[SoF] Tangled Threads

My Sun, 

I love you. 

There I said it. Three little words. Funny how it took me so long to get them out. Yeah, you already knew it, just like I knew it, but the important part is in the saying it. Right? 

It’s too late for them to mean anything, I know. And I’m okay with that. You’re happy with Megatron, and that’s all I could have ever wanted for you. I want you to be happy, to smile, to belong. Even if it’s not with me. 

So I have to go. It’s not because of you, it’s because of me. I have to go because you’re right. I left something out there. And I think if I don’t go back for it, I’m going to regret that even more than never telling you those three words. 

I don’t want to regret anymore. So I have to do this. It’s a matter of–

“How many more times are you going to read that?”

Sunstreaker dimmed the screen of the datapad and tilted it against his chestplate. His gaze slanted to the left, where Megatron’s rumbling vocals had pulled him out of another review of Rodimus’ letter.

“Until I stop feeling guilty,” he murmured as a silver arm slid over him, tugging him into Megatron’s embrace.

Megatron nuzzled against his shoulder, ex-venting a soft sigh. “I believe the purpose of the letter was to assuage your guilt, love.”

“Maybe.” Sunstreaker tipped his head, leaning it against Megatron’s. “I’m starting to wonder if I didn’t say anything, not because I wanted to spare his feelings, but because I was protecting my own.”

“Mmm.” Megatron pressed a kiss to his shoulder armor, his field tangling around Sunstreaker’s firmly. “That may be true. And it may not be. Matters of the spark are never so clear.”

Sunstreaker swallowed a sigh and powered down the datapad, leaning over to rest it on the nightstand. “It doesn’t bother you?”

“I have never doubted your feelings for me.” Megatron’s ventilations evened out as he started a slow-cycle into recharge. “I understand that love has layers, and what we share is different than what you feel for him.”

Sunstreaker let the words wash over him, absorbing their meaning. Megatron did not push, which he was grateful for. He loved that about Megatron, point of fact. That he never became irritated because Sunstreaker was slow to understand the emotional or social implications of things. That he took time to absorb the more abstract aspects of interaction.

Sunstreaker cycled a ventilation. “Sometimes, I wonder if I deserve you,” he murmured, a moment of painful honesty, one he’d never voice where Sideswipe could hear, because he’d already heard Sideswipe’s objections to his own feelings of self-inadequacy.

“Of course you do.” Megatron’s tone was so candid that it rejected argument. “We deserve each other.”

Sometimes, Sunstreaker wondered.

His processor wandered back, to his memory core, to nearly a month prior, when fear had seized his spark and almost sent him into a blind panic. When the force of his feelings, and what they meant, had thundered through his audials, forcing him to confront a truth he’d been burying for years upon years.

It wasn’t the ferocious way Springer had pounded on the door that drew out the terror. It was the look in Springer’s optics as he said one of the worst things Sunstreaker had ever heard. The words washed into his audials and sent a flood of ice through his lines.

“What do you mean he’s missing?” Sunstreaker demanded, voice low and cold, through clenched denta, through control slipping between his fingers.

Sunstreaker did not yell or panic. No matter what anyone said, neither of those reactions emerged from his chassis. It only felt like they did.

“Meaning we can’t find him,” Springer replied, just short of a snarl, his optics narrowed. “Which is the only reason I’m talking to you right now.”

It took all Sunstreaker had not to punch Springer. Though there was still time. He and Rodimus’ batch-brother had never seen optic to optic on much of anything. Springer didn’t approve of Sunstreaker or Sideswipe, not even after they mated the Warchief.

Sunstreaker had no idea why.

No. Scratch that.

He had an inkling.

“I don’t know where he is,” Sunstreaker gritted out, rising to his full height, his armor clamping down tight around his frame. “So why don’t you? Aren’t you his brother?”

Springer’s engine growled. He shoved a fat finger in Sunstreaker’s face. His field surged forward, as aggressive as his tone. “Warchief’s mate or not, I will fight you, so don’t test me.”

“Try me,” Sunstreaker snarled, his hydraulics tensing, his field coiling around him, ready to strike back.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa.”

Red armor intercepted them, neatly slotting between Sunstreaker and Springer like he didn’t have a fear in the world. Sideswipe. Of course it was Sideswipe. Probably roused by the same noise that had driven Sunstreaker from his berth and the warm embrace of his mates.

Springer had better hope he hadn’t woken Megatron, too.

“You two can fight over who loves our boy more later, all right? Maybe we should focus on finding him first.” Sideswipe’s back knocked against Sunstreaker’s chassis in warning. He could just imagine the grin on his stupid twin’s face. That easygoing, but warning grin he gave to many a Firebrand thinking they could test the Warchief’s mates.

Springer set his jaw. “That was the plan,” he ground out, but wisely backed off a pace. “He didn’t show up for training, and no one’s seen him since before the storm started.”

“Okay,” Sideswipe said, hands raised still, like he wanted to be a red barrier, like he didn’t want to pound Springer’s stupid face in himself. “When was the last time anyone saw him?”

Sunstreaker kept his mouth shut. Only because his glare said it all, and Sideswipe was right. He cared more about finding Rodimus than he did about teaching Springer a lesson. He could dent the arrogant aft all he wanted after they found Rodimus safe and sound.

“After weapon instruction. Yesterday,” Springer answered, and Sunstreaker heard it like a roar in his audials, a great rushing wind. He knew, immediately, what had happened, just like he knew the guilt echoing in the glyphs of Springer’s answer.

“When he was talking to Silverspire and Torque?” Sunstreaker demanded, already knowing the answer, as the anger started to twist and coil in his internals.

Sideswipe tensed in front of him. “Sunny.”

It was a warning.

“It was a conversation,” Springer said, but his gaze went shifty, and his hydraulics creaked as he adjusted his weight.

It was guilt. Sunstreaker knew it when he saw it. He might be dumb when it came to most social interaction, but Sunstreaker knew the foul stench of guilt.

Sunstreaker’s engine snarled. He spun on a heelstrut and stomped away from both of them, the rage building to a fine froth. Those aft-headed slaggers were taunting Rodimus again, he just knew it.

“That’s not going to help find him!” Springer shouted after him, exasperation thick in his tone, his feet rooted in place like the guilt had sprung glue to keep him there.

Sunstreaker ignored him.

Sideswipe made a noise and chased after him. “What are you doing?” He made a grab for Sunstreaker’s arm, but he twisted out of the way, too quick.

“Getting answers,” Sunstreaker said, the fury thick in his frame, in his intake, boiling out through his lines, drawing his hands into tight fists.

Sideswipe’s engine growled. He balked, his field chased Sunstreaker. He made a sound as if he was going to argue, before he spun on a heel and went stalking back to their quarters. To Megatron, who should still be sleeping.

Good.

Sunstreaker had answers to find. And he knew exactly where to start looking.

Three corridors over, around the curve, and a level down, to the common room where the Firebrands, the newly trained, and the newly hopeful gathered. Times like these, heavy storms on the horizon and roaring overhead, the younger mechs crammed together to play games, chat, wile away the time and burn off restless energy.

Sunstreaker’s prey clustered together in a corner, laughing loudly, crouched as they were over some kind of card game with chore chips as stakes. The common room quieted the moment Sunstreaker was spotted, and a hush followed him as he cut through the crowd with ease. Sometimes, he was glad that his reputation preceded him. Mating the Warchief hadn’t tempered it that much.

His prey spotted him and none of them had the good sense to bolt. Instead, they stared back, like dynadeer in a hunter’s sightline. Questions hovered on the tip of Sunstreaker’s glossa, his engine growling in anticipation.

They started gibbering the moment they saw him. He didn’t even get a chance to pound the truth out of them, which was both frustrating and a relief.

“It’s not our fault,” Silverspire blurted out.

“He’s the idiot who believed us,” Clockwork agreed.

Sunstreaker didn’t raise his voice. He didn’t have to. “Where is he?”

“Probably trying to find the Deathbringer. Like an idiot,” Torque said from half-behind Silverspire’s bulk.

All three cringed behind the table, as if it would protect them from Sunstreaker’s wrath. Clearly, they hadn’t been paying much attention.

“The Deathbringer,” Sunstreaker echoed, and shot them all a scathing glance. “And where would he have gotten an idea like that?” Another ripple raced down his spinal strut. His engine growled.

Torque quailed.

Silverspire squared his shoulders.

But it was Clockwork who spoke. “Not like it’s not a story everyone doesn’t already know,” he babbled, a collection of double-negatives and defiance that petered away into a mumble. “He was desperate and willing to try anything. Can’t blame that on us.”

Could and would.

Sunstreaker set his jaw. He leaned forward; they leaned back much further. Their fields grated against his own, thick with anxiety. Sunstreaker almost snorted aloud. And these were the ones Megatron wanted to accept into the warriors?

Clearly he was being too lenient in his assessments.

“You know that even after accepting the badge, you’re still required to undergo training?” Sunstreaker said, careful to keep his tone as cold and even as ice.

They exchanged glances.

“Yes?” Silverspire ventured.

Sunstreaker smiled.

It was not a kind smile. It had far too much denta, and nothing of humor in his optics. Well, maybe a tad bit of humor. But not the kind that encouraged laughter.

“I will be one of your instructors,” he said and he leaned forward, his field flowing out and over them, caging them in as effectively as energon-laced bars. “And I am neither kind nor forgiving. Remember that.”

He left them with that promise. He spun on a heel and abandoned them to their cowardice. He would point out to Megatron, later, just what he and Wirelight had agreed to bring into their fold. Maybe the three could be salvaged, maybe not.

Liking Rodimus wasn’t a precedence for accepting the warrior’s badge. But being an aft and a bully was not acceptable.

Sunstreaker stalked out of the common room, aware that a pervasive silence settled in his absence. It followed him out, and it wasn’t until he was around the corner that the low murmur of conversation began again, though he was soon too far to pick up anything in particular. No doubt the rumor mill would churn with a fury.

He headed straight for the supply depot, already mentally compiling a list of the things he would need. Travel rations, certainly. Extra, external power packs. A few daggers, easily magnetized to his plating so they wouldn’t get lost in the storm. A thick, sand-resistant tarp to guard against the worst of the grating wind.

There was no guard at the door, and Sunstreaker had a key so he let himself inside. He snatched a travel pack from the hooks and started stuffing things into it, weighing each option carefully. He didn’t want to drag himself down by bringing too much, but he didn’t want to be unprepared either.

It occurred, however briefly, that he was being irrational. Perhaps unreasonable even. But there was a chill in his spark, a clenching squeeze that screeched of guilt. And concern.

Rodimus was his friend. One of his dearest. He was much, much more than that as well, but difficult to put into words, to define. Once, they had been lovers, frag buddies to put it crudely. Sunstreaker cared for Rodimus. Deeply. It wasn’t love, such as was defined by how he felt for Megatron, but it was something of equal worth.

He refused to leave Rodimus to the storm.

“What is this I hear about you terrorizing the Firebrands?”

Sunstreaker didn’t allow himself to stiffen at the voice, one which crept up on him and he should have heard, were he not so intent on his packing. Still, no one was around. They had privacy. He didn’t have to show Megatron the deference he did in public.

“Rodimus is missing,” he said as he shoved another handful of rations into the small pack. He would need to travel light. “And those afts are partially to blame for it.”

“Did they tie him up and throw him into the Barrens?”

Sunstreaker’s armor clamped down, tension coiling in his hydraulics. “Verbal bullying is no better than physical torment. You know that as well as I do.”

“I’m not saying they’re innocent.” Gears creaked and pistons hissed. Megatron moved up beside him, all bulk and presence, his hand falling over Sunstreaker’s, mid-reach to another dagger he could strap to his thigh. “There’s a storm, Sunstreaker.”

“Which is why I have to find him quickly.”

Megatron’s fingers curled around his wrist, tight enough to warn, but not enough to threaten. “You don’t know where he is or how far he’s gotten, and Soundwave tells me there’s a greater electrical interference in this storm. You go out there, and you’ll just get yourself killed.”

Sunstreaker ground his denta. “I have to find him.”

“You’re not responsible for him.”

“I am!” His vents roared as he whipped around to look up at his mate. “If I’d just–” He bit off, unwilling to complete the admission, though Megatron knew it already. He dropped his gaze, staring hard at Megatron’s chestplate. “I should have paid more attention.”

Immediately, he was enfolded in his mate’s arms. Megatron was the only one he let hold him like this, Sideswipe notwithstanding. There was safety here, safety that he could find with no one else. Not even Rodimus, who he loved so dearly.

“It is not your fault,” Megatron murmured, his head tilted against Sunstreaker’s, his hands warm and firm on Sunstreaker’s back.

He clung to Megatron, his rock in the storm of emotion rampaging through his spark. He shuttered his optics. He cycled his vents, alarmed to find them shuddering.

“Say it enough, I might even believe you,” Sunstreaker replied with another shaky vent. He dug his fingers into Megatron’s seams, hooking in, keeping him close. “Did Sideswipe send you?”

Megatron’s engine rumbled. “He was concerned.”

“Tattler.”

The smallest of chuckles rolled out of his mate’s intake. He stroked Sunstreaker’s back again, long and warm sweeps of his palm. “Perhaps. But he was right to be worried.” Megatron’s head pushed harder against his. “As much as you care for Rodimus, I can’t allow you to go after him in this storm. I’ll not lose you.”

His fingers tightened; he heard them creak. His spark shriveled down with the painful truth. “What kind of friend would I be, to leave him out there to die?”

“You don’t know that he will.”

“You’re so certain that death will find me if I go after him.”

Megatron’s silence was confirmation. Another full shudder ripped through Sunstreaker’s frame. He buried his face against Megatron’s chassis, dragged in the scent of him, hot metal and weldfire and plasma energy.

“He’s such an idiot,” Sunstreaker choked out, heat burning like slag behind his optics, and his intake thick and tight.

Megatron’s hands became a lifeline, a point of connection, where they swept steadily up and down his back. “Soundwave estimates the storm will burn itself out in a week, perhaps less if we are lucky. The moment it is safe, I will send out a search party.”

To find something to bury, Sunstreaker assumed. A heavy shudder raked through his armor. He couldn’t get any closer to Megatron, but he tried. His spark ached, and that was when warmth pressed against him from behind, and he knew from the echo, that it was Sideswipe. Who, mercifully, said nothing. Only pressed his forehead to the back of Sunstreaker’s neck and held tight.

Apologies clawed out of his vocalizer and caught in his intake, sticking there. He prayed to a deity he never much gave any credit to, and he hoped.

He hoped that Rodimus remembered what he’d been taught. That the brat had found somewhere to hole up and wait out the storm. That he’d seen it coming and knew what to do.

He hoped and he prayed and wondered if he was fool for bothering with both.

Not long after, and not long enough later, responsibility pried Megatron away from them. He urged both Sunstreaker and Sideswipe to return to their quarters.

Well, urged as in ordered, and Sunstreaker didn’t have the state of mind to disobey. He let Sideswipe drag him back to their room. He let Sideswipe help him disarm all of his extra weaponry, tumbling the daggers and the grenades and the blasters into their weapons bin. He let himself be pulled to one of their chairs, pushed down into it. He accepted the energon Sideswipe handed him.

The need to act coiled like a hungry turbowolf inside of him. Sunstreaker was a warrior, born and bred. Patience was not one of his better virtues. He was not built to wait.

Sideswipe dropped down beside him, lounging on the floor as he was wont to do, his repose lackadaisical but Sunstreaker knew his brother far too well. Sideswipe could spring to action in a moment’s notice. There was wariness in the way he looked at Sunstreaker, like he’d become a type of skittish mechanimal.

Maybe he wasn’t wrong.

Time passed slow, achingly slow, trapped as he was in these rooms, as large as they were. Sideswipe remained his constant companion, offering empty conversation, trying to draw Sunstreaker into some kind of entertainment, a spar or two.

Sunstreaker could only focus on the shriek of the wind, the sound of the ferocious sand as it battered at the defense of their settlement, the gathered noise of their clan, everyone indoors and caged just as he. They were as much nomadic as they were settled, and many of the hunters were eager to get back to their duties.

Sunstreaker started to pace a circuit around their living quarters, a path he could walk in his recharge, so often had he done this. Restless energy did not make for a calm life, especially as he grew more and more agitated. The storm would not abate, and no word had been found from Rodimus.

They wouldn’t, either, not with this storm. Communications were down across the board. They couldn’t even contact the clan nearest to them.

Megatron had all but ordered Sunstreaker stay in their quarters. He didn’t want to risk Sunstreaker looking for Rodimus. In the privacy of their quarters, Sunstreaker could argue. But Megatron had made the proclamation in front of the clan. As Warchief.

Sunstreaker couldn’t disobey.

Or shouldn’t.

His engine growled. He stomped through another circuit, shooting a glance toward the doorway. He felt trapped in here, like a caged mechanimal, a toxicougar who hadn’t fed. He should be out there. Looking. Not pacing around in here like a kept pet.

He needed to be moving. He couldn’t stay in here for the rest of the week. He at least needed to be somewhere else or he’d worry himself into a spark-attack.

Sunstreaker whirled and stomped toward the door.

He was immediately intercepted by Sideswipe. “Where are you going?” his twin asked, with a smile that was far from casual.

Sunstreaker drew up short and narrowed his optics. “Out.”

“Ohhh. I want to go out, too. We should go together.” Sideswipe nodded firmly, as though this was a given and shouldn’t be ignored. He planted his hands on his hips and added a jaunty grin.

Sunstreaker didn’t fail to notice Sideswipe was between him and the door. He hated that, even for a moment, he considered taking Sideswipe down to make his escape. He could do it and had done it. He won two times out of three when he sparred against his brother.

Sunstreaker cocked his head. He folded his arms over his chest. “What? Are you my sitter now?”

Sideswipe’s grin never lost its steam. “Well, someone has to stop you from being an idiot.” He planted his hands on his hips, thrusting his chassis forward, as if it would intimidate.

Sunstreaker snorted. “Well, I’m sorry I’m the only one worried.”

A flinch and Sunstreaker knew he’d scored. The smile wiped itself from Sideswipe’s face, his optics going hard, like energon crystals.

“You think I don’t care?” Sideswipe asked, his voice low and cold and for a fraction of a second, Sunstreaker had an idea of what those strut-less Firebrands had felt. “You think I don’t wanna find him, too? You think I haven’t considered diving out into that storm to bring his sorry aft back here?”

Sunstreaker set his jaw. Even when Sideswipe flung a hand in a seemingly random direction, but one Sunstreaker knew aimed toward the main entrance and main outer gate.

“Do you think I haven’t already considered every route, every possibility, every cave between here and the rumors?” Sideswipe demanded and his farflung hand trembled. “Just because I’m an inch more of a tactician, an inch more realistic to know that there’s nothing I can do more than I’m doing now, that makes me sparkless? How is getting myself killed going to help anyone?”

Silence. Only because Sunstreaker didn’t have a retort that wasn’t petulant or would add fuel to the flame. Each word landed in his audials like a physical strike, as clear and obvious as the pain in Sideswipe’s vocals.

It hadn’t made him feel better, to hurt Sideswipe the same way he hurt. It never did. Yet, Sunstreaker kept doing it anyway. All his life, he’d done this. Sideswipe still forgave him for it. Every time.

Frag if Sunstreaker knew why.

Sunstreaker dropped his gaze. He stared at the floor around Sideswipe’s feet. There were several scrapes in the swept stone here, flecks of paint caught in the scratches: black, gray, bits of red and yellow. They’d tackled each other more than once, sometimes sparring, sometimes for a bit of playful fooling around.

Sideswipe’s feet moved. He came closer.

His voice gentled, as it always did, when Sunstreaker should apologize and didn’t, because here as always, Sideswipe was the better mech.

“Look, I get it okay,” Sideswipe murmured, his field reaching as much as his voice did, and he tapped on his end of the bond, the strings connecting them vibrating until they touched Sunstreaker’s spark, too. “But just… you gotta wait. We all do. And as soon as the storm clears up, we’ll go look. Soundwave’s gonna send out the bird twins. Wrench is gonna contact some old pals of him. We’ll find him. And he’s gonna be fine.”

It was hard to ventilate. It felt like someone had reached into his chassis, put their hands around his pumps, and squeezed.

“He’s in the desert. In the middle of a sandstorm,” Sunstreaker said to the floor. His own pessimism was a knife to the back.

Sideswipe moved even closer, and he didn’t have to offer his arms before Sunstreaker slipped into them, the tremble in his knees radiating up his spinal strut.

“So? He’s a smart kid,” Sideswipe said.

Sunstreaker snorted, his face buried in the crook of his twin’s intake. Their chestplates knocked together, and he could feel the answering pulse of Sideswipe’s spark, even through their layered armor.

“Okay, so he’s a resourceful one at any rate,” Sideswipe corrected, a touch of humor in his voice, his arms enclosing Sunstreaker much as Megatron’s had. “And we trained him. Have a little faith in him.”

Sunstreaker worked his intake. “There’s a line,” he began quietly, “between trusting in someone’s abilities, and fooling oneself to the practicalities.”

“You’ve been spending too much time with Dead End.”

Sunstreaker opted to say nothing. He shuttered his optics and focused on the rhythm of Sideswipe’s vents and the pulse of his twin’s spark. It was an age-old tactic he’d used to center himself, to ground himself when it felt like his emotions were going to swallow him whole. Sideswipe had always been the steady one.

Sideswipe vented and patted Sunstreaker on the back. “You’re such a drama queen,” he murmured, but there was an affectionate cant to his vocals.

“Shut up.”

“Love you, too.”

Sunstreaker could be incredibly dense sometimes. He missed the subtleties of social interaction. Mostly, he didn’t care whether people liked him or not, so long as he had a few close friends. He was painfully unaware of certain things.

But he was not stupid.

He swallowed down the rest of his plans to go after Rodimus. He knew they were all foolish and suicidal besides. He couldn’t help Rodimus by dying. He could do nothing but be patient. He had to wait.

Until the storm ended, Sunstreaker was agitated and unsettled. He made everyone around him miserable, stalking as he did through the halls, snapping at anyone who dared smirk in his direction. Firebrands quickly learned to give him a wide berth, especially those Sunstreaker blamed for Rodimus’ stupid but understandably desperate action.

The hours and minutes crawled by. Days felt as weeks. Sunstreaker spent a lot of time standing just within the front entrance, staring out into a world that was nothing more than swirling sand, roaring wind, and no visibility, even with his advanced sensors. This was one of the worst storms he’d ever seen, and his only consolation was that the more fierce the storm, the quicker it burned out.

It was a little under a week until the storm dulled enough that they could risk sending out search parties. Sunstreaker volunteered for every one. He didn’t know what he’d find. He was afraid of it.

But he also didn’t want to be back at the settlement when they found him. He wanted to be there, to hug Rodimus, and then slap the sense back into the idiot. He didn’t want to wait for answers anymore. He wanted to find them himself.

He was on his way back from another search party, from another sector, another long circle of sweeping sensors with Laserbeak flying overhead, when Megatron pinged him. When the message came crackling across his comm, and sent a surge of relief through his spark.

Rodimus is home.

Three words and the bottom fell out of Sunstreaker’s spark. His knees wobbled. He would have dropped out of sheer relief, if he’d been alone or around mechs he dared show weakness. Instead, he’d barked orders and turned toward home.

He hadn’t wanted to dare believe. He hadn’t wanted to hope. He wondered if it was a dream, that maybe he was in recharge and imagining Rodimus could have somehow survived that storm and come back to them.

It wasn’t until he came over the horizon, until he sped toward the entrance, following the pull of Megatron on his end of the bond, until he saw that red and orange and yellow armor, the familiar jut of a spoiler, that it felt real.

Sunstreaker owed so many apologies. But later, he told himself, as he swept Rodimus up into his arms, his optics hot and burning at the sound of an adorable, and familiar, startled squeak. As Rodimus squirmed in the embrace and chuckled.

To see Sunstreaker, anyone would think that Rodimus was his lover. Certainly his behavior made it seem so, and he knew it did. He’d looked at Megatron, expecting his mate to be angry, disappointed, jealous even. The cold clench of resignation. A sensation of abandonment.

Instead, he’d found understanding. A small smile on Megatron’s lips. Relief as bright in his optics as it was in Sunstreaker’s spark.

That look had been a comfort, a reassurance. Megatron understood. Sunstreaker loved Megatron, in words that he couldn’t express. He’d accepted Megatron’s courtship and mated Megatron, and there was no one he loved like this more.

He loved Rodimus, too. But not the way he loved Megatron. And there were no words for the gratitude that flooded him then, the way he felt when he realized Megatron understood and wasn’t angry.

It had been that moment, Sunstreaker contemplated back in the present, that he’d fallen for Megatron all over again. So while reading Rodimus’ letter made his spark clench, made the guilt settle in, he could turn into Megatron’s arms, pillow his head on Megatron’s chassis, and know that his mate understood.

It was balm to the burn.

“You’re right,” Sunstreaker murmured as he slid a hand around Megatron’s chassis, feeling the quiet thrum of his mate’s purring engine beneath his palm.

Megatron chuckled against his audial, low and deep. “I always am.”

“Don’t get ahead of yourself.”

Another soft laugh tickled Sunstreaker’s audial as Megatron ex-vented soft and warm. “And what if I want to kiss you? Am I allowed that?”

A shiver slipped down Sunstreaker’s spinal strut. “Always,” he murmured, before Megatron’s mouth slid toward his, capturing his lips in a sweet, sultry kiss.

A rush of liquid warmth pulsed through Sunstreaker’s lines. He held on to Megatron, clutching his mate close, and moaned quietly when Megatron shifted to blanket Sunstreaker’s frame with his own. Megatron was larger and heavier, but somehow, held beneath him felt less like being trapped and more like being kept safe.

The kiss deepened, Megatron’s glossa sliding against his, careful and exploratory. The berth dipped beneath Sunstreaker as Megatron braced his weight with an arm, and let the other drag teasing fingers down Sunstreaker’s side. His knees bracketed Sunstreaker’s hips, the warmth and weight of him enclosing Sunstreaker entirely.

He didn’t have to ask for forgiveness, because there was nothing to forgive. That was what he felt in Megatron’s field, which pulsed nothing but comfort and affection at him.

He was lucky, Sunstreaker thought. He was so very lucky.

Megatron’s mouth wandered away, a gentle kiss pressed to the corner of Sunstreaker’s mouth before it followed the curve of his jaw to his audial. He ex-vented a tickling rush into Sunstreaker’s helm vent.

“What else am I allowed?” Megatron murmured in that deep, silken voice of his which never failed to send tremors down Sunstreaker’s spinal strut. “What would you have of me, only one?”

Sunstreaker moaned softly, well aware that Sideswipe still recharged on the berth beside them. “Everything,” he replied in a voice equally hushed.

Megatron chuckled against his audial. “You already have that.” His lips grazed a sultry path into the curve of Sunstreaker’s intake. “You’ll have to be more specific.” Teasing fingers stroked into Sunstreaker’s lateral seams.

A universe of choices then, because there had been nothing Sunstreaker asked for so far, which Megatron had denied him. He had only to whisper, to plea, to demand, and Megatron yielded, with need and affection in his optics.

Sunstreaker’s grip shifted to Megatron’s hips, fingers hooking around seams and pulling him down, as he rolled up and ground against Megatron’s groin. Heat answered him back, searing and hungry.

“Want you inside me,” Sunstreaker panted as the berth creaked and shifted, as he felt the slide of hot armor against his own. His valve ached, cycling into readiness, lubricant already slicking the metalmesh walls and causing his calipers to click restlessly.

Lips burrowed into the hollow of his intake, warm and wet on the sensitive cables. “That I can most certainly do,” Megatron purred, the vibrations of his words sending a thrill up Sunstreaker’s backstrut.

His panels snapped open. Any other time he would have been embarrassed by the need in his frame, but with the appreciative flush in Megatron’s field, and the answering pulse of desire, embarrassment was the furthest from Sunstreaker’s mind.

He swallowed down a moan as Megatron shifted, his mouth sliding down ever so slowly, lips discovering the length of Sunsteaker’s chestplate, over the flat of his abdominal armor, and to the peeping head of Sunstreaker’s spike.

Warmth enclosed the tip, a glossa poking at his transfluid slit. Sunstreaker’s hips all but arched off the berth, were it not for Megatron’s hands cradling them, keeping him pinned. Desire lurched through his frame, pooling southward, sending arousal hot and heavy through his array.

“Not fair,” he hissed subvocally.

A soft chuckle vibrated around the head of his spike. Megatron looked up at him, optics dark with lust and humor, before he let Sunstreaker slip from his mouth.

“All’s fair when it comes to the berth,” he murmured and dipped his head further down, his lips brushing over Sunstreaker’s anterior node.

Fire licked up his backstrut, and Sunstreaker fisted the berth covers, his backstrut curving once more. “This… is not obedience,” he groaned softly, lights dancing in the back of his optics.

Soft ex-vents teased his valve, lips brushing over his swollen rim and a glossa sweeping in to lap up the lubricant trickling free. “Can’t I have a little taste first?” Megatron asked, half-deference, half-plea, fully contrary.

Sunstreaker’s thighs trembled. “You just did,” he said, and hoped it sounded firmer aloud than it did in his head, because he was tempted now. He didn’t know if he wanted Megatron’s spike or his glossa buried between his thighs.

“Ah, but I am ever so greedy,” Megatron said with another long, savoring lick up the length of Sunstreaker’s valve, ending with a suckle to his swollen anterior cluster.

Sunstreaker sucked air through his denta, his valve throbbing. “Megatron,” he moaned, and knew there was no way Sideswipe still recharged, not with all the noise they were making. “Spike me. Now.”

Megatron cradled his hips, pressing a kiss to Sunstreaker’s valve. “As you wish.” He lifted his head, his lips glistening with Sunstreaker’s lubricant.

Sunstreaker almost shoved his head back down, save that his valve was desperate for something to pierce it. Instead, he gripped the berthcovers tighter, thighs trembling with anticipation as Megatron sat back on his heels, spike standing proud and glistening with pre-fluid. His biolights pulsed a slow, steady throb of need, and Sunstreaker’s valve ached.

More lubricant trickled free even as Megatron shifted his position, pulling Sunstreaker’s hips toward him. He leaned forward, blanketing Sunstreaker’s frame with his own. The head of his spike nudged Sunstreaker’s swollen rim, sending a shock of need through his lines.

Sunstreaker canted his hips upward, urging with his frame as well as his field. His valve rippled.

“Spike me,” he demanded again, more forcefully this time. “Now.”

Megatron’s optics glittered at him. “Yes, love.” He rolled his hips forward, spike sliding into Sunstreaker achingly slow, filling him inch by inch, until the thick head brushed Sunstreaker’s ceiling node.

He moaned, head tipping back, a shiver rattling him from head to foot. His thighs trembled where they bracketed Megatron, pressing in, keeping his mate close.

Megatron held himself deep, circled his hips, grinding slow and sweet against Sunstreaker’s ceiling node. Sparks of pleasure danced up and down Sunstreaker’s backstrut. He moaned a little louder, grasping at Megatron, pulling him closer.

“More,” he demanded.

Megatron leaned in, nuzzling Sunstreaker’s face. “All you want,” he promised, and withdrew until only the tip of his spike lingered, before he pushed in again, just as slow and steady.

He started up a pace, long and deep strokes that made Sunstreaker’s nodes sing and charge build hot and heavy in his array. He writhed beneath Megatron, holding his mate tight, gasping out demands for more.

Suddenly, Megatron’s rhythm stuttered. He gasped out a hungry sound, optics flaring, back arching. He pressed deep and shivered.

“Don’t stop!” Sunstreaker demanded, urging Megatron on with a press of his knees, a tightening of his grip.

His brother’s head popped up from behind Megatron, hooking his chin over Megatron’s right shoulder. “Is this a private party or can anyone join?” Sideswipe asked, all mischief and lust, one hand sliding around Megatron’s abdomen and the other nowhere in sight.

Though judging by Megatron’s quickened vents and the flush of heat in Megatron’s face, Sunstreaker could guess where it’d gone.

“Stop it,” he hissed as Megatron throbbed in his valve and shook with evident struggle to restrain himself. “You know he can’t hold back when you do that.”

The slick noise of fingers in lubricant was barely audible over three sets of whirring fans. Megatron shivered again, hips rocking as Sideswipe’s fingers slid into him. Two, maybe three? Sunstreaker couldn’t see, and it didn’t matter.

“I can so,” Megatron grunted, but the way he sagged on top of Sunstreaker as blue fire sparked along his frame argued otherwise.

Sideswipe chuckled and nosed his way into the side of Megatron’s throat, lips and denta marking a hot path. “No, you can’t,” he purred and did something to make Megatron thrust harder into Sunstreaker, grinding against his array and tapping his exterior node.

Sunstreaker moaned. He rocked up against Megatron as his mate started to move again, faster now, sharper thrusts that lit up Sunstreaker’s nodes with ecstasy. Sideswipe looked outright devious as he nibbled on Megatron’s throat, and no doubt fingered him without restraint.

Megatron hunched forward, gasping, his optics dark and heavy. His thrusts became erratic, desperate, grinding hard and deep into Sunstreaker. The base of his array was a heavy pressure on Sunstreaker’s external node, licking fire up and down his backstrut. Sunstreaker groaned, trying to drag Megatron closer, trying to cling to the rising coil of need in his groin.

He was so close. Release was within his grasp. He just needed a little more–

Megatron’s rhythm stuttered. He gasped as he stilled, slamming deep into Sunstreaker, transfluid spurting a hot gush inside Sunstreaker’s valve, washing over his nodes and setting them ablaze. It wasn’t enough, however, and Sunstreaker snarled angrily as Megatron slumped over him, vents whirring and frame trembling.

“I told you!” Sunstreaker seethed as he bucked his hips, trying to get friction, any kind of friction really. Need pulsed in his lines and whirred through his spark. His engine hiccuped from the stalled pleasure.

Sideswipe chuckled and curled an arm around Megatron, pulling him back. “Relax, bro. I always get you taken care of, don’t I?” he asked even as he did something to make Megatron shudder, his optics brightening.

“I would apologize, but I suspect Sideswipe has some plan he intends to follow,” Megatron rasped as his hands slid up Sunstreaker’s legs and curled around his knees, tickling the undersides.

Sunstreaker thumped his fists on the berth. “I don’t care about Sideswipe’s plan. I care about getting off!”

Sideswipe’s hand slid down Megatron’s belly, his fingers curling around their mate’s semi-pressurized spike and giving it a squeeze. “The plans includes that, don’t worry.” He nuzzled into Megatron’s throat and nipped with his denta. “Sun’s got such a pretty spike, doesn’t he? Why don’t you taste it?”

Megatron shivered, his optics half-shuttering as the hot weight of his gaze slid to Sunstreaker’s spike. His glossa swept over his lips.

Sunstreaker slid a hand down his frame and fingered the tip of his spike, which extruded pearls of pre-fluid at a rapid pace. “You owe me,” he said. “Both of you.”

Sideswipe was still going to pay later, no matter how much Sunstreaker would enjoy this now. He hated having his pleasure delayed. Sideswipe was the one with an overload-denial kink, not Sunstreaker.

“Indeed I do,” Megatron murmured. Lust darkened his tone into a heavy syrup that drizzled into Sunstreaker’s audials.

Megatron bent forward, curling his arms around Sunstreaker’s thighs from beneath them, cradling Sunstreaker’s hips with his hands. He rubbed his cheek over Sunstreaker’s spike, his gaze holding Sunstreaker’s as he did so. Half in challenge, half in promise.

A shiver danced up Sunstreaker’s spinal strut. He felt every hot ex-vent over his spike. More pre-fluid trickled free, glistening at the tip. His valve clenched, raw with emptiness.

“You two make such a gorgeous picture,” Sideswipe said as he knelt behind Megatron, one hand on their mate’s back, the other gripping his hip.

Sunstreaker couldn’t see Sideswipe’s spike, but he could imagine where it was. Pressurized and needy, the head of it nudging Megatron’s valve, teasing the plush lips before slowly piercing his rim, gradually filling Megatron. He could tell how deep Sideswipe went by Megatron’s rumbles, increasing in strength and volume.

Megatron ex-vented hot and wet over Sunstreaker’s spike. His cheek rubbed the length of it again.

“Stop teasing,” Sunstreaker growled as he bucked his hips as much as he was capable. “Put me in your mouth!”

The vibrations of Megatron’s laugh rattled along Sunstreaker’s spike. He snarled at his mate, hips rolling up again, only to finally sink into Megatron’s mouth, his spike eclipsed in wet heat. Charge licked up Sunstreaker’s backstrut as the head of his spike teased the back of Megatron’s intake before his mate eased off and focused on the head, slurping at it, his glossa poking at Sunstreaker’s transfluid slit.

“Obedience looks good on you,” Sideswipe purred as he gripped Megatron’s hips and ground against his aft, no doubt sinking deep by the way Megatron groaned around Sunstreaker’s spike, his optics half-shuttering in pleasure.

Sideswipe thrust and rocked Megatron forward, driving the pace of Megatron’s mouth on Sunstreaker’s spike. Wonderful heat and suction, the swipe of a clever glossa and the wet sounds it made as oral lubricant mixed with the pre-fluid seeping from Sunstreaker’s spike.

He groaned louder and reached down, gripping Megatron’s head with both hands, holding him in place so he could thrust gently into his mate’s mouth. Judging by the sound Megatron made, the way his energy field rose up and entangled with Sunstreaker’s, so thick with lust, he enjoyed the directing. Only here, in the berth, did Megatron enjoy being told what to do.

Megatron’s hands tightened on Sunstreaker’s hips, his moans vibrating against Sunstreaker’s spike as his intake rippled around the head of it. Sunstreaker shivered and thrust up into Megatron’s mouth, pleasure rebuilding into a crescendo inside of him, lust like a hot knife and a sizzle through his lines.

“Yesssss,” Sideswipe hissed, his pelvis clanging against Megatron’s aft as he thrust harder and faster, yanking Megatron back onto his spike and shoving him forward again, onto Sunstreaker’s spike, forcing him deeper. Sideswipe’s lust spilled into the room, tangling with Sunstreaker’s and driving his even higher.

Sunstreaker growled and tossed his head back, the spiral of hunger building into a tense knot threatening to boil over. His heels kicked at the berth. Charge raced across his armor, breaking up the dim.

“You close, bro?” Sideswipe asked, his optics the blue fire of lust. “Gonna spill in our mate’s mouth? Fill him up?”

Megatron moaned around Sunstreaker’s spike as if begging for it. His hips pushed back into Sideswipe’s thrusts, his hands squeezed Sunstreaker’s hips to the rhythm.

Sideswipe chuckled darkly. “Think he likes that idea.” He slid his hands over and around Megatron’s aft. “Don’t swallow, Megatron. Not yet at least.”

Oh, Primus.

Sunstreaker choked on a gasp, the implication in Sideswipe’s words shoving him over the edge. He bucked up, ecstasy slamming through his frame, making sparks dance in his optics as he overloaded, transfluid pumping into Megatron’s mouth. He held Megatron’s head firmly, only the dimmest focus keeping him from squeezing too tight.

Megatron moaned around his spike, his optics flaring with desire. His hands gripped Sunstreaker’s hips hard enough to dent, drips of lubricant and transfluid dribbling out of the corners of his mouth.

“Yes,” Sideswipe hissed as he bent over Megatron from behind, slamming into him. “Don’t swallow. Hold it in your mouth. Savor it.”

A shiver wracked Megatron’s frame. He tongued at Sunstreaker’s spike, more mingled fluids dripping from the corner of his mouth.

“Adaptus,” Sideswipe breathed and abruptly leaned back, tugging on the back of Megatron’s collar fairing as he did so.

Sunstreaker groaned, releasing his hold on Megatron and shoving a hand between his thighs, plunging three fingers into his valve. Megatron reared upright, hands flailing before they found a hold on Sunstreaker’s knees. His spike bobbed at the apex of his thighs, streaked with the evidence of his earlier overload.

Sunstreaker ate up the sight of Sideswipe tugging Megatron into a sloppy, wet kiss, Sunstreaker’s transfluid staining their lips and passing between them. Sideswipe’s free hand slid around Megatron’s belly, reaching down to grip his spike firmly. Megatron groaned into the kiss, his hands squeezing Sunstreaker’s knees.

Sunstreaker’s fingers plunged deeper, raking the sensitive nodes on the inside of his valve. Megatron’s aborted spiking left him with a lingering ache. He hissed his pleasure, hips pumping up into his fingers, as he watched his mates move together, sharing a wet and heated kiss, Sideswipe’s hands squeezing and pumping as he shoved hard and deep into Megatron.

Primus, they were gorgeous. And they were his.

Megatron stiffened in Sideswipe’s hold, his sounds of pleasure muffled by the kiss, as he overloaded. His spike spurted, most of it dampening Sideswipe’s fist, but the rest landing on Sunstreaker, hitting the back of his hand where he ground the heel of his palm against his anterior node. The taste of the pleasure in his field, tangled so deeply with Sunstreaker’s own, dragged Sunstreaker over, his valve clamping around his fingers.

He shook, head tossing back, as his valve squeezed rhythmically, lubricant seeping out of his valve to soak the berth beneath his aft. Sunstreaker panted and forced his optics open, not wanting to miss a moment of Sideswipe’s pleasure as he broke away from the kiss, shoved his face into the crook of Megatron’s neck and bit down.

Denta-marks were always a clear sign Sideswipe had succumbed to pleasure. His optics streaked white, his field exploded outward and his hips screeched against Megatron’s aft in a deep grind. His hand smacked against Megatron’s belly, coated in transfluid as it was, and the harsh bite of his denta made Megatron shudder.

Ecstasy left Sideswipe in a rush, abandoning him to the lingering tremors of it. He captured Megatron’s mouth again, though the kiss this time was a softer and sweeter. He gentled his hold and they swayed together, the smallest of smiles curving their lips.

Sunstreaker straightened a leg and swatted them both in the sides. “Hey, where’s my kiss?” he demanded as he drew his fingers free of his valve, three digits glistening with lubricant. “Or do I have to do everything myself?”

Sideswipe ended the kiss with the smirk. “Someone’s feeling a little left out,” he teased as he leaned in and licked the bitemark he left behind. “Now you know how I felt lying there listening to the two of you canoodle.”

“Canoodle.” Megatron rolled his optics. “You are ridiculous, Sideswipe.”

“But you love me anyway, right?”

“Still not getting kissed here,” Sunstreaker reminded them with another kick that barely counted as a kick. The sound it made was little louder than a chime.

Megatron eased out of Sideswipe’s grip and curved forward, back between Sunstreaker’s thighs where he belonged. “My apologies,” he murmured as he crawled up Sunstreaker’s frame, all languid grace like a voltaic cat.

He dropped a kiss on Sunstreaker’s abdomen, his chestplate, his clavicle strut, the curve of his intake.

“Allow me to make it up to you,” Megatron murmured against the curve of Sunstreaker’s jaw before his lips found Sunstreaker’s.

Mmm. Much better.

Sideswipe, however, snorted. “Such a drama queen,” he said, as he shifted his weight and made the berth shift with him. “Can’t stand not to be the center of attention.”

Sunstreaker broke away from the kiss and nuzzled Megatron, making it easier to direct a glare over their mate’s shoulder. “Shut the frag up.”

“Hah. Make me.” Sideswipe patted Megatron’s aft and crawled up the berth beside their intertwined frames, flopping down next to Sunstreaker. “Just for that, you get to sleep in the wet spot.”

Megatron groaned and shifted as well, moving to lay atop Sunstreaker, pillowing his head on Sunstreaker’s chestplate. “Must you two always bicker?”

“It’s part of our charm,” Sideswipe said. “Besides, it stopped him from brooding, didn’t it?”

“I wasn’t brooding,” Sunstreaker retorted as he wrapped his arms around Megatron’s frame, stroking his hands down Megatron’s back.

He actually was lying in the wet spot, but he could tolerate it for a short time if it meant having this. Sure Megatron was heavy and overheating and the width of his frame forced Sunstreaker’s thighs wider than was comfortable. But he’d never say aloud how much he enjoyed cuddling like this.

Sideswipe stretched his arms over his head before folding them behind him. “You were brooding. About Hot Stuff. Because you have a guilt complex larger than this settlement.”

Sunstreaker sighed and shuttered his optics.

“He’s right, you know,” Megatron murmured, his words vibrating against Sunstreaker’s chestplate. “I seem to recall distracting you from reading that datapad over and over again.”

Sunstreaker pressed his lips together and ignored both of them.

Sideswipe rolled over, Sunstreaker felt the berth shift before the warmth of his twin settled against his side. “Kid’s gonna be okay. We taught him well. He’s finally found his happiness.”

“I know that,” Sunstreaker muttered.

“And yet, you’re acting like you just got dumped,” Sideswipe retorted.

“Or a caretaker whose sparkling has left the cradle,” Megatron added.

Sunstreaker growled. “I hate you both.”

They laughed at him. Both of them. His mates who he loved. Afts.

Megatron chuckled and nosed into Sunstreaker’s throat, his lips tracing a path that made shivers dance down Sunstreaker’s spinal strut. “And I love you, Sunbeam.”

Sideswipe cackled.

Sunstreaker groaned. “Great. He’s corrupted you.”

“Eventually, everyone falls for my charms,” Sideswipe said as the berth bounced when he shifted.

Suddenly, a weight bore Sunstreaker down. He grunted, and Megatron did as well. He had only to taste the devilishness in Sideswipe’s field to know what that weight was.

“Get off us!” Sunstreaker growled, trying to shove at the two heavily armored frames making him sink into the berth. “Primus, you’re such a sparkling sometimes!”

Sideswipe chortled. “Who’s king of the mountain now?”

Megatron sighed.

Sunstreaker wished he didn’t love them so much sometimes. Because then he wouldn’t find their behavior charming.

He’d chosen this, he reminded himself. He wanted this happiness, a life shared with his mates. He resolved to enjoy it, forgetting about the datapad on the nightstand.

Rodimus was gone, out living life on his own, seeking his own version of this very annoying, very wonderful romance. That was all Sunstreaker could have wished for him.

Which meant Sunstreaker was now free to do the same.

“I’ll show you who’s king,” Megatron growled as he bucked up, sending Sideswipe tumbling from his back and inevitably, off the berth with a noisy clatter of armor.

“Ow.” Sideswipe’s laughter belied any pain, however.

It was Sunstreaker’s turn to sigh.

They were his mates, and he loved them dearly. And he certainly couldn’t let them have all the fun now could he?

Sunstreaker smirked and tensed his hydraulics to pounce.

After all, there was only one king in this court. And both Sideswipe and Megatron knew frag well it wasn’t either of them.

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[TF] Trial by Fire 13

Rodimus took his time rinsing off, his thoughts darting between wild ponderings and an unexpected calm. He felt nervous and excited, expectant and wary. Not even Scuttle, beeping as he slid from solvent-slick to solvent-slick, could chase away the anxiety, amusing as the drone’s behavior was.

He was here. He’d left the settlement and everyone he knew behind. He came here. Back to Starscream.

Rodimus still wasn’t sure why.

But the rapid flare of his spark, the flush of heat that struck his frame, the way he just wanted to fall into Starscream’s arms and babble to him, or even fall into a berth and stay there for days… he thought maybe some of the answers were in there.

He couldn’t blame Starscream for being cautious. He hoped he could prove himself, though. He wanted to stay here. To be with Starscream. He just wanted a chance.

Rodimus sluiced away all of the rust and grit his long walk had acquired. He rinsed off his tarp and hung it to dry as well, and waited until the solvent ran clear before he turned off the spray. The oil bath called, and Rodimus was more than ready to sink into it.

Damn, but he’d missed this luxury.

He hoped Starscream let him stay.

He’d have to go back to the settlement eventually. Sunstreaker would hunt him down if Rodimus didn’t at least come back now and again, prove that he was all right and not rusting away in some ditch or that he hadn’t become food for a pack of turbowolves. Sunstreaker worried.

It was nice that someone worried. Even if their last conversation had been… well, it had hurt, but it had also been freeing. Like a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders. Rodimus had no regrets now. He’d said what he’d needed to say, and despite leaving some things behind, felt as though he’d left richer than before.

Leaving had revealed a lot to Rodimus. He’d had more ties than he’d realized. From Springer’s unexpected support to Kup wishing him luck and telling him to come back now and again to freshen up his training.

Even Wrench had snagged Rodimus on his way out of the celebration to press a wrapped box into his hands. He’d said to give it to the mech who’d saved Rodimus’ life, and added a wink, leaving little guess that he’d known it was Starscream all along.

Rodimus supposed he’d have to dig out that box from his pack later. He’d peeked into it, because his curiosity couldn’t be denied, but all that was in it was a bunch of medical supplies. Boring. But nice of him.

Leaving like that, with so many people wishing him well, filled Rodimus with warmth. He thought, again, that Sideswipe was right.

He would always have a home in the settlement. Even if he couldn’t stay with Starscream, he could always go back. He didn’t know what he’d do then, but not being a warrior? It was hardly the worst thing that could happen to him.

Maybe he could find a way to the other clans. He could venture out to Skyfire’s if he wanted. Surely Elita’s clan would offer him passage if he asked politely and he was by himself. If he went about it properly, she might not rip off his head. There were others, too. Some good, some bad.

Adventure was out there. Opportunity, too. He didn’t have to stay in his own clan, his own settlement. He could find his future elsewhere.

Only, he hoped he didn’t have to. He hoped Starscream wanted him to stay.

The sound of footsteps echoed in the small hall that led down to the oilsprings, disturbing Rodimus from his musings.

Rodimus straightened from where he’d sunk down into the warmth, anticipation coiling inside of him into a hot mass. He remembered, all over again, when he had been plugged into Starscream and the boiling surge of data.

Primus.

Starscream stepped into view, his lips pulled into a soft smile, his gaze searching the room before landing on Rodimus shoulder-deep in the oil. “Well, you didn’t waste any time at all.”

Rodimus grinned, interpreting the tone to be playful rather than chastising. “I’m only obeying orders.”

Starscream snorted. “Right. And did you miss me or my private oil bath?” Scuttle spun over to meet Starscream, bumping briefly against his foot before huddling back behind Rodimus again.

“Why not both?” Rodimus asked as he trailed his fingers over Scuttle’s chassis, a trilling rise of noise rising in the wake of his touch. It wasn’t unlike a voltaic cat’s purr actually.

Wings flicked, but again, more amusement than annoyance. Or at least Rodimus hoped. Starscream moved to join him in the oil bath, easing himself down into the heated liquid. He had a lazy grace, Rodimus noticed, with a small frisson of heat winding through his circuits.

He was gorgeous, beautiful in a manner different than Sunstreaker but no less equal. Rodimus wanted so much to touch him this time. To trace his seams, discover how different he tasted, the sounds he made in pleasure. He wanted to flick those little fans on Starscream’s chest, and see if his wings were as sensitive as rumor claimed.

He wanted so much.

“I see where my true value lies then,” Starscream remarked as he briefly dipped down into the oil, only to rise again, cockpit shimmering where oil sluiced down it. His cockpit shimmered in the oil’s wake, calling for touch.

Private and small. Rodimus could reach out and brush his fingers over Starscream if he wanted. He held himself back. Things were, as yet, awkward.

“How… uh, how’s your coding, by the way?” Rodimus asked for desperate need of a distraction. He leaned back, resisting the urge to purr as the hot oil seeped into every seam and joint, caressing his aching cables.

Starscream tilted his head. “Between you and Deadlock, I’m at full capacity,” he said and gestured to Rodimus. “You mentioned your back?”

Oh. Right.

Rodimus leveraged himself upright and obediently turned, his field prickling as Starscream moved close to him, their fields coming into contact. Starscream was only a few inches taller than him, but it suddenly felt like more. Standing, the oil bath lapped at his hips, and the feel of it trickling down his armor was unexpectedly erotic.

“Deadlock, huh?” He tried to keep his tone light. He was suffocatingly jealous, and he had absolutely no right to be. But the twins had been stolen before he could be brave enough to confess, and he now worried he’d lost his chance with Starscream, too.

Deadlock was handsome. Charming in some way obviously. He was far more skilled than Rodimus could ever hope to be. And he and Starscream had a history. What did Rodimus have to offer compared to that?

“Is that jealousy I detect?” Starscream asked as he started to wipe along Rodimus’ back and spoiler. An oil soak was good and all, but to get the full benefits, it was better to gently massage it in.

Damn, it felt good. Starscream’s touch was deft and gentle, and it left Rodimus’ dermal net tingling in the aftermath. He shivered, and hoped it didn’t show.

“I guess I don’t have a right to be,” Rodimus said, carefully choosing his words. After all, he didn’t have any sort of claim on Starscream, did he?

“No. But that doesn’t mean I’m not flattered.” Starscream’s tone, at least, was warm. As was the sweep of the cloth over the back of Rodimus’ spoiler. “Yes, we’ve shared a berth. Yes, I’ve copied his coding. But that’s as far as it goes.”

Rodimus nodded, though Starscream couldn’t see it, and decided to go for broke. After all, why else was he here? “What am I then?”

“An experiment.”

A laugh burst out of Rodimus before he could stop it, Starscream’s tone so flat it had to be a joke. “No. Seriously.”

“I don’t know.” Starscream’s hands paused, resting on his shoulders. “Do you need a definition?”

“Sometimes they help.”

“And sometimes they are just a tiny box that you don’t fit into.” Starscream’s hands slid down to Rodimus’ waist before subtle urging had Rodimus turning to face him. “What do you plan to do here, Rodimus?”

He blinked. That seemed like such an odd question. One with an obvious answer.

“What?”

Starscream arched an orbital ridge at him, though nothing in his field felt accusing, just curious. “You wanted to be a warrior. Do you have other skills? What do you plan to do here? You can’t build an entire future around romancing someone, after all.”

Oh.

Rodimus shrugged, trying not to focus so hard on Starscream’s hands on his hips, and where else they might wander. “I’ll figure something out. I can still hunt. Make things. Help you, maybe. I mean, I don’t know any science stuff, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use a second pair of hands.”

He was babbling again. Sounding like an idiot. He always did this when he didn’t know what else to do. Frag, he hated it.

Starscream’s hands remained gentle where they rested on his hips, but his tone turned more probing. “And you’ll be satisfied with that?”

“I don’t know. Maybe,” Rodimus hedged, and fidgeted, resisting the urge to cross his arms over his chassis. He knew he looked defensive when he did that.

Starscream sighed, and Rodimus knew he’d fragged up. Especially when the Seeker let him go and backed away, putting a noticeable distance between them. Rodimus could still reach out and touch Starscream, but now he didn’t dare.

“I can’t be comfortable with a maybe,” Starscream said, and he was the one to cross his arms as he leaned back against the wall of the spring. “How do I know you won’t wake up tomorrow, realize how bored you are, and vanish?”

Rodimus chewed on the inside of his cheek for a second. “You don’t,” he admitted, and scrubbed the back of his head. “But then, I don’t know that you’re not gonna wake up in a week and realize how annoying I am and kick me out.” He shrugged and hoped it came across more confident than he felt. “That’s a risk we’re both taking, I guess.”

Risk indeed. Rodimus felt an awful lot like he was standing on the edge of something, and a single push would send him tottering over. There was freedom in the freefall, he knew, but then the ground would come awfully quick.

He didn’t want to go splat.

“What about your clan?”

Rodimus’ forehead drew down. “What about them?”

“You’re fine with just leaving them?”

He frowned and tried not to squirm. He, too, backed away, until there was as much distance between them as was possible in the springs. “Well, I mean, it doesn’t have to be permanent, does it? I can go back and visit whenever I want. And maybe someday, you’ll want to come back with me.”

Starscream visibly stiffened. His optics narrowed into little slits. “I’m not a trophy.”

Rodimus shook his head. “I didn’t say you were. Honestly! If you don’t want to go, you never have to. I just…” He ducked his head, aware that his face was filling with heat.

He felt stupid, now that he thought about it, that quiet fantasy he’d built while at the festival, watching the mated and unmated alike as they spun and twirled around the bonfire. The hazy dream where Rodimus walked hand in hand with a mate of his own choosing, dancing the courtship, the firelight reflecting over the polished surface of his mate’s armor.

He used to imagine himself between Sunstreaker and Sideswipe, flirting and grinning, overwhelmed by their fields and smiles and the seduction of their hands. Now he wondered what it would be like to see Starscream glittering in the moonlight, wings high and fluttering, a coy smile on his lips.

A romantic idiot, was what he was.

“You just what?” Starscream demanded.

Rodimus sighed and scrubbed the back of his neck. “I thought it would be fun,” he mumbled. “To dance with you. At the festival.”

“Festival?” Starscream echoed.

He couldn’t bring himself to lift his optics. “Mating season,” he clarified. “The courtship dance.” He sighed again. “A lot of clans out here do the snatch and grab, I know, but we don’t. For us it’s more of a game? Except you already know the players. You don’t take the unwilling, and it’s more of a courting dance than anything.”

He felt the weight of Starscream’s gaze on the top of his helm. Starscream’s field lingered in the periphery of his own, but Rodimus didn’t dare reach for it.

“You wish to claim me in front of your clan,” Starscream said.

Rodimus winced. “I know. It’s stupid.”

“I didn’t say that.” Starscream’s tone softened, and warmed even.

The oil swished as he moved closer, and only then did Rodimus risk lifting his head. He wasn’t sure what to call the expression on Starscream’s face, but it didn’t hold anger or irritation, so he considered that a plus.

“It’s kind of flattering really,” Starscream said, and something dark flashed in his optics. “There are few things on this planet worth less than the spark of a Seeker. And yet, you’d want to court me in front of your entire clan.”

Rodimus nodded. He mastered his ventilations, unsure if he dared to hope, and unwilling to shatter whatever this was.

“Why?” Starscream asked.

Rodimus worked his intake. “Because you’re…. you,” he said, and decided, what the frag, what did he have to lose? “You’re gorgeous. You’re so smart that it makes my head spin. You’re strong in ways I didn’t know mechs could be strong. You’re everything I didn’t know I wanted until I found it in you and…”

His spark throbbed harder. There were a lot of words inside of him, and they bubbled out, more incoherent than he wanted, but it was the best he could do.

He gnawed on his bottom lip and looked up at Starscream. “I don’t know what I can do now, but I know whatever it is, I want to do it with you.” He drew in another shuddering ventilation and held Starscream’s gaze. “I want this, you and me and whatever we can have, I want it to be my future now. I want you to be my adventure. And… and I really don’t know what else to say.”

Which seemed like such a stupid addition considering how much he’d babbled.

Starscream stared at him for a moment before he cycled a ventilation, one that sounded shaky. “I think it was perfect,” he murmured and cupped Rodimus’ face once more, drawing them together, leaning his forehead against Rodimus’. “I would like that as well. To see what we can have. To give ‘us’ a try.”

Us.

Rodimus liked the sound of that.

He reached for Starscream’s hips, tentative and careful, but when he wasn’t rebuffed, he rested his hands there. The heat of the oil seemed to swallow him whole, but it was a distant second to the sensation of Starscream’s field against his, and the cup of Starscream’s hands.

“I don’t have to leave?” Rodimus asked, a question he’d presented before, but lingering uncertainty made him doubtful.

“No,” Starscream murmured, and he kissed Rodimus, his mouth covering Rodimus’, his glossa slipping inside with a gentle caress.

Rodimus sighed into the kiss, melting against Starscream, pulling them together, their frames coming into sizzling, electric contact. He felt a shiver run through his frame, even as the kiss deepened, and Starscream’s field throbbed against his as if expecting.

A thrill ran through Rodimus’ spark. He made a sound into the kiss, maybe a whimper, maybe a moan. He felt weak in the knees and clutched harder at Starscream, the kiss almost desperate, his mouth moving against Starscream’s, until it vanished.

Rodimus made a noise of protest, but Starscream’s lips didn’t go far. They trailed a tingling path up, pressed lightly to the tip of his nasal structure before they wandered over his cheek ridge.

Another shudder rippled over Rodimus’ armor. The heat of the oil swished around his legs, and he panted for cooler air, only to find none. He moaned softly, tugging Starscream more firmly against him, their chassis in delicious contact. He swore he could feel the whirl of Starscream’s spark through the transsteel of his cockpit.

Starscream’s hands released him and slid down, palming his chestplate before sliding further down, cupping the two halves of his bumper grill, thin fingers slipping into the slats and teasing the delicate constructions beneath. Rodimus moaned, his chassis arching toward Starscream, lust hitting him like a bolt to the spinal strut.

His head tipped back and Starscream seemed to take that as an offer, because lips and denta immediately descended, nibbling on his intake cables. Every brush of Starscream’s denta sent another thrill through him, until Rodimus shook with need, heat coiling lower and lower, winding like a spring inside of him.

It was dizzying.

He hadn’t even realized that Starscream was backing him up toward the edge until his aft bumped the unpolished wall beneath the surface. He was pinned quite thoroughly by an amorous Seeker and dizzily, Rodimus couldn’t imagine anywhere else he’d rather be.

Except, maybe, a berth.

Because frag it, he’d made enough mistakes already. He didn’t want to do this with Starscream for the first time for real in an oil bath.

Starscream bit at his intake again, and soothed it with his glossa, and Rodimus’ vision wobbled. For a moment, he was distracted, arousal pooling hot and heavy in his array, his spike throbbing behind his panel and another crackle of need racing through his lines.

Rodimus moaned and grasped for coherency. “W-wait.”

Starscream pulled back almost immediately, the smallest of frowns at the corner of his lips. “Something wrong?”

Rodimus’ ventilations hitched and he had to remind himself not to lean in and steal Starscream’s lips. He was trying to say something.

“No,” he said, and felt the heat in his cheeks again. Would he ever stop feeling like an idiot? “I just… could we move this to a berth? I mean, if you want to do what I think you want to do and I want do to it, too. I do. Just not here?”

Primus, he sounded like a moron.

Starscream stared at him for a moment before he cycled his optics, and his hands stroked over Rodimus’ chestplate. “I’d forgotten how much of a romantic you are,” he murmured, before he leaned in and pressed a kiss to the corner of Rodimus’ mouth.

Rodimus flushed. “Sorry.”

“I didn’t say it was a bad thing.” Starscream sounded amused. He leaned back, stroking around the curve of Rodimus’ face. “Well then. Let’s towel off and head upstairs, shall we? So we can do what you think we want to do, but in the comfort of a berth.” His tone, mercifully, was teasing rather than mocking.

It took more effort than Rodimus expected to peel himself away from Starscream and climb out of the oil springs. Chill swept over him immediately, without the heat of the oil and the heat of Starscream’s frame. Though his engine purred hungrily and arousal throbbed heavily through his sensornet.

Starscream followed him out.

“Could we, um, do it again?” Rodimus asked as he quickly swiped a towel over his frame to get off the excess oil that had yet to drip from his frame, into the grate beneath him. He suspected Starscream collected it and reused it.

Starscream tilted his head. “You’ll have to be more specific,” he drawled, optics glittering with humor. “There are many things we’ve done.”

Rodimus worked his intake and dropped his gaze, focusing intently on the oil gathered in the seams of his feet. “You know. With the cables.”

“Codesharing?”

Rodimus nodded and diligently wiped at his calves, only to suddenly feel a towel on his back and across his spoiler. Not unlike Sunstreaker, as a matter of fact. Apparently, he wasn’t very good at drying himself off.

“Why?” Starscream asked as several efficient strokes finished Rodimus up and the towel was tossed aside.

“Because I want to,” Rodimus admitted and tossed his own towel into the pile, turning to face Starscream again. “I liked it, and I guess, I want you to know that it doesn’t bother me.”

Okay, yes. He’d been terrified at first. Who wouldn’t be, if they’d spent most of their functioning being told that Seekers were dangerous code-stealers who wanted to hack you and reprogram you and turn you into a slave.

But now? He couldn’t forget that ecstasy, and he wanted to show Starscream how much he trusted the Seeker.

Starscream arched an orbital ridge. “My coding is currently at one-hundred percent stability, Rodimus. It doesn’t need a refresh. Another codeshare would be pointless.”

“Because of Deadlock?” he asked, or blurted rather, before politeness told him it was a bad idea. Not his place, remember?

Starscream tugged him in close, his hands sliding around Rodimus’ waist, and Rodimus couldn’t resist touching the shiny gleam of his chestplate. Those turbines looked in need of exploration.

“Is that why you asked?”

Rodimus’ gaze slid away. “Maybe.” He’d already lost one love to the charms of another mech. It was something of a fear for him now.

Starscream rolled his optics and slid his hands up Rodimus’ back, tweaking his spoiler mounts. It sent a little thrill of need up Rodimus’ spinal strut.

“No amount of codesharing between us will delete Deadlock from my coding, Rodimus,” Starscream said, a touch of amusement in his tone. “I’ve been living off his code for too long. It’s embedded. Stick around long enough, and you’ll be a part of me, too.”

Rodimus blinked. “What?” Though it did sound kind of romantic in retrospect.

“It’s a long and probably boring explanation,” Starscream replied with a sigh. He pressed their foreheads together. “And I, for one, would rather find that berth you mentioned. Hm?”

Rodimus licked his lips and slid his hands up Starscream’s chassis, palms briefly skittering over the turbine housing. “Sounds good. But that still doesn’t answer my question.”

“If you want to plug in, that’s fine. There are other things than code sharing. Things that can be mutually beneficial.” Starscream smirked at him. “I’ll show you.”

Rodimus shivered. “Okay.” He tilted into Starscream’s touch, his processor spinning again, as heat swamped his frame.

It was too easy to lean into Starscream and kiss him again, to melt into the touch of lips against his, and the soft sweeping of Starscream’s hands.

The kiss ended, and Rodimus chased it, half in a daze, half dizzy with anticipation. Starscream tugged him backward, toward the door. Rodimus followed, his circuits singing and his spark skipping a dancing whirl.

They made it to the lift before Rodimus had to kiss him again, pressing Starscream against the side of it, his hands sliding up to caress the long edges of a wing. Starscream shivered and made a hungry noise, his hands cupping Rodimus’ aft, dragging their frames together. The lift donged noisily at them, obstinately, reporting their arrival and demanding they exit.

Apparently all of the non-sentient machinery in Starscream’s tower had attitude. Which suited, come to think of their owner.

Rodimus almost snorted a laugh.

“What’s so funny?” Starscream asked, his mouth devouring Rodimus’ intake.

“Tell you later,” Rodimus said with a shiver, his hands finding those fascinating turbines and giving them a flick with his thumb. “You said something about a berth?”

The lift donged at them again and gave a little shudder. Rodimus barely bit back his chuckle and instead nudged Starscream toward the door. They stumbled out, hands wandering, heat rising between them.

Rodimus expected to go to the room that had once been his. But his current surroundings dictated otherwise. It wasn’t until they approached a door that had always been closed to him, and Starscream blindly pawed the panel, that he realized Starscream had taken them to his own room.

It was much larger than the one Rodimus knew, with a huge uncovered window looking out on the side of the tower overhanging a tall cliff. The desert stretched out for miles in all directions. To a grounder, to Rodimus, it was dizzying. It figured Starscream would enjoy such a view.

The rest of the walls were lines with shelves, all of them cluttered with all manner of things. Rodimus only got a glimpse of them before Starscream lurched against him, claws scraping Rodimus’ point as he nearly bit Rodimus’ lower lip. He muttered a curse and performed an odd jig, even as he looked down, wings high and tight.

“Scuttle!” Starscream hissed, his tone a touch mortified. “He’s mine first!”

Rodimus slipped out of his lusty haze a tad. Sure enough, Scuttle was beneath them, beeping and whirling away, in and around their feet. A laugh slipped out of Rodimus’ intake as Starscream bent down and physically shooed Scuttle toward the door.

“Out the door, you menace!” Starscream grumbled, herding Scuttle back into the hallway. “We don’t need a voyeur!”

Scuttle honked obnoxiously and tried to whirl around, making a beeline to come back inside. But Starscream hastily backtracked and slammed a palm on the door. There was a light thunk from the other side.

The laugh escaped. Rodimus grinned from audial to audial as Starscream stomped back toward him, but not before directing a sharp glare toward the door.

“Brat doesn’t listen at all anymore, and it’s your fault,” he said.

Rodimus shook his head, grabbing for Starscream’s hands and pulling the Seeker toward him. “You’re adorable,” he murmured as static crackled where their plating touched. “And Scuttle will get over it.”

“He’ll learn to, if I have anything to say about it,” Starscream retorted, and leaned in, his lips ghosting over the curve of Rodimus’ jaw. “Now where were we…?”

Rodimus shivered, arching toward Starscream, the heavy throb in his belly making his legs wobble. “Right about here, I think.”

He captured Starscream’s lips with his, moaning as the kiss immediately deepened. Starscream’s mouth was hot against his, and the Seeker’s field crackled with need. Starscream leaned against him, urging him backward, and Rodimus’ world spun with dizzying lust, until the back of his knees struck something.

The berth, he suspected. They tumbled onto it, a berth more than big enough for two, and so comfortable it felt like it swallowed him.

Starscream pressed him down into it, and Rodimus moaned as a knee slipped between his, nudging against his array, the pressure against his concealed equipment forcing out another moan. He clutched at Starscream, capturing the Seeker’s mouth with his, heat throbbing through his array. He found those turbines again, and played with the narrow slats. Above him, Starscream moaned and visibly shivered.

His mouth tore away from Rodimus’, diving in at his intake again, denta grazing and leaving little nips that felt like claims. Rodimus’ thigh clamped down on Starscream’s leg and he rolled his hips, grinding his array against Starscream’s knee. He smelled lubricant and knew it had to be leaking from his seams.

Wait.

Rodimus tried to find coherence in the dizzying need throbbing through his circuits. As much as his valve clenched and his spike thickened, he seemed to remember there was something else…

Something.

“Wait,” he said as he squirmed beneath Starscream, vents whirring and the comfortable berth neatly distracting him again. “You promised me cables.”

Starscream chuckled against his intake, and the pleasurable onslaught eased, giving Rodimus a moment to catch his vents. “I did, didn’t I?” he purred as he pushed himself up on his forearms to look down on Rodimus.

Who felt an awful lot like prey at the moment. There was something hungry in Starscream’s gaze, and it made Rodimus shiver all over again.

“You did,” Rodimus confirmed.

“Then I suppose I’d better keep my promise.” Starscream leaned down and nuzzled Rodimus briefly before he sat back on his heels, his optics raking over Rodimus’ frame in a gesture that was nothing short of appreciative.

Rodimus felt his face flush with heat. He squirmed a little under the scrutiny.

“I seem to remember your port array being here,” Starscream said as he dragged his fingertips across Rodimus’ abdominal armor to the leftmost panel, barely visible in all the complicated seams of his frame.

Rodimus shivered, his hands fisting the plush surface of the berth. “You remember right,” he said.

“Open for me?”

It was embarrassing the speed at which Rodimus triggered his panel to open, baring his still fairly new connectors to the open air. He gnawed on his bottom lip as Starscream’s fingers traced the ports and teased the cable ends where they were still docked. Primus, even that felt good.

Rodimus’ back arched, a tremble starting at the base of his strut. Charge licked out from his substructure. “You– You said you were going to show me something different.”

“And I am.” Starscream pinched the tip of his cable gently and a jolt of need raced through Rodimus’ array. “Codesharing requires a one-way connection. Data-facing relies on one that is two-way.”

“D-Data-facing?” Rodimus echoed, a bit shakily, as Starscream fondled the tip of his cable a bit harder.

“Mm hm.” Starscream hummed and gave a little tug, urging Rodimus’ cable to unspool from his array.

Why did that feel good? Rodimus had no idea. But it felt like Starscream was stroking his spike, and all Starscream did was pull his cable free, until it was long enough to cross the distance between them.

Starscream smirked as he leaned over and ex-vented across the pronged tip, the wet heat of his vents making Rodimus moan. His head tossed back, hips squirming beneath Starscream.

“It’s fallen a bit out of practice.” Starscream extended his glossa, lapping at the end of Rodimus’ data cable and making his entire frame jerk with need. “Too intimate for most. Spike and valve are better for casual encounters.”

Rodimus groaned and shifted, slipping his legs around Starscream’s waist to tug the Seeker closer. “Less lecturing, more ‘facing,” he said as charge crackled around his port.

Starscream chuckled. “As you wish.” He kept Rodimus’ connector cable in hand and reached behind himself, for his own awkwardly placed panel.

Rodimus would have offered to help, but given the way his hands were shaking, he doubted he’d be much use. Besides, Starscream was far more practiced at this than he. Even so, he fumbled a bit, and Rodimus groaned as his connector made contact with Starscream’s port, static crackling between the two, only for it to skitter away.

What a torturous tease.

Until his connector finally clicked into place with a little jolt of charge, and Rodimus moaned, head tossing back, his engine revving. Heat surged into the link like a lightning strike, before it ebbed to a slow burn. It felt nothing like when Starscream had connected to him, but it carried a pleasure of its own. He felt Starscream’s port twitch and crackle around his connector, before it seemed to pulse and nestle him tightly, snug in all the right places.

And then Starscream was spooling his own cable into view, and Rodimus licked his lips.

“You sure know how to drag out the moment,” he said as he watched the tip of Starscream’s connector get closer and closer, his own port aching with need.

“That’s because you’re cute when you’re flustered,” Starscream purred as the tip of his connector nudged against Rodimus’ port, charge flashing between the two units.

Rodimus arched and moaned. Lights danced in his optical feed, his vents surging out in eager pants, his entire frame shaking with desire. His array throbbed, valve cycling hungrily, spike swelling and swelling, demanding to be set free.

“Star, please!” he pleaded, heat filling his face and his frame.

Starscream leaned over him, their face inches apart, his ex-vents ghosting over Rodimus’ lips. “You’re gorgeous,” he murmured before his connector sank home.

Rodimus keened, and his hands scrabbled at Starscream’s chestplate, fingers hooking in seams as he kept the Seeker close. Electric fire spread outward from the hot and heavy pulse of charge where they were connected. It licked through his sensornet, through his lines, and he whimpered when a scorching pulse of charge shot down the line from Starscream and into his array.

Above him, Starscream panted a moan, his forehead pressing to Rodimus’. “Oh, my,” he breathed, his field surging wildly, ripe with lust. “You are aptly named, ‘Hot Rod’. Your charge is like fire.”

He whimpered and lost control, his spike springing free between them, the head of it scraping against Starscream’s belly armor. It left a streak of transfluid behind and just the bare touch felt so good. Rodimus writhed, pleasure eclipsing all else.

He hadn’t known it could feel like this.

Starscream’s free hand rested on Rodimus’ belly, palm sliding upward and upward, tickling over his chestplate, over his seams.

“I’ll teach you,” Starscream murmured as another heavy, crackling pulse of charge surged into Rodimus’ port, and he felt the tug of Starscream’s cable on him. “How to feed your charge into me. How to draw my charge into you.”

Rodimus moaned, Starscream’s words like an arousing promise, pulsing into his audials. His fingers tightened on Starscream’s chassis, his frame rocking and rolling against Starscream’s in a mimicry of interfacing, his spike grinding against Starscream’s belly.

No, not just his belly. The hot length of Starscream’s spike suddenly brushed against his, their spikes rubbing and teasing one another.

More pleasure surged through Rodimus. He writhed, a moan escaping him.

“Primus, you’re hot,” Starscream breathed and his mouth closed over Rodimus’ again, his lips and denta and glossa demanding.

Rodimus felt completely and utterly claimed. Forget about the courtship dance. This was what it felt like to surrender.

His thighs clamped around Starscream’s hips. His processor spun dizzily, overcharged on the hot pulses coming across their link, the dragging pull of Starscream’s systems on his, the feel of Starscream’s spike sliding hot and wet against his, the mass and heat of Starscream over him. The taste of Starscream on his lips, the tingling press of Starscream’s field surrounding him.

He had no defense against it.

Rodimus moaned into the kiss, processor whirling, spark throbbing faster and faster, barely out of sync with the pulses of charge, both sent and received. He rocked and ground up against Starscream, their frames moving and sliding together, spikes rubbing and sending jolts through Rodimus’ array.

Heat spun inside of him, faster and faster, like the growing charge before firing an ion blaster.

Rodimus heard himself whimper and couldn’t be embarrassed, not with his vents roaring and his fans spinning so hard they whined. A hard pulse of charge roared into his port array, making it crackle and hiss with electric fire. It radiated outward, spreading through his entire frame, throbbing into his spike.

Rodimus moaned, backstrut arched, as overload boiled over him, his thighs clamping tight, his spike spurting transfluid between their frames, his mouth tearing away from Starscream’s as he threw his head back and keened. His frame thrashed, hips rolling, as wave after wave of pleasure seared his sensornet and whited his processor out to nothing but the ecstasy.

He dimly heard Starscream moan seconds before the felt the flashfire of a tide of charge racing across the link, flavored with ecstasy. Rodimus jerked and soared into a second overload as Starscream must have overlaoded as well, the splatter of his transfluid raining down on Rodimus’ belly.

He panted for ventilations, sagging into the berth, feeling wrung dry and twitching. Charge still lazily pulsed through his port array, like the soothing stroke of a magnetic cable massage. Rodimus’ processor spun and it took all he had to online his optics, wondering when he’d shuttered them.

He gasped, desperate for cooler air, his fans spinning mightily. He still clung to Starscream, and Starscream to him, the cables swinging between them. Starscream shook, the little clatters of his armor barely audible over their spinning fans.

Rodimus groaned. Little zaps of charge ran up and down his frame. His spark hummed happily. He felt he could recharge for days.

“Primus,” he murmured, gentling his claw-like grip on Starscream’s chestplate into a lazy slide around Starscream’s chassis.

“It can be intense,” Starscream replied, his vocals striped with static. He sagged, forehead resting on Rodimus’ shoulder. “I had forgotten how much so.”

The datastream slowed to a trickle. It was kind of comforting actually. Rodimus made a low sound in his intake, tilting his head to rub his chin over Starscream’s head.

“So this is normal?”

“Quite.” Starscream shifted a little, until he was only half lying on Rodimus. His spike had retracted at some point, so Rodimus followed suit.

There was a tacky mess on his frame. He should probably clean that up. But cleaning required moving, required effort, and Rodimus didn’t have any to spare. His engine purred as he pulled Starscream closer. It’d been a while since he got to snuggle with a warm frame, and he’d missed that quiet intimacy.

“Are you going to sleep, Firebrand?” Starscream’s vocals were amused, but distant. Or maybe that’s because Rodimus’ optics had shuttered and the tug of recharge was getting stronger.

“Yep.”

Starscream hummed a laugh. “Amateur.” His hand slid up Rodimus’ abdomen, and fingers teased at his port array, where they remained joined.

“You can leave ‘em,” Rodimus murmured as his vents started to even out. “Feels good.”

There was a beat of startled silence.

“You will never cease to surprise me,” Starscream said, almost too quietly for Rodimus to hear. But he did shift, enough to brush his lips over Rodimus’. “Recharge well.”

Rodimus mumbled something in reply, but the grasp of recharge pulled him under, and he sank into it wrapped in warmth and comfort and an undeniable sense that he’d found where he belonged.

Finally.

[TF] Trial by Fire 11

The sound of muffled cursing and dull thumping announced to Starscream that he was no longer alone. He debated with himself how he wanted to handle the intrusion before he decided it would be welcome.

That was when Deadlock’s head popped into view, gold optics narrowed at first in confusion and then in relief. “There you are,” he said as he climbed up onto the roof through the skylight, just as Starscream had done. “Should’ve known you’d be up here.”

“Am I that predictable?” Starscream asked as Deadlock settled next to him, their hips and thigh touching as their legs dangled over the edge, into the open expanse of the tower below them.

“Only to someone who knows you as well as I do.” Deadlock grinned, his fangs glinting in the starlight. “Where’s Saunter?”

Starscream lifted his hands, revealing the drone resting in his lap, not recharging but hibernating. “His glitch isn’t active while the skylight’s open. Silly thing.” He stroked his fingers over the top of Saunter’s frame.

“He’s not the only silly thing.” Deadlock’s voice was rich with humor. He bumped shoulders with Starscream. “What’re you thinking about?”

Starscream’s gaze turned skyward, to the constellations he could pick out, and the far horizon, coincidentally the direction he assumed Rodimus’ clan to be. “You know me so well. You tell me.”

“I don’t think you want me to, Starling.”

He nibbled on the inside of his cheek. “I just needed a break,” Starscream murmured. “I wasn’t making any progress on my work.”

“Too distracted?”

“I’m used to you.” Starscream flicked his wings. “You don’t count as a distraction anymore.”

“So it’s internal thoughts then.” Deadlock nudged his left foot against Starscream’s right. “Wouldn’t happen to be a flame-painted Firebrand now would it?”

Starscream vented a sigh.

“That’s what I thought.” Deadlock rested a hand on Starscream’s thigh, less sly and arousing, and more comforting. “I know he got under your plating.”

“I’m choosing not to acknowledge that,” Starscream replied. He stroked his fingers over Saunter’s frame again, though the drone continued to snooze. Above him, stars flickered and faded, grew brighter and dimmed. In front, the horizon was shadows and dark patches, mountains and flatlands.

Maybe he should go for a flight.

But later.

Deadlock made a noncommittal noise.

“I’m tired,” Starscream murmured on the end of a sigh. He tilted over, letting his head rest on Deadlock’s shoulder. Sometimes, one had to move on. He knew this better than most.

His relationship with Blurr had been a sparkbreaking teacher. Sometimes, you could love someone with all you had, and have them return that love, but still have to separate. Sometimes, you had to make a choice, and love wasn’t enough.

Deadlock’s head leaned against his. “I was thinking I’ll stay longer this time,” he murmured, his tone careful and measured.

Starscream chose not to respond. From anyone else, he would have taken that as pity. Even now, he wasn’t sure it wasn’t.

“It’s getting pretty lonely out there,” Deadlock added as his field nudged against Starscream’s, warm and syrupy. “So you know, maybe it’s good to stick around in one place every once in awhile.”

Starscream offlined his optics. His hand stilled on Saunter’s top panel. “You’ll still leave.”

“Maybe. But not so quickly at least.”

It wasn’t pity. It had to be something else, that both of them didn’t dare name because that was precious and fragile and had to be guarded. Kalis had taught them as much.

Starscream cycled a vent. “Stay as long as you like.”

Deadlock pressed a kiss to the top of his head. It said enough, even without words.

~

“So you’re going to leave without a word.”

Rodimus’ shoulders hunched. He stared guiltily into the trunk under his berth as he dug through it, pulling out various items to stuff into an increasingly heavy travel pack. He didn’t look up at the voice, though he knew the large shadow blocking the doorway belonged to his batch-brother.

“I didn’t know what to say,” Rodimus murmured and pulled out the stack of datapads so carefully hidden, shoving them into his pack as well. He didn’t leave much behind.

Training weapons he didn’t need anymore. A few extra travel kits that would need to be restocked. Polishing kits. A couple of tarps too-small. Blankets for his berth. The next youngling to have this room and this berth could use all of it. This wouldn’t have been Rodimus’ room forever after all.

Even if Starscream turned him down, even if there was nothing left for him in that tower, Rodimus didn’t intend to return to his clan. Not immediately at least.

There was a whole world out there. Surely he could find his future somewhere. Surely.

“That’s not an excuse.” Springer’s tone was both sharp and hurt. “Did you think I wouldn’t care if you vanished?”

Rodimus sighed and braced his hands on the edge of the trunk. He looked at Springer, who blocked the door so completely, arms folded over his massive chassis. “You’re a warrior now. You don’t have to worry about me anymore. You have better things to do. I’d just get in the way.”

“That’s not an answer!” Springer hissed, his face darkening with emotion, his field a thundercloud Rodimus couldn’t interpret.

Rodimus worked his intake and slammed the trunk shut. He rose to his feet, nudging it back under the berth with his knee. “I was going to leave a note this time,” he said quietly.

“A note,” Springer repeated, and he couldn’t have sounded so disgusted if he tried. “Yes, that makes everything better. A fragging note.”

Rodimus picked up his travel pack, giving it a shake. It was heavy, but nothing he couldn’t handle. “What would you want me to say? I don’t want you to try talking me out of it.”

“Who said I would?”

Rodimus scoffed and slung the bag over his shoulder, which creaked in protest. “I know you would. You think I can’t do anything right. That I need you to protect me.” He looked at his brother, who he loved dearly, and wondered just when he’d started to resent Springer a little. “You’d want me to stay for my own safety. Because I’m no good on my own. And you’re probably right.”

He moved closer to Springer, his spark racing, and his engine whining as he made himself throttle it down. “But I’m still going. Because I have to do this. There’s nothing for me here right now, so I have to go find what I’m looking for.” He stared pointedly at the fresh brand on Springer’s chestplate. A brand he’d never earn.

Springer looked sad. But he sighed and uncrossed his arms. “I’m not gonna stop you,” he said as he rested his hands on Rodimus’ shoulder, a heavy and familiar weight. “And you know I’ve always thought you were worth more than others said.”

Rodimus squirmed under the praise.

“If you think you need to go, then go. Just be careful, eh? And take care of yourself. You’re my favorite brother.” Springer squeezed again and then pulled him into an embrace, a spinal strut crushing one that forced out Rodimus’ vents and wrapped him in suffocating heat.

It was wonderful.

Tension seeped out of his frame. “I’m your only brother,” Rodimus grumbled, a common joke between them. He patted Springer awkwardly on the back. “Will you do me a favor then?”

“What?” Springer’s tone took on that of suspicion as he let Rodimus go and stepped back, his optics narrowing.

Rodimus turned and rooted around in his pack, pulling out the topmost datapad. “Would you give this to Sunstreaker for me?”

“Oh, frag no.” Springer backed up a step, holding up his hands defensively. “You wanna skip out without telling the Warchief’s mates you’re not going, that’s your choice. But I’m not gonna be the one who hands them the goodbye note.”

Rodimus snorted. “What? Are you scared?”

“No, I’m just not an idiot.” Springer stepped aside, giving Rodimus room to leave, as though making him stay would have the letter forced on him. “I’m not ashamed to admit that either of them could kick my aft with ease.” He grinned with a confidence Rodimus knew all too well. “Though we’ll see what happens in a decade or two.”

Rodimus snorted again and adjusted the strap of the pack on his shoulder. “It doesn’t matter how long has passed. You’ll never be able to take down Sunstreaker.” Or Sideswipe for that matter.

Springer just grinned back at him, eerily similar to the toothy snarl the turbowolves had given him. “We’ll see.” Seriousness replaced his humor. “You’ll come back, won’t you?”

“This is still home,” Rodimus replied, with what he hoped was a dismissive shrug. He didn’t want to end up emotional and second-guessing himself. “And if I fail, well, it’s the only place I can come back to.”

“You won’t. Fail, I mean.” There was something dangerously close to pride in Springer’s tone. “You’re my brother. It’s impossible.”

Rodimus smiled, soft and sincere. “Thanks for the vote of confidence.”

Springer stared at him, and then he suddenly grabbed Rodimus, pulling him into another hug that made his armor creak and his spark throb with affection. “Good luck,” he said, soft and gruff all at once, before he let Rodimus go and spun on a heelstrut, vanishing down the hallway opposite of the direction Rodimus needed to go.

He caught himself smiling as he watched Springer’s back disappear around the corner. It was weird how he felt fully himself for the first time, now that he’d decided to abandon everything he’d been working hard to accomplish.

Rodimus adjusted the pack on his shoulders and started down the corridor. He didn’t have to sneak out. Not truly. There was no rule that said he couldn’t leave if he wanted to. He’d used the cover of night the first time because he suspected someone would stop for him for his own safety. He was, after all, a Firebrand.

He had the feeling now, however, that even if someone did see him leave, no one would say a word. There’d been encouragement in Optimus Prime’s words, and though Rodimus hadn’t spoken with Kup, he had the feeling the old mech would understand. Sunstreaker and Sideswipe already seemed to know what he was thinking. They’d pass it on to the Warchief, and no one would bar Rodimus’ way.

He was sure of it.

Of course, he wasn’t as sneaky as he thought. Because while he’d thought it was better for his spark to leave without seeing the twins, they must have read his processor. They waited for him at the side gate, the usual guards a fair enough distance away to offer an approximation of privacy, while still doing their jobs.

Rodimus sighed. They spotted him before he considered spinning around and heading out the other side of the settlement. He wasn’t a coward, he told himself. And he’d made his choice.

“Thought you could leave without saying goodbye, eh, hot shot?” Sideswipe said as he was the first to intercept Rodimus, literally sweeping him up into a hug that lifted his feet clear from the ground. “Not this time.”

Sideswipe set Rodimus down with a processor-spinning thump before digging in his subspace. “Not to mention I’m not letting you go without a gift.” A sack emerged, which he thrust in Rodimus’ direction. “Treasure it always. It’s not just anyone I’ll give one of my secret recipes.” He winked.

Heat stole into Rodimus’ face. “Thanks, Sides.” He took the sack, tying the extra strings onto a projection on his pack. “And well… it’s complicated.” His gaze slid briefly to Sunstreaker before dropping to the sand. “I chose to leave, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things I’m going to miss.”

“Things,” Sideswipe echoed and sidled in next to Rodimus, slipping an arm around his waist to lean his head on Rodimus’ shoulder. “Or maybe a couple of hot-aft mechs who keep things interesting, hm?”

Rodimus chuckled. “Yeah. Maybe.” He leaned into Sideswipe, soaking up his friend’s heat, and indulging in the touch of their fields, the playful nudge of Sideswipe’s, and the affection swirled in it. He loved Sideswipe, too. Just not in the same way.

“You’re lucky we know you better than you think we do,” Sunstreaker said, his voice soft, but the words sharp enough to sound like a chastisement. “I’d hate to have to chase you into the desert just to kick your aft.”

Rodimus winced.

Sideswipe clicked his glossa. “Sunny, that’s not the way we show we care.”

“Yes, it is,” Rodimus said with a forced chuckle even as Sunstreaker glared at his brother, who slipped his arm out from Rodimus’ waist and held up his hands.

“Don’t hate the messenger,” Sideswipe said, nudging Rodimus with his elbow. “Besides, hot shot knows better now, doesn’t he?”

Rodimus nodded. “I wrote a note,” he said, fumbling with the datapad in this subspace. “Kind of glad it didn’t come to that now.”

“Some things need to be spoken,” Sunstreaker said, with a surprising acuity few knew him capable.

“And that’s my cue,” Sideswipe said. He grabbed Rodimus’ hand, tangling their fingers together and giving it a squeeze. “Take care of yourself out there, Roddy. You don’t want to break our sparks, okay?”

“I learned from the best, didn’t I?” Rodimus replied.

Sideswipe grinned and pressed a kiss to Rodimus’ cheek, one that lingered as if he put all of his affection into it. He squeezed Rodimus’ hand again. “Got your back, hot shot,” he said, and then he pulled away, taking the swirling warmth of his field with him. “We’ll keep a berth for you.”

Sideswipe winked, tossed his brother a knowing look, and then he strode away, a whistle on his lips, nonchalance in the set of his shoulders. Rodimus watched him go, spark simultaneously fluttering and squeezing.

What came next was one of the hardest things Rodimus ever had to do.

He looked at Sunstreaker and prepared himself to say goodbye, while his spark felt too big for its casing. He fidgeted, knowing he should speak, but too many words crowding on his glossa. He wished he had managed to escape and leave the datapad, with the carefully crafted note behind.

He swallowed over a lump in his intake. “Sunny…” Words failed him. He wished he could just shove the datapad into Sunstreaker’s hand and flee into the night.

“I’m glad,” Sunstreaker closed the distance between them, his hands gently cupping the curve of Rodimus’ intake and jaw. “I am glad that you found someone worth risking your spark.”

It’s too hard to look into his optics. So Rodimus didn’t, instead dropping his gaze as he cycled a ventilation. “I think I’ve lost count of the times I’d wondered what would have happened if things were different.”

He didn’t elaborate on ‘things’. Sunstreaker already knew. It was this unspoken secret, this unacknowledged thing between them, growing heavier and heavier with each passing season, until it became too large for words and too hard to declare.

“There is no different.” Sunstreaker’s voice was quiet. “Things happened the way they were meant to.”

Somehow, Rodimus always knew that.

“That doesn’t make it any less valid or valuable though,” Sunstreaker added, his thumbs sweeping a soft pattern over the curve of Rodimus’ cheek. “I do love you, Rodimus. Just…”

“Not the way that makes you mine,” Rodimus finished for him, and managed a smile, despite it cracking around the edges. “I know. And it’s okay. As it turns out, I seem to have a thing for mercurial Seekers anyway.”

Sunstreaker chuckled and pulled their heads together, pressing his forehead to Rodimus’. “I’ll want to meet him someday, you know. Just to be sure he’s good enough for you.”

“If I can convince him to keep me, I’ll make it happen.”

“You will.” Sunstreaker’s optics shuttered, and he cycled a ventilation. “If this Seeker has any sense, he’ll know better than to let you go.”

The lump in Rodimus’ intake grew larger. “Yeah, I hope so.”

Sunstreaker huffed a laugh and pulled back, unshuttering his optics. “You’ll come back to visit.” It wasn’t a question.

“Of course.” Rodimus smiled, easier this time, less broken around the edges, and smoother, like reforged transsteel.

Sunstreaker’s fingers slipped away, though the warmth of their touch lingered. “I have something for you,” he said, before he dug around in his subspace and produced a bag not unlike the one Sideswipe had offered. “So you don’t forget me.”

“As if I ever could.” Rodimus accepted the bag, and coughed his ventilations as heat colored his face. “And uh, this is for you.” He offered up the datapad. It did have a note especially for the twins on it, but it was also a collection of the romantic tales Rodimus knew Sunstreaker didn’t have in his collection.

“Keep it hidden from Sides,” Rodimus added with a little laugh as Sunstreaker tucked the datapad into his subspace. “You know how he likes to tease.” As if Sideswipe wasn’t any less guilty given those terrible detective novels he consumed like cheap engex.

“I do.” Sunstreaker’s lips pulled into a soft smile, one that few had been treated to seeing. “Good luck, Rodimus. Not that I think you’ll need it. You’re an easy mech to love.”

Rodimus’ spark throbbed so hard he felt the crystal structure tremble. Words, again, were unhelpful, traitorous things. So he threw himself at Sunstreaker, into the gold mech’s arms, and felt himself wrapped in a tight embrace. He thought Sunstreaker was shaking, but maybe he imagined it.

“You better go,” Sunstreaker said. “Or I might ask you to stay.”

Rodimus forced himself to pull back, and was glad he did, because he caught something in Sunstreaker’s expression. Something he couldn’t define, that shaded his best friend’s optics a darker hue and filled his field with determination. Then Sunstreaker leaned in and Rodimus didn’t evade, giving in to the brief brush of their lips together.

It barely counted as a kiss.

It was definitely a goodbye.

Sunstreaker retreated, sooner than Rodimus would have liked, but not soon enough for the ache in his spark. Sometimes, it was harder to let something go that hadn’t definitively ended. Or perhaps because it had.

“Be safe,” Sunstreaker murmured.

“Be happy,” Rodimus countered, and didn’t even have to look behind him or over his shoulder to know that Sideswipe and Megatron hovered just inside the entrance of the settlement, watching. Not with jealousy but concern.

They’d take care of things on this end.

Now it was up to Rodimus to take care of himself.

“Ask me something hard,” Sunstreaker said.

Rodimus grinned. He tucked Sunstreaker’s gift into his subspace, to go through it later, and made himself dash through the open gate, before his spark made him linger. Before his determination faltered and he second-guessed his choices.

The easier choice was to stay in the settlement, to grapple with his failures, his unrequited love, and settle for whatever was left. He could bury his hopes, his dreams, and be satisfied with whatever lot life would give him.

Or he could take this chance. He could plunge back into the Barrens, find Starscream’s tower, and see if the Seeker would let him stay. See if there was a future with Starscream, one full of adventure and curiosities and challenge.

Rodimus had never been one to take the easy way out. He certainly wasn’t going to start now.

So into the Barrens he descended.

He didn’t know what his future was going to hold, and for once, that uncertainty didn’t frighten the Pit out of him.

If anything, it set him free.

[TF] Trial by Fire 09

The scent of a freshly scrubbed speedster announced Deadlock’s arrival, but so did the drape of a warm frame over Starscream’s from behind, arms caging him in and chassis pressed to the back of his wings. Kisses dotted like little gifts all over the curvature of his head until Starscream squirmed.

“What did I miss?” Deadlock asked, amused and warm, his voice drizzling into Starscream’s audial and making him shiver.

“Nothing,” Starscream replied, and gamely tried to wriggle from under Deadlock’s weight, but for all that the mech was shorter than him, he was quite heavy.

Triple-layered armor, apparently. A mech could never be too careful when he lived most of his life alone and wandering.

“Come on, Lock, I’m working,” Starscream said, in vain, as he peered at his datapad but couldn’t seem to focus given the way Deadlock’s hands lingered.

And wandered. Sliding up over his shoulders, curling around to brush his abdomen, and then slipping over his chest. One finger twirled a tiny turbine, sending zings of pleasure through Starscream’s lines.

“Mmm, so I see,” Deadlock purred as his finger went flick, flick, flick, and Starscream’s turbine lazily spun in its casing. “But I’ll bet you need a boost first. Gotta keep your processor sharp, right?” He nibbled at the side of Starscream’s neck, singling out a cable and applying a sturdy pressure to it.

Charge crackled up Starscream’s backstrut. “That is a terrible excuse,” he groaned.

“But is it working?” Flick-flick-flick went the finger while the other hand toyed with his cockpit, trying to ease into the seam.

Starscream shivered and arched into Deadlock’s hands, his array tingling. Especially when the finger abandoned his cockpit and went in search of his dataport, flicking over the latch protecting it.

“Not at all,” Starscream said in an attempt to be droll, but it failed miserably as he pushed into Deadlock’s touch. “I swear the universe is out to distract me.”

Deadlock laughed and pinched at his dataport cover, making Starscream jerk. “I’m the only one who’s been here in months. What else would you find so distracting? Unless…”

He trailed off, tone turning contemplative, and then his hands vanished. Starscream made a noise of protest, but it quickly cut off when Deadlock swung around and deposited himself in Starscream’s lap, straddling him. He draped his hands over Starscream’s shoulders and cocked his head.

“Unless I’ve not been your only visitor,” he purred and leaned forward, hands seeking and finding Starscream’s wings. “Spill it, Starling.”

“Spill what? You’ve missed nothing,” Starscream said with a huff, his hands finding their way to Deadlock’s hips, because if his friend was going to persist in being a distraction, then Starscream was going to enjoy himself.

“Ooo, the lies you tell me straight from your lips.” Deadlock tweaked an aileron and Starscream shivered, his array flushing with heat. “Something’s different. This whole place feels different. And you, especially are different.”

Deadlock leaned in close, pressed his forehead to Starscream’s, sliding forward until their chestplates touched. “Come on, Starling. Tell ole Deadlock what’s going on.”

Starscream laughed. “Primus, you’re ridiculous.” He gripped Deadlock’s hips, letting his thumbs sweep inward, teasing Deadlock’s array housing. “But you’re right. I’ve had a visitor since you’ve last been here.”

“What? Really?” Deadlock reared back, and a scowl twisted his lips, though it wasn’t directed at Starscream in particular. “Who do I need to kill?”

“No one, you bloodthirsty thing.” Starscream snorted, but his spark still fluttered at the offer. It was nice that someone wanted to protect him. “One of the locals got themselves into some trouble at the back door, and I bailed him out.”

Deadlock squinted at him. “You let someone into the tower?”

“Let is a strong word. It was either that or deal with his clan when they came looking for their missing Firebrand.” Starscream leaned in, tried to initiate a nuzzle. “He’s gone now. What does it matter? Don’t you owe me a ‘boost’ as you so elegantly called it?”

“He didn’t hurt you?” Deadlock’s hands swept over Starscream’s shoulders and arms, a small frown on his lips, as though determined to find the smallest injury.

“No,” Starscream replied, bemused. “But I appreciate your concern, Deadlock.”

Deadlock cocked his head. “That can’t just be it though.” He pointed a finger at Starscream, waggling it in his face. “Usually when your research is interrupted, it’s the first thing you rant at me when I show up. So why’d I have to pull this time out of you?”

“What? Do you think there’s something nefarious going on?” Starscream chuckled and resisted the urge to nip at that waggling finger.

“I think there’s something you’re not telling me.” Deadlock’s glossa flicked over his lips, and he leaned forward, nose twitching as though he could pick up the scent of the Firebrand off Starscream’s frame. “You fragged him, didn’t you?”

For someone who spent so much time isolated from society, Deadlock could be astonishingly perceptive.

“Not in so many words,” Starscream said, and of all things, his face heated. “I miscalculated, and didn’t know if my coding degradation would stall until you arrived. I was desperate.”

“And lucky he was here to donate.”

“He saved my life,” Starscream corrected. “I’m still not sure he quite understands that.”

Deadlock snorted. “Right. What would it matter to him? He got to frag a Seeker. Aft probably pranced out of here, trying to calculate who all he should blab to.” He folded his arms, optics darkening.

“While I appreciate your defending my honor, as I said, it wasn’t like that.” Starscream’s tone was wry, even as he tickled his fingers into Deadlock’s seams. “He offered his code and that was it. We did not interface.”

“Hmph. Then you found the honorable one out of the bunch,” he said with a sniff, though he gave Starscream a side-eyed look. “And don’t think I haven’t noticed you trying to distract me. Your fingers are all over my seams.”

Starscream made his optics big and wide. “What fingers?” He kept his tone as innocent as possible, even as he found a bundle of cables and stroked them. “Besides, what else am I supposed to do with a pretty little grounder in my lap? Hmm?”

“I can think of a few things,” Deadlock purred and his hands returned to Starscream’s wings, his engine rumbling noisily. “That is, if you don’t mind the distraction.”

“I wasn’t making any progress anyway,” Starscream said and pulled Deadlock into a kiss, moaning as denta nipped at his lips, and Deadlock rolled his hips in a manner which should be considered illegal.

~

The settlement’s oil baths were larger and more numerous than Starscream’s private one, but they were also cooler. And loud.

Rodimus tried not to make comparisons, but couldn’t help it. Not when he sank into the springwell they’d carved and shivered, because it wasn’t as blistering hot as Starscream’s had been. Or quite so soothing. He missed the enticing scent of whatever minerals Starscream swirled into the oils to make them so appealing. Plus Scuttle wasn’t around beeping at him as if afraid Rodimus had drowned.

To be fair, however, there was one thing Starscream’s private bath didn’t have – a determined and dedicated Sunstreaker.

There was once a time that Rodimus thought getting scrubbed on by a willing partner was an erotic experience that would lead to fun, berthtime shenanigans. He thought maybe that was still possible, so long as his partner wasn’t Sunstreaker, who considered time spent in the oil baths as serious as time spent on the training mat. It wasn’t for fooling around. It was for getting clean and spotless to Sunstreaker’s idea of perfection.

Sunstreaker scrubbed into Rodimus’ seams and armor plate as though the tiniest speck of dirt offended him. He lifted Rodimus’ limbs and spun him around like a drone meant to obey and little else. It wasn’t the soft and sensual, flirtatious sweep of a washrag. It was a determined, ferocious scrub that would have been invasive, if Rodimus wasn’t so used to it. Sunstreaker didn’t know how to say he cared so he showed it instead.

At least he’d be clean afterward, Rodimus thought, and braced himself to endure. It wouldn’t be the first time. Besides, a scrubdown by Sunstreaker was considered a thing of value in the clan. He was being treated. Other mechs were envious of the friendship Rodimus had with the twins, even though they’d scorned Sunstreaker and Sideswipe before.

Rodimus knew, just as much as the twins did, that their interest only came about because Sunstreaker and Sideswipe had successfully courted the warchief. Suddenly, Sunstreaker’s abrasiveness and Sideswipe’s irritating pranks were endearing, rather than off-putting. Now that they had the audial of one of the clan’s highest ranked members.

“So,” Sunstreaker began as he attacked a scuff on Rodimus’ left shin as though it had insulted his twin, “Want to tell me what happened?”

Rodimus winced. “You already know.” He didn’t meet Sunstreaker’s gaze, instead looking around at the other patrons of the bathing room. There was a group of younglings splashing around in the corner, under the bored gaze of their sitter. “I let the idiots goad me into doing something stupid. Then I got lost and had to hide out until the storm passed.”

“You were also attacked by turbowolves and somehow managed to repair yourself in the middle of a storm,” Sunstreaker said, his tone mild, but disbelieving.

“Yeah. Sounds about right.”

Sunstreaker snorted and spun Rodimus around. He bent over to peer at the patch of bare armor on Rodimus’ abdomen. “You didn’t do this,” he said as he gave it a poke before he looked up at Rodimus. “Come on, Roddy. It’s me, not those idiots. You can tell me the truth. Who’d you run into? One of Elita’s bunch? Magnus’? Skyfire’s?”

Rodimus shook his head. “I didn’t come across any of them. Honestly, Sun. I’m the only mech dumb enough not to check the forecast and realize there was a storm coming.” He rubbed the back of his head, lowering his gaze.

“Foolish, too, for actually believing those stupid rumors and letting the other Firebrands goad you.” Sunstreaker gave Rodimus another critical look. “You’re clean enough. Let’s get you dry so I can paint you.”

“Aww, Sun. You don’t have to.”

Sunstreaker cocked an orbital ridge. “None of that was a suggestion, Rodimus. Up you get.” He patted Rodimus’ aft for emphasis. “I’m not letting you walk around looking like that. It’s embarrassing.”

Beaten, Rodimus climbed out of the oil bath and snatched a meshcloth, toweling himself in short, efficient strokes, just as Sunstreaker had taught him. Beside him, Sunstreaker did the same.

In the corner, the younglings were being herded out by their sitter. This time of the day, the baths were scarcely occupied. Most of their clansmechs were on duty or out performing necessary tasks. The few mechs that were present paid them no attention. Frag, Drag Strip looked like he was napping. Rodimus wouldn’t be surprised if he actually was. Drag Strip was the only mech who spent more time soaking in the baths than Sunstreaker.

“You shouldn’t let them get under your plating like that,” Sunstreaker murmured as he finished his own armor and then frowned at Rodimus’ back, only to attack his spoiler with the drying cloth.

Rodimus bit back a sigh and endured once again. It was part of the price of a Sunstreaker cleaning. If he didn’t do a good enough job, Sunstreaker would do it himself.

“Goading you into doing something so stupid, I mean,” Sunstreaker added as he wiped the last trickles of oil from Rodimus’ spoiler and tossed the meshcloth into the recycle bin. “You don’t have anything to prove to them.”

“Maybe not. But I do have to show that I’m capable to Kup and Wirelight and the Warchief.” Rodimus gave Sunstreaker an askance look, though he knew Sunstreaker would never understand.

He and Sideswipe were born warriors, built for it down to the struts. It came easy to them. They had always been certain of their place in the clan. Yeah, maybe they’d wavered when it came to their chosen mate because who would be arrogant enough to court their warchief? But the twins had always been confident of themselves. It was one thing they never lacked.

“Chasing after a myth is not the way to do that,” Sunstreaker retorted. He tugged Rodimus out of the public baths and down the narrower back halls, no doubt to the large room he shared with his twin and their Warchief.

Warchief Megatron and Optimus Prime had larger rooms than anyone in the clan, but they weren’t ostentatious. Both mechs claimed they were nothing special, and to be fair, both had rather large family units that needed the greater space. The Prime’s bond was a carrier mech, one responsible for a half-dozen symbionts, and the Prime himself often held meetings in his quarters. Warchief Megatron was much the same, though he and the twins had not opted to raise younglings.

Yet.

“He’s not a myth,” Rodimus muttered.

Sunstreaker rolled his optics. “I know that. But honestly Rodimus, did you really think finding a Seeker for whatever reason was any way to prove your worth?”

His face heated. He clamped his mouth shut. He didn’t want to talk about how desperate he felt then. How the goading and the teasing and the challenge had made him puff up, made him feel obligated to prove himself. How he felt miles behind his fellow Firebrands and felt he’d never catch up. How his dreams of being a warrior slipped through his fingers. He’d never get to fight alongside Sideswipe and Sunstreaker if he couldn’t take the Warchief’s brand.

He wouldn’t get to travel. He wouldn’t get to see anything. He’d be stuck at the settlement, always at the settlement, with the rest of those too old or young or unskilled to defend themselves. He’d never see the Sea of Rust or the Sea of Mercury. He’d never visit with the other clans and meet new people.

He was too stupid for anything else. Rodimus knew this. If he couldn’t be a warrior, what use was he? He hadn’t the processor for tactics or study. He hadn’t the creativity to weave or sew or build. He was somewhat practiced at a little bit of everything, but skilled at absolutely nothing, and useless everywhere around.

What was he if not a warrior? If he couldn’t seek any of his passions? If he had to settle for security and safety, left behind to rot? He didn’t know if he could bear it, a life like that. He had to be meant for more.

If not a warrior, then what?

Rodimus didn’t have a good answer for that which didn’t make him sound pathetic or like a fool, or worse, both. So he pressed his lips together and folded his arms over his chest.

Sunstreaker sighed. He didn’t press for answers, at least, not while they still walked the public corridors.

When they arrived at the massive quarters Sunstreaker shared with his twin and their Warchief, however, Rodimus knew he was in for it. He braced himself, and tried not to look like he trudged to his doom as Sunstreaker swept aside the swinging door and gestured him inside.

Rodimus had been here before, albeit not as often as the time he’d spent in the small room Sunstreaker and Sideswipe used to share. The largest room was, by far, the main receiving room. Three other doorways led to the shared berth room, an office for the Warchief, and a storage room for all their spare weapons, energon, and supplies.

“Sit,” Sunstreaker said as he gathered up his painting supplies, all of which he kept in a central location for ease of use. Given how often he touched up his own paint, it was no surprise. He had a whole corner of the receiving room cordoned off just for his supplies.

Rodimus planted his aft in one of the chairs expertly arranged throughout the receiving room and cycled a ventilation, preparing himself for a lecture. Or an interrogation. Or both. Sunstreaker could be pretty perceptive when he put his processor to it, and with a victim who couldn’t escape, he had all the time in the world.

“Now,” Sunstreaker said as he moved closer, dragging a wheeled tray with his various instruments arrayed upon it, “are you going to tell me what really happened out there?”

Rodimus squirmed.

“Be still,” Sunstreaker added as he picked up a cloth and a bottle and eyed Rodimus’ midsection intently.

Rodimus fought back a sigh. “I’ve told you what happened.”

“Not the truth.”

Rodimus ground his denta. “How are you so sure I’m lying?”

“Because I know you,” Sunstreaker said simply, as if that was explanation enough.

Sunstreaker frowned, but it was directed at Rodimus’ belly, as he drizzled something on the mesh cloth and started to dab at Rodimus’ armor. The bitter reek of stripper floated up to Rodimus’ nose, and he wrinkled it.

“What does it matter anyway?” Rodimus asked, as desperate to keep the secret as he was to tell someone, anyone, about it in a vague hope that they would understand and help him make sense of it. “I’m back, I’m alive. What’s it matter what really happened?”

Sunstreaker didn’t look at him, focusing intently on the task at hand. “Because it matters to you,” he said softly, and then he looked up, his optics gentle as so few knew they could be. “Do you trust me?”

Rodimus groaned. He buried his face behind his hands. “Sunny, that’s not fair,” he said, just short of a whine. “You can’t pull that on me.”

“You see, that’s where you’re wrong.” Sunstreaker leaned back, and the tray clattered as he set aside the stripper and reached for something else. “I’m a warrior. I can use whatever tactic I like. That still doesn’t answer my question.”

Rodimus’ shoulders sank, even as he shifted at Sunstreaker’s urging, surrendering his abdomen to his friend’s ministrations. He leaned into the chair, trying not to wince as Sunstreaker chipped at the raised edges of the ragged weld.

“You can’t tell anyone,” Rodimus said as he lowered his hands. He gnawed on his bottom lip in between words. “I mean it, Sunny. I owe him my life.”

“Owe,” Sunstreaker echoed, before he nodded firmly. “Consider it locked then. Not even Sides or Megatron will know.” He bent over Rodimus again. “Tell me.”

If there was one person in the entire settlement Rodimus could trust with the truth, it was Sunstreaker. And he needed to tell someone.

So he did.

Quietly, in stuttered bursts and meandering incomplete sentences, while Sunstreaker silently worked on making his abdomen look brand new and then moved on to touching up his frame here and there. He didn’t comment, said nothing until he was sure Rodimus was finished, and that made it easier somehow.

He told Sunstreaker about getting lost, finding the caves, being attacked by the turbowolves and thinking that he’d met his end. He talked about how he’d woken up in an unfamiliar place, in the company of a stranger, who had not only repaired him, but offered his home as a refuge from the storm.

How Starscream had been rude and standoffish, but kind where it mattered. How he was beautiful and smart and ate Rodimus’ treats with evident delight. How he’d let Rodimus read his books and use his training room and explore the universe through the holographs in the Astronomy room. How Starscream had trusted Rodimus with a secret of his own, and then, the code sharing. How it had felt, how strange it had been, but also wonderful.

And then, his own mixed feelings. How a part of him had wanted to stay, because he wasn’t sure there was anything left for him in the clan, and aside from that, he wanted to get to know Starscream better. He was fascinated by everything in the tower. He’d learned so much and wanted to learn more. He loved the drones and Scuttle especially. He wanted to kiss Starscream and mean it.

By the time he finished, Sunstreaker had moved on to buffing him to a shine, his fingers making long, delicate sweeps over Rodimus’ spoiler. It was soothing, like a loving embrace, and Rodimus leaned into it, feeling like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders. Being around Sunstreaker, and Sideswipe also, had always been a comfort for him. Springer was his brother, but there was always this sense of competition between them. Whereas being with the twins was more about companionship.

“Well?” Rodimus prompted, once the silence had grown too long and stretched thin between them. He wanted Sunstreaker’s advice. He wanted to hear it from someone other than the stupid hopes building in his own spark.

Sunstreaker set down his buffing cloth and rested his hands on Rodimus’ shoulders. “I’m glad you came back to us,” he said.

Rodimus blinked. “That’s it?”

“Were you expecting a reprimand?” Sunstreaker’s voice was warm with humor, even as he moved around to face Rodimus, crouching to look up at him. “Tell me this, Rodimus. Is taking the Warchief’s badge the only action of worth to you?”

“It’s what I’m supposed to do.”

Sunstreaker shook his head, resting a hand on Rodimus’ nearest knee. “That’s not what I asked.”

Rodimus gnawed on his bottom lip. “If I’m not a warrior, then what am I? What’s the point of anything?” Which, he knew, didn’t answer Sunstreaker’s question either.

“I can’t answer that for you, and right now, I do think you need to answer it for yourself.” Sunstreaker patted his knee and stood up again, cupping Rodimus’ head and pressing a kiss to his forehead. “If I know you as well as I think I do, you’ll figure it out.”

“Thanks. I guess.” Rodimus squirmed in his grip, warmth fluttering out from his spark.

There was still a part of him which resented that Sunstreaker would never be his. He valued their friendship and what they had, but that Megatron had come along and wooed them away hung heavy in his spark. He used to dream about getting old enough, earning his warrior’s badge, and presenting himself as a mate candidate to the twins.

They bonded with Megatron before he ever got the chance.

“You’re welcome.” Sunstreaker released him and stepped back, lips curved with amusement. “Now come on. Let’s find you a meal before I turn you over to Kup’s custody.”

Rodimus groaned and hung his head. “Can’t I just hide here until he forgets about it?”

Sunstreaker chuckled. “I don’t think Megatron will approve, kid.”

“You’re not that much older than me.” Rodimus rolled his optics and forced himself to stand. Sunstreaker was right after all.

He had to face the consequences of his actions. No matter what it meant. Yes, they’d goaded him, but it had been Rodimus’ choice to leave without telling anyone, to barge into the desert with a half-baked plan and an absurd idea of proving himself.

“But thanks,” Rodimus added with a small smile. “For listening, I mean.”

Sunstreaker winked and dragged him into a half-hug, his frame warm and his engine purring and his field feeling the closest to what Rodimus could describe as home.

“Anytime, Roddy. Anytime.”

~

“So tell me about the Firebrand,” Deadlock said, out of nowhere, as they lounged in Starscream’s berth, feeling lazy and indulgent.

Interfacing with Deadlock was always a curious thing. Half-comfort, half-familiarity, all pleasure. Starscream adored Deadlock and the sensations his friend could invoke in him, and there was a soft curl of comfort in his belly whenever Deadlock was around. It was love, but it wasn’t.

Starscream didn’t think he could define it.

The jolt in his spark at the mere mention of Rodimus, however, was something wholly different. And unexpected. Had the Firebrand crawled so deeply under his plating?

Starscream lazily stretched his arms over his head and flopped over to his front, letting his wings twitch and shift in their housing. “Why?”

“Because I’m curious.” Deadlock sprawled next to him, hand slip-sliding over Starscream’s back to tease his seams. “And because it’s rare that you let anyone stick around.”

Starscream twitched a wing and pillowed his head on his arms. “Is that jealousy I detect?”

“Mmm. More like protectiveness.” Deadlock leaned over, getting his mouth on a wing flap, his denta asserting a light pressure.

Starscream hissed, heat coiling in his array, threatening to stir his sated bits back to life. “He’s gone,” Starscream managed to spit out. “What does it matter what he’s like?”

“It just does.” Deadlock’s ex-vents were hot and wet on the edge of Starscream’s wing. “Come on, Starling. Tell me. Was he at least attractive?”

Starscream laughed into the berth cover. “You’re ridiculous,” he said with a groan. “But yes, he was. Red and yellow, these garish flames painted across his chestplate. His alt-mode had a spoiler, and in root mode, it created these adorable faux-wings across his upper back.”

“Mmm.” Deadlock nibbled on his ailerons. One hand drifted down Starscream’s back, flirting over the curve of his aft. “What else?”

Starscream buried his face in his arms, though it did little to stall the light coils of pleasure stirring in his frame. “I think he’s from the Kaonite clan, you know, that big settlement to the east? He wasn’t branded.”

“Look at you, creche-robber.” Deadlock laughed. “Taking code from such a young thing. I shouldn’t be so surprised.”

Starscream shoved himself to his elbows and directed a glare over his shoulder. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Deadlock snorted. “Nothing.” He bit at Starscream’s wing again, optics teasing as they met Starscream’s. “Tell me more.”

“Why should I?” Starscream sniffed and flicked his wing out of Deadlock’s oral range.

“Because I asked.” Deadlock’s glossa swept over his lips, baring a hint of fang. “What’s his name?” His hand rested on Starscream’s aft, a lingering, heavy weight.

“Hot Ro– No, Rodimus. It was Rodimus.” Starscream frowned as he corrected his defaults. “For some reason, he felt the need to tell me an alias. And he came here, like so many before him, because of a rumor. You know the one.”

Deadlock field flickered into anger. “Yes, I know the one,” he growled and his hand curled, claws threatening to curl a strip of paint from Starscream’s aft. “And you let him stay here anyway? Knowing what he wanted from you?”

“I made it quite clear the consequences of any misbehavior.” Starscream sniffed and tossed Deadlock a dark look. “I am capable of taking care of myself, you know.”

“Still a pointless risk.” Deadlock’s hand abandoned his aft sadly, and he pulled himself up, seated with his back to the wall and his knees drawn up. He draped his arms over his knees, hands gesturing. “Especially since he got what he wanted in the end.”

“I didn’t ‘face him,” Starscream repeated and buried his face in his arms, his voice muffled when he added, “I copied his code. I offered to ‘face him, in exchange for his code, but he turned me down.”

“Huh. A Firebrand with a conscience. Who knew they existed?” Deadlock snorted.

“He was quite… unusual.” Starscream offlined his optics, cycling several ventilations in an attempt to dismiss the lowgrade arousal simmering in his lines. “Messy, full of questions, and quite irritating at times but he wasn’t as much of a bother as I expected him to be.”

“Hm.”

Starscream blinked and pushed himself upright, half-swiveling to stare narrow-opticked at his best friend. “I know that tone.” He frowned. “What is it?”

Deadlock twisted his wrists, palms facing upward, a gesture of conciliation. “You tell me.” He tilted his head, optics dark and acute. “Get used to him being around, did you?”

Starscream twisted his frame until he was seated on the edge of the berth, though one leg curled up on it so he could face Deadlock. “You sure you’re not jealous?”

“Nothing to be jealous of. Not like you’re mine.” Deadlock shrugged, but there was nothing nonchalant about it. “Only I know that you don’t like people, yet you seem to have nothing but good things to say about this one.”

“Well, maybe that’s because he turned out not to be an aft like everyone else.”

“Except me.” Deadlock smirked, flashing one sharp fang. “And, well, Blurr.”

Starscream’s spark twinged at the reminder. It had been decades since he’d separated romantically from his former partner, and while that end had come by mutual agreement, it was still an ache of loss in his spark. Visiting Blurr occasionally, for a code refresh or just because, did little to ease the ache.

“You’re still an aft,” Starscream said loftily, trying to chase away the rush of sadness. “Just a different kind.” He hopped down from the berth and stretched his arms over his head. “I’m going to get some coolant. Shall I bring you something?”

Deadlock flopped back down to the berth, taking up such a large amount of space for a frame smaller than Starscream’s own. “Surprise me,” he purred as he wriggled about to make himself comfortable. “And don’t think we’re done talking about this. I know a redirection when I hear one.”

Starscream snorted and waved Deadlock off. He did need coolant, but yes, also, he wanted some distance.

He didn’t want to talk about Rodimus, because he couldn’t put into words the answer Deadlock wanted. Starscream wasn’t even sure what answer he wanted to give.

Best to forget about it.

[TF] Trial By Fire 06

Day six of their forced proximity dawned.

Hot Rod continued on as he always did, probably with his nose buried in one of the datapads he’d pilfered from Starscream’s library. Or perhaps he was in the training room, going through one of the numerous kata the trainer-bot had taught him. Or on the window ledge carving the discarded metals. Or even in the Astronomy room, cycling through the skyscapes, his optics wide with wonder.

Starscream was left with the silence of his tower, save for the whoosh and rattle of the raging duststorm. Well, less raging now. The intensity was easing. It seemed his calculations were accurate. His predictive software approached perfection.

Hot Rod would be gone tomorrow. Starscream had run out of time.

He cycled a ventilation. He settled down into his chair – comfortable, not the stool – and plugged the code reader into the medical port on his wrist. He waited, on bolts and brackets, for the read out, and nearly sobbed aloud when it came back to him.

Coding degradation at fifty-eight percent.

He could, possibly, survive until Deadlock’s return. Not conscious, perhaps. Autonomics would kick in, preserve his spark for a few more days until that coding degraded. But Deadlock’s return visits were never guaranteed. It was within a two week period. He could be early. He could be late.

Did he dare risk it?

It was too late to contact Skyfire. By now, his clan was on the other side of the Manganese Mountains, out of reach of Starscream’s communicators. And heading to the cities in his current state was a deathwish.

Starscream removed the scanner and eyed the innocent device on his desktop. It was little more than a memory stick, and it contained a copy of the newest iteration of his substitute operating code. One he’d finished late last night, when he’d forced himself to stay online, working furiously to make up for allowing himself to be distracted. It was important. Necessary. Something that would save the spark of every Seeker on Cybertron if only he could get it to work.

What did he have to lose by trying it now, save that miniscule chance Deadlock might show up early and spare him the embarrassment of begging the Firebrand for help?

He couldn’t take the risk. He had to trust in himself and in his work. Or at least trust that he’d survive the test.

Starscream cycled a ventilation and grasped the memory stick. He stared hard at it, his port twitching at his hesitation, and his processor spinning around the numbers.

Fifty-eight percent. Fifty-eight percent. Fifty-eight percent. Fif–

He inserted the stick and activated the coding software before he could convince himself to abort the process. He braced himself against the desk as dizziness made him sway. He felt the foreign code trickling through him, mingling with his own, bolstering and rewriting. It itched, like a rust infection he couldn’t reach.

Starscream groaned. He flushed, felt hot all over, except for the chill deep in the pit of his tanks. His port ached. His processor spun into mighty circles.

The upload finished.

Starscream pulled out the memory stick with shaky fingers and set it aside. His vision wobbled. He couldn’t feel a difference, but the foreign code worked through him like hot slices of an energon blade. There was an… incompatibility. Rejection. The source code peered and disapproved.

His tanks clenched. He clamped down on the need to purge.

He plugged the scanner back into his port. He gripped the desk to keep himself upright, even though it felt as though his gyros were spinning. This… wasn’t right. He knew how it felt to have a coding boost from a willing donor. The surge of energy, of life, the unfurling of new data, new coding tricks. This was the complete opposite.

The scanner beeped. It took Starscream a frightening amount of time to focus on the read out.

Coding degradation at twenty-three percent.

Damn it. Damn it.

Starscream threw the memory stick away. It clattered across the table before sliding off the other end and bouncing across the floor. It likely broke. Not that it mattered. It was useless now.

The coding upload had failed. Again. And worse, this time it had further corrupted what coding he’d had.

Starscream dug furrows into the desk with his talons. His vents came in sharper bursts.

He had no choice now. None. If he wanted to live, if he wanted to survive, to continue, he would have to ask Hot Rod. He would have to bow his head and submit himself, like he hadn’t in centuries, to the whim of another mech.

It was only his self-respect, he reasoned. He could claw his way back to it again. But oh, how it stung. Such a heavy price to pay.

It had to be done.

~

Rodimus rounded the corner, unable to decide if he was excited he could leave for home tomorrow, or disappointed that he would be returning a failure. Part of him wanted to linger, to spend more time here in this laboratory, with Starscream as waspish as he was, and yet sometimes charming, too.

Said Seeker had spent the entirety of the day locked in his laboratory. He hadn’t even answered the door when Rodimus pinged it, hoping to lure him out with more treats. Rodimus had been left to entertain himself, which he had, but couldn’t shake the disappointment. He’d thought he and Starscream had become, well, not friends, but maybe they’d learned to respect one another. Tolerate one another? Come to an understanding?

Something.

Starscream had gone back to the cold distance so quickly. Rodimus had hoped that he could leave tomorrow feeling as though he’d made a friend at the very least. Beneath that bristly exterior, Starscream was fascinating, and lonely, if Rodimus had a guess, and Rodimus knew something about what it meant to feel alone.

It was probably all Rodimus’ fault. He’d made too much of a nuisance of himself, and a distraction both. He’d caused Starscream’s experiment to fail yesterday, and that must have been the last grit in the gear.

He sighed, scrubbed a hand down his face, and then froze when he realized he was no longer alone. Starscream loitered outside of the room he’d loaned to Rodimus. The Seeker leaned against the wall beside the door, his posture casual, but the rest of him less so as his armor was clamped tightly and his expression unreadable.

Rodimus tilted his head. “Um, what’s going on?” He hadn’t broken anything, he was sure of it. Behind him, Scuttle bumped against his heel and chirped indignantly.

“Well, Hot Rod, it seems I am going to grant your wish after all.”

Rodimus cycled his optics and drew down his orbital ridges. “What do you mean?”

Starscream pushed off the wall, dropping his arms from where they’d been folded across his chestplate. The motion seemed to draw the overhead lights toward his frame, highlighting paint that gleamed as though he’d been freshly waxed and polished.

“You wanted to berth the Warlock,” Starscream said and rested a hand on his hip, frame angled as though to show off all his best features. “Here I am. But I want something from you in exchange.”

Rodimus gnawed on the inside of his cheek. This was really weird and sudden, and he couldn’t help but notice how very twitchy Starscream was. The Seeker’s field, usually well contained, was all over the place, and pushing at Rodimus’ own.

“What?” he said, maybe a little dumbly. Starscream wasn’t making any sense.

Starscream sighed a ventilation, which he seemed to do a lot. “Must I spell it out for you?” He rubbed at his forehead. “You can frag me for whatever bragging rights your backward clan finds acceptable, and in exchange, I want to borrow your coding.”

No. He still wasn’t making any sense.

“You want to frag me,” Rodimus repeated slowly, and looked around for the cameras. Was Starscream recording this? Trying to humiliate him? “But you want me to let you copy my coding first?”

“Look, it’s a simple exchange of favors, is it not?” Starscream demanded, his tone impatient. His wings twitched faster as the press of his field became more urgent.

Rodimus shook his head. “I don’t understand. You’ve been turning me down since the solar cycle I woke up here. What changed?”

“That’s none of your business!” Starscream snapped, and crossed his arms over his chestplate. “Are you going to take the deal or not?”

It was Rodimus’ turn to fold his arms. “I don’t think only with my spike, you know.” He peered at Starscream, noticing the wan shade of the Seeker’s face and the tremble in his fingertips. “Is there something wrong with you?”

Starscream’s ventilations stuttered, his lips curving downward in a frown. “You know nothing of Seekers, do you?”

“Only the stories and I’ve learned that most of them are false now.” Rodimus shrugged. “There aren’t any in my clan. Never have been. Why would I know anything?” He peered at Starscream. “What am I missing?”

Starscream stared at him for a long moment. He wavered on his feet and slipped back toward the wall, leaning against it. “Our coding deteriorates over time. Breaks down. Causes glitches. Instabilities and eventually…”

“You die?” Rodimus’ optics flared with shock. “So wait. Is that why–”

“Yes,” Starscream interrupted with a long ventilation. “We need unmarred coding to refresh our own. Like a temp patch on a wound.”

Rodimus shook his head, his processor spinning. This was a lot to take in all at once. “But you’ve been living here alone. For years.”

“I’ve had visitors,” Starscream said dryly. “I’m going to spare you the details because you aren’t owed them.” He dropped his hand and gave Rodimus a long look. “Have I satisfied your curiosity enough? Are we in agreement?”

Rodimus reared back, his spark hammering in his chassis. “What? No!”

“Why not? Is this not what you came here for?” Starscream actually looked insulted, his wings twitching faster. “Or am I too unappealing for you to bring yourself to activate your spike?”

Rodimus shook his head so hard it left him a touch dizzy. All of the sudden his plating crawled, and he’d never been less aroused in his life. Somehow it just felt wrong. Wrong for Starscream to agree to ‘face with him only so he wouldn’t die. That wasn’t seduction. That wasn’t overcoming the odds to defeat or berth the Deathbringer himself.

That was… well, it was just wrong.

“Do we have to frag?” Rodimus asked.

Starscream scoffed. “Apparently I am that unappealing.” He pushed off the wall again and turned down the hallway, away from Rodimus, but he stumbled in the midst of doing so.

Rodimus chased after him and cut Starscream off, skidding to a halt in front of the Seeker. “That’s not what I meant!” he rushed to say and felt his face heat. “I just meant, you know, that you shouldn’t have to take my spike just to get something you need to live. You know?” He rubbed the back of his neck.

There was no honor in it. There just wasn’t. He’d never live with himself if he accepted Starscream’s exchange. He’d never claim it as a victory. He’d always feel tainted by his own selfishness and dishonor.

Starscream’s optics widened. His gaze flicked up and down Rodimus’ frame. “Wait,” he said. “What are you saying?”

Rodimus dragged in a heavy vent. “You can copy my coding. You don’t have to frag me for it. I mean, not unless you have to be fragging me for it to work.” He rolled his shoulders in a shrug that was far from dismissive. “I just want to help.”

Starscream stared at him. “Seriously?”

“Yeah.” Rodimus swept his hand over his head, feeling like an idiot, the embarrassment burning in his cheeks. “I mean, it won’t hurt, will it?”

Starscream shook his head. “No. Not at all. In fact from what I’ve witnessed and heard, it’s actually quite pleasurable.” His field evened out, turning warm and pliant. “It’s just data-sharing basically. A step up from med-cabling.”

Rodimus cycled an unsteady ventilation. “Well, that doesn’t sound too bad. I can do that.” He offered Starscream a smile, though it was probably shaky. “That is if it’s okay with you.”

“I wouldn’t have asked you if it wasn’t.”

“Or if you didn’t have any other choice, right?” Rodimus asked.

Starscream’s wings twitched. “There are times when one must choose between survival and dignity. I have always favored the former.”

That was terribly sad to hear. Rodimus was at once even more glad that he’d chosen to help rather than take the opportunity for what it was.

He nodded. “So, uh, if we do this, you’ll be able to read my coding, right?” he asked as he mentally reviewed all that he knew about cabled interfacing, which amounted to very little. It wasn’t common in his clan. Or by any of them. Not when so many clanlings attributed it code-stealing Seekers.

“To an extent,” Starscream conceded. He lifted his shoulders in a shrug. “I won’t be able to alter or affect it, however. The integrity of your own frame is safe.”

Rodimus cycled a ventilation. “Then you’ll probably find out that I lied to you,” he said, and flinched as Starscream’s expression darkened. “Not about something big,” he hastily added. “Just, I told you my given name, not my chosen name.”

Starscream blinked, his forehead drawing downward in confusion. “Why?”

“Didn’t want you to know who I was. Not that it matters because you still don’t.” Rodimus laughed, though it was self-deprecating. “My name is actually Rodimus.”

“Fair enough.” Starscream tilted his head, the fire in his optics dimming. “It’s hardly the worst lie I’ve ever heard.”

“Yeah, but it’s never good to start off with dishonesty. I should have known better.” Rodimus coughed into his hand and shifted his weight. “So do you want to do this now or later or in your room or what?”

Starscream’s lips curved in something like a smile, a real one, and wow, it was kind of nice. Pretty cute, too. They were so rare that Rodimus wished he could take a picture, just to remember it.

“If you are amenable, I would accept your assistance now,” Starscream said as the tight clamp of his armor eased. “I fear I am running short on time.”

Rodimus nodded. “Okay then. Um…” He pointed to his door. “Come on in. Well, it’s your room to start with but you know, we should go in.”

He was nervous. He was babbling. He needed to stop before he looked like an even bigger idiot than he was.

Starscream turned around without speaking and opened the door. Rodimus followed him inside, anxiety sending a low treble through his spark. Despite it all, Starscream was pretty much a stranger to him, and Rodimus had never crossed cables with anyone, not even his closest friends. Cable-crossing was miles above interfacing in terms of intimacy. The closest thing Rodimus could compare it to was shallow merging, and he’d never engaged in that either.

Cheerful beeping attracted his attention. He looked down to see Scuttle surging ahead of him into the room, and two other drones milling around Starscream’s feet, bumping against his thrusters.

Starscream must have heard them also, as he turned around and looked at the floor with a frown. “There is nothing for you to clean here. Back to your stations.” He made shooing motions at the three drones.

Two flashed their lights at him and obeyed. They spun around Starscream in tight circles before changing course and zipping out the door.

Scuttle, however, seemed to hunker down. It made an undignified blat noise, that Rodimus could only interpret as ‘frag you.’

Starscream huffed and planted his hands on his hips. “None of that now,” he said with a sharp look. “Out you get!” He pointed to the door.

The sound Scuttle then made surely was not polite.

Starscream’s optics widened as though he’d been insulted. Rodimus tried his best not to laugh as he crouched.

“Scuttle,” he said, careful to make his tone stern. “You heard Starscream. Out you get.”

Scuttle wriggled in place before it rose up and beeped, more positively this time. It spun around and obediently went out the door.

Starscream huffed. “Obstinate sparkling.”

Rodimus chuckled and stood back up. “I think Scuttle’s cute,” he said. “Well, all of them are, but Scuttle especially.” He pressed the panel so that the door would close. Suddenly, the room felt a lot smaller.

He turned around to face Starscream again, the Seeker giving him an odd look, as though he were trying to figure out a complicated equation.

“So, uh, how do you want to do this?” Rodimus asked.

Starscream hiked up onto the berth, his legs hanging over the edge. He looked at Rodimus, but there wasn’t as much confidence in his expression as Rodimus would have expected.

“Whatever makes you comfortable,” he said with a shrug that felt like forced nonchalance. “We will need to be close, you understand.”

“I trust you,” Rodimus said, and surprised himself with how much he didn’t hesitate at all. He hadn’t known Starscream very long, but apparently his instincts had decided it was long enough.

Starscream’s smile broadened, even more sincere than before. “Then care to join me?” He patted the berth next to him as he pulled his frame further onto it, until he rested his back against the wall at the head of the berth.

Rodimus climbed onto the berth, eying Starscream for a long moment before he decided to go with the flow and planted himself right in the Seeker’s lap. Starscream made a startled sound, his hands going to Rodimus’ hips, even as Rodimus scooted forward, his hands resting on Starscream’s shoulders.

“We have to be close, right?” he asked with a cheeky wink.

“You continue to surprise me, Firebrand.” Starscream’s hands gently patted his hips before they swept up to his waist, warm and present against his plating. “Where is your port array? Mine is located on my lower back, below my wing hinges.”

“Well, that’s inconvenient,” Rodimus said with a laugh. He patted his left abdominal panel. “Mine’s here.”

Starscream smirked. “Then it appears neither of us are standard.” His wings fluttered in what little space was allowed between him and the wall. “You understand I’ll need to connect to you, yes?”

Rodimus nodded, and in a show of trust, went ahead and triggered his panel to open, shivering a little as the warm air wisped over his connectors. He’d never bared them to another before, and it was strange how he felt shy about it.

“Shiny and new,” Starscream murmured as his gaze dropped down to Rodimus’ port. One of his hands swept inward, fingers flirting over the connectors.

Rodimus shivered, a low thrill shooting through his frame at the light touch. His spark throbbed with need, his fans spinning up to low speed. That had felt good. Like Starscream had touched his anterior node cluster or rubbed his spike head.

“Either you’ve never done this before or you take scrupulous care of your equipment,” Starscream commented, the tips of his fingers brushing over Rodimus’ connectors again.

A low whine eeked out of Rodimus’ vocalizer. He arched toward Starscream, his ventilations stuttering.

“Th-the former,” he stammered and felt his faceplate flush with heat. “Is it supposed to feel like that?”

“Better,” Starscream replied.

There was a distant click before Starscream’s hands faded away from his port array. Rodimus tried not to mourn their loss, even as he looked down to see Starscream awkwardly reaching behind himself.

“Let me help,” Rodimus said, stirring himself into action.

He leaned forward, slipping a hand behind Starscream, groping blindly for the Seeker’s cable array. He knew he’d found it when his fingers slid over connectors, and Starscream shivered, arching toward him. Taloned hands returned to his hips, squeezing gently. Starscream’s field bloomed with warmth and swelled over Rodimus’, tangling in all the edges of his and pulsing at him.

Rodimus fumbled for several seconds more before he located the prongs of Starscream’s cables and was able to draw them free, one on each side of the Seeker’s chassis. They, unlike Rodimus’, reflected their frequent use. The metal of the prongs was a duller sheen, and the cables themselves were frayed.

Nevertheless, Starscream shivered harder as Rodimus ran his thumbs over the prongs. He slowly unspooled the cables and drew them toward his own port array.

“You’ll help me, right?” he asked as he struggled to look down at himself.

Starscream’s hands closed over his, gentle as they took the cable-tips from his fingers. “Yes,” he said and added, “because as charming as it would be to watch you fumble, perhaps that is better saved for another time.”

Rodimus flushed and felt the heat all the way to the tip of his finials. “Another time?”

“If there is one,” Starscream amended and focused his attention on Rodimus’ port array, his optics a touch brighter than they had been before. “Are you certain you want to do this? I won’t blame you if you don’t.”

Rodimus shook his head. He was glad Starscream was willing to give him an out, but he couldn’t do it. He could feel the hunger in Starscream’s field. The desperation, too. Starscream hadn’t lied when he said he needed this.

He curled his fingers around Starscream’s wrists and tugged the Seeker’s hands closer to his port array. “I’m sure.”

Rodimus shivered as the tip of Starscream’s connector nudged against his receiving port, and a light shock of charge danced between them. It was like a bolt of unexpected pleasure straight to his sensornet. His engine hummed, armor loosening as his uncertainty vanished.

“Very well then.” Starscream’s field pushed at Rodimus’, warm and fluid as it coated Rodimus in appreciation and gratitude. “Here I go.”

Rodimus braced himself, his hands sliding up Starscream’s arms, from his wrists to his shoulders. He could see very little beneath the rise of his chestplate, but the sensation was more than enough.

The light touch of connector to port. The tiny nips of charge exchanging between the two. And then the quiet click as the first cable snapped home, which was then immediately followed by another click.

Rodimus waited, unsure what to expect. At first there was nothing, just the sensation of his ports growing warm as Starscream’s connector nestled within them. Then he felt Starscream’s presence tapping at his firewalls, a polite request for permission.

“You needn’t drop them entirely,” Starscream murmured as his hands slid to cupping Rodimus’ waist, his thumbs stroking over the flat of Rodimus’ abdomen. “Shallow permissions are enough.”

Rodimus nodded, unable to trust his words. He allowed Starscream access and shivered as he felt the odd sensation of an alien presence sifting into his system. It crept in warmly, cautiously, as though taking great care not to harm.

Then came the first pulse of charge. It drizzled into his port like a snap of static electricity and Rodimus twitched. Heat pooled low in his abdomen, sinking toward his array. His grip on Starscream’s shoulders tightened before he made himself let go.

Another pulse of charge lit up his port array. It was a languid pulse, like an afterthought, yet it still set Rodimus’ internals ablaze with need.

“Primus,” Rodimus moaned as his backstrut arched, his hands clawing the air before they curled around Starscream’s forearms. Pleasure licked through his lines like dipping into a hot oil bath, and his vents stuttered.

Starscream’s fingers stroked a soothing path against his mid-section, his thumbs tracing the port housing. “See,” he murmured, his vocals rich and syrupy and dancing in Rodimus’ audials. “Not painful at all.”

“The complete opposite,” Rodimus gasped as his hips moved of their own accord, rocking toward Starscream, his array throbbing with an unexpected need.

More charge slithered into his port and while he dimly sensed the data transfer, it was secondary to the pleasure suffusing every inch of his frame. It was like Starscream was stroking him on the inside, featherlight touches that danced across every node and set his sensornet afire.

Rodimus panted for oral ventilations, feeling as though he couldn’t seem to ventilate otherwise. He licked his lips, resisting the urge to free his equipment, his spike and valve both throbbing in hungry demand. His spark was equally intrigued, spinning faster and faster within his chamber.

And still Starscream continued.

His thumbs stroked Rodimus’ port housing, occasionally dipping inward to caress where they were joined, each light touch sending another jolt through Rodimus. The data transfer increased in speed, each pulse along the cable like a tap to Rodimus’ nodes. He twitched, his hands squeezing Starscream’s arms to the same beat as the data transfer.

“Hnngh.” Rodimus moaned and his face heated as he did so. But he couldn’t help it. The pleasure was consuming him. “I think – I might – I’m gonna–” Not complete a sentence apparently, but his vocalizer kept stuttering, and it was hard to focus on anything beyond the throbbing of his frame.

“It’s all right,” Starscream murmured. “It is quite common for mechs to overload. Do not hold back on my account.”

Rodimus struggled to lift his head, and barely managed a sheepish grin. “H-holding back… isn’t an option,” he struggled to say before another shudder danced down his spinal strut and his valve clenched on nothing.

He hoped he wasn’t leaving a mess on Starscream’s lap. It was all he could do to keep his panels closed, even as his spike throbbed in its housing, and his valve cycled faster and faster.

He hung his head, unable to keep it up any longer. His optics shuttered, vents coming sharper. Thoughts and awareness turned inward, to the hot and languid pulses of data, as Starscream fed off his coding.

Dimly, he realized that Starscream trembled beneath him, that he was no less affected by the transfer. Only, he was better used to it, and maintained better control. Yet, his frame exuded heat, and charge crackled in his seams, and his field caressed Rodimus’ like a lover might. His vents, too, came in faster bursts, his frame moving beneath Rodimus’ in little shifts and twitches.

It was actually pretty hot.

Rodimus lifted his gaze and drank in the sight of Starscream’s face flushed, his optics brighter if not unfocused. Starscream was nibbling on his bottom lip, his wings twitching behind him. Yet, he trembled as he held back, his vents fluttering and the turbines on his chest spinning a little.

Rodimus wanted to kiss him suddenly. Wanted to press his lips to those swollen ones and taste Starscream’s surprise with his glossa. He wanted to scoot forward, drop his aching valve on Starscream’s spike, and drown in pleasure. He wanted to ride Starscream while they were still connected until he couldn’t see straight.

He wanted…

Rodimus’ hands tightened on Starscream’s arms and he prayed he didn’t dent the armor with his fingertips. His backstrut arched again, hips rolling forward, the heat coiling tighter and tighter in his abdomen.

“I am almost done,” Starscream murmured, but it sounded like it came from a distance, a buzz in Rodimus’ audials.

If he’d had the energy to spare for it, he would have chuckled, would’ve remarked with something cheeky like “so am I.” But all the processing power he had left was focused on pleasure, on the tiniest pull of Starscream’s presence in his systems, slurping up a copy of his code as though it were the finest of engex.

Each tug felt like a stroke to his spike. Each trickle of charge was a lick to his anterior node. Each careful sweep of Starscream’s fingers was a caress to his sensor net.

Rodimus moaned again, something staticky and broken, and lost his fight with gravity. He sank fully into Starscream’s lap, hips moving of their own accord. He arched, again and again, rocking toward Starscream’s chassis in mimicry of interfacing, while his array pulsed and pounded behind the locks he’d set up to keep his panels closed.

Need tightened and tightened within him, like a wound spring, until it abruptly burst. Rodimus threw his head back, gasping out a ridiculous sound as he overloaded, pleasure pounding through his lines with all the force of a sandstorm. It whirled around him, swept him up, sent him spinning through space.

Rodimus came back to himself ventilating unevenly, his chassis lurched forward and resting against Starscream’s chestplate. His head was pillowed on one of Starscream’s shoulders, his hands clutching Starscream’s hips. Little jolts of charge radiated through his frame, making him shiver.

Despite it all, he felt good. Sated. Languid. Like he could recharge right here and now. He nuzzled into Starscream’s intake as the dimmest sense of connection still buzzed between them.

Starscream was petting his back. Short, soft strokes of his palms down Rodimus’ armor. His engine purred softly. The cables hung limp between them.

Rodimus mumbled something that might have been words. He heard Starscream chuckle, the amusement rumbling within the Seeker’s chassis.

“Welcome back,” he said.

Rodimus groaned and forced himself to sit back up, though it made the cables pull between them, giving a light tug on his port array. It was enough to make him shiver, his backstrut tingling.

“That was intense,” Rodimus said as he reached down, fingers brushing his array, exploring where cable met port, resulting in another warm shiver. “Is it always like that?”

“It depends on the mech. And how often you participate,” Starscream replied. His vocals were light, careful. As though he were afraid of Rodimus’ reaction. “Here. I’ll disconnect myself.”

Rodimus shook his head. That wasn’t what he was trying to imply at all, but the words wouldn’t come, his thoughts far too fuzzy. Starscream disconnected before Rodimus could get them out. The loss of his datastream, however much of a trickle it had become, was dizzying, and Rodimus swayed in Starscream’s lap.

He grasped Starscream’s shoulders, and cycled a long, slow ventilation until the dizziness faded, leaving nothing but sated exhaustion in its wake. Primus, what he wouldn’t give for a soak in the oil bath, a cube of midgrade, and to fall into recharge here in this berth.

“Are you well?”

“Well enough that I so wouldn’t mind doing that again,” Rodimus admitted with a little laugh.

He squirmed on Starscream’s lap, feeling the mess behind his panels. He couldn’t believe he’d overloaded without so much as a touch to his spike or valve. That was incredible.

Starscream quietly retracted his cables. “I’m relieved I haven’t scarred you for life,” he said wryly.

“Far from it.” Rodimus palmed his port array closed. “If anything, you’ve given me something new to do in the future.”

Starscream genuinely laughed. “Hedonist,” he said, and gave a little squeeze to Rodimus’ hips. “Now if you don’t mind, my wings are cramped, and I’m in need of energon and recharge.”

“I am, too,” Rodimus admitted and shifted his weight to the side, letting Starscream scoot out from beneath him.

Primus, he was exhausted. Maybe he’d skip the energon and go straight to berth and worry about the rest later. He’d felt like he’d engaged in a night of marathon interfacing, not a single instance of cable-swapping. It was the good kind of exhausted, but still!

Starscream slid off the berth, and Rodimus stretched across the space he abandoned, sinking onto his front with an exhausted huff. He felt wrung dry and worn out, and recharge sounded really, really good right now.

“What happened to wanting energon?” Starscream asked, sounding amused.

Rodimus groped for the nearest pillow and tucked it under his head, folding his arms beneath it. “Maybe later,” he mumbled, rubbing his face against the softly woven mesh. “’M tired.”

Starscream chuckled again. “That is not uncommon.” A hand rested on Rodimus’ shoulder, giving it a light squeeze. “Recharge as you will. I’ll leave some energon on the table for you.”

“Thanks.”

“It is I who should be thanking you.” Starscream’s field brushed up against his, warm with gratitude.

“Pfft.” Rodimus turned his head, peering at Starscream through slitted optics as the Seeker headed toward the door. “You kind of saved my spark, so I guess that just makes us even, right?”

Starscream paused at the door, and he turned back to look at Rodimus. He couldn’t read the Seeker’s expression, but Starscream’s lips did curve into the smallest of smiles.

“Yes, I suppose it does,” he said and dipped his head in a nod. “Recharge well, Rodimus.”

“You, too.”

The door clicked shut behind Starscream, and Rodimus wriggled to get more comfortable on the berth. His entire frame still thrummed from the aftermath of his overload, but it was the good kind of hum. A satisfied kind of hum.

His engine purred, and he squeezed the pillow beneath him.

A part of him wished he didn’t have to leave in the morning. He wouldn’t mind trying that again, but more than that, he felt he’d really built something here. A friendship, or more perhaps. Something he was now loathe to lose.

Rodimus sighed and offlined his optics.

No point ruminating on impossibilities.

[G1] Behind the Scenes 10

“Hey,” said the message, seemingly innocent, but Ironhide knew better than to assume that, “interested in playing a game?”

Ironhide squinted at the text and wondered just what devious thing had crawled into Bluestreak’s processor this time, and how many overloads he’d get out of it, and whether or not he could even survive that much pleasure.

He still wondered how Jazz did it.

“Depends,” Ironhide finally responded. He didn’t want to sound too eager after all. He wasn’t desperate or anything. He had plenty of berths that welcomed him, even if he did like these games the most. “What is it?”

“I’ll let you participate,” Blue said with a winking emoticon. “I’ve got a Pretty eager to serve.”

Ironhide would never admit to the little ping his spike made when it instantly pressurized and was stopped by the locked panel in front of it. “I guess I’m not busy,” he replied with what he hoped was enough casualness to belie how suddenly eager he was. “When?”

And that was how he found himself here and now, less than ten minutes after receiving the message, on Bluestreak’s berth with the cute sniper draped atop him and kissing him senseless. Bluestreak was a good kisser. He knew just when to press, when to retreat, when to nibble, and when to lick. He made all of these adorable little humming sounds, too, like he really enjoyed kissing.

It was hardly a trial to kiss Bluestreak.

“Mmm,” Bluestreak hummed and sucked on Ironhide’s bottom lip and wriggled on top of Ironhide, sliding their armor together, all hot and heavy. “Like kissing you.”

“I noticed.” Ironhide chuckled and dragged his hands up Bluestreak’s back, tweaking the hinges of his doorwings. “But can’t help but feel like we got an audience.”

Bluestreak arched his back, doorwings canting toward Ironhide’s fingers in silent demand. “Oh, don’t mind him. He’s just here to be useful.”

Useful, he said.

Ironhide’s gaze slid to the side, where a kneeling Jazz watched them with a hungry visor, a puddle beneath him, and his hands folded in his lap. He was practically jittering with the urge to participate, but surprising obedience kept him kneeling there.

Ironhide would admit he didn’t really understand the purpose of this game or what Jazz got out of it or why he even wanted it. But he did get the rules, knew that Bluestreak had a plan that Jazz had agreed to in full, and Ironhide was here to play a part.

“Useful, eh?” Ironhide said and rolled up against Bluestreak, sliding a knee between the sniper’s legs. “How so?”

Bluestreak chuckled and nipped at his nasal ridge. “I’ll show you,” he purred before he pulled back, out of Ironhide’s arms, shifting to straddle Ironhide’s hips instead. He leaned forward, their lips inches apart, his hands braced to either side of Ironhide’s head. “I’m going to frag you tonight. You mind?”

Ironhide found Bluestreak’s hips and gave them a squeeze. “When have I ever?” he asked with a laugh. “Kinda miss my cute berth buddy, ya know?”

“Well, I kinda miss my rusty old pillow.” Bluestreaker smirked and turned his head. “Ironhide’s going to need some prep work, pet. Get to it.”

Oh.

Useful.

Ironhide’s engine revved with glee, even as Jazz nodded and rose to his pedes, lubricant staining his inner thighs. “Yes, master,” he said with a deferential dip of his helm.

“Make room for him, will you?” Bluestreak wriggled his hips and turned his attention back toward Ironhide. “Don’t want to make his job too difficult now?”

“No. Not at all,” Ironhide said and spread his knees across the berth, leaving enough room for Jazz to crawl between them and ex-vent hot and wet over his closed panel.

Frag making Jazz work for it. Ironhide was too eager to feel that hot mouth on his array, so he let his panel snick aside and shivered when lips descended on his anterior node cluster first. They announced themselves with a soft kiss and a nuzzle before a glossa introduced itself as well, giving his node a flick.

Ironhide groaned and felt his thighs quiver.

“Good?” Bluestreak asked.

Ironhide cycled a long ventilation as Jazz licked the length of his valve before diving in, licking and sucking and lapping and making all of these lewd, wet noises. Heat quickly spiraled in the wake of his ministrations, and lubricant trickled out, only to be caught by Jazz’s glossa.

“I’ll take that as a yes,” Bluestreak murmured and nipped at Ironhide’s chin before his mouth wandered further, burrowing against the sensitive cables of Ironhide’s intake.

A barely audible click announced the appearance of Bluestreak’s spike, and Ironhide groaned as the hot length slid along his abdominal armor, smearing drops of pre-fluid in its wake. Bluestreak’s mouth worked hot pleasure on his intake as Ironhide’s hands sought the sensitive mounts for Bluestreak’s sensory panels.

They were going to kill him with pleasure, he decided, as Jazz latched onto his anterior node and gave it a deep suck, making Ironhide jerk and hiss. Jazz’s glossa immediately soothed over it, lapped down the length of his valve, and teased at his lower sensor cluster instead, with a flick, flick, flick that Ironhide’s hips twitched to follow.

Ironhide moaned and let his own spike extend, shivering as it brushed over Bluestreak’s and sent a frisson of heat licking up his backstrut.

“Oh, are we dueling with swords now?” Bluestreak asked as he pushed himself up and back, all cheeky like. His hands found both of their spikes and pressed them together in a strong stroke.

Ironhide rolled his hips and dropped his hands to Bluestreak’s thighs. “Do that again.”

“So demanding,” Bluestreak purred, but he obeyed, fisting their spikes together and pumping them in long, squeezing strokes.

A groan tore itself from Ironhide’s intake. His thighs trembled. The slow squeezes combined with Jazz’s determined licking made lust coil hotly inside of him. His valve quivered, pulsing lubricant, as lips and denta nipped at his nodes and suckled on his rim. His calipers spiraled tight, trying to clamp down on nothing, and then Jazz moved to his exterior lower node, lashing it wildly with his glossa.

Caught between them, Ironhide couldn’t do anything but shudder and groan, his valve getting wetter and hotter, his spike throbbing and soaking Bluestreak’s fingers with pre-fluid. Pleasure built and built inside of him, climbing to a larger crescendo.

Ironhide’s grip on Bluestreak’s hips tightened, stressing the metal. “Ahhh, Blue. If yer gonna frag me, better do it soon. ‘Cause yer pretty there is doin’ too good of a job.”

Bluestreak chuckled and squeezed the tip of Ironhide’s spike, his thumb teasing around the damp opening. “And here I thought you had better stamina than that,” he teased, but he half-turned and tapped Jazz on the crown of the helm. “Enough, pet. He’s ready for me.”

A parting nip to Ironhide’s anterior node and Jazz pulled back. “Yes, sir,” he said as he licked his lips, his visor bright and hungry. “What would you like me to do now, sir?”

Bluestreak shifted off Ironhide’s lap, moving instead to kneel between his thighs as Jazz scuttled to the side, getting out of his way. Ironhide had to admit he was fascinated as he watched their interplay, propping himself up on his elbows to better see.

“Hmm, that’s a good question.” Bluestreak positioned himself, his hands sliding up Ironhide’s legs, over his knees, and across the top of his thighs. His spike brushed over Ironhide’s valve, briefly nudging his swollen anterior node.

Bluestreak’s gaze shifted to Ironhide. “Is there something my pet can do for you, Ironhide?”

He hadn’t been given a script for this. His gaze darted between Jazz, who looked hungry, and Bluestreak, who looked devious. Mech had been taking far too many lessons from Ratchet, apparently.

“My spike’s pretty lonely now,” Ironhide offered, hoping it was the right choice.

Bluestreak rolled his hips again, the head of his spike barely breaching Ironhide’s valve rim, only to linger, forcing Ironhide’s rim to flutter indecisively.

“I think you’re right,” Bluestreak said. He reached out, grabbed Jazz’s jaw, sweeping a thumb over his lips. “What’s the rule, pet?”

“No overloading,” Jazz recited with a hitched breath. His hands curled into fists where they rested on his knees.

“Very good.” Bluestreak stroked under Jazz’s chin. “Now make yourself useful and give Ironhide’s spike a nice home. Hm?”

A soft moan escaped Jazz’s lips. He visibly shivered, his field flashing through the room in a quick fire of lust.

“Yes, sir.”

Jazz stirred into motion, swinging a leg over Ironhide’s frame to straddle his hips. He reached down and guided Ironhide’s spike to his valve, sinking down upon it in a slow, luxurious slide that made Ironhide’s backstrut tingle. His hands found Jazz’s waist even as Bluestreak slid his arms around Jazz from behind, hooking his chin over Jazz’s shoulder.

“There,” he purred, “nice and snug.” And then Bluestreak rolled his hips and thrust, sinking deep into Ironhide in one long, deep push.

Ironhide moaned, head tipped back, stars dancing in his optical feed. He hooked his ankles behind Bluestreak, deepening the angle so that the next rock of Bluestreak’s hips struck a cluster of nodes near the back of his valve. Doing so sent a lash of heat through his array, especially when Jazz circled his hips in a little shimmy dance that rippled up and down Ironhide’s spike.

“Any objections, Ironhide?” Bluestreak asked, his tone absolutely wicked and definitely learned from Ratchet.

“None,” he gasped as he hauled down on Jazz’s hips, grinding deep and making the saboteur cry out, head tipping back against Bluestreak.

“Remember, no overloading,” Bluestreak warned, the little demon, even as his hands swept over Jazz’s headlights, his palms making soft, circular motions. Jazz’s valve rippled around Ironhide’s spike, clamping down hard, charge zipping between sensor and receptor nodes in a fiery bite.

“Y-yes, sir,” Jazz stammered. He licked his lips, frame surging as he rode Ironhide’s spike and leaned back against Bluestreak, who was fondling his headlights with pinches and squeezes, until they flickered.

Bluestreak grinned, and while one hand continued to grope Jazz’s headlight, the other slipped up under his bumper, tweaking something that made Jazz jerk and cry out. His hands clawed the air before they latched onto Bluestreak’s arms.

Ironhide was enraptured.

The sight of Jazz, uninhibited, trembling as he struggled to hold back his pleasure while providing Ironhide with plenty of his own, was intoxicating. Bluestreak’s mastery of the situation, his easy manipulation of Jazz even while continuing to frag Ironhide in long, deep strokes was equally so.

Had they done this before? With someone else? Ironhide didn’t know, but damn if they didn’t have the perfect rhythm. Bluestreak thrust deep, and Jazz rose up. Bluestreak withdrew, and Jazz sank down with a wriggle and a ripple of his calipers.

Ironhide groaned, ventilating hot bursts of air, his cooling fans spinning so fast they vibrated the berth, just as his engine did. Their fields assaulted him, throbbing with lust and arousal, and the whole room was thick with the scent of it.

He wasn’t going to last at this rate. He said as much.

Bluestreak just chuckled and nuzzled into Jazz’s audial. “You’re our guest. It’s only polite that you get to overload first,” he said, fingers scraping audibly over Jazz’s flickering headlight even as he tweaked something under Jazz’s bumper.

A sharp cry and Jazz arched his backstrut, his valve clamping fitfully around Ironhide’s spike, dragging him deep, sensor nodes spitting rapid-bursts of charge at Ironhide’s receptors. Bluestreak thrust deep as well, grinding hard, his housing putting a heavy pressure on Ironhide’s exterior nodes.

More stars danced in his optics. His ventilations caught, hands squeezing on Jazz’s hips. Arousal roared through him, lightning sluicing through his lines, through his sensory net. The hot coil of need in his belly twisted and twisted into a heavy knot, a building explosion that finally burst in overload.

Ironhide roared as he pulled Jazz onto his spike and splattered his ceiling node with transfluid, his spike pulsing and pulsing as Jazz’s calipers wrung him dry. Jazz moaned, his field full of restrained need, as Bluestreak clutched him tight and followed Ironhide over. The hot splash of his release triggered Ironhide’s valve and sent him cycling into a second overload before the first had cleared his systems, and he bucked beneath them, entire frame wrought with pleasure.

His sensory feed fritzed with static, world narrowing to hot-white ecstasy, until he crashed back into his frame, a sated, trembling heap coated in condensation and tingling. He cycled his optics, rebooting them, treated to the sight of Bluestreak’s hands sliding down Jazz’s frame.

Jazz who was trembling so hard his armor clattered and charge leapt out from his substructure. His frame poured a suffocating heat. His valve was sopping, fluttering madly around Ironhide’s semi-pressurized spike and proof-positive that he’d obeyed. He hadn’t overloaded.

“Good job, pet,” Bluestreak said before he patted Jazz’s belly and leaned back. “Off you go. Our guest needs a cleaning before your job is done.”

Jazz moaned and lolled forward, moving with glacial shifts of his weight. “Y-y-yes, sir,” he slurred as Ironhide’s spike slid free of the snug confines of his valve.

He was obedient, however, as he immediately turned around and leaned over Ironhide’s frame, lips parting as his glossa swept over Ironhide’s spike and array in long licks, lapping up his own lubricant and Ironhide’s transfluid.

“Primus,” Ironhide swore and loosed a long groan. “You’re both of you fragging menaces.”

Bluestreak chuckled and patted Ironhide’s thighs. “Is that a complaint I hear, old mech?”

“Ask me again tomorrow.” Ironhide licked his lips and felt his systems stir as Jazz’s diligence made his internals clench with arousal.

He was getting sloppy though, Ironhide noticed. No doubt because of the need simmering in his lines and the way he could barely keep himself upright. He cleaned Ironhide’s spike in due time, giving him leave to retract it back into the safety of his housing.

Bluestreak chuckled. “You know, you never complained this much when it was Prowl and Ratchet putting on a show.” He shifted back, spike slipping free of Ironhide, and when he moved away, Jazz was quick to take his place.

Ironhide didn’t want to miss that. He propped himself back up on his elbows, watching avidly as Jazz bent to work, glossa once again working between Ironhide’s thighs. Long licks swept up transfluid and lubricant alike, gentle around oversensitive nodes, and pressing deep to gather up every drop.

“I do, you’re just usually not around to see it,” Ironhide replied with a chuckle. Anything to distract himself from the tempting sight of Jazz licking every trace of his master from Ironhide’s valve.

Bluestreak grinned. “If you say so.” He reached out, his hand petting over the curve of Jazz’s helm. “He’s doing good, I hope?”

“More than.” Ironhide licked his lips. “Glad to see that obedience trainin’ is startin’ to work out.

“He still has his moments, but that’s okay. I like a challenge.” Bluestreak’s tone shifted toward fond, affectionate even, and Jazz’s engine rumbled.

The noisy, nearly obscene noises of him lapping eased. Ironhide’s entire array tingled in the aftermath as Jazz finally sat back on his heels, licking his lips clean.

“I’m done, master,” he said.

“Yes, you are. And such a good job you did. I’m impressed, pet.” Bluestreak grabbed Jazz’s arm, tugging him close, and Ironhide sat fully up, pulling his legs out of the way. He watched, avid, as Bluestreak curved an arm around Jazz’s waist and used the other to gently hold Jazz’s chin.

“And you didn’t overload,” Bluestreak observed.

“No, master,” Jazz replied, his vocals shaky, his frame clattering even harder.

Bluestreak’s voice went even softer, practically a croon that in any other situation would have come across as condescending. “Such a good pet you are.” He leaned in close, nuzzling their nasal ridges. “One who has earned his overload, I think. So go on, pet. Let go.”

Jazz whined low in his intake, hands clutching at Bluestreak’s sides. His hips made little rocking motions into thin air, and that was when Bluestreak kissed him, long and deep, optics shuttered and mouth moving ever so slow.

A low sound rose in Jazz’s intake, a cross between a moan and a whimper. He shook from helm to pede as he keened before he jerked, and his field flashed throughout the room, overload crackling like electric fire over his armor.

From a kiss.

Primus.

Bluestreak hummed into the kiss and pulled back, his hand gently stroking Jazz’s face. “Good boy,” he murmured as one finger traced over the curve of Jazz’s jaw and down his intake. “Session’s over now.”

A low whimper crawled out of Jazz’s intake. He nodded and tipped forward, forehead resting on Bluestreak’s chestplate. “Thank you,” he whispered.

“You’re welcome.” Bluestreak patted Jazz on the back, his other hand continuing to stroke his partner’s face. Jazz was shivering now, different than the trembling of delayed overload, but there was a calm in his field, one that Ironhide envied.

He pulled himself entirely upright, dangling one leg over the edge of the berth. He didn’t feel awkward, not quite, but he also wondered if he should quietly leave. The game was over, after all. The rest was a vulnerability Ironhide wasn’t sure he was invited to witness.

Bluestreak kept stroking Jazz gently, shifting a little to lean back against the wall and get more comfortable. “Hey, sweets. Let’s see about getting you cleaned up, yeah?”

“I ain’t that dirty,” Jazz retorted, somewhat muffled given that his face was smooshed against Bluestreak’s bumper.

“Well, maybe I just like cleaning you up, sweetspark.” Bluestreak nuzzled him with a little laugh. “Feel better?”

Jazz lifted his head and licked Bluestreak’s chin. “Ya know I do.” He turned his gaze toward Ironhide, lips curved with a soft smile. “Yer awful quiet.”

Ironhide spread his hands. “Felt appropriate.” He tilted his head as he looked at the two of them, all cutely coiled together and stuff. “Didn’t want ta interrupt.”

Jazz shrugged. “You were invited. If we didn’t want ya here, we’d have kicked ya out already.”

“Good to know.” Ironhide hopped down from the berth then, still soaking up the lazy comfort the double overloads had left in him. “But I still think I oughta be goin’ now. As much fun as it was.”

“You’re leaving?” Bluestreak shifted, adjusting Jazz in his lap as his face creased with confusion. “You can stay if you want. You don’t have to leave just ‘cause we’re done playing.”

Ironhide shook his helm. “That ain’t it, baby blue.” He grinned and stretched his arms over his helm. “Ya’ll just look so cozy it reminded me of a story a little birdie whispered into my audial this morning.”

Jazz squirmed into Bluestreak, nosing into the sniper’s throat. “Wouldn’t be the one about Prime, would it?”

“That very same.” Ironhide dropped his arms and rolled his helm, easing the krick in his neck. “Rumor has it that if I time it just right, I can pounce and drag him to a berth.”

Jazz chuckled. “Good. He ain’t recharged in a week. He needs it.”

“Glad I have yer approval,” Ironhide drawled, his lips quirked in a grin. “Thanks for the invitation. Anytime ya’ll need a third, ya know who to call.”

Bluestreak snorted. “How generous of you.”

“I’m just that kind of mech.” Ironhide winked and their laughter followed him out, an altogether joyous sound. They were so good for each other, Ironhide couldn’t help but figuratively pat himself on the back.

He’d done good there, hooking those two up. Very good.

Now.

To see about a Prime.

Because Ironhide is just that kind of charitable.

[G1] Behind the Scenes 09

They quickly learned that playing cards with Prowl was not fun. It wasn’t that he tried to cheat, it was that he did the math in his head before he consciously made the decision to do so, and then the answers were there, right in front of him, impossible to resist.

Card games and anything like them were quickly handed over to others to enjoy. Smokescreen was particularly fond of Phase 10. It made for a rousing betting game apparently.

Which left board games. Things that didn’t rely on math, but absolute luck and nothing less. Prowl was less good at lucky games. Which meant he didn’t win one-hundred percent of the time.

Tonight’s choice was Monopoly – scaled up for Cybertronians and a gift from their human companions, who had been quite proud to present the game to the Autobots as a whole. Hoist and Grapple were quick to duplicate the efforts once the squabbling over whose turn it was began, and now there were enough sets to share.

(They also quickly learned that Scrabble was not a fun game to play with Prowl either. While none of them were idiots, Prowl’s ability to absorb and regurgitate ridiculously complicated words was, to be frank, unfair. Again, he didn’t cheat, and they never had to quibble over whether that ridiculous word made of all consonants was actually a word, – because it always was. It was simply Prowl’s way.)

Monopoly was an easy game that required little to no concentration. Which was a good thing, because Bluestreak couldn’t focus on it to save his spark. He was vaguely aware that he had all of the horses – altmodes to be more specific. And he knew Ironhide’s side of the board was a treacherous place to be.

But most of his attention was on Prowl. Stolen glances and outright staring because Prowl was putting on a show, subtle as it might be, and Bluestreak’s libido had stood up to take notice.

Ratchet leaned back, smirking, seemingly heedless of the suffering of his mate. But Bluestreak knew that Ratchet was paying twice as much attention as anyone else. He caught every ventilation stutter, hitched breath, plate tremble, and barely audible moan.

Ratchet was a maestro.

Bluestreak admired him greatly.

“Prowl,” Ratchet said as he scooped up the dice and gave them a roll, “Drink your energon.”

“Yes, Ratchet.” Prowl’s hand visibly trembled as he reached for the weak engex, not enough to overcharge, but just enough to pool in his tanks, warm and fizzy.

Prowl sipped, intake bobbing. A tremor raced across his frame. He squirmed in his seat, and if one listened closely, they could hear the telltale hum and whirr of vibrators working their magic.

Prowl’s cooling fans whirred quietly. Heat wafted from his frame, and his field was drenched in lust. He’d long foregone containing it, and with every beat of it, Bluestreak’s own internals tightened and tightened.

“Seven!” Ratchet declared and the click-click-click of him moving his miniature wrench was barely audible over Prowl’s fans. “Well, frag it. Why do I always end up in the brig?”

“Because you’re a nuisance and a menace?” Ironhide teased with a rumbling laugh. He snatched the dice from Ratchet, but his gaze kept slanting toward Prowl. “Keeping you in the brig is the only way to keep ya outta trouble.”

Ratchet snorted. “You’re such a charmer, Ironhide.” He planted his elbow on the table, propping his chin on his hand. “Are you going to roll anytime soon?”

“I’m getting to it. Hold yer horses.” The dice clattered across the table.

Bluestreak ignored them. He was too busy watching Prowl as he took another sip of the engex before setting it down with uneasy fingers. Prowl’s intake worked, his doorwings shivering. He fidgeted in his chair, his cheeks flushed. He shuffled the cards indicating the property he’d purchased. He nibbled on his bottom lip. His gaze wandered to Ratchet, bright and yearning. A shiver ran across his armor.

Bluestreak startled as something nudged against his arm.

“Here kid, your turn,” Ironhide said, smirking as he handed over the dice.

“Oh, really?” Bluestreak made himself peer at the board, but Ironhide’s little matrix replica was nowhere near Bluestreak’s properties. “You’re always so lucky, ‘Hide. How do you manage to avoid every owned property every time?”

Ironhide laughed and wriggled his fingers. “I’ve got charmed hands.”

Ratchet snorted.

Prowl moaned.

Bluestreak’s doorwings went high and taut, arousal spinning tight in his belly. He and Ironhide both snapped their attention to Prowl, who was listing in his seat, lips parted, optics a little glazed. He had his hands braced on the table, and his headlights were faintly flickering.

Ratchet, the devil, grinned and leaned in close to his mate. “Everything all right, love?” he all but cooed, hand easing over to slide down Prowl’s arm and tickle over his wrist.

Prowl cycled his optics and drew in a long, shuddery ventilation. “I’m… well,” he managed, after a noticeable pause, and fidgeted in his chair once more.

“You’re sure?” Ratchet squeezed Prowl’s hand and then leaned back, his hand disappearing below the table, presumably to rest on Prowl’s thigh.

Prowl visibly swallowed. “Yes, Ratchet.” His glossa swept over his lips and his armor juttered, lifting away from his substructure. He leaned in closer to Ratchet, hands still flat on the table.

“So long as you’re sure,” Ratchet purred and shifted his attention to Bluestreak. “Well, you gonna roll or not?”

As if he could concentrate on the game right now.

Next to Bluestreak, Ironhide snickered. “You a little distracted, Baby Blue?”

Bluestreak rolled his optics. “It’s not like I’m the only one.” But he rolled a three and moved his miniature tank – not the sniper gun this time, hah! – to the free space. “And my good luck prevails!”

Utter glee filled him as he scooped up the central pot and added it to his funds. Ironhide groaned. Ratchet snickered.

“That’s the only luck you ever have, Blue. You always land there, right after I’ve paid taxes three times over,” Ratchet said, one hand still hidden beneath the table.

Prowl made a muffled noise. His fingers curled against the tabletop.

“I am never goin’ ta win,” Ironhide groaned.

Bluestreak grinned. “There are different kinds of winning,” he said with a smirk and a long, slow pan down Ironhide’s frame. Then he turned his attention to Prowl, holding out the dice. “Your turn.”

Prowl looked at him, shaky, his optics bright and burning. “T-thank you, Bluestreak,” he said, and accepted the dice. He licked his lips, and he rolled.

Two. Doubles. Click-click went the tiny datapad across the board, wherein Prowl landed upon one of his own properties. Ratchet scooped up the dice with his free hand and dropped them into Prowl’s palm with a wink.

“Roll again, love,” he said. “And drink your energon.”

Prowl’s intake visibly bobbed. “Yes, Ratchet,” he said, vocals husky, another ripple dancing over his armor, his doorwings wriggling.

He rolled again, sliding into Ironhide’s danger zone, and forked over rent to the grinning weapon’s master. He drank his energon, and squirmed in his chair, a hot and heavy ex-vent making his optics glaze over.

Primus.

Bluestreak’s internals wound tighter and tighter. “So,” he said, and had to reboot his vocalizer because it spat static at him. “So, uh, what kind of accessories do you have today, Prowl?”

Prowl’s optics lifted toward him, a little focused. “A-accessories?”

Ratchet laughed and leaned back, the twitch of his shoulder suggesting his hand was doing something untoward to Prowl beneath the table. Bluestreak wished he could see, though Prowl’s reactions were fuel for the imagination.

“How did I dress you up today, love?” Ratchet clarified with a wink. He did something and a low moan escaped Prowl, his chin drifting downward. “Go on. Tell our guests what gifts I gave you.”

Pink stained Prowl’s cheeks. He visibly squirmed. His gaze slanted toward Ratchet, but Ratchet only nodded and waved for him to continue.

The order was given.

Bluestreak watched, enraptured.

Prowl cycled a ventilation and affected the most no-nonsense tone Bluestreak had ever heard. “There is a plug in my port,” he said, voice unwavering. “And a false spike in my valve. There is also a plug in my spike housing, which vibrates on command.”

Stuffed full then. Primus.

Bluestreak licked his lips. “Your spike housing,” he repeated, and tried to imagine it, his own hips squirming at the thought.

Prowl nodded. “Yes. The sensation is quite pleasant.”

Ratchet snorted. “Pleasant,” he echoed and his smirk widened to a ridiculous degree. “Prowl, you are adorable. Please don’t ever change.” He leaned over and plucked the dice from Prowl’s hand. “My turn!”

He rolled with an almost absurd glee, humming a little subvocally, one of the humans’ popular songs that Jazz liked to blast at full volume as he bebopped down the corridors.

“No doubles,” Ratchet observed with a theatrical sigh. “Drat. Guess I’m stuck in the brig still.” He leaned in close to Prowl, lips brushing over his partner’s shoulder. “Unless I can get out on good behavior?”

Prowl visibly shivered, his field going flush with heat. His doorwings shivered as he shuffled his cards again, an act that betrayed his aroused agitation.

Ironhide snorted. “Frag that. You stay where you belong, medic.”

Ratchet laughed and nuzzled Prowl’s shoulder again. “You’re such a stickler for the rules, Ironhide,” he said, but his gaze was on Prowl alone, something sharp and devilish in his gaze.

Whatever he did beneath the table, that Bluestreak couldn’t see, must have been good, because Prowl jerked. His ventilations caught, and his armor visibly ruffled. The property cards fluttered to the table as he abruptly gripped the edge. A low whine built in Prowl’s throat, audible to them all. He looked at Ratchet, casting him a glance full of longing.

“Ratchet,” he said, drawing out the syllables, a yearning in his tone.

A smile slowly stretching his lips, Ratchet bent his full attention upon his trembling mate. “Yes, love?” Their faces were inches apart as Ratchet looked up at him.

Prowl’s intake bobbed. His wings trembled. “Please.”

“All you had to do was ask,” Ratchet purred and he crooked a finger from his free hand at Prowl. “Come here, love. Allow me to help you with that.”

The chair groaned as it was shoved backward. Prowl all but lurched out of it, and tumbled into Ratchet’s embrace, for a moment allowing them a glimpse of the lubricant glistening on his thighs, despite his closed panels. Prowl made as if to sit in Ratchet’s lap, but Ratchet guided him otherwise, until he straddled one of Ratchet’s thighs, his own clamped tightly about it.

Prowl shivered, his hands pawing at mid-air before Ratchet took them and placed them on Prowl’s thighs. He curled an arm around Prowl’s waist, tugged him closer, and left it there, keeping Prowl close.

“There,” Ratchet said, as if he’d accomplished some great task. “Now, Ironhide, isn’t it your turn?”

“Uh…” Ironhide’s gaze was locked on Prowl’s squirming frame and shivering doorwings.

Bluestreak couldn’t blame him. Prowl made quite the fetching picture, trapped on the edge as he had to be. All Bluestreak could see was his back, his doorwings, the curve of his aft, and the subtle shifting of his hips, as he rocked himself on Ratchet’s thighs.

“What’s a matter?” Ratchet smirked. “Tactician got your tongue?”

Ironhide grunted at him, but made no attempt to hide how avidly he watched Prowl. “You know damn well yer puttin’ on a show, Ratch. What else am I supposed to do but watch?”

“Actually, to be fair, Prowl’s the one doing all the hard work,” Bluestreak pointed out, as Prowl’s rocking motions increased in urgency, and the wet slide of metal on metal became more audible.

Prowl’s hands lifted again, hanging in the air, as though he couldn’t decide what he wanted to do with them. Ratchet’s free hand tapped them, and Prowl lowered them again, resting on his knees.

“I could use a little recognition, too,” Ratchet said as Ironhide finally snatched the dice and hastily rolled them, sloppy as he moved his piece onto one of his own properties, narrowly avoiding a Chance card. “This is all my plotting, after all.”

Ironhide tumbled the dice into Bluestreak’s hands. “Give me a reason to bend Blue here over the table, and I’ll applaud for you all ya want.”

“Hey! Who says I’m the one who’s gonna be bent over?” Bluestreak retorted, though his engine gave a little rev at the thought. It wouldn’t happen, at least not here in Ratchet and Prowl’s quarters. But later maybe?

Yes, he wouldn’t mind at all if Ironhide bent him over the nearest flat surface and fragged him silly. Ironhide’s big, strong hands on his hips, holding him down, pounding into him, fragging him nice and deep, grinding on his ceiling node…

Bluestreak shivered. No, he wouldn’t mind at all. He just resented the implication, no matter how slight, that it was what he wanted by default.

“Because I said so,” Ironhide said.

Bluestreak rolled his optics and rolled the dice, too, letting them clatter across the board. He passed over Go, collected his creds, and settled in for a nice wait on the Crystal Gardens, hoping a very blissed out Prowl wouldn’t notice that Bluestreak was occupying his property.

He didn’t. All Prowl did was shudder, hips moving more urgently, the rasp-slide of metal on metal barely audible over their conversation. But Bluestreak could lean a little to his left, look under the table, and see the lubricant glistening on Ratchet’s thigh. Prowl’s fingers kneaded at his own knees, his engine revving in rolling growls. Ratchet kept a hand on Prowl’s backstrut, just below his doorwing mounts, and seemed to be ignoring Prowl’s current state for all the attention he paid to it.

Restraint of duryllium, that one had.

“It’s okay, Bluestreak,” Ratchet said graciously and with a wink at Ironhide. “We’ll figure out how to get old Ironhide here on his knees soon enough.”

“Pah, I ain’t one of yer toys.” Ironhide gave Bluestreak a calculating look. “Though mebbe we do need ta find ya one of yer own.”

Bluestreak waved dismissively. “Isn’t it Prowl’s turn?” he asked, desperate to change the subject. The last thing he needed was to ignite a gleam of matchmaking in Ironhide.

Ratchet snickered. “Well, love, it is your turn.” He scooped up the dice and offered them to Prowl. “Don’t you want to roll?”

Doorwings shivered. A low whine rose in Prowl’s intake. “I… I forfeit,” he said, vocals ripe with static.

It was so much easier to win against Prowl when Ratchet was there to bend the luck in their favor.

“Very well,” Ratchet said. “Though I suppose that means all of your properties are now mine. Being as you are, too.”

Prowl groaned and his head dipped forward, his vents coming in a sharp burst.

“That is not fair,” Ironhide grunted.

“We’re getting a free show out of it. Hush,” Bluestreak retorted and ducked the teasing swat Ironhide sent his way, though he left his doorwings in range on purpose, as Ironhide grabbed the edge of one and dragged his fingers along the length.

Heat and charge licked up Bluestreak’s backstrut. He swallowed down a moan. Maybe he really would get Ironhide to bend him over a table after this…

Ratchet grinned. “Nothing in life is fair,” he said as he rolled the dice and watched them clatter across the gameboard.

Doubles! At last he was free from the brig, only to land on the unclaimed Tagan Heights.

Prowl, meanwhile, trembled harder and his field flashed through the room, carrying with it the heat of need. Bluestreak shivered again, and inspiration struck.

“Ratchet?”

“Yes?” the medic asked, oh so innocent as he contemplated his game piece as though it held the secret to chronic rust.

Bluestreak licked his lips. “Any chance we might see your pretty’s accessories tonight?”

Ratchet nodded to himself. “No, I don’t think I’ll buy Tagan Heights this time around,” he said, before he looked up at Bluestreak and grinned. “And of course! Why, all you had to do was ask, Baby Blue.”

He groaned. “I hate that nickname, you know.”

“No, ya don’t.” Ironhide laughed and nudged Bluestreak with his shoulder. “Ya love how much it confuses mechs cause they expect one thing and experience an entirely different thing.”

Well, Ironhide had him there.

Meanwhile, Ratchet had taken Prowl’s chin in hand, tugging Prowl’s face up toward his, a soft moan leaving Prowl’s lips. His optics were dim, this much Bluestreak could see, and there was something unfocused in his expression.

“Well, love, up for a little show and tell?” Ratchet asked, his tone dark and sultry as he stroked his lover’s face.

Prowl leaned in to the caress, another moan slipping free. “Yes, Ratchet,” he said, vocals shaky, his doorwings shivering and drooping, though not with discomfort. It seemed he just didn’t have the strength to keep them up in their usual high and severe configuration.

“Such a lovely mate you are,” Ratchet cooed and leaned in, brushing his lips over Prowl’s in the softest of kisses, and brief at that. When he leaned back, Prowl followed after him, a whimper of disappointment in his wake.

Bluestreak almost echoed him. There was something wholly intoxicating about the sight of Prowl like this, open and wanting, uninhibited, his entire focus on the pleasure Ratchet offered him, rather then the dregs and vagaries of war.

“Up you get, love,” Ratchet added with a pat to Prowl’s aft before he eyed the table intently. “Bluestreak. Ironhide. Mind clearing us a spot on the table?”

They sprang into action, and Bluestreak giggled, because the rate at which they swept the game’s pieces into the board was utterly ridiculous and made quite the mess. One that would make Prowl frown and twitch over later. Who won? No one won. No one ever won. It was impossible to play a game of Monopoly and actually have a winner.

Ratchet chuckled. “Much appreciated,” he said, he and Prowl both on their feet now, though Ratchet guided Prowl backward toward the table, pushing him onto it with a little nudge.

Prowl hefted his aft on the edge and lay back, flicking his doorwings to lay flat beneath him. His knees still hung over the edge, and they slid apart with a nudge from Ratchet, who dropped back into his chair and scooted between them, now at the perfect height to nuzzle Prowl’s panels with a cheek.

“Mm, my favorite meal,” Ratchet purred as he dragged his fingertips over each of Prowl’s panels – spike, valve, and port – making Prowl shiver and his hands curl into fists. His hands smoothed down Prowl’s thighs and curled around his knees, pushing them further open.

Bluestreak eased around the table, if only to get a better look, and didn’t fail to notice Ironhide mimicking him, only on the other side.

“Ratchet,” Prowl moaned, his fingers scraping at the table, but other than that, he didn’t try to touch himself, though his hips surged toward Ratchet’s fingers.

Ratchet chuckled. “Yes, I know, love.” He looked up at Bluestreak, his fingers circling Prowl’s spike panel. “Open for me.”

Prowl’s panel spiraled open so fast, Bluestreak worried Ratchet’s fingers lost a few paint layers. And rather than see the head of Prowl’s spike, Bluestreak spotted the blunt end of some kind of interfacing toy, in a very bright blue, and glittery to boot. It was vibrating, that much Bluestreak could tell, and fluid seeped out from around it – lubricant or pre-transfluid, Bluestreak wasn’t sure.

Ironhide made a strangled sound, and Bluestreak didn’t know if it was awe or trepidation, as if he couldn’t fathom one such plug himself. But Bluestreak certainly could. His own spike throbbed at the thought, of both experiencing it for himself, and playing with his own pretty in such a way. Should he ever find one, at any rate.

Ratchet lifted a single finger and pressed it to the visible end of the blue object. He exerted a light pressure, and Prowl moaned, his backstrut arching off the table, his hips squirming. Lubricant seeped around it in an audible squelch.

“This,” Ratchet said, conversationally, “is the spike housing plug. It’s been custom-made for Prowl, to be half the length of his spike and the same diameter when pressurized.” He looked at Bluestreak, his tone taking on one of teaching. “All spike plugs should be custom-made unless your pretty is a masochist who doesn’t mind a painful fit.”

Bluestreak swallowed thickly. “Noted,” he said, ventilations shallow and uneven.

“Primus, Ratch. Please tell me yer not gonna drag this out with lessons,” Ironhide groaned.

Ratchet chuckled and nudged the spike plug again, making Prowl twitch, his hands creaking as they pulled into fists. “Not entirely, Ironhide.” The flat of his thumb pressed against the spikeplug, and he moved it in tiny circles.

Prowl’s pedes made shallow kicks, his head tossing back, optics tightly shuttered. A whine eeked out of his intake, bottom lip tucked between his denta, as a burst of hot venting filled the room.

Bluestreak licked his lips, arousal building to a dull, heavy throb in his array. He squirmed where he stood, shoving his hands behind his back to keep from touching.

Ratchet circled the spike plug one more time before he lifted his thumb, and the plug bobbed upward just enough he could grasp the end of it. As he pulled it free, pre-fluid trickled in its wake, and the head of Prowl’s spike surged into view. Prowl groaned, low and deep, his spike pressurizing so quickly it had to be painful.

He had a nice spike, Bluestreak observed, trying to focus on anything but the need pulsing in his field. Full and thick, glistening with pre-fluid, Prowl’s spike was a gradient of black to grey to white, and thin stripes of red came to a star-like point around the transfluid slit. Said opening was currently dribbling with fluid.

Ratchet set the plug aside with one hand, as he drummed the fingers of his other hand over Prowl’s valve closed panel. “Open.”

Obedience was immediate. Prowl trembled as his cover spiraled open, and lubricant spilled out, filling the room with the scent of his arousal. His anterior and posterior nodes were both plump and bright. In the shadows of his swollen valve lips was another object, much larger than the spike cap, with a small knob on the end as if to make it easier for Ratchet to remove it. This one was a bright yellow.

“This one needs no explanation,” Ratchet said with a grin before he leaned in, pressing a kiss to Prowl’s upper sensory cluster. He flicked out his glossa over it, and Prowl whined, knees pushing further apart until they could go no further. His hips rolled up, toward Ratchet’s mouth, only for Ratchet to withdraw again, his lips shiny with Prowl’s lubricant.

Ratchet grasped the end of the toy and began to pull out slowly, achingly slowly, and all of Prowl went tense as he did so. A low sound rose in Prowl’s chassis, like a keen, and he abruptly hugged himself as he squirmed.

The toy began to emerge, still bright yellow, and Bluestreak’s ventilations caught as he spotted the numerous ridges embedded into its surface. At the rate Ratchet was going, each one had to be catching Prowl’s internal nodes, one by one, and making them sing.

Ironhide swore subvocally, his field spilling into the room with lust, making Bluestreak’s sensory panels and substructure tingle. When Bluestreak looked up at him, his optics were burning with it, and Bluestreak shivered.

Fine.

Assumptions aside, Bluestreak would let himself be bent over a table later. Because a desperately aroused Ironhide always meant for a ride that promised Bluestreak more overloads than he could count, until he had an ache that he could savor for a week.

Licking his lips, Bluestreak watched Ratchet once more, just in time to see the obscenely long toy pull free with an audible pop. Prowl moaned and his valve fluttered, lubricant spilling out in the wake of the toy and his biolights pulsing fitfully.

Ratchet set the toy aside, where it left a smear of lubricant on the table, as his free hand traced circles around Prowl’s valve rim, gathering up pearls of fluid. His engine grumbled and he leaned in, pressing a kiss to Prowl’s main node.

Prowl’s trembling increased in earnest, his engine making these low, mournful revs. His armor creaked where he held himself, and his field lashed out with so much lust and arousal, it was dizzying. Especially when Ratchet didn’t stop at the gentle kiss. When he made a hungry sound and licked a long line up Prowl’s valve before licking him deep, licking him like he was the tastiest treat around.

Bluestreak ached. His entire array throbbed. His spike demanded release. His valve pulsed longingly, and he could feel the wet gathering behind his panel. This was almost torture, damn it.

Ratchet made a sound, one of enjoyment, and pressed a suckling kiss to Prowl’s main node cluster once more before he pulled back.

“Sometimes, I just can’t help myself,” he said, a thumb sweeping around Prowl’s valve rim. “But I suppose I need some restraint. You don’t want to miss the rest of the show.”

Bluestreak worked his intake. “No, we wouldn’t want that,” he said, and maybe his voice sounded a bit faint, but damn it, he couldn’t tell whose cooling fans were louder at this point: his, Ironhide’s or Prowl’s.

Ratchet was a master of suspense, at keeping everyone on the edge, and though neither Ironhide nor Bluestreak were his pets, he still managed to effectively have control of them.

Bluestreak was in awe of him.

“One more, love,” Ratchet said as he stroked his fingers over the panel protecting Prowl’s port. “Open for us.”

Prowl was ever so obedient. The panel snicked aside, revealing the end of a bright green toy, more of a plug than a false spike, however. Ports were shallower than valves.

Bluestreak might have leaned a little closer as Ratchet nudged the plug and wiggled the end of it, making Prowl gasp and jerk.

“Ratchet,” he moaned, closer to a whine, the need in his voice making Bluestreak’s substructure prickle, and he had to stop himself from reaching over and offering Prowl some relief.

“I know,” Ratchet replied, and this time it was closer to a croon, as one hand stroked Prowl’s thigh and the other toyed with the end of the plug. “You’re doing so well. I’m so proud of you. Just a little bit longer, and you can have your reward.”

Prowl keened.

Ironhide blasted a ventilation so loud it almost made Bluestreak startle.

It was a toss up, at this point, who was going to blow a gasket first.

“If ya don’t give him a reward, I will,” Ironhide teased, though he’d been a part of their games far too long to actually do such a thing.

Ratchet snorted. “He doesn’t need your rough pawing, ‘Hide.” He tilted his head and gave Bluestreak a wink. “Though I might be convinced to let Baby Blue over here love on him a bit.”

Bluestreak groaned. “Stop teasing, Ratch. Or you’ll have to replace burnt chips from all of us tomorrow.”

“And I wouldn’t want to do that.” Ratchet smirked and nuzzled Prowl’s inner thigh. He grasped the end of the plug and gave it a wiggle. “For future reference, Blue, port plugs are the best accessory for long term wear. Especially since they are well suited for all kinds of remote play.”

Remote. Play.

Bluestreak shivered. Yes, the idea of teasing his pretty from across the room, in public, with no one else the wiser appealed to him very, very much.

“Good to know,” he said, even as Ratchet finally took mercy on all of them and started to work the plug free.

Shallow a port might be, but it was capable of accepting items of greater… girth. The plug that Ratchet worked loose made Bluestreak’s internals tighten with lust. It was thick and fat, with a sensory spiral around the circumference of it. The rim of Prowl’s port stretched to accommodate it, shiny with lubricant, and seemed to cling to the plug until it, too, audibly popped free.

Prowl’s port rim fluttered. Biolights flickered madly, lighting up the shadows of his port interior. The plug was discarded as Ratchet’s free hand teased the rim, one finger slipping inside to curl and massage clusters of sensory nodes.

Prowl whined. His backstrut arched, thighs trembling, charge lighting up the room as it spilled out from under his armor. So much heat wafted from his frame that he felt like a furnace, and Bluestreak almost choked on the need in his field.

“So good, love,” Ratchet purred and leaned close to Prowl’s array, his lips barely brushing over his port, his valve, the base of his spike and back down again. “I think you’ve earned a reward. Don’t you, Blue? ‘Hide? Has my love earned a reward?”

“Yes,” Bluestreak said.

“’Course he does,” Ironhide added.

“Well,” Ratchet purred. “The guests have spoken.” He stroked a free hand along Prowl’s inner thighs. “Tell me, love. What would you like as your reward then? Which of these shall I enjoy?” He traced a loving path down Prowl’s spike, down the length of his valve teasing each node cluster along the way, and around the rim of his port.

Prowl trembled so hard that his armor clattered. “W-whatever you wish to reward me with, Ratchet,” he said, vocals liberally laced with static.

Ratchet hummed a laugh. “Good answer,” he purred and leaned in close, ex-venting heat over Prowl’s valve. “I think I shall enjoy all three.”

Oh, Primus.

Bluestreak locked his knees just to keep himself from falling when they turned to jelly. The deviousness in Ratchet’s optics, his smirk, made him wobble. He was captivated, vent-less, as Ratchet followed through on his promise.

Fingers curled around Prowl’s spike, giving him a stroking squeeze, even as Ratchet’s mouth descended on Prowl’s valve, and his other hand slid three fingers knuckles deep into Prowl’s port.

The response was electric.

Prowl’s head tossed back, his entire frame thrashing in a sharp jerk. His knees snapped against the table edge, pedes swinging back to curl under. His backstrut bowed, his engine roared, and the sound that tore from his intake was nothing short of a wail. He thrust down against Ratchet as charge lit up across his frame in a dazzling crackle of blue fire, overload nearly immediate once offered permission.

Bluestreak groaned and gnawed on his lip, hands squeezed into such tight fists they ached, himself refusing the pings his array sent again and again. He was breathless, hovering on the cusp of his own pleasure, unable to tear his gaze away from the sight of Prowl writhing in the grip of a triple overload.

His spike spurted, long stripes of transfluid decorating his belly, his arms, his chassis, and then trickling down to soak Ratchet’s fingers, a few droplets even splattering Ratchet’s helm. What Bluestreak could see of his valve and port had both clamping down, his port tight on Ratchet’s fingers, his valve fluttering and his swollen anterior node throbbed in the grip of Ratchet’s lips.

All while Ratchet worked him gently, long licks and laps and gentle thrusts and squeezes, extending the pleasure as long as possible. Prowl shuddered and shook, frame a wave of motion on top of the table, his sensory panels twitching hard beneath him.

Bluestreak swayed, dizzy from it all, and didn’t even startle when a hand gripped him by the upper arm. He had a moment, blearily wondering how Ratchet had a hand to spare, until he realized it was Ironhide. He’d somehow come around the table without Bluestreak noticing him, and now he pressed against Bluestreak from behind, hot and heavy and ex-venting scorching air down the back of Bluestreak’s neck.

He moaned and lolled in Ironhide’s grip, stumbling backward, his array aching. Sheer self control kept him from extending himself, but Bluestreak swore his entire frame throbbed with the need to release.

Ironhide tugged, and Bluestreak followed, wondering how in the Pit he could manage to be so coherent. Vision hazy with need, clouded by the suffocating lust, caught Ratchet standing up to gather Prowl into his arms and kiss him deeply, Prowl’s arms and legs instantly clamping around his mate. Little rolls of Ratchet’s hips indicated he was slowly, lovingly fragging Prowl, and somewhere in the buzz of staticky need that filled Bluestreak’s sensors, he heard Prowl whimpering quietly.

Bluestreak moaned and stumbled, finding it all too easy to imagine taking his own pretty to the limit and pushing him farther, building his pleasure to great heights and letting him float in the clouds of ecstasy.

Ironhide tugged him through a door, and Bluestreak expected to be blinded by the bright lights of the exterior corridor. But, no. Here it was dim, barely lit except for a few strips set into the floor, until Ironhide smacked a wall panel.

Here came the blindness, which was nearly enough to distract Bluestreak from the fact they were in a washrack. A private one. Prowl and Ratchet’s washrack.

“What? Wait. We’re not supposed to–”

Ironhide swung him around, and Bluestreak hit the wall just as Ironhide dropped down in front of him and licked a hot stripe up his panel. Bluestreak jabbed a fist into his mouth to muffle his moan even as his panels sprung open, his spike tapping Ironhide on the cheek.

“It’s fine,” Ironhide said as he grasped Bluestreak’s hips. “I asked.” And then he didn’t say anything else because he was too busy swallowing Bluestreak’s spike in one fell swoop, down to the base, the head of it nudging the back of his intake.

Bluestreak whined around his knuckles, his optics flickering as his head slammed back against the wall. His knees trembled, and he thanked Primus for Ironhide’s grip, because surely he would have dropped without it.

Ironhide was relentless, lips and denta and glossa working in concert, swallowing him harsh and deep, sucking like he wanted to pull the overload right out of Bluestreak. Which was good because that was exactly what he did.

Bluestreak gasped, struggling to ventilatte, engine screeching as he bucked. His free hand formed a fist, one that pounded against the wall behind him as he jerked. He overloaded, spilling straight down Ironhide’s intake, his array throbbing and volcanic heat sluicing through his lines.

Ironhide swallowed everything he had to offer before he shoved himself to his pedes and easily hoisted Bluestreak up the length of the wall, until his spike nudged at Bluestreak’s valve in a thick and heavy weight.

“It’s not a table,” he said, vocals dark and just shy of a growl, the blaze of his optics betraying his need.

Bluestreak panted and clamped his thighs tight around Ironhide’s hips, his pedes drumming the back of Ironhide’s thighs. “I don’t care. I swear to Primus if you don’t frag me right now I’m going to shove you down and take care of it myself, see if I don’t!” He rolled his hips, lubricant leaving a wet swath, and moaned as the head of Ironhide’s spike nudged his rim.

A snarl peeled from Ironhide’s intake as he claimed Bluestreak’s mouth in a kiss, his hips snapping forward to sink deep inside Bluestreak in one heavy push. Bluestreak keened against Ironhide’s lips, backstrut arching, his hands gripping Ironhide’s arms as the older mech began to frag him in earnest.

Metal clanged against metal. Bluestreak moaned as Ironhide’s spike raked over his sensor nodes, pounding them with pleasure, surging the arousal back to roaring life. He rolled his hips to match Ironhide’s thrusts, manipulated his calipers to squeeze and ripple around the rock-hard heat of Ironhide’s spike, and gave as good as he got. He buried his cries in the kiss, and nipped at Ironhide’s lips, and spun out his field, wrapping it around Ironhide’s and tugging it into a spiral of lust.

Ironhide growled, all but slamming Bluestreak into the wall as he thrust hard and deep, pounding on Bluestreak’s ceiling node. His field was heavy and blistering, hungry and when he overloaded, he ground deep, spurting his transfluid in searing splashes deep into Bluestreak, triggering him into another overload of his own.

He was glad Ironhide’s mouth was there to drown out the noises he made, because what little escaped echoed in the washracks, as charge crackled fire through his lines and briefly made his vision fill with static. His cooling fans roared, his vents stuttered, and his hips pumped arrhythmically, extending the pleasure as Ironhide throbbed inside of him, grinding deep.

Primus.

Bluestreak moaned against Ironhide’s lips and sagged, his entire frame tingling as his valve rippled and clutched around Ironhide’s spike. His circuits still fairly buzzed with arousal, but at least the fog of need had cleared. He could think straight again.

He tipped his head back, panting, staring up at the obscenely bright lights of Ratchet and Prowl’s private washrack. It was just… really clean in here, too. Did they bleach the tiles or something?

Ironhide leaned his forehead on Bluestreak’s shoulder with a little raspy laugh. “Well,” he said. “Think yer under control enough now that we can take this somewhere I can’t feel Ratchet’s optics on the back of my head?”

Bluestreak snorted. “I dunno.” He squeezed his valve calipers, making them ripple around the mostly pressurized length still nestled snug within him. “Are you?”

Strong hands squeezed his hips. Ironhide laughed again. “You are a brat,” he said as he lifted his head. He slid free of Bluestreak’s valve and retracted his spike, though not without some effort Bluestreak was proud to notice.

“Better a brat than old,” Bluestreak teased as he triggered his valve panel to close, trapping lubricant and transfluid alike inside of him.

Well, he’d just have to make sure Ironhide cleaned up his mess, was all. Not here, because he was pretty sure Ratchet and Prowl were getting antsy. But definitely elsewhere.

“Can still frag ya against a wall though,” Ironhide said with a leer.

Bluestreak licked his lips. “But only half finished the job.”

Ironhide laughed and shook his head. He snatched Bluestreak’s hand and tugged him to the door. “Allow me to fix that then,” he said as he palmed open the door and peered cautiously back into Ratchet and Prowl’s quarters.

Bluestreak poked his head out as well. Ratchet and Prowl were still at the table, Prowl seated on the edge with his legs wrapped around Ratchet’s waist, and Ratchet with his hands propped on the table to either side of Prowl’s hips. Prowl’s arms were over his shoulders and their foreheads pressed together. Ratchet was talking, Bluestreak could see that much, but it was so quietly that it registered as only a low murmur.

His spark gave a twinge.

Someday, he told himself. Someday, he’d have a partner like that, too.

Ironhide gave him a gentle pull toward the door, and Bluestreak let him take the lead, assuming that Ironhide was in some sort of comm contact with Ratchet. The door wasn’t locked, so they let themselves out, and it locked behind them.

“So,” Ironhide said as he squeezed Bluestreak’s arm before letting him go, “my place or yours?”

Bluestreak laughed and arched an orbital ridge. “Depends. Do you have a table?”