[IDW] Tyrannosaurus Wrecked

The calm after the storm is almost as tense as the frenzy leading up to it. Post-battle, Grimlock still feels as if he needs to move. Defensive protocols shift and lurch inside of him; his offensive code claws for attention. The urge to destroy something, anything, nestles in his internals and takes up residence.

There’s nothing and no one left to fight.

The air tastes of ash and ordinance. It’s humid and heavy on his glossa. There’s no wind. Not that there ever is.

Grimlock vents, in and out, frame tense, his gaze locked on the horizon, a hazy shade of noxious gray where the aftermath of spent ammunition clogs the air. Below him, the battlefield is littered with the fallen neither side has the time or resources to reclaim. Behind him, the rest of his team takes what rest they can, preparing for the next battle.

Because there is always going to be another one.

Debris skitters down the incline behind him. Someone curses and grunts, muttering to themselves in an annoyed tone.

Amusement floods Grimlock’s processor. He doesn’t have to look to identify his visitor. There’s only one mech in the battle group with such a naive and innocent field, though perhaps a little less of both after today.

“Why in the world would someone climb all the way up here, Primus,” Hot Rod mutters as he hauls himself up into view, vents heaving from exertion. His optics are pale, though whether from fatigue or because he’s short on energon, Grimlock isn’t sure.

Grimlock stares at him. “It’s usually a sign they want to be alone, kid.”

Hot Rod doesn’t sound the least bit chastened. “Not a good hiding place, if you ask me.” He comes up even with Grimlock and leans over, hands braced on his thighs, spoiler halves limp against his back. “Kind of wish I had wings right now.”

“It’s different when it’s not a simulation, isn’t it?”

Hot Rod snorts. “I’m not that inexperienced. Geez.” He sucks in a huge ventilation and straightens, planting his hands on his hips. He looks around, surveying the landscape below. “Phew. Good view though. If you ignore the death and destruction, I mean.”

“It’s a good reminder.” Grimlock’s smile lingers behind his mask. There’s something charming about Hot Rod, and there shouldn’t be. He’s just another recent graduate, another newbie with grand ideas and grand beliefs about what war should be.

In the beginning, Hot Rod had irritated the slag out of him. Fresh-faced, full of ideals because the war hasn’t stripped them from him, he’d seemed ignorant of the realities of what they faced. Had probably fancied himself a hero, too. But there’s a darkness inside him, a fire and fury Grimlock can recognize. He feels it, too. Familiar and encroaching, threaten to swallow you whole, if you’re not careful.

Hot Rod is not so irritating now. Exasperating perhaps, but Grimlock doesn’t have the urge to punch him on sight anymore, so he supposes that’s progress.

“Reminder, huh? I really don’t think I’m ever gonna forget this.” Hot Rod scrubs the back of his head, his optics dimming. “Just another mental image to add to the album, I guess.”

Grimlock grunts. The kid’ll get used to it. After a while, it all blurs together. Battle and death and scorched energon and exhaustion so heavy it leaves you energized.

“So…” Hot Rod’s hands tuck behind his back as he bounces on his heelstruts. “Do I have your respect now?” He peers up at Grimlock, bright and earnest, and everything fresh-faced recruits are when they first graduate.

“Heh.” Grimlock chuckles, amusement fluttering through his spark all over again. “You’re getting there, but don’t get too cocky.”

“Awww, come on.” Hot Rod grins and rocks on his heelstruts, back and forth and back and forth, his spoiler halves twitching up and down in barely restrained delight. “I fought good, didn’t I?”

“Pah. You’re still green. Nothing but experience will change that.”

Hot Rod sidles closer, his field rubbing up against Grimlock’s in a warm ripple. “Who says I’m not experienced?”

Grimlock barks a laugh and looks down at the charming speedster, who doesn’t seem to fear anything. “I ain’t talking about the berth, kid.”

“Now that’s a shame,” Hot Rod purrs, his engine revving audibly, purring like a finely tuned work of art. His glossa sweeps over his lips, making them glisten.

Kid really isn’t one for subtlety, is he? Grimlock gives him an appraising look because maybe Hot Rod’s not that green after all. There’s a tension in the way he holds himself. His armor keeps fluttering, alternately clamping tight and flaring loose. He’s shivering, too, but absently.

“It’s a post-battle high,” Grimlock says, recognizing in Hot Rod the same uneasy storm racing through his own spark. “It’ll pass.”

Hot Rod’s aft gives a wiggle, and now he’s close enough for their armor to brush together, a spark of charge flicking between them. “More fun to enjoy it though. I mean, we shouldn’t waste it.”

Kid does have a nice aft. Would fit right nicely in Grimlock’s palms.

Grimlock tilts his head. “Bit pushy, aren’t you?”

Hot Rod laughs, wild and free. He has a pleasant laugh. “I like big mechs, not gonna lie.” He waggles his optical ridges, blue optics bright and earnest.

Grimlock shakes his head, laughter rumbling in his chassis. He can’t help it. He likes the cheeky speedster. Sure, he’s not a powerhouse soldier, and he has the kind of confidence only a trainee could have, but he’s determined. And he doesn’t back down.

“I don’t know.” Grimlock eyes Hot Rod top to bottom, tracing the bright colors of his frame, and the curve of his thighs. “You’re pretty small. I’d hate to break you.”

Hot Rod cocks a hip and plants his hand on it. “I’m a lot tougher than I look.”

“I’m starting to realize that.” Grimlock curves a hand around Hot Rod’s head, nearly engulfing his face. Their size difference is almost ridiculous.

Grimlock is tempted. Heat broils off Hot Rod in tantalizing waves. His field is an electric flicker, and the taste of arousal in his field is enough to seduce Grimlock into making what is quite possibly a very dumb mistake.

“All right.” Grimlock’s thumb strokes over Hot Rod’s lips, and the newbie’s glossa flicks over it, wet and enticing. “Since you think you can handle it and all. Don’t got a berth for you though.”

“Don’t need one anyway.” Hot Rod captures his thumb, pins it between his denta, his optics flashing with desire.

Grimlock growls, his engine rumbling. Well, then.

He drags his thumb free and scoops Hot Rod up, easily lifting the slim speedster in one hand. Hot Rod gives an adorable little squeak of surprise, squirming in Grimlock’s grip, before Grimlock sits and gently sets Hot Rod in his lap, thighs splayed wide.

Hot Rod’s elbows swing back and hook over Grimlock’s knees, his lips twisting into a smirk. “You could have said this was where you wanted me,” he purrs as he arches his spinal strut. His heels dig into the ground to either side of Grimlock’s aft.

“Actions are a hell of a lot louder,” Grimlock grunts.

He leans back against the jut of rock behind him, debris pinging down on his shoulders, but it’s a good enough perch for now. Means he can balance the pretty speedster on his lap and still have both hands for touching.

“Course you could always change your mind,” Grimlock adds. Gotta give the kid plenty of outs. The last thing Grimlock needs is some newbie screeching that the big, bad pred tried to eat him.

“No way,” Hot Rod says with a lick of his lips. He tosses his head back, baring the length of his intake. It’s soft and pretty, all but demanding a nibble. “Give me all you got.”

Grimlock drags his palm down Hot Rod’s chassis. Primus, the kid’s so small. He could curve his hand around Hot Rod’s waist. His palm flattens over Hot Rod’s groin, where true to his designation, the full broil of arousal rises from the speedster’s panel.

“Hot little thing, aren’t you?” Grimlock says.

Hot Rod squirms enticingly, his thighs splaying further apart. “Be even hotter if you actually did something about it.”

A quiet snick signals his panel sliding aside, and Grimlock’s mouth waters at the sight of the newbie’s plush, swollen valve. Puffy red pleats are striped with gold, and the sensor cluster at the apex of his folds is a bright, throbbing yellow. Lubricant has already gathered in the depths, glistening dewy and sweet.

Grimlock drags his forefinger through the wetness, teasing the tip of it against Hot Rod’s hot little button. Hot Rod hisses out a vent and arches his back, hands clenching around Grimlock’s knees.

“Tease,” he breathes, his optics bright and hungry. More lubricant drips out of his valve, painting Grimlock’s finger with slick.

“Gotta check and see if I’ll even fit,” Grimlock grunts, refusing to admit that the rising wave of desire in him is more like a flood.

He slips a finger into Hot Rod’s valve, curving it to taste all those inner nodes. Hot Rod moans and rocks against him, thighs squeezing inward, trapping his hand. He rolls his hips, riding Grimlock’s finger, calipers rippling in a restless wave. Primus, he’s so hot, so wet.

Grimlock adds another finger without a hint of struggle. Hot Rod opens up for him, two of Grimlock’s fingers as thick as the spike pressurizing free of Hot Rod’s now open panel. It’s a gaudy thing, as flashy as its owner, with flames painted up the side of it. There’s a spiral of tiny nubby nodes around the length of it though, and Grimlock thinks he might want to explore them later. Specifically with his glossa.

“You’ll fit,” Hot Rod breathes. His fingers rhythmically grip Grimlock’s knees, optics half-slitting.

His lips part, glossa dancing across them, making them slick. Like an invitation. One Grimlock wants to accept.

His engine rumbles. His mouthguard parts before he thinks twice about it, and Grimlock curves forward, capturing Hot Rod’s mouth with his.

Hot Rod gasps into the kiss. His glossa flicks against Grimlock’s, hot and quick, before retreating. Grimlock chases it, demanding more of the newbie’s mouth, as Hot Rod grasps his chestplate, hauling himself closer. He’s riding Grimlock’s fingers eagerly now, his mouth equally hungry.


Grimlock eases in a third finger, because he can’t stomach the thought of hurting the kid, and his spike gives a sharp throb as wet heat ripples around his fingers as if trying to drag him deeper. Hot Rod keens deep in his intake, and he nips at Grimlock’s lips, denta blunt compared to the edge of Grimlock’s.

“More,” Hot Rod gasps out, against Grimlock’s lips, his field a blazing frenzy crashing against Grimlock’s.

He nudges his fingers deeper, the longest of them brushing over Hot Rod’s ceiling node, and Hot Rod cracks like a whip against him. The speedster writhes, electric fire dancing over his frame, his valve clamping down hard on Grimlock’s finger. The sharp ozone scent of overload hangs tangy in the air as Hot Rod whimpers and bucks.

Grimlock’s spike spills pre-fluid as lubricant soaks his fingers, getting into his joints, so hot and slippery. Hot Rod rides all three of them, hips working in little rolls, making such delicious sounds that Grimlock’s mouth waters.

He has to taste him. See if his valve is as sweet as his mouth.

A growl rises in Grimlock’s engine as he withdraws his fingers, ignoring Hot Rod’s whimper of disappointment, and grasps those slim hips in his hands. Hot Rod’s so tiny that it takes nothing to lift his lower half up, to bring him close enough for Grimlock to bury his face between Hot Rod’s thighs.

He drags in a ventilation, tastes the sharpness of Hot Rod’s overload with his olfactory sensors, before his glossa drags a wet swipe up the soaking folds of Hot Rod’s valve. Hot Rod gasps and bucks up against him.

“Oh, Primus, more!” Hot Rod babbles, his hands scrabbling at Grimlock’s head and armor and hands, whatever he can reach. His feet drum a nonsense rhythm on the back of Grimlock’s shoulders. “Yes, more, more, more.”

Grimlock growls, the vibrations spilling from his mouth against Hot Rod’s valve. That bright and swollen node cluster throbs against his lips. He dives into Hot Rod’s valve, laps up dribbles of lubricant – sweet indeed, like an energon candy. But still only half as sweet as the way Hot Rod squirms and begs for more.

“Ah, ah, ah, please,” Hot Rod whines, his engine revving to a sharper pitch, vents roaring and fans sputtering. “More.” Without shame, he rocks his hips, riding Grimlock’s mouth, and it’s the sexiest thing Grimlock’s seen in ages.

He grins and grabs Hot Rod’s node cluster with his denta, pins it gently, flicks his glossa across it. Hot Rod’s head tosses, backstrut curving, heels slamming against the back of Grimlock’s shoulders. He gasps, and his valve throbs against Grimlock’s lips, his node so swollen and bright it deserves several sucks. So Grimlock does, locking his lips around it, suctioning pull after pull after pull until Hot Rod shrieks in his grip and overloads again.

He comes undone, uninhibited, babbling praises, his fingers digging tight against Grimlock’s seams. Lubricant dribbles from his valve, and his vents roar. Damn, but he’s a hot little thing, and he’s so open now, so loose.

Grimlock might even fit.

He grins as he gives Hot Rod a delicate lick and then lowers the panting wreck of a speedster back into his lap. He can’t help but touch Hot Rod’s armor, hot to his derma, plating agape to allow for rapid cooling, cables beneath still shiny and new.

Hot Rod splays across his lap, squirming a little, and one hand drags down his frame, fingers curling into his own valve. “Primus, that was good,” he breathes, and bright blue optics look up at Grimlock imploringly. “Gonna frag me now?”

Grimlock blinks. “You just got two overloads, brat,” he growls. He has to resist the urge to palm himself at the sight.

Unashamed, Hot Rod continues to finger himself, little gold digits getting liberally coated in lubricant, glistening. Grimlock wants to lick them clean, because every careful touch of Hot Rod’s fingers makes him gasp and quiver. His thighs splay wider as if demanding Grimlock enter him.

“So?” Hot Rod licks his lips. “I want more. And it looks like you could use a couple, too.” He drags his heels, slides down a bit, until his thighs and the heat of his valve bracket Grimlock’s rigid spike. “Come on. I can take it.”

Grimlock curves a hand around Hot Rod’s waist, pulls him a few inches down, until the head of his spike can paint itself in all that copious lubricant.

“Are you sure?” he rumbles, grinding the thick head against Hot Rod’s valve, lubricant and pre-fluid mingling together.

Hot Rod’s rim flutters against his spike, providing the barest resistance. If anything, it seems to be inviting him inside.

Hot Rod grins and grabs onto Grimlock’s wrist, trying to shove his frame downward. “Positive.”

Grimlock groans as Hot Rod’s valve slides along his spike, slick and plump. He bucks his hips, spikehead grinding on Hot Rod’s rim.

“You say stop, I stop,” Grimlock manages to get out, even as his processor spins with need, and his fans cycle faster.

“Won’t need it. But I got it.” Hot Rod squirms, making an urgent noise in his intake. “Now come on, Grim. I can take you. Do it. Frag me now, frag me hard, like I know you can.”

The kid’s going to be the death of him.

Grimlock grinds his denta, curving forward as he tightens his grip on Hot Rod’s waist and pulls Hot Rod’s hips down, easing his spike into that tight, welcoming heat. Hot Rod moans, his entire frame arching, splaying, guiding Grimlock onward. He starts and there’s no way he can stop, the girth of his spike slowly swallowed by rippling calipers, tugging him deeper.

Lubricant squelches out around his spike. Hot Rod’s field flares, bright and hungry, not a bit of discomfort to be found. Hot Rod tosses his head back and keens, fingers tight around Grimlock’s arm, his valve squeezing before relenting and leaving plenty of room for Grimlock to bury himself to the hilt, to grind against Hot Rod’s ceiling node.

“Yessssssss,” Hot Rod hisses and starts rocking his hips madly, riding Grimlock’s spike like he hasn’t overloaded twice already.

Grimlock groans, his spike throbbing as Hot Rod’s valve feeds him bright bursts of charge with every thrust. Hot Rod’s thighs tremble around his hips, his biolights pulsing in a quick pattern.

“You’re… a menace,” Grimlock grits out.

Heat floods his frame, pulsing through him in ever-increasing waves. His array tingles, fire coiling in his groin. He pulls Hot Rod hard against him, grinding deep against the furthest inset clusters of nodes.

Hot Rod manages a sloppy grin. “Have I… impressed you… yet?” He gasps out before his hips start rocking madly, and his valve ripples in a telltale rhythm.

Of all the – he’s actually overloading again, Grimlock realizes. Hot Rod moans, sucking his bottom lip into his mouth, his fingers gripping tight. His valve spirals down, milking Grimlock’s spike, feeding him such hot bursts of charge that Grimlock is helpless to it.

He tries to hold back, to cling to some semblance of control, but it’s impossible. It’s like Hot Rod is pulling the overload out of him, and he stripes Hot Rod’s valve with his transfluid, washing hot bursts of it over Hot Rod’s charged nodes.

Grimlock’s hips jerk as the tremors of pleasure leave him shaky, but not entirely satisfied. His spike is still firm, sensitive now, to the quivers of Hot Rod’s loosened calipers, clicking gently around his derma.

Hot Rod starts squirming again, like his frame can’t seem to cycle down from the pleasure high. He licks his lips, his hands sliding up Grimlock’s arms, leaving prickles of charge in their wake.

“Hope that’s not all you got for me,” he says with a hint of wickedness. His aft rocks against Grimlock’s thighs, his spike jutting proudly from his groin, still liberally weeping slick.

Grimlock’s hands slide down Hot Rod’s thighs, thumbs sweeping inward, caressing Hot Rod’s spike housing. “What kind of batteries do you run on, kid?”

Hot Rod barks out a laugh. “Aw, is the old mech getting worn out?” His spoiler moves up and down in cute little flicks, betraying his restless energy.

Grimlock’s visor flattens. He’s not about to let himself get goaded by some freshly graduated upstart, but there’s challenge in Hot Rod’s tone, and Grimlock’s never let a berthmate walk away unsatisfied.

He slides a hand down to Hot Rod’s spike, curling his fingers around the hot length. Hot Rod hisses a ventilation and rolls up into his fist, which is so large it swallows Hot Rod’s spike. It throbs in his grip, spilling pre-fluid on his derma.

“Hardly.” Grimlock sweeps his thumb over the head of Hot Rod’s spike, the high-pitched whine in Hot Rod’s intake making his own spike throb with want. “Just making sure you can take more of me.”

Hot Rod hums a nonsense note. “I can take anything you think you have left.”

Cheeky brat.

Grimlock’s engine rumbles. He leans forward, so he can ex-vent over those damp, tempting lips. “We’ll see,” he growls.

He takes Hot Rod’s mouth, glossa plunging inside, denta leaving nips behind. Hot Rod’s fingers tickle at his chestplate, gripping onto seams. He pushes his spike into Grimlock’s fingers, fragging his fist as he chases another overload. His energy field flexes and tugs, charged as it batters against Grimlock’s, hot like fire.

Hot Rod’s glossa lashes back at him, turning the kiss into an erotic battle Grimlock had not foreseen. He growls, senses set ablaze by the unexpected spirit, his spike giving another throb in Hot Rod’s valve. His free hand slides to Hot Rod’s aft, cupping the red armor easily, pulling Hot Rod tighter against him.

Hot Rod squirms deliciously, and the smell of his arousal is dizzying. Grimlock groans into the kiss and bites his way to Hot Rod’s intake, feeling the vibrations of Hot Rod’s moans against his lips. His denta leaves little nips behind and Hot Rod makes the most intoxicating noises, his valve clamping down rhythmically and demanding more.

More is what he’s going to get.

Grimlock forces his attention away from the delectable cables of Hot Rod’s intake and grips the speedster’s hips.

“No, don’t stop,” Hot Rod pleads, his frame writhing in Grimlock’s lap, his face flushed and his field coiling playfully against Grimlock’s.

“Just aiming for a change in scenery,” Grimlock says.

Hot Rod blinks up at him, cutely confused. Grimlock grins and easily lifts the smaller mech, guiding him to hands and knees instead, giving Grimlock a nice view of that handsome aft. He can’t help but put his hands all over it, even though Hot Rod’s so small and his aft vanishes behind Grimlock’s palms.

Hot Rod moans and curves his backstrut, rocking his aft back toward Grimlock, his knees sliding across the rough ground. Every motions screams of invitation, especially as Grimlock’s thumbs dip down and taste the swollen pleats of Hot Rod’s valve. He’s still so slick, so open, his anterior cluster a plump little nub of need, and his biolights blinking in fitful intervals.

Transfluid trickles loose, mingled with lubricant, and Grimlock swears he can see up into the depth of Hot Rod’s valve. Biolights blink like running lights, coaxing him inside.

“Are you just gonna look or actually do something with it?” Hot Rod demands as he peers over his shoulder, his optics bright and needy.

Grimlock chuckles and rises up on his knees, looming over the much smaller mech, which gives him a little thrill. “I was admiring,” he rumbles as he slides his hands up Hot Rod’s back and hooks his fingers over that very mobile spoiler. “But point taken.”

He curves over Hot Rod, nudges his spike at that welcoming valve, grinding the head of it against the gathered moisture. Hot Rod’s head dips, fingers digging into the ground as he pushes his aft back.

“Hurry up and frag me then!” he demands, breathless and hungry. “I don’t have all night.”

Mouthy little thing, isn’t he?

Good thing Grimlock likes it.

“Guess you’re too much of a rookie to understand the value of patience,” Grimlock teases, but lust surges in his lines, and he’s equally impatient.

He rolls his hips forward, sinking slowly into the welcoming clutch of Hot Rod’s valve. He likes the way Hot Rod’s back arches, his fingers curl, a low and long moan spills out of his mouth to match the pace of Grimlock thrusting into him. Hot Rod’s field goes all shivery, and his spoiler twitches madly.

Grimlock wants to taste it.

He curves over Hot Rod, bracing his weight on one hand, keeping a firm grip on Hot Rod’s hip with the other. His mouth finds the top edge of the spoiler, lips dragging along it. Hot Rod shivers beneath him, loosing a soft moan. His valve quivers around Grimlock’s spike. His arms tremble.

“Good?” Grimlock asks as he sets his denta upon the edge of the spoiler as well, dragging along the sensitive edge toward the center mount.

Hot Rod garbles an unintelligible noise. His backstrut arches, aft pushing back against Grimlock’s spike, urging him deeper.

Grimlock chuckles and pins the spoiler edge between his denta, giving it a light bite. Hot Rod shudders and charge crackles over his armor.

“Good,” he gasps, words starting to slur together. “So, so good.” Lubricant leaks steadily from his valve, making for a frictionless thrust, and light explodes behind Grimlock’s visor as he starts to move into Hot Rod again.

The change in position adjusts the angle, making him rake across previously untouched inner nodes. It feels like he can go even deeper like this, take every inch of Hot Rod, and the speedster must think the same because he starts making helpless, breathy whimpers.

“Primus, you’re a hot little thing, aren’t you?” Grimlock growls against Hot Rod’s audial as the smaller mech’s aft rocks against him. “Can’t believe how sexy you are.”

“I’m… irresistible,” Hot Rod pants.

Grimlock chuckles. “Mmm. Yes, you are.” He quickens his pace a little, adding more force behind each thrust, driving Hot Rod forward.

Hot Rod gasps and his spoiler quivers, calling for Grimlock’s mouth again. He gives it a taste, glossa lingering on the sweet charge dancing over Hot Rod’s armor. He bites, firm enough to leave a mark. Hot Rod whimpers, his valve spiraling tight around Grimlock’s spike.

Mmm. That’s a nice reaction.

“Pretty thing, too,” Grimlock rumbles, his vocals spilling into Hot Rod’s nearest audial and making the speedster shiver. “Liked watching you on the battlefield. You’re fearless.”

Hot Rod audibly pants. He pushes into the cradle of Grimlock’s hips, pushing his spike so deep, his spoiler twitching against Grimlock’s mouth.

“Did I… impress?” Hot Rod asks, his field spilling desperation and need. More lubricant wells up around Grimlock’s spike, and all he can imagine is pulling Hot Rod up to his mouth and licking him clean.

Grimlock quickens his pace, feels Hot Rod squirm and writhe beneath him, little mewls coming from his intake. Each one was a ping to Grimlock’s spike, throbbing in bare restraint, raking across every sensor he could find.

Grimlock’s fans spin faster. The heat in his groin is an inferno now, and his spark tries to pound out of his chassis. He’s so close. But there’s no way he’ll let himself fall over the edge without taking Hot Rod with him.

He tightens his grip on Hot Rod’s hip and purrs into the speedster’s audial, “Then and now, kid.” He thrusts faster, deeper, grinds on all the nodes, driving Hot Rod into the ground and firmly into his grip. “You’ve got the kind of fire I like.”

Hot Rod moans, long and low, his valve rippling around Grimlock, like the praise was only turning him on more. Charge nips at Grimlock’s spike, and he grunts, a jolt of ecstasy nearly driving him to overload until he reins it in.

“Next time,” Grimlock continues, keeping his voice low, deep, certain to rattle through the rookie’s sensory suites, “You’re gonna ride me. Move those hips and let me see that pretty face of yours.”

Hot Rod makes a choked sound. His head dips forward, and Grimlock can’t resist the call of the back of his neck, bared and trusting. He drags the flat of his glossa up it, feels Hot Rod quiver around him.

“You’re mine now.” Grimlock plunges into Hot Rod, pleasure cresting with every thrust, fans spinning so hard they’re rattling his frame.

He’s close; Hot Rod is, too. Not much longer now. It’s taking all he has not to spill, mark Hot Rod from the inside out.

He closes his denta on the back of Hot Rod’s neck, bites lightly enough to leave a mark but not cause damage. Feels Hot Rod stiffen and jerk beneath him. Hears Hot Rod suddenly wail as his backstrut arches, and his valve spirals into a tight clutch around Grimlock’s spike.

He’s overloading, electric fire dancing over his armor in a yellow-bright wave, arms going limp until Grimlock has to curl an arm around his abdomen, hold Hot Rod tight against his frame. Hot Rod’s overload smells sweet and fiery all at once, tingling as it rushes over Grimlock’s olfactory sensors.

“Primus, kid,” he grunts, burying his face against Hot Rod’s back, against his spoiler hinges.

It takes only a handful of thrusts before he lets himself loose, holds Hot Rod down on his spike, and overloads. Transfluid bursts out of him, painting Hot Rod’s valve in hot spill, and the overload seems to drag into infinity.

Grimlock sits back on his heels, hips making tiny pushes into Hot Rod’s valve, both arms wrapped around the speedster, keeping him in place. He grips Hot Rod’s jaw with one hand, pressing Hot Rod back against him, until his mouth can latch onto the side of Hot Rod’s neck. His denta scrape over sensitive cables, and it takes all he has not to bite down.

Grimlock’s spike throbs, pushing spurt after spurt, ecstasy coursing through him in waves until its spent, and Grimlock sags. He pants for a cool ventilation, Hot Rod limp and venting heat in his arms. He licks the side of Hot Rod’s neck and slides his hand from Hot Rod’s jaw back to his hip.

Hot Rod moans, flopping back against Grimlock’s chest, his fans spinning madly. “Primus,” he pants, hands weakly patting at the arm Grimlock has wrapped around his waist. “That’s… that’s good.”

Grimlock grunts. “Glad you approve.” His free hand slides down Hot Rod’s thigh, but wanders back up again, finger nudging at the swollen, slick rim still wrapped around his half-pressurized spike.

Hot Rod laughs, and his valve ripples. “Hope you got more in you.” He sounds both hopeful and hungry as his hips give a weak, but interested rock.

Grimlock shivers, heat already starting to wind in his internals, but seriously? “Frag, kid, what kind of interface drive they giving newsparks these days?” he asks, mostly rhetorical. He has to admit, the little twitches of Hot Rod’s valve are delicious.

Hot Rod hums and pushes back against Grimlock’s chest, his fingers tight around Grimlock’s arms. “What? Can’t you keep up?”

“I didn’t say that.” Grimlock grabs Hot Rod by the hips, lifts him up, spins him around, plants the cute speedster back in his lap, but this time face to face. “Guess I gotta keep going if I want to find your off switch.”

Hot Rod laughs, and it’s a good look for him, so bright and carefree, like the world is a cheerful place and not one that reeks of ordinance and spilled energon. “Maybe I don’t have one,” he says, mischievous and teasing.

Hot Rod slides a hand down his frame, and he cups his own spike, giving it a squeeze. “Or maybe you’re not looking in the right places.”

Grimlock barks a laugh at the brat’s brashness. It’s amusing as the Pit, and he can’t believe how quickly Hot Rod has clawed under his plating.

“Well then.” Grimlock drags his palm down Hot Rod’s frame, flicking Hot Rod’s hand and replacing it with his own, giving that brightly-colored spike a squeeze. “Guess I’d better get more hands on.”

Looks like he’s going to get his mouth all over Hot Rod after all.

It’s enough to make him forget about the storm, the calm after it, and the jitteriness in his lines. Instead, it’s all pleasure and teasing, and overload after overload, Hot Rod living up to his designation and then some, until Grimlock forgets he’s supposed to be brooding, and remembers what it feels like to live.


Morning afters are always hit or miss.

Sometimes, Hot Rod wakes up feeling ashamed and guilty, and all he wants to do is creep out of whatever berth he found himself in and hope that the mech forgets his name, comm code, and his face.

Sometimes, he wakes up and his partner the night before is already going down on him, slurping him back to full staff and full slick and all Hot Rod can do is hang on and enjoy the ride. He’s no idea why his interface drive is powered by an unending energy source, and half the time, his berthpartners are annoyed by it. But sometimes, ahhh, sometimes there are the good mornings that continue into afternoons.

Hot Rod usually ends up stumbling home, satisfied and worn out, with a comm code tucked into his subspace. For a good time call… the next time he’s around anyway.

This morning, Hot Rod onlines feeling warm and sated and not sure what kind of ‘after’ it’s going to be. His berthpartner’s proclivities are a mystery to him, and while Grimlock had kept up the pace last night, maybe he feels differently this morning. Maybe he’s ready to tumble the energy-battery of a speedster off his lap and out of his life.

Hot Rod comes to life slowly and onlines his optics a little at a time. He’s splayed in Grimlock’s lap. The fierce warrior is tucked up against the overhang they’d used a few times yesterday as a wall. He’s got his back against it, frame tilted a little and one of his hands is on Hot Rod’s belly, warm and big, like he just wants to make sure Hot Rod is still there.

It’s kind of nice.

Hot Rod looks up, finds Grimlock staring into the distance, toward the now empty battlefield, his visor half-lit as though his thoughts are elsewhere. If he’s recharged, Hot Rod can’t tell. He’s got to admit he’s pretty comfortable in Grimlock’s lap like this. It really highlights how much bigger Grimlock is.

Mmm. Big.

He’s always had a taste for the big ones. And Primus Below, Grimlock is the perfect size. Fierce and gentle, rough and sweet, all the best qualities in a lover actually.

A shiver runs through Hot Rod at the memory of it. His array gives a little ping, and Hot Rod’s face heats. Damn it. Sure, Grimlock had been all for it last night, but what’ll he say if Hot Rod wakes up hot and ready all over again?

“I know you’re awake.”

Hot Rod startles and looks up at Grimlock. That amber visor is turned toward him, and a smile graces Grimlock’s lips – scarred, Hot Rod realizes, all around his mouth and lips.

Hot Rod wants to lick those scars. He loves scars.

“Didn’t you recharge at all?” Hot Rod asks with a lazy stretch of his arms over his head. He splays over Grimlock’s lap because he can, and Grimlock hasn’t shoved him off yet.

“Enough.” Grimlock’s thumb strokes a small circle over Hot Rod’s belly. “Kid, I gotta hand it to you. I didn’t think it was possible for someone to go that much.” He doesn’t sound annoyed at least.

Hot Rod laughs. He rolls his hips, hoping to encourage Grimlock’s hand to go lower. “It’s a special gift.” He preens. “Do I have your respect now?”

Grimlock chuckles and his hand slides down, obeying the unspoken request. “Anyone that can do what you do definitely deserves it,” he says, in that rough gravel voice. He palms Hot Rod’s array, fingers finding the head of Hot Rod’s spike, peeking into view. “You wake up hot and ready, don’t you?”

“All the time,” Hot Rod says, singsong. He gives a little laugh and hopes his self-consciousness doesn’t show. “I mean, I can dial it down. I’m not crazed for it or anything. You don’t have to–”

Grimlock’s thumb rubs over the head of his spike, and Hot Rod shivers. “We’ve got time,” he rumbles, and his visor both brightens and darkens, lust spilling into his field. “Though I can’t promise we won’t be interrupted.”

Hot Rod licks his lips. “I don’t mind if you don’t.”

Another laughs rumbles in Grimlock’s chassis, vibrating through his frame and into Hot Rod’s. There’s so much power in him, contained and controlled, it makes Hot Rod shiver. He squirms in Grimlock’s lap, his array eagerly cycling to life.

“I like your flavor, Hot Rod,” he says as Hot Rod parts his thighs, and Grimlock takes the invitation, dipping a finger between them. “You’re gonna be a great warrior someday.”

Hot Rod hums in his intake. “You can tell all that from the way I overload?”

“Something like that.”

The world shifts beneath Hot Rod. He finds himself splayed out over Grimlock’s chest, looking down into the warrior’s face, his lips inches from Hot Rod’s own. There’s a heavy hand on his aft, a wrist over his thigh, fingers dipping between them. Oh, and the hard column of a spike poking at his belly. He can’t forget that important detail either.

“Well, well, someone else woke up ready for more.” Hot Rod squirms, the slick head of Grimlock’s spike leaving a streak of pre-fluid against his belly.

A finger traces the rim of his valve, stirring the lubricant already gathered there. “Let’s just see how many times I can make you moan before someone comes looking for us.”

Hot Rod shivers and buries his face in Grimlock’s intake, mouth tasting those strong, thick cables. “Sounds good to me.”

This morning after, he decides, is definitely going in his top three.


[CtE] Bears and Bunnies

“You like him, don’t you?”

Snarl looked up from the circuit board he was welding and blinked at the mech leaning into his personal space. Small blue grounder, with a visor, somewhat defensive posture and a field Snarl had made himself memorize.

“What you Breakdown say?” It came across more aggressive than he intended, but Snarl hadn’t managed to find that nice middle ground between hostility and calm.

Breakdown’s faceplate visibly flushed, the natural red darkening in hue. “Knock Out,” he clarified, and his engine gave a little rev. “You like him.”

“Me Snarl think that obvious.” Snarl snorted and returned his focus to the circuitboard. He’d promised he’d have it done before he left for the day. “Of course me like him Knock Out.”

“No. I mean…” Breakdown cycled a vent and scratched his chin, like he found words difficult. “You want to… to partner him. Right?” He leaned closer, energy field all scratchy and anxious, and this was probably the closest he’d dare get to Snarl.

Breakdown was like a little rabbit, Snarl thought with an internal laugh. He frightened easily, and he ran when startled, and his visor got big and hopeful when he was trying to be earnest. Adorable. Snarl wanted to pet him.

With permission, of course. Grimlock had sat down and very painstakingly gone over what consent meant and how to obtain it and what Snarl was and wasn’t allowed to do. Grimlock had also admitted, with a flush of shame, that a lot of what they’d figured out for themselves was wrong. Snarl suspected Grimlock had learned that lesson the hard way.

Perhaps by sharp and angry Seeker talons.

Snarl carefully finished soldering the circuit before he set down the iron. This was going to be a delicate conversation. Maybe uncomfortable. He’d seen the way Breakdown looked at Knock Out, and he knew how other Cybertronians tended to view relationships.

The solution was obvious, but some people were oblivious. Sometimes, it took a Dinobot to see what everyone else had missed.

“Him Knock Out smart and pretty. Me Snarl like him,” Snarl confirmed as he swiveled to face Breakdown, trying not to loom and scare the bunny.

“That’s what I thought.” Breakdown slumped like he’d just been rejected by Knock Out himself. He tapped his fingers together. “It’s just–”

“You Breakdown like him Knock Out, too,” Snarl supplied. He figured if he left it up to Breakdown, they might be sitting here all night while Breakdown said everything but what he’d come to say.

Breakdown’s head snapped up and his visor flushed a rosy pink. “Yeah, but…” He shrugged helplessly, trailing off, his field buzzing with assumed rejection.

Time to be obvious.

“Me Snarl like him Knock Out,” Snarl said as he rapped his fingers over his thighs. “But like you Breakdown, too.” He paused and gave Breakdown a pointed look, gaze flicking up and down the little speedster’s frame. “You cute.”

Breakdown squeaked, like the cute bunny he was. “I am?”

“Me Snarl no lie.” He grinned, maybe a bit too big because it showed off his denta, but funny how that never seemed to bother Breakdown. Well, once he realized Snarl wasn’t going to bite and/or eat him.

Though if this whole relationship worked out, biting might come back into the picture. Just a little nibble. Here and there. Breakdown’s fingers demanded small kisses, and Snarl really wanted to get a taste of his intake.

Breakdown, however, sagged and slumped into the empty seat at Snarl’s side, the one Knock Out occasionally used when he came by to watch Snarl work. “Dinobots are weird,” he said as he rubbed at his forehead.

Snarl snorted. “Me Snarl think everyone else weird.” Dinobots were the only sane ones. It took Grimlock to take down Megatron, and he’d been the one saying how off the whole situation with the humans was to begin with.

Cybertronians could be so blind sometimes. So wrapped up in their past and their heads that they couldn’t look past it. They needed the Dinobots, if you asked Snarl. Someone needed to make sense around here.

“Of course you do.” Breakdown chuckled and leaned against the desk, propping his head on his fist and his elbow on the edge. “So. Sharing, huh? Just how do you think that’s gonna work anyway?”

“Patience. Talking. Agreement.” Snarl grabbed his soldering iron again and bent over the delicate circuit. He still had a lot of work to do before Knock Out returned. “You Breakdown no want?”

“I didn’t say that.” Breakdown whooshed a vent, and his field tentatively reached for Snarl’s. “It’s just weird. Never thought about you like that.”

He sounded preoccupied, but Snarl noticed he was inching closer. Like he was considering touching Snarl. But he was also Breakdown, a scared little rabbit, and he wasn’t one to make the first of any kind of move. He must have been gathering the courage for this little conversation for weeks. Maybe even months.

Snarl attached another important bit and vented over it, blowing the thin curl of smoke away. It looked perfect, so he set the solder aside and returned his attention to Breakdown, who had inched even closer, until their arms brushed. The electric contact of their fields sent a wave of heat up Snarl’s spinal strut.

Brave little bunny.

Snarl turned toward Breakdown and scooped the smaller mech up with barely any effort. Breakdown squeaked in surprise, his visor flaring brightly, even more so when Snarl plopped the part-combiner in his lap. Breakdown went still, his mouth dropping open in surprise.

Snarl really wanted to kiss him.

“There,” Snarl said as he cupped Breakdown’s face with both hands. Gently, of course, because his hands were big and strong enough to crush Breakdown’s head if he weren’t careful. “Now you say if okay.”

Breakdown visibly swallowed, and his energy field went all liquid and warm against Snarl’s. “Okay,” he said. He darkened his visor and pursed his lips in what Snarl assumed was an invitation for a kiss.

Snarl chuckled quietly. Breakdown was adorable and no one could convince him otherwise.

He brushed his lips over Breakdown’s, catching a hint of those sour-sweet candies he was often nibbling on. He flicked his glossa out, getting a deeper taste of the rich treat. Mmm. As sweet as Breakdown himself.

Breakdown’s vents audibly caught and then suddenly, he threw his arms over Snarl’s shoulders and leaned into the kiss, returning it with a ferocity that surprised Snarl. His glossa plunged into Snarl’s mouth, aggressively sweeping around, albeit a bit unskilled. But Snarl liked his determination!

He swept his hands down to Breakdown’s hips, cupping the small aft, tugging Breakdown a little closer to him. Their armor came into delicious contact, Breakdown’s field sliding shivery and hot against Snarl’s.

Breakdown’s engine gave a little rev and he pulled back from the kiss, though reluctance flicked through his field. “Okay,” he said, visor bright as his glossa swept over his lips. “I think I can get used to this.” He grinned.

Snarl bounced the speedster in his lap, making Breakdown squeak and clutch him harder. “Good,” he said. “Now we convince him Knock Out.”

“He can’t ignore both of us.” Breakdown giggled.

Snarl was charmed. Most Cybertronians didn’t giggle. It was unseemly or something. But Breakdown had gone from half-afraid to completely at ease, and he was so relaxed in Snarl’s lap. Maybe that meant he wasn’t afraid to be himself.


“Nope!” Snarl enunciated the word with a pop of his lips. “But now me Snarl finish circuit board,” he said with a squeeze to Breakdown’s aft, preparing to lift the speedster back to his abandoned chair. “We tackle him Knock Out later.”

“Okay.” Breakdown nibbled on his bottom lip, and his fingers tickled at the back of Snarl’s neck. “One more kiss though? For, you know, practice.” He grinned, and there was in it, the sly edge of a Decepticon.

Snarl rumbled a laugh and sealed his lips over Breakdown’s, indulging in the sweet taste of him. Though if he wasn’t careful, he’d let his indulgence carry on for too long, and Dinobots weren’t really that great at avoiding temptation.

Snarl had only to look at his other brothers for proof.

It was okay. Phase one of his plan to acquire a pretty speedster on each arm was now complete. Next, he just had to convince Knock Out. Should be easy. Everyone knew that Dinobots were irresistible. Besides, Knock Out needed someone looking after him just like Breakdown did.


It was win-win-win.

[IDW] Get Around This

The meditative lessons start out as an innocent, inoffensive hobby. A way to present himself as harmless to his new crew. He doesn’t expect much from it, and is pleasantly surprised when more than a handful show up to his first class.

Most don’t even snicker. Much.

Drift guides them through the easier of the poses, the moments of silence, and the meditative exercises. He hands out sample bags of incense and energy crystals and copies of his future schedule in case anyone wants to attend further lessons.

After a few months, someone asks him about instructional videos, for the busy mech who misses a lesson or two, or just wants to try it on his own. Drift figures it can’t hurt and tapes a few of the basics, plus a couple routines depending on the desired effect. He sells them, not that he needs the creds, and makes a tidy sum. He tucks his earnings away because he learned that lesson the hard way.

Then Huffer asks if Drift has any alternative remedies for his achy joints, and Drift teaches him a few things the residents of Crystal City taught him. Huffer blabs, as Huffer does, and the next thing Drift knows, he’s got a client list longer than his Great Sword. Every last one of them are interested in methods to treat their aches, pains, and maladies without relying on script chips or welds or replacements.

Or Ratchet’s scathing criticisms.

Ratchet doesn’t seem to mind that some of his patients have hared off to Drift’s unlicensed, alternative practice. Especially when all the whining, hungover mechs start banging on Drift’s door first thing in the morning instead of his.

Drift still refers the serious cases to Ratchet, an actual medic, but if someone wants to treat their rustmite infection with electrolysis instead of a stasis bath complete with Ratchet Lecture™, well, Drift lets them. It helps that they have no problem shoving handfuls of creds into his hands.

He hadn’t set out to be some kind of alternative solutions guru, but that’s what he’s become. His crew likes him better for it, and Drift admits he likes feeling less like the odd mech out, the once-Decepticon just waiting to snap.

The downside is time, or rather, his increased lack of it. With his duties as third in command, his burgeoning relationship with Rodimus, and now this unexpected business, something has to give. He’s taken on far more than he can fit into a schedule already packed to the brim.

It isn’t until Rodimus starts pouting that Drift realizes which of the three obligations he’s unconsciously deemed the ‘least important.’ And by then, he wonders if it might be too late.


It’s supposed to be a hobby. Something to pass the time and keep him from thinking about the past so much. Drift slides from one obsession to the next. It’s a thing that Drift does. Rodimus knows this.

He doesn’t expect Drift’s hobby to be anything more than that.

Until it suddenly becomes a Thing™. A Thing that takes Drift’s time and attention away from Rodimus, has him giving both to other members of the crew who aren’t Rodimus. Crew members who wouldn’t have given a damn about Drift before, and still wouldn’t now, except that Drift is suddenly useful and non-threatening.

Rodimus has spent so long urging Drift to put his past behind him, and now he’s having a hard time convincing Drift to even look at the future.

Or at least, a future that seems to have Rodimus in it.

There are only so many missed dates, forgotten moments, promises to return calls that aren’t actually returned, before a mech starts to get desperate.

And sitting here, blowing out candles as the special energon congeals into a sticky, unappetizing clump, Rodimus starts to feel desperate. This is the third time in a row Drift has stood him up, without so much as a comm or a message.

He’s not on shift, Rodimus checked. Which means someone has come to him with their idea of an emergency, and Drift hasn’t learned the meaning of the word ‘no’. Not when he’s trying so hard to get people to like him.

Rodimus growls out a sigh and shoves to his feet, denta grinding so hard he can taste the sparks on his glossa. He misses his lover. He misses laughing. He misses Drift, frag it.

He activates his comm, the anger broiling inside of him, and waits for Drift to pick up. He taps his feet, and switches his weight from one hip to the other, and gets sent to voicemail twice before Drift actually picks up. The gall!

“Rodimus, what’s wrong? Is it an emergency?”

Rodimus grinds his denta again. “Do you have any idea what time it is?” he demands and is proud of himself for managing not to snarl or hiss.

Drift chuckles, like Rodimus is calling to tease him or make a joke. “Of course I do. Why? Is your chronometer broken?”

“No, but yours must be!” Rodimus snaps, and throws his arms into the air, even though Drift can’t see it. “Dinner. Tonight. My place. Does that ring a fragging bell?”

Great. He’s already yelling. There goes his intention to address this in a calm, rational manner. Hah. Who’s he kidding? He’s past the point of being calm.

There’s a moment of silence before Drift hisses a ventilation. “Oh, frag. That was tonight? I’m sorry, Roddy. I had a late appointment and–”

“Save it,” Rodimus bites out, because he’s tired of this. Tired of the excuses and the apologies and the explanations.

Late appointments. It’s always a late appointment. Maybe one he shouldn’t have made in the first place given that they had a date!? One they set a week ago, no less, when Drift’s schedule finally had some room in it for Rodimus.

Drift sighs, sounds faintly irritated. “Look. I’m sorry, okay. I’ll make it up to you. Dinner tomorrow?”

This is starting to sound familiar. Rodimus feels like he can quote Drift’s answers by now, they’re so common. It’s always “I’ll make it up to you” until he forgets that date, too. And the one after that.

Rodimus can’t remember the last time he actually spent extended time with his so-called lover, time that wasn’t interrupted or longer than a stolen frag in a storage closet. It’s always one thing or another, and that one thing is never as important as Rodimus.

Hurt twinges in his spark. He shoves it down and buries it with anger.

“Don’t bother,” Rodimus snaps, and there goes the rest of his patience. “You won’t show up for that either.”

He ends the comm in the middle of Drift’s reply, his spark pounding in his chassis. Rodimus sends any further calls to his voicemail and slumps back into a chair, burying his face in his hands. What the frag is he supposed to do now?

How is he supposed to spend any time with Drift if Drift is always working? Rodimus gets it, he does. Drift is glad people aren’t cringing when he comes near now, and he’s glad they’re actually listening to him, and maybe people are still whispering, but it’s not half as bad as it used to be.

Rodimus gets it.

He’s still not happy about it.

He just wishes Drift would make a little time for Rodimus in his busy schedule.

Wait. Schedule.

Rodimus sits up straight. Maybe it’s time for something non-conventional, a little drastic even.

If Drift doesn’t have time for Rodimus because he’s so busy with his clients, Rodimus will just have to become a client, too. Drift will have to pay attention to him then.

Rodimus scurries over to his console, drops down in the chair, and powers up the main intranet. He spends a few minutes searching for Drift’s Alternative Medicine page, and finds the self-scheduler. He picks the first available slot tomorrow – Hound won’t mind covering for him, right? This is important.

Appointment set, Rodimus flops onto his berth. He might as well recharge since there’s no point in staying awake. Drift’s not coming tonight, and his dinner is ruined.

Tomorrow had better be a better day.


Tomorrow is not a better day.

Rodimus shows up for his appointment bright and early. Ultra Magnus would admire his timeliness, that’s how on-time he is. He sits in the chair placed outside the door of the room Drift had appropriated for his office and he waits, optics on his chronometer.

He grins and waves as a few mechs pass him in the hall, giving him confused, startled looks. Frag them. So what if Rodimus has to make an appointment to see his lover? Doesn’t everyone?

The door opens, and Huffer emerges, peering carefully at some instructions printed on plastifilm. He’s muttering to himself and doesn’t even notice Rodimus, too busy scowling at the small print.


Rodimus leaps up from the chair and strolls into Drift’s office, his spoiler at a jaunty tilt on his back. “Good morning!” he chirps.

Drift looks up from his datapad with a frown. “Rodimus, I have a client right now.”

“Yeah. I know. You’re looking at him.” Rodimus flops down on the ridiculously comfy sofa Drift had dragged in here, wriggling to get comfortable. Damn, he needs one of these for his quarters. Seriously.

Drift’s optics narrow. “You made an appointment?”

“How else am I going to see you?” Rodimus lounges across the sofa, stretching his arms over his head, trying to catch the angles of the light to highlight his newly waxed armor. “How does it go?”

He widens his grin and puts on his best, theatrical performance. “Doc, you gotta help me,” he pleads with a wink at Drift. “I’m feeling oh so lonely lately, and I just don’t know what to do.” He slides one hand down his frame and cups his array for emphasis.

He waits for Drift to laugh.

Drift doesn’t.

If anything, he glares at Rodimus, and there’s just a bit of Deadlock behind that glare. “What the frag do you think you’re doing?”

“Whining to you about my troubles. Isn’t that what everyone else does?” Rodimus sits up and slouches in the sofa, slinging his arms across the back of it and spreading his thighs. Can’t help but show off the goods, maybe that’ll entice his lover back.

A low growl emerges from Drift’s engine. “Everyone else has a legitimate reason for being here,” he bites out. “So why are you wasting my time?”


Rodimus mouths the words. Wasting.

He grinds his denta and grips the back of the sofa, feeling the plush fabric beneath his fingertips. “Wasting,” he repeats aloud. “I scheduled this time, you fragger. How can I be wasting it when I went through all the proper avenues and everything!?”

“Someone who actually needs to see me could have used this time, Roddy,” Drift retorts, sounding exasperated and irritated. His finials twitch, optics flashing, and yeah, he’s definitely edging toward Deadlock territory there.

Pfft. Rodimus isn’t afraid of that anymore. Especially not now. He’s too angry to be afraid. No, he’s past angry. He’s furious.

He loses the humor. The act. He frowns.

“Maybe if you actually showed up for a date once in a while, I wouldn’t have to resort to this,” Rodimus snaps.

Drift pinches the bridge of his nasal ridge. “I apologized for that.”

“I’m tired of apologies. They don’t mean anything anymore.” Rodimus chews on his bottom lip, aware that the last came out more of a whine. He hadn’t wanted to sound like a spoiled sparkling, but there he goes anyway.

Frag it.

“I just… damn it. What’s wrong with wanting to see you?” Rodimus demands. He snaps his knees back together and lowers his arms, drawing into himself. “You don’t have time for me anymore.”

Drift leans back in his chair, looking tired and old, like he’s Ratchet or something. He’s been playing this game so long, he’s even fooling himself, isn’t he?

“I have responsibilities,” Drift says. “You should understand that. You’re captain of this ship. You should be just as busy.”

Rodimus’ mouth drops open. Did Drift just… chastise him? For not doing his job?

For a moment, Rodimus has no words. All he can do is splutter, outrage mixing with anger and hurt cresting all of it, until the first thing he spits are words he shouldn’t have.

“Your real job is being third in command of this ship!” Rodimus jumps to his feet, agitation making his plating clamp and flare intermittently. “This stupid stuff is just a hobby! And these mechs you’re so dedicated to? They don’t care about you! All they care about is what you can do for them. They don’t even like you!”

He knows he shouldn’t have said it the moment the words leave his lips. The way the color drains from Drift’s face tells him that. As does the thin line of his mouth as his lips press together. Hurt flares in Drift’s field, before the rest of his emotions are dropped down behind a Decepticon-thick iron wall.

It’s all true. But he shouldn’t have said it. Not that way at least.

“Please leave,” Drift says, his tone tight, his fingers creaking where they grip a stylus. “I have another client soon, and I have to prepare for them.”

“Fine,” Rodimus says, because he’s in too deep so he might as well keep going. His optics are hot, and he simultaneously wants to spill apologies and scream that it’s not his fault, that if Drift only paid him some attention, they wouldn’t be here. “I won’t come back either.”

He storms out, the door rattling open and shut as if obeying his sudden urgency to be far away from Drift. He’s in such a hurry, he nearly collides with Recurve, who’s loitering in the hallway for some reason. It’s not like he has an appointment. Recurve’s not one to believe in that alternative stuff.

“Whoa there,” Recurve says with a laugh as Rodimus brushes past him and stomps down the hall. “What’s the matter with you? Usually mechs walk out of Drift’s office looking like they just won the lottery.”

“Frag off!” Rodimus snarls. And then he can hear Ultra Magnus’ chastisement at the back of his processor.

Captains are polite, Rodimus. Captains respect their crew, Rodimus. Captains don’t use vulgar language, Rodimus. Captains don’t storm down the halls, Rodimus.


Rodimus heads straight for Swerve’s. This time of the shift, it’s probably deserted, but it’s not like he wants company. He just wants to drink and bleed off his misery into some high grade.

He grabs the first available seat at the bar, and Swerve wordlessly puts his preferred drink in front of him, maybe scared off by the fury in Rodimus’ field. Usually the little chatterbox has something to say, but not this time. Instead he flounces down to the other end of the bar to flirt (hopelessly) with Skids.

Rodimus sucks down his first drink faster than is wise. Swerve refills it without a word and leaves him to his misery. This one, Rodimus drinks a little slower, the heat in his belly practically ice compared to the heat of anger in his lines. Drift’s words keep echoing in his head, and every time the shame of snapping at Drift crops up, he viciously shoots it down with hurt.

Behind him, the group of mechs at a table laugh. They’re getting louder and louder, and Rodimus has been mostly ignoring them, until he catches a bit of their conversation.

“–seen the way he can bend? Now that’s a racecar I want to ride,” one of them says.

Rodimus’ optics narrow. He half-turns, just enough to see over his shoulder, trying to match face to name.

“Ought to be a law against looking that good,” another one says with a coarse laugh. “Though I hear part of that’s his rebuild in Crystal City. They make ‘em pretty there.”

“You’d have to be pretty, I guess, to survive in the Decepticons,” Idiot Number One comments with a leer. He licks his lips.

Rodimus stiffens. He knows exactly who they’re talking about. Drift, of course. He’s sexy, Rodimus knows that. He’s got a pretty build and a reputation for being easy, not that he is, but rumors like that die hard.

“I spent nearly all my money buying a copy of every volume of those vids,” Idiot Number Two says. He smirks and waggles his orbital ridges. “Best inspirational creds ever.”

“You gotta let me borrow them.”

“Get your own service mags!”

“Well, they’re not wrong,” Swerve says from behind Rodimus, sweeping up his second empty cup with a little laugh. “Get you another, captain? Or maybe you’re after one of those vids they’re talking about, eh? Or aren’t you getting the private show?”

Rodimus snarls and shoots to his feet, the stool clattering as it tips over behind him. “That’s none of your business,” he snaps. “And Drift’s not some… some… some buymech you can all ogle as you please. So just stop it!”

He whirls on a heelstrut and stomps out of Swerve’s. The light buzz from his high grade is gone, burned from his outrage, and what little solace he’d found is gone, too. He’s still angry, now at Drift, now at his crew, now at everything. He doesn’t want to go back to his quarters to sulk, but he doesn’t know what else to do?

How is he supposed to fix things?

This is all Drift’s fault. Drift and his stupid Alternative Medicine nonsense, which is, by the way, illegal and unlicensed. How the frag hasn’t Ultra Magnus shut it down already? Why hasn’t Ratchet?


Rodimus skids to a halt in the middle of the corridor and changes direction. Ratchet. If there’s anyone who can get Drift to see reason, it’s Ratchet. Drift’s got a weird deference to Ratchet sometimes, like he thinks of Ratchet as some kind of mentor he doesn’t want to disappoint.

Rodimus doesn’t know the full story behind that. There are still some parts of himself that Drift likes to keep, well, to himself. He’s so close-mouthed! It makes it hard to figure out what he’s thinking. He keeps laughing things off with a smile, like Rodimus can’t tell how much he’s hurting behind it all.


Rodimus seethes as he stomps toward the medbay, ignoring others in the hallway as he passes them. Ultra Magnus would probably chastise him for that, too. He should be friendlier. He should keep his emotions in check. He should be polite. Captain’s don’t stomp, Rodimus.

Nag, nag, nag.

The main entrance to the medbay gives a cheerful chime as Rodimus steps through it. He doesn’t see First Aid anywhere, but he spies Ratchet in his office, perched behind his desk and looking, for all the universe, as though he’s napping. Must be a slow day. No idiots Lobbing in the halls or playing catch with live grenades.

Not that, you know, Rodimus is guilty of either of those or anything.

Rodimus charges through the open door without so much as a by your leave and drops down in the empty chair across from Ratchet’s desk. He makes a very loud huff, stomping his feet on the floor as he does so.

One of Ratchet’s optics online, the other remains dim. It’s kind of creepy. “Strange. You don’t look injured or bleeding,” he says.

Rodimus snorts. “Not on the outside.” He jabs an elbow on the arm of the chair and sets his chin on his knuckles.

Both of Ratchet’s optics online, and he straightens with a languid, creaky stretch. “Trouble in paradise, I presume?”

“You don’t know the half of it,” Rodimus mutters and kicks out petulantly. “Do me a favor and exert your authority as Chief Medical Officer. Make Drift shut down his little alternative medicine business.”

Ratchet arches his orbital ridge. “And why would I want to do that?”

“Because I’m the captain, and I told you to.”

It’s Ratchet’s turn to snort. “Right. Because I’m known for obeying your commands without question.” He sags back into his chair with the sort of tired slump of the old and rusting. One hand gives an arrhythmic rap of his fingers. “Besides, what makes you think he’s going to listen to me anyway?”

“He looks up to you,” Rodimus says. “He’ll listen to you.”

Ratchet gives him a long look. “Right.” He rolls his optics and his shoulders both. “We both know that isn’t going to happen. Tough break, kid. It just isn’t up to me.”


“Nope!” Ratchet holds up both his hands in a gesture of full-stop. “I’m staying out of this. You want his attention, then talk to him. Don’t come to me.”

Rodimus’ engine revs. “I did talk to him.”

“Actual talking, Rodimus.”

“I used words!” Sure, they were angry words, but they were still words. It’s not his fault Drift doesn’t want to listen to him or pay him any attention.

Ratchet groans and scrubs a palm down his face. He’s got the look he gets when handfuls of the crew show up in his office, hungover and begging for a cure. “Look, Rodimus, I have work to do.”

Rodimus scoffs. “Like what? Another nap?”

Ratchet glares at him through his fingers. “Don’t you have some meteor surfing to do?”

Ah. Point taken. As angry as Rodimus is, it won’t do any good to take it out on Ratchet. If the medic doesn’t want to help, Rodimus can’t make him. Best to retreat while he still can.

“Fine.” Rodimus lurches to his feet and sets his jaw. “I’m going.” He whirls around and stalks out, feeling no more enlightened then when he’d first arrived looking for answers.

There’s no help to be found anywhere.

Rodimus sighs and cycles several ventilations. He doesn’t want to go back to his empty quarters, where the echoes of another failed date still hang in the air. He’s not going to try and comm Drift, that’s pointless. He’s not really interested in company either.

He’s just… just.

Might as well go relieve Hound and finish the rest of his shift. He doesn’t have anything better to do other than his job, and if Drift is going to chastise him about his responsibilities, Rodimus can at least prove that he knows how important they are.

Spoiler drooping, Rodimus trudges toward the bridge.

What a slag-poor excuse for a day.


Anger does not make for a calm state of mind. And someone in an aggravated state does not tend to offer intelligent and useful advice.

Drift uses the last of the time from Rodimus’ appointment to meditate, cycling through multiple ventilations, all in an attempt to clear his processor. His irritation with Rodimus is like a horde of miniscraplets nesting under his armor. He wants to shout about it, or pace, but he can’t, because he has another client with another issue to be solved.

This is important, Drift tells himself as he gestures Sidestep inside and tells him to take a seat. The crew doesn’t flinch at him anymore. They actually obey his instructions because he asked and not because they’re too scared not to. This is as important to them as it’s important to him.

Frag Rodimus if he doesn’t understand that.

Except, well, Rodimus has a bit of a point. Yes, Drift has missed a few dates. Not as many as Rodimus claims, but Drift does realize that his relationship with Rodimus has been set on the backburner. There’s only so much time in a day. Drift can only stretch himself so far.

Rodimus has no right to intrude on his time like that!

Drift seethes throughout his entire appointment with Sidestep, and it takes all he has to show Sidestep a friendly, calm face. He ends the meeting early because he can’t concentrate and promptly sends to a message to the next client on his list to reschedule for another time. He’s no good to anyone like this, especially not himself.

He sits behind his desk and rubs his forehead, feeling an ache building behind his optics. Fighting with Rodimus is nothing new. He can be quite temperamental sometimes. Bossy and pushy, too. But this is different.

Maybe because he feels a little bit guilty.

Drift sighs and leans back in the chair.

His comm chirps. He expects it to be Rodimus, but the ident tag reads Ratchet. Which probably means it’s about Rodimus. Because of course.

Drift pinches the bridge of his nose. “What did he do now?” he asks in lieu of a greeting. No need to make small talk. They’re both too busy for that.

“Asked me for something he’s not going to get,” Ratchet replies, sounding tired and craggy, like he’s not getting enough recharge again. “Though I’m thinking you’re not completely innocent here, Dr. Drift.”

Drift twitches. He’s not called himself a medic by any means. He hasn’t earned that title, but some of his clients have been using it as a joke. “Ratchet…”

“So you haven’t missed any dates with Rodimus?”

Ah. Well, he should have known Rodimus would tattle. But come on. He’d apologized for that! What more does Rodimus want?

Ratchet sighs into the comm. “That’s what I thought,” he grumbles, and Drift can practically see the scowl on his face. “Look, kid–”

“I’m older than you,” Drift reminds him.

“Shut up and listen,” Ratchet retorts, which is his way of saying ‘don’t remind me!’. “If you don’t want to be with Rodimus, you need to tell him.”

Drift flinches. His spark squeezes into a tight ball at the mere thought of it. Rodimus gone? That’s not what he wants at all.

“That’s not it,” Drift protests, and tries to tack on an answer, too. But he can’t figure out the proper words. It’s hard to explain.

Ratchet snorts. “Well, from where I’m standing, I can’t tell. Neither can he. So either make some time for him or cut him loose.”

Drift scrubs harder at his forehead. “Ratchet, I’m busy. You know that. You should understand it. I can’t just–”

“Yes, you can, and you know it,” Ratchet cuts him off, his tone heavy with reproach. Drift flinches like he’s been chastised. “Find time for Rodimus or end it, because right now, it’s not working. You need to remember what’s actually important.”

Drift sighs and sags in his chair, half-wishing he could dissolve straight through to the floor and down to the other side. “I don’t want to end it,” he mutters.

“Then find a way to prove otherwise.”

Ratchet ends the call with as much audible irritation as one can manage over a comm. Drift’s processor rings as he shuts off the line. He scrubs a hand down his face, considering Ratchet’s words.

He knows the medic is right. As much as he hadn’t wanted to admit it himself. He can’t keep dropping Rodimus to the bottom of his priority list. Or he’ll lose the one thing he can’t be happy without.

Drift scrubs his face with his hands. He has to do something.

He taps into his online schedule and blocks off the appointments for the rest of the day, and for tomorrow as well. This, right now, is far more important.


Hound had been delighted to return to his off-shift. So Rodimus works and tries not to think about everything else. He turns his attention to the ridiculously long list of tasks Ultra Magnus has for him, and attends to quite a few of them: inspections, paperwork, performance evaluations, stock capacity, everything the captain of a vessel should be responsible for.

His shift ends, Ultra Magnus takes over and smiles big and broad when Rodimus hands him a list of all the things he actually did today. If Ultra Magnus could swoon, he’s certainly doing it now, his entire energy field alight from happiness.

He’s so weird sometimes.

Uninterested in returning to his quarters just yet, Rodimus detours to his office and starts to tackle the stack of datapads on his desk. Maybe he’ll earn himself another Ultra Magnus Smile of Appreciation™ for his efforts.

That makes it worth it a little. At least he can do this right.

It’s late when he finally decides to go back to his habsuite. He’s tired, but at least his anger has burnt out into a dull ache of disappointment. There’s no point in getting angry, he realizes. It’s not going to get him anywhere.

Drift is probably right anyway. Rodimus has no business demanding Drift’s time like that. If Drift doesn’t want to make time for him, well, maybe that’s a sign. Maybe Rodimus is the only one invested in this. Maybe this is Drift’s way of letting Rodimus know that it’s over.

A sharp pang rips through Rodimus’ spark. His spoiler droops. He hopes he’s wrong, but given the way Drift has been lately, he dreads that he’s right.

Rodimus sighs and keys himself into his habsuite, lacking a distinct pep in his step. He slips inside, the door sliding shut behind him, and a smoky, tangy scent floats to his olfactory sensors. Rodimus blinks and looks up.

His habsuite is dimly lit, the lights at maybe twenty percent. But there are candles everywhere, their pretend flames flickering in the still air. There’s a light, smoky haze – like that caused by incense, and music is playing from his sound system. Soft music, something without words, and not something Rodimus would have in his own collection.

What in Primus’ name…?

Rodimus eases further into the room and spies a tray of goodies sitting on the desk of his workstation. There are all his favorites, and piles of them, too. His mouth lubricates.

“Welcome home.”

Rodimus startles and slowly turns to see Drift sliding off the bed, a small smile on his lips, empty sheaths clanking at his side. He has his hands clasped behind his back, his head dipped a little.

“This is the part where I say I’m sorry,” Drift continues as Rodimus stares at him, unsure if he’s believing his optics, or if he’s fallen asleep at his desk again, dreaming about the things he misses. “You don’t belong at the bottom of my priority list. You should be at the top. I let myself forget that.”

Rodimus works his intake. He turns in a slow circle, taking in the beautiful set-up all over again. It’s like a date. A really romantic date.

“This is… for me?” he asks, his spark doing that pulse again, and this time, it’s more like hope.

Drift chuckles. “Yeah. It’s for you.” His optics soften as he looks at Rodimus, and there it is, what Rodimus has been missing. “I missed so many dates. So I figured I should start making up for it now.”

Rodimus stares at him for a long moment, emotion bursting in his spark, before his feet carrying him to Drift without conscious decision. He throws his arms over Drift’s shoulders, slamming their mouths together, a soft sigh escaping him as Drift’s arms return the embrace, holding him close.

Their nasal ridges bump, but it takes only a few seconds to find the familiar rhythm, and their mouths slot together. Drift tastes sweet, like he sampled the treats he brought, and his frame is so warm against Rodimus’. His field flirts against Rodimus’ own like a secondary embrace.

Damn, but Rodimus missed this.

“This is good,” Rodimus says as he breaks away from the kiss, pressing his forehead to Drift’s. “It’s a good start, I mean. You owe me a lot more.”

“I know.” Drift’s arms tighten around him, their chestplates pressed so close Rodimus can feel the twirl and dance of Drift’s spark. “And I’m sorry.”

Rodimus rests his head on Drift’s shoulder, soaking in their proximity. “Yeah, I’m sorry, too. I shouldn’t have said that.” Even if it is true.

“Well, you weren’t wrong.” Drift pulls back, one arm sliding free so that his hand cups Rodimus’ face. “So I thought I might spoil you. As an apology.”

“Really?” Rodimus’ spoiler flicks up. “What kind of spoiling?”

“The best kind.” Drift brushes their noses together before he draws back and tangles their hands together, towing Rodimus toward the couch. “We can watch a movie together. And you get to pick.”

Rodimus laughs as he bounces on the sofa after a gentle push from Drift. Armfuls of pillows have been gathered here, and Rodimus sinks into them with a happy wiggle. Drift joins him after grabbing the tray of treats and the remote for the entertainment console.

“How about a romantic comedy?” Rodimus asks as he snuggles into Drift’s side.

“I knew it.” Drift curls an arm over Rodimus’ shoulder, tucking him close.

Okay, so he’s predictable. So what. He’s supposed to be getting spoiled, right? And this right here is pretty close to perfect. He’s got Drift all to himself, and the room is all dim and cozy, and Drift picks one of his favorite movies without even asking.

Drift sets the remote aside and balances the tray between them, propped up on one of the pillows. He selects one of the glazed cakes from the stack and holds it up against Rodimus’ lips.

“Try this one first,” he says, and Rodimus opens his mouth, lets Drift feed him the sweet treat. His lips linger on Drift’s fingers, glossa swiping away the crumbs and sticky residue of glaze.

The treat is delicious, but better is that Drift continues to feed him, all during the movie. One hand guides treat after treat to Rodimus’ lips, while the other strokes his shoulder and his arm and the edges of his spoiler, anything within reach really. Rodimus’ engine purrs with satisfaction.

The rest of his anger vanishes under a tide of gentle touches and delicious candies. Drift’s field is so firmly wrapped around his, he can’t remember he ever felt abandoned.

He laughs when Drift misses his mouth, getting some of the magnesium powder on his nose.

“Oops.” Drift doesn’t sound very apologetic, not as he leans in and licks the dab of powder away. “My mistake.”

Rodimus chuckles and surges up, stealing Drift’s lips, tasting the sweets on his glossa. He forgets about the movie as he deepens the kiss, his engine purring and heat seeping into his lines. It’s not so much arousal as it is… comfort. Affection. He wants to lie here and enjoy this, closeness and kissing.

It’s different. It’s kind of nice. It doesn’t always have to be about interfacing. That’s just a charming bonus.

“Don’t ignore me again, okay?” Rodimus asks as he nuzzles Drift, his spark warm and full to bursting. He snuggles in against Drift, barely noticing that the movie’s end credits have started to play.

Drift sinks into the couch, dragging Rodimus with him. His hands stroke long patterns down Rodimus’ back and over his shoulder, and Rodimus’ frame relaxes into the gentle touches. It feels so good.

“I won’t,” Drift replies, tilting his head back against Rodimus’ with a soft sigh. “But Roddy, I’m not going to close down either. I like what I’m doing and–”

“I don’t want you to.” Rodimus offlines his optics and rests his head on Drift’s chestplate, listening to the pulse of his spark. It’s easier to be honest when he doesn’t have to look into Drift’s optics. “It’s okay. Really. I understand why you’re doing it. I just want you to make time for me, too.”

“I can do that,” Drift murmurs, his fingers tracking a slow, careful path down Rodimus’ spinal strut, like he’s trying to memorize every ridge and seam.

Rodimus hums his approval. He wriggles, notching himself even more firmly on top of Drift. He counts the beats of Drift’s spark, and listens as the movie’s end credits fade into nothing. He might fall into recharge just like this, his tank full, his frame relaxed, his field embraced.

It’s perfect.

[G1] Feels Like Tonight

Peace and quiet are forever in short supply around the Ark. There’s always something going on, and there’s barely any space as it is, so trying to find an opportunity to be alone is as difficult as keeping his paint immaculate.

Luck, however, is on Sunstreaker’s side. Because Sideswipe is off doing something he’s being particularly secretive about, and Sunstreaker has their shared quarters all to himself. There’s no one in the rooms to either side of theirs, and most of the other Autobots are out doing chores or performing their duties or indulging in their hobbies.

It’s nice and quiet and perfect, and Sunstreaker vents a little sigh as he sinks into the plush couch he and Sideswipe built out of scrap. He mindlessly doodles on one of his sketch pads, nothing in particular, just vague lines and colors to keep his fingers occupied while his processor wanders. He’s got the stereo crooning a soft, wordless tune, and the day honestly couldn’t get any more perfect.

Which is why, of course, the door slides open with a rickety creak, and Sideswipe comes strolling inside, having the audacity to whistle. He’s grinning, a bounce in his step, and while a happy Sideswipe is a handsome Sideswipe, Sunstreaker is disappointed his solitude has come to an end.

There’s something in Sideswipe’s field, in his side of the bond carefully shielded from Sunstreaker, that speaks of mischief. Well, Sunstreaker wants no part of mischief today, thank you very much. He prepares a refusal and has it ready on the tip of his glossa.

Sideswipe hums a happy trio of notes when he spots Sunstreaker and grabs one of the chairs they usually have in front of the game station. He drags it closer, two of the legs scraping over the floor, and plants it in front of Sunstreaker. Backward, of course, because this is Sideswipe.

Sunstreaker’s hackles raise.

“Hey, Sunny?” Sideswipe prompts as he drops down into the chair and rests his arms across the back of it, plopping his chin down on his wrists.

Sunstreaker’s in enough of a good mood that he allows the nickname. Just this once. Though the mischief in Sideswipe’s actions threatens to sour his happiness and curdle it into irritation.


“You know I love you, right?” Sideswipe says conversationally, and there’s just enough of something in his tone to disprove his innocence.

Sunstreaker scowls. Sometimes, Sideswipe says those kinds of things because he thinks Sunstreaker needs to hear it, and sometimes, Sunstreaker does. It warms his spark and makes him tingly, and then all he wants to do is snuggle Sideswipe for a few hours.

But also, sometimes Sideswipe says it because he’s Up To Something ™ and he’s trying to connive Sunstreaker into playing along. Sunstreaker usually ends up agreeing because he can never resist Sideswipe when he’s being cute and charming and lovable.

“I don’t have time for a prank, Sideswipe,” Sunstreaker says.

“I’m being serious here,” Sideswipe insists, attempting to sound earnest.

It still sounds fake.

Sunstreaker snorts. “Right.” He turns his attention back to his random doodles. You know, there might be something to the geometric lines and empty space. Perhaps if he filled it in with color, it might be worthwhile.

Fingers close around the top of his sketchpad, tilting it down and forcing Sunstreaker’s gaze away from it. “Hey,” he repeats. “I love you.” This time, he manages to sound serious.

Sunstreaker looks at his twin, and Sideswipe looks serious, too. The smile on his lips is soft and genuine. The mischief in his field is gone. So this isn’t about a prank.

“And there’s nothing you could want from me that’ll change that,” Sideswipe adds, so earnest it bleeds from his seams.

Sunstreaker’s optics narrow even as his spark starts a weird off-beat rhythm in his chassis. There’s something going on here, and he’s not sure what it is. He’s also not sure he wants to know.

“Where are you going with this?”

Sideswipe’s fingers slide free of the datapad. He grips the back of the chair and starts to rock back and forth in it. “Me and Ratchet both,” he says cryptically. Sometimes he can take forever to get to a point. Especially if he thinks Sunstreaker is going to react poorly to it. “You can ask us anything.”

“Okay…” Sunstreaker peers at his twin, but can’t figure out what he’s trying to say. Still, he supposes it’s nice to know. Maybe Sideswipe is just in one of those moods where he thinks Sunstreaker needs a reminder about how he feels. Sides just knows these things sometimes. Even before Sunstreaker does.

“Right.” Sideswipe nods like he’s solved some kind of puzzle before one hand scrubs the back of his head. “So, uh, is there anything you want to ask? Me? Us? Together?”

Sunstreaker vents a sigh. Whatever this is, Sideswipe isn’t going to let this go anytime soon, which means the quicker Sunstreaker makes him talk, the quicker he can get back to sketching.

He taps the end of his stylus against the datapad. “Stop fishing and say what you mean, Sideswipe,” he says. “Because I have no idea what you’re talking about.” He’d been enjoying his rare peace and quiet.

Sideswipe drags in a big vent and then blurts out, “Kink!” before he rocks on his chair and his little smile turns into a broader grin. “Specifically a messy one you’re interested in. Not that I peeked or anything, but the last couple of times we merged, I got a whiff, and it keeps getting stronger.”

Heat floods Sunstreaker’s face. If Sideswipe caught on through one of their merges, it must have been one of Sunstreaker’s stronger and more frequent fantasies. The ones he buries deep specifically so his brother and their lover don’t find out. Sunstreaker doesn’t even know if he’s ready to admit them to himself, much less his partners.

He’s afraid of what they’ll say when they find out. He fears what it means about him to admit these… these odd kinks. Oh sure, Ratchet and Sideswipe claim he can ask for anything, but they can’t mean it. Once they find out all the dirty, twisted things occupying Sunstreaker’s fantasies, they’ll change their minds fast. They’ll change how they feel about him, too. They’ll see him for the depraved creature he is.

Sunstreaker frantically searches for a way out of this. He tries to think of a denial – which never works when one of your lovers is the other half of your spark. He tries to think of a misdirection, but he’s spent too much time thinking to brush it off. He’s caught, he knows he is, and the energon in his tank starts to curdle.

Sideswipe rubs the back of his head again. “I told Ratch, by the way, and we’ve been waiting for you to bring it up yourself but…” Sideswipe shrugs, his grin sheepish. “You haven’t.”

“Your point?” Sunstreaker asks, his mouth dry and his intake overtaken by a huge lump.

“We’re willing.” The chair rocks closer, and the touch of Sideswipe’s field to his is both cautious and gentle. “If it’s something you actually want, I mean.”

Which fantasy, Sunstreaker wonders. Which illicit desire had Sideswipe seen? Surely, not the darkest of them, the dirtiest. No way would Sideswipe be that eager.

Sideswipe’s voice drops into a lower register then, one that always makes something tighten inside Sunstreaker and bloom with heat. “We thought, you know, we’d tie you down, maybe get out that vibe you like.” He pauses, glossa sweeping over his lips. “Then we’d go until you were so wet, so covered in us, that you can’t even remember your name.”

Sunstreaker’s ventilations turn shallow. His optics spiral wider as the heat in his face turns into an inferno. He thinks he knows which fantasy Sideswipe saw, and it’s definitely one of the tamer ones, which is a relief. He licks his lips with a dry glossa, however, because now the possibilities are spinning inside of him.

“Does that sound like something you want?” Sideswipe asks, so close now Sunstreaker can feel the wisp of his ex-vents, like hot puffs against his armor.

“Yes,” Sunstreaker manages, through static and a tight intake, fantasies spiraling free inside of him, the idea of so much pleasure racing through his system.

“Awesome!” Sideswipe bounces up from the chair, as full of energy as ever, and brushes his lips over Sunstreaker’s forehead. “Then don’t worry about a thing, bro. Me and Ratch’ll take care of everything.”

Sideswipe’s field is a tickling caress pouring over Sunstreaker’s sensitive derma. “Ratchet and I,” he corrects, but it sounds distant to him, compared to the pounding in his audials.

Ratchet and Sideswipe both. Taking him. Filling him with transfluid. Using him. Over and over and over…

Sideswipe snorts and taps Sunstreaker’s nasal ridge. “You’re adorable,” he says, and with a wiggle of his fingers, strides toward the door. “See you tonight!”

With that, Sideswipe flounces out of the room, leaving Sunstreaker to stew in his arousal and anticipation. No doubt he’s gone to inform Ratchet of their plans for the evening, and all Sunstreaker can do is stare blankly at his doodles. His engine purrs at the mere thought of what his twin has in store for him.

He’s beyond thrilled that they are willing to indulge in one of his fantasies. And it’s a relief Sideswipe hadn’t stumbled into one of the weirder ones. Clearly, he needs to batten the hatches and firm up his firewalls if he’s going to keep those fantasies from his brother. At least until Sunstreaker is willing to admit them anyway.

Tonight is going to be great, Sunstraeker tells himself, and puts down the datapad. He has to be presentable. Which means it’s time for a deep wash, repaint, and wax. His lovers deserve the best from him.


In between wax layer three and the final layer, Sunstreaker’s comm pings him with an incoming message. He accepts the mail as he works on his right shinguard, smoothing the wax over and over into his armor until it is a lustrous, touchable gold.

There’s not much to it. The message is from Sideswipe and all it gives it a place – Ratchet’s quarters – and a time. Sunstreaker has an hour to finish his waxing and grab a cube to refuel before he’s supposed to show up.

He’s simultaneously giddy and nervous when the time arrives, and he stands outside the door, shifting from foot to foot. He doesn’t even have to knock because Sideswipe opens the door before he can lift his hand. Spark bonds are a convenient thing.

Sideswipe grins and snatches Sunstreaker, yanking him into the room and into a fierce kiss that tastes of solar-grade and sweet jellies. Sunstreaker stumbles against his twin, hands flailing at nothing, even as he relents, mouth opening to the hungry press of Sideswipe’s glossa. Sunstreaker moans, melting against his twin, optics half-shuttering, only barely registering the noise of the door sliding shut behind him.

Sideswipe’s hands caress his sides before he pulls out of the kiss with a light nip. “Hey, bro,” he says, brushing the tip of his nasal ridge against Sunstreaker’s. “Fancy meeting you here.”

Sunstreaker barks a laugh. Primus, his brother is an idiot. He loves the goof so much.

Movement in his periphery makes Sunstreaker tense, until his threat protocols recognize the blur of white and red paint.

“Welcome to the party,” Ratchet says.

Sunstreaker has a moment before he’s spun out of Sideswipe’s embrace and into Ratchet’s, the medic sealing his lips over Sunstreaker’s in a scorching kiss, taking and claiming all at once.

Sunstreaker outright whimpers, clutching at Ratchet’s shoulders, arousal pooling into a hot throb in his belly. Ratchet’s field is like a dozen tiny fingers stroking over his armor, and Sunstreaker’s spike throbs.

Glossa and denta taste him all at once before Ratchet sets him free. Sunstreaker staggers, like he can’t get his tires beneath him, and then Sideswipe is there, hands on Sunstreaker’s cheeks, tugging him into another delicious kiss. His lips are warm and tender, and more heat seeps into Sunstreaker’s frame.

He sags, knees wobbling, until Ratchet is there behind him, nuzzling the back of his head, hands stroking over his armor. His fingers are light on Sunstreaker’s seams, his palms a soft sweep against gold plating.

Sunstreaker moans, dizzy. He hadn’t expected this. He thought they’d get right to the kink and the fragging. But this feels like they’ve been waiting for him all day and are happy to see him. Like their day isn’t complete until he’s been in their arms.

It’s wonderful.

“You look gorgeous, Sunstreaker,” Ratchet murmurs against the back of his audial, his rough voice resonating through Sunstreaker’s processor.

Sunstreaker hums into the kiss. Sideswipe draws back, leaving little parting licks over Sunstreaker’s lips, grinning with pride at himself.

“You definitely do,” he says, and brushes the tips of their noses together. “Love it when you pretty yourself up for us.”

“I always look good,” Sunstreaker retorts, but it’s hard to hold on to his indignant tone when Sideswipe is looking at him like that. His face heats, and he looks away. “So, uh, now what?”

Ratchet draws away from behind him, leaving Sunstreaker’s back chilly, but only so he can step into view. He twirls something around his fingers, which Sunstreaker can’t identify until they settle with a clank of metal on metal.

“Now we use these, if you want,” he says with a smile wicked enough to rival Sideswipe’s.

His twin can get quite creative, but Ratchet is downright sneaky, and damn good at turning Sideswipe’s little prompts into something debauched and delicious.

Sunstreaker eyes the cuffs with nothing short of lust. If anyone else had suggested it, he’d be out the door in a flash. But he trusts Ratchet, and he definitely trusts Sideswipe, and the idea of putting his trust in their hands, letting them have their wicked way with him, it makes his engine rev.

He manages a nod, his optics glazing over as he imagines what all they’re going to do to him. He has so many fantasies, so many things he wants to experience. He feels like someone’s laid out a buffet of sweets in front of him and told him to have as much as he wants.

“I thought you might,” Ratchet murmurs and takes Sunstreaker’s hand, giving him a light pull toward the berth. “Want to be on your back or your front?”

Ratchet always asks. Every time. Like he knows he needs to. Sideswipe knows, of course, because he can sense the anxiety in Sunstreaker’s spark. But Ratchet has figured it out, and that he’s paid that much attention makes something inside Sunstreaker go warm and liquid.

“Back,” Sunstreaker answers. He wants to be able to see them, to watch their faces.

“Great choice, bro.” Sideswipe appears with another set of cuffs and a few loops of chain. “Now we can see everything, too.”

Heat makes Sunstreaker feel like his face is glowing, but he lets them arrange him on the berth, arousal growing heavier and heavier inside of him. His spike demands to be freed, even as his valve lubricates, fluid pooling against his panel. He waits for the plan and denies both requests.

They guide him onto his back and cuff his wrists, pinning his arms above his head. He’s got enough slack that he could get some inertia and break free if he wants, not that he does. The consideration, however, is welcome.

Sideswipe climbs on the berth, kisses him long and deep, making little noises of delight in his intake. He strokes over Sunstreaker’s belly, teasing into ticklish seams, and Sunstreaker squirms. Idiot. Sideswipe’s always like this.

Ratchet tugs Sunstreaker’s aft to the edge of the berth, his knees dangling freely, until cuffs clamp about his ankles. Sideswipe takes the chance to nuzzle into Sunstreaker’s intake, lips and denta leaving sharp nips that make Sunstreaker squirm. He hears a noise, a low and quiet drone, and realize that it’s him, moaning.

He feels dizzy, their fields pressing against his, filling in the nooks and crannies. It’s more than he could have hoped for.

Chains rattle as they are drawn taut. His legs are pulled open, thighs parted to leave ample room for Sideswipe or Ratchet to fit between them, but there’s enough slack he’s not immobile. He’s spread open for their enjoyment, and his valve throbs at the thought.

Sunstreaker works his intake, his vents spinning faster. Especially as Sideswipe sits him up and wedges a pillow behind his upper back, tilting him so that he can see everything they’re going to do to him.

Ratchet presses a kiss to the inside of his thigh, and Sunstreaker moans. His legs tremble as the hot wash of Ratchet’s ex-vent teases his cables. Fingers flirt over his valve panel, and it takes all Sunstreaker has not to pop open then and there. Anticipation coils inside of him like a blaster prepped to fire.

“There’s one more accessory.” Ratchet straightens, one hand stroking Sunstreaker’s thigh as the other digs around in his subspace. He pulls out a small, circular object and taps Sunstreaker’s spike panel. “This is to make sure that the only way you can overload is through your valve. That okay?”

Sunstreaker’s moan is outright guttural. His hips jutter upward as best they can, though he can’t get any leverage. Oh, yes, please.

“Words, Sunny,” Ratchet reminds him.

Sunstreaker sucks in a heavy vent, tries to focus through the need sluicing charge in his lines. “Yes,” he grinds out and turns his head toward Sideswipe, seeking out a kiss. “Please.”

“Then open up.” Ratchet’s fingers slide over his panel, and Sunstreaker quickly obeys, his spike surging free with embarrassing eagerness.

Or at least he would’ve been embarrassed, if Ratchet hadn’t made an approving noise before fondling Sunstreaker’s spike with obvious appreciation. He rubs a finger over the sensitive crown, teasing the transfluid slit, and Sunstreaker makes a noise in his intake, hips rocking upward.

“You’re so sexy,” Sideswipe murmurs as he nuzzles into Sunstreaker’s intake, breathing hot and humid over his cables. “Love how you just surrender for us.”

Sunstreaker licks his lips. He opens his mouth but all that emerges is a crackle of static as Ratchet carefully and gently eases the cap over Sunstreaker’s spike. A dab of medical glue holds it in place. There must be some kind of circuitry in the cap because Sunstreaker’s spike starts to depressurize, and Ratchet guides it back into his sheath.

“Close up,” Ratchet says.

Sunstreaker obeys with a moan. His spike feels full and heavy behind his panel. Like it’s pressurized to fill every available inch within him, and nothing more. There’s a quiet click as the cap magnetizes to his panel. It won’t be opening anytime soon, not without Ratchet’s help.

Something closer to a whine spills out of Sunstreaker’s intake. His valve throbs harder, panel snapping aside, suddenly desperate for contact. He wants Ratchet inside of him. Or Sideswipe. Or both. He wants something touching his eager nodes, feeding the need gnawing at his spark.

“This isn’t a scene.” Ratchet’s voice tugs Sunstreaker’s awareness back outward, even as his fingers gently stroke around Sunstreaker’s valve rim, teasing the outer sensory clusters. “But if you need us to stop or it gets to be too much, just say so.”

“Like a safeword?” Sunstreaker asks. It’s getting hard to focus with the need pulsing through his synapses.

Ratchet’s fingers keep stroking around his valve, teasing the flexible rim, dancing over his cluster of sensory nodes, making Sunstreaker tingle. “Stop should be enough, but if it makes you feel better to have a safe word, how about daffodil?”

“Because you’re a pretty flower,” Sideswipe purrs with a laugh. His hand smooths over Sunstreaker’s belly, and the stroke of it sends tingles up Sunstreaker’s backstrut. “I like it.”

“Daffodil,” Sunstreaker echoes. His glossa sweeps over his lips as he takes in the sheer want on Ratchet’s face. “If I want you to stop.”

“Yes.” Ratchet’s thumb circles his anterior node slowly, and Sunstreaker’s hips rock into the touch, his entire array throbbing as charge crackles through his lines. “We’re going to frag you, Sunstreaker. Over and over again. We’re going to fill you with our transfluid while you overload so many times, you don’t know where one ends and the other begins. Is that alright?”

Sunstreaker’s head tips back, his mouth open on a gasp. All he can focus on is that steady circling and the pressure building behind it. The sharp bursts of pleasure volleying in his node, and the building need to overload. Sideswipe’s mouth is like fire on his intake, and their fields are a double-embrace he doesn’t want to escape.

“Sunny,” Sideswipe murmurs as he strokes over Sunstreaker’s closed spike panel. “You have to use your words.”

Sunstreaker whines, his hips rocking up into his partner’s touch. “Y-yes,” he gasps out, processor spinning, lubricant steadily seeping from his valve.

“Good,” Ratchet purrs. His hand vanishes from Sunstreaker’s valve, and Sunstreaker whimpers in protest, until he feels the pressure of a spike against his rim.

He gasps an encouragement, hands curling into fists, frame straining toward the grip on his hips, one damp and one not. His thoughts are spinning, spinning, his valve rippling frantically. Ratchet slides into him, hot and firm, so slow, and Sunstreaker keens, backstrut arching, as overload spills over him in a hot, crackling fire.

His noises are swallowed by Sideswipe’s mouth, his brother rubbing against his side, hands everywhere. His valve clutches at Ratchet’s spike, charge rushing out, and he distantly hears Ratchet suck in a vent of delight. The hands on his hips tighten, and Sunstreaker’s spark flares, pleasure making sparks dance in his vision.

Ratchet bottoms out and grinds, the pressure of his array against Sunstreaker’s rim forcing out a moan. Sunstreaker bucks up against Ratchet, and the chains rattle, pleasure simmering inside of him, with no chance to cool from the overload.

“Primus, you’re gorgeous,” Sideswipe murmurs as he rains kisses all over Sunstreaker, his hands stroking and touching, caressing every inch within reach. “Look at you, overloading for us, making all these yummy noises.”

Sunstreaker moans and turns his head, trying to capture Sideswipe’s lip, and Sideswipe obliges, kissing him soft and deep. Ratchet starts to move, his spike gliding in and out of Sunstreaker’s valve, reigniting nodes now sensitive from the first overload. His hands tighten around Sunstreaker’s hips, pushing and pulling him onto Ratchet’s spike, each grind so deep against his ceiling node.

Ratchet’s already thick and hot. Charge crackles around his spike, nipping at Sunstreaker’s internal nodes. He can feel the burning wash of Ratchet’s ex-vents, and the need yawing in Ratchet’s field.

Sunstreaker tries to pull his legs in closer, clamp them around Ratchet’s waist, but the chains bring him up short. He groans at the slight resistance of the chains. He’s not helpless, but he is trapped, and at the mercy of his lovers. The idea is intoxicating because they’re safe.

The crackling wash of Ratchet’s overload is almost a surprise, given Ratchet’s usual stamina. Or maybe it is intentional because of their plans for the evening. Sunstreaker shivers as Ratchet’s transfluid paints his valve, and Sideswipe nips his lips.

“Oh, Ratchet’s done,” he says against Sunstreaker’s lips. “My turn now.”

“Until it’s mine again,” Ratchet says with a little laugh. He withdraws slowly, still firm, his spike dragging long and slow over Sunstreaker’s nodes. “There’s one more accessory we need, too.”

“Yeah, I know.” Sideswipe squirms away from Sunstreaker, leaving him feeling a bit cold and abandoned on the berth, at least until Sideswipe notches between his thighs and moves into Sunstreaker with no fanfare.

“Gonna make you overload quick for me.” Sideswipe leans forward, hands braced to either side of Sunstreaker, hips thrusting in the pace he knows Sunstreaker likes best. His optics are bright and hungry, his glossa sweeping over and over his lips. “Wanna watch you whimper and writhe for me.”


Sunstreaker sucks in a heavy vent, his valve quivering. Sideswipe sinks into him fast and deep, with little circular grinds that put a delicious pressure on his outer node. More intoxicating is the wrap of his field, pulsing in tune to his thrusts.

Sunstreaker tries to rise up to meet him, but the cuffs limit his movement. All he can do is squirm, fluids making obscene noises between them, lubricant and transfluid both. Molten heat gathers in his valve, pushing him toward another overload, and a keen rises out of Sunstreaker’s intake.

He pants for ventilation, processor spinning. Sideswipe pushes into him, harder and faster, and then there’s a finger on Sunstreaker’s anterior node. It circles with a firm pressure, dragging all the fire straight to that sensitive sensor cluster. Sunstreaker’s weak to stimulation right there. Always has been.

He tosses his head back, grits his denta. Tries to hold on to his reserve, tries not to overload like some eager youngling recently discovering his array, but it’s impossible. Sideswipe’s field is like fire against his, and Sideswipe’s spike keeps jabbing all those nodes perfectly, and those circles are getting smaller and smaller around his node, until it’s just a hot-white flash of pleasure. A burst of it.

Sunstreaker drowns in his overload, making a noise that can only be described as binary as he shudders through a second overload, his valve spiraling down tight and milking Sideswipe’s spike for all it can give him. His thoughts drift in a haze of ecstasy, and it takes longer to find his frame again, as he sinks back into it, and the sensation of Sideswipe pushing into him faster and faster.

That droning noise is Sideswipe’s voice. His face is creased with delight, his optics hot and bright, lips moving.

“Fuck, you’re too sexy like this,” he’s blabbering, Sideswipe starts resorting to human swears when he gets too aroused. “So gorgeous and sweet. Love the way you feel around me. Love it when you overload like that. Love all of it. Love you.” He groans, thrusting faster and deeper, fingers tangling in the berth covers for leverage.

Sunstreaker’s head spins. All the compliments strike along his processor like little flicks to his anterior node. He clenches, engine revving, valve pulsing with renewed vigor. He’s not even the least bit exhausted, and the feeling of Sideswipe overloading, filling him with more transfluid is intoxicating. The sound Sideswipe makes is guttural and hungry, and he suddenly pulls out, a couple spurts of transfluid striping Sunstreaker’s array and landing hot-wet on his node.

Sunstreaker moans, his thighs trembling. “More,” he pleads, his vision hazy, processor spinning in the best kinds of ways.

“More’s coming,” Ratchet says, appearing between Sunstreaker’s thighs as Sideswipe shuffles away, his spike bobbing pressurized between his thighs, wet with transfluid and lubricant.

Sunstreaker wants to lick him so much right now. His mouth lubricates with the thought of it, Sideswipe sliding into him, so hot and thick, panting heavily, careful as he takes Sunstreaker’s mouth. The taste of his brother on his glossa, the sound of Sideswipe’s pleasure…

Sunstreaker moans, one that changes pitch into a whine as he feels the wet swipe of a glossa over his valve, and the careful touch of fingers on his rim, stroking the sensitive plating around it. He cycles his optics, tries to focus, sees Ratchet’s head between his thighs, and feels the gentle kiss against his anterior node.

Oh, Primus.

Sunstreaker’s head drops back. His spinal strut arches, hips squirming where Ratchet cradles them, as his mouth drops a dozen little kisses over Sunstreaker’s swollen valve. His rim ripples, his interior calipers clutching on nothing, squeezing out trickles of mixed fluids.

The berth dips as Sideswipe hops up onto it, snuggling against Sunstreaker’s side, peppering his intake with kisses.

“You have some of the best ideas, bro,” he says, ex-venting hot and wet, his field eager and charged against Sunstreaker’s. “We’re gonna fill you up so much, you’ll be cleaning us out for weeks.”

Sunstreaker groans.

Sideswipe’s hand slides down his frame, over his chassis and belly, across his groin, and then his fingers are on Sunstreaker’s sensor cluster, giving it a pinch. Sunstreaker growls and arches his hips, a spike sliding into him not soon after, Ratchet’s spike at that, bigger than Sideswipe’s, thicker.

Sunstreaker keens as the spike touches his nodes. Ratchet grabs his hips, tilts them a little, so the ridged crown of his spike can taste those nodes only grazed earlier. It sends a shock of fire through Sunstreaker’s valve.

“I brought you a gift, Sunstreaker,” Ratchet says, his voice and field like little drops of ecstasy to Sunstreaker’s processor. “Your brother’s got it now.”

“Gift?” Sunstreaker repeats, processor spinning too much to make sense of it.

Sideswipe’s hand vanishes from his node, and before Sunstreaker can protest, it returns. And it’s not alone. He’s got something attached to his finger, something that starts buzzing and vibrating on the sensitive plating surrounding Sunstreaker’s anterior cluster.

Oh. Oh, Primus.

Sunstreaker tilts his head back, optics squeezing shut, hips bucking, as overload tackles him like a Combaticon on the battlefield, a full frontal assault that leaves him dazed and shaking on the ground. His entire frame arches, charge lighting up his armor, dancing out from his protoform.

Sideswipe eases off with the vibrator, enough for Sunstreaker to catch a vent. He goes limp on the berth, completely surrendering to their touch, to Sideswipe kissing him – wet and hot and openmouthed – and Ratchet thrusting into him, steadier and faster and deeper, his hands smoothing up and over and around Sunstreaker’s legs.

“You love this, don’t you?” Sideswipe asks, his voice dark and sultry, like secret fantasies and the caverns under Cybertron and the taste of the finest high grade.

“He’s suited for it,” Ratchet says with lust in his tone, like a powerful engine turning over, a blaster rising to full charge. “Pleasure looks good on him.”

“It does. Almost wish everyone could see it, see how beautiful you are,” Sideswipe says against Sunstreaker’s audial. “We’d string you up in the common room, black ropes all around your frame, tied so you can’t move.”

“At our mercy is a good plan,” Ratchet agrees with a grunt. His thrusts deepen, ping something deep inside Sunstreaker that makes him whimper with pleasure.

His thoughts spin, caught up with their voices, the pleasure promised in their words.

“Everybody can watch as we make you overload again and again,” Sideswipe murmurs, his glossa tracing circles over Sunstreaker’s seams. “They’ll want to touch, but we won’t let them. They’ll beg us, and we’ll say no.”

“Because you’re ours,” Ratchet pants, grinding so deep, his spike throbbing, the thick head tapping over Sunstreaker’s ceiling node again and again. “And no one else can have you.”

Sunstreaker moans. The claim sounds fierce, genuine, and it rattles around inside his spark. Sideswipe loves him; Sideswipe is his twin. He doesn’t have a choice. But to want to keep him? To claim him? That’s something entirely free.

“Yes,” Sideswipe hisses, hips rolling, his spike rutting against Sunstreaker’s side. And then the vibrator is back, buzzing happily over Sunstreaker’s anterior node, and he arches again, frame caught by pleasure. “All ours.”

Sunstreaker jolts, overload pouring through him like an electric attack, setting his sensor net ablaze. He chokes out a sound as his fans roar, his valve spiraling down tight around Ratchet’s spike, his hands forming fists. The chains rattle as he thrashes, caught up in the ecstasy, with Sideswipe and Ratchet’s hands to guide him back down.

He’s panting as he collapses onto the berth, condensation slicking his frame. He barely notices that Ratchet has overloaded again, and now the fluids are trickling from his valve, soaking his aft. The room smells of interfacing and lubricant and transfluid. His valve aches for more, rim twitching as Ratchet withdraws, and Sideswipe replaces him.

Sunstreaker moans, head swinging toward Ratchet, the medic against his side now, his lips gentle as they catch Sunstreaker’s for a kiss. He tastes like something sweet and wonderful, and his hands are as clever as Sideswipe’s, gentle as he runs the vibrator over Sunstreaker’s most sensitive places, but on the lowest setting.

“We’re going to keep going,” Ratchet murmurs, a steamy promise against Sunstreaker’s audials. “Until our tanks run dry, and we’re spilling out of you.”

Sunstreaker whimpers, processor going bright with need, his worldview narrowing to this and only this.

It starts to blur together. Overload after overload, Ratchet and Sideswipe alternating, taking turns caressing him and spiking him, until Sunstreaker’s entire frame feels as though it’s one big, sensitive node. Until even the touch of their fingers on his knee or his belly makes him wail with need.

He’s never empty, he’s always full. He’s surrounded by them, claimed by them, taken again and again. The berth is soaked beneath his aft. His frame is on fire, blue charge licking out of his seams to light up the room. He tastes them both on his glossa and in the air, and he wishes he could vocalize how much he wants to lick them, suck them, swallow them.

The words ‘stop’ and ‘daffodil’ never cross his mind. Higher processing goes away, turned to mush. His thighs tremble, and his shoulders ache, and he’s floating on air. He’s loose and sloppy and taken so thoroughly, there’s no question who he belongs to.

Sideswipe. Ratchet. Both. Together.

Together, the key word, because somehow in the haze, they’ve unbound his legs. Someone’s crawled beneath him, behind him, cradling his frame. Sideswipe, he thinks, his arms around Sunstreaker’s chassis, his head tilted against Sunstreaker’s, his words a hot puff of compliments against Sunstreaker’s audial.

He slides up into Sunstreaker, path eased by the copious fluids, and Sunstreaker’s so open, he can only manage a light clench. But it’s okay, because Ratchet’s here, too, between Sunstreaker’s thighs, his hands gentle on Sunstreaker’s knees. Pushing them up and back, opening him up, making room for Ratchet to ease into his valve as well, a tight fit but a good one.

Sunstreaker moans, his head lolling back against Sideswipe’s shoulder, his spark heavy and swollen with affection. They move together, a stretch just shy of pain, but it’s better like this. Better to feel them both at once, Sideswipe behind and Ratchet in front, closing around him, holding him close.

He starts to shake, and it has nothing to do with fear, but everything to do with a rising tide of pleasure. It starts in his feet and works up his frame, rattling through his armor. It starts at his head and flows down, over his intake and shoulders and chassis and belly. It meets in his groin, collides, and tangles into a tighter and tighter knot.

“That’s it,” Sideswipe urges, his hand sliding down, over Sunstreaker’s belly, back to his node, all slippery and swollen, twice the size it should be. “Come on, Sunny. Overload for us, baby. Give us one more. I know you have it in you.”

Sunstreaker whimpers, exhausted and limp, barely able to roll onto their combined spikes, drowning in the ecstasy they offer. Ratchet’s lips press against the curve of his jaw, and Sunstreaker’s mouth opens, inviting him inside, the taste of his glossa so hot and wet and fleeting.

Ratchet nuzzles him, so sweet and encouraging. “You’re so beautiful, Sunstreaker,” he murmurs, and Sunstreaker’s spark flutters.

Sideswipe says it all the time, but he has to, because he’s Sunstreaker’s twin, and his brother, and he loves Sunstreaker. Oh, he believes it, too and Sunstreaker believes him when he says it, but coming from Ratchet, it’s something else entirely. It’s someone saying, I don’t already love you, but I find you beautiful anyway, and it makes Sunstreaker’s spark clench with exhilaration and fear.

“One more overload, Sunny,” Ratchet purrs, and Sunstreaker can’t even be angry for the loathed nickname, not with Ratchet pleading with him. Not with Ratchet’s mouth so hot against his jaw. “One more.”

“One more,” Sideswipe echoes, and they both shove deep, push into him at the same time, filling him to the brim and almost to capacity.

Sunstreaker’s valve convulses. It spirals tight before spilling charge in wave after wave, lighting up his internal nodes and licking over his lover’s spikes. Sunstreaker’s breath catches in his intake as he overloads. It strips away everything, his frame arrested by ecstasy and casting him adrift in a sea of it.

Sunstreaker whites out, his spark dancing. He floats outside his frame, every sensor lit with lightning, every line, every inch of his dermal net until he can’t feel anything but pleasure.

Everything goes wonderfully, deliciously blank, and he forgets there is ever a time he feels worthless, undesired, and unloved. Not when it’s here, so obvious, so very present around him.

By the time he sinks back into his frame and stops floating, the world around him is a different place. Figuratively speaking anyway. Unshuttering his optics takes monumental effort, and his visual feed is filled with gray static at first, until he reboots both it and his auditory feed.

He senses Ratchet and Sideswipe around him immediately. Their hands and lips on his frame, peppering him in gentle kisses and careful swipes of a damp meshcloth. The cuffs and chains are gone, leaving him free to move, not that he thinks he can. Every limb is languid, exhausted, and all he wants to do is lie here and soak it in.

His engine purrs, perfectly content, a sensation he hasn’t felt in a long while. Sunstreaker makes a happy noise and tries to snuggle into the frame nearest to him – a heck of a lot of red, Sideswipe he thinks.

“There you are,” Sideswipe murmurs affectionately, and scrubs his cheek over Sunstreaker’s. “We wondered when you’d come back to us.” There’s a hint of worry in his voice.

“Sorry,” Sunstreaker mumbles through static.

“I told him you were fine,” Ratchet says, exasperated. But his touch is gentle as he wipes down Sunstreaker’s inner thighs in short, efficient strokes. And he sounds relieved, too.

“Felt good,” Sunstreaker manages. He sighs with satisfaction. Ratchet’s so good at this, and the strokes of the cloth are soothing. He could easily fall back into recharge like this.

Until he feels the cloth slide further up, toward his very sticky array, lubricant and transfluid both seeping out of him. Sunstreaker tries to twist his hips away, the motion aborted because of his fatigue, and makes a protesting noise. His face heats with embarrassment.

Ratchet pauses and arches an orbital ridge at him. “You don’t want to be clean?”

“No… not yet,” Sunstreaker admits as he commands his panel to close, trapping their combined spill and his own lubricant inside him. It’ll be a mess to clean later but right now, it’s a reminder.

He curls half onto his side, trying to tuck his face against Sideswipe’s intake so neither of them can see his expression. He doesn’t want to be that clean. He wants… He wants them to be close to him, around him as much as they are inside him.

“Just…” Sunstreaker trails off, unsure how to express himself, and tries to curl into Sideswipe again, weak fingers making an aborted paw at Sideswipe’s armor.

“Hold you?” Sideswipe finishes for him. He curls an arm over Sunstreaker and tugs him closer, half on top of Sideswipe. “I can totally do that. I love when you’re all snuggly.”

“Feels good,” Sunstreaker murmurs and lets himself go limp, completely notched against his twin, close enough that he can feel and sense the beat of his twin’s spark. But his back is cold, and he knows he’s missing something. “Wait. Where’s–”

“Right here.” The berth dips behind Sunstreaker as Ratchet appears from wherever he’d gone – probably disposing of the mesh cloth for now. He slides up behind Sunstreaker, curling against Sunstreaker’s back, draping an arm over his midsection.

He’s squeezed between them, the heat of their frames buzzing against his, their fields embracing him entirely. His processor still floats in that wonderful haze of pleasure, and his spark is a content twirl inside his chassis. His array is deliciously sated, and when he twitches, he can still feel the spike cap.

Eh. They can get it in the morning. Sunstreaker doesn’t want to move. He likes this just the way it is. His twin and their lover petting him, two pairs of hands stroking over his frame soothing and adoring.

He never knew there could be this much bliss in a single moment.

“Told you we’d do it,” Sideswipe murmurs into the peaceful quiet, because he can never abide by silence for long, the brat.

“Shut up,” Sunstreaker grumbles. Always has to throw in an ‘I told you so’.

Ratchet laughs, the sound of it vibrating between Sunstreaker’s shoulders. “Anything for you, Sunny,” he says as he strokes his palm down Sunstreaker’s side, his field adding warm and comfortable pulses.

For once, Sunstreaker actually believes they mean it. Maybe he’s not ready to divulge all the other secret desires just yet, but he thinks he might in the future. Someday.

He’s getting closer to it any rate.

Because they love him. He’s sure of it. All that’s left is to trust it.


[CtE] Undaunted 06

“Third place, huh? That’s not so bad.”

The sudden voice from below – interrupting his sulking – made Hot Rod startle from where he perched on a roof. It sent his spark to hammering in his chest, and he scrambled to catch himself.

Primus. Some people were so rude.

Hot Rod gathered the tattered remains of his dignity around him. His spoiler flicked down. “I lost to a medic. A Decepticon medic.” He ex-vented in disgust.

He’d ridden Knock Out’s taillights down the entire track, but at the end, Knock Out had put on a burst of speed and left him in the grit.

Maybe there was something to those damn good luck kisses after all. What kind of world was this where a Decepticon could snag himself two adorable partners, and Hot Rod couldn’t even find one? A slagstorm of a world, that’s what.

“Technically, I guess it’s second place, if ya count the fact everyone knew Blurr was gonna snag first,” the voice replied as someone pulled onto the roof next to Hot Rod without so much as a gasp or a show of effort.

Hot Rod, of course, recognized him on sight. He should have known Jazz by his voice, but the shock had chased away any hope of logical thinking.

“Sir,” he greeted, and scrambled to try and stand, greet Jazz properly as Kup had taught him to. “Sorry, I didn’t realize–”

It was Jazz’s turn to snort. “Sir,” he repeated. “Ain’t no one called me that in ages. Don’t do it again. And sit, I don’t need all of that ceremony.”

Hot Rod sat, albeit carefully. It was a matter of balance. “Uh, what should I call you then?”

“Jazz is my name, last I checked.” Jazz plopped down next to him and stretched his arms over his head. Cables twanged and plating creaked. “Ahh, this is a good view you picked out. Great minds think alike, eh?”

“I guess.” Hot Rod blinked as Jazz made himself comfortable, straightening his legs out and propping his arms behind him. Balance was effortless for him. Of course. “Do you want me to go or…?”

“If I’d wanted ya to go, I wouldn’t have climbed up here in the first place. Unless you don’t want company.” Jazz grinned, his visor sparkling, seemingly unaware of the danger Hot Rod knew lurked in the compact lines of his frame.

Hot Rod tried to smile. It came out lopsided. “It’s okay,” he replied, honestly. “I could actually use the company.”

“Thought I recognized another lonely soul.” Jazz’s feet wiggled, a casual act that seemed intentional. Look at me, I’m not dangerous, I wiggle my feet, too. “What’s your sickness?”

Hot Rod blinked. “What?” He drew his knees up, wrapped his arms around them. It made balancing easier.

“Me? It’s a bit of a broken spark.” Jazz gestured toward his chassis with a thumb before returning his arm behind his back, propping himself upright. “Makes the nights cold, you know. What about you?”


“Uh.” Hot Rod scratched at his chin, embarrassment peeking around the edges. Like frag he’d admit the humiliating truth to someone as awesome as Jazz. “Nothing like you. I mean, I’ve never really been close to anyone like that.”


“I guess.” Hot Rod shrugged and shifted his gaze to the celebration festival several stories below them, lanterns and street lights illuminating the shopping lane and the now quiet Grand Strand. “Helps me avoid the broken part.”

“You got a point.” Jazz abruptly threw his hands into the air, like he was punching it, and fell backward, splayed out entirely casual over the roof. “Eh. You’re young. You’ve got time.” He folded his arms behind his head, his sprawl lazy and redolent.

More than a little erotic, truth be told. Maybe that was intentional.

“What about you?” Hot Rod asked.

“Me? Oh, I’ll be fine. I always land on my feet.” There was something off about Jazz’s grin, lazy though it was, and the wink seemed reflexive.

Hot Rod grinned anyway. “I know.” He glanced at Jazz peripherally, his optics lingering on shiny armor and the glint of cables peeking from his seams. There was something about the jut of that bumper Hot Rod really wanted to explore. “They tell stories about you.”

Jazz perked up a little, the light in his visor brightening. “Good ones?”

“Depends who’s telling.”

Jazz laughed. “Well, it’s all true. Every bit of it.” He drew up a leg and folded the other over his knee, letting his foot bounce freely, as if he didn’t have a care in the world.

“Even Springer’s?” Hot Rod prompted, just to see if that would spur some kind of reaction.

Jazz snorted, and his visor flashed an amused pale blue. “Eh. Difference of opinion.” He smiled, and this time it was all denta, a couple of them looking like they’d been filed down from sharpness – like Drift’s. “He thought he could take me down. I decided otherwise.”

Hot Rod hummed a laugh. It was a popular story among the Wreckers, though one that often sent Springer off into a scowl and sulk session that Kup had to smooth over. Springer was really to blame, if you asked Hot Rod. He could stand to be taken down a step or two. There was confidence, and then there was arrogance, and Springer tended to edge more toward the latter.

“I would’ve paid to see that,” Hot Rod mused aloud.

Jazz slanted a look at him. “He’s your brother, right?”

Hot Rod tilted his head back and looked up at the dark sky, stars whizzing past, perfectly visible with the very thin atmosphere Cybertron claimed. “Yeah. Doesn’t mean he can’t be a jerk sometimes though.”

“He the reason you’re hiding up on a roof?”

Damn. They were right about how perceptive Jazz was.

“I’m not hiding,” Hot Rod retorted with a flick of his spoiler. He straightened out his legs, trying to pull off nonchalance. “I’m–”

“–avoiding,” Jazz interrupted.

“Sure. Call it that.” Hot Rod huffed a ventilation and scrubbed at the roof with his heelstrut, old metal flaking up beneath his scraping. “I’m just, you know, not a brat who needs protecting anymore.”

“You’ll always be that to him, I bet. Doesn’t mean he doesn’t trust you.” Jazz flopped back upright, like it was impossible for him to sit still, and the motion brought him closer to Hot Rod, their thighs nearly brushing.

Hot Rod shrugged. “Maybe.” He didn’t really want to talk about Springer. That discussion – argument really – was a cloud hanging over his head, dulling his enjoyment of the evening.

Jazz nudged him with a shoulder, a small shock passing between them where their armor touched. “Cheer up, Roddy. It’s a pretty night, you got a great view, and if I do say so myself, one hot piece of aft for company. So it ain’t all bad.”

Despite himself, Hot Rod laughed. Jazz’s sheer gall was entertaining. “Think highly of yourself, do you?”

“Just saying what’s true.” Another wink and a shoulder nudge and Jazz’s field spilled over his, warm and charged, with a hint of invitation.

Hot Rod had heard stories, and not all of them were about Jazz kicking aft. Some of them were about the things he could do in the berth. Things Hot Rod didn’t even know were possible and sounded a little impossible, truth be told. Didn’t mean he didn’t want to find out for himself though.

For science.

“Uh huh,” Hot Rod said, and scrubbed the back of his neck, deciding to go for broke. Being bold was never a problem for him. “So if, by chance, after the fireworks were over, would you wanna head back to my place to make some fireworks of our own?”

Jazz’s head swiveled toward him, his visor bright, lips quivering before he burst into laughter and draped himself on Hot Rod’s side. “Oh, mech,” he said, in between giggles. “I like you. I like you a lot.”

“Is that a yes or no?” Hot Rod hovered around bemusement and offense.

“It’s a yes,” Jazz said as his hand slid up Hot Rod’s back, playing with the joint of his spoiler. “That’s a frag yes. Show me some fireworks, baby.”

Baby. Hot Rod could only assume that was some kind of human phrase. Whatever. Jazz had spent a lot of time on Earth after all. Lots of the Autobots from Optimus’ crew spouted out weird vernacular like that. Most of Ultra Magnus’ crew and the new arrivals had just gotten used to it.

Frag, Hot Rod caught Kup griping about not catching any fish the other day, whatever that meant. Hot Rod had teased him about going native. Kup had playfully cuffed him over the head.

“Good.” Hot Rod slung an arm over Jazz’s shoulder, shivering as a hot and fast tingle of charge surged through Jazz’s field and cascaded over his own. “But first, I don’t wanna miss the show. I hear it’s gonna be a big one.”

“If Wheeljack’s in charge, you can bet your aft it is.” Jazz laughed, and his tone turned gleeful, as his free hand slid across Hot Rod’s belly. “But nothing like the show I’m gonna give ya later.”

It was Hot Rod’s turn to laugh, and once he started, he couldn’t stop. It was all so… so absurd. He and Jazz sitting on a rooftop, hiding from their woes, making sexual innuendo out of fireworks.

It was ridiculous.

It was wonderful.

It was a much better end to the night than the way the day had started.

Who knew?


Onslaught woke from a stasis nap and the first thing he checked was their trajectory – right on target, as it should be. It was a habit, however, to consult navigation first and foremost. He then consulted his chronometer, comparing it against relative time and the passage of time on New Cybertron.

A thought occurred to him.

“We’re going to miss the celebration,” he realized aloud.

“I doubt anyone will notice, save Vortex, and only so he can make a cutting remark.”

The comment was all around him, but emerged from the console in front of him as well, deep and sonorous as it vibrated through the walls. Given that said voice belonged to the vessel currently transporting Onslaught and his cargo, this came as no surprise.

Onslaught’s fingers danced over the console, though there was really no need. “You have a point.”

“Of course I do.” Some might call Blast Off’s tone superior. Onslaught had grown used to the haughty edge of it.

Spend enough time with your spark tangentially bonded to four other mechs, and you get used to their quirks. Sometimes, you adopt them for your own.

Onslaught leaned back into the chair as it reclined to accommodate his comfortable slump. Haughty though Blast Off might be, but he anticipated Onslaught’s needs well.

“Besides, with the cargo we’re carrying, no one will care that we are overdue.”

“We’re carrying?” Blast Off repeated, sounding as though he was on the route to quite the snit, one that would involve long, awkward silences for the duration of the trip.

Onslaught was glad that the visor and facemask hid his expression, and kept his field carefully tamped to avoid Blast Off sensing it. “Yes, you’re hauling it, but we both found it.”

Blast Off’s harrumph sent a gust through the vents, stirring the usually still atmosphere in the cabin. “Just so we’re clear.”

Amusement trickled into Onslaught’s field, enough that he allowed Blast Off to sense it. “I’m sure Octane will be glad you’ve returned.”

The entire cabin shuddered. “Do not test me, Onslaught,” Blast Off warned in a louder, deeper voice that rattled everything in the cockpit. “Else I’ll leave you stranded in space.”

Onslaught’s gaze shifted to the windscreen, currently opaque as Blast Off’s irritation paid itself in petty ways. “And how will you explain my absence?”

“Airlock accident,” his companion replied, completely blithe, almost as if he’d thought about it before. “Couldn’t be helped. Alas.”

Onslaught chuckled and the enclosure of Blast Off’s field dipped into amusement. “You’re sparkless.”

Amusement that suddenly went ice-cold and withdrawn, falling behind an iron shutter. “I am, after all, a shuttle.”


Onslaught cycled a ventilation and scraped a hand down his face. Upsetting Blast Off had not been his intention. The comment had been made in jest, but sometimes, one could touch on a raw wound without meaning to. As Onslaught had just done.

“… Forgive me,” Onslaught said after a long moment. “I only meant to tease.”

Blast Off’s sigh gusted through the vents, stirring the plastifilm taped to the console, handwritten coordinates to their most-recent find. “I know,” he conceded, apology in his tone as well. “There are times I believe I have put such things behind me. And there are times it comes back with a vengeance.”

Onslaught sat up straight, sending a pulse of reassurance through his field. “Well, it’s a new Cybertron. We can make sure those old prejudices of the past never return.”

Like so many things that needed to die with the Cybertron of old, the way shuttles like Blast Off had been treated was one of them. Perhaps it wasn’t so bad for other shuttles in other cities, but for Blast Off, who had been sparked in Perihex, shuttles were degraded for their natural alt-modes.

Any being whose spark-given alt-mode was meant to be used by other sentient beings was treated poorly. Blast Off was considered lesser, because his form was meant to haul and transport, and he could unspace enough mass to carry passengers. He would have never risen above his station as transport mech. He wasn’t allowed to vote, own property, and was forced to pledge his services to whichever owner paid the most for him, and paid his property fees.

In short, he was a slave, and due to the laws, couldn’t escape the life his sparking had given him. He couldn’t flee Perihex. No other city-state would have harbored him, except perhaps Kaon in the midst of stirrings of war, or other darker, more dangerous places.

Joining the Decepticons had been a matter of course. Blast Off had killed his owner at the time, and fled for Tesaurus, where Megatron had been gathering forces. Blast Off was marked then, traitor and murderer. Had the Decepticons lost the war, Blast Off would’ve been executed on sight by the first member of the Elite Guard to recognize him.

No, such things were better left in the past. Now, shuttles were valuable. They were rare. They were treated with the utmost respect. Blast Off had to obey no one, save his own whims, especially now that Megatron’s heinous coding was gone.

“We will make it a better world,” Onslaught added, feeling outraged on Blast Off’s behalf, because Onslaught knew the bonds of slavery all too well. “We have that power now. We have that leverage. We will do what we must.”

“One can hope,” came Blast Off’s reply, deep and echoing all around him.

Onslaught steepled his fingers together. “And if not,” he said, “we can always return to war. You know as well as I do that there are mechs in all three factions who are itching for things to return to that simpler time.”

“I don’t want war.”

“Neither do I. But I’ll not let old Cybertron infect the new either.” Onslaught lowered his hands, resting them on the arms of his chair. “I’d sooner watch it burn.”

Blast Off’s sonorous hum was tacit agreement. In this, they were one. Partners, not romantic for Blast Off had no interest in it, but partners who trusted nonetheless.

“We’ll be home soon,” Blast Off said after a moment, his tone much lighter than before. “Perhaps even in time to catch the fireworks.”

Had Onslaught a mouth, he would have grinned. “Sounds good to me.”


The feed ran nonstop, a live cut of all the celebrations raging over New Cybertron. Well, all the things they felt the humans were allowed to see anyway.

Cody couldn’t wait for the fireworks. Wheeljack said they were going to be amazing, and Cody believed him. Especially since he’d seen Wheeljack and Doc Greene giggling together over something.

He hoped New Cybertron had it’s own rescue team because they might need it. He also hoped Griffin Rock managed to stay out of trouble long enough for Cody and his family to enjoy every second of the broadcast. Sure, it was being recorded in case they missed anything, but that wasn’t the same.

Cody sighed and leaned on the back of the chair. He wanted to visit New Cybertron so badly. The chance to visit another planet? He couldn’t pass that up.

“Graham, how much longer will it take to make the safety suits?”

Behind him, Graham chuckled. “No sooner than the last time you asked me, Cody.” He had his head bent over his tablet, stylus darting over the screen. “They’ll be ready when they’re ready. Safety first.”

Cody sighed again.

It was dangerous, he knew. Cybertron didn’t have an atmosphere really, and what it did have was still poisoned from all the war’s fallout. Plus, there were all kinds of mechs roaming around, venting all kinds of fumes, and Optimus Prime wouldn’t let them take any kind of unnecessary risks. It was dangerous for humans, not just because they might get stepped on.

It was already something of a miracle that they’d survived the Decepticon attack and bombardment of Earth over six years ago. A miracle and a little scientific ingenuity by way of Doc Greene’s protective dome. Thanks to him, Griffin Rock – and their sister tech cities – had not only been safe, but hidden from the Decepticons.

When the Autobots returned, there had been a long and lengthy debate as to whether or not the surviving humans should contact them. Many thought that Cybertronians were too dangerous no matter what badge they wore. Remaining hidden forever wasn’t an option though. Griffin Rock especially had figured that if they didn’t stand up and shout, the Cybertronians might try and claim Earth.

No one wanted that.

So they’d tentatively reached out to the small group of mechs poking around Earth. Cody had met Hound and Trailbreaker – and much later, Ravage. He met Bumblebee and Rumble, too. He’d been a little uneasy around the Decepticons at first, but Griffin Rock wasn’t without its own defense mechanisms.

Once Griffin Rock was sure the Autobots wouldn’t be a threat, they reached out to the other surviving cities. Optimus Prime himself came to Griffin Rock and declared that Earth belonged to the humans, and the Cybertronians would only stick around to help rebuild what the Decepticons had destroyed. Oh, and trade for the raw materials they might need to rebuild their own planet, too.

There wasn’t really a President or world leader to tell them they couldn’t. Or that they could even. But the few mayors and governors and princes and chieftains from across the planet had voted and the majority sided with the Autobots.

Cody had been thrilled. He liked the Autobots. He’d met them before once. Or, well, his siblings had. Wheeljack had been here when Cody was a toddler, because he’d heard about one of Doc Greene’s experiments and wanted to babble science at him for a while.

Come to think of it, they probably had Wheeljack to thank for the complete success of their protective dome.

Plus, the peace agreement between the Cybertronians and the humans had brought the rescue bots to Earth! Griffin Rock was the first town to get their own rescue team, and Cody’s family were the lucky ones partnered up with Heatwave and the other bots. Cody had the feeling it was partly because Mr. Prime wasn’t sure what else to do with the younger bots and how uneasy things were back on New Cybertron.

Cody was happy for it though. It had been rough at first, but eventually, the bots realized Earth could be home, too.

The floor beneath Cody rumbled. He clutched to the chair and tilted his head back and to the side, in time to see Heatwave come strutting into the room. Thump-thump-thump. The rescue bots were still practicing their ‘gentle walk’.

“It’s still streaming?” Heatwave asked as he crouched to peer at the small screen. Well, small for a Cybertronian. Ridiculously huge for a human.

“Yep.” Cody wriggled and the chair scooted forward by another foot. “You’ll take me there one day, right, Heatwave?”

The red firebot tilted his head to the side. “If that protective gear’s one-hundred percent safe, I will.”

Cody thumped his elbow on the back of the chair and cradled his chin in his palm. “Who needs gear when we have rescue bots? I know you guys will keep us safe.”

“That’s not the point, Cody.” Thunk-thunk-thunk. Boulder now, shorter than Heatwave, but way heavier. His footsteps made Cody’s teeth rattle. “There are dozens of things that could go wrong. The tiniest mistake could mean you or your family could get hurt. And none of us want that.”

Cody sighed as loud as he possibly could. “I know.”

Onscreen, the camera was panning over a huge open area, where Cybertronians of all shapes and sizes were dancing. There was a mecha-shark and an Autobot singing and playing instruments on stage. The music came through the speakers, but Cody had the feeling it sounded terrible compared to what it would sound like live.

Someday, he’d get to go.

“Don’t worry, kiddo, we’ll get there someday.” Dani’s hand ruffled his hair, and Cody didn’t even have time to duck.

He hadn’t heard her coming. The bots were kind of noisy, even when they were just standing there. They tended to creak and rattle and hiss and clank. Cody had gotten used to it after the first couple months, but still. Noisy.

“If this town can manage not to have an emergency for twenty-four hours,” Heatwave muttered with a snort.

He sounded fond at least. Heatwave acted like he hated it here, but Cody knew otherwise. Heatwave and Kade were a lot alike. It was probably why they butted heads so much.

Dani chuckled. “That’s the fun of living in Griffin Rock, Heatwave. It’s never dull here.”

“I fail to see what sharpness has anything to do with it,” Chase offered, coming into view with a thump-clank-thump.

“Geez, Chase. Try adding a thesaurus to your collection,” Blades said, trailing along on Chase’s heels, his rotors jittering on his back. “Don’t you know that humans have like three different meanings for everything?” He held up a hand and started counting things off on his fingers. “Carpools have nothing to do with swimming and don’t always mean cars. You don’t swim in tidepools but fish do. And playing pool involves a big green table!”

Blades threw his hands into the air. “It’s a miracle they can have any kind of conversation and understand each other.”

Cody giggled. “You get used to it.”

“Do not forget, Blades. You’re only talking about English,” Chase said with a waggle of his finger. “There are numerous other languages as well.”

Blades made a sound of aggravation, one foot stomping the ground and making his rotors waggle.

Boulder laughed. “I can’t wait to learn them all,” he said and looked longingly toward the shelf of books, all a bit too small for him to easily hold. “Humans are fascinating. I only wish I’d gotten to know them sooner.”

“Yeah, well, we all know who’s to blame for that,” Heatwave muttered.

Silence rippled through the room. Cody clutched the back of the chair. None of them needed to say who Heatwave meant. They all knew it. Megatron’s name was as bad to say on Earth as Voldemort right now.

“Say, uh, aren’t the fireworks starting soon?” Graham asked into the quiet, and just like that, the tension snapped and everything was back to normal.


“I can’t wait,” Cody said with an excited wiggle in his chair. “Wheeljack said they are going to be like nothing we’ve ever seen before!”

Graham chuckled. “I believe it. The scientific advancements that we’ve achieved with Cybertronian assistance is–”

“Yawwwwwwwn.” Kade flopped onto the couch, faking a hand over his mouth. “No nerd talk in the bunker, Graham. Not when there’s a party going on.” He folded his arms behind his head and took up every inch of space on the couch, even crossing his booted feet. His dirty boots.

“Get your feet off the furniture, son.” Dad came in, last as always, because he wanted to make sure everything was secure and routed to the emergency line through their comms.

Kade grumbled but made room on the couch so Dad could sit down. Dani flopped on Dad’s other side, and Boulder was nice enough to turn up the volume a bit more so they could all hear better.

With any luck, Griffin Rock would be peaceful the rest of the night, and they could enjoy watching New Cybertron’s festival without any more interruptions. Even Mrs. Neederlander knew better than to call about Mr. Pettypaws. She was probably in her own house with her own tv on. Most of Griffin Rock was tuned in to the broadcast.

Cody grinned and leaned on the back of the chair.

All of his family, new and old, was here.

The night couldn’t get any better than this.

Well, unless he got to go to Cybertron soon.


The dark wrapped around them, broken only by the emergency lights running along the baseboard, and the ambient light of the city pouring through the open window. There wasn’t a breeze, not on New Cybertron, but Optimus could still detect background noise – laughter, chatter, music in the distance.

The celebration was still going strong. Soon, the fireworks would light the night, signaling the official end of the festival, but Optimus doubted the crowd would disperse so quickly. There was too much fun to be had. Too much revelry. Too much of everything they’d all thought they’d never have again.

Fortunately, for Optimus, all he could have wanted was currently beneath him, comfortably sprawled out across their shared berth, his visor a dim glow and his facemask wisely retracted.

“What will they say about us leaving the party early?” Optimus wondered aloud as he leaned down to nuzzle Soundwave’s cheek with his own, deeply in-venting the scent of his partner, as Soundwave’s field stroked over his, warm with affection.

Soundwave’s hands slid up his back, fingers gentle as they dipped into seams and traced the lines of his plating. “Business, not theirs.”

Optimus laughed softly. “Then that is the excuse I will give.” He bent forward, knees digging into the berth, his hands braced to either side of Soundwave’s shoulders. He nuzzled Soundwave’s cheeks, feeling the warm ex-vents against his face.

“Besides,” Optimus murmured as Soundwave’s hands moved to cup his aft before sliding back up his back again, “our view here is just as good as it would be out there.”

“Affirmative,” Soundwave rumbled. His field reached out to Optimus, heavy with need, crackling with heat.

Optimus felt it beneath his aft, the rising desire in Soundwave’s panel. But he held himself back, he always did. Both out of respect for Optimus, and because Soundwave had an authority kink a mile wide. He liked to be told when he could release himself.

Optimus would admit, only in the dark and quiet, that he secretly thrilled at how much power he could wield over Soundwave. Respectfully, of course. He had only as much power as Soundwave gave him.

Optimus’ lips ghosted over the curve of Soundwave’s jaw. He rolled his hips, stirring the heat between them. “But you knew that already, didn’t you?” he murmured.

“Privacy sought,” Soundwave replied, one hand stroking up Optimus’ back, the other curving over his aft before dipping between his thighs. A finger rubbed over Optimus’ panel gently, feeling the heat gathered there.

Lubricant built behind Optimus’ panel. His calipers clicked on nothing, and his ceiling node throbbed, desperate for attention. There was something painfully erotic about curling here together, exchanging soft kisses and delicate touches, drawing each other toward a slow, slow arousing need.

Soundwave was a master of it, as though he’d studied Optimus’ frame design to discover each and every erotic zone.

Optimus had to learn the hard way, the fun way, exploring every inch of Soundwave’s frame by hand. He’d learned where Soundwave was ticklish and where he wasn’t. The spots that made him shake and shiver, and the ones that did little.

And he learned how much Soundwave loved to kiss. How he enjoyed the press of lips, the careful slide of a glossa, the exchange of ex-vents.

Which was fortunate, because Optimus enjoyed kissing as well. So he brought his mouth to Soundwave’s, brushed their lips together.

“We have so little privacy,” he murmured against Soundwave’s mouth as he rocked his hips, tiny circular motions that stirred vibrations into their arrays. “We should capitalize on what we have now.”

Soundwave hummed in agreement, and then moaned as Optimus sealed his lips over Soundwave’s, deepening the kiss, tasting the treats they’d been sharing all evening. Soundwave was not much for sweets, but the tart, tangy goodies they’d found at one of the Neutral’s carts had been a hit.

He’d eaten a whole box of them before they realized. They’d gone back for a second box, just so Optimus could try one. He wasn’t very fond of them, but didn’t fail to notice the second box vanish into Soundwave’s subspace.

He had a culinary weakness after all.

It was absolutely adorable and had made Optimus only fall further in love at the sight.

The kiss deepened, glossas tangling together, his own stroking the inside of Soundwave’s mouth. He felt the tremble of Soundwave’s fingers on him, the blast of heat rising from Soundwave’s frame as tertiary vents opened to circulate air. Soundwave’s field was a rising and falling tide of want, buffeting Optimus like a warm gust of wind.

Optimus trailed away from the kiss, nuzzling into Soundwave’s intake. His partner obediently tipped his head back, revealing the vulnerable cables for Optimus to nibble on. This was a sensitive spot, he’d learned, and a single lick from him could make Soundwave shudder. He suspected it had something to do with trust.

“Open for me, Soundwave,” Optimus purred, his aft grinding down on Soundwave’s panel in secondary request.

Soundwave’s right hand slid up Optimus’ frame, a bare brush of touch, before he cupped Optimus’ face, sweeping his thumb over Optimus’ cheek. “Optimus sure?” he asked, even as a visible shudder rippled over his armor, lust pouring like liquid heat from his frame. He struggled to hold himself back, charge gathering in the seams of his armor.

“Of course,” Optimus murmured and nuzzled Soundwave’s intake, lips teasing around thick cables as if to prove how much he trusted Soundwave. The consideration would never fail to make him feel safe. “For you, always.”

A rumble started in Soundwave’s chassis and rattled out through his frame. His arms wrapped around Optimus’ back, holding him close, as Soundwave’s panels snapped open and his spike jutted against Optimus’ aft. The head of it left a swath of pre-fluid behind, marking Optimus’ armor.

Optimus moaned, his hips rolling down, as he bared his valve and rode the length of Soundwave’s spike with it. Not penetration, not quite, but teasing his rim with the hardness of his partner, tantalizing those delicate outer nodes.

Soundwave gasped beneath him, head tilted back, that rattling rumble deepening into a tune, almost like that lullaby from years past, only with a more erotic cant. It made arousal roar through Optimus, lubricant dripping slick and hot from his valve, painting Soundwave’s spike in a wet sheen. His calipers rippled on nothing, and his own spike throbbed, eager to be freed.

Optimus dragged his mouth back to Soundwave’s, briefly content in this, the rock and grind of their hips together, arousal building to a crescendo between them. Soundwave’s hands roamed his frame with intensity, touching every sensor nexus determinedly.

Soundwave’s field fell over his, warm and tingling, and he made an urgent sound in his intake as his spikehead rubbed over Optimus’ valve rim again, and lubricant was sloppy between them. Optimus hummed, his knees pressing in Soundwave’s sides, his denta leaving sharp nips against Soundwave’s cables.

“You can enter me, Soundwave,” he purred, a thrill racing up his spinal strut at the subtle command and permission all at once.

Hands flexed where they pressed at his mid-back. A shudder ran over Soundwave’s plating, a wave of static falling in it’s wake. One palm smoothed down to Optimus’ aft, encouraging with the subtlest of pressures, and Soundwave thrust up as Optimus rocked down.


They moaned in unison, Optimus panting as he rested his forehead on Soundwave’s shoulder, hands fisting the berthcovers. Soundwave sank up into him in one stroke, sending waves of ecstasy through Optimus’ valve which fluttered madly, sensors feeding charge into Soundwave’s spike at a rapid pace.


Optimus shivered as his valve fluttered and clamped in alternate bursts, his nodes singing at the touch of Soundwave’s spike, lubricant so slick and sloppy that it conducted the charge all too well. He shifted, only a little, and Soundwave’s spikehead nudged over his ceiling node, sending a sharp jolt up Optimus’ spinal strut that turned his limbs to jelly.

Heat wafted up at him from below. Soundwave was silent, if one didn’t know what to listen for, the quiet clicks of him trying to muffle his cries of pleasure, the trembling urgency in his field as he waited for Optimus to give a sign he was ready to move forward.

Waiting, always waiting, considerate at cost to himself.

“Soundwave,” Optimus murmured, his lips finding Soundwave’s audial as he rolled his hips, grinding Soundwave deep. “Please.”

That exhaled request stirred Soundwave into action. He loosed a sound that was somehow both a growl and a keen. His hands cupped Optimus’ hips, both firm and gentle, and then the world spun around Optimus, his entire self surrounded by Soundwave – frame and field both.

His back hit the plush surface of the berth. His arms wound around Soundwave’s neck, dragging his partner down for a deep kiss, and his ankles crossed behind Soundwave’s thighs. Soundwave braced his weight with one hand, but the other remained on Optimus’ hip, holding him careful for each slow and dragging thrust.

Optimus moaned, arousal and pleasure making him dizzy as Soundwave moved into him, slow and steady, taking great care to touch upon each and every node in Optimus’ valve. His thrusts were deliberate, aimed, and his mouth even more so as he peppered Optimus’ face in kisses and a new song rose in his chassis.

Optimus’ world spun into a blur of color and sensation, a mixture of sound and silence, the caress of Soundwave’s field as erotic as the press of Soundwave’s spike. They moved together in a dance they were still learning the rhythm of, but it was no less pleasurable for it. Optimus moaned softly, into each kiss, and the noises Soundwave made in his intake were both reverent and needy.

Overload came not in a burst, but in an ever-growing wave of pleasure, each one stronger and more fiery than the last. Color danced behind Optimus’ optics, his spark whirling and surging toward the protection of his chassis. He clutched at Soundwave, fingers locked into seams on his partner’s armor, as his hips moved urgently, milking Soundwave’s spike for every last burst of charge.

The hot surge of Soundwave’s overload rushing over his sensitive nodes sent Optimus into another wave of ecstasy, his entire frame drawing taut as a bow as his head tossed back and he moaned. Sounds that were quickly swallowed by Soundwave’s lips as they kissed, fierce at first, then slow and savoring. Soft little presses of lips over the curve of Optimus’ jaw and the gentle rock of their frames together in the aftermath.

Optimus hummed into the kisses, his hands stroking the angular planes of Soundwave’s armor, his chestplate pressed to the cool transsteel of Soundwave’s dock. “There’s something to be said about alone time,” he murmured.

Soundwave’s laugh was a soft huff over his lips. “More will be had soon enough,” he replied and shifted his weight, sliding out of Optimus before he pressed a kiss to Optimus’ forehead. “Rest. Return momentarily.”

And then he was gone, taking the heat of his frame with him, not that he went far. Just to the adjoining washrack, where he retrieved a packet of clean mesh cloths, one of them dampened.

“So considerate,” Optimus said with a smile as Soundwave returned, every action careful and loving as he cleaned the both of their frames free of sticky residue. “I think I’ll keep you.”

Soundwave chuckled as he tossed the used cloths into a bin for cleaning and climbed back onto the berth, pulling Optimus into his arms as he did so. It took some finagling, but they’d learned how to notch their frames together for maximum contact.

As it was, Optimus was able to rest his head on the cool transsteel of Soundwave’s dock, feeling the strong vibrations of his spark thrumming the material. He ex-vented quietly, his own spark dancing in his own chamber.

Outside, the music had gone quiet.

“It’s almost time for the last act, I suppose,” Optimus murmured as he lifted his gaze to the window. The sky was dark and unbroken by any building – for now.

Eventually, reconstruction would restore Cybertron’s skyline. Perhaps not any time soon, but eventually.

Soundwave’s hand stroked down his back, from his shoulders to his aft, like a feline which needed stroking. It was too soothing for Optimus to protest.

“Did you ever think it would come to this?” Optimus asked, more pondering out loud than a true question. “That the end of the war would bring us here? We’ve lost almost everything.”

“Gained, also.”

Optimus hummed in agreement. “Yes, this is true.” His ex-vents fogged the transsteel of Soundwave’s dock, where the Decepticon badge had once been so prominent.

Their fields synced almost immediately, humming to the same frequency. He listened to Soundwave’s steady vents, his frame warm with the aftershocks of their lovemaking. He doubted they were through for the night, but this was nice, too. Just laying together in the dim, peaceful and serene.

And then the fireworks began. Bright bursts of color right outside the window. Optimus shifted to see them better, and felt Soundwave stir to do the same. Explosions of multiple colors lit the night, the loud booms rattling windows and making the berth tremble. Of course, with Wheeljack as the lead explosives expert, each color-laced shell was bigger and brighter and more elaborate than the one before.

Shapes and symbols, colors beyond the visible spectrum of most species even. Optimus could hear the cheering between the pops and booms, and smiled as the echoes of the bright display splashed across his armor and glittered inside the room.

What a perfect night.

Optimus cycled a ventilation and snuggled further into his partner’s arms. “I promise, Soundwave,” he murmured. “There will come a time when I can set aside this mantle of leadership and be yours alone.”

Soundwave’s embrace tightened around him. One arm slid up, hand stroking up over Optimus’ back, over his head, before curving around his face, tilting him up to look at Soundwave, the bright of the fireworks reflecting in Soundwave’s visor.

“Soundwave will wait,” he said, both earnest and sincere, as much a vow as the one Optimus had just given. “I will wait forever.”

A promise then.

To each other.

Optimus smiled and shifted, leaning up to capture Soundwave’s lips with his own. Someday, he vowed, even to himself.

He would have this forever.

[CtE] Undaunted 05

They were going to be late.

It was a passing thought, chased away almost immediately by a particularly powerful thrust. It ground over his ceiling node and sent lightning down his spinal strut. Pleasure eclipsed rational thought, leaving Starscream panting and strutless, pinned between the wall and his lover.

They were wasting solvent, too. The entire point of the shower had been to get clean. But Grimlock had looked at him with that glint in his visor, the one that made Starscream shiver from head to foot, feeling desired and loved. He’d surrendered to Grimlock’s groping hands and couldn’t manage a single protest as Grimlock lifted him up and slid into him in a single thrust.

Starscream had moaned, valve tingling, still wet and open from their earlier fragging. It was hard not to want Grimlock. It was hard to deny himself this outright pleasure. His thighs spread wide around Grimlock’s bulk, the thick width of Grimlock’s spike gliding over every inner node, building the pleasure to a quick crescendo.

Starscream made a sound now, closer to a whimper, and tightened his grip on Grimlock’s shoulders. His thighs trembled. The sound of Grimlock’s ventilations, heavy and hungry and stuttered, echoed in the washrack.

Starscream’s chronometer chimed another reminder.

They were going to be late.

He gasped out as much.

Grimlock chuckled and tucked his face into the crook of Starscream’s neck, his mouthguard vibrating. “They can’t start without us,” he said and his hands tightened on Starscream’s hips, pulling him down until he was fully sheathed, and his spikehead played merry havoc on Starscream’s ceiling node.

“We’re … ah… Decepticon command,” Starscream managed to stutter as another wave of ecstasy made his valve ripple and his main node throb. He was perilously close to overload already. “It’s bad politics.”

Grimlock’s amusement rumbled in his chest, and vibrated against Starscream’s cockpit. “Frag politics,” he growled.

Starscream smirked and dug his claws into a seam, scraping over the sensitive cables beneath. “Would rather you frag me instead.”

His wings scraped against the wall, causing a dissonant sensation of pleasure and pain, as Grimlock thrust into him, hard and deep. Starscream moaned, head tossed back, claws scraping lines in Girmlock’s paint as overload struck. His valve clamped down, milking Grimlock’s spike for each surge of charge. His own spike spattered transfluid between their frames.

He rode the waves of pleasure eagerly, even as Grimlock ground deeper and deeper, caressing his nodes to extend the overload. Starscream panted for ventilations, his thighs trembling, as Grimlock gripped his hips and started to thrust, each more powerful than the last, pinning Starscream against the wall.

Ecstasy sent sparks along Starscream’s frame. Dizzy, he caressed Grimlock’s cables with his talons as Grimlock forehead tucked into the crook of his neck, ex-vents blasting heat against Starscream’s frame.

“Overload inside me, my lord,” Starscream purred, his lips caressing Grimlock’s audial as he felt Grimlock’s grip tighten around him. “You are welcome to it.”

Grimlock shuddered. A low sound rose in his intake, one of arousal and need, and Starscream preened at how easily he could make his lover come undone. Grimlock’s pace stuttered, his thrusts harder and deeper, until he stiffened and overloaded, transfluid a searing wash over Starscream’s sensitive nodes.

He moaned as another, smaller overload wracked his valve, his calipers fluttering madly around Grimlock’s spike. Starscream rolled his hips, grinding down, the rim of his valve massaging the small rise in Grimlock’s spike. No knotting this time, they did have a schedule to keep after all.

But the memory of that pleasure was enough.

“You…” Grimlock growled through the aftershocks of ecstasy, the washrack still beating down at them with hot washes of solvent, “are a menace.”

“You’re just now figuring this out?” Starscream purred as his claws dipped further into seams, stroking the undersides of armor panels. “My you are slow on the uptake, my lord.”

Grimlock lifted his head, visor a bright wash of hunger. His spike twitched in Starscream’s valve, still pressurized as though he hadn’t soaked Starscream in his transfluid already. He started to shift, light and slow pushes that sent a wave of reawakened pleasure through Starscream’s valve.

Starscream gasped and arched his backstrut. “We’re going to be late,” he reminded Grimlock, though there was less force behind it then he would have liked.

“They’ll wait for us,” Grimlock said, and the slow drag of his spike over Starscream’s excited nodes chased away any other protest.

He had a point, after all.

The rest of the world could wait.


It was not compulsive behavior, no matter what anyone insisted. Scourge simply believed in the weight of his duty, and would sooner die than see himself fail. It was important to him. It was necessary.

And if that required he double-check behind himself, well, who could blame him? He was only tasked with one of Iacon’s most important responsibilities, one that the Autobots in Polyhex and the Neutrals in Nova Cronum did not have to face. They did not have prisoners and criminals to be concerned with.

They did not have a handful of super soldiers in their basement, under lock and key, stripped of all processing capabilities, with sparks capable of turning into bombs if improperly extinguished. Overlord, Black Shadow, and Sixshot – their minds had been wiped. They were all but machine without memory and free will.

That did not make them any less dangerous.

Scourge made a point to assess their confinement on a daily basis. The three of them were enough to destroy all of New Cybertron if they so wished. While they could not do so at the moment, it would only take a single lapse in judgment. The wrong mech with the right intel, sneaking inside and freeing them of their cage.

Not on Scourge’s watch.

There had been talk only once of giving another life to the supersoldiers. Perhaps allowing them freedoms under a new identity, wiping them clean as Red Alert – now Flare – had been. That idea had been quickly set aside. No need for a hasty decision with such dangerous, unstable mechs.

Scourge agreed.

The supersoldiers were the worst of what sat locked in the prison beneath Decepticon central. But they weren’t Scourge’s only responsibilities.

Barricade, also, was present, and like Dirge, would never be released. If there was a candidate for execution, especially given he had no other use for the common good, Barricade fit the bill.

He would never apologize. He would never regret. He would, as Starscream determined not long after his arrest, re-offend.

It had been a particularly chilling conversation, one Scourge wished he hadn’t witnessed. As Barricade admitted, with a smirk, to a nauseating list of victims, not all of whom had been Autobots. He had, over the course of the war, taken many Decepticons as well, most of them against their will, all of whom did not remember. Unless, of course, Barricade chose to allow them to remember.

The fear, he’d said, was the tastiest.

Dirge was not as lost as Barricade, but he was another without remorse. Autobots, he’d claimed, were lesser creatures, and grounders besides. They were meant to be beneath Decepticons. Victory had been Megatron’s, and the rewards his to offer. That he and his trinemates had interfaced an Autobot to death didn’t seem to weigh at all on his conscience.

Monsters, Scourge decided.

There were monsters in the world.

Scourge had other detainees under his oversight, though these mechs were considered to have promise.

Motormaster and Dead End had already been released into the custody of one Autobot Kup, who had reassured everyone he would find something of worth in their sparks. Compassion, Kup claimed, was often the key to success. And they were, in his optics, little more than misguided sparklings.

Lost causes even. Ultra Magnus had leaned in, with a quirk to his lips, to inform Scourge that lost causes were something of Kup’s expertise. He’d then tilted his head in Drift’s direction – Deadlock, Scourge recognized immediately – as if to prove the point.

Scourge had signed the transfer orders then and there. From what he’d heard, Kup was making headway with the two headstrong Stunticons. It was one less burden for Scourge to carry. He had enough of them as it was.

“You’re going to be late.”

Scourge didn’t bother to look up from his paperwork, making a tic mark next to Shockwave. Present and accounted for, there in his basement lab with his overseer watching his every move.

“Our fearless leaders are always late,” Scourge replied. “I’ll be fine.”

Skyquake, his second, laughed. “If I had Starscream in my berth, I’d be late, too,” he commented as he leaned against the door frame, one arm folded over the other. His wings folded against his back, not unlike a Seeker’s, though Skyquake was of a different sort.

He and his squadron had arrived two years after the signing of the treaty. Skyquake took to the peace like a Sharkticon to the Rust Sea. He reveled in it. And sometimes, Scourge caught him looking to the sky, waiting for his twin to arrive as well.

Dreadwing, Skyquake had said with a crooked grin and a lonesome cant to his optics, would enjoy the peace even more than Skyquake. Once he got over Megatron losing to a beastformer. And said beastformer being their leader now.

Scourge’s lips curved into a grin to match Skyquake’s. “Indeed.”

He bent his attention back to his lists. There were five Constructicons on it, as a matter of course. Only one actually graced a cell right now – Hook, who was being most stubborn, perhaps out of a sense of pride. There was history between he and the Autobot Chief Medic, a history that held Hook back from moving forward remorsefully.

The other Constructicons were improving. They entirety of the Devastator gestalt had their obedience coding removed, similar but different in effect from what had haunted the Combaticons. But more than that, the false programming had been removed as well. What remained was complicated. They’d been laboring under it for so long, some had rooted into their base coding. Overcoming that would take time.

They would never be what they were. But they had a chance now. They were learning remorse. They understood that Megatron’s path was not one they had to follow. In that, they were like the Stunticons, almost sparkling in behavior, needing to learn a proper moral code all over again.

Scourge did not know if he could convince any of the Constructicons to apologize and exhibit remorse. Most of them, Hook especially, cited that because they were nonconsensually reprogrammed, they could not be held responsible for their actions. Scourge – and Grimlock and Starscream – disagreed. It was a sticky situation.

Like it nor not, however, they did need the Constructicons. Of them, only Scavenger seemed to carry visible remorse. Upon realizing that his interactions with Ratchet were a crime, that he was not being kind, Scavenger had been horrified. He had vowed to do whatever necessary to make amends.

Scavenger was the only Constructicon on actual parole, though he was under the supervision of the New Cybertron Rebuilding Team headed by the former Wrecker Bulkhead.

Bonecrusher and Long Haul had limited parole. All they wanted was to build. They submitted to any restrictions and any supervision deemed necessary by Scourge. Their behavior toward the Autobot medic had been a matter of convenience, not true desire. Their potential to re-offend was all but negative. They were not as remorseful as Scavenger, because to them it had not been illegal at the time. Yes, poor taste, but technically allowed by their commanding officer.

It left a sour taste in Scourge’s mouth. He hoped time would change their point of view. Though only the rational side of him understood what they meant. Soldiers, following orders. Soldiers, who had no choice but to follow the moral compass of their immoral leader.

Sticky situation indeed.

Scrapper, as their leader, had made concessions, few though they were. He’d conceded that he and his team had acted in poor taste, that following Megatron’s example was no excuse. He stated such behavior would not occur again, and that they would lend their strength and sparks to the reconstruction of Cybertron.

Scrapper intended to apologize once, and only once. He would concede no more than that.

It was better than nothing, Scourge supposed. He doubted the Autobots would not be mollified with such half-afted remorse. There were many, he knew, who would prefer if every last prisoner in Decepticon cells be executed on the spot.

Such a thing could not come to pass.

Perhaps it was the optimism, Scourge pondered. He’d never thought himself optimistic before, but he felt it now. Mechs could change. Mechs could learn. He needed to believe that.

Certainly his own hands weren’t free of misdeeds. It had been a long, dangerous war. He might have never laid hands on an unwilling partner, but he’d certainly killed. He’d laid waste to Decepticon enemies. He’d done his fair share of evil things.

Remorse could be a heavy burden.

Skyquake shifted. Coughed. Reminded Scourge that he was still here. Though Scourge couldn’t fathom why.

“I’ll attend the ceremony then relieve you,” Scourge said as he made another tic mark, getting closer to the end of his list. Slowly but surely, he was running out of prisoners to monitor. It was a good problem to have. “This is a celebration no one should miss.”

Skyquake snorted. “Except you apparently.”

“We all have our duties.”

Scourge’s stylus paused on the next two names – Helex and Tesaurus, who had reverted to their prior designations of Crucible and Scissorsaw. They had been practically model prisoners since their incarceration in the battle which lost them Tarn and Vos. They had only recently petitioned to have hearings for some kind of parole.

Other than their past actions as members of the DJD, Scourge had no reason to deny them. Which put him in a quandary. What could one do with a former member of the DJD? Were they dangerous? It was too difficult to say.

Kaon, by contrast, had spoken barely a handful of words since the DJD’s defeat. He’d only spoken long enough to claim that everyone’s choices from this moment hence were their own. He would not bar anyone of the DJD from reforming, if they so choose. When pressed to voice desires for his own fate, Kaon had only looked at them with that dead-optic stare.

Creepy was what it was.

Maybe someday he’d tire of his silence. Until then, he seemed pretty comfortable in the brig.

“Yours isn’t to not have any fun, you know,” Skyquake commented, dragging Scourge out of his thoughts.

Scourge frowned and looked up, his forehead crinkling. “There are far too many negatives in that sentence, Skyquake.”

“Are you going to chastise me for my grammar? Seriously?” Skyquake rolled his optics and straightened. “When was the last time you had any kind of fun, sir?”

It was the ‘sir’ that chased away Scourge’s frown. He’d never demanded ‘sirs’ from any of his subordinates. Clearly, this was a conversation he was meant to give his full attention.

“Fun is a concept long forgotten in the eons of war,” Scourge said carefully.

Skyquake rolled his shoulders in a great shrug. “Look. All I’m saying is that if Cyclonus can snag himself a cute minibot to wipe that perpetual gloom from his face, I’m thinking you can unbend enough to find happiness, too. With a partner or not.”

Scourge searched his second’s face and found nothing but sincerity present. Worry even. As the three factions started to move forward, as New Cybertron took shape, everyone was building a new life for themselves out of the ashes of the war.

Scourge had yet to embrace it fully.

“You may have a point,” Scourge admitted. He set his stylus down with a click and powered down his datapad. Ruminating over Kaon’s future and Bludgeon’s unfortunate fate could be saved for another evening. One where there wasn’t celebration to be found.

Besides, he would be even later than Grimlock and Starscream if he didn’t get moving now.

“I’ll leave the prisoners in your care then?” Scourge stated as he rose from behind his desk, glancing briefly at himself. He was fairly immaculate already, but it never hurt to double-check.

“Until Blackout comes to relieve me anyway,” Skyquake agreed with a chuckle. “Fragger better not show up overcharged, or I’ll have his rotors.”

Now that was a clash Scourge would pay to see. Fierce Skyquake against solid Blackout. They were of a height, of a mass, equally trained.

Scourge chuckled and headed for the doorway, where Skyquake waited. “I suppose time will tell. Have a good evening, Skyquake.”

His second clapped him briefly on the shoulder, dark green plating a contrast to the pale blue of Scourge’s. “You’d better have fun.”

Despite himself, Scourge smiled. “I shall certainly try.”


Grimlock was bored.

It was getting harder not to show it. Speech after speech. Polite applause after polite smile. It was getting tedious. How long had it even been?

He consulted his chronometer.

Twenty minutes. Only twenty minutes? Clearly, his chronometer was malfunctioning. He’d been standing here for two hours at least, his visor glazing over as another mech stepped up to the front of the podium to read off his speech.

Congratulations and gratitude and excitement and blah, blah, blah. This was an important ceremony, Grimlock knew. What Krok and his compatriots had accomplished here was a very good and necessary thing.

Could they get to the ribbon-cutting already now?

An elbow jabbed into his hip, expertly placed against an armor seam to chime over the cables beneath.

“Pay attention,” Starscream hissed, subvocal that no one should have heard it save Grimlock himself.

“I am,” Grimlock murmured in return, obediently shifting his gaze back to the current speaker. He didn’t really know the mech that well.

Templar was a new arrival, one who had come with the sort of experience Krok had been desperately searching for – he was a psychotherapist. Something every resident of New Cybertron was in dire need of. Ratchet had vouched for him. Smokescreen had hid from him, whatever that meant.

He was one of Krok’s new hires, including another Neutral who arrived later by the name of Cerebro, who was more of a psychiatrist, relying on medscripts and surgeries. Together, they would form the core of the new mental health facility.

In any case, Templar had the sort of low, droning voice that lulled Grimlock into a rest-state. All he wanted to do was recharge just listening to it.

“Then stop fidgeting,” Starscream demanded, just short of a hiss.

Grimlock would never, ever tell him how much he sounded like Ratchet just then. The last thing Starscream needed to hear was that he resembled Grimlock’s creator.

Grimlock shifted his weight pointedly. “I can’t help it.”

“You’re the Decepticon leader!” Starscream hissed for real this time, his elbow digging into Grimlock’s armor seam. “Act like it!”

At the front of the stage, Templar finished his speech, dipping his head to the crowd, as Cerebro stepped up to take his place. Primus, Grimlock had miscounted. They still had another to go!

Grimlock creaked as he leaned toward Starscream, ex-venting a gust of warm heat against his lover. “And you’re not bored, too?” he asked, making a pointed look at the subtle twitching of Starscream’s wings.

“That’s not the point.” Starscream sliced a glance at him, chastising but amused as well.

Grimlock’s visor burned a little brighter. He loosed his control of his field by a small degree, letting the sizzling heat of it caress Starscream. He dragged it over his consort’s field edges, drizzling pleasure in his wake.

He watched Starscream shiver, his optics cycle wide. Starscream’s glossa flicked over his lips, wetting them.

“Isn’t it?” Grimlock purred, though quiet enough not to disturb the newest droning speech. “When this is over, I want to finish what we started this morning. I want to take advantage of our time off, lay you down, and worship you, my Air Commander.”

Starscream’s next vent was a ragged one. “You don’t play fair,” he breathed.

“Not when it comes to what I want.” Grimlock stroked his field along Starscream’s again. “And I’ll always want you.”

He left those words ringing in Starscream’s audials as his periphery awareness registered that someone had called his name. He supposed Cerebro was the last speaker after all, because Krok had now stepped up to the podium and was gesturing for Grimlock.

There was a ragged cheer from the assembled crowd. Grimlock had his fans among the Decepticons, even as there were those who still questioned the legitimacy of his ascension. Only one person had dared to challenge him for the position, and everyone knew what happened to Tarn. No one had tried since.

Grimlock felt the heat of Starscream’s stare burning against his back. He had a feeling he’d be paying for that little tease later.


Grimlock stepped up to the podium, nodding to Krok as he did so. He looked out the gathered crowd – not the entirety of the Decepticons, but a good mix of all three factions.

“It is my honor and my privilege to stand here tonight and congratulate Lieutenant Krok on this important achievement,” Grimlock stated. His speech had been prepared short and sweet. There’d been enough speechifying already. “This facility will bring all of us – and our planet – one step closer to healing.”

He pulled the scissors out of his subspace and handed them to Krok. They’d adopted this opening day ceremony from the humans. Grimlock liked the symbolism of it, though he could’ve done without all the speeches.

Krok, at least, wasted no time in striding to the glittery purple ribbon and slicing through it with little fanfare. As the two halves fluttered to the ground, Grimlock continued.

“Without further ado, I am proud to announce that The Hospitality House is now open and ready to deliver the highest of care to any Cybertronian in need, regardless of religion or factional allegiance.”

Polite claps rose from the crowd. Those who had worked very hard to make the Hospitality House a reality grinned brightly. Grimlock stepped back and put a blatant arm around Starscream, content to let Krok step up to speak again. Grimlock’s part in this was done.

He tucked Starscream under his arm and leaned down, voice a low murmur meant to resonate in Starscream’s audials. “I’ll bet there are dozens of empty, open rooms in there.”

“Some of them even have restraints strong enough for a supersoldier,” Starscream replied, optics glittering, lips curved with amusement.

Grimlock’s engine growled. He felt the twitch of Starscream’s wings against his arm. “Now who’s being unfair?”

Starscream leaned against his side, a kiss of charge licking against Grimlock’s armor. “Do you want to give our new medical facility a trial run or not?” he murmured, his field nudging Grimlock’s with heated promise.

Arousal thrummed through Grimlock’s lines. “Let’s go.” Krok and the others wouldn’t miss them. Cyclonus and Tailgate had already snuck away. Only Scourge lingered, as Scourge was wont to do. “I’ve a sudden need to taste my consort.”

“And I’ve a sudden urge to let you,” Starscream replied.

A shudder ran through Grimlock’s frame. He curved inward, turning toward Starscream, free hand lifting to cup his Air Commander’s jaw gently. He tilted Starscream’s face upward to look at him, reading the want and need in Starscream’s optics.

“I love you,” Grimlock said, as he had a thousand times already, and would a million times more. Because it was true.

Starscream’s smile was soft, gentle, as he leaned into Grimlock’s touch. “I know.”


The outdoor amphitheater would not have been Cyclonus’ first choice. Affectionately nicknamed The Grand Strand, it was the go-to for trifactional entertainment on New Cybertron. At present, it played host to Jazz and Skybyte’s unnamed duo – trio, actually, including their musically talented manager – but over the past couple years, it had hosted various other types of recreation.

The music was not to Cyclonus’ taste, but Tailgate had asked and Cyclonus hadn’t learned how to deny him. He doubted he ever would.

Besides, the music was not all that was available. There were numerous types of food and drink to be found here, and Cyclonus had indulged. As had Tailgate. Some might even accuse Cyclonus of spoiling him.

Ah, but he deserved it.

Tailgate had tugged Cyclonus to The Grand Strand after the opening ceremony because he’d wanted to dance. Unable to refuse, Cyclonus had allowed himself to be dragged here. Dancing, however, was not his forte. Especially not the energetic, writhing type currently popular with the seething crowd. The music, too, had an upbeat pace to it, undignified at the least.

It was nothing like the music of the Golden Age. Nothing like the solemn tones of the temples in Tetrahex. Nothing like the historical ballads still haunting Cyclonus’ memories. But he supposed it had a charm all it’s own.

Tailgate seemed to enjoy it well enough.

Cyclonus was content to sit at one of the many tables scattered around the periphery of the dance floor. He had a flute of quality engex and an excellent observation point. If his gaze lingered on Tailgate more often than not, well, that was his right as Tailgate’s partner. Tailgate in all likelihood, was dancing in such a manner because he knew Cyclonus was watching.

He’d been so delighted to attend tonight’s festivities, especially since he would be on Cyclonus’ arm. Tailgate held a certain pride, for some reason, and would tell anyone who listened that Cyclonus was his partner. He’d been beyond giddy to stand up on that podium beside Cyclonus.

It was quite adorable.

His excitement was rather infectious, though Cyclonus could not duplicate his visible enthusiasm. He’d much rather watch Tailgate dance, happy in the midst of a sea of frames. Cyclonus only recognized a few, but was unsurprised to see Lieutenant Skids out in the mix. Skids was one of the few Neutrals who had made friendly overtures to everyone, Autobot and Decepticon alike. He was welcome anywhere on New Cybertron as a result.

At present, he was twisting and spinning Tailgate around the dance floor, as Blaster’s cassettes danced around the two of them. Tailgate was laughing – Cyclonus could see the bright sheen of delight in his visor.

Cyclonus sipped at his engex and relaxed into his chair. It was a chilly night, for those who noticed the temperature. The sky was clear, the stars a blurred vista thanks to their constant motion. Streetlamps gave the illusion of day and nightcycles but it was never enough. Someday, perhaps, they might find themselves actually anchored to a solar system.

Now that they were less focused on creating weapons, they actually had the processor power to spare on more important scientific advancements.

Tailgate spied him through the crowd. He gestured for Cyclonus to join him, but Cyclonus merely shook his head. He had no interest in awkwardly moving to the energetic music.

Tailgate’s visor brightened, and his head turned toward Skids. The lieutenant glanced Cyclonus’ direction, his lips curved with amusement, before he shooed Tailgate on. Cyclonus didn’t know which words passed between them, but they encouraged Tailgate to start bouncing out of the crowd, making a beeline for Cyclonus.

Sitting up, Cyclonus pulled Tailgate’s energon out of subspace, setting it on the table for the minibot. Tailgate bounced into view, his field bubbling with excitement.

“You looked lonely over here,” he said as he scooted in next to Cyclonus, grabbing Cyclonus’ right arm and slinging it over his shoulders.

Cyclonus chuckled. “Did I now?”

“Yes. I figured it’s because you missed me.” Tailgate laughed and tucked himself into Cyclonus’ side. “Which could be solved if you’d come dance with me.”

Cyclonus reached for Tailgate’s energon, scooting it closer to his partner. “I am not lonely. And I enjoy watching you enjoy yourself.”

“Yes, I know,” Tailgate said, closer to a purr that had no busy being used in public.

Cyclonus’ faceplate heated. It still shocked him, how easily Tailgate could bring down his walls and remove his reserve. “This is not the place for such talk,” he said quietly, though his fingers found their way to Tailgate’s shoulder, stroking it gently.

“What? That was a perfectly innocent comment.” Tailgate shrugged and his free hand found Cyclonus’ thigh as he caught the end of his straw with his intake port.

Cyclonus’ lips curved. “There is very little innocent about you.” A fact which he’d learned the more he peeled back the layers of their relationship.

“I am the picture of innocence,” Tailgate retorted and slurped at his energon, draining it dry in several long pulls, a sight which did not fail to make Cyclonus heat internally.

Innocent might have been a term Cyclonus would have used to describe Tailgate back when they first met. But he knew better now. Especially given that Tailgate’s hand had begun to creep up Cyclonus’ thigh, toward his groin.

Cyclonus shifted, his gaze going to the crowd, but no one was paying them a bit of attention. Tailgate would be the sort to grope his lover in public, just to see if he could get away with it. Mischievous brat.

Tailgate released the straw with a satisfied sound and set the emptied cube on the table. “I really can’t convince you to join me?” he asked as his fingers came perilously near to Cyclonus’ panel.

Cyclonus worked his intake. “No. I’ll save for my energy for this evening.”

“Well, you’ll need it.” Tailgate’s optics brightened in a grin, his field stroking lascivious over Cyclonus’ before he abruptly hopped down from the chair. “A few more songs and then we can leave, all right? You get to pick where we go next.”

Cyclonus tilted his head. “A fair compromise.”

Tailgate giggled. “I thought so, too.” He backed away, into the throng of dancers. They quickly swallowed him up, but Cyclonus never lost sight of him.

His return to Skids and the cassettes and was greeted with laughter. Tailgate easily found the rhythm again, and soon enough, he was wriggling and dancing to the beat again. The delight in his expression was enough to warm something deep inside Cyclonus. Or perhaps that was the echo of Tailgate’s touch on his thigh.

Cyclonus sipped on his energon as he watched Tailgate, only to find that he’d finished it during his thoughtful observations. He set the empty glass on the table next to Tailgate’s empty cube. He rapped a nonsense rhythm with his fingers as the jaunty music came to an end. Laughter and stomping rose from the crowd – approval for the band.

“This next one is a slow beat,” Jazz said into the mic, condensation a sheen over his armor, but excitement bright in his visor. “So grab that someone special and get to swaying. Show me the love, mechs. I want to feel it in the air.”

The brightly flashing, spinning lights abruptly shifted to a solid, cool glow. Lanterns shone like little spotlights over the floor. Milling dancers grabbed partners, some with obvious affection, others because of proximity. A low, gentle note started to play and Cyclonus’ spark clenched.

This was an old ballad. From Tetrahex.

He cycled a ventilation and then and there, made a decision. He rose to his feet. One dance wouldn’t hurt. He couldn’t ignore the song of reflection, not this bit of history come back to resonate deep within him.

He threaded through the crowd, found Tailgate’s whose back was to him as he watched the band play. Tailgate hadn’t randomly grabbed a partner. Where Skids had gone, Cyclonus didn’t know. He’d vanished, as spies were wont to do.

Cyclonus tapped Tailgate on the shoulder, and as his partner turned, offered Tailgate his hand. “Might I have this dance?” he asked, curving forward to be on a more even keel with the minibot.

Tailgate’s visor grew bright. His field turned warm and affectionate as it poured over Cyclonus. “Really?”

“It is a song for lovers,” Cyclonus replied as Tailgate’s hand slid into his. “And I would share it with no one but you.”

“Of course I will!” Tailgate’s fingers tightened around his, his field eclipsing Cyclonus with joy and love.

Cyclonus hummed and drew Tailgate into his arms, as a ghost from the past in the form of a song, grew and wrapped around him.

Spending a few hours in the Grand Strand might not have been Cyclonus’ first choice, but he was glad they had come after all.


Blurr was going to win. That was a given. Everyone knew it, even the rest of the racers.

Second place, however, was still up for grabs. And Knock Out had already decided that trophy was going to be his. After Breakdown’s massage and Snarl’s specially formulated energon, there was no way he’d lose.

At the starting line with nine other racers, including Blurr, Knock Out stretched. He pulled his arms over his head, lengthening the lines of his cables, drawing them taut. The lights gleamed down on the track, warming his plating, and he felt the regard of dozens of mechs, gathered here for the race.

He had the feeling this was going to be one of New Cybertron’s most popular attractions. The First Annual Lightning Cup was already a success, and they hadn’t even raced yet.

Knock Out scanned the crowd, looking for a specific face, and grinned as he caught Snarl there in the front row, squashed between a Decepticon Knock Out didn’t immediately recognize and an Autobot he did. Snarl even had one of those cheap flags and was waving it wildly.

Knock Out glanced at his chronometer. More than enough time to acquire a bit of luck, as it were. Blurr was still over there, posing for the cameras.

Knock Out snorted. That would be him afterward. He had a plan to ride Blurr’s aft the whole time. Blurr might win, but Knock Out didn’t intend to make it easy for him.

He jogged over to the front row, passing by a few more racers who were stretching and chatting amongst themselves. A hip-high barricade did little more than corral the crowd away from the track. Snarl could have stepped over it if he wanted, it barely reached his knees.

“What you Knock Out doing?” Snarl asked, sounding a little alarmed, as though he thought Knock Out had opted to forfeit the race.

Knock Out grinned and leaned over the barricade, his hands braced on the top of it. “I could use a bit of luck,” he said, his tires setting off into a slow spin.

Snarl shifted toward him, looming over Knock Out easily. The mass of him was as appealing now as it had been the first time he’d swept Knock Out up into his arms and kissed him senseless. There was something indefinably erotic about being able to bring a mech nearly twice his size to his knees with only a look.

“What you want then?” Snarl rumbled, his truncated way of speaking probably rude to the audials of anyone who wasn’t used to it.

Knock Out chuckled. “Are you really going to make me say it?” he purred.

Snarl tipped a finger under Knock Out’s chin, painfully gentle as he tilted Knock Out’s face upward.

“You so pretty,” he rumbled and slanted his lips over Knock Out’s, soft and sweet as always, so careful of his strength, as though Knock Out was something fragile to be protected.

It sent a wave of warmth through Knock Out’s spark. His hands curled against the barricade. A shiver ran down his spinal strut.

He almost forewent the race then and there, but the kiss was over far too quickly to muddle his thinking that far.

“There,” Snarl said. “That for good luck.” His finger tickled under Knock Out’s chin.

“Mm. Yes, it is,” Knock Out breathed.

A loud horn echoed throughout the track – the warning chime for all racers to gather in their assigned lanes. Time to go make history.

Knock Out winked at Snarl and turned, intending to go back toward his spot. But he suddenly had an armful of Breakdown as the Stunticon snatched Knock Out up in an embrace.

“My turn!” he said as his mouth closed over Knock Out’s, the kiss sloppy and inelegant, but full of enthusiasm, as Breakdown always was.

Knock Out laughed into the kiss, warmed down to his spark, feeling charge gather in his lines. He never knew happiness could be defined as this.

“For luck,” Breakdown said against his lips, pressing a kiss to the nearest corner of Knock Out’s mouth.

Another loud honk announced the secondary warning bell as Breakdown’s embrace tightened, and the thrum of his engine vibrated through both of their frames.

“You’re going to disqualify me,” Knock Out said with a laugh as he tried to disentangle himself from clinging arms.

“Not a chance.” Breakdown slanted their lips together again before he finally released Knock Out with a little push. “Bring me home a trophy!”

Knock Out stumbled a little, but quickly caught his balance. He was amused, despite himself, as Breakdown danced back to the crowd. He lifted his arms to Snarl, who helped tug him onto the barricade in front of Snarl. His legs dangling over the edge, Breakdown’s visor shone with enthusiasm.

Unfairly adorable. It was amazing how much a little guidance could help a mech emerge from his shell.

Knock Out wandered back to his lane feeling ridiculously happy. Perhaps even a little dopey. Primus, what those two did to him.

Someone shifted in his periphery.

“Double the luck, huh?” commented the young racer in the lane next to Knock Out. He was a flashy thing – red and orange and yellow. “That’s not fair.”

Knock Out smirked. “Guess you’ll just have to rely on your own four wheels then.”

“Don’t worry. I’m sure I can take you. Though if you want to share some of that luck, I won’t mind.” The garishly painted mech winked.

The final chime echoed over the track, everyone moving into starting position with only the pre-race jitters to fill the air.

“Sorry, but I think I’ll keep it all to myself,” Knock Out said with a laugh. Those two handsome mechs were his, and he wasn’t one to share.

The brat’s spoiler flicked up and down. “Shame. Guess I’ll just have to settle for that second place trophy.”

Knock Out winked. He could throw the mech that much of a tease. “Have fun ogling my taillights, hot stuff.”

“It’s Hot Rod, thank you very much.” Hot Rod’s smirk would have meant a fine night in the berth, if Knock Out wasn’t taken twice over. “And we’ll see.” He shifted to alt-mode, revealing that the strange swirls in his paint had been meant to reflect flames.

But of course.

Knock Out laughed and transformed as well, bouncing on his suspension and wriggling his tires. He settled into his alt-mode with grace, his engine revving as excitement overrode all else, even the anxiety.

He was going to win, Knock Out decided as the memory of two good luck kisses sent a surge of heat through his engine.

That trophy would be his.

[CtE] Undaunted 04

The weight around his intake was negligible, thread-thin, a glint of duryillium which twinkled if it caught the light just right.

It wasn’t immediately visible to the casual observer. Nevertheless, Vortex couldn’t resist touching it, reaching up to trace a knowing finger over the delicate band. The etching in the metal was so light, he couldn’t feel it with his derma. But he knew it was there. He felt the claim deep in his spark, a stamp of belonging for anyone who cared to notice.

“Stop that,” Bluestreak murmured with a warning squeeze to Vortex’s other hand, where their fingers were tangled together, a far more public display of ownership.


He obediently dropped his hand as a thrill ran up his spinal strut. His armor prickled as he felt what had to be dozens of optics watching him, scrutinizing the connection between he and Bluestreak. Their relationship had been something of a curiosity to anyone who knew of Vortex’s reputation, and nothing of Bluestreak at all.

This wasn’t the first time they’d gone anywhere in public together. But it was the first time Vortex had been allowed the visible sign of Bluestreak’s ownership, as understated and concealed as it was. Only those in the knowing would even understand what it meant, but that didn’t matter.

What was important was the claim. The bold declaration that this mech belonged to someone.

It was intoxicating.

Vortex’s knees trembled with the urge to drop to them, shove Bluestreak up against a nearby wall, and swallow Bluestreak’s spike in front of everyone. He wanted the careful touch of fingers against the back of his head, too gentle to be commanding, but dominating nonetheless. He wanted to hear the pleased noises in Bluestreak’s intake, the murmured praise, all too intoxicating, far more than any engex.

A moan worked into Vortex’s intake. He swallowed it down, felt the shift of his cables against the light weight of the collar. Claim and reminder. He never wanted to take it off.

“I know you’re excited, but control yourself,” Bluestreak chastised, too soft for any listener to take it as a rebuke. “You swore you could handle it and I trusted that. You’ve earned this reward. Don’t make it become a punishment.”

Vortex’s rotors jittered in their housing. “I’ll behave.” Though the temptation to see what creative penalty Bluestreak had devised was strong.

He had never felt so mastered with so little effort. Vortex had always assumed that pain was the only teacher, the only lord which could ever get through to his processor. The only thing to cut through the layers of training and indoctrination.

He was wrong. Delightfully so.

“I know you will.” Bluestreak squeezed his hand again, less warning and more approval, as he leaned in close, warm heat against Vortex’s side. “It’s why you’ve earned this reward.”

His engine rumbled. He looked straight ahead, gaze measuring the crowd. Categorizing them. Victims and villains. Easy prey and someone who’d be a challenge. Far too many NAILs – and what a clever if rude name that – and not enough Decepticons, and far too few Autobots, even with the farflung soldiers returning in fits and bursts.

Vortex had no idea what Bluestreak intended for them this evening. But just this little admission of their relationship, this small claim, was enough to make his spark shiver. He felt owned in all the best ways.

“And if I behave?” Vortex asked, purposefully sliding his attention away from a familiar face. He remembered interrogating that mech once. He’d had information integral to an Autobot incursion on a Decepticon outpost.

He’d been quick to offer up the details, while choking on his own energon, Vortex’s fingers buried playfully in the slippery lines of his internals. He’d let the mech live, because Ons told Vortex he’d be useful later.

Good for him. Surviving to see the end of the war.

He didn’t see Vortex, the monster passing within a few strides of him. He didn’t see how the creature had been tamed.

What a thrill.

A warm mouth tasted the curve of Vortex’s jaw. He felt the whisper of a heated ex-vent against his intake. “I’ve a flog with your name on it,” Bluestreak murmured, his glossa flicking over a cable before he withdrew to more proper distance.

Vortex worked his intake again. “Where are we going then?” Mental images chased away the echoes of the war, running heat through his lines.

His master was a maestro with a whip. He could cause pain that didn’t burn, that didn’t hurt, but felt so good. The sheer sound of the flog striking against Vortex’s armor was enough to make him aroused in half a second. Just seeing Bluestreak’s fingers stroke the handle as he circled Vortex was enough to make him weak.

Bluestreak chuckled. “Sweets first. I think I want to be spoiled.” His sensory flats twitched. Vortex felt the touch of one against his back, brushing over his rotors.

He had to resist the urge to touch his collar again. To lift his chin and proudly display the ownership encircling his intake.

All in due time.

This was the first step. There were going to be dozens more. Bluestreak had promised, and Vortex had bowed his head to that vow.


It was not empty nest syndrome, no matter what anyone kept saying to his face or whispering behind his back or teasing him with little laughs and coy looks.

It was simply a task Ratchet couldn’t envision handing over to anyone else. He’d helped Wheeljack raise the Dinobots, and he’d never regretted that. He’d taken the Protectobots, and First Aid especially, under his umbrella because they’d needed that support. They’d needed someone to watch over them.

Ratchet was a medic, a doctor, a healer, and that didn’t just mean physical ills. The war had been hard. So hard on him. Repairing his friends and family only to see them injured, possibly even die, over and over. Was it so hard to understand that he wanted to combat that as much as he could with the positive? That he’d prefer to teach and nurture and guide?

He wanted to be needed. He wanted to care. He wanted to help.

He felt a failure because this was the only end they could devise. This was the only solution. There had been other volunteers, but Ratchet had been firm. Adamant.

He would take care of Flare. He would teach and guide and help the newframe find his passion, his spark, his new life. He could care for Flare, without being hampered by the shadow of ‘Red Alert.’

Red Alert was dead. Red Alert had died in the initial Decepticon attack over five years ago. What they had rescued was an empty shell, a drone for lack of a better word. Red Alert was dead, and Flare was not him.


A gentle touch to his side had Ratchet fully alert. He looked over at the mech next to him – blue and purple, visored, crests instead of sensory horns – and drew to a stop.

“Yes, Flare? What is it?”

The light behind the pale visor skittered. Flare’s denta worried at his bottom lip. “My processor hurts,” he admitted with a soft sigh. “I apologize but–”

“It’s all right.” Ratchet squeezed Flare’s shoulder and looked around them, finally spying a break in the crowd. “Come with me. I’ll fix it.”

He towed Flare toward the empty space between two temporary structures, little pop up shops selling merchandise to the festival-goers. Out of the press of the crowd, with the shelters to buffer some of the noise, it was both quieter and less bright.

“Here, let me see your panel,” Ratchet said, careful to keep his tone gentle as Flare offered him his right arm.

Flare was not Red Alert, but so much of Red Alert was in him. Ratchet had learned to be cautious, gentle, to telegraph his actions as much as possible. Flare was always wary, easily startled, and Ratchet did his best to be a buffer against the frights of the world.

Flare’s medical port popped, and Ratchet withdrew a cable, plugging into him. He didn’t need permissions. Ratchet was Flare’s legal guardian. He had absolute access to Flare’s systems, which was unusual but necessary in this situation. To the human’s, Flare’s current processing capabilities would put him about the age of a child.

“Just ventilate for me, sweetspark,” Ratchet murmured as he carefully moved into Flare’s sensory suites, dialing down his receptors so that the loud roar of his audial feed dulled to a murmur. He examined the anti-anxiety scripts written into Flare’s code. Perhaps they’d need to be tweaked again.

Red Alert had always been so advanced. He could have heard a pin drop from a mile away, if he so chose. His vision had been acute enough to detect the depth and origin of a scratch in a mech’s paint job from across the room. His sensory suites were so fine-tuned as to be obnoxious, but he’d learned how to adapt to them.

Flare was still learning. He still needed help.

Ratchet knew the moment he’d dialed things down to a manageable level, for Flare ex-vented his relief and his taut armor relaxed. His field fluttered again, reaching for Ratchet’s, seeking comfort, and he offered warmth and reassurance in return. Ratchet smoothed the ragged edges of Flare’s processor and left behind a small pain script to ease the lingering ache.

“There.” Ratchet gently disengaged and patted Flare’s arm. The panel protecting his medical port snapped shut. “Better?”

“Yes, Ratchet.” Flare smiled, soft and sincere, the brightness returning to his visor. He was such a reserved mech, echoes of Red Alert in the way he carried himself, echoes of of the spark he still was. “Thank you.”

Ratchet gripped Flare’s hand, giving it a gentle squeeze. “Anytime, sweetspark. Do you want to go back to the hab?”

Flare shook his head. “No, it’s not that bad. I promise. Just a little too much, but you fixed that. I don’t want to always hide.” His armor fluttered, such a bright and unusual selection of colors, but ones he’d chosen for himself.

“Are you sure?”

“Positive.” Flare straightened, shoulders held back, determination writ into the set of his jaw. “Can we continue please?”

“If you want.” Ratchet released his hand, moving it to Flare’s shoulder instead. He looked over Flare’s head, scanning the crowd and the nearby attractions. “How about the gallery? Should be quiet enough to get your feet beneath you before we risk the crowds again?”

Flare nodded. “That is acceptable. I haven’t seen Sunstreaker or Sideswipe in awhile. We should congratulate them.”

“Yes, we should.” Ratchet urged the younger mech toward the crowd, his hand sliding to Flare’s upper back, between two prominent tires.

They’d opted to alter as much as they could. New name, new paint, new alt-mode. That he’d chosen an alt-mode modeled after Knock Out’s was a point of consternation for Ratchet, but it had been Flare’s choice, so Ratchet had held his glossa. Knock Out, meanwhile, had preened for months.

“Just let me know if it gets to be too much,” Ratchet added as they merged back into the thick press of mechs, most of whom Ratchet didn’t immediately recognize. Their population was growing, not quickly, but growing all the same.

“Yes, Ratchet.” Flare’s field reached out to his with warmth and gratitude, affection also.

It wasn’t empty nest syndrome, Ratchet told himself as he guided Flare toward the gallery. It wasn’t.

Maybe it was, in part, guilt. That in the end, this was the only option they’d had left. To let Red Alert die, and allow his spark to try again, as a new life. He would still have his base coding, that desire to serve, but he could at least choose his loyalties. He could choose his name, his paint, his alt-mode. He could live again, without the burdens of his past life upon him.

Ratchet had been most adamant about the last. Flare should not have to carry the weight of Red Alert. Let Red Alert be among the fallen. Let his name rest with those on the monolith, side by side with his beloved, Prowl. Let Red Alert have his peace.

There were few who knew the truth. That Flare’s spark and Red Alert’s spark were one and the same. Sometimes, if one knew him, echoes of Red Alert were visible in Flare’s carriage. Mere wisps of behavior, but then it was gone again.

It was the best option they had, without memories to offer Red Alert. True, as he matured and settled fully into his coding, he might remember more of Red Alert. What the processor forgot, the spark remembered. One day, Ratchet would have to sit down with Flare and explain to him his origins.

Not tonight, however.

Tonight was for celebration, for Flare taking his first tentative steps into a bright and loud world, where he’d have to battle his extensive sensory suites against the noise.

Ratchet missed Red Alert. Missed the quiet mech with the sense of humor no one would expect of him. He hated that Red Alert himself never got to experience this peace, to relax in it, with Prowl at his side, the two of them finally able to admit their relationship to everyone and publicly bond.

At least, they had Flare. If Red Alert had to die, at least he left them Flare in his place.

Flare was a gift, a treasure, one Ratchet would protect with every strand of his being and every flicker of his spark.

It wasn’t empty nest syndrome, but even if it was, Ratchet preferred this. Teaching and guiding, protecting and nurturing. This was the future he’d always wanted.

And it’d only taken the Pit and high water to get here.


“I knew we should have gone somewhere else first,” Sunstorm said with a little exasperated sigh, though the smile curving his lips belied his irritation.

Thundercracker chuckled and shifted in his seat. “We’re never getting them out of here now,” he agreed as he finished off his drink and set the empty cup on the table.

He looked across the open floor of the arcade and found his partners embroiled in a three on three championship against Sunstorm’s trinemate. They’d moved on to some kind of dancing game, but earlier, they’d been battling one another in various sports-related challenges on the Cybertronian-scaled Wii.

At the moment, it was a bitter contest between Skywarp and Misfire, with Swoop cheering both of them on from the sidelines. The music of the game was obnoxious, but the sight of his partners grinning and having fun made up for it. Barely.

It was loud in here. Thundercracker would have preferred some quiet drinks in Visages, perhaps some snuggling in a dim booth. Or even a walk through the festival grounds, hand in hand with Skywarp or Swoop, with a pause at the concert venue. A little dancing even, if the mood struck him.

This raucous descent into bitter rivalry had never been on the agenda. But Skywarp had asked and Swoop had echoed him with big, watery optics. Thundercracker had been unwilling to turn either of them down.

That was an hour ago.

Sunstorm and his trine had shown up twenty minutes after Thundercracker and his partners, with Misfire gleefully bouncing up to Skywarp and joining the party. Sunstorm had joined Thundercracker at the table at a more sedate pace, with Bitstream trailing in his wake. They’d both sat down with a resigned air.

“Misfire asked,” Bitstream said, and honestly, that was all the explanation they’d needed. Because both Sunstorm and Bitstream had given Misfire such indulgently sappy looks as their brightly colored third shouldered his way into the next match.

Speaking of Bitstream, there he was, returning triumphant with a tray of more drinks and snacks for their table. He’d resigned himself to staying here the rest of the evening long before Thundercracker and Sunstorm and had offered to go retrieve supplies for their stay.

“The service in this place is abysmal,” he said with an ever present scowl. He carefully set the tray onto the table and slouched into the seat next to Sunstorm. “I don’t think either of those two are old enough to have a business license.”

“Eject is probably the oldest mech in here,” Thundercracker corrected as he grabbed a drink from the tray – sadly, neither engex nor high grade. “Believe it or not.”

“I don’t.” Bitstream harrumphed, but he did tilt into Sunstorm’s side, leaning toward the embrace of his trine leader.

Their paint was a contrast of brightness, Thundercracker reflected, with Bitstream a similar blue to Thundercracker’s own, but more reflective and vivid. Not long after agreeing to Sunstorm’s courtship had Misfire adjusted his own paint as well. Still purple and black, the purple now had an optic-watering brightness to it.

Highlighter-bright, as the humans might call it.

Sunstorm chuckled. “There, there,” he said as he patted Bitstream’s hand, which rested on the table. “Thank you for getting the snacks, Bitsy.”

Bitstream scowled at the nickname, but didn’t correct it. He’d gotten used to it, Thundercracker surmised. Most often, said cute names came from Misfire, but Sunstorm had picked up the habit as well. Bitstream had been trined to them for the better part of the year. He knew what he was getting into when he accepted their courtship.

Three years ago to the day, in fact, if Thundercracker recalled. Bitstream had arrived with another group of Decepticon defectors, those who still considered themselves Decepticons but apart from Megatron’s rulership. They’d been led by a mech named Deathsaurus, a massive beastformer who quickly endeared himself to Grimlock for his ethical standards and sense of fairplay. Grimlock pulled Deathsaurus into his command ranks as soon as he could, which wasn’t unexpected, considering he’d lost Krok as a sub-commander.

Save for the top three positions, the Decepticon leadership was still in a state of flux. Mechs retired to pursue a post-war occupation. Others stepped up to take their place, not ready for life outside the rigidity of an army’s command structure. And still more abandoned the leadership roles they’d never wanted in the first place.

Mechs like Thundercracker.

“He’ll have to stop eventually,” Sunstorm said with a critical optic Misfire’s direction. “I can’t miss the ribbon cutting. Starscream will have my wings if I do.”

“You might have to go without him,” Thundercracker said with a chuckle. He snagged an oilcake from the tray. “In fact, leave him with my idiots and the three of us can go.”

Sunstorm snickered.

“That might actually be for the best.” Bitstream fiddled with his drink, an obnoxiously pink concoction that seemed at odds with his personality. “He would only get bored and start making faces again.”

Ah, Misfire. Ever respectable in the face of responsibility.

“How is that going, by the way?” Thundercracker asked of Sunstorm. “I know Star can be… difficult.”

Sunstorm’s amusement softened to admiration. “Not as much as he used to, I think. Without Megatron around to harass him, he’s easy to work with. I mean, he’s not the only person I know who suffers from a lack of tact.” He shrugged.

“Among other things,” Thundercracker said and echoed Sunstorm’s shrug. “Well, that’s good to hear. I’d feel guilty if I tossed a burden on your shoulders that was an aggravation as well.”

“It’s not,” Sunstorm reassured him and sipped at his own drink, a plain cube of mid-grade. “It’s what I’ve always wanted, truth be told. I thank you for the opportunity. I know it must have been difficult–”

“Easier than you’d think,” Thundercracker interrupted, but gently. He offered Sunstorm a small smile. “Star’s my trinemate, and I love him, nothing will ever change that. But I don’t want the responsibility of being his second. I never have. Trust me, this is for the best. For everyone.”

Sunstorm seemed to settle into his chair, as though he needed the relief of Thundercracker’s reassurance. He’d been so reluctant at first, convinced he wasn’t skilled enough, or capable, or that he was usurping something important to Thundercracker. It had taken him awhile to be convinced.

Thundercracker, however, had always been sure. He was more than ready to retire, and Sunstorm was more than ready to take over. Thundercracker was much happier in his current position.

A loud cheer and shout filled the already noisy room. Thundercracker followed the outcry to the game where his partners and Misfire had their hands raised in victory. Skywarp gave Misfire a high-five and then leapt into Swoop’s arms for a messy kiss and embrace. Swoop, he noticed, outright groped Skywarp’s aft in front of all and sundry. Celebrating a win on a game like he’d just solved their repopulation crisis.


Thundercracker shook his head. An idiot he loved, to be fair.

“All votes for leaving them here?” Sunstorm suggested with a wicked grin as he sipped on his drink.

Thundercracker took a huge bite of his oil cake, wiping away the crumbs from the corner of his mouth. “Aye,” he said, echoing Bitstream who was rolling his optics at the antics of their respective partners.

Sunstorm laughed. “It’s settled then. When it’s time, off we go, and they can stay here and have all the fun they want while we do some work.”

Thundercracker honestly couldn’t see how that was any different than usual. He loved Skywarp dearly, but his trinemate simply wasn’t made for the boring duties. The rapid calculations required for his warping meant that his processor wasn’t suited for being idle or focusing on topics he considered boring. Meanwhile, Swoop had his hands full with his medical training under no less than three mentors.

“Sounds like a plan,” Bitstream said and pulled another treat off the tray.

Thundercracker snorted and settled in to watching their respective partners make fools of themselves.

Post-war New Cybertron was a strange place indeed.


“You know, there’s a festival going on outside,” Chromedome said from where he sat backward on a chair, watching Rewind who was hunched over a recently recovered text, so ancient it was stored on flimsy datasheets rather than a datapad.

It was a miracle it had survived he fall of Cybertron.

“I know,” Rewind replied without looking up. “But this is just as fun, isn’t it?”

Chromedome chuckled and braced his arm on the back of the chair, his chin on his elbow. “Well, I do enjoy watching you. But wouldn’t joining the festivities be fun, too?”

Rewind ever so carefully turned a page before he shifted in the chair to meet Chromedome’s gaze. “As long as I’m with you, I’m happy. But I see your point.” He chuckled and slid down from the chair, padding over to where Chromedome waited. “What is it you want to do? Go dancing? Shopping?” He paused. “Visit the gallery?”

Chromedome reached out and snagged Rewind’s arm, pulling him closer. It was an easier feat, considering his reach was nearly double Rewind’s. “I can guess what you want,” he said as he leaned back and tugged the cassette into his lap. “The gallery.”

“I guess I’m pretty predictable.” Rewind straddled his hips, hands hooked on the bars of Chromedome’s alt-mode. “But you never answered my question.”

“We could go dancing.” Chromedome cupped Rewind’s aft, bringing their frames closer together, soaking in the heat of the smaller mech. “We could, at least, stop by Swindle’s shop and grab a box of those candies you like so much.”

Rewind chuckled and pressed his mouthplate into the crook of Chromedome’s intake, taunting him with a touch that didn’t come. “I’m sorry, Domey. I know I’ve been busy categorizing all these flimsies Cliffjumper brought me.”

“It’s all right. I understand your work is important to you.”

“And so are you.” Rewind wriggled in Chromedome’s lap, his aft bouncing quite enticingly. “I also promised you my full attention tonight, and so far, I’ve been an aft in regards to that promise. So if you want, we can go dancing.”

Chromedome tilted his head against Rewind’s as their fields tangled together effortlessly. Rewind was far more skilled at energy manipulation than Chromedome was, which he suspected was due to the fact Rewind was so much older than he. Sometimes, it was difficult to remember that little fact.

His hands slid up and down Rewind’s back, thin fingers tracing barely present seams. “Honestly, it doesn’t matter what we do.”

“You just want my attention,” Rewind finished for him and rested his head on Chromedome’s chestplate. “Ask me something hard, why don’t you?”

“Be mine forever?” Chromedome murmured.

Rewind vented a sigh. “One of these days, I’ll say yes and mean it.” His field wrapped around Chromedome’s like a secondary embrace. “But how about this instead? You and me, a blanket, the roof of this building, and the best view of the fireworks on all of New Cybertron?”

“Sounds perfect.”

Someday, Chromedome knew, he might be able to convince Rewind to be his and his alone. For now, he would have to be content with sharing Rewind with his brother, his fellow cassettes, and Blaster. That was the way the world worked when it came to docks and their cassettes.

He couldn’t blame Rewind for his reluctance. They had, after all, only known each other for half a decade. Barely a blip in the lifetime of the average Cybertronian. It would take much, much longer before Rewind could be convinced into a stronger level of commitment.

For now, Chromedome would simply have to be patient. He’d made his offer. All that remained was for Rewind’s trust to lead to acceptance of it.

“Good.” Rewind patted Chromedome on the chest and then leaned back. “Then you go find us a blanket and I’ll just make sure these flimsies are put up somewhere safe, and I’ll meet you on the roof?”

“As long as you don’t get distracted and forget,” Chromedome teased as he rose to his feet and gently set Rewind on his own. Sometimes, their height difference bordered on ridiculous, but Chromedome didn’t pay it any mind. Who cared what other people said or thought?

They couldn’t even touch on the happiness swelling in his spark.

“Promise I won’t.” Rewind snagged his hand and pressed his mouthplate to the back of Chromedome’s knuckles. “Just you and me, Domey. Just like you wanted.”

Chromedome wouldn’t have it any other way.


It was a universal constant.

Businesses were few and far between on New Cybertron. They had at least one of the basics, supplies and the like, but when it came to variety, New Cybertron was sorely lacking. Especially in the neutral territory among the three cities.

But universal constancy.

Where there was habitation, there was a bar. And where the economy began to stabilize, there was always going to be another bar. Because mechs in need of a little intoxication and relaxation wanted to have options.

They could have gone to Visages, but Smokescreen knew his mechs. They’d opted for the rough and tumble of Swerve’s instead. He’d have to make it up to Cliffjumper later, or at least pop in and say hello. He was so proud of the half-pint. And anyway, that one-half of Smokescreen’s gambling crew was some kind of Decepticon meant he probably shouldn’t take them to Visages anyway.

Though he wasn’t sure Brawl counted as a Decepticon anymore.

Besides, here in Swerve’s, they didn’t have to behave. They could be as loud and uncouth as they wanted to be. Plus, sometimes they could convince the titular bartender to sit down and play with them and score up some free drinks.

“All right, mechs, what’s the score tonight?” Smokescreen asked as he pulled out dice, cards, and betting chips. He set them on the table in front of him. “Poker? Blackjack? Yahtzee?”

Brawl snorted. “Yahtzee?”

“It human game. With dice,” Slag answered as he settled down in his chair, which creaked alarmingly beneath his bulk, but held steady. “Me no like it.”

“Why not Uno? Or Phase 10?” Smokescreen suggested with a smirk. “Those are always fun.”

Bulkhead rolled his optics. “Except the last time we played those, we got thrown out on our afts for getting too rowdy. In this bar, of all places, which lets Wreckers dance on the tables for Primus’ sake.” He leaned forward, bracing his brawny arms on the table, which groaned in displeasure.

“It not my fault,” Slag growled.

“It’s entirely your fault,” Brawl said with a laugh as he jostled Slag with his elbow, though jostle wasn’t quite the word for the near-push it actually was. “For a ‘bot who hates to lose, you sure do like gambling.”

“Dinobots no lose!” Slag snorted fire from his nasal ridge, the hot puff of it flooding across the table and causing gray smoke to rise from his nostrils. “Me Slag say him Smokescreen cheated.”

“Smokescreen cheating is a given at this point,” Bulkhead pointed out as he pushed to his feet, shoving the chair out from behind him. “You three pick what we play. I’ll get the first round of drinks.” He held up a finger. “But just because I’m feeling generous.”

“I don’t always cheat!” Smokescreen retorted, indignant. His doorwings hiked up on his back, rigid and playing at outrage.

Brawl huffed as Bulkhead ambled away from the table, quite nimbly for a mech of his size honestly. “Yes, you do,” he said, aiming a finger at the middle of Smokescreen’s chestplate. “Except we’ve cottoned on to it, and we compensate now.”

“That doesn’t even make sense,” Smokescreen retorted. He swept up the dice and left out the cards. “We’re going to play Poker then. Since you’re all refusing to make a choice.”

Slag leaned over the table and snatched the cards before Smokescreen could reach for them. “Me Slag dealer. Only one not cheat.”

“It’s true. He never cheats.” Brawl nodded solemnly.

Slag smirked.

He and Brawl bumped fists, like the best of brothers, only they weren’t related. Years later, and their friendship was still something of a mystery to Smokescreen, who had observed all kinds of interesting connections being made among the Autobots, Decepticons, Neutrals, and everyone else who’d returned to Cybertron.

Bulkhead returned, dropping a tray on the table which was overladen with mugs of engex – whatever Swerve had on tap and was cheap.

“What? Couldn’t spring for something better?” Smokescreen asked as he snagged one of the mugs and took a sip. It was bitter and bubbly, but he knew it would burn just right in his belly.

“Don’t be ungrateful. It’s free,” Bulkhead grunted and slid back into his chair, eying the table. “What’d we decide on?”

“Poker,” Brawl said as he plunked an auto-feeding straw into the end of his mug. Taste didn’t matter to him, only the ability to achieve intoxication.

“You lot have no creativity.” Bulkhead said and tapped the table in front of him. “Deal me in anyway. What’re the stakes this time?”

It wasn’t, after all, like New Cybertron really had a functional economy. They were mostly cred-less, with Swindle the only mech who really had any credits or shanix to speak of, since he did a lot of off-world trade. Everyone else banked on a planet-wide system of give and take.

The betting chips were whatever they wanted them to be. Sometimes percentages of a drink order. Other times fancy tins of wax and polish. But most often–

“Rust sticks!” Slag declared with a gleam in his optics. “Me Slag like rust sticks.”

–candy. If there was one thing soldiers liked, it was candy.

Smokescreen chuckled. “Well, we can hardly argue with a fire-breathing Dinobot, now can we?” He winked at Slag who grinned with a mouthful of denta. His horns wriggled excitedly. “Rust sticks it is.”

“I can live with that,” Bulkhead said.

“Fine. But next time, we gamble for drinks,” Brawl said and there was a clunk as he nudged Slag beneath the table, possibly with his foot. “Deal us in, Slag.”

The Dinobot laughed and started flicking cards across the table with practiced ease. Given that they’d made a habit of meeting once a week for games, this didn’t come as a surprise.

A Dinobot, a gambler, a military tank, and a space bridge engineer. It almost sounded like the beginning of some kind of joke

Smokescreen grinned as he picked up his cards with absolutely nothing to make any use of. This was still the most fun he’d had in centuries.

Thank Primus the war was over.