[G1] Behind the Scenes 08

Part Eight – Take Five

Ironhide considered himself the luckiest Autobot around.

Not only did he have the best group of friends and berthmates, but he had a longstanding invitation to watch Ratchet and Prowl anytime they were up for a show. That in itself was a gift. But now, Bluestreak and Jazz had started to play, too, and they had sent him an invitation that he was nearly giddy to accept.

“I know you’re interested in fisting,” Bluestreak had said with a devilish grin. “And I also know Prowl doesn’t enjoy it so you’ll never get to see it from them. Lucky for you, Jazz is eager to put on a little show.”

Ironhide had groaned, his spike surging behind his panel at the mere suggestion of a kink he’d been fascinated by for quite some time, but had been unable to see for himself. He didn’t have a steady enough partner to bring up such an extensive kink with, and Ratchet had already told him it was something they never indulged in.

How Bluestreak had learned of Ironhide’s interest, he had no clue. He suspected Ratchet was to blame. He and Bluestreak were as thick as thieves sometimes. Devious. The both of them.

“I’ll be there,” Ironhide had replied, his voice a touch hoarse, an urge to get back to his quarters as soon as possible rising up inside of him.

“I know you will be,” Bluestreak said with a laugh. He rose up on his pedes and kissed Ironhide on the cheek, the brush of his lips a tease, a reminder of all the fun they used to have. “See you Thursday.”

And then he’d left and Ironhide had indeed gone back to his room, hand striping his spike to the tune of two overloads that left his knees shaking and his vents gasping for cooler air. He’d collapsed backward onto his berth, thinking that his friends and their kinky ways would be the death of him.

But oh, what a way to go.

Ironhide arrived Thursday precisely on time, though if anyone asked, it wasn’t because anticipation had simmered in his lines all day. It was because he believed in punctuality. No more. No less.

He buzzed the door and heard the click of it unlocking remotely; invitation extended. Ironhide invited himself inside, though quickly. If this was to be anything like Prowl and Ratchet, no doubt he didn’t want to give a random passerby a glimpse of the debauchery within.

The door slid shut behind him as the scent of lubricant and arousal slammed into him. Oh, he’d been right. He’d been so very right.

Ironhide’s spike surged behind his panel as he took in the sight waiting him.

Jazz’s quarters were a single, and he’d dragged his berth to the middle of the room rather than shoving it up against a wall. He currently laid perpendicular across it, his upper half propped up by a wedge-shaped pillow. His legs were spread wide, his own hands locked around his thighs, keeping him displayed and open for Bluestreak.

The wet, squelching noises of fingers and lubricant made Ironhide’s array buzz with fire. He watched as Bluestreak steadily worked fingers into Jazz’s valve, fluids running down Jazz’s aft and dripping to the floor, his rim swollen and his anterior node thick and bright.

Jazz panted, his optics dim, head tilted back against the pillow. His hips made little canting rocks toward Bluestreak’s fingers. His valve rim fluttered as though struggling to restrain his overload.

Primus, he was a sexy thing. How had Ironhide never gotten to berth him?

Bluestreak withdrew four fingers with a squelch of lubricant and rubbed his thumb over Jazz’s main node in little circles. Jazz whimpered, his fingers trembling on his thighs. Only then did Bluestreak look over his shoulder to greet Ironhide.

“You can come closer, you know,” he said with that cheeky tone Ironhide had come to love and loathe all at once. Mostly because it meant a very good time. “I won’t bite you for having a more personal look.”

Ironhide chuckled and crossed the floor, glad for his own restraint that kept his already throbbing spike nice and contained. “Well, I didn’t want to upset your boundaries.”

“Nnn. Don’t have any,” Jazz gasped out, his head lolling. His valve rim quivered as Bluestreak stroked it, lubricant making obscene noises.

“Well, you’re half-right anyway,” Bluestreak said, his tone fond. He slipped two fingers into Jazz’s valve, and he did something that made Jazz’s backstrut arch. “Ready for the whole thing, pet? Now that your audience is here, I mean.”

Jazz’s glossa swept over his lips. “I been ready, ya tease,” he said, and his thighs spread incrementally wider, his vents whooshing scorched air.

Bluestreak clucked his glossa and gave a light smack to Jazz’s valve, making him jolt. “Don’t you sass me, pet.”

Jazz’s visor flashed. If anything the punishment seemed to make him hotter. He gasped and rolled his hips, making a low moan in his intake.

“He behaves so well,” Ironhide murmured.

Bluestreak rolled his optics. “Don’t remind me.” His free hand reached for the berth by Jazz’s hip, lifting a bottle of lubricant into view. “We’re working on it.”

He tipped the bottle over his already damp fingers, splashing lubricant everywhere. Jazz watched with a bright visor, a hungry one. Ironhide had to admit that a similar look was probably on his own face.

“I have faith in you,” Ironhide said, though he probably sounded distracted. He was too busy watching as Bluestreak plunged three dripping fingers into Jazz with ease. There was a loud, squelching noise.

Jazz moaned. His ventilations hitched.

Bluestreak removed his fingers, added a fourth and pushed them back into Jazz’s valve. Jazz whined, backstrut arching, feet kicking at the berth as his fingers trembled.

“Please,” Jazz begged, restless against the berth. “Please, Blue. Please.”

Ironhide groaned, his hands forming into fists. They were both going to kill him.

Bluestreak chuckled. “I don’t know which of you I’m torturing more,” he said, but he withdrew his fingers and formed a cone with his hand. “Tell me if it hurts, pet.”

“It won’t!” Jazz sounded desperate. His field was a wild and heavy pull of lust, dragging against Ironhide’s own.

He licked his lips, gaze locked where the triangle of Bluestreak’s fingers started to ease into Jazz’s valve. Lubricant squelched and dribbled. Jazz sucked in a long and slow ventilation, his frame shuddering as Bluestreak’s hand eased into his valve, bit by bit, until all was swallowed but his wrist. There he lingered, turning his hand back and forth, rubbing along Jazz’s rim.

Jazz moaned, visor flashing, head tilting back. “M-more,” he pleaded.

Ironhide found himself leaning closer, and then quietly chuckled. Because he couldn’t very well blame Wheeljack for wanting a closer look now, could he? Not when he was near enough to touch Jazz now, and certainly near enough to feel the heat of Bluestreak’s ventilations.

The stretch of Jazz’s valve around Bluestreak’s hand was intoxicating. And when Blue dumped more lube over his wrist and lower arms, only to ease his hand a little deeper, Jazz’s helpless whimpering dragged a soft sound out of Ironhide. His hands drew into fists as he denied his spike’s request to pressurize.

Bluestreak’s free hand rubbed gently on Jazz’s groin, over his closed spike panel and occasionally brushing his anterior node. His other hand continued to move, each forward push incrementally urging his hand deeper, until his wrist vanished and his forearm glistened with lubricant.

Jazz’s ventilations turned haggard. His hips moved in urgent rocks, his hands clenching on his thighs so hard, Ironhide swore his armor dented. He made low keening noises, ones Ironhide better called a mewl, and his abdominal armor bulged slightly as Bluestreak’s hand worked even deeper, only to pause and linger.

Ironhide watched, enraptured, as Jazz’s abdominal armor seemed to shift.

“What are ya doin’?” he asked and knew his voice was filled with static.

Bluestreak smirked, though his own optics were bright and dazed with arousal. “It’s called fisting for a reason, ‘Hide.” His glossa swept over his lips. “And there’s nothing like grinding over a ceiling node with your knuckles.”

Jazz seemed to agree, as he shuddered from head to foot, his heels drumming against his aft, the berth creaking beneath him.

“Master, please,” he begged, and Ironhide had never heard him sound so desperate before. It did things to him, things that made his engine rev. “Can I overload?”

Bluestreak purred at him. “Of course you can, pet.” His fingers swept over Jazz’s closed spike panel again, tracing the circumference of it before he drummed the tips over it. Jazz keened and arched his backstrut. “Give us a show.”

Ironhide groaned and shoved the heel of his palm over his own panel, even as Jazz keened and all but convulsed. His valve rim visibly contracted around Bluestreak’s forearm, his belly armor bulging, as charge crackled out over his frame in jagged bursts.

And then Bluestreak curled forward, latched his mouth around Jazz’s anterior node, and gave it a harsh, audible suck.

Jazz’s entire body jolted as if he’d been struck, and he nearly kicked Bluestreak as one overload must have catapulted directly into a second. He shrieked, head tossing back, as he rode Bluestreak’s arm through the jagged pulses of his overload.

Ironhide ground his denta until he tasted sparks, heel of his palm shoving over his own panel, scrubbing against the head of his spike doming the thin metal covering. His knees shook, and his own ventilating was equally uneven.

Bluestreak leaned back, licking his lips with a smug grin, as Jazz collapsed into the berth, twitching, his fans roaring. He panted audibly, little whines rising from his engine as it clonked and sputtered, his valve rim twitching around Bluestreak’s arm.

His slowly retracting arm at that.

Ironhide watched, enraptured, as Bluestreak eased his arm, and then his wrist, and then his fingers free. Lubricant glistened on his armor, but far more appealing was the sight of Jazz’s valve, loose and open, generously seeping lubricant and nodes pulsing faintly. His rim twitched, and in the shadows of the interior, Ironhide swore he could see Jazz’s internal biolights flickering unevenly.

“He’s so open,” Ironhide murmured. He swallowed down a moan and rubbed his panel. He slid a foot back, intending to gracefully dismiss himself before his spike rejected his overrides.

“Want to touch him?”

The question stopped his processing. “Huh?” Ironhide said, optics wide as he swung his attention to Bluestreak.

Bluestreak grinned and reached for him with a hand still dripping lubricant. “Similar but not the same,” he said with a cheeky wink as his fingers curled around Ironhide’s nearest wrist and tugged his hand toward the heat and damp of Jazz’s array. “My pet likes for his viewers to be hands on.”

On, he said, and then proceeded to nudge Ironhide’s hand toward Jazz’s valve, outstretched fingers brushing over the soaked rim first and foremost. Ironhide shuddered, his vents roaring, as he traced Jazz’s valve exterior.

Jazz moaned, head lolling, but his hips tilting toward Ironhide’s touch. His thighs had drifted together a little in his post-overload haze, but a tap from Bluestreak’s fingers onto his, had him trembling as he returned to his original position. His valve fluttered beneath Ironhide’s fingers, producing a fresh wave of lubricant.

Ironhide groaned, aloud this time. “Primus, I guess that’s my cue,” he said as he retrieved his fingers, though he swore the damp of Jazz’s lubricant stuck to them, hot and sticky. “That’s about as much teasin’ as I can take.”

“Who said it’s a tease?” Bluestreak purred in an alluring tone he had to have learned from Ratchet. “Like I said, similar but not the same. In fact, if you really want, the other end could stand to be occupied right now.”

Ironhide’s jaw might have visibly dropped. And his spike might have sprung free, entirely without his permission.

“Are ya serious?” he demanded.

Jazz moaned.

Bluestreak moved between Jazz’s thighs, freeing his own spike and rubbing the rounded tip of it over Jazz’s stretched valve, his pet automatically tilting toward him. “You’re not obligated, but you’re more than welcome,” he said and drummed his fingers over Jazz’s spike panel. “Open your mouth, pet. You need to be considerate to our guest.”

Ironhide’s spike throbbed. He squeezed the base to keep himself from overloading then and there, a drop of pre-fluid already dribbling at the tip.

Jazz whined. There must have been some hidden command in the words because he let go of his hold of his thighs, and reached up and over his head, grabbing hold of the pillow propping him upright. He yanked it free and tossed it to the side, his upper half collapsing backward on the berth, putting his mouth at the perfect height to make use.

Ironhide walked around the berth as if in a daze, his spike pulling him toward Jazz, who had indeed tipped his head back and opened his mouth. His visor was a bright blaze of arousal, even as his engine purred, his master continuing to tease his valve with little rubs and frots of his spike.

“You’re sure?” Ironhide reminded himself to have some restraint. Even if his spike throbbed, and kept trying to urge itself toward Jazz’s mouth, the smaller mech’s glossa sweeping over his lips as if trying to entice Ironhide.

It was working.

“Positively,” Bluestreak said as Jazz’s ex-vents ghosted over the tip of Ironhide’s spike, hot and wet. The head of his spike breached Jazz’s valve just then, and he slid inside, nice and slow, the noisy burble of an overabundance of lubricant making Ironhide squeeze his spike harder.

Like the Pit, he’d overload without even getting a taste of Jazz’s mouth.

//We discussed all of this before we invited you,// Bluestreak added over a narrowband comm, though he wasn’t even looking at Ironhide, his gaze instead focused on himself, slowly sinking into Jazz. //I’m not offering anything Jazz hasn’t already begged me to offer. And if he changes his mind, I’ll let you know.//

Jazz strained toward Ironhide as if he’d hacked their private conversation, though surely he knew better.

“Please, sir,” he said, in a vocal tone that did squirmy things to Ironhide’s internals. He reached for Ironhide as well, though he stopped just short of touching him. “Let me suck ya off. I promise to do a good job.”

Well then.

Never let it be said that Ironhide was one to ignore an opportunity begging him.

“Sure thing,” Ironhide said in what he hoped was a disinterested tone that gave no hint to how much he just wanted to throw himself at their offer. “Help yourself.”

Jazz moaned, and his hands clasped around Ironhide’s hips. He pulled as he tilted his head further back, lips and glossa reaching. Ironhide shivered as Jazz’s mouth closed around the head of his spike and then drew him deeper, deeper, until he was surrounded by wet heat, and Jazz’s lips pressed to his spike housing.

Sweet Primus on a pogostick.

Ironhide heaved a stuttering ventilation, trying desperately to hold on to some measure of control. He toppled forward, catching his weight on the berth, hands to either side of Jazz’s frame, and his spike rolled against the back of Jazz’s intake. Jazz moaned around him, his field one of hunger. Ironhide didn’t even have to thrust; Jazz did all the work, swallowing around him, pushing and pulling on his hips, sucking on him as if he was the last, best treat in the universe.

Ironhide panted, his audials catching wetter sounds, and he turned fuzzy vision back toward Bluestreak, who was stroking out of Jazz at a faster and faster pace. He’d grabbed Jazz by the thighs, just above faint imprints of Jazz’s own hand, and pushed them up toward Jazz’s chassis. Lucky Jazz was such a flexible mech, pinned between them as he was.

Bluestreak’s ventilations quickened. “No overloading, pet,” he warned as he slammed into Jazz, the wet slap of metal on metal as intoxicating as the garbled sounds of pleasure Jazz made. Each forward thrust rocked Jazz against Ironhide, making the head of his spike roll all over the softness of Jazz’s intake.

Jazz whimpered, his hips rocking into Bluestreak’s thrust. Lubricant trickled out of the corners of his mouth, his lips shiny with it. His glossa did amazing things to Ironhide’s spike, and he throbbed harder, fingers clenching in the berthcovers.

Frag stamina. He wouldn’t last a handful more thrusts at this rate.

Ironhide groaned. “Slag. Ain’t gonna last like this,” he admitted, and didn’t care if either of the two mechs smirked at him. They both oughta know how they hot they were. “Where can I…?”

“In his mouth or on his face,” Bluestreak completed his thought before Ironhide could figure out a way to phrase his question. “Frankly, he looks good with either.”

Primus.

Ironhide growled a curse, the berthcovers rending with an audible noise. His head dropped, hips pumping forward, pushing deep as overload snatched a hold of him and sucked out his transfluid in several thick, ropey bursts. His vents roared, his field burst, and Jazz greedily gulped him down.

Sheer force of effort had Ironhide pulling back at the last second, so he could watch the last precious spurt paint Jazz’s face. It landed on his cheek and slid down, pooling against the bottom edge of his visor. Jazz panted, lubricant leaking out of the corner of his mouth, his fingers squeezing Ironhide’s hips. His glossa swept over his lips.

“Nice,” Bluestreak said approvingly as he slammed into Jazz, rocking him harder and harder across the berth.

Jazz made a lovely whining noise, backstrut arching. His field reached out, tugging. Bluestreak looked down at him with a mixture of affection and lust, before he abruptly pulled out of Jazz and started fisting his spike furiously. It only took a few pumps before he overloaded, decorating Jazz’s array with his transfluid.

Jazz whimpered. He released Ironhide’s hips – and Ironhide tried not to regret their loss. His hands crept down toward his array, but hovered there, as if waiting for permission. He squirmed, thighs still caught in Bluestreak’s grip, Ironhide’s transfluid still a wet smear on his cheek.

“Master, can I–”

“If you give me your spike,” Bluestreak said, cutting off Jazz’s plea. He thumbed Jazz’s spike panel in little circles.

It instantly sprang open, Jazz’s spike jutting into the air, fiercely rigid. Bluestreak’s fingers wrapped around his spike, tightening into a squeeze, and Jazz keened. His frame forming a parabolic curve, his hands clawing at the air.

“Master!” Jazz’s head tossed back, his visor dim and unfocused.

Ironhide tried to remember to ventilate. He still held his own spike, the half-pressurized length twitching madly. He felt captured by them, by Jazz’s desperation and Bluestreak’s half-smug, half-driven expression.

Bluestreak stroked Jazz with fast, squeezing pulls, dribbles of pre-fluid staining his fingers. “You know what I want, pet,” he said, optics bright and hungry as he looked at Jazz. “Overload for me.”

Jazz keened. His entire frame trembled as his head tossed back and charge crackled out over his armor. His hands slammed to the berth, fingers snarling in the cover and twisting about the fabric. Desperate noises rattled out of his intake.

Ironhide growled a moan.

And Bluestreak, face set with determination, dropped Jazz’s other leg and plunged four fingers all at once into Jazz’s soaking valve, wrist twisted just right to grind against a node cluster set against Jazz’s rim interior.

Jazz howled and thrashed. He overloaded, spike spurting transfluid up until it spattered down on Bluestreak’s fingers, onto his pelvic armor, his belly, and his chestplate.

Ironhide groaned, long and low, as his spike repressurized quickly, throbbing in his loose grip. He didn’t act on it, however. He only allowed himself a few shallow strokes.

He would wait for an offer. He wouldn’t presume.

“Good boy,” Bluestreak was murmuring as he fondled Jazz’s spike, massaging him through the last tremors of overload.

He withdrew his lubricant slick fingers from Jazz’s valve, and Ironhide’s mouth watered. The whole room smelled of lust and arousal and lubricant, and it filled Ironhide’s vents and chemoreceptors until he felt dizzy with it.

“T-thank you, s-sir,” Jazz slurred, his head lolling on the edge of the berth. Little shivers made his armor twitch, small bursts of static leapt out from his substructure.

Bluestreak’s glossa swept over his lips. He finally loosed his hold of Jazz’s spike, his fingers switching to gently pet over Jazz’s entire array, until they were sticky with mingled lubricant and transfluid.

“Well?” Bluestreak asked, his tone oddly conversational. “Did you enjoy the show?” His askance look at Ironhide was just shy of smug.

Ironhide chuffed and squeezed his spike. “I think the transfluid on his face tells ya that I did,” he drawled. “And I thank ya for lettin’ me participate.”

For once, his processor helpfully added though Ironhide tucked the thought away. It seemed Bluestreak and Jazz were more willing to include active participation. No way was Ironhide going to potentially jeopardize that for the future.

Bluestreak chuckled. “You’re welcome.” He fondled Jazz’s anterior node, and Jazz squeaked, shifting about on the berth, his engine kicking out of it’s nearly-soundless idle to a rolling purr. “And if you’re lucky, I’ll let you fist him yourself next time.” He gave Ironhide a sly look.

Ironhide groaned. He squeezed his spike to stop it from jerking about, spilling pre-fluid everywhere. Imagination supplied for him the very idea, and it gave him the good surges. He was never going to depressurize at this rate.

“Evil,” he said. “The both of ya.”

“Yes, he is,” Jazz said with an exhausted curve of his mouth. “Love ‘im though.”

And sweet, too. They really were. Especially when Bluestreak gave Jazz a look both sappy and indulgent.

Ironhide would forever be proud of himself for helping these two get their heads out of their afts and realize where they could find exactly who they were looking for.

For now, however, he was still standing here holding his own spike, Jazz was covered in all kinds of fluids, and maybe they oughta do something about all of that.

“The feeling’s mutual,” Bluestreak murmured with a hint of color in his cheeks before his gaze slanted to Ironhide, that edge of control causing it to gleam all over again. “And it looks as though our guest is in need of some assistance, pet.”

Jazz tilted his head to the side, his visor seeking out Ironhide, whereupon it brightened. “Want I should take care of that, Master?” he asked, licking his lips, a note of glee entering his tone.

Bluestreak purred. “Mmm. Aren’t you a generous little pet?” The heel of his palm scrubbed over Jazz’s array, grinding down on his anterior node. “Well, I suppose if the old mech still has the energy…”

Ironhide huffed at both of them. “Don’t you start with me, brat,” he growled playfully as Bluestreak laughed, his field rippling out with genuine joy.

Ironhide’s spark threatened to stutter. Jazz and Bluestreak were good for each other for that alone: Bluestreak’s happiness and Jazz’s ease.

Hands tickled over Ironhide’s hips. He felt a tug and shifted his gaze to Jazz, unsurprised to find the audacious mech unashamedly trying to pull Ironhide’s spike back toward his open mouth.

Ironhide groaned and went wherever Jazz tugged him.

He truly was the luckiest mech in the Ark, wasn’t he?

[Crown the Empire] Salvage Epilogue

Recovery was not an immediate process, no matter how much Optimus wished it would be so.

He recharged with Soundwave more often than not, but even the comfort of Soundwave’s familiar field and warmth was not enough to chase away the echoes of Megatron’s touch.

Sometimes, Optimus startled awake and all he wanted was distance and space. He wanted to be alone. He didn’t want to be touched, no matter how welcome.

Soundwave offered, again, to remove the memories. Optimus refused. He didn’t want the easy way out. He wanted to face his fears and move on, not worry about dealing with them later.

Soundwave did not ask again, he only offered a promise. If Optimus changed his mind, Soundwave would help him in an instant.

He offered space when Optimus desired it. He hovered in the periphery, with energon or casual conversation if it was wanted, and he returned when Optimus reached for him. If he was bothered by the constant push-pull, Soundwave didn’t show it.

It was months before they moved beyond kissing. Before Optimus could trust himself further than heated mouths, clumsy touches, and deep, lingering kisses which left him hot and wanting.

Soundwave spent a lot of time in the washracks. If he complained, Optimus did not hear it. Instead, he was patient. He waited. He never pushed, never presumed.

If anything, he excused himself sometimes before Optimus was ready to call things to an end. Once, his panel had popped without his permission and never had Optimus seen Soundwave so embarrassed and apologetic.

To see him standing there, spike erect, and backing away as though the very sight of it would harm Optimus, had been so amusing he could do nothing but laugh. Laugh so genuinely it broke through the tension of the moment.

Well, the worried tension.

The rest Soundwave had to handle in the washracks. He never complained, not even once. He would simply leave with a nod to Optimus if requested. Or he would climb into the berth beside Optimus, hold out his arms, and wait for Optimus to climb into them. Which Optimus would do with gratitude and affection.

It was easy to fall into Soundwave’s arms. Easy to grow more and more attached to him. Soundwave’s quiet dignity, his dedication, his gentle spark, all of it called to Optimus’ own. He couldn’t believe he hadn’t seen it sooner.

He trusted Soundwave more than he ever thought he could. Which often brought them back around the bend to here and now, to this rapidly familiar course of events.

Gentle kisses turned to heat and passion. Hands that never roamed any further than they were allowed. Tangled legs and hot ex-vents. Lips brushing over his, the soft rumble of desire. Feeling aroused and hesitant all at once. Believing Soundwave wouldn’t hurt him, but still questioning his own trust. Unable to decide if he wanted to stop, or if he couldn’t bear to do so.

And always, always, the soft statement popped up.

“Activities should cease,” Soundwave murmured, drawing back from the kiss only so far as to lean his forehelm against Optimus’ own.

Optimus rumbled appreciation of his own. He drew in a deep intake, and ventured down a different route. Nothing would ever change if he kept rolling down the same road.

“Actually,” he said. “If you’re not opposed, they could continue…?” Optimus suggested, his spark thumping and his frame flush with heat.

Soundwave’s visor brightened, his grip briefly tightening on Optimus before it loosened once more. “If Optimus wishes,” he said, but the yearning in his voice was painfully clear.

Optimus licked his lips. “I do,” he murmured, and slanted his mouth over Soundwave’s again, their glossas instantly meeting in a sizzle of need.

He ex-vented into the kiss, their frames sliding together. His thighs tightened around Soundwave’s waist as he pressed their chestplates against one another. Soundwave’s grip on his hips tightened, keeping him in place, his armor vibrating. Need yawed in Soundwave’s field, yet he kept himself held back.

He would always wait for Optimus.

Affection throbbed through Optimus’ spark. He gentled the kisses, turning them into brief presses of lips together, and reached for Soundwave’s right hand. He tugged it away from his hip, guided it to his groin, and deliberately placed it over his array panel. There, invitation extended, one Soundwave accepted as his fingers carefully traced Optimus’ seams.

Optimus shivered, little bursts of need peppering through his array with each brush of Soundwave’s fingers. Arousal tightened in his abdomen in a slow curl of heat. He moaned against Soundwave’s lips, his hips rocking urgently toward his lover’s touch. His cover spiraled open without waiting for Optimus’ command, freeing his spike to jut upward.

Soundwave, however, made no move toward it. He seemed content to gently tease Optimus, stroking around his array, his hips, his pelvis. Dipping into seams and caressing cables, his fingers drawing lines of charge in their wake.

It was as frustrating as it was reassuring.

Optimus fumbled for Soundwave’s hand again and boldly placed it directly upon his spike, shivering as warm fingers encircled his throbbing length. Optimus worked his intake, his cooling fans rattling to life, as Soundwave rubbed his palm over the sensitive head before stroking down the shaft.

Tingles spread outward in a dizzying wave of pleasure. Optimus’ hips bucked as he surrendered to the sensation, as he let the ecstasy build in his array. He focused only on the press of Soundwave’s hand, the flick of his fingers, the gentle squeeze. His spike throbbed to the beat of his spark. Pleasure lit through his frame like lightning.

Optimus broke away from the kiss to pant against Soundwave’s intake. His hands tightened on Soundwave’s shoulders, his hips rolling into Soundwave’s slick grip. A rattle started in his pedes and raced up his frame, zipping charge in its wake, until it reached his groin and rushed out through his spike, dragging his overload with it.

Optimus’ shoulders hunched as his spike spurted, pleasure zapping up and down his spinal strut, and his spike dribbling transfluid over Soundwave’s fingers. His entire frame trembled as his vents roared, his sensory inputs rolling with static.

The shaking increased in earnest. Optimus loosed a sound, he wasn’t sure he could call it a moan, and pressed himself into Soundwave’s ventrum. His tanks clenched, a tide of nausea seeping up from his core.

This… this was both unwelcome and unexpected.

Soundwave’s hand slid from his hip to his backstrut, stroking up and down the length of it gently. His hold on Optimus’ spike eased until it vanished, his hand resting on Optimus’ thigh instead.

“Optimus well?” Soundwave asked, their proximity and physical contact no doubt keying him into the unease that wiggled into the edge of Optimus’ spark.

Optimus cycled a ventilation. “Yes,” he said. It was only partially a lie. “I apologize. I just…” Need a moment. Need to get his processor on straight. Need to stand firm against the onslaught of unwelcome memories and banish them back to the darkness.

“Space desired?”

Optimus shook his helm and offlined his optics, in-venting Soundwave’s increasingly familiar scent. “No. This, as we are, is fine.”

Soundwave’s hand stroked down his back again and again, soft and repeated strokes Optimus could time down to the second. The rhythm was calming. He started matching his vents to it, his spark gradually calming as he did so.

The nausea went away, chased by the warmth Soundwave’s frame offered. No, not just warmth. Heat. Over-heating.

Optimus’ unshuttered his optics and eased out of the close embrace. Charge danced just under the surface of Soundwave’s armor. His fans were lowkey humming. Arousal leaked from his field in tiny reveals.

Oh.

Optimus nearly smacked himself in the face. He’d kept Soundwave from departing to the washrack earlier. No wonder he shook from repressing his own arousal. Yet, he didn’t so much as twitch or push Optimus away.

Optimus cycled a ventilation. “Thank you,” he murmured, leaning up to press a kiss to Soundwave’s chin.

The other mech tilted his helm down, catching Optimus’ mouth. Their lips brushed, Soundwave’s ex-vents a warm caress over Optimus’ frame.

“You are welcome,” Soundwave said, his damp fingers stroking over Optimus’ thigh, closer to his knee than his array however.

Optimus hummed in his intake and kissed Soundwave again, feeling the other mech’s lips tremble against his. More charge crackled out from beneath Soundwave’s plating. He was clearly beyond the point where he could will his arousal away.

Optimus stroked the back of his knuckles over Soundwave’s cheek. “Shall I return the favor?” he asked as he dropped his free hand, fingers ghosting over Soundwave’s dock before they ventured lower.

“Exchange of pleasure is not required unless Optimus ready,” Soundwave replied, his hand capturing Optimus’ before he managed to find Soundwave’s panel. “Want Optimus’ true desire. Not repayment.”

Optimus’ engine purred. He curled his hand around Soundwave’s helm and pulled him into another kiss, their lips sealing together and their glossas tangling. It wasn’t obligation he felt, but a desire to return the pleasure Soundwave offered. Nevertheless, he was grateful Soundwave had denied him.

He wasn’t sure he was as ready as he wanted to be.

Soundwave rumbled at him and drew back from the kiss, briefly brushing their nasal ridges together. “Reciprocation not required,” he said, a note of humor in his voice. “But release of charge still necessary.”

Optimus chuckled and slid back, putting some space between their frames. “I will take my leave then.” Rather than force Soundwave into the washrack for the umpteenth time, Optimus would excuse himself to it.

“Only if Optimus wants.”

Optimus paused where he’d slid to the edge of the berth, curling his knees beneath him. “You would let me watch?” He had to admit, the idea appealed to him.

“Affirmative.” Soundwave shifted, leaning his back against the wall, his legs stretched across the berth in front of him. One hand had already dropped to his panel, his fingers stroking the domed metal.

Optimus’ lips curved into a smile. “Then I’d like to stay,” he said, and shifted so that he sat more or less perpendicular to Soundwave, close enough their frames touched, and he felt a part of it, but not so close he felt obligated to participate.

Not that Soundwave seemed to mind either way.

Soundwave rubbed the heel of his palm against his array, eliciting a firm pressure Optimus would not have expected. His ventilations quickened; his panel popped almost immediately. His spike pressurized into view, dark blue and banded in spirals of pale white and soft red. Transfluid already beaded at the tip as sky blue biolights blinked in fitful succession.

Soundwave’s fingers flirted briefly over his valve, offering Optimus only tantalizing peeks, before they wrapped around his spike, now coated in his own lubricants. Optimus’ vents quickened as Soundwave firmly gripped his spike, giving it a long, thick pull that had Soundwave’s engine racing and his hips pumping upward.

Soundwave’s field spilled heat and desire into the room. His optical band darkened, his lips parting as some of his ventilations diverted orally. He stroked himself in long pulls, fisting his spike and squeezing out pearls of pre-fluid with each upward pull.

Optimus couldn’t tear his gaze away. His mouth went dry. “Do you… do you think of me?” he asked, briefly lifting his gaze to Soundwave’s.

“Always,” Soundwave replied. His vents huffed another low whoosh of air. His hips rolled into his fist, his engine rumbling into a higher pitch. His glossa swept over his lips, more pre-fluid dribbling from the tip of his spike.

Heat dared return to Optimus’ own frame. He found himself creeping closer without conscious thought, drawn to the sight of Soundwave working his spike, dark blue armor glistening beneath lubricant. His motions became faster, his helm dipping as he panted.

Soundwave’s field blasted, filling the room with his need. His free hand gripped the berthcovers, tangling in the fabric. He pumped himself harder and harder, the slick sounds of lubricant overshadowed by the roar of his engine.

Optimus’ breaths caught in his intake. He pressed against Soundwave’s side, felt the other mech vibrating against him.

“Are you thinking of me now?” Optimus asked, barely above a whisper, enraptured by Soundwave caught in his own pleasure.

A low groan rattled in Soundwave’s chassis. “Yes,” he bit out, and gnawed on his bottom lip, the dermal plating growing swollen and plump.

Optimus groaned and closed the distance between them, sealing his lips over Soundwave’s. The other mech panted into his mouth, denta and lips claiming Optimus’ with bright hunger. Soundwave shook beneath him, but no more so when Optimus dared reach between their frames and flirt his fingers over the head of Soundwave’s spike.

It might as well have been a lightning strike. Soundwave’s backstrut bowed, his hips jerked, and his spike spurted. He overloaded with a low, sexy sound, stripes of transfluid erupting from his spike. Soundwave’s entire frame shook as his hips lazily pumped into his fist, milking his spike of every drop of transfluid.

Optimus drew in a shaky ventilation and rested his helm on Soundwave’s shoulder. His hand rested on Soundwave’s thigh, leaving a sticky imprint behind. His own system hummed with a soft heat, not quite full arousal, but not revulsion either. That had been unexpectedly arousing.

Soundwave shifted a little. “Apologies,” he murmured, as though embarrassed he had overloaded so quickly.

“What for? I’m unbelievably flattered.” Optimus grinned and pressed a kiss to the corner of Soundwave’s mouth. “Better than the washrack?”

A laugh rattled out of Soundwave’s chassis. “Yes.” He leaned down, pressing his forehelm to Optimus’. “Thank you.”

“Mmm.” Optimus’ engine purred. “My pleasure.”

He could do this, he realized. He didn’t have to hold himself back.
Two steps forward, one step back.

He managed to be somewhat intimate with Soundwave without needing to run away and hide. But the night purges returned. Vivid imaginings and lies, telling him he’d never escaped, Megatron wasn’t dead, and it was all a dream fabricated by a spark clinging to hope.

Soundwave and Starscream had failed; Megatron had tortured and killed them both, ripped out their sparks in front of their agonized cassettes and trinemates. He’d caught Jazz, and hadn’t been merciful. He’d raped and tortured him, all in front of Optimus, and then ripped open his chassis and tore out his spark, all while Optimus thrashed in chains he could not break.

‘M sorry, boss bot…

Jazz’s voice echoed in his helm.

He onlined shaking, spark hammering, field wild. He shoved Soundwave away from him, the other mech too large, too hot, too present.

“Optimus–”

“I’m fine,” he lied, but couldn’t speak the truth, couldn’t voice it. He couldn’t even be certain what the truth was, save that he certainly wasn’t fine, and it wasn’t Soundwave’s fault.

Optimus pushed himself off the berth, away from Soundwave, his legs wobbly, his knees even more so. He felt the urge to move, to go. It didn’t matter where. He just wanted to know that he could.

He touched his wrists, his intake, his chestplate. Felt the locks, the lack of chains and collar. There was nothing inhibiting him. His code worked on the door. It slid open and then shut again when he didn’t leave.

He paced a circle around the room. It wasn’t Megatron’s. It was very much his. This was his console. This was his window. It looked out on Polyhex, not Iacon.

In the reflection of the window, Optimus saw it. His panels were open. His spikehead barely peeped into view, but the biolights around his valve lightly flickered. The barest sheen of lubricant decorated his thighs. His engine revved weakly.

Optimus’ hands formed fists. One of them rapped against the window, barely enough to make a sound. There was no arousal in his system, but he was ready anyway.

Such was the power of a nightmare. One that grew in strength, trying to convince him he’d been telling himself a lie.

It was early. Perhaps not too early. He pinged Jazz anyway. His third would understand.

“Optimus?” Jazz’s reply sounded sleepy, a bit dazed. “Is somethin’ wrong? Somethin’ happen?”

Optimus bowed his helm. “No. I apologize for waking you. I only…” Wanted to know you were all right. Wanted to know that I could. Wanted to know I wasn’t dreaming.

“It’s okay, boss.” Jazz sounded more alert now, and somehow even managed chipper. “I’m fine. We’re fine. All’s fine. Old Buckethead’s dead, and you should be snugglin’ with Soundwave right now. That sound right?”

Optimus didn’t know how Jazz always knew. But he was grateful for it in that moment.

“Yes, it does. Thank you, Jazz.”

“Anytime, OP.”

The comm went silent, but not before Jazz transmitted a digital hug and an emoticon the likes of which Laserbeak favored. Not even Optimus’ subconscious could have produced that.

Calmer, Optimus focused on ventilating, one intake after another. He counted his sparkpulses as they slowed from panic to calm. He listened to the sounds of his own frame, no longer labored or struggling. His repaired windshield glinted in the window.

This was reality. Not that nightmare.

And slowly, slowly, the panic eased.

Optimus cycled his optics, performed a systems check, and unclenched. He half-turned, aware that Soundwave was still here, though the other mech had been wise enough not to move.

He stood near the berth, his attention on Optimus, but making no sudden movements. He tilted his helm in question, but did not speak.

“I apologize,” Optimus said, and winced when it came out striped in static.

Soundwave shook his helm. “Apologies unnecessary.” One hand rose slowly, and tapped his forehelm. “I saw.”

Two words.

Chill raced down Optimus’ backstrut. His gaze fell, shoulders hunching. “I see.”

“It was unintentional,” Soundwave rushed to say. “Physical contact and unconscious trust left both open. I apologize.”

Optimus worked his intake, feeling as though a lump had taken up residence. “We’re both sorry,” he said, and offered Soundwave a smile, only to realize that his battlemask had activated in the midst of his fear.

He couldn’t bring himself to retract it. The mask, too, was evidence that he was safe, and no longer in Megatron’s clutches.

“Preference for solitude?” Soundwave asked. He still hadn’t moved, as though he feared it would set Optimus off in some manner.

Perhaps he was right.

“No,” he answered, and then shook his helm. “I mean…” He trailed off. He didn’t know what he wanted.

He yearned for the comfort Soundwave offered. He didn’t want to be touched, however. He wanted to be alone, but knew he would be lost in his thoughts if he did so.

“I am sorry,” Optimus said again, his tone bleak, his gaze dropping.

“Apology unnecessary,” Soundwave said quietly. He took a step, an unexpectedly silent one, toward the door. “Moment needed? I will retrieve coolant. Then re-evaluate.”

Coolant?

Oh. Optimus’ temperature had skyrocketed. He hadn’t noticed in all the other pains. Yet, Soundwave had.

His spark squeezed.

“Yes, thank you. That sounds nice,” Optimus said, managing to lift his helm. He couldn’t smile, not behind the protection of his mask, but he hoped that his gratitude was in his field.

Soundwave dipped his helm, and excused himself from the room. In the silence of his absence, Optimus cycled a ventilation. He stood there several seconds more before he moved toward the berth on shaky legs. He sat down on the edge and scraped a hand down his face.

He hated this. He hated the weakness, the uncertainty, the crawling fear. There was no reason to be afraid, to panic. Megatron was dead. He was safe. All he wanted was to feel safe, to allow himself to be comforted by the mech who would be his lover.

Yet, he could not even have that. Megatron and his tortures lingered at the back of Optimus’ subconscious like a rust infection that had settled in all the way through his frame.

The door opened as Soundwave returned, still moving slow and careful. He carried with him a decanter of coolant, which Optimus gratefully accepted.

“Thank you,” he said, and was ashamed when he had to turn away from Soundwave so he could open his mask to sip at it. He should not feel so unsafe.

“You are welcome.” Soundwave lingered, not too close, not too far. “Optimus wishes for solitude?”

Optimus shook his helm. “No. I don’t want to be alone, but I don’t… I don’t want to share a berth either.” He cycled a ventilation. “I apologize. I know very well that I sound contrary and irrational.”

“Only to some. Suggestion offered?”

“Of course.”

Soundwave moved closer, slowly, as though waiting for Optimus to protest. He gestured to the berth. “I will sit. You can recline. Sound fair?”

“That doesn’t sound like you will get a restful recharge,” Optimus said, frowning behind his mask. He tucked the container of coolant into his subspace. “Neither does it sound fair.”

Soundwave’s field reached out, tentatively, for Optimus’ own. “Positions have been worse. More worried for Optimus’ comfort.”

His spark thrummed with warmth. “All right,” Optimus said. “Let us try.”

You would have thought he’d offered Soundwave the world, the way his lover lit up with delight. Soundwave’s field became soft and warm, like the caress of a blanket. Yet, he still moved cautiously, telegraphing his motions as he pulled himself onto the berth, and braced his back against the wall, his legs stretched out in front of him. There was still plenty of room left for Optimus.

He privately thanked Jazz for his foresight in acquiring Optimus a larger berth.

Soundwave patted the thigh nearest to Optimus. “Invitation extended,” he said, holding out a hand to Optimus.

There was no urgency in his motions. He looked as though he were willing to wait for Optimus until morning came, if he needed. That, in itself, was enough to convince Optimus.

He pulled himself fully onto the berth and got into position. He lay there, stiff as a board, his head pillowed on Soundwave’s thigh, his frame stretched across the berth. Soundwave was warm beneath him, a gentle thrum coursing through his frame. Nevertheless, he sent the command for the lights to dim.

“May I touch you?” Soundwave asked, his vocals softer, as though trying not to startle.

Optimus cycled a ventilation. “Yes,” he said, aloud, though there was a part of him that immediately tensed at the idea. Surely Soundwave didn’t mean intimately.

But no. Soundwave’s hand rested on the crown of his helm, a barely tangible touch that was none the less warm and soothing.

“Optimus must recharge,” he murmured, his fingers stroking a gentle pattern over the curve of Optimus’ helm. “Rest necessary for recovery.”

“So I’ve been told,” Optimus said. He cycled several ventilations, tried to focus on them and the pulses of his spark. He didn’t want to admit he feared what he would see when he shuttered his optics.

“Optimus must rest,” Soundwave repeated, a murmur again, but instead of falling into silence, what rose after was a sound.

It wasn’t quite a song. Optimus couldn’t call it that as it didn’t seem to come from Soundwave’s vocalizer. But neither did it come from his speakers. It seemed to emerge from his frame, as though he were manipulating some of his internal systems to produce the sound. It wasn’t a noise, but had a lyrical quality, one without words.

It was beautiful. It seemed to match the pulse of Optimus’ spark, and as it slowed, so did his spark rate. Until the tension that left his cables taut and his plating clamped, eased out of him with each passing ventilation.

“Often soothed cassettes like this,” Soundwave said as his fingers stroked gentle patterns around Optimus’ helm and audials, though careful to avoid his sensitive antennae. “The humans would call it a lullaby.”

“It is very nice,” Optimus murmured, his optics seeming to shutter of their own accord. He felt his ventilations even out.

Soundwave hummed deep in his chassis. “Rest now,” he said.

Optimus made a noise of agreement. He focused on the sound, the lullaby as it were, and let it lull him right back to recharge.

He had no more nightmares that night.

~

They tried again.

Or to say, Optimus tried again. He set forth with a determination he hadn’t felt in months. He refused to let Megatron be a noose around his intake.

Post-shift, he invited Soundwave back to his hab-suite. Soundwave always waited for an invitation. Once inside, he walked right up to the former Decepticon and gently tapped his cassette dock.

“Out,” Optimus said, with perhaps more force than he intended. “We are going to need some privacy.”

Soundwave’s field went flush with heat. His armor rippled. “Understood,” he said. “Buzzsaw. Laserbeak, eject.”

His dock popped, the two avian cassettes emerging immediately with playful chirps at each other. Buzzsaw booped Soundwave on the helm affectionately, but Laserbeak came and booped Optimus, her field buzzing with affection.

“There’s energon crush in the dispensary,” Optimus offered, lifting a hand to tickle a finger under her chin. “Help yourselves.”

Laserbeak sent him an emoticon and nipped at his fingertips. Her and Buzzsaw squawked at each other before taking off for the dispensary.

“Optimus spoils Laserbeak,” Soundwave said, amused.

“Sometimes, people deserve to be spoiled,” Optimus said, and stepped closer to Soundwave, well into his personal space. He cupped Soundwave’s jaw with one hand, gently rubbing his thumb over Soundwave’s mask. “Open for me?”

“Of course.” Soundwave’s mask split down the middle and slid back into his helm.

Optimus smiled and closed the distance between them, pressing their mouths together for a soft kiss that quickly became less than chaste. He flicked his glossa against Soundwave’s lips, requesting entrance, and hummed when Soundwave relented.

His thumb swept over Soundwave’s cheek as he deepened the kiss, tangling his glossa with Soundwave’s own. Soundwave had recently consumed energon, a perpetually sweet blend that he favored. The flavor of it lingered on his glossa.

Optimus’ frame hummed.

This… this was all right.

He eased out of the kiss, brushing only their lips together. “Thank you,” Optimus murmured, his optics half-shuttering.

“I am the one who should be grateful,” Soundwave replied gently. He cupped Optimus’ face as well, and Optimus turned his helm into the gentle touch.

He wanted to focus on this, and only this.

“What would Optimus like?” Soundwave then asked, his lips all but mesmerizing as they moved.

Optimus flushed. “I did not get that far,” he admitted, and worked his intake. “I do not know. I only know that I do not want to be ruled by my fears.”

Soundwave leaned down, pressing their forehelms together. His warm ex-vents gently ghosted over Optimus’ faceplate. “Optimus trusts Soundwave?”

“Yes.” Optimus surprised himself with how much he actually meant it. There were a thousand reasons he should not trust Soundwave, and yet he did. He trusted that Soundwave would not hurt him or intentionally bring him harm.

A ripple passed over Soundwave’s armor, one of utter delight. “Then will Optimus allow Soundwave to try and bring him pleasure?”

Optimus shivered. A surge of heat rippled down his spinal strut as his spark throbbed and his processor conjured several helpful images – most of which starred his past Autobot lovers, but a good many now starring Soundwave though they had actually done very little yet. Optimus did, however, have an active imagination.

“Yes,” he said, and embarrassed himself with how needy he sounded. “You may.”

Soundwave’s engine rumbled. His thumb stroked over Optimus’ cheek. “Prefer to sit or stand?”

“Stand.” He didn’t even have to think about it. He didn’t think too hard about why that was.

“Very well.” Soundwave pressed a kiss to Optimus’ forehelm and then dragged his lips slowly down, over the just of Optimus’ nasal ridge, before capturing Optimus’ mouth with his own.

The kiss was soft, so soft. His lips brushed over Optimus’ in a slow and steady sweep. His ex-vents were warm flutters over Optimus’ dermal plating. His glossa traced the seam of Optimus’ lips but never ventured within, because then his mouth moved on.

Over the curve of Optimus’ jaw, to the sensitive curve of his audial, and further still, to the delicate cables of his intake. Optimus shivered as Soundwave kissed him there, ex-vents tickling at the protoform beneath the web of thick cables. Optimus worked his intake, felt Soundwave’s mouth bob over his cables, and shivered again.

His hand slid from Soundwave’s helm to his shoulder. His fingers twitched and flexed in their loose grip.

Soundwave flirted with his intake for several more seconds before he moved on again, and only then did Optimus realize he was slowly kneeling. His hands ghosted over Optimus’ shoulders, down his arms, then to his sides, fingers dragging a light burr of charge over Optimus’ ventral armor.

Optimus licked his lips, feeling almost breathless as he watched Soundwave descend, his lips caressing seams as he knelt. He ex-vented more damp heat into Optimus’ grill until finally he was on his knees, pressing a small kiss to Optimus’ ventrum.

Optimus sucked in a sharp intake. He watched, enraptured, as Soundwave’s mouth descended further. He placed a kiss to Optimus’ interface array, his hands gently cradling Optimus’ hips. His thumbs swept soft patterns over Optimus’ plating as his lips explored the seam of Optimus’ panel. His glossa emerged then, licking a line around and around Optimus’ array.

Optimus shivered, heat pooling southward, dragging all of his attention to that point of pleasure where Soundwave seemed content to caress him for no other reason than to bring him pleasure.

Soundwave tilted his helm and looked up at Optimus. “You will open for me?” he asked.

Optimus’ hands trembled. He couldn’t bring himself to speak, so he sent the command to manually trigger his panel open. It slid aside, both inner covers spiraling open to reveal his interface components.

The head of his spike peeped into view, even as he felt a rush of cool air caress the rim of his valve. The tiniest trickle of lubricant had gathered, barely a minimum, but then Soundwave ex-vented damp heat, and Optimus’ valve clenched. He shivered, knees wobbling.

“Thank you,” Soundwave murmured, his lips barely an inch from the head of Optimus’ spike.

“I think I should be thanking you,” Optimus forced out, static in his vocals, his ventilations increasing.

Soundwave huffed a laugh. His lips moved closer, until he pressed a kiss to the tip of Optimus’ spike. Optimus swallowed down a moan. Such a simple act should not feel so electrifying, yet it sent a surge of need up his spinal strut. Even more so when Soundwave drew the head of Optimus’ spike into his mouth and licked it.

Optimus’ hips jerked forward, his spike thickening quickly. Soundwave hummed in his intake, lips and glossa working patterns of pleasure over Optimus’ spike. He kissed and licked it as though it were an energon candy of his favorite flavor. He pressed another kiss to the tip, sending another hot wave of want through Optimus frame.

Though it was nothing compared to the shock of need that attacked him when Soundwave moved further still. When his lips pressed to Optimus’ outer node, and his glossa flicked across it. Optimus’ hips danced, a low groan escaping him before he could stop it.

Optimus shifted, legs pushing further apart, hips canting toward the wet heat of Soundwave’s mouth. A glossa swept over his rim, tracing the entirety of it, flirting with the swelling fold. His anterior node pulsed, his valve cycling faster, until the first bead of lubricant welled at the rim.

Optimus cycled a ventilation, his knees wobbling. He worked his intake, his array aching from want. It was the sweetest torture.

And then Soundwave had the audacity to stop. He pulled away and looked up at Optimus, his lips glossy from lubricant.

“Optimus wishes me to stop?” he asked as his thumbs swept caressing patterns over Optimus’ hip and groin.

“I am the furthest from wanting you to stop,” Optimus replied.

Soundwave hummed an approving note. “Then I will continue,” he said, and slid his hands around Optimus’ thighs, tugging him closer and burying his face in Optimus’ array.

A sharp cry escaped Optimus’ lips. He pressed his hand over his mouth to cover the embarrassing noises, even as his helm tilted back. Soundwave latched onto his exterior node and sucked on it, his heated ex-vents caressing the twitching rim of Optimus’ valve.

His glossa swept deep and consuming into Optimus’ valve. He slurped up trickles of lubricant, kissed Optimus’ rim, and lovingly laved every node within reach of his glossa.

Optimus lost control of a whimper and it eked free. His optics shuttered as he shivered. His spike fully pressurized, proud and eager, pre-fluid beading at the tip. His knees wobbled.

“S-Soundwave,” Optimus tried, but it fell away in a garble of static as denta gently scraped over his anterior node again.

His engine roared, cooling fans whirring.

His hand groped for and found Soundwave’s helm. He patted the crest of it, even as he managed to call for Soundwave through another wave of static.

The warmth of Soundwave’s mouth instantly vanished. “You want me to stop?” he asked, his visor bright and warm.

Optimus shook his helm. “I need to sit. Or I’m going to fall.”

“Understood,” Soundwave said, and there was almost a wicked gleam in his visor as he stood and leaned in close, pressing their forehelms together once more. “Berth or chair?”

It was hard to think with the pleasure simmering in his lines, with his spike bumping against Soundwave’s frame and leaving streaks behind. With the scent of his own arousal emanating from Soundwave’s lips.

“Berth,” Optimus managed to get out, his processor swimming in pleasure and warmth. “Berth is fine.”

Soundwave’s chassis rumbled. His lips moved down, descending over Optimus, and he groaned into the kiss. He tasted himself in Soundwave’s mouth, and it tasted like trust, like freely given pleasure.

Optimus moaned and clutched at Soundwave, his knees wobbling again. He felt Soundwave’s hands on his waist, his hips, and then his thighs. Soundwave’s fingers flexed before Optimus felt himself lifted, hoisted upward.

He startled, scrambling for a hold, but it wasn’t needed. For Soundwave took three steps before they were at the berth, and then he lowered Optimus to it, his back cradled in the plush surface. Soundwave leaned over him, firmly nestled between Optimus’ thighs, yet he hadn’t so much as popped his panel.

He kissed Optimus, still as slow and leisurely as before, their mouths exchanging heat and damp. Optimus moaned, his arms winding around Soundwave’s neck and shoulders, holding him close. Soundwave’s frame hummed with suppressed charge, yet nothing in his actions suggested urgency.

Not even when he ended the kiss to mouth his way back down Optimus’ frame. He lowered himself to his knees, cradled Optimus’ hips with his hands, and set upon Optimus’ array as though Optimus’ pleasure was the only thing that mattered.

Optimus bucked toward his mouth, heat rolling outward in steady waves from the focal point of his array. Soundwave took Optimus’ spike into his mouth, and swallowed him to the base, glossa stroking paths of pleasure. He slid his hands to Optimus’ thighs, urged them over his shoulders, and sucked Optimus deep.

Coherency vanished.

Optimus had no attention for anything but the hot pleasure Soundwave evoked in him. The sweep of a talented glossa. The gentle scrape of denta. The flirting caress of lips. His spike pulsed, hot and full, throbbing in the embrace of Soundwave’s mouth. His valve clenched and clenched, lubricant soaking his aft, dribbling down the side of his berth.

He might have babbled Soundwave’s name. He couldn’t be sure. Not through the rush of noise in his audials, or the rapid beat of his spark. Not when Soundwave’s mouth abandoned his spike, and he buried his face in Optimus’ valve. His glossa plunged inside, his nasal ridge rubbing on Optimus’ anterior node.

He whimpered, hips bucking against Soundwave’s mouth. His thighs tensing and trembling. His hands clutched restlessly at the berth, twisting in the covers, his hips rolling against Soundwave’s mouth over and over.

Pleasure twisted within him, folding in and over itself. His engine raced. His vents roared. Everything narrowed down to a single point, to the press of Soundwave’s mouth, the flick of his glossa, the brush of his lips. Optimus’ anterior node throbbed, his valve squeezed down, and then Soundwave hummed. He hummed, and the vibrations coursed over Optimus’ array.

Optimus shattered.

His helm tossed back as he bucked up hard. He heard something rip, vaguely, as he came undone, overload tossing him back in waves of pleasure. His backstrut arched. His spike spurted, his valve spasmed, and charge lit along his lines like a flash fire.

He twitched and tossed within Soundwave’s grip and ever gentling oral caresses, until he fell back planet-side, vents whirring and frame rattling. He panted for ventilations, his hands gripping the covers unbearably tight – the torn covers. He had to force his sensory suites into a reset, his optics powering back on with a flicker.

Soundwave still cradled his lower half, though he’d moved on to pressing gentle kisses up and down the inside of Optimus’ thighs.

Optimus cycled a ventilation and forced his optics back online. His entire frame thrummed with satisfaction, his processor oddly quiet, his spark softly twirling. He waited for the panic to set in, but there was nothing. Yet.

Only time would tell.

He had to reset his vocalizer twice before he could make it function. He unwound his fingers from the torn berth covers and forced his elbows beneath him, propping up his chassis so he could look down his frame at Soundwave.

He’d had both a spike and valve overload somehow, he noticed. Transfluid striped his belly, and Soundwave’s face was damp from Optimus’ lubricant. Yet, he didn’t seem bothered by it.

“Optimus well?” Soundwave asked.

“More than,” Optimus said with a soft smile. “Thank you, Soundwave.”

Soundwave’s glossa flicked over his lips. He pressed one last kiss to Optimus’ inner thigh and then pushed himself to his pedes. He leaned over the berth and Optimus, hands braced to either side of Optimus’ shoulders.

“You are welcome,” he said, his field stroking over Optimus’ in a delicate caress. “Optimus is gorgeous in pleasure.”

Heat stole into Optimus’ face. He did not know why the compliment left him so embarrassed.

“Thank you,” he said as their faces came close together, nasal ridges brushing. He shifted his weight, cupped the back of Soundwave’s helm, and pulled him in for another soft kiss.

He tasted himself once more, and a shudder rippled down his spinal strut. It helped ground him in reality somehow, reminding him where he was and who he was with.

Soundwave purred against his mouth, shifting his weight so that he could curve one hand around Optimus’ chassis, his fingers pressing against the line of Optimus’ back strut.

“It was my pleasure,” Soundwave murmured against his lips. “I adore you.”

“I’m beginning to understand that,” Optimus replied. He rubbed their nasal ridges together. “I do not know how well I can return the favor, but I could try, if you’d like.”

Soundwave rumbled a laugh. “That is not necessary.” He drew back and gestured to himself, splatters of transfluid on his own groin paneling. “Optimus is very inspiring.”

Heat flushed Optimus’ face to the tip of his antennae. “Oh. I see.”

Soundwave chuckled and brushed their nasal ridges together again. “Patience is Soundwave’s strong suit,” he murmured. “More concerned with Optimus’ comfort.”

Optimus’ lips curved. His fingers stroked the back of Soundwave’s helm. “What did I do to deserve you?” he wondered aloud.

Soundwave brushed their lips together and murmured, “Feeling mutual.”

~

“You’re pushing yourself too fast.”

That was how Ratchet chose to greet him when Optimus showed up for his weekly appointment. There was no getting out of it. His recharge and refuel issues were clearly documented and until Ratchet was absolutely certain Optimus was in no danger of collapsing again, these weekly appointments were unavoidable.

“Have you been nosing about in my personal life again?” Optimus asked as he hoisted himself onto the berth.

Ratchet came at him with a double-handed approach of a scanner clutched in each hand. “I don’t have to. These scanners tell me everything I need to know.” He peered at Optimus, his expression half one of accusation. “This is not a race, Optimus.”

“No, it is not,” Optimus agreed. “But that does not negate the fact I am not pushing myself fast enough. One does not grow from remaining stagnant and safe.”

Ratchet’s frown deepened, worsening the lines in his faceplate. “There is such a thing as over-exertion.”

“No. I refuse to let Megatron continue to rule my thoughts and actions,” Optimus insisted as the wash of the scans made his armor itch. “I am the master of my thoughts and my spark, not the horrors he inflicted upon me.”

Ratchet sighed and set the scanners aside. “Optimus, it is not a failure to take time. Recovery is not an instant process. And it’s not just Megatron’s actions you are dealing with, but also the effect of thousands and thousands of years of civil war.”

Optimus pressed his lips together. His spark quivered. Ratchet, he knew, had a point. But Optimus did not want to agree. He hated cowering in the shadow Megatron had left over him.

Ratchet sighed again and scrubbed at his chevron. “You know, I haven’t even been intimate with Wheeljack yet, and I’ve known and trusted him a lot longer than you have Soundwave. You need to give both of yourselves time.”

“It is unfair to demand such a thing.” Optimus shifted his weight on the berth, recalling the great care Soundwave showed him, care Optimus seemed incapable of returning. “Soundwave deserves better than me.”

“Soundwave deserves to choose for himself,” Ratchet said. “Besides, he’s getting the support he needs. It’s time you do that, too.”

Optimus tilted his helm. “What do you mean?”

Ratchet dropped his hands and picked up a nearby datapad as it beeped at him. His gaze dropped to the screen, no doubt data on Optimus’ systems.

“It was Wheeljack’s idea,” Ratchet explained. “He started a support group, sort of a question and answer thing, for mechs supporting partners who’ve gone through trauma. Soundwave’s attended a few times, I know.”

Some of the tension eased out of Optimus’ frame. “I did not know such a thing existed. Or that Soundwave would even attend.”

“We all need support in different ways,” Ratchet said, his stylus flicking across the screen before he stowed the datapad once more. “If you need someone to talk to, someone who was there with you, I’m always here for you.”

Optimus’ helm dipped, a smile curving his lips. “I know you are, old friend.” He held out a hand, a part of him thrilled when Ratchet accepted it.

Sometimes, he could not move past the horrors Megatron forced him to inflict on Ratchet. Nor the knowledge of what Ratchet had suffered. But a part of him healed a bit more every time Ratchet reached back for him without hesitation.

“Please take your time, Optimus,” Ratchet said, giving his hand a squeeze. “It’ll be worth the wait.”

“I know.” Optimus offered his medic a reassuring smile. “I will do my best to try.”

~

Ratchet wasn’t wrong, in any case. Optimus was well aware he needed to apply some brakes. Only it was difficult to do so when Soundwave was intoxicatingly easy to kiss and hold.

When he wanted, so much, to see Soundwave come undone beneath him.

When he had Soundwave to himself, with no cassettes about, no matters of state to handle, no emergencies. Nothing but the quiet of Optimus’ habsuite, a soft song playing through his console, a shared tray of energon gummies, and Soundwave looking at Optimus as though he were the most precious thing in the world.

Times like these, the last thing on Optimus’ mind was patience.

Soundwave was all too willing to guide Optimus toward another processor-blowing, strut-shattering overload. His hands were ever cautious, ever waiting for permission. His focus was on Optimus alone.

Not this time.

Optimus was the one who guided Soundwave down to the berth, who held his weight over Soundwave’s frame and covered him in sweet, savory kisses. He tasted and nibbled Soundwave’s intake. He pressed a kiss over Soundwave’s dock and his newly emplaced Autobot badge. His fingers stroked patterns over transformation seams and armor gaps, wriggling into them so that he could caress the heated cables beneath.

“Optimus…?”

“It is my turn,” he said, lifting his gaze toward Soundwave, who had lifted his hands as though he wanted to touch, but wasn’t sure he was welcome. “I do not know if I will be capable of as much pleasure as you have given me, but I will try.”

Soundwave’s visor dimmed at him. “Effort appreciated but not required.”

“It is not a requirement,” Optimus retorted, and nudged his way between Soundwave’s legs. He sat back on his heelstruts, his hands stroking down the length of Soundwave’s thigh. “I wish to offer you pleasure. Do you not want it?”

Soundwave’s engine revved. Charge leapt out from beneath his plating, betraying the need that surely yawed in his spark.

“Desire present,” Soundwave said, his armor visibly juttering. “Only never wish to cause Optimus discomfort.”

“Good.” Optimus rested his palm over Soundwave’s array and rubbed a slow circle over the heated metal. “Then you will allow me to show you how I feel about you now?”

A moan rose in Soundwave’s intake, rattling through his chassis. His glossa flicked over his lips, vents rattling to life. “Affirmative.”

Optimus’ spark thrummed with affection. “Feel free to let me know if you wish for me to stop,” he said as Soundwave’s panel slid aside beneath his fingertips, an eager spike jutting into his hand.

Soundwave groaned, his helm falling back against the berth. Optimus took that as confirmation and gripped Soundwave’s spike, forming a fist around the length of it. Soundwave was already fully pressurized, his spike throbbing and leaking profusely. Had he been holding back from the moment they fell into berth together?

No, Optimus realized. Soundwave had been holding back from the moment he realized he had a chance to court Optimus.

It was so charming as to be adorable. Optimus wished he could bring himself to offer Soundwave oral pleasure, but the very thought of doing so at the moment made something within him go cold.

Perhaps another time then. There was such a thing, after all, as moving too fast.

He did, however, have two very capable hands. One of which was stroking Soundwave slowly and surely. The other sought to explore Soundwave’s valve, which Optimus had only gotten a glimpse of before. This time, he paid it more attention.

His fingers rubbed over the damp opening, tracing the swollen rim. Soundwave’s biolights were a very pale blue, and they pulsed fitfully as Optimus familiarized himself with Soundwave’s equipment. He had not one anterior node, but a cluster of smaller ones arranged at the apex of his valve, and another one at the base of it.

“You favor being on top of your partner, do you not?” Optimus asked as he flirted with each of the nodes in turn, his own breathing quickening at the sight of Soundwave rolling his hips, his valve pulsing needfully.

Soundwave cycled his vocalizer loudly. He nodded before reaching up and gripping the head of the berth as though preventing himself from grabbing at Optimus. Any other time, Optimus would have invited him to grab whatever he wanted.

“How fortunate,” Optimus murmured as he finally let his fingers slide into Soundwave’s valve, his intakes catching as rippling calipers clutched at his fingertips. “I would enjoy seeing you move atop me.”

Soundwave groaned, his valve clamping down tight. His visor flickered as he rocked his hips toward Optimus’ hands, his spike pulsing another dribble of pre-fluid.

“Optimus teasing.”

He chuckled. “Yes, that may be true. I promise, Soundwave. There will be a time when every moment I spend in the berth is not wasted fighting my internal demons.” He curled his fingers, rubbing them along the top of Soundwave’s valve, and dragging along a line of sensors in the process. “You will see then what I can do for you.”

Soundwave’s engine roared. His knees bent, pedes shoving down against the berth as he lifted his hips, pushing them harder toward Optimus’ hands.

“Though it seems what I am capable of now is good enough,” Optimus observed, unable to tear his gaze away from Soundwave, wracked with pleasure.

His faceplate darkened in hue. He sucked on his bottom lip, worrying it between his denta. His armor flared, heat rising up, and little flickers of charge dancing out. The berth creaked where he gripped it. Biolights flashed in intermittent bursts. His valve all but soaked Optimus’ hand, and his spike was solid steel. Given the way he trembled, Optimus was surprised that he hadn’t overloaded yet.

That was when it occurred to him.

Optimus worked his intake and tilted his helm. “Are you holding back, Soundwave?”

A thin whine rose from Soundwave’s chassis. He ex-vented loudly, a burst of nearly boiling heated air.

“Affirmative,” he said, the words laced with static.

Optimus cycled his optics. “Why on Earth would you– No. Never mind.” He shook his helm and gave Soundwave a firm look. “I want you to overload for me,” he said instead, putting a firmness in his tone, perhaps even a command. “I want to see your pleasure, and feel it in my field. I want to see you undone.”

Each word seemed to unlock something. As he spoke, Soundwave shifted on the berth. His backstrut arched, his thighs trembling as they tilted inward. His engine roared loud enough to rattle some of the items in Optimus’ quarters.

“Soundwave,” Optimus said, capturing his attention and his gaze. He held his lover’s visor, enraptured by the pleasure bleeding in Soundwave’s field. “Overload.”

And he did.

Optimus’ internals clenched, his low-grade arousal shooting into the atmosphere as Soundwave’s back bowed, and he overloaded. His spike spurted in Optimus’ fist, and his valve spiraled down so tight that Optimus wondered if he’d get his fingers back. Heat poured off Soundwave in waves as he loosed a sound that punched straight to Optimus’ array.

Soundwave collapsed against the berth, panting for ventilations, his fans whirring, his frame limp. He still gripped the head of the berth as though it were a lifeline, his visor dim.

The desperate clamp of his valve eased, and Optimus was able to withdraw his fingers, though not without a few twitches on Soundwave’s part.

Primus, he was hot. Optimus’ spark throbbed, and all he wanted to do was climb up Soundwave’s frame and press their mouths together. And so he did. He reacted on personal desire, stretched across Soundwave’s frame, and sloppily slanted his lips over Soundwave’s.

Soundwave responded immediately, his arms coming down to wrap around Optimus’ torso, his glossa joining the fun. His thighs cradled Optimus’ lower half, Optimus’ array panel rubbing on the mess left on Soundwave’s groin.

Soundwave groaned, deepening the kiss, need so thick in his field. His hands stroked patterns on Optimus’ backstrut, drawing lines in the charge dancing over his armor. His engine rumbled, vibrating through Optimus’ frame.

Optimus broke off the kiss, pressing his forehelm to Soundwave’s, his own body aching with need. He offlined his optics, trying to cycle his ventilations, beat down the arousal. This was about Soundwave, not himself.

And then Soundwave dared roll his hips, grinding his equipment against Optimus’ closed array, leaving streaks of transfluid and lubricant over the heated panel.

“Optimus is welcome,” he invited, arousal still thick in his vocals and heavy in his field. His spike began to pressurize again; Optimus could feel the jut of it against his abdominal armor.

The temptation was intoxicating.

Optimus’ entire frame trembled. Heat peppered his lines like blasterfire, need clawing within him. He couldn’t think about anything but the desperate clasp of Soundwave’s valve, the way Soundwave moved beneath him, eager and willing and hungry.

Primus, he was already worked up, and he’d done nothing but offer Soundwave pleasure. Watch his lover writhe beneath him, surrender to ecstasy.

A broken sound of need escaped Optimus before he could whisk it away. His hips rolled of their own accord, frotting against Soundwave’s equipment, the heat rising between them. The air was thick with the scent of overload, heated metal, and all the while, Soundwave thrummed beneath him, patient but ready.

Soundwave’s knees pressed in at his hips. “Invitation extended,” he said, his vocals striping toward static.

Optimus worked his intake, and gasped as his control faltered, as his panels snicked aside, freeing his spike. It pressurized immediately, greeting Soundwave’s spike with a delightful rub of dermal metal on dermal metal. Optimus groaned, his shoulders hunching, pleasure lancing through him like a lightning strike to the cortex.

“Are you certain?” he asked, because Optimus could not be the only one who demanded outright consent and free desire.

Soundwave moaned and bucked up against him. His visor flashed a deeper hue of need. “Yes,” he said. “Please.”

Optimus shuddered. Heat flooded his frame in a flash-fire. His spike throbbed, dripping pre-fluid. He had no more excuses to offer, because there was only this now, this moment.

He thanked Primus that the height difference between them was negligible. It took no effort to capture Soundwave’s lips with his own, even as he thrust against Soundwave. He never expected their first coupling would be like this, frantic and hungry, the desperate motion of two frames moving together.

He couldn’t find Soundwave’s valve, not without breaking away from the desperate merge of their mouths together. It didn’t matter. The thrust and rub of their spikes together was enough. Soundwave was slick and sticky from his earlier overloads, and Optimus was aroused enough that his spike dribbled pre-fluid.

Each push and pull, rock and thrust, sent a barrage of charge up and down Optimus’ spinal strut. He panted against Soundwave’s mouth, and Soundwave bucked up against him, metal screeching on metal. He swore he could feel the pulse of Soundwave’s spark where their chestplates pressed together. Charge leapt from Soundwave’s frame into his, sending his arousal rocketing skyward.

Optimus broke away from the kiss and buried his face in Soundwave’s intake. He cried out an unintelligible sound, the overload taking him over before he could begin to hold back. His spike spurted even as his hips continued to rock and grind against Soundwave’s. Pleasure streaked through his lines faster than he could track, and he shook in Soundwave’s arms, vents running full bore.

Soundwave moaned, clamped his thighs around Optimus’ waist. His own hips continued to pump, as though he hovered on the edge of overload. Optimus nosed into his intake, kissing and licking at his cables, before taking the largest between his lips and giving it a gentle bite with his denta.

Soundwave bucked beneath him and he, too, overloaded, his spike spurting between their frames. Their groins were a sticky mess, but Optimus couldn’t care, not with Soundwave humming and rocking beneath him, his frame trembling with release. Optimus’ fans roared, vibrating them both.

He sagged on top of Soundwave, panting for a ventilation, surrendering himself to Soundwave’s embrace and the warm press of Soundwave’s field. He waited for the panic to set in, but felt only content, even as he burrowed his face against Soundwave’s chestplate. He listened to Soundwave’s sparkbeat, rapid in the wake of his overload. Soundwave’s hands pet down his back, long and gentle strokes.

Optimus lay there, listening to their systems cycle down, registering as the overheat slowly seeped from their frames, though it lingered between them. He focused on the slowing of Soundwave’s sparkrate and his own. He had forgotten what it felt like, the comforting aftermath of intimacy with another, to press together, frame to frame, after sharing pleasure.

He’d forgotten that it could be a good thing.

“Optimus online?”

Soundwave’s gentle question didn’t even startle him.

Optimus chuckled. “Yes. I am still awake.” He dragged his hand from the berth to rest it on Soundwave’s shoulder. “I am savoring.”

Soundwave shifted a little beneath him, knees falling away from their desperate clamp on Optimus’ hips. “I enjoy this, too.”

“I’m glad.” Optimus lifted his helm, shifting enough that he could press a kiss to Soundwave’s chin. “Thank you.”

Soundwave stroked a hand down his backstrut. “Gratitude extended also.” His frame hummed, a soothing sound. “Only before recharge, visit to washrack necessary.”

Optimus laughed despite himself and folded his arms beneath him, balancing his chin on his hands and over Soundwave’s dock. “Are you saying we made a mess?”

Soundwave’s lips curves. “Affirmative.”

“Then we should get cleaned up.” Optimus pushed himself upright, and slid off Soundwave to the left, toward the berth edge. “Together.”

Soundwave pulled upright, looking down at the mess coating his lower half. “Help will be needed,” he said.

Optimus laughed and eased off the berth, holding out a hand in invitation to Soundwave. “Allow me to assist you then.”

Soundwave accepted his hand with a soft smile and together, they stumbled into Optimus’ private washrack. His legs still wobbled a little, satisfaction making him feel warm and sated. Even more so when the solvent sputtered to life, spattering down on their frames. Optimus felt he could recharge right now, as content as he felt in this moment.

Soundwave grabbed the scrubber before Optimus could, which meant Optimus got to stand still and relax as Soundwave gently wiped him clean. The soft strokes of both scrubber and cloth worked out the last of the tension that managed to cling to Optimus’ cables and struts.

He purred, optics shuttering in relaxation.

“Optimus is all right?” Soundwave asked.

Optimus waited to answer. His spark was calm. Fear didn’t loiter in the wings, waiting to swallow him whole. He didn’t know what the night would bring, but for now, he felt fine. He didn’t even have a lingering sense of unease.

He was, well, he was content.

“Yes,” Optimus replied with a small smile. “I think I will be. With time.”

He realized, too, that it wasn’t even a lie.

[IDW] Hook Me Up

It wasn’t often they had time to play like this, but when they did, Rodimus wanted to go all out. He plotted. He planned (yes, Magnus, he planned). He acquired the necessary materials. He drew diagrams, and he asked.

Sometimes, he pleaded.

Drift always said yes. Usually with a gleam in his optics, and a curve to his lips that gave Rodimus a peek at the pointed denta he was always so careful to hide.

Now was no exception. Drift had him trussed up to such a fine degree that it arched his spinal strut, flattered him from every angle, and left every inch of him open to touching. Constant touching, Rodimus hoped. He wanted Drift’s hands all over him.

Currently, Rodimus’ hands were bound above his helm, but pulled back toward his chassis. His wrists were cuffed together, and a rope connected the cuffs to a hook in the ceiling. Rodimus’ chassis tilted precariously forward, nearly parallel to the floor, enough that he was consciously shifting his weight back to his feet, to ease the strain in his shoulders.

Said feet were braced apart by a spreader bar, leaving nothing of his open array to the imagination. Both of his panels were retracted, plump valve on display, and erect spike jutting proudly at the apex of his thighs. It wept pre-fluid in steady trickles, perhaps because of the vibrating ring Drift had put around the base of it at the beginning of their evening.

Last but not least, Rodimus had been blindfolded. All the better to keep him focused on sensation rather than anything else. They had debated a gag, until Drift decided he’d rather keep use of Rodimus’ mouth. Not that Rodimus was complaining one bit. He rather liked it when Drift made use of his mouth.

“Comfortable?” Drift asked.

Plip. Plip. Pearls of lubricant slicked Rodimus’ thighs and dripped to the floor. His valve quivered, desperate for stimulation. Every brush of air from Drift walking by was nothing more than a taunt.

His spike bobbed. His biolights blinked fitfully. His energy field was a zap of tumultuous need. His aft swayed as he constantly shifted his weight, struggling to keep his balance. It was perfect.

His head moved, seeking out Drift. Bereft of sight, he could only rely on his audials, his proximity sensors, and Drift’s field. For now, it was easy enough. Drift circled him slowly, as though admiring the view.

“Yes,” Rodimus said on an ex-vent. Comfortable and hot and needy.

“Good,” Drift purred. He paused behind Rodimus, or so his peripheral sensors informed him.

Rodimus braced, waiting. He yearned, and shivered as Drift’s fingertips glided around the curve of his aft, over his hip, then up his side, removing them just before he would have caressed Rodimus’ spoiler.

Rodimus shifted toward him, moaning a protest as Drift’s fingers retreated. The cuffs rattled, as did the locks on the spreader bar. His engine revved weakly.

“Look at you,” Drift murmured as he circled around to Rodimus’ front. “You’re already making a mess. It’s a good thing I tied you up, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to help yourself, would you? You’d already have your fingers up your valve or around your spike.”

Rodimus’ intake rippled. “I have some self-control,” he said, indignant, though the building whine in his cooling fans belied it. He had to admit, if only to himself, that Drift was right.

If not for the bonds, Rodimus would already be stroking himself, desperately seeking overload. Perhaps under Drift’s watchful, admiring gaze.

Drift chuckled. “That’s debatable.”

He circled back around to Rodimus’ aft with slow, measured steps. He touched, his fingers sliding around the plush, swollen rim, gathering up the lubricant Rodimus produced in steady rivulets. He’d been wet before Drift finished snapping on the spreader bar. He was soaked by the time the blindfold wrapped around his optics.

Rodimus shivered, his hips dancing back toward Drift’s touch. His array throbbed, need pooling southward and gathering behind his anterior node. The ring on his spike continued to vibrate dully, driving him wild, but as soon as he worked up charge, it went nowhere.

“This doesn’t count,” Rodimus argued even as his valve clenched, forcing more lubricant past his swollen rim. “You’re purposefully teasing me.”

“Your point?”

Drift’s fingers abandoned him, and Rodimus swallowed a whimper. He tracked Drift’s footsteps again. They moved around Rodimus’ left and circled until Drift stood in front of Rodimus once more.

A hand landed on Rodimus’ head, sliding down to cup under his chin. It tilted his face upward, and Rodimus moved gladly with it, anticipation slicing through every circuit, every line.

Something soft and warm brushed over his lips. Drift. Drift was kissing him. It was barely there, a taste of dermal metal against his own. It went no deeper, and Rodimus whined as Drift retreated, taking his lips with him.

“So unfair,” Rodimus said. He licked his lips, savoring the taste.

Warmth swept over his cheek. Drift’s thumb, he presumed. Rodimus leaned into the touch, and shivered as the digit shifted to rub over his bottom lip. Little soft strokes that left Rodimus’ lip tingling.

“I’ll give you an opportunity to prove yourself,” Drift murmured.

Twin clicks echoed in the room. The scent of lubricant wafted to Rodimus’ nasal ridge, and his mouth watered.

Hydraulics hissed. Joints creaked. Drift must have moved closer, because Rodimus felt the heat of him, buffeting against his faceplate. Something damp touched his cheek opposite of Drift’s hand.

It had to be the head of Drift’s pressurized spike, pre-fluid beading at the tip. He had to be rigid now, aroused and straining. Rodimus could imagine Drift’s spike, the nearly solid-white length ribbed with crimson nubs and accompanied by a small node around the crown. Rodimus loved worshiping that node with his glossa.

Rodimus moaned. He tried to turn his head toward Drift’s spike, to capture the head of it with his mouth. Drift’s grip on his jaw proved firm.

He growled, frustrated. His engine whined.

“You’re not being patient,” Drift chastised, but his vocals were too warm, too syrupy sweet for Rodimus to take the rebuke seriously.

He worked his intake, the scent of Drift’s arousal making him dizzy. “Shut up,” Rodimus groaned, and it sounded far from indignant.

Drift chuckled. The tip of his spike slid across Rodimus’ cheek, leaving a streak of pre-fluid behind. It moved closer and closer, until the tapered spikehead brushed over Rodimus’ bottom lip.

Lubricant welled in Rodimus’ mouth. He surged forward, glossa lapping over the tip of Drift’s spike. He moaned as the familiar taste of his lover rolled over his glossa. Yet, as much as he strained, he could do no more than sample the transfluid slit.

“Do you want it?”

Rodimus’ ventilations huffed. “You know I do,” he gritted out, his ex-vents ghosting over the tip of Drift’s spike.

The fingers on his jaw trembled. “Ask then.”

Drift.”

“Ask, primeling.”

A sharp sound burst from Rodimus’ lips. He strained for Drift’s spike, glossa only able to lap at the tip. Drift remained frustratingly out of reach.

Fine.

“Come on, babe,” Rodimus murmured, lapping at Drift’s spike in between words. “Let me suck your spike. You know I can make you feel good. Don’t you want to slide into my mouth and down my intake? Make me swallow your transfluid?” He wriggled his aft, shifted his weight, painted his lips with Drift’s pre-fluid.

He heard Drift shiver. Heard the clatter of his armor. And then the head of Drift’s spike rested against Rodimus’ lips.

“Do a good job and you’ll get a reward,” Drift purred.

Finally.

Rodimus surged forward, sucking Drift’s spike into his mouth. He moaned as hot metal slid past his lips and across his denta, the taste of Drift’s arousal sharp and electrifying. Heat sliced through Rodimus’ internals, tightening around his array, but he focused instead on Drift.

On the pulse of Drift’s spike over his glossa. On the steady trickle of pre-fluid down his intake. On the way Drift’s hands cradled his head, tilting him for the best angle, one that allowed him to slide deep into Rodimus’ mouth and right down his intake.

Drift’s thrusts were gentle, a slow and steady pace, and Rodimus moaned around his spike. Drift’s field prickled at his, hot and heavy with need, his spike throbbing to the rhythm of his thrusts. He was already so close.

Rodimus imagined his overload, imagined the hot spurts of transfluid sliding into his intake, and moaned all the louder. His valve clenched on nothing; his spike pulsed. He wanted that reward, frag it.

Oral lubricant seeped from the corners of his mouth. He took Drift deep and deeper, glossa lashing at Drift’s spike, denta carefully kept away from the sensitive dermal metal. Needy sounds rose in his intake as Drift’s thrusts increased in earnest.

He pushed deep into Rodimus’ mouth, the base of his spike rubbing against Rodimus’ lips and nasal ridge, before he pulled back. Drift panted above him, each heavy ventilation sending puffs of heat across Rodimus’ armor. He cradled Rodimus’ head, rolling his hips faster and faster, spike swelling and throbbing.

Rodimus moaned again. He rocked forward, swallowing Drift whole, his intake working around the head of Drift’s spike, over and over and over.

A choked off sound emerged from Drift’s lips. It might have been Rodimus’ name. It was certainly pleasure.

His spike throbbed, and Rodimus whimpered as the first spurt of transfluid striped the back of his intake, and slid downward. Drift ground against his faceplate for the next pulse, pinning Rodimus against his array. All he could smell and taste was Drift. His world narrowed down to his lover, his partner, his mate.

Until Drift abruptly pulled free, just in time for the last spurt of transfluid to paint Rodimus’ lips. He moaned, glossa flicking over his lips to clean them. Drift was sour-sweet, like a rust-stick, and Rodimus swallowed him down.

Rodimus moaned, his spark swelling in its casing. His valve pulsed, more heat cascading through his frame. His hips swayed. He needed… he needed. He needed something. Drift’s mouth. His fingers. His spike. A toy. Something.

He ached. Deep inside. His ceiling node craved contact. His calipers cycled. Drift’s transfluid lingered on his glossa, and Rodimus was this close to begging for more.

Thumbs stroked his cheeks. He tilted his head up as far as he could comfortably. He couldn’t see Drift, but he hoped his expression was needy enough.

It must have been because Drift’s mouth closed over his, glossa greedily pushing inside as though wanting to reclaim his transfluid from Rodimus’ mouth.

Rodimus moaned, offering himself to the frantic exploration of Drift’s glossa. Drift nipped at his lips and pulled away, ex-venting against Rodimus’ face seconds before his glossa returned, licking at the corner of Rodimus’ mouth. He must have missed some transfluid there, he realized.

And on his cheek also, for there Drift’s mouth went next, glossa warm and wet as he licked Rodimus’ cheek.

Drift’s mouth returned, transfluid on his glossa, and Rodimus moaned as Drift shared his transfluid between them. It was incredibly intimate, and ridiculously sexy.

Rodimus’ aft wriggled. His valve squeezed down tight, the ache inside him growing. He tasted Drift and transfluid, and he wanted more.

Drift broke away from the kiss, his forehead pressed to Rodimus’. He ex-vented hotly, the puffs of air tickling Rodimus’ damp face.

“Can I have my reward now?” Rodimus asked.

“I don’t know,” Drift panted, his hold on Rodimus’ head gentling. “That show was adequate, but I’m not sure it was good enough to earn you a reward.”

Rodimus pursed his lips into a pout. He wiggled his aft, hoping that it proved enticing. “That’s not fair.”

Drift laughed softly. “Nobody says I have to be.”

His hands vanished from Rodimus’ face, leaving a chill behind. Rodimus stifled a moan and focused on his sensors, tracking Drift moving around him again. Footsteps circled to Rodimus’ right, Drift’s field in his periphery until proximity sensors located Drift behind him. Focused, perhaps, on Rodimus’ aft.

“Though I do appreciate the view,” Drift murmured. He palmed the curve of Rodimus’ aft, thumb sliding down, brushing over Rodimus’ valve.

Primus.

Rodimus hung his head. His shoulders ached as he tipped forward, and he forced his weight back again. Pleasure danced down his spinal strut.

He heard a click, a low hum, and then something buzzed against his array, circling around and around the swell of his rim. Sensor nodes lit up like fireworks.

Rodimus moaned and ground his denta. His feet scraped against the floor, thighs trembling, cables wobbling. He tried to surge back toward the vibrator, but it vanished just as quickly, leaving him tingling and hungry.

“Stay still,” Drift chastised.

Rodimus ground his gears, static erupting from his vocalizer. “I can’t,” he cried, hips swaying, valve restlessly cycling.

“You better learn,” Drift warned, but his actions belied his rebuke as the vibrator returned in all its buzzing glory.

Rodimus moaned as it traveled around his rim, exciting all of the nodes in his substructure. His valve clenched on nothing, calipers churning restlessly. He tried to rock backward, encourage the vibrator closer to his core, to his pulsing anterior node. His aft swayed.

Drift swatted him across the aft, a glancing strike that skipped across his aft plating and barely hurt. If anything, it sent a bloom of arousal through Rodimus’ sensornet. His frame trembled as he panted a ventilation.

“I said be still. You’re so disobedient, Roddy.”

“That’s…. because… you’re so mean,” Rodimus groaned. His hands curled into fists, his entire frame shuddering. His armor lifted up and away from his substructure as heat billowed from his internals.

His spark pulsed faster and faster. He wanted to overload desperately. His spike felt like a swollen mass, pressing hard against the ring.

Drift spanked him again, harder this time. A jarring blow that reverberated through Rodimus’ frame, wobbled in his thighs, and made his valve quiver. More lubricant seeped free. He heard it drip to the floor. Surely there was a puddle beneath him already.

“You’re even making a mess,” Drift said, and Rodimus moaned as fingers flirted over his valve, teasing the rim, flirting with his anterior node. “You’ll be cleaning that later, you know. With your glossa.”

Primus save him.

Rodimus worked his intake. He imagined himself on hands and knees, aft in the air, Drift looming over him. Telling him to work harder, clean faster, as he swept his glossa over the floor, cleaning up the mess he’d made. Maybe giving him a swat or two if he didn’t lick fast enough.

The vibrator returned and pressed against his housing, just above his anterior node. He swore the air wobbled around his aching nub, a sensation tantalizing but not enough. Rodimus whimpered when the vibrator kept moving, ghosting over his rim, passing across the swollen dermal metal.

“Drift,” he begged, chains rattling as he rocked back. He pulsed his field, hoping Drift could read the yearning, the desperation in it.

Hadn’t he been teased enough?

“Do you want this?” Drift asked.

Rodimus’ hips bucked as fingers found and teased his spike. They stroked down the heavy length and gave it a brief squeeze.

“Yes!”

Was that a shout? Well, not quite. Rodimus wasn’t capable of shouting. Not with his denta gritted, and his frame tense, and his cooling fans working so hard he swore they creaked.

“How badly?”

Rodimus tasted energon and realized he’d bitten his lower lip. His feet shifted across the floor. His hips bucked. His shoulders ached.

“I’ll beg,” Rodimus offered.

“Well, you do make a pretty picture when you do.”

The vibrator returned, and this time, the tip eased into Rodimus’ valve. He all but shrieked, rising upward against the pull of his bindings. His valve clamped, calipers trying to grasp the vibrator and urge it deeper.

“Please,” Rodimus gasped, lights dancing behind his blindfolded optics. “Please, baby. Please, Drift. Please.”

“Please what?” Drift’s voice was low, dark, coaxing.

It made Rodimus ache. Made him tremble. Made his knees weak. They wobbled, and Rodimus’ weight briefly rested on his aching shoulders until he forced it back into his knees.

“Touch me,” Rodimus begged. “Spike me. Stick that vibrator in me. Or your fingers. Your mouth. A toy. I don’t care. Give me something. Anything.” Static broke his words into a gasp. His spoiler twitched, trapped as it was against his elbows.

He rocked back. He was a pretty picture, wasn’t he? How could Drift resist? His nodes blinked enticingly, didn’t they?

They did, if Drift’s field was any indication. It slithered over Rodimus, heavy with heat and appreciation. It spoke the words Drift didn’t, full of compliments and lust.

The vibrator vanished.

“No!” Rodimus whined and bucked in his bonds, his valve hurting with need now. “Drift!”

There was a shushing sound somewhere behind him seconds before hands landed on his aft and slid down the curve of it. They palmed the back of Rodimus’ thighs before a gust of damp heat flirted with Rodimus’ valve.

He whimpered. “Please.”

A finger dragged around the swollen rim of his valve. His rim twitched in response, anterior node blinking so fast it ached. Rodimus was desperate for touch.

“I’ll give you a choice,” Drift purred, his ex-vents ghosting over Rodimus’ valve.

The heat in his groin became an inferno. It pulsed to the beat of his spark. It took all he had to freeze, to hold himself still, frame trembling. His audials strained to catch Drift’s words.

Drift pinched the tip of his spike and flirted his fingers down the length of it. Rodimus jerked and sucked in a heavy ventilation.

“Spike or valve?”

“Both!” Rodimus rocked back and forth, toward the tease of Drift’s fingers, and the taunting of his ex-vents.

Drift pinched his anterior node. Pain flashed through Rodimus’ array, but in the wake of it was tingling fire and charge. He gasped for a breath and sucked on his bottom lip, a low keen rising in his intake. His engine roared.

“Not an appropriate answer.”

Rodimus’ hands formed shaking fists. His armor quivered. He grasped for an answer that would grant him a reprieve.

“Y-you pick,” he said, and sighed with relief as Drift’s fingers returned to his valve.

They were gentle as they rubbed around his housing before ghosting over his anterior node. The first tentative touch sent a jolt through Rodimus’ array.

“Now that is a better answer,” Drift said. The tip of his finger circled Rodimus’ nub again, making him jerk helplessly.

Rodimus squirmed, caught in his bonds and Drift’s hold. His vocalizer spat out nonsense and static intermittently.

Drift licked him and Rodimus nearly crawled out of his armor. He tossed his head back, lips parting in a soundless cry as the hot, wet lap caressed every inch of his valve rim. Every processing kernel focused on his array, on the gentle swipe of Drift’s glossa, the way it curled and tasted and pulled helpless cries from his vocalizer. Drift’s lips brushed over his anterior node, like a kiss, before he licked deep into Rodimus’ valve, glossa sweeping over the ring of nodes along the inside of his rim.

Rodimus panted. His hips twitched with every lick. His valve squeezed down on nothing. His field exploded, rattling the room. He whimpered when another delicate kiss pressed to his main node. And then Drift touched the base of his spike, where it throbbed against the confinement of the ring, and the tight pressure of it abruptly eased. Rodimus’ spike pulsed, pre-fluid dribbling from the tip.

He gasped and sagged with relief. He didn’t know which deserved his attention more. Drift’s loving oral attention on his valve, or the slow and steady drag of the vibrating ring up and down the length of Rodimus’ spike. His dermal sensors tingled, the heat gathering in his array a scorching temperature.

Rodimus’ entire frame rattled. Overload peeked at him from around the corners. His engine roared, and he bucked in Drift’s grip. Orders to ‘be still’ be damned. Rodimus needed to move, to chase after that overload with all that he had in him.

Which, of course, was the very moment Drift decided to prove how much of an aft he was.

Sensation vanished. It took several seconds of aborted wriggling for Rodimus to realize Drift’s mouth had abandoned his valve. The spike ring gave one last upward pass over his spike, teasing briefly over the head, before it, too, was gone. Rodimus’ hips pumped into empty air. His valve throbbed without fingers or mouth or spike to sate it. A brief ex-vent puffed over his rim before Drift’s proximity to him lengthened. Overload was still there, tantalizingly within reach, only Rodimus had no way to grasp it.

Rodimus whimpered. “Why did you stop?”

“Because I’m not sure you want it badly.”

Rodimus’ engine revved so hard he heard it thunk. “I do!” He lurched forward, backward, whatever direction he could manage. His field spun so dizzily he couldn’t figure out where Drift actually was. “I swear I do!”

“Prove it,” Drift purred as he taunted Rodimus, dragging one finger up the center of his valve but deftly avoiding the swollen anterior nub.

Aft. Rodimus intended to make him pay for his later. But first, he wanted that fragging overload before he popped a seam or fried a circuit or torched a processing chip.

Rodimus sucked in a heavy ventilation. He forced himself to still. “Drift, baby, please,” he said, head swiveling back and forth as he tried to focus and find Drift through the barrage of sensation confusing his frame. “I’ll do whatever you want. Just please let me overload. I’m begging you. I’m hurting.” He sucked in another ventilation. “Please keep licking me, touching me, frag me if you want. Anything. Please.”

His words hung in a heavy silence. He waited. He hoped.

And then he keened as a finger finally slid into him, curling perfectly to rub over an inner node that had yet to be touched. Rodimus’ valve clamped down frantically, milking the single digit. Charge erupted from beneath his armor. He felt it crawling over his plating. A second finger introduced itself, circling Rodimus’ anterior node, a barely there touch that was yet enough to re-ignite the flames.

Rodimus let his head hang. He sagged in his bonds. He no longer felt the strain on his shoulders. Every bit of focus was on those two fingers, on the heat and desire building in his array.

“Drift, please,” he said, and let himself babble. If that was what Drift wanted to hear, he’d babble until his vocalizer glitched out. “I don’t know what else to say. I’m running out of words here.” Did he sound desperate? He hoped he did.

He wriggled his aft. That was enticing, wasn’t it? Rodimus liked to think he had a good aft. Nice color. Perfect for grabbing. Or spanking. Or admiring.

The second finger slid into Rodimus’ valve. “Anything?” Drift murmured, low and deep, echoing in Rodimus’ audials and resonating through his spark chamber.

“Yes!”

Both fingers curled, rubbing hard at a sensor cluster. Rodimus moaned. He must have been doing something right. His hips danced in Drift’s hold, even more so when he heard the vibrator return, buzzing softly. The air pressed in around his swollen array, taunting him.

“Then I want you to overload,” Drift said. “On the count of ten. Or you don’t get it.”

That… that wasn’t fair!

Rodimus bit his lip. “I can’t.”

“Oh yes, you can.”

The vibrator returned, pressing firmly against Rodimus’ rim. He bucked backward, canting his hips, trying to urge it deeper.

“Count for me.”

A tremble started in Rodimus’ feet and worked its way to his knees, his thighs, his hips. His ventilations stuttered, cooling fans whirring fast enough to make his armor rattle. But he licked his lips and he obeyed.

“One,” he said as the vibrator lightly grazed his rim before skirting over his anterior node.

“Two.” He shook as Drift’s free hand found his spike, caressing it with a grip that was more of a tease.

“Three.”

The tremble worked past his hips into his waist, his chassis, his spoiler, his shoulders, arms, fingers. There wasn’t a single armor panel that didn’t clatter. Not as he gritted his denta and forced out each subsequent number.

“Four.”

Lights danced behind his optics. He could smell his own arousal, the heat of his frame.

“Five.”

He tasted Drift’s field against his, slithering and sliding, tangling, drawing out pleasure.

“Six.”

His knees wobbled. He sank further toward the floor. The hand on his spike vanished. Drift’s arm hooked around his waist, hauling him up, keeping him on his feet. Rodimus loved him fervently in that moment, even as his concentration flickered back and forth.

Count. Overload. Count. Overload.

“Seven.”

He heard a click. Felt the wet brush of hot metal against his aft. Rodimus moaned. He lost count in the anticipation. His glossa swept over his lips.

“Eight, Rodimus,” Drift purred as the hot metal slid against Rodimus’ valve, rubbing over his rim.

“Eight,” Rodimus echoed, but it sounded dim to his audials. “Drift, please.”

“Shhh.” Drift’s arm tightened around his hips. The vibrator passed over Rodimus’ nub again, sending white-hot pleasure through his array.

Oh, he was close. He was so close.

“Count.”

Drift’s voice echoed in his audial.

“N-n-nine.” Rodimus’ vocalizer stuttered, tripped over itself.

The vibrator vanished, and before Rodimus could protest, Drift slid into him, buried to the hilt, his spikehead notched against Rodimus’ ceiling node. He ground deep, so deep, carrying heat and charge with him. Rodimus’ calipers snatched at his spike, cinching tight, locking down.

Drift audibly sucked in a ventilation. His thighs trembled where they pressed to the back of Rodimus’. He ground into him, grinding harder against his ceiling node, sending sharp bursts of pleasure through Rodimus’ array. He pulled in a desperate vent but the air around them was as scorching as the press of Drift’s armor against his.

Rodimus’ spark throbbed. Overload clawed at him, coiling tighter and tighter in his abdomen. He was close, could feel the need yawing in Drift as well.

Fingers dragged up his backstrut and hooked on the top edge of his spoiler. “Rodimus.” Drift squeezed, and Rodimus bucked. “You owe me a number.”

Rodimus panted a moan. Drift pushed harder into him, every grind of his hips sending shock after shock through Rodimus’ valve. His spike throbbed.

A number. Drift wanted a number.

“Rodimus.”

One more number. One more–

“Ten,” Rodimus gasped out, and as though his frame, his spark, his array only needed the signal, overload erupted through his systems, shattering every last coherent thought in his processor.

His mouth opened in a spiraling cry, his valve clamping down on Drift’s spike, preventing him from doing anything more than buck helplessly. His spike spurted, striping the floor beneath him, and his valve spasmed, over and over and over again.

Drift groaned above him and Rodimus jerked as he felt the hot splash of Drift’s transfluid within him. It washed over his pulsing ceiling node, drawing free another smaller overload, until Rodimus’ legs completely gave out beneath him. He sagged in Drift’s hold, ignoring the ache in his shoulders in favor of soaking in the satisfaction permeating his frame.

His vents gasped for cool air, but there was none to be found. He was and felt limp, and it was a glorious feeling. He felt like he floated, and wrapped in Drift’s field, he couldn’t imagine anywhere else he wanted to be.

“Roddy?” Drift’s hand gentled on his spoiler, moving instead to stroke down his backstrut.

“M’good,” Rodimus murmured, but it came out more of a slur. He didn’t even have the energy to lift his head. “Gonna lemme go now?”

“Yes. You did good.” Drift eased back, his spike slipping free of Rodimus’ valve.

His calipers fluttered in the sudden wake of an empty feeling, but his nodes were too sated to protest. Rodimus went fully limp, trusting Drift to take care of him. He floated in a happy space as Drift carefully braced him, and hit the quick release for the spreader bar. The locks popped off, freeing Rodimus’ ankles, allowing him to draw his feet together to better brace his weight. His hips protested, but it was a mild ache. The good kind of ache.

Drift’s arm remained around his waist as he leaned over Rodimus’ back, flicking the quick-release for the bindings on Rodimus’ wrists and arms. Rodimus hissed air through his vents as he was finally able to lower his arms, his shoulders creaking a protest.

“Okay?” Drift asked.

“Aches,” Rodimus answered honestly. “Nothing a little recharge won’t fix though. Promise.”

The cuffs were removed with the press of a button, and Rodimus slowly straightened. It felt odd to be standing. Dizzying even. He wobbled on his feet, gyros struggling to stabilize. His thoughts were still all floaty.

Drift’s hand rested on his hip as he circled around Rodimus, facing him. Rodimus leaned into Drift’s embrace, like a flower toward the sun, only to blink as the blindfold was removed from around his head. He’d forgotten about it.

No wonder he couldn’t see anything.

The blindfold vanished as Drift cupped Rodimus’ head, his thumb brushing over Rodimus’ swollen lip. “There you are,” he murmured, lips curved in a soft smile. “Sure you’re okay?”

“Perfect,” Rodimus replied and tilted forward, snuggling into Drift’s arms. He tucked his face into Drift’s intake, drawing in the scent of his lover post-overload. All hot metal and warm circuits. “Mmmm. Love you babe.”

Drift’s hand stroked down his back, though careful to avoid his sensitive spoiler. “That was good?”

“The best.” He wrapped his arms firmly around Drift, trying to get as much armor contact as possible. If he could just stay like this for a few days, that would be great. “Like always.”

“Good.” Drift tilted his head against Rodimus’ and ex-vented softly, the puffs of it tickling over Rodimus’ audial. “Want to get cleaned up?”

“Nope. This is good.” Truthfully, Rodimus wasn’t sure he could move. His legs felt firmly planted to the floor.

“Move to the berth then?”

“Mmm.” Rodimus leaned harder against Drift, their fields pulsing in a soft, reassuring sync. “Carry me?” He loved that Drift actually could pick him up. They were nearly the same size, but all that smooth white armor hid a surprising strength.

Drift chuckled softly. His hands slid down to Rodimus’ aft, cupping around it to lift him up, and Rodimus helped by wrapping his legs around Drift’s waist. His panels were still open, he realized belatedly. Wet streaks of lubricant and transfluid immediately painted Drift’s groin.

Oh, well. Wouldn’t be the first time.

Rodimus pressed his face to Drift’s intake and offlined his optics. He held tight as Drift took less than four steps to the berth and attempted to deposit Rodimus on it. He knew exactly what Drift had in mind, too. He thought he’d just leave Rodimus here and go clean up.

Nope. Not this time. Rodimus clung all the tighter so that when Drift set him down, he couldn’t pull back.

“Rodimus.”

“No,” he said, and nipped at Drift’s intake cables. “Stay.” He tugged and rolled, pulling Drift with him onto the berth.

Drift squawked in surprise, but obeyed. He clambered onto the berth, giving Rodimus more than enough space to wriggle around to get them into the perfect position for cuddles. He attached himself to every available inch of Drift’s frame, armor notched together.

Yes. This was what he wanted.

Drift sighed a ventilation. “Guessing you do feel good,” he said and relaxed into the embrace, his armor nice and warm against Rodimus’.

“Mm hm.” Rodimus snuggled tighter, loving the way their fields meshed, and how secure he felt right now. His thoughts continued to float, though now it felt they were sinking toward a warm oilbath. Like recharge. “You’ll stay all night?”

“Of course.” Drift patted his aft and nuzzled his way toward Rodimus’ mouth, his lips seeking out Rodimus’ for a slow, savoring kiss.

Rodimus hummed into it, gentle waves of satisfaction floating through his frame. Drift’s lips stroked over his, brushing their mouths together, until he pulled back. He nuzzled his nasal ridge against Rodimus’.

“I love you.”

“Love you, too, babe.”

Drift’s soft chuckle floated in his audials. He held Rodimus close, like he was important, like he mattered. Rodimus’ spark warmed, filling every nook and cranny of his casing. It was all too easy to sink into Drift’s embrace, sink into comfort and satisfaction.

He wanted to stay in this moment forever. But for now, he settled for falling into recharge with Drift’s ex-vents ghosting over his audial, and Drift’s energy field surrounding him.

He was safe.

[Crown the Empire] Reign 05

No one gave him a second look as he strode into Iacon. For all that Soundwave had become an Autobot, he was still a familiar Decepticon. Or perhaps it was that no one was brave enough to challenge him.

Starscream watched Soundwave’s approach with a mixture of curiosity and apprehension. He had never been able to read Soundwave before, and even in times of peace, Soundwave was difficult to comprehend. Starscream didn’t understand what Soundwave was after, which made him difficult to predict. Starscream did not like unknowns.

“Well, well, well,” Starscream said. He stepped down the stairs, and raised his orbital ridges. “The prodigal son returns. To what do we owe the pleasure of your presence today, Soundwave?” He smiled sweetly and tilted his helm.

Soundwave’s mask and visor made his expression unreadable. And like always, he might as well be offline for all of his field Starscream could sense. He’d earned his reputation for being an emotionless slagger.

Except as of late, where he was sticking to Optimus Prime like glue. Curious.

“Discussion intended,” Soundwave said. “Multiple topics of concern.”

Starscream descended until he stood right in front of Soundwave. They were of a height, though Soundwave had more mass to him. Starscream knew Soundwave had to touch someone for his little mind trick. He had never been afraid of Soundwave before, he wasn’t about to start now.

“Is this visit sanctioned?” he asked as he circled Soundwave, wondering if the other mech would detect a subtle scan or two. “Does your Prime know you’re here?”

“Autonomy allowed,” Soundwave replied, his frame relaxed. He didn’t even turn to follow Starscream. He didn’t fear reprisal at all.

Interesting.

“So he does know,” Starscream said.

“Possibility exists.” Soundwave inclined his helm as Starscream paused in front of him again. “Optimus Prime trusts.”

“You?” Starscream snorted and almost laughed. “How did you manage that? I didn’t realize you two were that close. You certainly have a type, Soundwave.” Not that Starscream had any room to talk.

The other mech’s field briefly spiked before Soundwave reined it in. His visor dimmed as his plating drew in tight.

“Starscream’s relationship with Decepticon Lord also typical, yes?”

Starscream’s wings twitched before he could stop them. “I see your little spies still get around as well as they used to.” He whirled on a heelstrut. “How long have you had my apartment bugged?”

“Unnecessary. Starscream’s type also obvious.”

His lips twisted in a snarl, and he threw a glare over his shoulder, not that it fazed Soundwave. That had always irked Starscream. Nothing ever seemed to shatter the quiet mech’s cool. Then again, he never failed Megatron. He was the favorite.

Then again, there at the end, everyone had been a failure to Megatron. He’d handed out beatings left and right. No one was safe. Everyone was a traitor.

He was right, of course, but Megatron didn’t know for sure. Though Starscream had no doubt Megatron realized it by the end. His own Decepticons had turned against him.

Soundwave had turned against him.

That must have stung. It must have hurt.

Good.

“I didn’t think you’d stoop so low as to throw insults, Soundwave.” Starscream stalked up the ramp toward Decepticon headquarters. Like frag he would let Soundwave wander around alone. Besides, Grimlock probably wanted to be in on this, too.

Grimlock was far more hands on in Decepticon politics than Megatron had ever been. To be fair, Megatron was interested. He liked to know who to blame for failure. But everything leading up to failure or success? He kept his hands out of it, until it came time to claim credit or mete punishment.

Except Starscream pinged Grimlock and got a succinct “Busy” in reply so it looked like he was on his own. No worries.

“No insult intended. Only observation,” Soundwave replied, still in that irritating monotone. “Grimlock better choice.”

“Funny you should say that. I thought Megatron was your lord and master.”

“Negative.”

The main doors to the command center opened ahead of them. Starscream turned to look at Soundwave.

“This coming from the mech known for his loyalty. What changed, Soundwave?” He didn’t expect an answer. Soundwave never let anything slip. He was a mech of few words, and no intimacies.

“Megatron changed,” Soundwave replied, which yes, was all Starscream expected to get from him.

It was yet another reason he and Soundwave had never been friendly. Starscream had enough political machinations to worry about without trying to interpret Soundwave’s deliberately vague manner of speech.

“And Optimus is better,” Starscream assumed as he hung a left and led Soundwave not toward the command center or a conference room, but to a refueling station.

The Decepticons had nothing to hide. That didn’t mean Starscream wanted Soundwave anywhere near central command. They weren’t that friendly. He didn’t think Soundwave was spying. No. Rephrase. He knew Soundwave was spying, but he didn’t think it was with malicious intent. Not only was that not Optimus Prime’s style, but Soundwave never poked his olfactory sensor where it didn’t belong for his own purposes.

He was stupidly honorable like that.

“Yes,” Soundwave said and unsurprisingly, didn’t elaborate.

Starscream supposed a blunt answer was better than an evasion. He hung a left into the nearest refueling station, abandoned as it was mid-shift, and waved Soundwave toward a table. He retrieved two cubes of mid-grade and joined Soundwave who had chosen a table that gave both of them a clear view of the room, and put their backplates to the wall.

Old habits died hard.

“But you didn’t come here to talk about our respective relationships, did you?” Starscream plopped down on a stool and shoved a cube toward the quiet mech.

Soundwave accepted it and gave Starscream a long look before his mask split down the middle. Starscream took it for a show of trust. Soundwave rarely refuelled through his mouth, and never in public.

He was an attractive mech underneath, Starscream mused. He had a few protoform deep marks around his mouth, cuts that suggested repeated damage gone unrepaired for so long the nanites were no longer capable of recognizing it as damage. In other words, what the humans could call a scar. They didn’t detract from his appearance, however.

“Negative,” Soundwave said after another sip. He rested one hand on the energon cube as his visor shifted Starscream’s direction. “Topic of discussion: Metalhawk.”

Starscream leaned back on his stool, making himself comfortable. This was a topic that he had grown to loathe. “I’m listening.”

Soundwave inclined his helm. “Metalhawk unexpectedly amenable and quiet. Suspect conflicting motivations. Summary: scheme intended.”

Starscream tilted his helm. “That much is obvious. Do you have any proof?”

Soundwave audibly cycled a ventilation. “Surveillance suggests dissatisfaction. Wants Autobots and Decepticons gone.”

“How?”

“Method undecided.”

Starscream snorted a laugh. “He knows he’s outclassed and outnumbered. Even if he waits for the reinforcements, it’ll be too late. So he’s got to come up with something before our scattered troops start answering the calls.” He sipped at his energon, the mildly sweet flavor a delicious treat. “Who do you have watching him?”

“Buzzsaw.”

“Not Laserbeak?”

Soundwave shook his helm. “Preference: Optimus Prime.”

Starscream’s orbital ridges tried to crawl under his forehelm. “You’re keeping tabs on the mech you’ve sworn allegiance to? My don’t you live dangerously. I thought you trusted the Prime?”

“Negative.” Soundwave’s visor flashed, and his carefully controlled energy field flicked through the room with denial. “Surveillance not intended. Only concern.”

“You think Metalhawk would attack him? Or that one of my Decepticons would?” Starscream snorted as his wings flicked. “No one on this planet is that foolish.”

“Negative.” Soundwave shifted, and if Starscream had to guess, there was embarrassment in the fidgeting. “Concern for health.”

Starscream cycled his optics. He sat up straight and stared at Soundwave. “You’re actually serious about him. When did that happen?”

“Private matters unrelated to Starscream,” Soundwave replied in a clipped tone before his battle mask snapped back shut. His capped his half-finished cube of energon and set it to the side. “Previous topic preferred.”

“All right. Whatever you say.” Starscream held up his hands.

The old Starscream would have pursued it, perhaps to Soundwave’s humiliation and Starscream’s own self-satisfaction. But they were no longer second and third in command to Megatron. Starscream no longer had to vie for Megatron’s approval. There was no need to undercut Soundwave.

Perhaps, in the future, they might even become friends.

“What has Buzzsaw discovered then?” Starscream asked with a flick of his fingers.

“Neutrals presently incapable of mounting an offensive.” Soundwave visibly relaxed as the tight clamp of his armor loosened. “Or defending themselves. Autobots and Decepticons have advantage.”

“Well, that’s a relief.” Starscream tapped his chin. “Suggestions for a plan of action?”

“Watch. Wait. Prepare.”

Oh, Soundwave. Ever cautious.

Starscream frowned. He hated that the entirety of the Decepticon special ops division was unavailable. Soundwave and his little imps defected. Vortex had gone Neutral with the rest of his team. And Barricade was in the brig, where he would stay if Starscream had anything to say about it. That mech could not be trusted.

“I trust you’ll keep us in the loop?” Starscream asked. “After all, you took our entire intelligence division with you.”

Soundwave’s visor flashed, and though Starscream couldn’t see his face, he got the distinct impression Soundwave was smirking at him. “Cooperation beneficial.”

“So it would seem,” Starscream mused aloud. “You mentioned multiple topics. What were the others?”

“Current Decepticon prisoners,” Soundwave said with no hesitation. “Intent to release?”

Starscream raised his orbital ridges. “You’ll have to be more specific. Is there someone in particular you are concerned about?”

“Overlord,” Soundwave replied. “Blackshadow. Sixshot. Motormaster.”

Interesting. All of the Phase Sixers and two of whom had been responsible for violations upon Optimus Prime. Was Soundwave’s attraction to and defense of Optimus Prime a new occurrence, or had it been beneath the surface throughout the entirety of the war?

Starscream pressed his fingertips together and crossed one leg over the other. It couldn’t hurt to share a little information. “The Sixers are going into cold storage for when we need them. Motormaster is not eligible for parole at this moment. He is too loyal to Megatron.”

Some of the tension visibly drained from Soundwave’s frame. “Potential for release in future?”

“Maybe,” Starscream hedged.

Motormaster, after all, was a Decepticon despite the despicable things he had done. Starscream had a responsibility toward him. His fellow Stunticons – Breakdown and Drag Strip – were more likely to be released before Motormaster.

Breakdown had expressed an interest in medical engineering, which Starscream suspected had more to do with their CMO than an actual interest in fixing the injured. Rumor had it, also, that Breakdown had been the subject of ridicule amongst his brothers because he did not take part in the rape and degradation of their Autobot pets. Therefore, he was high on Starscream’s parole list.

He was still investigating Drag Strip. The mech was loud and obnoxious and selfish, but he didn’t have any loyalties to Megatron, and he didn’t seem all that loyal to Motormaster either. If he could be taught, he might be useful.

“That depends on his behavior,” Starscream continued. “But it will be no time soon. There are larger concerns.” He rapped his fingers on the desktop. “Speaking of unrepentant prisoners, what of the red minibot?”

Soundwave cycled a ventilation. “Medical care needed. No possibility of parole at this moment. Potential to re-offend too great.”

“A pity,” Starscream mused.

Frankly, he thought there were a few more Decepticons who could do with some of Cliffjumper’s justice, but that wasn’t what he could say aloud. He only pushed for the minibot’s punishment for political reasons.

“Any other concerns you wanted to address, or do you want to save those for our weekly meetings?”

“Nothing of immediate consequence,” Soundwave said. He pushed to his pedes, tilting his helm in a show of deference. “Discussion appreciated.”

Starscream’s lips twisted toward a smirk. “Working with the Prime has made you more polite,” he commented with a sidelong glance.

Soundwave’s visor darkened. “Competition no longer needed,” he replied. “Would prefer friendship now, if possible.”

“I think I can oblige.” Starscream managed a genuine smile. “I think I like this version of you, Soundwave. I’m sure Optimus Prime does, too.”

Soundwave tilted his helm, a flush of amusement dancing in his field. “Lord Grimlock reciprocates, yes?”

Shots fired. Starscream didn’t bother to duck. He suspected the tete-a-tete would become a key part of his and Soundwave’s relationship.

“We’ll see,” Starscream said. “Go. I’m sure you have as much work to do as I do. Feel free to visit again.”

“Noted.” Soundwave left, no sappy goodbyes from him. Not that Starscream could have expected any different.

He chuckled and shook his helm.

Would wonders never cease?
~

Cybertronians didn’t yawn to express their fatigue, but at the moment, Starscream wished he could. He felt it tug at every cable, every strut, every line. His wings drooped. His neck column was stiff. He was starting to limp because of that damn knee.

Hmm. Maybe he should take the recent truce as an opportunity to have Ratchet look at his knee. He could call it fostering good relations.

Starscream snorted. Good relations. Like the fact he was second-in-command and also sexually involved with a mech who Ratchet and his explosive engineer of a conjunx considered their child. That was going to go over well.

Starscream tucked his datapad under his arm and rubbed his face with his free hand. Complicated, thy visage is Starscream, he thought. He always did seem to choose the path of most resistance. Why couldn’t he allow anything to be easy?

He glanced back down at his datapad before subspacing it. No more work today. He intended to go to berth, collapse in it, and recharge until he had to rise early to do it all over again.

Why was peace so much more complicated than war?

Starscream flicked his code into the panel outside his private hab – being second in command had to have some perks – and strode into his suite. He briefly thought about claiming some energon from the dispenser, but he wasn’t that low. He headed toward the berth room instead only to slam to a halt.

His berth was occupied, and not by any of his trine-mates like he would have expected. Skywarp had a habit of warping around to surprise Starscream as some sort of unfunny joke. Thundercracker occasionally invited himself inside if he had something serious to discuss.

This time, however, his berth was occupied by none other than Grimlock, the Dinobot looking quite comfortable as he propped himself up with several pillows. He was focused on the datapad in his hands, one that looked tiny in comparison, but he looked up as Starscream darkened his own doorway.

“You’re late,” he said.

“I’m right on time considering this is my berthroom, and I didn’t have anything scheduled,” Starscream retorted as he stormed further into his room. “What are you doing here?”

Grimlock flicked the datapad off, and it vanished into his subspace. “Waiting for you?”

“What? Couldn’t sleep without a mech to cuddle?”

Grimlock’s helm tilted. “Something like that.” He sat up on the berth and patted his lap. “Care to join me?”

Starscream snorted and folded his arms across his cockpit. “It’s my berth,” he pointed out as he cocked a hip to the side.

“Thus the invitation,” Grimlock replied, and this time, it was better a purr. A dark sound that rolled right down Starscream’s backstrut.

He fought back the shiver, but couldn’t stop his wings from twitching, betraying his interest. Soundwave’s words hovered at the back of his processor. Yes, he had a type, Starscream acknowledged. Power and confidence and competence, Grimlock had all of it. But more than that, he appreciated Starscream.

That was a heavy intoxicant indeed.

“Or I could leave,” Grimlock said.

Starscream rolled his optics. “I didn’t say that,” he said and unfolded his arms, crossing the berth room in a few quick strides. “You must delight in confusing me, Dinobot.”

“It’s only confusing because you’re not used to it.” Grimlock snagged Starscream’s nearest hand, drawing it closer to his masked mouth.

He rubbed his mask against the back of Starscream’s knuckles, his visor taking on a glow of arousal that Starscream had come to recognize. His field reached out, tapping against Starscream’s in soft request.

Ever since that first conversation, Grimlock always asked. He never assumed. He was as different from Megatron as night and day, as Autobot and Decepticon, as Seeker and Dinobot.

So yes, Soundwave, maybe Starscream did have a type.

Grimlock was all the best parts of it.

Starscream let Grimlock pull him closer and let the Dinobot’s arm circle around him. Grimlock’s fingers pressed against his back, just below his wing hinges. A purr rumbled through Grimlock’s chassis as he rubbed his battlemask against Starscream’s hand again.

“Suppose I can convince you to come to berth now?” Grimlock asked.

“Idiot,” Starscream grumbled, refusing to admit that his ventilations hitched. “I’m here, aren’t I?”

“Well. It is your berth.” Grimlock chuckled and slid his hand up higher, fingers teasing Starscream’s hinges. “Join me on it. I’ve a need to see you overload on top of me.”

“You just want to be able to watch my wings,” Starscream retorted with a roll of his optics, but he watched Grimlock scoot back and make room for him.

Starscream climbed after him. He perched on Grimlock’s hips, knees digging into the plush berth. Grimlock’s panel was already hot to the touch, his field heavy with electro-static need. How long had he sat here, waiting on Starscream and thinking about him?

It was a pretty heady feeling. Like power.

Grimlock’s hands rested on his hips, thumbs sweeping inward, brushing the furthest edge of Starscream’s panel. He refused to show the jolt it sent through his lines. His valve clenched, lubricant gathering along the protomesh walls.

“There is that,” Grimlock said. He rocked his hips upward, making Starscream rise and fall in his perch. “Are you objecting?”

Starscream braced his hands on Grimlock’s abdominal plate. “Not at all,” he purred, and ground down, their panels sliding together with a burr of metal on metal. “You came in here and waited for me. It would be rude to ignore that.”

“Since when have you cared about whether or not you were rude?” Grimlock asked, but his field was heavy with affection as it rolled against Starscream’s own, almost as tangible as a caress.

Starscream tilted his helm to the side, lifting his orbital ridges. “Since when have you known me so well?”

“Dinobots observe.” Grimlock’s thumbs stroked harder at Starscream’s panel. “Easy to do when everyone assumes you’re stupid. Noticed a lot of things others didn’t. Noticed that there was a lot more to you than Megatron allowed.”

If Starscream were anyone else, his faceplate might have heated at that.

“Yeah, that was obvious.” He leaned forward Grimlock, his glossa flicking over his lips. “How long have you been watching me, my lord?”

Grimlock’s plating twitched beneath him, heat surging up from under his armor. Arousal thickened in his energy field until Starscream could almost taste it.

Hm. Liked that, did he?

“Long enough,” Grimlock said. His hands slid up, gliding along Starscream’s sides and along his chassis before stroking back down again. “You are beautiful.”

Starscream startled, not expecting the blatant admission. Pleasure flushed through his field as his spark gave a sharp, surprised throb. He rolled his hips, planting a smirk on his face to hide his shock.

“Well, of course,” he purred. “I am a Seeker. We are lords of the skies.” He raised his arms, draping them around Grimlock’s neck. He rolled his frame forward again, Grimlock growing hotter and hotter beneath him.

Fingers pressed in on his spinal strut. “You dance in the sky,” Grimlock said as his panel opened, and his spike extended. It rubbed along Starscream’s valve panel in quiet request for entrance. “You fly with joy. When the sun catches your wings, you glow.”

Starscream’s spark did that odd stutter again. He licked his lips. “You have been watching,” he purred with what he hoped was vain pride and not the sheer flattery he felt. “I didn’t know a Dinobot could be so poetic.”

Grimlock’s visor flashed with heat. “There are a lot of things you don’t know about me.” His vocals rolled like rich, sweet energon. “Open for me?”

“Well.” Starscream smirked and let his fingers toy with the cables at the back of Grimlock’s neck, just below the protection of his helm. “Since you asked so sweetly…”

He triggered his panel to open and a shiver danced up his backstrut as the blunt head of Grimlock’s spike rubbed over his rim. He was already wet, but even so, Grimlock would be a tight fit. His calipers would struggle to cycle open, struggle to take Grimlock’s girth. It was a heady sensation Starscream quickly began to crave, especially since Grimlock was always so careful with him.

Care was still something new to Starscream. He never knew it could be so addictive.

Starscream rolled his hips, teasing himself for several long moments. Grimlock’s spike rubbed over his pleats, over his rim, and against his nub. His node throbbed with interest and he felt lubricant seep from his valve, dripping down on Grimlock’s spike.

“Should I ask permission?” Grimlock purred as his hands swept up and down Starscream’s sides, each sweep of his palm causing a tingle of charge to dance over Starscream’s plating. “Or do you want me to beg?”

Starscream grinned. “I do like the sound of you begging.” He rolled his hips, caught the head of Grimlock’s spike against his opening, and let the first inch slide inside. “But maybe not this time.”

He both felt and heard Grimlock’s ventilations catch. He felt the flex of Grimlock’s fingers on his hips and the shudder that rippled over Grimlock’s plating.

Starscream’s calipers twitched, catching at the head of Grimlock’s spike as though trying to drag him deeper. So Starscream obliged, shivering as he sank down, inch by precious inch, his valve cycling open, stretching around Grimlock’s girth until he was fully seated.

A low moan rose in his chassis. His backstrut arched, wings first going rigid, then shivering with delight. Starscream’s optics dimmed as he allowed himself to luxuriate in nothing but the sheer sensation. No pain to be so full, he realized. Such a novel concept.

Grimlock’s thumbs swept inward and a bolt of pleasure rocked through Starscream’s frame as the tip of one circled his anterior node. He moaned, hips working Grimlock’s spike and calipers rippling around it. Lubricant seeped out, soaking the space between them.

Starscream’s hand slid to Grimlock’s shoulders, his fingers slipping into transformation seams to stroke at the cables beneath. “You’re going to make me overload if you keep that up,” he said.

Grimlock pressed a little harder and Starscream’s hips jerked. His node throbbed as lightning stripped his lines.

“Or maybe that’s what you want,” Starscream moaned. His hips moved in small circles while Grimlock stayed still beneath him. His spike throbbed and ground against Starscream’s ceiling node.

“It might be.” Now Grimlock sounded coy, though his cooling fans had clicked on with a telling whirr and heat blasted out from beneath his plating. “It also depends on how adventurous you are.”

Starscream was intrigued. He forced himself to still, no matter how much his valve eagerly clutched at Grimlock’s spike. His own throbbed to be released.

“What do you have in mind?” he asked as he leaned forward, his cockpit brushing Grimlock’s chestplate. He could feel the strong vibrations of Grimlock’s spark beneath.

Grimlock’s thumb continued the soft, steady strokes on his nub, forcing Starscream’s hips back into incremental motion. His other hand cupped Starscream’s aft. Grimlock’s field thickened with arousal, betraying his need.

“Something I’d like to try, if you’re not opposed,” Grimlock said as he rolled his hips upward, his spikehead tapping on Starscream’s ceiling node. “My spike is… different.”

“On purpose?”

Grimlock chuckled and rocked again, sending another sharp thrill of pleasure through Starscream’s lines. “Yes and no. Wheeljack took the request for modeling our frame after organic designs a little too literally.”

Starscream blinked. “I haven’t noticed anything different,” he said and then grinned. “And believe me, I’ve looked.”

“It’s manually activated,” Grimlock said. He kneaded at Starscream’s aft, his grip firm, and yet gentle. He was a master of his own strength.

Charge licked between their interfacing systems, their cooling fans almost whirring in sync. Arousal throbbed between them, and another sharp burst of it made Starscream clench down and shiver.

“But I’m told it’s a Pit of a ride,” Grimlock purred. His thumb ground against Starscream’s anterior node.

Starscream’s backstrut arched as he hissed air through his vents. Pleasure rocked through him, valve rippling in the precursors of overload, but not quite there. His hands clawed at Grimlock’s shoulders.

“No pain,” he gasped out.

“Never.” Grimlock’s thumb gentled on Starscream’s nub, keeping the pleasure to a soft caress that nearly drew a whimper from Starscream.

“Just think about it,” he said and bent forward, rubbing his face mask against the sensitive dermal metal of Starscream’s intake.

Starscream shivered. His wings flicked. He pulled Grimlock closer, grinding down and up all at once. More charge rattled through his array. His plating flared to release excess heat as Grimlock’s thumb flicked over his node twice in succession.

Starscream clutched at Grimlock as he overloaded, clamping down hard on the Dinobot’s spike. He panted as pleasure stripped his frame raw, and his field flared out of his control. He couldn’t stop the helpless whines eking from his vocalizer.

He sagged on top of Grimlock; lingering bursts of pleasure making him twitch. Grimlock pulsed within him and gentled his touches on Starscream’s nub to feathery flicks, drawing out the pleasure.

Starscream sucked in huge bursts of air, his cooling fans whirring. His face flushed with heat. His wings sank against his backplate.

“Beautiful,” Grimlock murmured as he cupped Starscream’s hips before sweeping his hands up Starscream’s back. His thumbs toyed with the hinges of Starscream’s wings, and a jolt of ecstasy shot straight to Starscream’s valve. “Go again?”

“I’m not done yet,” Starscream rasped as he snatched at Grimlock’s wrists and pulled them away. Grimlock allowed it, he had to, because Starscream could never physically overpower him otherwise. “It’s my turn now.”

Grimlock inclined his helm. “I’m at your disposal, my Air Commander.”

A thrill danced down Starscream’s spinal strut and throbbed through his spark, as it did every time Grimlock reminded him of his position. It was an acknowledgment of his skill and worth, and it left him putty every time. Starscream’s engine purred, and he tilted forward, forcing Grimlock backward.

The Dinobot’s back hit the berth, his knees rising as his pedes braced on the berth. The motion jostled his spike in Starscream’s valve, the throbbing unit skittering charge against Starscream’s reawakening nodes.

Starscream settled more firmly on Grimlock, shivering as the thick spike re-situated itself. “You’re going to let me lead?” he asked as he dragged his hands from Grimlock’s wrists to his hands, tangling their fingers together.

Grimlock could easily rise up and toss Starscream off. He was taller and heavier than Starscream. But instead, he twitched to get more comfortable, and his visor darkened with lust. He didn’t appear at all bothered that Starscream had wrested control from him.

“Why wouldn’t I?” Grimlock asked as though there was no need for concern. His engine rumbled, vibrating the berth.

Primus. How did he always know the perfect thing to say?

Starscream gnawed on his bottom lip, his ventilations hitching. He circled his hips and squeezed down on Grimlock’s spike. His thighs trembled. His entire frame still hummed with need, dancing on the tip of the next edge of overload.

“Next time,” Starscream panted as he lifted and dropped, feeling Grimlock trembling beneath him. “You’re going to show me that mod.”

Grimlock’s visor flared with arousal. His fingers curled around Starscream’s, but not hard enough to damage. “Don’t make promises you aren’t going to keep, Seeker.”

“Ha.” Starscream’s glossa flicked over his lips as he slammed down, the clank of metal against metal an erotic chime to the rattling of the berth. “I can take anything you have to give, Dinobot.”

He ground down, rubbing the head of Grimlock’s spike against his ceiling node and rippling his calipers up and down the length of the thick spike. Charge danced between their respective arraysm and Grimlock thrust upward with a near-roar, the hot crackle of his transfluid jetting into Starscream’s valve and washing over his internal nodes.

A shiver zipped down Starscream’s backstrut. He tossed his helm back and followed Grimlock over, his spike leaving a strip of transfluid up Grimlock’s abdomen. His cooling fans clunked in a desperate attempt to whirr away the heat building in his frame.

He sagged on top of Grimlock, feeling Grimlock’s fingers flex in his. Heat filled the space between and around them. And yet, despite his overload, Grimlock was still pressurized within him.

Starscream twitched his hips. “You have stamina fit for a Seeker,” he commented.

Grimlock chuckled. “Getting tired in your old age?”

Starscream scoffed and tightened his grip on Grimlock’s hands. “Try me, Dinobot.”

Grimlock rolled his hips upward, stirring his spike along the sated nodes of Starscream’s valve. “Challenge accepted.”
~

There he was again.

Cyclonus looped in the air and came back for another pass, not at all surprised that the white and blue Neutral was on the bridge, staring out at Cybertron. Every day, at the same time every cycle, Tailgate was here. Almost as if he waited on Cyclonus.

Cyclonus transformed and landed, rolling his neck to ease the tension in his shoulders. He had been dealing with prisoners for the majority of the day, and that left him more than a little tense.

The Decepticons were understaffed, but it looked like they would remain that way. Cyclonus could not, in good conscience, release any of the mechs who remained in the brig. It might be that Starscream’s proposed solution of reprogramming was the answer, no matter how much Optimus Prime disapproved.

Right now, Cybertron and peace were far more important than Autobot illusions of a perfect world.

“Cyclonus!”

Tailgate’s visor lit up with happiness as he turned toward Cyclonus. His field freely extended, proving that he was a mech unaccustomed to war and intrigue. Most battle-hardened soldiers knew better than to leave themselves so open.

Tailgate also now bore a small pistol on his right hip. Cyclonus couldn’t help but wonder if he had ever used it, and who had given it to him. He had not been armed in all of their prior encounters.

“It is not safe here, Tailgate,” Cyclonus said, trying to form a disapproving frown, but finding himself unable to do so. There was an unexpected warmth in his spark. Closer investigation suggested it might be… happiness.

He was genuinely pleased to see Tailgate. This was unexpected.

“I know,” Tailgate said and his happiness fell, the brightness of his field dimming by several degrees. “But I can’t get near the citadel, and it was the only place I knew to find you.”

Cyclonus’ spark surged. He told the foolish thing to calm down.

He knelt to be on more even ground with the minibot. “You could have commed me.”

“Would you have come?”

“Yes.” He gave the answer without hesitation, surprising himself, though he was quick to amend his words. “That is, so long as Metalhawk approves. He is still leery of us. I do not know that I would be welcome in Nova Cronum.”

Tailgate huffed a ventilation, his fingers twisting together. “Metalhawk’s so stubborn! He just doesn’t want to see that there are still good mechs in the Autobots and the Decepticons. He’s convinced you’re all bad.”

“He has good reason to think so.” Cyclonus cycled a ventilation. “I do not know how much of the war you’ve seen, but it has been brutal on all sides. His caution is wise.”

“But he won’t even talk about it!” Tailgate cried, and he sounded genuinely distressed. His visor flared. “All I wanted was permission, and he told me I had to stay in Nova Cronum.”

Cyclonus cycled his optics and rose to his pedes, instantly scanning the area. He could see no sign of any other mechs, but that didn’t mean there weren’t any spies out there.

“You came here alone? Without telling anyone?” he asked.

Dear Primus, this was a crisis in the making. All they needed was for Metalhawk to screech that Decepticons were capturing poor, innocent minibot Neutrals, and there would be the Pit to pay.

Tailgate looked down, tapping his fingers together. “They wouldn’t have let me come if I told them.”

Cyclonus cycled a ventilation and pinched the bridge of his olfactory sensor. There was a reason he was third in command. He could figure out a solution to this without causing an incident. For example, returning Tailgate to Nova Cronum as soon as possible.

He shifted to alt-mode and popped his cockpit. “Come on. I need to take you back.”

Tailgate’s helm snapped up, his visor flaring with alarm. “Do I have to? I’d rather stay here and talk with you for a while.” His field flared, a mix of disappointment and exasperation and reluctance.

“Unfortunately, yes.” Cyclonus allowed the apology to extend into his field so that Tailgate could sense it. “If you’d like, I can expedite your petition for free travel to Iacon. Then Metalhawk could not protest. Though I would insist on a guard. For your own safety.”

Tailgate’s shoulders sagged. “I hate this stupid war,” he grumbled, but he did as Cyclonus asked, taking care as he climbed into Cyclonus’ cockpit.

Cyclonus appreciated how respectful he was. He didn’t touch anything, took care in where he placed his pedes and hands, and made sure not to scratch or dent. Cyclonus sent the commands for the straps to keep Tailgate in place.

“Peace does not come without its bumps in the road,” Cyclonus said as he lifted into the sky, aiming toward Nova Cronum. “In time, perhaps, we will all be a little less cautious and a little more open to the possibilities. Such as friendships between Neutrals and Decepticons.”

Tailgate’s field shone brightly. “You think of me as a friend?”

“Well, I certainly don’t think of you as an enemy.”

Tailgate laughed, his visor a very bright blue. “That’s good.”

“I would, however, prefer if you used my comm in the future, Tailgate. I gave it to you for a reason.”

The minibot ducked his helm. “I understand. And I will. Thank you, Cyclonus.”

It was difficult to stay angry with Tailgate. Everything about his emotions were so genuine and refreshing. The irritation bled entirely from Cyclonus’ spark.

“You are welcome,” he replied. “Now let us get you home before there is an incident.” He turned toward Nova Cronum and popped his thrusters, jetting across the sky.

As he did so, he sent a quick communique to the perimeter monitors letting them know of his approach. It was both standard procedure and polite, but the frosty reception he received was offensive.

Metalhawk truly was all that was wrong with old Cybertron.

“I’m sorry,” Tailgate murmured as he slumped a little. “I didn’t mean to cause so much trouble.”

“It’s no trouble,” Cyclonus reassured him, hoping to chase away the disappointment in Taiglate’s field. Something about the little mech called to a softer side of him, and Cyclonus was loath to abandon that. “I am only concerned.”

Tailgate’s visor lifted to his instrument panel. “I could always petition to join the Decepticons,” he suggested with a hopeful lilt.

Cyclonus’ flight plan wobbled. “If you no longer wish to be Neutral, that is one thing,” he said, careful to keep his tone as gentle as possible. “But I would ask that you join the Autobots instead. The Decepticons, right now regrettably, are no place for a Neutral.”

He sighed as the first intact wall of Nova Cronum came into view, and behind it, the single building the small group of Neutrals had turned into a home. Metalhawk had yet to swallow his pride and ask for assistance so they currently lived in their shuttle while they repaired a single building for residence.

“It was a long war, Tailgate, and those of us who survived have done so by learning to be cruel, or by starting out that way,” Cyclonus added. “I would not see the same happen to you, if there is any hope for the future of Cybertron.”

He circled around the Neutrals’ shuttle once, looking for the best place to land, and wasn’t at all surprised to find Metalhawk waiting at the end of the ramp, his second and third to either side of him. Well, this was going to be uncomfortable and potentially infuriating.

At least they had cleared the surrounding area of debris, making it easier for Cyclonus to find a place to land. He popped his cockpit and waited for Tailgate to climb out before he transformed. He turned to say something to Tailgate, who was looking up at him with a gleaming visor and tangled fingers, but Metalhawk intervened.

“Tailgate!” he bellowed, storming forward with a frenetic energy to his field. “We’ve been looking everywhere for you. Where have you been?” he demanded.

Metalhawk dropped to a knee in front of Tailgate, his hands on the minibot’s shoulders as he looked him up and down, like one might an errant youngling who’d been caught misbehaving. Or as though he thought Cyclonus had done something terrible.

His gaze flicked toward Cyclonus with nothing short of a glare.

“I went to Iacon,” Tailgate answered as he stepped out of Metalhawk’s reach, his plating clamped down with discomfort. He glanced up at Cyclonus before shifting his attention back to Metalhawk. “On my own. Of my own free will. Cyclonus was kind enough to give me a ride back.”

“Yes, I’m sure the Decepticon was kind,” Metalhawk said in a dark tone as rose to his full height.

Tailgate’s fingers twisted together.

Cyclonus wondered if, cruel and dangerous or not, Iacon and the Decepticons were a better place for Tailgate. He seemed to have become some sort of pawn for Metalhawk now.

“Skids, take Tailgate inside. I’m sure he is tired,” Metalhawk continued, all without taking his gaze from Cyclonus. His armor was rigid, and one hand was drawn into a fist.

The once-Autobot – at least according to the briefs Jazz had sent over – inclined his helm and gestured for Tailgate to follow him. He said something Cyclonus didn’t catch, and Tailgate’s shoulders slumped as he followed along after. Tailgate cast a glance over his shoulder, but obeyed.

“You have my comm if you need me,” Cyclonus said to Tailgate’s back. He didn’t expect a response, but knew Tailgate had heard him by the twitching of the minibot’s tires.

This left Cyclonus staring at Metalhawk and Sky-Byte both, neither of whom could be considered remotely welcoming. He folded his arms, refusing to be intimidated.

“He’s not a sparkling,” Cyclonus said as he lifted his orbital ridges. “Why do you treat him as such?”

Metalhawk lifted his chin. “And why is it any business of yours what occurs within my faction on our own territory?”

Yes. This was quickly going to become unpleasant. Cyclonus changed tactics.

“If Tailgate petitions for free access to New Iacon, we are going to grant it,” Cyclonus informed them. “Fostering good relations is important to all of us. I would hope, Metalhawk, that you would not stand in his way or restrict his personal freedoms.”

“He will never become a Decepticon!” Metalhawk hissed.

Cyclonus inclined his helm. “Is that not his choice to make?”

That settled it.

If Tailgate came to New Iacon looking for asylum, Cyclonus would not deny him, no matter how loudly Starscream screeched or Metalhawk demanded his return. The choice would be Tailgate’s. Cyclonus would not see him turned into a pawn.

Metalhawk’s optics narrowed. “Yes, it is. As it’s mine to ask you to leave. Decepticons are not welcome here.”

“I’ll keep that in mind in the future.” Cyclonus glanced at Sky-Byte, who had added nothing to the conversation, before he shifted to alt-mode and took to the sky.

He did not look at Nova Cronum as he left, but he did make a mental note of Metalhawk’s behavior. He would have to discuss this with Grimlock and Starscream both, along with contacting Optimus Prime.

This could be a problem in the future.

A big one.

[Crown the Empire] Reign 04

When Ratchet showed up outside Decepticon Headquarters in New Iacon, flanked by two obvious soldiers, and a deep-set scowl on his face, Starscream felt a twinge of aggravation. A helmache, if you would, building at the back of his processor.

He really didn’t want to deal with this today. But Grimlock was otherwise occupied, Cyclonus was off-shift, and while Starscream could foist this off on Thundercracker, his wingmate didn’t have the access codes to the brig. Also, the Autobots were getting impatient, Ratchet was done with delaying care and really, one did not deny the Hatchet anything when he had a legitimate concern.

Starscream planted a smile on his face. “You’re right on time,” he said, trying not to cut his gaze at the two mechs who were obviously Ratchet’s escorts.

“It wasn’t my idea,” the Autobot CMO growled. His gaze shifted to the slim blue mech on one side of him, and the brightly painted brat on the other. “You two wait out here.”

“Uh, Magnus said not to let you go in there alone,” the flame-colored mech said. He shifted from pede to pede and gave Starscream something of a nervous look.

The blue mech beside him nodded in solidarity.

“Oh, for Primus’ sake.” Ratchet rolled his optics and whirled toward them, planting his hands on his hips. “You think that I am incapable of defending myself, is that it? You think I can’t handle one screechy Seeker?”

“Hey,” Starscream said with a lazy drawl. “I resemble that remark.”

Ratchet snorted.

“But Ultra Magnus said–”

Ratchet held up a hand, cutting the obvious youngling off, and then pointed a finger at both of them. “Stay. Here,” he repeated, enunciating his words. “Else I’ll make sure when we start making maintenance appointments, you two get Knock Out. Got me?”

Starscream’s lips twitched. Using the Decepticon medic as a scare tactic? How rude. Except that Ratchet had a point. Knock Out was a passable medic and a better surgeon. He could repair someone, given the proper incentive, it was the definition of incentive that caused many a problem.

Starscream found himself going to Glit when he had a minor issue, like say a misaligned joint that he couldn’t reach. But he’d already told Thundercracker and Skywarp that if he was ever seriously injured, he wanted to be taken to the Autobot medical team. Not Knock Out. Or Ambulon as Starscream didn’t trust a Neutral any further than he could throw them.

Blue and Flame lowered their helms, muttering ‘yes, sir’ in sullen, but meek tones.

Satisfied, Ratchet whirled back toward Starscream and stalked forward, leaving Starscream no choice but to hurry to catch up to him.

“Let’s get this over with,” Ratchet near-snarled. He was obviously uncomfortable, given how tight his armor was clamped to his frame. His field was restrained, and what little bits leaked free made Starscream nauseous.

It wasn’t fear, but Ratchet did not want to be here.

“I seem to recall the other medic petitioning to come here,” Starscream said in a mild tone as Ratchet drew up short at the entrance, unable to key the panel open.

Starscream flicked his fingers over the panel, and the door slid open, Ratchet barging inside as though trying to get this done as soon as possible. Starscream couldn’t blame him. While Ratchet had spent the majority of his time in Constructicon custody, Megatron had not resisted the opportunity to berth Optimus’ CMO and dear friend.

In fact, until Megatron got Optimus, Ratchet was his favorite toy. The Constructicons had often sniffled about it.

“I was not about to have First Aid come here and talk to that monster,” Ratchet said as Starscream’s slower pace forced him to slow down.

Starscream intended to take him a roundabout route, one that would ensure as few Decepticons as possible would see them, and no one would be in a position to harass Ratchet. Not to mention there were more than a few Constructicons wandering the upper floors for their daily, temporary release in order to aid construction.

“He would have been better suited,” Starscream pointed out. “He was actually there whenever Shockwave was doing whatever he was doing in there.”

Starscream had read Shockwave’s notes. He’d seen what was left of the data Shockwave hadn’t destroyed.

He didn’t understand a bit of it except that Shockwave seemed to be trying to re-create the circumstances that had spawned the Autobot split-spark twins. His notes seemed to suggest he was trying to make newsparks since Vector Sigma was no longer an option. In theory, it was a noble pursuit. Their population dwindled and without Vector Sigma, there was no hope to repopulate.

Starscream hoped to pursue some of Shockwave’s theories further. Not the abhorrent ones involving the Autobot twins, the Dinobot, and the last piece of Defensor. But other theories could have some merit, ones that would call for volunteers, rather than unwilling participants.

In this, he and Shockwave were in agreement. Surely there was some answer in their sparks. Surely, there was some mix of myth and legend and reality that could ensure the continuation of their species.

Starscream also knew better than to suggest this aloud. Autobots and their sensitivities. Pah. Starscream was realistic. He hadn’t cared for the torture Shockwave inflicted on his subjects. But he couldn’t deny the research was necessary.

“Which is exactly why he’s staying away from Shockwave unless it becomes absolutely necessary,” Ratchet retorted in a near-growl. He cut a look at Starscream as if daring him to argue.

Starscream was wise enough to let the topic drop.

“As you insist,” Starscream demurred. They arrived at the lift, and he gestured Ratchet in ahead of him. He hit the button for the lowest level. “Is there anything else the Autobots have need from us right now?”

Ratchet folded his arms and leaned against the side of the lift. His helm tilted, his blue optics sharp and cutting. “Yeah. Why don’t you tell me what the deal is with Soundwave.”

Starscream cycled his optics. “Beg pardon?”

“He attached himself to Optimus pretty quickly,” Ratchet pointed out with a raised orbital ridge. “Or didn’t you notice?”

Starscream frowned. He had noticed. He hadn’t been surprised either. Soundwave was drawn to mechs with power and authority. Megatron was a case in point. Though that did make him wonder why Soundwave hadn’t gravitated toward Grimlock. Soundwave attached himself to Optimus long before the battle for leadership of the Decepticons began.

“Soundwave’s free to make his own choices,” Starscream hedged. Soundwave might not be a Decepticon anymore, but he remained reluctant to give away Soundwave’s secrets. What little of them Starscream knew. “He’s smart. He knows how to keep himself safe.”

Ratchet stared at him. He drummed the fingers of one hand against his own armor. “You can’t tell me it’s self-preservation. Soundwave’s never further than Optimus’ shadow.”

“You worried?”

Ratchet snorted. “Optimus can take care of himself. I just want to make sure it’s not some plot of yours to undermine us.”

Starscream barked a laugh as the lift stopped in the basement. “Soundwave and I don’t trust each other that much. If he’s planning anything, it has nothing to do with me. If you’re that curious, medic, you should ask him yourself.” He gestured for Ratchet to precede him off the lift.

The hallway beyond was brightly lit and pockmarked with multiple cameras from all angles. Starscream was taking no chances. Some of these Decepticons would happily murder him in his recharge, and he rather liked living.

“Soundwave isn’t chatty,” Ratchet retorted. Disgruntled was his default mood apparently.

“Some things never change,” Starscream said as they approached the door at the end of the hall, this one also locked. He paused, however, and waited to make sure Ratchet was paying attention. “Are you sure you want to do this?”

Ratchet narrowed his optics. “Do I look like I make a habit of changing my mind?”

Starscream sighed and gritted his denta. Several responses cropped up, but as none of them were polite and likely to lead to an impromptu exchange of useless snark, he said nothing. He punched his code into the panel.

They had made every effort possible to ensure that their prisoners were contained. Some were more dangerous than others, such as those who remained loyal to Megatron. They were kept on an entirely separate floor until such time as Grimlock could spare to deal with him. The jury was still out on what that meant.

Exile, perhaps, save for the fact that they could very well come back with an army. Starscream was more than aware Tarn and his murderous reprobates were still out there, and they were very loyal to Megatron. Tarn might return to Cybertron for revenge. He and his entire time were a threat, and Starscream was certain they were not the only ones.

Execution seemed the safer bet, but even Starscream was loath to start shooting prisoners in the spark. He didn’t want to wait for them to prove they were a threat either. It was a conundrum. Therefore, the prisoners could rot until a decision was made, and no one would shed a tear.

This particular floor held the prisoners willing to submit to Grimlock’s leadership, but had committed atrocities against the Autobots. This made them political liabilities. They were divided into two groups: those who were useful, and those who were not.

Some had already been released on a trial parole. Reflector, as far as Starscream could tell, behaved. He kept his helm down. He reported to his shifts. H worked without complaint. If he continued this behavior, his parole would gradually turn into freedom.

There were others, too.

But Shockwave was one prisoner who the three Decepticon leaders could not decide what to do with. He was valuable. In these uncertain times, they needed scientists. But did they need scientists with such morally dark centers? Shockwave remained unapologetic.

“It was necessary,” he was prone to say. “It had to be done. For science.”

Grimlock held a personal grudge. He had only to look at Swoop and any interest he might have had in scientific advancement came to a screeching halt. Cyclonus, as always, voted on the side of Cybertron. If Shockwave could figure out how to repopulate their species, then so long as he had oversight, he should be allowed back into his lab.

Starscream was somewhere in the middle. He loathed Shockwave, but couldn’t deny his use. He, like those in the more secure ward, was a conundrum that they all pushed aside. Eventually, they would solve it.

There were three guards down here, all of them Cyclonus’ mechs. Starscream didn’t recognize any of them, but security was Cyclonus’ area, not Starscream’s. His HUD lit up with their designations, Scourge the most prominent of them. Scourge was Cyclonus’ second and now served as his head of security.

“Commander Starscream,” the blue-white flyer rasped with a dip of his helm. “We’ve removed the prisoner to a meeting room per your orders.” He gestured to the first of two they had available. “It is soundproof as you requested.”

“Thank you, Scourge. Did he cause any trouble?”

Scourage shook his helm. “No. But he does wish to petition, again, for his release.”

Starscream’s frown deepened. Shockwave behaved better than most of the prisoners, but his constant petitions were irritating.

“I’ll keep that in mind.” Starscream gestured for Ratchet to follow him, the medic eying the Decepticon soldiers with nothing short of suspicion.

His optics kept flicking to the other corridor where they kept those imprisoned in cells. There was more community allowed here. These particular prisoners could talk to each other if they wanted, unlike those in the more secure ward.

Starscream opened the door to the interrogation room and entered ahead of Ratchet. Shockwave was indeed present, sitting on the other side of the table. He wasn’t visibly restrained, but then, Shockwave had been nothing short of a model prisoner. He wasn’t making efforts to escape.

Not that Starscream intended to lighten the security on him.

Starscream dismissed the soldier standing guard. He suspected Ratchet wanted privacy for this.

“Shockwave, the Autobot CMO has a few questions he’d like to ask you,” Starscream said as Ratchet stepped in behind him. “It is in your best interest to answer honestly.”

“I understand. I have nothing to hide.” Shockwave’s vocals were almost pleasant.

“Do you know why I’m here?” Ratchet asked as he took the only available chair. His field vibrated with detectable tension before he was able to draw it in.

Shockwave tilted his helm. “I imagine it is to inquire about one of my subjects as I am personally in perfect repair.”

“Sideswipe and Sunstreaker,” Ratchet said and he tapped his finger on the table. “They are not your subjects. They are your victims.”

Shockwave shifted his weight. “Semantics,” he said, heedless to the tension thickening the air. “Ask your question, medic.”

Ratchet gritted his denta, the grinding of metal on metal audible. “I want to know what you did and how I can help them.”

“Of course you do.” Shockwave rested one hand on the table. “The answer is simple. They need to bond.”

Ratchet leaned forward, his optics cycling down to angry slits. “They are already bonded,” he hissed. His hands tightened into fists until his knuckles creaked. “To each other.”

Shockwave inclined his helm. “Yes, but their bond has destabilized. It is no longer capable of equalizing. They need a third to balance it out.”

Starscream frowned and folded his arms over his cockpit. His tanks rolled with nausea, and his plating clamped down to hide his unease.

“What did you do to them, you sick slagger?” Ratchet snarled. His engine revved to a higher pitch.

Shockwave remained solid in the face of the medic’s rightful fury. He glanced at Starscream as though seeking permission.

“Tell him,” Starscream ground out. “I don’t care about whatever you think is classified. You will tell him what he needs to know, or I will see to it that you never see anything beyond your prison cell.”

“Very well.” Shockwave’s stump of an arm, lacking his cannon per prison rules, rested on the top of the table. “They are twins, formed of a split-spark. I attempted to recreate those circumstances in an effort to discern what caused the destabilization and split in the first place.”

Ratchet’s field lashed through the room, so thick with outrage and anger that Starscream’s own drew in tight. It was enough to make him dizzy.

“You made them fuse?” he demanded, vocals a near shriek.

Shockwave nodded. “Yes. However, I was quite disappointed. When they separated again, there was no discernible difference in their personalities. They were by all accounts the same mechs they had been before, albeit with a new dependency for physical proximity that hadn’t been present before.”

“That shouldn’t have caused their current state though,” Starscream said with a frown. “They merge all the time as I understand it.” The Reflector triplets certainly did. And so had Runamuck and Runabout. Merging was a given for twinned sparks.

Ratchet leaned harder against the table until it creaked beneath him. “Because Shockwave didn’t just have them merge, he had them fuse back into a single spark. There’s a difference.” He ex-vented sharply. “How many times, you monster? How many times did you make them fuse and then force them to split?”

Starscream’s wings shivered. He felt ill right down to his protoform. A bout with dizziness made him lean against the wall so he didn’t fall down. His loathing for Shockwave increased tenfold.

“I repeated my experiment seventeen times,” Shockwave said, still in that coldly even voice of his. “It failed every time. I was close to conceding that my hypothesis was incorrect, and was in the process of seeking a third spark, when my laboratory was raided.”

Ratchet shot to his pedes, the chair knocking down behind him. Starscream was there in a flash, laying a hand on his shoulder, hoping to keep Ratchet from throwing himself across the table. Ratchet shrugged off his hand and slapped him away.

“Back off, Starscream! I’m not going to attack him,” Ratchet snarled, even though every rattling plate on his frame suggested otherwise. “And don’t touch me again.”

Starscream held up his hands and obeyed, stepping back a stride. He and Ratchet were of a height, and he had no doubt he was more skilled than Ratchet. But Ratchet had more mass than him and anger on his side. Not to mention Starscream knew better than to cause harm to Optimus’ close friend. He didn’t want a fight.

But he wouldn’t let Ratchet attack Shockwave either.

“I won’t,” Starscream said. “So long as you stay on this side of the table.”

Ratchet cast him a sideways look before returning his attention to Shockwave. He leaned forward, palms slapping down on the table. “What gave you the right to do that?”

“Our population is diminished, medic. I did what was necessary.” Shockwave leaned back in his chair. “Your soldiers will live. Convince someone to bond with them, and their sparks will stabilize.”

“There’s no other solution?” Starscream demanded.

“No.” Shockwave did not sound the least bit apologetic. “Separating them is liable to kill them, and they are no longer capable of regulating their spark energy on their own. It was an unfortunate side effect.”

“Unfortunate side effect!” Ratchet hissed, and his fingers scraped at the table. “You could have killed them!”

“But I did not.”

Ratchet’s engine reached a dangerous pitch. His field was a nauseating blend of fury and revulsion. Starscream worried that it wouldn’t take much more to send the medic across the table, and as it was, they might need Shockwave in the future. Piece of scum that he was.

“I think that’s enough for today,” Starscream said as he discreetly sent a ping to Scourge to retrieve Shockwave. “You have the answer you came for, Ratchet.” Even if it wasn’t one any of them wanted to hear.

Ratchet pushed back from the table, his armor clamped so tightly to his protoform that it had to have hurt. His jaw was clenched, his hands drawn into fists.

“You’re right. I’m done here.”

He spun on a heel and shoved out of the room before Starscream could say anything further. He sighed and rubbed his faceplate, feeling an ache forming in his helm.

“I will be interested to know the results of that,” Shockwave said into the following silence. “I am curious which spark type might stabilize them better.”

Starscream glared at him. “You are lucky that we might find a use for you, Shockwave. Grimlock’s not going to be happy to hear you antagonized the mech he considers his creator.”

“The Dinobot is ruled by emotion. It can’t be helped,” Shockwave said. “But you and I know better, Starscream. Such things are necessary if Cybertron is to survive.”

Starscream’s wings twitched. “We are nothing alike,” he snapped as Scourge came into the room with another mech.

“We have more in common than you think,” Shockwave said.

Starscream shuddered. “Put him back in his cell, Scourge. His request for release is denied.”

“Yes, Commander.”

Starscream left before Shockwave could try to persuade him otherwise. He had a sudden need to visit the washracks and scrub himself down with boiling solvent. Going through Shockwave’s lab had been awful enough. Reading Shockwave’s notes had left him ill. Speaking with Shockwave was a special kind of horror.

Ratchet waited for him by the main door, glaring at the locked panel as though blaming it for his inner distress.

“Will it work?” Starscream asked as he keyed open the panel.

Ratchet rubbed at his chevron. “In theory. I don’t know. It’s not as though I can test it out. And it’s not like it’s a viable option.”

“Can they function in their current state?”

They stepped into the lift and back up they went. Starscream checked the schedule to ensure they wouldn’t run into any Constructicons on their way out.

“They can’t be more than five feet from each other,” Ratchet said with an audible sigh. “The only thing we can have them do is monitor duty, but the lack of movement will be a further stress on their systems.”

Starscream folded his arms, contemplating. “What about a few friendly merges? Do you think that might help?”

“It’s worth a try. But convincing those two to trust someone with their sparks after what Shockwave did? That’s another matter.” Ratchet rubbed harder at his chevron as the lift stopped on the main floor. “They were rather insular before all this. I can’t imagine they are more willing to open up to someone now.”

“At least they have a choice this time,” Starscream said. “For a certain definition anyway. You can give them their options, let them decide, and in the meantime, try and find another way. Maybe you’ll get lucky.”

Ratchet snorted. “And maybe Primus will reach up and finally give us the help we’ve been praying for.”

Ah, yes. Ratchet was known for his optimism.

They pushed through the main doors. Ratchet’s escorts waited outside for him, playfully sparring with each other. At least they felt relaxed enough to do so.

“If you can think of anything else Shockwave might be able to answer, we’re willing to accommodate you again,” Starscream said. “As a gesture of good faith.”

Ratchet stared at him before shaking his helm. “If it wasn’t for Grimlock, I wouldn’t believe a single word out of your mouth, Starscream.” He started down the steps, nothing in his field speaking of calm. “Though I’ll take you over Megatron any day.”

“Should I take that as a compliment?” Starscream asked, burying his amusement behind a blank expression.

“Take it however you like,” Ratchet called back to him and gestured toward his two guards. “Come on, brats. Let’s go back to Polyhex. I’m done here.”

Starscream lingered long enough to make sure that the three Autobots were on their way out without anyone hassling them. Hopefully, despite Shockwave’s actions, helping the medic had accorded them some good will from the Autobots.

That being said, Starscream turned around and headed back into the command center. He needed to find Grimlock. There was a certain matter that needed attending today. They had three Phase Sixers sitting in a locked room in the medbay, and Knock Out was starting to irritate Starscream with the number of pings he’d sent expressing his discomfort with their vacant stares.

He sent a ping to his lord and master and, as of late, his berth-partner, and waited. He expected to find that Grimlock was either touring New Iacon to check on the reconstruction or overseeing some of their parolees or even in the command center. But no. Grimlock pinged back to say he was in his habsuite.

Not, Starscream needed to point out, the penthouse Megatron had used. That particular suite had been emptied out, stripped clean, and sanitized. Still, no one wanted to live there. The massive Prime suite thus sat empty and unused. It was probably for the best.

Instead, Grimlock had commandeered the penthouse of a nearby apartment complex. Iacon had always been a city for grounders so the complex wasn’t as tall as something Starscream might find in Vos. But it was large enough for Grimlock and his extended family. Because where one Dinobot was, the rest were sure to follow.

Starscream changed course and aimed for the squat apartment building, which looked to be in poor shape on the outside. But Scrapper had gone over it from top to bottom and declared it safe for habitation. It didn’t look pretty, but it was stable. Which was not something they could say for most of New Iacon, despite all the rebuilding they’d been doing before the successful coup.

Megatron, after all, hadn’t been interested in rebuilding Cybertron. He’d only wanted to expand and as soon as possible.

Grimlock, apparently, didn’t care about security either because the main doors to the apartment complex were flung wide open. Starscream strolled inside and followed the sound of shouting to the second pair of doors that led to a large room Grimlock had converted into a training arena.

No one spotted him at first, which provided Starscream with an excellent opportunity to observe. He lingered in the doorway and watched with a mixture of exasperation and surprise.

All of the surviving Dinobots were here which was a rare occurrence. Usually at least one of them was on duty.

Grimlock and Snarl sparred in one corner. Though Starscream wasn’t sure if he should call it sparring since Snarl seemed to be spending most of his time on the mat with Grimlock pinning him down. But if there was one thing a Dinobot could do, it was take a hit. Snarl bounced back up and demanded more.

Opposite from them was an unlikely duo. Slag sparred with Brawl of all mechs. Starscream knew Brawl had been lingering around New Iacon more than any of the other Combaticons, but he would have never called this. At least their training session looked a bit more even. Nice to know even someone as perpetually angry as Slag could make a friend.

Swoop was present as well. He sat on a stack of scavenged mats, huddled over a datapad. He wasn’t alone, however. Thundercracker was here with him, and he appeared to be explaining whatever was on the datapad.

Starscream’s optics narrowed. Wasn’t he supposed to be elsewhere right now?

Grimlock threw Snarl again, the Dinobot skidding across the mat. One of his spikes caught on the ragged cover with a loud rip. Snarl sprawled, his vents dragging in desperate gulps of air.

“Yield,” he gasped, helm thunking backward.

Grimlock stood over him, his visor bright from exertion. His own fans spun at full bore, audible to Starscream despite the distance. But as a leader, Grimlock knew the value of not showing weakness.

“You getting better,” he said.

Grimlock often affected an odd mix of Dinobot dialect and proper Cybertronian when he spoke to his fellow Dinobots.

“Maybe someday you’ll even be strong enough to beat me,” Grimlock added, though it was with a dark chuckle. “Then you can make rules.”

“Me Snarl will get stronger.” Snarl glared at his leader. “You Grimlock wait and see.”

Grimlock stepped over him and dusted off his hands. “You rest. Then I’ll let you try again.” He looked up then and noticed Starscream. His armor fluffed out, opening to ease the overheated components beneath. “Where Ratchet?”

“I didn’t know you wanted me to bring him.” Starscream pushed off the door frame and stepped further into the room.

Brawl and Slag were still throwing each other around as though they had nothing better to do. Starscream doubted they noticed him. But Thundercracker and Swoop had looked up. Thundercracker’s face gave nothing away, but Starscream knew his trinemate too well.

So much for he and Skywarp thinking Swoop an annoyance. Clearly, something had changed.

“Besides,” Starscream continued as he shifted his attention back to Grimlock, “he was pretty keen on getting out of New Iacon as fast as possible. And so were his guards.”

Grimlock barked a laugh. “Prime sent him with guards? He’s lucky we didn’t take that as an insult.”

Starscream smirked and crossed his arms over his cockpit. “To be fair, he sent two mechs I didn’t recognize. Ultra Magnus’ crew, I think. Nobody who could have posed a threat.”

Grimlock made a noncommittal noise, his helm tilted as though he were considering the new information. He often did that. Starscream could see why others would think he was slow, dull-witted even. What they didn’t realize was how deeply Grimlock thought, or how he carefully considered all the angles.

He was scarily intelligent.

“Prime has his own issues right now,” Grimlock finally said. “We can ignore a faux pas. Soundwave needs to make sure he doesn’t do the same to Metalhawk.”

Metalhawk chomped at the bit for the smallest thing to use against either faction. He would pounce at anything to take it as an insult. For a mech so vocal about hating war and conflict, he sure seemed determined to start one.

Starscream frowned. He really did not like that mech.

“But you didn’t find me to talk about Prime,” Grimlock said. “What urgent matter needs my attention?”

Starscream cut him a sideways look. “Well,” he drawled. “I’d hate to break up the family meeting. I can always find something better to do if you’re busy.”

Grimlock stepped closer, his field pulsing against Starscream’s in a heavy slide of heat that tasted ever so faintly of lust. “Is that a subtle request to take this somewhere private?”

A shiver danced down Starscream’s backstrut at the sound of Grimlock’s rolling purr. He remembered all too well those powerful hands gripping him, hard enough to hurt but leaving only pleasure behind. His wings twitched.

“We have work to do,” Starscream snapped. Or he attempted to. But at best it came out a stern reminder.

Grimlock’s visor darkened. “Yes, we do.” He half-turned toward the others, all of whom were watching their interaction now. Even Brawl and Slag.

“Keep practicing,” Grimlock ordered. “Slag, you’re on duty in two hours. Swoop, you go to medcenter for checkup and Snarl, you take him.”

“Whatever you Grimlock say,” Snarl said as Slag nodded in agreement.

“Yes, Grimlock,” Swoop replied, though he ducked his helm. His plating remained clamped tight to his frame.

Starscream loathed Shockwave all over again. Perhaps he should revisit Shockwave and see if he could get some answers regarding Swoop. Grimlock hadn’t asked questions, mostly because he swore if he saw Shockwave, he would kill him. He didn’t want Shockwave’s help either. But Starscream had no such compunctions.

“There,” Grimlock said. “Now we work.”

“So glad I could finally have your attention,” Starscream drawled.

Grimlock’s field pushed at his, ripe with amusement. “I am more than the Decepticon leader,” he said. “It’s what makes me better than Megatron.”

“It’s not the only thing,” Starscream replied before he cycled his optics, realizing he’d spoken before thinking. Not that it wasn’t true, but that he was normally more guarded than this.

“That almost sounded like approval,” Grimlock said.

Starscream hurried ahead of him, leaving the training room behind and feeling Thundercracker watching him every step of the way. “It certainly wasn’t a criticism.”

Grimlock laughed. “To each his own. Now what terribly important piece of politics needs our attention now?” His tone was amused, but his field spoke of nothing but business.

“Overlord. Black Shadow. Sixshot.” Starscream ticked off each designation one by one. “Knock Out’s requested that we decide what to do with them.”

“Hm.”

They left Grimlock’s apartment building and headed for the medcenter that Knock Out had made for his own. They had moved most of the equipment out of the one the Constructicons had used. Knock Out had claimed an entire building, though at the moment he was only making use of two floors. One was the medcenter, another was his private living quarters.

“Anything else?”

Starscream rolled his optics. “The problems are endless. We can’t construct fast enough to provide adequate, suitable housing for all of our Decepticons. We’re still rooting out those who are loyal to Megatron, an issue hampered by the fact our best spy went and joined the Autobots. On top of that, communications are also spotty due to, you guessed it, Soundwave jumping ship.”

“You didn’t see it coming?”

Starscream cycled a ventilation. “If you asked someone who the most loyal Decepticon was, they probably would have pointed at Soundwave. No, I didn’t see it coming.”

Grimlock tilted his helm, giving him a curious look. “Except for the part where he helped you take down Megatron.”

“That’s different.”

“Is it?”

Starscream frowned and they paused outside of the medcenter, a building in a curious state of half-repair and half-dilapidation. “Being loyal to Megatron and being loyal to the Decepticons aren’t the same thing. Otherwise I would have left long ago.”

“To join the Autobots?”

Starscream snorted. “Perish the thought. I’m a lot of things, but Autobot isn’t one of them.” His wings flicked and he pushed open the door to the medcenter. “Are you coming or not?”

Grimlock, amusingly, hesitated. “Knock Out is the best medic we have?”

“Unless you want to give the Constructicons both free rein and a command position. Though I can’t see the Autobots or Ratchet taking that with a smile,” Starscream said. He held the door open, waiting.

“They are lucky we’re in need of their skills,” Grimlock said with a grunt. He entered the medcenter ahead of Starscream.

“A lot of our prisoners are lucky for that reason,” Starscream agreed as he followed Grimlock inside.

Knock Out’s medcenter was on the first floor, which made it easier for the injured to get to him. He saw a steady stream of minor injuries and maintenance. He employed a few part-time medics, namely those who were decent field medics or half-sparked engineers. But for the most part, the medcenter was his domain.

He had no patients at the moment, save the ones Grimlock and Starscream had come to see. Starscream was not at all surprised to find Knock Out muttering over a datapad as he paced back and forth in the receiving room. His crimson paint was buffed to a flawless shine and as he mumbled to himself, he ticked something off on his long, clawed fingers.

The door chimed as Starscream and Grimlock stepped through it, attracting Knock Out’s attention. In a flash, his expression went from irritated to smarmy.

“Lord Grimlock, Commander Starscream, how good of you to finally come by,” Knock Out said with an exaggerated bow. His datapad vanished, perhaps to subspace. “After all, I’ve only been waiting for several cycles for you to attend to this matter.”

A low rumble rose in Grimlock’s engine.

“Your patients were in no danger, Knock Out,” Starscream said curtly. “There were other matters of more importance than a bit of mild discomfort.”

“Of course, my liege. I was only thinking of political perception.” Knock Out straightened and planted a hand on his hip. “I can think of no few Autobots who would love to sneak in here and finish them off.”

Grimlock snorted. “I’m tempted to do it myself.”

“And I doubt anyone would shed a tear, my lord,” Knock Out drawled. “After all, they didn’t limit themselves to Autobot victims.”

Grimlock’s visor shifted toward Starscream in question. He cycled a ventilation and rubbed at his face.

“They were Megatron’s favorites,” Starscream admitted with no shortage of disgust in his tone. “He let them do what they wanted, so long as they didn’t damage anyone permanently. He chose them for their viciousness. The process to turn them into Phase Sixers didn’t leave much compassion behind.”

Knock Out scoffed. “I doubt they had much to begin with.” He flicked a hand toward one of the back rooms. “They’re in there. If you don’t mind, I’ll just stay out here and finish inventory. They’re creepy.”

“Where’s Glit?” Starscream asked.

“Busy.” Knock Out’s datapad reappeared in his hands as he turned his backplate toward them. “Just like me since I’m now in charge of this mess thanks to you.”

Responsibility had always been something Knock Out avoided. No doubt he missed all the free time he had to cruise down the empty highways at top speed.

Starscream arched an orbital ridge. “You could have turned me down.”

“So you could pass it on to Glit? Frag that.” Knock Out’s lip curled with derision. “I’m not taking orders from a minicon.”

Ah, so it came down to a sense of personal pride. Knock Out hated Glit, and vice versa.

“Then maybe you’ll get lucky, and there will be another medic with some new arrivals,” Starscream said.

Knock Out peered at his datapad. “So long as it isn’t Flatline.”

Starscream smirked. “Do you get along with any of the Decepticon medics?”

Knock Out’s shoulder tires twitched. “I can’t help that they are all jealous.”

Starscream laughed and shook his helm. But Grimlock gave him an impatient look so he cut the conversation short.

“As you were, doctor,” he said and joined his leader at the locked door.

The lock was redundant in Starscream’s opinion. All three Phase Sixers were mind-wiped. All that functioned was basic survival protocols. They consumed energon if it was handed to them. Their vents and cooling fans worked. Their systems ran. But there was no one upstairs. No personality. Their memory cores were wiped clean.

Such was the contingency plan Megatron had arranged. Arrogant and brash Megatron might be, but he recognized the risk in building super soldiers who were capable of destroying him if they put their minds to it. He didn’t want to kill them, but making it easier to retake control and bend their will to his? Megatron had no problems with that.

Right now, the Phase Sixers were effectively blank slates. Someone like Trepan, or Metalhawk’s mech, could come in and program them however they wanted.

Though Starscream had to agree with Knock Out. As he and Grimlock walked into the room, three empty gazes stared back at them. Three very large, very powerful mechs sat on berths without moving. They would have been silent, if not for the ambient noise of a frame ventilating.

They were fragging creepy.

Grimlock paced around the room, examining each mech in turn. They were all undamaged. A single individualized phrase made them drop in place without need for an extensive fight.

“What are our options?” Grimlock asked.

Starscream leaned a hip against a table. “We could always open their chestplates and shoot their sparks. After we take them far away, of course. These sparks tend to go boom.”

“Is that our only option?”

“You really want to keep them alive?” Starscream arched an orbital ridge. “You’re not that much of an Autobot.”

Grimlock barked a laugh. “I was thinking of the future.”

“Do you know something I don’t?”

“I know that we’re vulnerable right now.” Grimlock paused in front of Sixshot, looking the six-changer up and down. “I know that we don’t have the protection of the Galactic Council. I know that we’ve made a lot of enemies. And I know that our population is so small that it’s not a simple fraction of what it used to be.” He turned away from Sixshot and glanced at Starscream. “I also know just how valuable Earth is, not just for us, and how barely guarded it is.”

Starscream inclined his helm. “You’re thinking of a back-up plan. A contingency in case we come up against an enemy and we find ourselves outclassed.”

“I’m thinking that I’m reluctant to throw away something that could be of use, no matter how abhorrent I find it,” Grimlock said. His visor darkened.

“That’s hardly ethical.”

Grimlock tilted his helm. “As you said, I’m not that much of an Autobot. If we lived in a perfect world, maybe I’d be more like Optimus. But right now, I can’t afford that.”

Starscream crossed his arms. “They still have their spark memories. Spark traits. No matter how much re-programming we do, some of their behavior is inevitable.”

“Then we keep the kill codes.” Grimlock paused in front of Black Shadow, the massive Phase Sixer easily half again his mass and height. “We’ve got time. We can figure out a better method to control them.”

Starscream drummed his fingers on his forearm, contemplating. “You thinking cold storage?” He tried not to shudder and failed.

Cold storage aka separating the spark from the frame. It was a punishment in itself. Who’s to say that the three wouldn’t come out more psychotic than when they went in? They could be building something worse than a monster.

“Is it better or worse than a closet?” Grimlock asked, but there was something in his tone that suggested the question was rhetorical. “What’s more ethical? Because I’m not restoring their memories and giving them free rein. So either I kill them, or I find a way to make use of them.”

Starscream lifted one shoulder in a shrug. “You want ethical, you ask Optimus Prime. I’m only interested in protecting Cybertron and getting our species back to where we need to be. If it means using those three as pawns, then so be it.”

Grimlock turned away from the Phase Sixers and came closer to Starscream. Close enough that their fields intersected and Starscream could feel the heat of him. Grimlock always seemed to run about ten degrees hotter than the average.

Starscream looked up at him, certain Grimlock wasn’t trying to intimidate. Like Megatron, Grimlock was perfectly aware of his own size and power. But he didn’t use it to loom. Grimlock didn’t need to show he was superior. He already knew it.

“I don’t want to ask Optimus Prime,” Grimlock said and this time his vocals were near a purr. He leaned closer, his hand curling around Starscream’s chin in a hold that was almost gentle. “I’m asking you, my second and my Air Commander. What do you think is the better course?”

Starscream’s vents hitched. “Politically, we might catch some flak,” he said, his gaze holding Grimlock’s. “Metalhawk will vote for execution. I don’t know about Optimus. He’s a lot more ruthless than he used to be.” His intake bobbed as Grimlock’s thumb stroked over his bottom lip. The Dinobot leader made a humming noise, indicating he should continue. “But I’d also hate to be rid of an asset. We just need to be smart about it. Find a way to control them before we even think about releasing them.”

“I agree.” Grimlock’s field stroked along his, thick with approval and arousal both. “Does that mean we’re done with our work here?”

Really? Two could place this game.

Starscream flicked out his glossa, tasting the tip of Grimlock’s thumb. “Why? Did you have something else in mind?”

Rumbling amusement echoed through Grimlock’s chassis. “Another opportunity to get my hands on your wings, as a matter of fact.”

Starscream shivered. He sucked Grimlock’s thumb into his mouth, denta nipping at the tip of it.

“I think that can be arranged.”

Mutually beneficial agreements indeed.

[Crown the Empire] Tomfoolery

It should have made him angry, irrational beyond all reason. But there was something about the arrogance in Grimlock’s field that was a shade different and acceptable. Rather than inspiring vitriol, it made heat drizzle down Starscream’s spinal strut.

He should have snarled and jerked away. Instead, he cried out and drew in desperate pants through his vents as Grimlock crowded against him from behind, pinning him against the wall of the washracks. Solvent pattered down on top of them, steaming hot, a rain against Starscream’s already heated plating.

Grimlock’s face pressed against the side of his neck, ex-vents caressing Starscream’s cables. His mouthplate vibrated, adding to the pleasure.

Starscream tossed his helm back and moaned. His hands scraped at the walls, fingers tangling in the metallic mesh. Grimlock’s hands gripped his waist, his hips. He lifted Starscream with ease as he ground against Starscream’s aft. His spike left a wet smear, one that was washed away by a stream of solvent.

Arousal throbbed heavy in Starscream’s lines. His panels were open, spike throbbing, valve pulsing, dripping lubricant. He canted his hips backward, waiting for the moment when Grimlock would slide into him, thick and wide, parting the folds of his valve and taking him.

Such thoughts should have angered him. Made him humiliated. Yet, he felt the complete opposite when Grimlock touched him. Careful and appreciative, rather than rough and dismissive. He felt celebrated, not used.

He felt wanted.

“Tell me,” Grimlock growled into his audial, his spike rubbing against Starscream’s rim, catching on his anterior node. Pleasure lit a bonfire through his circuits.

Starscream growled. He shuttered his optics, bowed his helm, the solvent pattering down over him. Every time, damn it. Every time, Grimlock insisted on this.

Grimlock’s helm rubbed against his, affection and insistence. His fingers flexed on Starscream’s waist. His ex-vents blew into the shower, setting off a rise of steam.

“Tell me,” he demanded again.

Starscream’s engine growled. He was on the tip of his pedes as he shoved his aft back toward Grimlock, canting his hips encouragingly. “Do it,” he demanded as something inside of him clicked into place, welcoming. “Frag me, damn you. Do it.”

Grimlock growled, a near-bestial sound. He lifted Starscream that much higher, clear off his pedes. He rolled his hips, the head of his spike catching against the lip of Starscream’s valve. It nudged inside, lighting up the first ring of sensors, and Starscream moaned. He was already halfway to overload and Grimlock had barely touched him.

“Tell me to stop,” Grimlock said, not a request, but a reminder.

“More,” Starscream said instead and shuddered when Grimlock obeyed, when he pushed into Starscream in one slow, aching slide.

Every single sensor node lit up at once, and Starscream shuddered, his valve cycling down. Arousal tangled inside of him as electric fire coursed through his frame. He moaned, hands scraping at the wall, as Grimlock bottomed out inside of him and then circled his hips, grinding steadily on Starscream’s ceiling node.

He panted, desperate breaths through his vent. His plating heated, solvent evaporating with a sizzle where it touched him. Grimlock throbbed within him, his grip unrelenting and steadying. His field rose up, swallowing Starscream whole, full of desire and appreciation and Starscream writhed just in that sensation alone. His wings shivered, trapped against Grimlock’s bulk, the press of his chestplate. Grimlock’s engine roared, the vibrations carrying through Starscream’s entire frame.

He overloaded with a shout, valve cycling down tight, spike dribbling transfluid to join the solvent swirl down the drain.

Grimlock nuzzled against his helm, spike keeping still within Starscream’s valve as charge nipped at the receptor nodes. “That was one,” he growled as his fingers flexed. “Think we have time for two?”

Starscream pushed against the wall, shoving himself backward as best he was capable, stirring the spike within his valve. He peered over his shoulder, catching the gleam of Grimlock’s visor.

“We have time for as many as you think you can manage,” Starscream replied, ignoring the rasp in his vocalizer and the tremors wracking his frame.

Grimlock chuckled, his spike pulsing. “Is that a challenge, my second?”

A shiver zapped down Starscream’s spinal strut. There was something in the way Grimlock claimed him with words alone that never failed to make Starscream melt.

“Of course it is,” he retorted, though the waspish reply fell short when it trailed into a moan as Grimlock started to move, little rolling thrusts that toyed with his sensor nodes.

Grimlock purred into his audial. “Then it’ll be my pleasure.”

Starscream gasped as Grimlock started to move again, inciting curls of pleasure that seemed to radiate through Starscream’s frame.

At this rate, they’d never leave the washracks. Thank Primus for the solvent recycling facilities. And that the only one who’d dare disturb them would never do so.

It was an indulgence in something Starscream never thought he would have. And he wasn’t going to let go anytime soon.