The polite thing about Primes is that they usually call first. Unless they are feeling mischievous for once, and drop in on you completely unannounced, scaring the living daylights out of you and making you spill your coolant everywhere.
“Well,” High Tide says sourly as he shakes coolant off his fingers and sets the now empty cup aside. “Looks like your team finally got that ground bridge going.”
He pulls a cloth out the bin – nice of the humans to give him this fabric, it’s wonderfully absorbent – and mops up his fingers.
Optimus chuckles softly, in that way he does when he’s in a good mood. “To be fair, it has been working for some time,” he says. He comes further into High Tide’s quarters and snags a cloth for himself.
He stoops to clean the coolant from the floor, and High Tide has to bite down on the urge to tell him Primes shouldn’t be janitors. But that’s the way Optimus has always been. Never one to shirk from what needs to be done just because he’s the one doing it.
Instead, High Tide snorts and wipes coolant from his gears. “You like pretending otherwise for the younglings then.” He waggles a freshly wiped finger at Optimus. “Sneaky Prime.”
Optimus looks up at him, optics shining with mirth. “I prefer to consider it a learning experience.” He rises to his full height and lobs the dirtied cloth into a laundry basket.
He doesn’t miss. Of course.
High Tide shakes his head and laughs. “Sure ya do.” He tosses his own cloth into the basket. It catches on the edge and drapes half on the floor. He holds out his arms. “Get over here, ya scallywag. I’ve missed you.”
Optimus comes into his arms, his embrace one of warmth and fervor, delightfully genuine. “It has only been a few short months,” he says against High Tide’s head.
High Tide scoffs. “Say that again after you’ve spent months in the company of a buncha rookies and their squishies.” He gives Optimus a satisfying squeeze before he steps back, the urge to grope one he can barely resist.
Optimus’ optics twinkle with amusement. He cocks his head. “High Tide.”
He recognizes that admonishing tone. Optimus don’t even have to add extra words to it. Feels like getting shamed by his minder, it does.
“I didn’t say they weren’t good youngsters.” High Tide waggles his finger as he turns to draw himself another cup of coolant, and one for Optimus as well. Knowing his Prime, he ain’t taking care of himself like he should, even with Ratchet nagging. “Just that they can wear on an old mech’s patience is all.”
“I will grant you that much,” Optimus concedes. He accepts the coolant with murmured gratitude, and sips at it, his engine giving a soft rev of delight.
Figures. Someone really needs to look after their Prime properly. Maybe Ratchet needs a lesson in badgering to get through to him.
“Ya got another assignment for me?” High Tide asks before he downs his coolant as quick as possible. He’s got the feeling that heat in Optimus’ optics spells a good night for him. He’s going to need it all.
Optimus hums a negative. “No. You are where you can do the most good.”
“Oh. So this is a social call then?”
Optimus’ lips lift into a smile. “I do occasionally like to visit old friends.”
“Mm hm.” High Tide tips the empty cup into a bin for later washing. He leans a hip against the counter. “You’ll never guess who snuck aboard my ship the other night.”
Optimus sips his coolant before he lowers the cup and swirls the contents around. “Hm,” he says. “Heatwave.”
“Blasted Primes,” High Tide says. It’s impossible to get a jump on them.
Optimus chuckles. “Merely a deduction.” He finishes his coolant and sets it aside, glossa flicking quick-like over his lips.
High Tide effects a grump. He folds his arms. “Then can ya deduct what for?”
Optimus moves closer, and High Tide lets him, just like he lets the hand rest on his shoulder and slide slowly down his arm. “Heatwave is older than his companions,” Optimus muses aloud. “Given the excitement they face on a near daily basis, I can.”
High Tide drops his arms, slides into the sizzling heat of Optimus’ field, his hands finding the strong jut of Optimus’ hips. “It’s not right, what it is,” he says with a huff.
Clever Prime fingers caress down High Tide’s arms, dipping into seams and divots, raising sensation in their wake. “What? My deductions or Heatwave?”
High Tide’s aft hits the counter edge behind him. Odd how he doesn’t remember backing toward it. “Oh, that firebot was a delight,” he says as he finds himself hoisted up onto the edge and a Prime notching himself between High Tide’s thighs. “Hotter than the fires he puts out. I’m talking about you, ya old windbag. A mech oughta be able to tease some mystery.”
The counter creaks and groans under his weight. It’s not meant to carry someone as massive as he is. But it’d be even more of a struggle to get Optimus up here, not that it’s where he wants to be apparently. Seems he wants High Tide right here. And High Tide’s inclined to be wherever his Prime wants him to be.
“Then perhaps you should not be so obvious.” Optimus vents heat across High Tide’s frame, his optics a very bright blue in the dim of High Tide’s quarters.
“I’m obvious?” High Tide laughs and hooks his ankles behind Optimus’ thighs, dragging him closer with a clang of metal on metal. “That ain’t my hand on my panel.”
Sure enough, there are talented Prime fingers on his abdominal plating, teasing around the seams of the panel concealing his cord array.
“Hm.” Optimus leans in, nuzzling High Tide’s face. “How did that get there?”
High Tide cycles a ventilation, anticipation coiling an electric heat in his lines, his cords jittering in their sockets. “I wonder.” He licks his lips, spark throbbing a faster beat. “There something you looking for, OP?”
A warm palm splays over High Tide’s panel. “I do believe I’ve found it, if you will be so kind as to open for me.”
“Kind,” High Tide echoes, and snorts, though he does obey, moaning immediately as Optimus’ fingers bury themselves in the tangle of High Tide’s cords. “You know, I got another lesson with the younglings tomorrow.”
“I won’t keep you up long,” Optimus assures him, venting warm and wet against High Tide’s intake, his field a pulsing, fiery thing as it tugs on High Tide’s.
A shiver claws up High Tide’s backstrut. He arches toward Optimus, clutching at him, knowing he won’t be able to do anything more with his hands than hang on for the ride.
“Ya never do,” High Tide agrees, optics dimming, the gentle tug-tug of Optimus’ fingers on his cables making him jerk as static charge leaps out from his frame. “Damn Primes.”
“Is that a complaint?” Both hands are buried in High Tide’s cables now, leaving it up to him to keep a hold on Optimus. Which is good, because that’s all he wants to do right now.
“Just an observation, OP.” High Tide works his intake, his engine clicking over into a higher gear. Primus, he’s going to overload without so much as a connection, he can see it now. “Keep doing that.”
Optimus’ fingers slide through his cables like threading wire, and a light tug makes High Tide jolt. “Did you grumble so much with Heatwave?” His field is a hot breath upon High Tide’s armor, and his seams loosen, allowing as much of it to embrace his cables as possible.
“He’s the one did the grumbling.” High Tide hooks his fingers into Optimus’ shoulders, such large things that they are. “Never heard a mech whine so much about a little pleasure. Has no patience, that one.”
“He will learn. We all do eventually.”
Optimus’ hands abandons him, and High Tide swallows down a whimper of dismay. Because in their absence, he hears the click and whirr of Optimus’ own panel opening, and he can’t help but look down and watch the carefully ordered collection of cables snake their way from Optimus’ array. So many. Thrice as many as High Tide’s point of fact.
The sight of them would probably appall the firebot. He’d been so shocked at High Tide’s dozen or so. To see these two dozen spilling out of Optimus’ chassis might have sent him running for the hills, especially as their ends crackle with charge. They move as if they have a mind of their own, snaking forward, seeking out all the bits High Tide can match.
If Optimus is crackling that much, this is going to be a short ride indeed.
High Tide shivers from head to foot.
“I’m thinkin’ I can relate to him now,” High Tide says as Optimus’ cables twist and tangle with his own, more nuzzling than connecting. “Stop toying with me.”
“I am savoring.” Optimus’ vents sound a little strained now, his field molten as it swallows High Tide whole, making him pulse to the same hot beat. “There is a difference.”
“Savor a little less, consume a lot more.” High Tide groans as a couple cables finally connect, sending a wave of charge through his lines, pleasure sparking hot and fierce through his net.
Optimus’ fingers continue to tug and toy, each little pull on Heatwave’s socket like a taunt, as his cables slither around High Tide’s own. “As always, High Tide, you are the epitome of class and courtship.”
High Tide digs his fingers into Optimus’ armor seams, mostly to brace himself for the storm he knows is coming. Optimus trembles from the effort of holding himself back, easing his charge rather than rushing forward.
There’s always a risk with Primes, that in their haste, they might burn their partner from the inside out.
“This ain’t courting,” High Tide gasps out as three more cables click home, and his entire frame buzzes with the biting charge clawing through their connection. “This is about spilling charge. And right now, I’m demanding everything you got to give.”
“You shall have it, old friend,” Optimus murmurs.
His hands slide to High Tide’s hips, pulls High Tide firmly against him. “Hold on,” Optimus adds.
High Tide moans. He braces himself.
As one, the last six cables slot home, pin to connector, axial to coaxial, plug to port, one after another, click-click-click. Charge surges like a wildfire into High Tide’s lines. His awareness whites out, electric fire bowing his frame. He convulses, caught up in wave after wave of consuming charge, pleasure like a white light bursting behind his optics.
He might have forgotten to ventilate. He certainly doesn’t think. He possibly starts keening, warbling, gasped out sounds of pleasure and need as he claws at Optimus’ shoulders, frame turned inside and out. It’s an onslaught, so much pleasure it’s almost pain.
Armor creaks. He’s bowled over by the flames. Optimus doesn’t so much as ask for High Tide’s charge as he demands it, and High Tide surrenders it all, lets Optimus drink whatever he can. It’s not an exchange of pleasure, it’s a surrender of it, and High Tide drowns.
It’s a wave he can’t bob over, and he’s pulled under, overload falling over him a mere pulse later. He thrashes, dimly hearing the counter creak warningly, even dimmer the sound of Optimus’ gasping his own pleasure, so sweet it makes the overload crest over him again.
And again and again.
His awareness whites out to sweet bursts of charge, bites of it, nibbling on him from the inside out. He’s not sure where one overload ends and another begins. Maybe they aren’t even separate, maybe it’s just one long, never-ending overload.
Ah, High Tide sighs as his engine screams, and he thanks himself for the foresight to drink that coolant, ain’t nothing like being with a Prime.
Then he’s swallowed up by the ecstasy, and thoughts shatter to so much stardust.
High Tide onlines in his berth, feeling like he’s gone toe to toe with a combiner and ended up on the wrong end of it. He’s wrung out and dry, exhausted, but his entire frame simmers with the aftermath of one overload too many. It’s the good kind of exhaustion.
It’s dark. But, he realizes belatedly, that’s only because he hasn’t onlined his optics. So he does, and is greeted with the sight of Optimus’ warm smile.
“You’re alive after all,” Optimus teases. He’s sitting on the edge of the berth next to High Tide, looking as fresh as a new weld, shiny and clean.
Meanwhile, High Tide feels like something that got fished out of the gutter.
High Tide cracks a grin. “I’d tell ya to visit more often, but I don’t know how much this old frame can take,” he admits. He pulls himself up, braced against the wall at the head of the berth.
Optimus chuckles. “It’s quite all right, old friend. There are others.” He magics a cube of something and hands it over.
A quick sniff identifies a heady mix of energon and coolant and is that hydraulic fluid? How embarrassing. High Tide must have sprung a leak somewhere. How kind of Optimus not to mention it.
“I’m sure there are,” High Tide grumbles. It’s a tease, however. Optimus is no more his than anyone else’s. He’s a Prime.
Primes belong to no one, and everyone. A fact which surely accounts for some of Ratchet’s grumpiness. It’s hard, loving a Prime. Harder still knowing you can never keep him. Speaking of…
“How is Ratchet holding up these days?” High Tide says pointedly.
“With a cane, to hear him tell it,” Optimus replies with that twinkle in his optic, the rare humor he shows so few.
High Tide barks a laugh. “I’m older than he is, but you’d think he crawled out of the primordial either right after Primus and Unicron themselves.”
Optimus smiles and the curve of it is fond. “He is an old spark, I think. The war has aged him more than any of us.”
“He just needs a few more tumbles is all.” High Tide smirks and sucks down half of the fluid mix Optimus had been so kind to make for him. “And for you to make him a promise.” He gestures to Optimus with his cup. “Mark my words, if there’s any of us that wants to settle, it’s Ratchet.”
“I know.” Sadness flickers into Optimus’ optics. It’s a promise he can’t give Ratchet, and never has there been a more tragic tale than that one.
We won’t even discuss the fizzle that had been Orion Pax and Megatronus.
“Just as you also know you can’t.” High Tide sighs. “It’s a damn shame. He should spend some time with the young’uns. Teach them a thing or two. It’ll do him some good.”
Optimus leans forward, resting his elbows on his knees, his expression turned inward and thoughtful. “I agree. Perhaps you can tell me how best to convince him.”
High Tide finishes off his cup and sets it aside. He’s not even alarmed to find his fingers shaking. It’s going to take him most of the morning to recover from this. “If you can’t do it, I highly doubt I can.”
“I will present the suggestion nonetheless.” Optimus cycles a quiet ventilation and rises, the creaks and groans of his frame suggesting a weariness more fatigue than age.
“Uh oh. I know that tone. You already gotta leave, I take it?” High Tide’s not even offended. If he hadn’t wanted Optimus to charge him up like this, he’d have said no when Optimus first showed up.
Optimus shakes his head, looking sad and grim. “There is never enough time.” He stares into the distance, through one of the portside windows, seeing without seeing.
High Tide swings his legs over the edge of the berth, gets his feet on the ground. Standing up is going to be the challenge. “Ain’t gotta apologize to me, OP. I like your visits no matter how brief they are. It’s always good to see you.”
Optimus turns and offers a hand, helping High Tide stand, no matter how wobbly his knees are. “And you as well, old friend,” he murmurs, his grip on High Tide’s elbow briefly tightening. “I thank you, High Tide, for your diligence and dedication in looking after Rescue Team Alpha. Your guidance has helped them become what they are.”
“It helps that the firebot’s so pretty,” High Tide teases.
Optimus chuckles, his field sliding flush and warm over High Tide’s, ripe with gratitude and affection. “Yes. That as well.”
High Tide claps him on the shoulder and winks. “I’m only teasing. I kinda like it here, truth be told. It’s nice. Not a bad place to spend your time. Peaceful-like, you know?”
“Indeed.” Optimus takes his hand from High Tide’s elbow, but slowly, as though afraid he might have to catch High Tide again.
All’s well. High Tide can stand and he’s proud of himself for it. But there’s something in Optimus’ tone, in his carriage, that worries High Tide.
“You all right, OP?” he asks.
A small sigh whispers through Optimus’ vents. “I am well enough,” he says, his gaze turning distant again. He moves toward the portside window.
High Tide follows, telling his wobbly knees to obey him. “I’m sensing a ‘but’.”
“But the war has reached a tipping point.” Optimus’ hands lock behind his back, his gaze focused on the horizon. “Megatron has drifted more into madness, and I fear we may see the end soon.”
“The end of the war isn’t a bad thing.”
“No, it is not.” Optimus’ shoulders drift down, but his armor draws taut to his frame, as though in response to a dark thought crossing his processor. “Only the manner in which it ends. I do no not know I will always be here to watch over the team, High Tide.”
Fear tiptoes like a cold wind through High Tide’s spark. “Don’t talk like that. Megatron’s not going to outlive you.”
Optimus turns to face him with a small smile. “Ratchet said the same thing once.”
“Of course he did.” Ratchet’s been in love with Optimus. Always has been, as long as High Tide’s known them. “But I see what you’re saying. You don’t worry about the sparklings here. They’ll be fine. I’ll make sure of it.”
“I know you will, old friend. I am grateful for your assistance in this, and I am relieved to know that whatever happens, the team will be looked after.”
Whatever happens. High Tide doesn’t like the ominous nature of that statement.
He shakes his head. “Nothing’s gonna happen, Optimus. We’re gonna win this, Megatron’s gonna end up where he belongs, and we’re all gonna get to go home.”
If they even have a home to return to. High Tide’s seen pictures of what Cybertron looks like now, a desolate wasteland of battlegrounds. It’ll take centuries, millennia even, to fix what has been destroyed, if that’s even possible.
“Primus willing,” Optimus says with a dip of his head and a soft, sad turn of his lips.
“He doesn’t have anything to do with it.” High Tide gently thumps a hand against Optimus’ chassis, where he knows the matrix nestles against his spark, like a parasite. “We’re all making our own fates.”
“Indeed.” Optimus wraps him up in an embrace, and High Tide admits that he sinks into it.
There’s nothing quite like a hug from his Prime. It is simultaneously balm and comfort. It is the soothe to any ache.
“You know if you have need of an old mech in your battles, you need only call,” High Tide says gruffly, into the crook of Optimus’ intake.
“You are where I need you most, old friend,” Optimus says. He pulls back, rests his hands on High Tide’s shoulder, and looks at him with warmth.
There is something in the look High Tide fears. As if this is the last time he’ll see Optimus. But that can’t be true.
“Fine. If you insist. But then I insist ya come visit more often.” High Tide resists the urge to waggle his finger once more. “I need more adult companionship around here.”
Optimus laughs, and for a moment, he sounds light and carefree, as he so rarely is. “I understand.”
He steps back and gives High Tide a look he can only describe as fond. “Until we meet again.” He reaches out and High Tide clasps his hand.
“Sooner rather than later.”
Optimus activates his comm and steps back. “Ratchet, I need a return bridge,” he says.
Moments later, said bridge swirls to life against the back wall of High Tide’s quarters. He expects there to be chaos and destruction, but his ship doesn’t so much as wobble on the waves.
Optimus gives him another enigmatic, parting smile, and then he’s gone, swallowed up by the bridge, whisked off to somewhere else on this planet.
Here and gone again, just like a Prime.
High Tide shakes his head and toddles back to his berth, collapsing onto it with a satisfied grunt. He’ll need as much recharge as he can manage before the younglings show up bright and early. They’ll take all the energy he has and then some, especially since he suspects a certain firebot will send his tagalong away ahead of him, and linger for some ‘extra training’.
High Tide hopes he’ll have the charge to spare then. If not, he’ll certainly hear it from Heatwave.
Wonders never cease.