the way his optics hungrily followed Ratchet’s fingers as they started to dip between Prowl’s thighs.
“And it’s stupid,” Ratchet continued as he kept his hand between Prowl’s thighs, and judging by Prowl’s shiver and sudden kneading at the arm of the couch, his fingers were going to a very nice place. “It’s ridiculous. Of all the mechs–”
“Actually, Ironhide may have a point,” Prowl said, his vocals shuddery, his faceplate starting to heat. “Starscream is many, many things, but at his core is a mech desperate to be loved.” The last word petered off into the softest of moans, his aft rocking toward Ratchet’s fingers as he hauled his knees and legs onto the couch.
Ironhide nodded. “And here is Wheeljack, achin’ to love someone.”
Ratchet shook his head. “You’re both mad.”
“Probably so.” Ironhide shrugged dismissively. He knew that tone of Ratchet’s and what it meant. “But we aren’t wrong either.”
Ratchet cycled a ventilation. “Fine. Then both of you will come up with a plan that’s not going to blow up in all of our faces,” he said. “But later. Apparently, I have something that needs attending, isn’t that right, love?” He looked down at Prowl, his expression that intriguing blend of diabolic affection that never ceased to amaze Ironhide.
Prowl’s ventilations quickened. “Please,” he panted, knees digging into the couch cushions, his sensory panels quivering.
Ironhide licked his lips.
Ratchet withdrew his fingers, visibly damp with lubricant, and ignoring Prowl’s whine of displeasure. “Then get on the floor,” he said with a light swat to Prowl’s aft. “On your knees in front of me. But face our guest.”
Ratchet looked up at Ironhide and smirked, enough that Ironhide almost felt he should be the one obeying, too.
“Ironhide, if you’ll be so kind as to move that table,” Ratchet said as Prowl moved to obey, though slowly and with lubricant slicking his thighs. “I do believe my lovely here wants to give you a show.”
Ironhide’s engine revved. He almost leapt to obey, sliding the cheap table aside so that there was nothing to obstruct his view of Prowl on his knees between Ratchet’s legs. Lubricant dripped from his open valve, his pressurized spike standing proud at the apex of his thighs.
Ratchet leaned forward, one hand cupping Prowl’s jaw from behind. The hand, Ironhide noticed, still sticky from Prowl’s lubricants. Said sticky fingers were urged toward Prowl’s lips, and Prowl moaned as he sucked them into his mouth, optics going half-shuttered and dark with need.
“Well,” Ironhide drawled as he dropped back into his chair and made himself comfortable. “If he’s offerin’, then I suppose it would be rude of me to decline.”
Ratchet chuckled. “That’s right,” he said and dragged the fingers of his free hand along the top edge of Prowl’s nearest panel. “Go on then, love. Put those hands of yours to good use.”
Prowl moaned around Ratchet’s fingers again, his hands falling to his array, sweeping up lubricant and pre-fluid alike as he started to self-service.
Poor Wheeljack. He was gonna miss this.
But if he ended up with a pretty Seeker to call his own, maybe he wouldn’t mind so much.
Meanwhile, Ironhide intended to enjoy the show.