[G1] Lust and Loathing

Medics are easily the most stressed students in any university on the face of Cybertron, second only to engineers. It should come as no surprise, then, that they indulge themselves in all manner of stress relief. The word debauchery comes to mind, if you ask Hook.

Medics have no standards. They’ll berth anyone with a decent paintjob who promises a night of multiple overloads and ecstasy the likes of which one only reads about in lurid romance datanovels.

And some medics and medics-in-training are the absolute worst. Just barely a few notches above shareware, in Hook’s opinion.

Mechs like Ratchet. The Party Ambulance, which has become his rather distasteful moniker, proving the breadth of his reputation.

A growl builds in Hook’s engine. He sneers as he brings up the public gradeboard and glares at the names listed on it. Once again, Ratchet’s marks outstrip Hook’s own. Always number one, Ratchet is. Which is a fragging travesty. It’s an insult.

Ratchet parties every chance he gets. Sometimes, he staggers to class still half-overcharged from the night before. He frags around to any berth that’ll take him. He’s never found in the library studying for practicals. Worse, he’s somehow the professors’ favorite and friend to everyone.

Everyone except Hook that is.

Here Hook is, working hard, studying diligently, taking care of himself, attending every class punctually, the first to ask questions and write down answers. Yet, he’s always one step behind Ratchet in scores and proficiencies. Somehow, he has no friends.

Well, save the one.

Recurve, Hook suspects, has only befriended Hook out of a sense of pity. He’s the golden spark who can’t stand to see an Empty in the alley or a beggar on the streets. He’s poor half the time because he’s always giving his allotment away to the needy. He doesn’t think to conserve and save like Hook does.

Act of pity Recurve’s friendship might be, but he puts as much effort into it as he would a genuine friendship. He’s the only one to notice Hook staring at Ratchet across the room, dancing in the thick of yet another loud and raucous party, so many hands on Ratchet’s frame that there’s no way to identify to whom they belong.

Hook had sworn he’d never attend one of these degenerate affairs. He had much more important ways to spend his time, and this kind of flippant disregard for propriety is positively obscene.

But Ratchet is here, and curiosity had finally taken Hook by the crane and tugged him into the nearest mass of noise.

He’d found Ratchet immediately. He’d only need look to the biggest clump of lewd behavior in the room.

“Just ask him to berth you,” Recurve says with a loud laugh and a knock of his shoulder against Hook’s. Large enough to nearly bowl Hook over, Recurve is an engineer built to withstand many an invention’s malfunction. “He’ll say yes.”

Hook growls and his visor flashes a glare. “It’s not about berthing him,” he retorts as his gaze finds Ratchet again, finds the tantalizing peeks of scuffed red and white plating vanishing behind groping hands.

Recurve snickers and leans hard against Hook’s side, already two sheets to the wind, like everyone else at this pitiful excuse for a celebration. “Yeah, well, that’s not gonna put you on top either, you crankshaft.”

Recurve has yet to learn that insulting someone you consider a friend is not how friendships are supposed to work. Though Hook assumes he is meant to take such a thing in jest.

He’s not overcharged enough for this.

Hook glares. That kind of comment isn’t even dignified a response.

Recurve sighs and shifts his weight away from Hook. “Fine. You sit here and glower.” He rises to his full height and surveys the crowd. “I’m going to get several drinks and see if I can’t convince that cute tow truck in the corner to take me home. Good luck.”

Hook’s so-called friend doesn’t wait for a reply or a dismissal. He melts into the crowd, snags the first drink someone offers him, and chugs it down. He disappears rather quickly, despite being a head taller than most of the medics around. There are many engineers here as well.

Medics and engineers. Same stock honestly.

Hook sniffs.

He leans harder against the wall and takes a long drink of his high grade. He drains the cube, the burn of the potent and inexpensive blend sitting heavy in his tanks. Primus, it’s foul. But students are poor and cheap besides. They would never spring for the good stuff.

The only good thing is that it’s potent enough to get him overcharged quickly. Overcharged and, he hopes, brave enough to do something stupid.

Hook grabs another mug and downs it so quickly he doesn’t taste the terrible swill. It burns in his intake and heats his tanks. He wobbles a little as he licks a few stray drops from his lips.

There. Just tipsy enough to gather his courage and make a pass at Ratchet, proving that there’s at least one arena in which Hook is superior to him.

Hook pushes himself off the wall and plunges into the crowd, weaving through the thick morass of dancing frames. He stumbles, bouncing from one gyrating pair to another, finding Ratchet again and again through the twisting frames.

Then suddenly, the sea of mechs abruptly parts, giving him a direct path to Ratchet and the mech he’s grinding against. Some white mech with blast stains marring his white and gray paint, obnoxious orange and green stripes making for a horrendous paintjob. He is vaguely familiar to Hook, in that he’s from the engineering department and notorious for being brilliant.

Sloppy and unconventional, mind, but brilliant.

Hook gets within two paces of the mechs dancing with moves just shy of public interfacing, and suddenly, his feet stop working. He hovers and he stares, unsure how to approach the situation now that he’s here. This is the first party he’s ever deigned to attend. What are the social protocols?

Is he supposed to cut in between them, grab Ratchet’s interface panel, and suggest they go somewhere private? (Or public, actually, because a good quarter of these partygoers haven’t bothered with anything like privacy or public decency.) Because that seems like what everyone else relies upon.

Timidity will get him nowhere. Hook is not a shy mech. He boldly goes after what he wants. So he squares his shoulders and prepares to insert himself between the two gyrating mechs.

But then the music stops, highlighting the riotous background noise of laughter and conversation. Ratchet and his dance partner share a lewd kiss, complete with visible glossae, before the engineer untangles himself from Ratchet and toddles away, but not after Ratchet smacks him on the aft. The clang isn’t even audible over the racket of the party.

Ratchet’s gaze falls on Hook next, almost as if he knows Hook’s been staring, and his slag-eating grin widens even further. His lips are already moist from his liplock with the engineer, but Ratchet licks them again.

“Well, if it isn’t number two,” he nearly shouts as he swaggers forward, his windshield marred by paint smears and what looks like sticky energon. He swipes someone’s high grade, and they don’t even protest when he downs half of it all at once. “Didn’t think I’d be seeing someone like you here. Didn’t even know you left your den, come to think of it.”

Anger burbles up in his tanks. Hook forces himself to swallow it down, lest he ruin this night in a sniping match. “It’s open invitation, is it not?”

Ratchet laughs. “Calm your treads, Hook. I’m not trying to throw you out.” He holds the high grade out to Hook, or what’s left of it, and gives the cube a wiggle. “Here. Drink this. You need to unknot your cable.”

Hook grimaces. Who knows who many mouths have been on that cube? “I’ve had two. That’s more than enough.”

“Not for this party.” Ratchet wriggles the cube again and sidles closer, until the first slither of his field is tangible. “Come on. Relax. Practicals are done for the decaorn. It’s time to kick back and celebrate our survival.”

Hook lifts his chin in challenge. “And what of the next practicals?”

“Those are a decaorn away. Plenty of time to study for those. Don’t be in such a rush to boredom.” Ratchet rolls his optics and leans in close, enough that Hook can smell the overcharge stink of him. “Wanna dance?”

Hook doesn’t recoil, but it’s a near thing. “I don’t dance.”

“Then why bother coming to a party? You’re such a dead battery.” Ratchet slides away with a disappointed frown. “I’m going to go find someone who’s actually interested in having a good time.”

Damn it. This isn’t going to plan.

Hook lunges forward, his fingers wrapping around a backswept wrist, stalling Ratchet’s escape. “I didn’t say I wasn’t here to have fun,” he says and lets his field lick out, hot and full of promise. “I’d just rather do it somewhere… private.”

“Is that right?” Ratchet turns back toward him with a leer, and his gaze flicks up and down Hook’s frame like he’s assessing Hook’s abilities. “I have to say, I didn’t take you for the type interested in a friendly ride.”

Hook gives a faint squeeze to Ratchet’s wrist – a warning. “You don’t know enough about me to decide that.”

“Mm. True.” Ratchet twists his wrist in Hook’s grip and leans in closer, sloppy and warm and smelling sweet like high grade and goodies, his field syrupy where it drapes over Hook’s. “You really wanna go somewhere else with me, number two?” His ex-vents tickle into the crook of Hook’s neck and shoulder.

Hook takes a chance and slides his hand up Ratchet’s arm, dragging his field along with it, cutting like a knife through Ratchet’s lust with a thirst of his own. “I intend to ruin you for anyone else,” he purrs.

Ratchet barks a laugh. “Oh, a challenge?” He leans in close, glossa flicking over Hook’s audial in a wet swipe. “Come on then. Let’s go.”

Ratchet dances back, grabs Hook’s hand, and abruptly tugs Hook after him. He stumbles as he struggles to keep up with Ratchet, who is not the least bit clumsy despite the copious amounts of high grade he’s consumed. He tows Hook out of the crowd with single-minded determination, a high-flying grin on his lips.

“Get him, Ratchet!”

“Attaboy Hook!”

“Make that second feel like he’s number one!”

Hook’s face burns with humiliation. He feels like they are walking through some gauntlet of debauchery as the congratulations keep coming, and Ratchet is treated like some kind of celebrity, with the cheering and the backpatting and the shoulder-smacking. Someone even has the audacity to whistle and wink at Hook.

He glares at the idiot, makes a point of memorizing their face – lurid orange and purple paint, blue optics, sensory horns – for later purposes. If he ever sees that mech again, well, they will learn the true meaning of humiliation.

Finally, he and Ratchet squirt free of the crowd, squeezing through a narrow doorway into an equally narrow hallway. Dimly lit, not enough room for two mechs to walk abreast, brightly adorned doors identify dormrooms. Ratchet pulls him to the nearest one, the door sliding open without so much as a code, and they stumble inside.

“Whose room is this?” Hook asks as he gapes at the mess, piles of belongings on the floor and in corners, haphazard stacks of datapads, burnt out emergency bulbs even.

Ratchet whirls him around and backs him toward the berth. “I have no idea,” he says with a laugh, and his hands find Hook’s hips, his field hot and hungry where it roils over Hook’s own. “I’m sure they don’t mind. Maybe they’ll even join us.”

“I hope not,” Hook grumbles as he peers around the room, trying to identify whom it might belong to. At least two medical residents, judging by the number of berths, but there are no designations in plain sight.

“Not interested in multiples?” Ratchet asks with a raised orbital ridge and a squeeze of his hands. “What a shame.”

Hook nearly trips on a discarded mesh cloth, but Ratchet’s grip keeps him on his feet. “Not everyone is as depraved as you,” he snaps, his face heating in the wake of his clumsiness.

Ratchet chuckles and gives him a push. Hook yelps as he stumbles backward, only for the back of his knees to hit the edge of a low berth and his aft to tumble down onto it. Off-balance, he tips back, head landing on a pillow that smells of cheap polish.

Ratchet climbs on top of him without any fanfare, straddling Hook’s mid-section, his aft planted on Hook’s pelvic array. The heat of Ratchet’s arousal wafts down from his panels, tempting Hook’s own array into stirring. They’ve not even started, and Ratchet’s aroused. Easy doesn’t even begin to describe him.

“What you call depraved, I call enlightened,” Ratchet purrs and leans forward, bracing his hands to either side of Hook’s head. His knees dig into the berth, pinning Hook’s hips between them. “Got any preferences for how we play?”

Ratchet’s smirk is positively lewd. And somehow Hook’s hands find Ratchet’s thighs, feels the heat of them beneath his fingertips.

“You say that as though you are not up for anything,” Hook replies, and though it’s meant to be a cutting remark, somehow it comes out flirtatious.

“Well, I have some limits,” Ratchet drawls and rocks his hips, grinding down on Hook’s panel, lubricant leaking and dripping onto Hook. “Why? What kind of screwy slag are you into, Hook? Hmm?” He leans down, ex-vents hot and wet over Hook’s lips, the tip of his glossa touching the corner of Hook’s mouth. “I think we’re a little too unfriendly for bondage at this stage.”

Bondage.

Ratchet wrapped in beautiful cables, black and gray perhaps, twisting and twining around his frame, displaying him to perfection. Immobile and poised, lewd and defiant, at Hook’s mercy, panting for pleasure, his biolights pulsing to the tune of his desperate vents, array dripping fluids to the ground as he begs for Hook to touch him, touch him please

Hook’s engine purrs, and he covers it up with a groan. “You’re ridiculous,” he says, but the images are there and they won’t leave now.

Wind Ratchet up with Hook’s own cable even, feel the medic bound to him, towed to him, forever wrapped around him.

Not an entirely unwelcome notion. It would certainly put Ratchet in his proper place. The over-faced aft would probably enjoy it, too.

Ratchet grins, and his glossa flicks over his lips. “Yeah, but you want to frag me anyway,” he replies with the sort of confident edge that makes Hook want to grind his denta. He rocks his hips harder, and a quiet click of panels opening is the prelude to hot lubricant seeping onto Hook’s groin, painting his panels with slick. “Gonna open for me? Or do I have to coax your spike out? Kinda curious to see what you’ve got packing down there, second.”

“You are a brat.” Hook seethes, but his hands slide up and down Ratchet’s thighs, enjoying the sleekness of his paint. His panels spiral open, his spike eagerly extending, the head of it brushing over Ratchet’s valve, tasting the wet heat gathered there.

“Well, I’m depraved. Ridiculous. Bratty. Any other pet names you got for me?” Ratchet grinds down, the mesh folds of his valve caressing Hook’s spike, painting it in lubricant, little nips of charge darting between them. “Kind of makes me special, doesn’t it?”

Irritation flashes through Hook. He growls, “You’re not special,” and grabs Ratchet by the hips, tightening his grip as strong as any medic worth his specialized hands.

He braces his feet on the floor – thank you cheap and low berth – and rolls, dragging his knees up onto the berth as Ratchet sprawls beneath him, knees obscenely parted. Hook notches himself between them, to the inviting damp at the apex of Ratchet’s thighs. He’s heavier than Ratchet. Stronger, too.

It takes little effort to pin Ratchet beneath him, his spike grinding in the slippery heat of Ratchet’s valve, the head of it rubbing over Ratchet’s swollen anterior node.

“And I’m going to be on top,” Hook pants, need coiling inside of him, engine rising and rolling, lust like a hot clench in his spark. Lust or loathing. He’s not even sure anymore.

Ratchet grins and stretches his arms over his head, totally relaxed, like the depraved mech he is. “Suit yourself,” he says, and shifts, crossing his ankles behind Hook’s thighs, dragging him closer. “I’m not complaining.”

Aft.

He always has to turn everything around, doesn’t he?

Hook growls and grinds against him, his spike slipping and sliding over Ratchet’s valve, teasing his exterior nodes, upper and lower. There’s so much lubricant between them he can hear it squelching. It feels ridiculously good, and Hook’s spike throbs with anticipation, arousal coiling in his lines.

“Need helping finding my valve, second place?” Ratchet asks with a little shimmy of his frame that widens the gaps in his armor, allowing Hook peeks at the delicate cables beneath.

Hook snarls and shifts his weight, hands sliding down to grab Ratchet’s hips. No, he doesn’t need help.

“Shut up,” he grits out, even as he jerks Ratchet’s hips down to meet his, and his spike sinks into Ratchet’s valve in one sharp thrust, all the way to the hilt, valve calipers fluttering madly around his spike and charge assaulting his sensor nodes.

Ratchet moans like the rough treatment is what he’s been dying for, and arches into the touch, his heels digging into Hook’s back. “Nnn. That’s better.” His hips rise, rocking into Hook’s thrusts, demanding more without words. “Want to plug in?”

Hook’s rhythm stutters. “What?”

“You know, hook up?” Ratchet smirks and wriggles his fingers and his hips. “Or have you not gotten the Interfacing Education course yet?”

“I know what cabling means!” Hook hisses as he thrusts deep and grinds against Ratchet’s ceiling node, hoping the jabs of pleasure would shut his rival up.

No such luck.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes!” Hook snarls and shivers as a particularly deep thrust causes Ratchet’s valve to tighten and clench around him, caressing his spike. “I was surprised is all.”

Ratchet arches an orbital ridge. “Because?” It almost sounds like honest curiosity, if it isn’t for the edge of mischief in his tone.

“It’s personal.” Hook’s rhythm stutters again, his concentration stolen by the embarrassment in his admission. “And it’s…” He searches for a word that won’t make him any more humiliated than he already feels.

How can Ratchet always do this to him? It doesn’t take much. A few choice phrases, cutting words, and Hook is stewing in his own special blend of envy, fury, and embarrassment.

“Depraved to ask for?” Ratchet snickers and his hands slide up Hook’s arms, finding his tires and dipping his fingers into the rim gaps. “If you say so. I’m not about pushing mechs into things they don’t like.”

Somehow, Ratchet’s consideration feels condescending.

“Give me your cable.” Hook shifts his weight back to his knees, dropping his hold on Ratchet’s hips. He gropes at his port array, flicking open the panel to withdraw his cable, with perhaps a tad too much force than is necessary.

“Change your mind that quick, did you?” Ratchet chuckles, but his optics are focused on Hook’s dangling cable plug with evident interest. “I’m not sure you can handle my charge, number two.”

Hook slides his free hand over Ratchet’s bobbing spike, giving it a tight squeeze that makes Ratchet arch his back and shiver. “Why don’t you try me and find out?”

Ratchet’s glossa flicks over his lips. He tugs out his own cable, wiggling it in Hook’s direction. “I’ll take that challenge.”

Hook snorts, but doesn’t comment. Their exchange of cables is almost perfunctory, as is the way Hook doesn’t bother to tease as he slides his plug home in Ratchet’s port, sending a surge of charge immediately through. Pride swells in his spark as Ratchet visibly shivers, a warm sigh spilling from his lips.

Hook bombards with Ratchet with several more pulses of need and lust before he deigns to slip Ratchet’s cable into his port with decidedly more care. The little click of connectors coming into contact is unexpectedly arousing, and Hook bites back a groan.

“My turn,” Ratchet says with a smirk, and then a tidal wave of static charge comes surging over their connection, bombarding Hook’s lines with ecstasy.

His knees wobble. He pants for vents as he tilts forward, hands braced to either side of Ratchet’s shoulders, optics flickering. Primus, he’s never felt such raw charge, like lightning caressing his nodes, and going straight to his array. His valve clenches, suddenly desperate to be filled, as his spike plunges deep into Ratchet, throbbing insistently.

No. He’ll not be defeated. Not in this.

Hook gathers every ounce of control and focus. He gathers up the charge Ratchet is sending him and cycles it back, adding his own to the fray. His throbbing spike demands attention, so Hook starts to thrust again, fragging Ratchet with quick, deep stabs of his spike, raking over sensor nodes in a desperate bid to prove, once and for all, who is truly the best.

He claims Ratchet’s mouth to wipe away the smirk, the taunting remarks. He plunges his glossa inside, tasting sweet and tart high grade, and moans as their denta clack together. Ratchet gropes at him, hands gripping Hook’s side, curled on plating protrusions from his alt-mode.

Silence is golden, they say, and in this case, they are right. Ratchet is so much more likable when he’s reduced to moans and gasps and noises muffled against Hook’s lips. He’s ten times more appealing like this, squirming and writhing on Hook’s spike, his charge relenting in the wake of Hook’s unforgiving tide of electric ecstasy.

Ratchet grapples with him, refusing to go down without a fight. They roll across the berth, limbs tangling, frames clanging and colliding, leaving marks of paint behind. Hook is smug, it feels like staking a claim, until he realizes that Ratchet is marking him as well.

He growls and bites at Ratchet’s lips, his jaw, his intake, pulling more gasps and moans out of Ratchet’s mouth. No more words emerge from Ratchet. No more taunts or goads or challenges. Just raw pleasure, the occasional demand for more, harder, faster, and Hook is all too eager to oblige. His fans roar as he plunges into Ratchet again, matching the pulse of his charge across their cables to the beat of his spike.

Static crawls over their frames in bright bursts, lighting up the dim of the messy dorm. Ratchet’s making these noises, little whimpers and sighs, and his field is a hot lick against Hook’s own, trickling into all the nooks and crannies, winding him up.

They roll again, and Hook’s back on top, his hands seizing Ratchet’s hips, his spike grinding hard and deep, assaulting Ratchet’s ceiling node. He feels savage, lips pulled back over his denta, leaving nips and claims on Ratchet’s intake before he seizes Ratchet’s mouth again.

Victory soars into his spark as Ratchet overloads first, his valve spasming around Hook’s spike, his spike spurting against Hook’s belly, his lines surging with charge. Ratchet is gorgeous in pleasure, head tossed back, frame offered in complete surrender to what Hook is offering him.

It’s intoxicating. He clings to it, that sense of triumph, before the taste of Ratchet’s overload along their connection pulls Hook into the ecstasy as well. He buries his face into the crook of Ratchet’s shoulder, takes the spicy heat of him, and spills deep into Ratchet’s valve.

The release triggers a cascade across their cabled connection, sending Ratchet into another overload and pulling Hook along for the ride. The pleasure surges between them, one overload feeding into the other, until Hook feels eclipsed by it. His senses drown in ecstasy, and all sensation dims to the overwhelming electricity of it.

Safety protocols kick in around the fifth-sixth-he can’t count anymore. Hook gasps out a staticky sound even he can’t identify and collapses on top of Ratchet, vents desperately pulling in air, his lower half trembling and weak. There’s not a drop of transfluid in his tanks, and lubricant slicks his thighs. He’d overloaded with his valve, too, without so much as a brush of stimulation.

Primus.

Ratchet squirms and Hook manages one last surge of effort. He pulls his rapidly depressurizing spike free and tilts to the side, landing on his belly on the berth. His spark races, and Hook realizes he should probably get in a comfortable position, but he’s trying to remember if he has feet or not.

Primus, that’s the best he’s ever had. He’d forgotten that being with medics is one hundred times different. He doesn’t know what kind of mods Ratchet has in his valve, but they have to be illegal. Plus, whatever he was doing with his cable array.

And if it had been incredible for Hook, it had to have been even more so for Ratchet, who’d had just as many overloads if not more. Everyone knows the valve mech gets twice as much pleasure. No way would he ever forget this.

Hook drags up energy and turns his head to look at Ratchet next to him. He plants a smug grin on his face, ready to dredge up a taunt or two.

Ratchet groans, his field fluttery with happiness and satisfaction. He stretches his arms over his head and then reaches for their cables, disconnecting them with efficient twists of his wrists. Hook’s own spools back into his array, the panel closing behind it.

Ratchet sits up, one hand diving between his legs to brush over his spike and valve array briefly. They come up damp with a mixture of fluids, evidence of their debauchery. Ratchet snorts as though amused and then Hook hears a click as his panels close.

“Thanks for the ride, second,” Ratchet says, and then of all things, pats Hook on the hip before he scoots off the berth, standing up as though his legs aren’t made of gelatin, like Hook’s.

How can he move after that? How can he stand? Where is he getting the energy from? Hook feels like he could recharge for the rest of the night!

“Stop calling me that,” Hook croaks.

“Why? It’s what you are?” Ratchet’s smirk is condescending. As is the way he looks down at Hook as he redolently stretches.

“Not for long.” Hook glares and manages to leverage himself upright, though his arms wobble. “I’ll surpass you by the time we graduate. I swear it.”

“If you think you can.” Ratchet leans in close, smelling of interfacing and high grade, of challenges and the bitter tang of loathing. His lips are far too tantalizingly close. “I welcome the challenge, second.”

Hook squares his shoulders. “I just showed you, didn’t I?” he demands, sharp and hot.

Ratchet nips at his jaw before he leans back, making a show of deep thought as he taps at his chin. “Eh, I’ve had better. But it was definitely a solid effort on your part. Worthy of a repeat. Four stars easy.” He shrugs. “Just means there’s room for improvement. I volunteer to be your practice dummy.” He winks.

Hook stares at him. The words echo in his audials and in his head, they surge through his frame, melt out through his feet, puddle beneath him.

I’ve had better.

I’ve had better?!

“Anyway…” Ratchet stretches again, groaning long and low, before he spins toward the door, waving a hand over his shoulder. “Thanks for the ride and all, but there’s a party still in full swing, and I don’t want to miss a moment more of it. See you in class tomorrow.”

And then Ratchet swaggers out like he hadn’t just insulted Hook’s interfacing prowess, implied he needed to practice, and then dismissed him in the space of a single conversation.

Hook gapes at the empty space on the floor where Ratchet had been standing. Barely a minute had passed since he’d overloaded and Ratchet’s already gone, meanwhile Hook can barely move, save for the shaking. He’s sticky, exhausted, he reeks of interfacing and overloads and beneath it all, a curdle of shame.

What the frag? He’s had better? How!?

The door opens again.

Hook leaps to his feet, even if it does make him sway, ready to give Ratchet a piece of his processor and then some. But it’s not the top-rated student returning, but a pair of drunken mechs who stumble inside, lips locked and hands indiscriminately roaming.

They collide against a desk, giggling, oblivious to Hook’s presence. He recognizes Recurve immediately, but not the smaller mech plastered to Recurve’s front – a medic, by the brands on him. Newly graduated even.

Some people have all the luck.

“Excuse me,” Hook snaps as he storms forward, eying the narrow space between their flailing limbs and his path to freedom. “Let me get out of the way before you start fragging on top of me.”

They still.

Recurve’s head swivels toward Hook and he blinks in confusion. “Oh, hey, Hook. Wait. Didn’t you leave with Ratchet?”

Hook’s optical band narrows. His engine growls.

“Went that well, huh?” Recurve guesses.

His interface partner giggles. “Must not have, if he’s done already,” they say, singsong. “Guess your buddy here doesn’t have the stamina to keep up with the party ambulance.”

Heat floods Hook’s cheeks. Anger bubbles up inside of him, and all manner of waspish retorts dance on the tip of his glossa, but none of them emerge. What’s the point?

“I’m going home,” Hook declares as he stomps to the door.

Recurve is wise enough to spin his dance partner out of the way, his expression inscrutable. “See you later!” he says, not quite cheerful, but condescending all the same.

Hook ignores him, the door closing behind him and cutting off the sounds of giggling and sloppy kisses, barely a step missing in their lewd dance of courtship. Hook snarls under his vents and storms away from the room and noise and laughter and fun of the party. There’s a reason he doesn’t go to these things.

Never again.

I’ve had better.

The statement lingers in his processor like a bad rust infection, like a flick to the nasal ridge, like his position, ever below Ratchet’s in the rankings, ever in the shadow of something he can’t grasp. So easily dismissed, it builds a fury inside of Hook, one no smelter’s pit can match.

He’ll show them. He’ll show them all, and Ratchet especially.

He will find a method to surpass Ratchet in every way, to leave him soundly behind in the rankings, in the proficiencies. He’ll create methods that’ll make other medics boil with envy. He’ll become a name so remembered, everyone will forget Ratchet ever existed. He’ll be obsolete.

Hook intends to make Ratchet so jealous, so pathetic, that he’ll come begging for an invitation to Hook’s berth, just for a touch of the glory. So he can know what it feels like to be small in the face of greatness.

Yes.

It will happen. It’s going to happen. No matter what Hook has to do. He’ll find a way.

And he’ll crush that overconfident slagger beneath his foot.

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[G1] Behind the Scenes 11

Good Boy

Prowl kneels, waiting patiently. He shivers, anticipation like an oil bath over his armor. The craving sets in, as his processor whirls and hums, a predator held at bay against the prey of desperately needed figures and calculations.

Ratchet hums as he starts to work. He has a pleasant voice. It soothes Prowl’s spark.

The first accessory – a thick collar with a heavy loop on the front – snaps into place around Prowl’s intake. With it, comes the first burst of relief. The metal is cold, but warms quickly against his dermal plating. The weight of it is a promise.

Duty slides away, behind the click of the lock.

Second comes the leash, a long, braided length of platinum – more show than function. It clips into the collar and hangs loose until Ratchet drapes the end over one of Prowl’s shoulders.

The snick washes away responsibility and leaves behind a simple command – obey. In Ratchet’s hands, this is always the easiest part. Prowl so often is the one giving orders, leaving that behind to lay his trust in Ratchet’s hands and only obey leaves him weak in the knees.

The trembles increase in earnest. Soon, Prowl whispers to himself. Soon.

“One more.” Ratchet gently, playfully, taps his nose. “Down, please.”

Prowl whimpers, heat surging through his lines. He obeys, sliding his hands forward, palms across the floor, until he presses his chevron to the cool metal. He shifts his knees open, parts his thighs, and presents his aft to his master. He reveals both valve and port without asking.

He’s slick. Air currents tease his damp valve folds, and his port rim twitches. He’s swollen, his main anterior cluster throbbing with need. Lust has soaked him from the moment he bowed his head earlier, nudged himself under Ratchet’s chin, and made the quiet plea.

Pleasure-lust, yes. But peace-lust more. He craves it, and Ratchet had stroked a hand down his back, beneath the hinge of his doorwings, as he nuzzled the top of Prowl’s head and agreed.

This, the rarest of their scenes, and always private.

Well.

Private save for whichever mech watches the video later. Prowl pointedly doesn’t look at the cameras surreptitiously placed, recording to a private server for later enjoyment. His. Theirs. Whomever they trust with the footage.

Fingers glide over his valve rim, tasting his slick, dragging Prowl’s attention back to his master. He chastises himself for letting his attention slip.

“Don’t worry,” Ratchet murmurs as those same fingers circle the smaller rim of Prowl’s port, teasing it. “I’ll make it go away.”

The promise clenches Prowl’s spark, fills it with love. He pants, ex-vents fogging the floor, fingers curling against it. His aft bobs, pushing towards Ratchet’s fingers. He doesn’t have to say please. Ratchet’s field is already agreeing.

Two fingers work into him; unnecessary, but this play has never been about pain like some of the others. Pain doesn’t belong in the here and now.

Prowl’s optics shutter. He pants harder. His fingers curl in and out, scraping the floor. His spike throbs, trapped. It will serve a purpose later.

For now, there is only the brief loss of stretching fingers before they are replaced by the last accessory. The plug squirms inside him, slick with extra lubricant, long and thick, filling him completely. His port clenches around it as it notches deep, his rim closing around the plug’s end. The soft synthetic fur brushes the back of his thighs, black to match his paint scheme.

Guilt is thus buried, deep under a pile of indulgence and care.

Ratchet lifts the end of the leash. “Come, Panther,” he says. “Up.”

All the rest slides away.

Prowl ex-vents and pushes himself to his hands and knees. The plug shifts in his aft, a constant reminder of its presence, along with the sweep of synthetic fur. His valve clenches, sympathetic and empty, squeezing out a pearl of lubricant. The tug on the collar, faint but there, is a reminder.

Command seals itself in an iron cage, and obedience swallows the key. Prowl hides himself, taking solace in the bars, and Panther rises, giving him room to be.

“Good hound,” Ratchet says, his voice rich with approval. He crouches down next to Panther, free hand sliding over Panther’s head. “You’re hungry, aren’t you?”

Panther makes a soft sound of agreement. No words. Turbohounds have no words, only needs.

Care. Shelter. Fuel.

Rutting.

“That’s what I thought.” Ratchet smiles and rises again. “Come on then. I’ve got your favorite. Figured you’ve been so good, you’ve earned it.”

Ratchet moves toward the main room. He doesn’t have to tug on the leash for Panther to follow, on hands and knees, plug shifting and pressing his nodes into singing delight. His engine revs. Ratchet looks down at him and smiles.

Panther’s spark flutters at the sight of his Master’s happiness.

In the main room, his dishes wait, two wide and shallow bowls arranged side by side on top of a small towel. In one is a liquid energon, the other a candied, flaked treat that melts on Panther’s glossa and occasionally crunches as he chews. Panther’s glossa moistens, and a happy whine emerges from his throat. He knows better than to rush forward.

Master appreciates his patience.

Ratchet laughs. “Don’t worry. You can have as much as you want.”

Panther licks his lips. He doesn’t know which to have first, and sniffs at the bowls as Ratchet urges him toward them. He guides the loop of the leash over a small hook nearby. Not that Panther has any interest in running off, it’s more about presentation.

Today’s liquid energon smells really plain. Panther gives it a lick and wrinkles his nasal ridge. Oh, it tastes fine enough, but it’s not a treat. He moves his attention to the other bowl and grabs a mouthful of the crisps. Oh, they are perfect. Sweet and tangy, fizzing on his glossa even.

He hears Ratchet move away. Panther looks up, confused, but Ratchet waves a hand.

“It’s okay, pet. Keep eating. I’m just prepping your toys.”

Toys.

Panther’s engine purrs. He returns his attention to the treat dish, carefully eating bite after bite, occasionally sipping from the other bowl to wash it down. His tanks warm as the pockets of energon give him little bursts of energy. Master always has the best ideas.

He only finishes half the bowl of treats by the time Master returns, slipping the end of the leash from the hook and giving it a light tug.

“Ready to play, boy?” Ratchet asks, his voice a little raspier than usual. Panther knows that tone of voice. Master is eager to get started.

Panther’s hips waggle. He licks his lips and turns toward his master, crooning a soft yip of agreement. He tilts his head as he realizes Master is holding something in his other hand. It’s some kind of board with colorful knobs all over it.

Panther tilts his head to the other side and his doorwings cant with confusion.

“It’s a new toy. For smarter hounds,” Master says, and moves toward his chair, Panther following on hands and knees. His tail swishes behind him, port clenching and keeping his arousal at a low simmer.

Sometimes, he just wishes Master would get on to the really fun play. But he’s also intrigued by this new toy. He’s never seen anything like it before. Usually they play a modified form of Catch or Tug.

Ratchet settles into his chair, hooks the leash over the arm of it, and leans over to set the toy on the ground in front of him. Panther pads nearer to it, giving it a sniff. It smells like wood and something sweet behind the wood. He pokes at one of the colorful blocks with his hand, and the block moves into the empty space next to it. There, in the gap, something shiny peers up at him.

Panther tilts his head and nudges the block again, revealing a tiny little energon treat in the cubby. His optics light up as bends over and snags it with his denta, chomping down on the treat. It’s chewy and filled with a sweet gel.

Panther makes a noise of delight and looks up at his master.

“For smart hounds indeed,” Ratchet says and props his chin on his fist, looking down at Panther affectionately. “Find all the treats and then we can have a new game.”

Panther’s engine revs with excitement. He nudges the toy again, finding it to be rather simple, all things considered. It doesn’t take him long to root out all the little treats, though the one that makes him spin and spin a tiny dial takes a little longer to figure out.

Master watches the whole time, until he leans down and pats Panther on the head. He pets him, rubbing behind his audials and scratching under his collar. It feels so good. Panther leans into the pets, and quivers with excitement as the hand strokes down his back, between his doorwings. He hunches down a little, offers his aft, and clenches down on the plug deep in his port.

He doesn’t have to look to know he’s left little drips all over the floor. His valve has been leaking so much. He knows better than to rush though. Master will get to all of it eventually. He always does.

Master keeps petting him. Panther’s engine rumbles. He snatches up the last treat with his denta and nudges the toy away. He’s done! So he rises up, drapes his front half into Master’s lap, and Ratchet huffs a little laugh.

“Good job,” he says, both hands petting Panther’s head and shoulders and back now. “You really are a smart boy, aren’t you?”

Panther’s engine whines, and he licks Master’s cheek, his field spilling out with joy. Ratchet chuckles and strokes him, fingers slipping into seams to scratch his cables beneath.

“You liked that toy, I take it,” Master comments and grins when Panther licks him again, leaning his weight harder on his master. He tries to crawl into Ratchet’s lap but Ratchet just laughs again and puts his hands on Panther’s shoulders.

“Yes, you must have,” he says. “Down, Panther, you energetic thing. Too bad I can’t take you for a walk right now. I think you need to work off some of that energy.”

Panther reluctantly backs off, recognizing the command. He sits on his haunches and looks up at his master, vents whirring, plug pressing against the floor and by proxy, deeper into him. He whines a little as another burst of pleasure peppers his array. More lubricant pools beneath him.

He looks down at it. Maybe he should lick it up?

“Until then…” Ratchet reaches down and grips his jaw, tilting his head up so that he looks into Ratchet’s optics. “I think I have an alternative, lovely.” His thumb strokes over Panther’s jaw. His other hand pets over Panther’s head.

Panther whines and licks Master’s hand. Master’s fingers taste so good, like his lubricant and like arousal, and Panther licks them some more. He wants to play again. He does!

Ratchet smiles and leans back in his chair. He spreads his knees, making room between them, and pats his thighs, dragging his fingers toward up toward the apex of them.

Panther watches avidly, his optics growing wide, his lips parting in a helpless pant. He knows these gestures very well. His audials listen intently for the command that usually comes next. He doesn’t want to presume.

The soft click of a panel spiraling open makes the need grow inside Panther. His mouth fills with lubricant, his senses canted forward. The scent of Master’s lubricant floats to his nose, so sweet, and when he looks, Master’s hand is between his own thighs, fingers bracketed to either side of his valve.

“Come here, boy,” Master murmurs, crooking a finger toward Panther in a gesture he’s been trained to recognize. The crooked finger tilts down and taps on the inside of Master’s thigh. “I have a treat for you.”

And what a treat it is. Panther whines in the back of his intake and crawls forward, inhaling the scent of his master’s lubricant, his arousal, his heat. The antiseptic scent of him, and weldfire, and cleanser.

He noses between Master’s thighs, his forehead bumping against the back of Master’s knuckles. He looks up in question as Master’s free hand falls on his helm, silently urging him closer, as Master’s thighs push further apart, making more room for him.

His first lick is tentative, tasting even. He swipes the flat of his glossa along the length of Master’s valve, laving the plump folds of it, getting a hint of pearly lubricant. It’s sweet on the tip of his glossa, and he feels the throb of Master’s main node against his glossa. Panther rumbles a growl and dives back in, licking Master’s valve folds and licking deeper into him, trying to get as much lubricant as he can.

He hears Master vent heavily, hears the soft sigh of pleasure. Master’s hand is gentle on his head, rubbing him encouragingly, and Panther purrs as he laps at his master’s valve. Master tastes so good, and his valve pulses against Panther’s glossa, and his hips are rocking. More lubricant leaks out, but Panther licks it up before it can make a mess.

Master’s thighs spread further open as he sinks down in the chair, making it easier for Panther to lick at him. He flicks the tip of his glossa over Master’s node, again and again, and then concentrates on his lower node, too. The little cluster of sensors always makes Master moan.

“Good boy,” Master murmurs and his field washes over Panther, thick with hunger and approval. “You’re such a good boy, Panther.”

A low whine rises in Panther’s intake. He paws at the floor as he presses his face against Master’s valve, wanting to go as deep as possible, make Master happy. Master’s hand wraps around the back of his head, keeping him where he wants to be. His thighs tremble to either side of Panther’s head.

“G-good boy,” Master says, his vocals filling with static now, the chair creaking as he rocks his hips. “Lick my node, Panther. Make sure there’s no mess.”

Orders. Commands. It’s so easy to obey them.

Panther growls and focuses on Master’s main node, licks it again and again and again, stopping only to lap up drips of lubricant before diving back in.

He hears Master moan and pant, faster and louder. Master’s hand clenches and trembles on his head. And then suddenly it moves to Panther’s forehead with a light shove.

“E-enough,” Master pants, scooting back, his valve visibly clenching with denied pleasure. “There’s still one more game, pet. If you want to play.”

Panther’s dripping valve and concealed spike throb in agreement. He nips at Master’s fingertips and licks his lips, feeling the tackiness of lubricant on his face.

Master’s palm cups his head and slides around his face, pressing up under his chin to tilt his head up, ignoring the mess now on his fingers. “You’ve been such a good pet today. So I will allow you to take me.” His thumb rubs over Panther’s lip, and obediently, Panther gives it a lick.

Panther shivers, his spike throbbing inside his sheath. Being allowed to take Master is such a rare treat. His aft wiggles against the ground, tail swishing across the floor, and he licks Master’s palm harder.

“I see you like that reward.” Master chuckles, though there’s strain in it. His field is flush with heat, and Panther can taste the arousal in it.

Master pats Panther’s head and stands, lubricant slicking his thighs almost immediately. Panther wants to lick it, but it seems like Master has other plans. He takes the leash in hand and gives it a tug, guiding Panther toward the berthroom. Panther’s spike throbs harder, head grinding against the panel concealing it, but he knows better than to allow it free.

The door closes behind them, lights activating to a romantic half-brightness. Master kneels in front of Panther, fingers still wrapped around the leash, as Panther sits back on his aft, knees drawn up. It pushes the plug deeper into his aft and a low whine ekes out of his intake. He resists the urge to grind down and whines again when Master reaches for his spike panel, dragging a fingertip across the domed metal. Panther shivers.

“Such a patient, pet,” Master murmurs with a curve of his lips. “You can open now, Panther. Let me see that big spike of yours.”

Panther snaps his panel open almost immediately, relief trickling down his spinal strut as his spike juts free, glossy with pre-fluid and throbbing. Master’s hand curves around it, giving it a squeeze and a tug, and Panther whines, his hips following the motion.

“You’re ready for me,” Master says with a hum. “That’s good.” He lets go of Panther’s spike, ignoring Panther’s whine of rejection, and lets the end of the leash dangle on the floor. “Stay, boy,”

Stay. Every inch of Panther’s being wants to rut, he’s shaking from it. His plating is open to help expel heat. His spike is throbbing. Master is hot for him. And he has to stay.

So he does. He waits as Master stretches his arms over his head, making his joints creak, before he pulls a padded mat out from under the berth. He spreads it across the floor, achingly slow, little drips of lubricant glistening on the insides of his thighs. He slides onto it, on hands and knees, fingers kneading the plush mat. He looks over at Panther with hunger in his optics, his gaze flicking from top to bottom, before his optics light up.

“Oh, I almost forgot.” Master’s grin is devilish as he rummages under the berth again and pulls an item out of the toy chest.

The small, metal ring glints in the overhead light. Panther’s engine revs as Master summons him closer with a crook of his finger, and Panther inches into his Master’s reach. He pants as Master’s hand curls around his spike in two nice strokes, and Panther rocks into his Master’s grip.

“I can’t have you overloading inside me,” Master murmurs as he thumbs the top of Panther’s spike. “That just won’t do at all. Now stay still.”

Panther locks his joints and waits, a low whine building inside of him. He watches Master slip the ring around his spike and notch it at the base, a low pulse keeping it locked in place, and stopping him from overloading.

“There. Much better.” Master strokes his spike again and shifts back onto the mat.

He puts himself in a very familiar position, on his knees and elbows, aft pointed upward, knees slightly spread. He looks at Panther and shifts his weight, reaching back to pat his aft.

“Come on, boy,” he says before he reaches for the end of the leash and takes it in his fingers. “Mount.”

Mount.

An inferno of need roars through Panther’s frame. He knows this command, to the quiver in his spark, the throb in his spike, the arousal in his groin. He licks his lips and crawls over to his Master, guided by the gentle tug on the leash.

Master’s beautiful valve is on display, so wet and open and inviting. Panther wants to lick him, but that hadn’t been the command.

Mount.

He doesn’t have to think about it. Debate it. Weigh the proper course of action. All he has to do is obey.

Panther’s spike twitches. He rises up, drapes himself over Master’s back, lines up his spike to that plush and dripping valve. He can feel the rumble of Master’s engine against his chest. He braces himself on the floor and rocks his hips, blindly searching, rutting against Master’s aft.

He whines as he struggles to find Master’s valve. The tug on the leash becomes a bit more insistent. Master vents heat, his field wobbly with need against Panther’s.

“Good boy,” Master murmurs, his aft pushing back toward Panther’s hips, canting to try and help Panther along. “Just a bit more.”

Panther growls and snaps his hips forward, his spike finding Master’s valve, parting the mesh pleats of it, and sinking deep in one quick push. Master moans and clenches around him, his valve rippling, and Panther moans with him.

Master’s grip on the leash tightens more, as he twists it around his wrist, tugging Panther firmly on top of him, keeping him in place. He can’t do anything more than rut against Master, thrusting into him over and over, deeper and deeper, lubricant slick and messy around his spike. Master’s hot and tight and welcoming and if it weren’t for the spike ring, Panther knows he’d be close to overload.

As it is, he can only throb and thrust, hands pawing at the ground, knees digging in, his spike raking over Master’s sensory nodes. Charge fills the space between, sparking from node to node, until Master is bucking up against him, hungry and wanting. His voice is a drone to Panther’s roaring audials, but there are encouragement and demands in there.

“Good boy. Good pet. More. Deeper. Harder. Such a g-good p-p-pet.”

Master tosses his head. His frame creaks as he pushes back against Panther, lubricant sloppy down the back of his thighs. Static crawls over his armor and zaps against Panther’s own, and Master’s engine revs.

Master murmurs other things, maybe encouragement, but it’s lost to the static, and then he’s overloading, clenching down hard on Panther’s spike, as if milking him for a release he can’t offer. His spike hurts he’s so hard, but he can’t overload. He can only thrust wildly, riding the wild buck of Master’s frame. Transfluid splatters to the floor from Master’s spike as Panther’s frantic thrusting pulls another overload from his Master, who vents scorching heat and abruptly sags, dragging Panther down on top of him.

Panther whines, hips making little aborted jerks. He wants to overload. His spike hurts, swollen around the pressure of the ring. The tug on his collar is intoxicating, and Master is trembling beneath him, his plating vibrating.

“Down, Panther,” Master manages to sputter, his vents coming in heavy pants, his field thick with languid heat.

Reluctantly, Panther obeys, withdrawing from the hot clench of Master’s valve, his spike dripping lubricant. He wants so badly to overload, and can only watch as Master rolls over onto his back, legs splayed, his interface array liberally splattered with fluids and looking so tasty. The end of the leash is limp in Master’s fingers.

Panther licks his lips. He sits back on his aft, grinding the plug deep into his aft, enjoying the pleasure that washes through his frame. His valve feels so empty, and he’s leaving a puddle beneath him.

Slitted blue optics watch him before Master gives a tug on the end of the leash. “Good boy,” he says and his free hand crooks a finger toward Panther. “Well-behaved pets earn their rewards, don’t they?”

Panther scuttles across the floor and all but throws himself into Master’s lap, his spike leaving streaks on the sides of Master’s thigh. Master chuckles at him, running a hand over his head and another over his aft, giving it a light pat. His fingers thread through the fur of Panther’s tail, giving the plug a light tug.

“Yes, good rewards,” Master murmurs before he flicks the tail of the plug aside, exposing Panther’s valve to view.

Panther whines again and spread his knees, pushing his aft up into the air, baring himself to his Master. Whatever he wants to do, Panther will allow it. He kneads at Master’s other leg and rocks his hips and makes hopeful noises.

He moans as Master’s fingers tease at his valve folds, dragging through the lubricant glistening over the mesh. Master finds his anterior node and gives it a pinch, and Panther almost overloads then and there, except the spike ring’s pressure blocks even his valve from overloading.

He whimpers and rubs his face on Master’s leg. It hurts. And he is a good pet! Master promised him a reward, and he wants it.

The hand dips lower, teases at the base of his spike. Panther cants his hips hopefully, ex-venting hot air, his knees scraping at the floor. A finger teases at his valve opening, rubbing the lubricant-wet folds, before Panther hears the tiniest of clicks, and the spike ring springs open, freeing his spike.

“Good boy,” Master murmurs as his fingers plunge into Panther’s valve and curve just right. “Now overload for me, Panther. Enjoy your reward.”

It starts in his limbs, in his extremities. It roars through his engine, through his vents, through his intake. Panther keens as overload throbs through the entirety of his frame, pouring out of his seams in liquid roils of charge, his spike spurting and his valve clamping down tight on his Master’s fingers. His hips jerk, rutting against Master’s hand, and his frame goes wobbly.

His vision whites out. All other senses abandon him to the ecstasy, leaving him floating on air, spark dancing a happy twirl. Time vanishes, or at least his perception of it. He drifts in a haze of pleasure and relief, soaking up the feel of Master’s field around him, and the ecstasy humming through his lines.

He comes back into his frame flopped over his Master’s lap, panting and vents whirring, his entire self thrumming with delight. Master’s hand is petting him, while the other rests on his aft, leaving stickiness behind.

Master murmurs to him, a smile in his voice, “Ah, there you are, pet. You made a mess. I’ve been waiting for you to clean it up.”

Panther stirs and pushes himself upright with wobbly arms. He looks down and sees the splatter of fluids on his Master’s legs, and he flushes with embarrassment. He knows better than that.

Master cups his face with sticky fingers, and Panther licks at them, tasting transfluid and lubricant both. There’s something soothing about obeying the simple command, his engine settling into a quiet idle as he laps at Master’s hand, cleaning it. Then he moves to focus on Master’s legs: knees first, then his thighs.

Master makes room for Panther between his thighs, petting Panther’s head in approval as he cleans up his own transfluid and Master’s lubricant, too. It’s gone tacky, but the taste of it is familiar and welcome. It’s soothing, not that Panther could ever explain why.

Master keeps stroking him, fingers gentle on Panther’s intake, as he unlatches the leash and sets it aside. He reaches for the collar, too, but Panther whimpers and looks up at his Master. He pleads with his optics since he can’t use his words.

“You don’t want me to take it off?” Master asks, his voice as gentle as the touch of his fingers.

Panther dips his head and licks Master’s fingers. No. He wants the collar on for now. He doesn’t want it taken off. He doesn’t want the weight of responsibility back yet. He’s not ready.

“Alright, I’ll leave it on for a bit longer then.” Master’s hand moves away after a pat to Panther’s head, and he draws back, rising to his pedes with a creak of old joints. “Clean the mat, Panther. You’re almost done.”

Obedience is so very easy.

Panther bends over and starts lapping up fluids from the thick mat, both his and Master’s. It’s not the most palatable like this, but it’s not about taste. It’s about submission. Concession. Trust. The feel of Master’s field sliding over his.

Master’s hands on his aft, gently stroking him. Master’s fingers careful as they eased the plug out of Panther’s aft, his port rippling in it’s absence. He misses the thickness immediately, but knows he can’t keep it in forever. Master takes it away, putting it in a bin to be cleaned later. So it can be used again.

Anytime Panther needs it.

Master pats him on the head then, his fingers lingering. “Leave the rest for later, boy. Come on. Let’s get on the berth instead.”

Panther licks his lips and rises out of his crouch, looking up at Master, who has crawled onto the berth with an exhausted whuff of his field. He crooks a finger at Panther invitingly, and Panther gives a little yip before he clambers up to join Master.

This is his favorite part, when he snuggles up next to Master, the collar heavy but comfortable around his intake, a sign of ownership and trust. He’s half on top of his Master, half beside him, an arm around his frame and a hand petting him, the motions gentle and rhythmic.

“Good boy,” Master murmurs, and there’s love in the words, affection as thick as what’s in his field. It warms Panther to his spark.

Panther lays his head down and listens to the thrum of Master’s engine, to the pulse of his spark, and the tick-tick of a cooling frame. He wants to bury himself here, in the warmth and comfort, and he knows the morning means he has to take off the collar and become Prowl again. But for right now, he has this and Master and he’s all Panther needs in the world.

Safe. Comforted. Loved.

****

[IDW] Hot to Trot

The first time they fragged, Ratchet was lonely and tipsy and just stupid enough that a pitiful looking Megatron was a better outlet for his frustrations than anyone else on the Lost Light. Ratchet wasn’t lacking for options, but somehow, a smirking former warlord was the perfect flavor he needed to chase out the anger and the irritation and the emotions boiling beneath the surface.

It helped that Megatron, for all he was the living embodiment of evil and the single greatest threat to the safety of Cybertron, was attractive. He was sturdy, strong… big. Big enough to wrap his hands around Ratchet’s thighs and haul him up against the wall like he weighed nothing, thick spike sinking into Ratchet’s valve like it was laying claim and spilling charge over his internal nodes in heavy, pulsing waves.

It had to be the engex, Ratchet assumed dizzily, the cubes he consumed four times the size of the measly sample Swerve had given him so long ago. The engex was bitter and potent and it sat in his tanks like rustrot and low grade, but it turned the world fuzzy and bright and eager. He still tasted it on his glossa, in the kiss even, as Megatron pinned him to the wall and nipped at his mouth with sharpened, but filed denta.

It was the engex, Ratchet snarled as his back scraped red streaks into the ship’s walls, here in this semi-abandoned corridor of the Lost Light. Somewhere anyone could stumble on them, and maybe Ratchet cared that someone would, or maybe he didn’t. Maybe all that mattered was the pleasure licking up his spinal strut in lightning bursts and the way Megatron’s grip was tight enough to dent metal on anyone who wasn’t an ancient medic with one foot in the grave.

Ratchet thought he should have protested. He might have, maybe, half-sparked as it was, and not at all believable for that. He wanted, and there was shame in that, but frag if Megatron wasn’t so well put together and big, and Ratchet had always been weak for the big ones. The big, powerful mechs who could handle a heavy medic like he weighed nothing, who didn’t treat Ratchet like he was breakable, but rather like someone who wanted to be tossed around.

Mechs like Megatron, who ate at Ratchet’s mouth like he was starving. Who growled and grunted, their frames clanging together noisily enough to draw a crowd, if anyone were brave enough to watch. And whoever was on watch duty was probably getting a show out of the corridor’s surveillance. Ratchet was just soused enough not to care.

He slid his fingers into seams, wrapped them around cables and pulled, calves and ankles beating on the back of Megatron’s legs in violent urging. He hissed in between kisses, goads and challenges, demanding more, which Megatron granted him with dark chuckles and optics heavy like smoldering coals. Something about the way the light overhead glinted over his Autobot badge made the shame rise up again, until Ratchet smothered it with the pleasure rippling through his valve, the way Megatron pierced him, deeper and deeper, thick head grinding on his ceiling node.

Ratchet gasped and bucked against Megatron, thighs squeezing tight, tugging just a shade too hard on cables, enough to make Megatron hiss and bare his pointed denta. His valve spiraled down tight, milking the thickness of Megatron’s spike for all it was worth, his own spike pressurized and rubbing on Megatron’s abdominal plates, the rough skitter of the head over overlapping plates adding to the delightful friction.

Ratchet moaned.

Megatron chuckled, deep and dark and dangerous and every shameful fantasy Ratchet had ever indulged in, his fingers deep in his valve and tight around his spike.

“Look at you,” Megatron taunted, voice like rich engex and hidden caverns, probably mockery, maybe appreciation. “Just drunk enough not to care that you’re getting railed by an evil, evil Decepticon.”

Ratchet hissed an invective.

It was a totally inappropriate time to overload, which was why he did, clamping down hard on Megatron’s spike and painting Megatron’s abdomen with transfluid. He snarled against Megatron’s mouth, into a near-violent kiss, and his back hit the wall hard as Megatron all but threw him into it.

Megatron laughed into the messy, rough kiss. He fragged Ratchet like he wanted to paint himself, paint this illicit encounter, into the very metal of the wall. He thrust hard and deep, and the searing splatter of his transfluid was enough to pull another overload out of Ratchet. He swallowed the shame, same as he did his cry of pleasure, and clung to Megatron through the throes of ecstasy.

Megatron ate at his mouth, the echoes of overload making their plating ruffle, their engines thrum a discordant cadence. Megatron’s spike lingered in Ratchet’s valve, half-pressurized, a promise for more.

More Ratchet found himself wanting, and if that wasn’t enough to revamp the shame clawing at the back of his spark chamber, the slick feel of transfluid in his valve certainly helped. He indulged in the kiss, lips swollen where Megatron bit at them, his frame hot where they pressed together, the feel of Megatron’s hands on his hips far too erotic.

Ratchet growled and shoved at Megatron’s chest. “Put me down,” he demanded, and obedience was immediate.

His feet dropped to the floor as Megatron held him only long enough to make sure he was steady. Though steady was a strong word. Ratchet’s world kept sliding off to the right, and he knew the engex was only partially to blame. Fluids trickled down the inside of his thighs, and damn but they weren’t transfluid alone.

“Is this the part where you call for security?” Megatron asked, his words darkly amused, but a shadow of something in his optics.

Ratchet didn’t know if he should call it fear or not, though he was tempted when Megatron stepped back, hands lifted as if in surrender, the distance between them physically minute, but speaking of an immaterial chasm.

Ratchet snorted. “What kind of mech do you think I am?” he demanded, proud of himself for not stuttering or slurring his vocals. He pointed a finger at Megatron and narrowed his optics. “This didn’t happen.”

“Oh, so that’s the way you want to play it.” Megatron folded his arms over his massive chest, Ratchet’s transfluid still painting his abdomen like some kind of lurid claim.

“It’s not a game. This didn’t happen,” Ratchet repeated and glared at Megatron, using the fiercest one he had in his arsenal. He shook his finger at Megatron in stern warning. “And it’s not happening again.”

Megatron tilted his head. “Whatever you say.” There was mockery in the curl of his lip.

Anger flared through Ratchet like a flashbomb. He growled, his engine echoing him, and spun on a heelstrut. He stomped down the corridor, leaving Megatron behind him, aware of the fluids trickling down his thighs, spattering on the floor behind him, a lewd path anyone could follow to find the source of Ratchet’s shame.

Megatron’s amusement burned between his shoulders. Fury cropped up, scathing retorts and caustic curses, but Ratchet swallowed them all down.

Staying away from Megatron would be easy, he figured. That smugness was enough of a turn off. Ratchet was certain he’d never frag Megatron again, and this time, he’d chalk up solely to the engex and Megatron’s proximity.

It could have been anyone, he reasoned. Anyone.

~

The second time they fragged was entirely Megatron’s fault.

Megatron’s fault, Ratchet’s medic protocols, and the provocative dreams haunting Ratchet’s recharge, which had him onlining and reaching for one of the many toys he kept on hand. He’d buffed out the scratches and paint transfers after his last encounter with Megatron, but the memories of them caught up to him during recharge.

His hips ached, his valve clenched on nothing, and the pleasure preoccupied his waking hours. He found himself eying other mechs on the Lost Light, equal in size to Megatron, wondering if their hands could wrap around his thighs as Megatron’s had.

Ratchet blamed a lot of things, Megatron especially. Though he admitted, if grudgingly, that evil warlord or not, Megatron had kept his end of the bargain. He’d told no one about their tryst in the corridor, and whoever had gotten to the security feeds didn’t blab about it either.

No one seemed to know about Ratchet’s little indiscretion. He preferred it that way. It would definitely never happen again.

Megatron kept his distance, too. Like the intelligent mech he was.

And then a month later, Megatron walked into the medbay for his daily dose of fool’s energon, and Ratchet was the only one around who could give it to him. He’d been foisting that particular duty off on everyone, anyone else honestly. Not because he was embarrassed. Pah. Ratchet didn’t know the meaning of the word embarrassed. It wasn’t temptation either.

He didn’t have to explain himself actually.

There Megatron was, recently washed and polished, his Autobot badge gleaming, a look of irritation on his face as he patiently waited for his serving of the foul concoction meant to tame him. Ratchet didn’t much approve of the psychological game Optimus had going on, since it put so many Autobots in danger, but if it kept Megatron cowed, he supposed he’d have to trust in it. For now.

“I suppose you want your energon,” Ratchet grunted and gestured Megatron to a semi-private berth nearby.

“Want is a strong word, medic,” Megatron replied with a sigh and dropped down heavily onto the berth, it creaking beneath him. “It is a matter of necessity, though I would prefer something with a better flavor.”

Ratchet drew Megatron a cube and thrust it toward the mass-murderer. “The point is that you don’t enjoy it.”

“Clearly.” Megatron made a face, like a newspark being fed medicinal coolant, and chugged the energon in one swoop. All the better not to taste it, Ratchet supposed. “Primus, that is foul. What a petty punishment.”

Ratchet snatched back the empty cube, tossing it into the recycler. “It’s not a punishment. It’s a–”

“–deterrent for the safety of my crew. Yes, I know.” Megatron gave him a baleful look as he moved to slide off the berth.

“Stay.” Ratchet held up a hand, fingers unexpectedly coming into contact with the broad strength of Megatron’s chest, hot beneath his touch and vibrating from his engine. “You’re here. I might as well do that maintenance you’ve been avoiding for a month.”

Megatron grunted and sat back, out of reach. He arched an orbital ridge at Ratchet. “I’ve been doing the avoiding? That’s new to me.”

Ratchet ignored the goad. He grabbed a scanner instead and pointed it at Megatron, bombarding the co-captain with a series of scans meant to measure and diagnose quickly. He had his suspicions about what the scans would reveal, and all but one of them were confirmed.

“You’re stressed,” he observed, mostly a comment made to himself, but Megatron heard it nonetheless.

What great restraint it must have taken, for Megatron to resist the urge to reply with scathing sarcasm. “Yes,” he said, with a laugh that wasn’t at all amused. “I am. Surrounded by enemies forced to be allies while waiting for an execution that has only been delayed, I suppose I am.”

Ratchet would not feel guilty. His protocols, however, gnawed at him. Stressed mech, systems strained as a result, fix it, fix it now.

“Find a way to lower it,” Ratchet said as he dug in his supply cabinet for a new air filter. Megatron’s was in sorry shape. “I don’t need to tell you what can happen to a frame with strained systems.” More frequent trips to the medical bay, for starters, and Ratchet already knew Megatron wasn’t fond of them to begin with.

Chromedome had learned to keep his distance from their new co-captain, and with good reason. If there was one mech on the ship Ratchet feared Megatron might attack indiscriminately, it wasn’t actually Whirl. It was Chromedome.

“I’ll make it my top priority,” Megatron drawled as he twisted at an angle and lifted an arm, popping one of his exterior panels so Ratchet could get to the filter. “Perhaps meditation. I hear it soothes the spark.”

Ratchet snorted again, memories of Drift rising up at the back of his mind. Hippy-dippy woo-woo slag, everywhere he looked. Though it seemed to work for Drift, the former Decepticon, who tried too hard to be what he wanted to be.

He yanked out the old filter and snapped the new one into place, frowning at the state of the used one. It should have been changed months ago. “Either that or an outlet,” Ratchet said, almost absently. “Sparring. Exercising. Fragging. Something that involves you working out your frustrations.”

“Fragging,” Megatron repeated, his vocals thick with amusement, as he leaned back and peered at Ratchet. “That wouldn’t be an offer, perhaps, for the event which never happened?”

Ratchet reared back, mouth agape at the sheer gall. “Of course not!” he spluttered, heat filling his faceplate as the erotic dreams rushed to the forefront of his conscious, whispering sweet ideas of the best method of stress relief.

Megatron shrugged, as nonchalant as only he could be, when he’d been so thoroughly rejected. It had to be hard, a mech like him, being rejected. Ratchet imagined it didn’t happen much. Megatron had a draw to him, a siren’s song, and it was too easy to get pulled into his web.

“Pity,” Megatron said, with a lick of his energy field along the length of Ratchet’s, as tangible and hot as a touch up his backstrut, dragging out a shiver. “It seems I’ll have to look elsewhere for exercise.”

Elsewhere, he said, as though the images weren’t streaming through Ratchet’s cortex. As though he didn’t want to pin Megatron to that berth and made him quiver, make him pant and moan as so few dared to do. Worse that his protocols latched on to the idea like an Empty on a scrap of energon.

Fix, fix, fix, they said, and there Megatron was, big and shined up and freshly energized and watching Ratchet with a restrained curiosity but a curl to the corner of his mouth like he already knew he’d won. He radiated smugness, and Ratchet had never wanted to frag the self-satisfaction off someone’s face harder than he did in that moment.

The desire to spank Rodimus into submission was another matter entirely.

“I’m sure you’re capable of coming up with a solution,” Ratchet grumbled, but his spike had started throbbing, and his optics kept roaming over Megatron’s frame, which he hadn’t been able to appreciate in their last encounter that didn’t happen.

He wondered if he could bend Megatron over that berth. He wondered if Megatron would let him. He wondered if simply making the offer would see the infamous warlord bolt from the room.

“Ah, but the simplest one is always better.” Megatron stood, stretching his arms over his head, widening the gaps in his plating, allowing peeks of the gleaming cables beneath, as shiny as the rest of him.

Fix, fix, fix.

Frag it.

“Fine,” Ratchet said as his hands snapped to his hips and his lips curved in a wicked grin. Here was the part where Megatron’s bravado whittled away. “Get on the berth, pop your panels, and I’ll drive you so hard you won’t remember this conversation ever happened.”

Megatron laughed, not mockingly, and his lips pulled into a smirk. He leaned back against the medberth, hips against the edge, elbows braced on it behind him. “You wouldn’t rather have me on my hands and knees?”

What a mental image. But no. If Ratchet was going to frag Megatron into oblivion, it was going to be where he could see every inch of naked lust on the mech’s face.

Ratchet triggered the door closed and locked it with a code no one on this ship could override, save Rodimus and he knew far better than to do so. “If I did, I would’ve said so,” he retorted as he turned back toward Megatron.

He didn’t waste time on a subtle slink. He crossed the floor in three swift strides and put himself between Megatron’s knees, his hands braced to either side of Megatron’s hips.

“Here’s your chance to back out.” Ratchet grinned with a mouthful of denta. “I promise I won’t think less of you.”

Megatron snorted, hooked a hand behind Ratchet’s head, and yanked him into a kiss. All denta, all glossa, no gentleness, all lust. He still tasted of that foul fool’s energon, but his field was hot and staticky against Ratchet’s, and his knees pressed in on Ratchet’s hips in silent demand.

Well then.

So that was how Ratchet found himself fragging Megatron into the medberth, Megatron’s legs hiked around his waist, his hands entangled with Megatron’s, palm to palm. He’d pinned Megatron’s hands to the berth beside Megatron’s head, and the pressure of Megatron’s grip against his sensors made pleasure lick like hot fire through his sensor net.

Megatron opened for him without asking, valve slick and accommodating, greedy for the first long and slow thrust, and demanding more, more, more. His calipers rippled and clutched, feeding charge into the sensor nodes of Ratchet’s spike. He panted into Megatron’s intake and against Megatron’s lips.

The first overload was immediate, on Megatron’s side at least. He moaned, threw his head back, and clenched down on Ratchet’s spike, lubricant seeping out around it as he overloaded. Ratchet smirked.

“Been a long time, has it?” he asked. “Or maybe you’re just sensitive.”

“Shut up,” Megatron snarled and bucked up against him.

Ratchet laughed against his lips and rolled into Megatron, deep and grinding, denta gritted against the hot, squeezing pleasure. Megatron’s field buzzed against his, scalding with need, hungry and desperate. His hips snapped up to meet Ratchet’s thrusts. His hands squeezed Ratchet’s. He made these sounds, deep in his intake, deep in his chest.

Wholly erotic sounds they were. Growls and gasps and moans. His head tilted back, his optics half-shuttered and gleaming with an inner fire. It was unfair, how sexy he was, and as a second overload wracked Megatron’s frame, his spike emerged, thick and pressurized, and Ratchet’s valve clenched in memory of that spike filling him oh so sweet.

Megatron squirmed on Ratchet’s spike like he hadn’t had intimate contact in millennia. He was thirsty for it, gasping out demands for more, his heels drumming the back of Ratchet’s legs to an imperfect cadence. Megatron melted beneath Ratchet, there was no better word for it. The way the lines of stress eased from his face, and how his armor loosened and softened, some of the unease and tension whisking away in the wake of two overloads and the build-up of a third.

He looked younger. Softer. Like the fresh-faced miner who had a dream the universe tried to pummel out of him, but he was stronger than the forces of change gave him credit. He came back, every time, a little more fierce, a lot more ready to do what was necessary, until even that line was stepped over, and what became necessary was any untenable act to meet a goal lost to the spilled energon, scorched battlefields, and millions upon millions of deaths of those now forgotten.

It was almost enough to make Ratchet falter in his rhythm. For the shame to ride the wake of pleasure, but then Megatron’s hands tightened around his, fingers interlocked. He made a sound, a whimper more than a moan, and Ratchet licked his way to Megatron’s intake, felt the echoes of those noises on his glossa.

His spike ached. The rippling pull of Megatron’s valve around him was intoxicating. Megatron squirming beneath him was even more so.

Megatron growled out a noise, a cross between a moan and a whimper, and he overloaded again, this time with a spatter of transfluid against Ratchet’s belly and windshield. Ratchet ground deep, spike swallowed by Megatron’s valve, and was pulled into his own overload, striping Megatron’s valve with his spill as lips and denta closed around Megatron’s intake. He felt the rhythm of Megatron’s energon against his mouth. He bit hard enough to leave a mark, every pulse of his overload feeling as though it were being yanked from his spike.

Ratchet collapsed on top of Megatron, drained, fans whirring, heat billowing in the air around them. Megatron’s engine thrummed, vibrating his frame, and Ratchet’s fingers ached where they’d been interlocked.

It took too many long, embarrassing moments for Ratchet to realize he was all but cuddling Megatron in the semi-privacy of the medbay. He withdrew, reclaiming his fingers and his spike, which slid out of Megatron with a trickle of lubricant and transfluid in its wake. Megatron’s valve contracted, anterior node bright and plump, and Ratchet’s mouth filled with lubricant.

He would never admit how much he wanted to taste that fierce little nub.

Megatron lounged into the berth, self-satisfied to the core, his legs hanging limp over the edge, his thighs splayed, shamelessly displaying his valve and the fluids trickling out of it. One hand slid down his frame, briefly palming his softened spike, the splatter of transfluid making the motion all the more erotic.

“You’re right,” he said. “I do feel more relaxed.”

It took every ounce of self-control in Ratchet’s arsenal to keep the heat from flooding his cheeks. Instead, he yanked a mesh cloth out of subspace and tossed it at Megatron’s abdomen.

“Clean yourself up,” he snapped. “You can’t walk out of here looking like that.” He was shamed to note that he had, indeed, left a bite mark on Megatron’s intake.

“Given the way Rodimus prances around this ship, I don’t see how my current state is anything of a problem,” Megatron said, with a droll note to his tone that did little to calm Ratchet’s building ire.

He ground his denta and bit back on several sharp retorts, choosing instead to scrub at his own frame with a mesh cloth. “Just get out of here. I have work to do.”

The berth creaked as Megatron leveraged himself off it, his clean up more cursory than anything. He still looked freshly fragged, and the white and red streaks along his thighs gave hint to who had done the fragging. Though it might as well have been a neon sign.

Not too many white and red mechs left on the ship, after all.

Megatron performed another one of those sinful stretches. “And if I should find need for another act of stress relief?”

“Pick a hobby,” Ratchet snarled with his back to Megatron, his armor twitching in confused shifts of enemy-not enemy. Auto-badge or not, Ratchet’s self-defense protocols still didn’t know how to identify Megatron.

The former warlord chuckled and strode to the door, casual as you please, overriding the lock with ease. “If you insist.”

“I do. And Megatron?”

He paused in the frame, one optic arched in a gesture that could have been amused or taunting. “Let me guess. This didn’t happen, and it’s not going to happen again.”

Ratchet narrowed his optics. “Get out of my medbay.”

Megatron laughed and swaggered out the door, which closed behind him so quietly, it did not match the irritation boiling in the pit of Ratchet’s tanks. Throwing his soiled mesh cloth at the door didn’t help either.

Frag it. Frag Megatron. Frag everything.

Never again, Ratchet swore. Never again.

~

Never again was a promise far more easier kept if it hadn’t been for Rodimus. Who was, as with the way of most things, to blame for the newest debacle which found Megatron pinging the door to Ratchet’s hab-suite with a look that blended desperation and resignation. If Ratchet’s own face hadn’t been radiating the same look, he might have keyed the door to slam shut in front of Megatron’s nose.

His frame betrayed him. The raw need. The billowing heat. The slick on his thighs. The hunger in his tank. The tide of lust that boiled over him the moment he saw Megatron, mouth watering in remembrance of his thick, thick spike and his oh-so-welcoming valve. Because Megatron could keep a secret.

And in the morning, Ratchet could blame Rodimus and keep his conscience relatively free. Or at least, that was what he told himself, when Megatron looked at him and said, “Something’s wrong.”

Ratchet had sighed and gestured Megatron inside with something akin to resignation. “Yeah, I know.”

It started, he would later reflect, on Antioch.

The planet had been advertised as welcoming to metallic beings, even Cybertronians. Friendly, had been the word, along with enthusiastic. Antiochians were organic in nature, tiny quadrapeds with six-fingered hands and several sets of unblinking eyes set into a wide, hairless skull – all of which was more than a little unnerving.

But they liked metallics. They liked Cybertronians. They liked to touch and twitter and made some of the most delicious synthetic oils Ratchet had ever tasted.

They were eager to house their metallic visitors, those few who dared step foot on the planet. Rewind had something in his databanks, something he couldn’t quite put his finger on, but was certain they had nothing to fear from Antiochians. They didn’t even have weapons, these non-spacefaring but curious organics.

The Antiochians helped the Lost Light refuel and restock. They persuaded some of the more adventurous members of the crew to enjoy their polishing houses. They fed the Lost Light crew until they could consume no more and fell into sleeping piles of mechanisms, the majority of whom managed to get back to their habs on the ship.

There were a few who didn’t.

No one could have expected the effect the oils would have on Megatron’s system. It had been deemed the oils weren’t fuel and were better considered candy – tasty but largely ineffective, so he’d been allowed to consume them. And after he’d promptly slipped into recharge, no one could or would move him. Leaving him behind, alone, wasn’t an option.

Ratchet didn’t so much volunteer as he was the last mech standing who had a leadership capacity by the time the rest of the crew cleared out. And while he’d consumed his fair share of the Antiochian oil and fuel, he’d had the good sense to engage his FIM chip, leaving him to enjoy the taste but not the effect.

When morning dawned, particularly bright as a planet with three suns could only be, the Antiochians swarmed with solicitous hands and shoving cups of what they called ‘the cure’ at every mech who hadn’t made it back to the Lost Light. Ratchet had taken one out of politeness, though he hadn’t needed it, while Megatron chugged two of them, still wobbly and out of sorts from the potent oils.

Ratchet carefully stowed one into his subspace when their hosts weren’t looking. He intended to hand it and a sample of the oils to Perceptor because a lifetime of war meant one couldn’t be too suspicious.

As Red Alert would say, “just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.”

Declining further invitations by the Antiochians to rest and recover and celebrate, Ratchet dragged Megatron back to the Lost Light, dumped the still woozy co-captain in his habsuite, and stormed up to the bridge.

Rodimus capered about, citing how excellent of an idea it was to come to Antioch, because wasn’t it nice to be welcomed for once? Ultra Magnus stood nearby, frowning severely, arms folded over his chassis. He had not partaken of any of the Antiochian delights, and as Ratchet recalled correctly, had returned to the ship last night with no less than four crewmates slung over his massive arms.

“We cannot afford to linger,” Ultra Magnus said with the kind of firm look that tended to make Rodimus wilt, albeit slowly. “And I don’t trust these Antiochians.”

“Pah. You don’t trust anyone.” Rodimus flicked a wrist, flippant. His spoiler twitched up and down. “This place is a blast. And if you ask me, it’s about time the crew had a little fun.”

Ultra Magnus sighed.

They probably would have stayed on Antioch longer, if not for Perceptor bursting onto the bridge in that moment, vocalizer running a spew of scientific gobbledygook that even Ratchet had difficult parsing, much less Rodimus. Ultra Magnus looked deeply concerned. Brainstorm, who had been in Perceptor’s wake, looked excited.

Neither of which boded well.

Something to do with chemicals and metabolic rates and exactly how the Antiochians kept themselves safe without having weapons or any means of defense? And why they were so friendly toward metallics? Something about… brood parasites?

“–and Nightbeat confirmed it,” Perceptor finished as he slapped away Brainstorm’s hand, which was inching toward the datapad in his possession. “We need to leave. Now.”

Rodimus’ optics had glazed over, but on the last statement, he’d jerked into attentiveness. “Is everyone onboard?”

“Yes. Including Megatron,” Ratchet said, an unease building deep in his tank, along with a strange and winding heat. “I checked.”

“Right then.” Rodimus clapped his hands together and spun toward the main console. “Mainframe, take us out. No one’s making a sparkling factory out of my crew.”

Never let it be said that Rodimus couldn’t see reason. He only played at the fool. Sometimes, perhaps a little too well.

A wave of queasiness swept through Ratchet. Maybe because of what he’d been able to parse from Perceptor’s explanations. Maybe because the oils and the “cure” didn’t mix well with his FIM chip. Maybe he’d picked up some kind of metallic-based virus while on Antioch.

Either way, Ratchet excused himself from the bridge and tromped back to his habsuite. He was supposed to be off-duty, frag it.

He intended to wash the lingering sourness of the Antiochian cure from his mouth, linger in the solitude of his private washrack, and then collapse face-first on his berth for a nice, long nap free of any stress and worries. Maybe he’d delay that nap to watch a movie or read a datanovel or anything that wasn’t working or worrying himself into a fit over the current state of affairs.

The weird wash of heat returned with a vengeance, strong enough to make Ratchet stumble when he was two hallways away from his hab. He frowned, confused, and kept one hand on the wall to steady himself.

A self-directed internal scan produced nothing out of the ordinary. Well, except for his slightly raised core temperature, a quickened sparkbeat, and thrumming fans. Typical indications of arousal really.

Save that Ratchet wasn’t currently engaged in any kind of interfacing and shouldn’t be aroused on even a simmering level right now.

Maybe it was some aftereffect of the Antiochian oil. He could be mildly overheated or still suffering ill-effects from what was technically an intoxicant, despite his FIM chip. A little bit of arousal wouldn’t kill him. If he didn’t feel better tomorrow, he’d perform a systems purge and that should clear it out.

That, at least, was the plan.

Ratchet lurched into his habsuite, doused some of the rising heat with the chill of the washrack solvent, and stubbornly resisted the urge to palm the pulse of need rising behind his interface panel.

It was not going away. If anything, it was getting worse. Little crackles of charge teased out of his seams. There was a fire building between his thighs. He could feel the lubricant gathering and his meshwalls swelling with excitement. His sparkrate further increased. His ventilations grew stronger.

He staggered out of the washrack and tumbled onto his medberth, pressing his thighs together in stubborn refusal. There was an itch in his lines, a feverish one. Ratchet panted, his hands curling into claws as he resisted.

This was not normal. His sensors kept pinging back everything as within safe bounds, that his frame experienced nothing less than typical arousal. But it was fake. It had to be.

The Antiochians. The rich, indulgent oils. Their insistence that the crew linger as long as they wished.

Rumors of their brood parasitic tendencies.

It was all adding up. Ratchet snarled in a mixture of irritation and revulsion. He was going to kill Rodimus for this, he decided.

That was when his door pinged. That was when it pinged twice and then a third time. That was when Ratchet rolled out of the berth and stumbled toward the door on wobbly knees, a snarl painting his lips, which were drawn back over his denta.

He snapped the door open, intending to growl out an unwelcoming “what?” but it petered into a whine when he saw Megatron. The simmering arousal raged into an inferno. He remembered all too well the ecstasy he’d experienced the two times that didn’t happen.

“Something’s wrong,” Megatron said.

Rationality and reason escaped Ratchet’s processor with a whoosh of his cooling fans. “Yeah, I know,” he said. “Get in here.”

And so Megatron came into his habsuite. Ratchet wondered if he should bother with an explanation when his hands found themselves magnetically attracted to Megatron’s hips, when he leaned in close, dragged in a deep vent, and moaned softly.

“I find myself more than a little confounded, medic,” Megatron rumbled, though his armor jittered, and his field was a chaotic tangle of need and confusion. “I thought this didn’t happen.”

“It didn’t.” Ratchet worked his intake, his processor spinning, his mouth wet with lubricant. “But it’s happening now. Those damn Antiochians have us prepped for their absurd reproduction technique.”

Megatron’s hands found Ratchet’s shoulders, big and strong as they were, and Ratchet leaned into them. “What?”

“It’s Rodimus’ quest!” Ratchet spluttered, his hands sinking into Megatron’s seams, stroking the sensitive cables beneath. Delight surged through his lines as Megatron shuddered and sank into his touch, as his plating parted of its own accord, granting Ratchet more access. “This kind of weirdness shouldn’t be shocking anymore.”

“It’s more alarming that I am getting used to it,” Megatron muttered. His burning gaze turned down on Ratchet. “You’re offering mutual assistance, I presume?”

Ratchet pressed closer, armor to armor, heat to heat. “Why? Are you waiting for an invitation?”

Megatron’s hands slid inward, thumbs gracing Ratchet’s intake, teasing the sensitive cabling there. Yet, his hands trembled, proving that he was as affected as Ratchet. What monumental restraint it must have taken him not to throw Ratchet to the floor and grind against him, like Ratchet wanted to do right at this very moment.

“Given the circumstances, yes.”

Ratchet growled and sank his fingers in against Megatron’s cables. Hard. “Frag me,” he demanded as his optics flashed, and he tugged Megatron flush against him. “As many times as it takes.”

That, apparently, was all he’d needed to say. Megatron’s optics turned the dark red hue of those meteors Rodimus was so fond of surfing, before he lifted Ratchet clear off the ground and crossed the floor in a few swift strides, right to the berth. Ratchet’s back hit the surface with a clang, his frame blanked by Megatron’s, whose field unleashed, lashing the room with the full brunt of his arousal.

Ratchet moaned into a kiss fierce with denta, his frame bucking into Megatron’s hands, his legs trying to wind around Megatron’s waist, even as Megatron tried to get his knees over Ratchet’s hips to straddle him.

Ratchet bucked up against him. “Frag me,” he hissed into the kiss, his hands hooked in Megatron’s armor, his panel already open as his valve throbbed and leaked lubricant, which trickled down his aft.

Megatron’s hands gripped his hips as he ground down against Ratchet. “I am attempting to do so,” he growled and again tangled a leg around Ratchet’s, their inefficient wrestling getting them nowhere.

A streak of damp painted Ratchet’s leg. He didn’t have to look to know that Megatron’s panel had snapped open, and like Ratchet’s, only his valve was bared. Neither of them had extended their spike.

Ratchet wondered if they couldn’t.

He snarled out of frustration and squirmed against Megatron, armor grinding and squealing together, heat building to a crescendo between them. His valve ached, all of his nodes twitching with restless need. His main node throbbed, swollen and hungry, desperate for stimulation, and each random brush of Megatron’s armor was torture.

“Give me your spike!” Ratchet demanded as he tried to worm a hand between their frames.

Megatron’s denta curled against his intake cables, but not hard enough to harm. “You first,” he retorted.

“This is ridiculous!” Ratchet spluttered and jerked his head out of reach of Megatron’s mouth, as tempting as it was. “Just spike me already.”

“No.” Megatron rutted against him, panting, a wild look in his optics that suggested he wasn’t thinking straight. And considering how much harder the Antiochian oil had affected him last night, no doubt this false lust was harder on him than on Ratchet.

He supposed he’d have to concede for once. Except that he couldn’t, because he couldn’t seem to extend his spike. Not even manually. It wasn’t that the panel wasn’t working, or that he couldn’t send the commands, they just weren’t being heeded. He suspected Megatron faced the same difficulty.

Time to get creative.

Ratchet gripped Megatron and exerted more force that most mecha knew he – and by extension – medics were capable of. He tumbled Megatron onto his back, straddled Megatron’s left leg, and had Megatron’s right draped around his waist before the warlord even know what was going on. The berth shuddered and protested beneath them, but held, even as Ratchet gripped Megatron’s right thigh and pushed it slightly back, baring Megatron’s dripping valve which was now achingly close to Ratchet’s own.

“What the frag are you doing!” Megatron demanded, only for his outrage to peter into a moan as Ratchet rolled his hips forward, the plush swollen mesh of his valve brushing over Megatron’s engorged anterior node.

“Getting creative,” Ratchet said on the edge of a pant. He rolled his hips again, thrusting against Megatron’s valve with his own. “You can’t give me your spike, and I can’t give you mine. This’ll have to do.”

Megatron gasped and reached down, one hand curling around Ratchet’s right thigh and dragging him closer, until their valves were flush together in a wet, swollen kiss. “It’s perfect,” he groaned as his free hand tangled in the berth.

Megatron arched his backstrut, rolling his hips into Ratchet’s movements, until they established a rhythm. Ratchet licked his lips, drawing vents through his mouth, as his spark thumped erratically.

There was nothing quite like valve-to-valve interfacing. The wet touch of valve lips, one to the other, the nudge and duel of swollen anterior nodes. Feeling the twitch of the other mechs outermost ring of calipers. Valve lubricants intermingling and spilling together, making for a slick mess. The sound of it, so noisy and lewd, and the sensation, similar to a glossa but less focused and firmer pressure. It was almost a tease, save that it felt so good.

Ratchet leaned forward, grinding harder against Megatron, pleasure licking up his spinal strut in heavy, heated waves. He watched as Megatron’s head tilted back, as he moaned and gasped, expressing losing the lines of strain and smoothing out into genuine pleasure. His field spilled over Ratchet’s, hot and hungry, and his frame vented heat into the room. Little sparks of charge danced over his armor, leaping against Ratchet’s own.

Ecstasy built and swelled in Ratchet’s internals, punctuated by a surge of pleasure every time their anterior nodes touched. Megatron’s hand on his thigh was heavy, strong, desperate as it pulled Ratchet against him. Their frames moved together as if they’d always known this dance. Or maybe that was the need talking.

Either way, pleasure exploded in Ratchet like a supernova, sparkles dancing in his optics. He gasped as he overloaded, hips jerking against Megatron’s, valve spilling so much lubricant it must have soaked his berth cover. His hips made several stuttered thrusts against Megatron’s who suddenly growled and tightened his grip on Ratchet’s thigh. His optics flashed as he bucked, ecstasy striping his field and a surge of charge running down his frame, grounding against Ratchet’s armor.

Their valves throbbed in tandom, pressed together in a most intimate kiss. Ratchet panted for ventilations, his processor spinning, frame thrumming with the aftereffects of a powerful overload… and a hunger that felt as though it had barely been touched.

Need still yawed inside of him. His valve clenched, desperate for something to pierce it. The one overload was not nearly enough.

Ratchet groaned. “I’m going to kill Rodimus,” he said as he sagged, coming to a reluctant conclusion.

“Later,” Megatron said before he turned the tables.

He twisted his hips in a move that Ratchet barely believed him capable of, and Ratchet’s back hit the berth, knocking a ventilation out of him. His processor spun, producing an incoherent ‘wha?’ before Megatron knelt between his legs, scooped Ratchet’s thighs over his arms, and buried his face against Ratchet’s valve.

Ratchet’s head snapped back, and his backstrut arched as Megatron latched his lips around Ratchet’s swollen nub and gave it a suck. Ratchet shouted, his hands scrabbling at Megatron’s shoulders, his hips bucking up against Megatron’s mouth. His vents roared to life, ecstasy shooting through his lines in a bolt of charge.

Megatron was fierce, determined, lips and denta and glossa making short work of examining every inch of Ratchet’s valve. He suckled on the plump folds and plunged his glossa deep, nasal ridge grinding against Ratchet’s node. His denta scraped delicately over sensitive nodes before he returned to Ratchet’s nub, pinned it between his denta, and lashed it with his glossa.

Ratchet thrashed, hands grabbing at Megatron’s head, shoving him against his valve as he ground against Megatron’s face. Coherent thought flew out the window as the ecstasy sparked and flared inside of him, his thighs trembling and his frame rattling. Pleasure consumed him, so hot it swept up everything else.

He didn’t even realize he was spewing a steady stream of dirty epithets and encouragement until sound came through the static in his audials. A montage of ‘frag’ and ‘more’ and ‘harder, rust you’ until he felt Megatron chuckle against his valve and obey, lips making lewd noises as he joyfully consumed Ratchet’s valve.

Another lash of Megatron’s glossa, followed by a sharp, squeezing pinch of denta, and overload swept Ratchet up, tossing him into a wave of bliss. He writhed on the berth, distantly aware of hearing a click and some kind of ping inside his processor, as he rode Megatron’s mouth for all it was worth.

Wrecked, he collapsed back into his body, tremors making him twitch, fans venting heat into the room at a fast pace. Megatron hummed against his valve, gave it a final lick and then crawled up Ratchet’s frame.

“You have a dirty mouth, medic,” he growled before his lips descended on Ratchet’s, tasting of heat and charge and Ratchet’s own lubricant.

Ratchet sucked on Megatron’s glossa, arousal running in jagged lines down his backstrut. His valve throbbed, still desperate. The confirmation ping reasserted itself.

Override successful. Penetrative interface unit engaged.

Sure enough, he felt the heat against his spike, and the brush of it against Megatron’s armor, each light touch sending jolts of pleasure and heat through Ratchet’s array. Lust still burned through him, as though it was a hunger nothing could sate. He clutched at Megatron’s arms and moaned into the kiss, his processor spinning and the world tilting beneath him.

He needed.

Megatron nipped his lips and chuckled. “Well, what do we have here?” he purred as he pulled back and looked between their frames, at Ratchet’s spike standing proud and eager, pre-fluid already beading at the slit.

“You know damn well what that is,” Ratchet retorted as he rolled his hips, grinding the head of his spike against Megatron’s abdomen. “And if you’re very good, I might even put it in you.”

A soft sound escaped from Megatron’s mouth, a mix of groan and whine. “Is that so?” He laughed again, more air than vocals. “I’m not so sure it can do the job.”

Outrage took the edge of the arousing need burning in his lines. “Excuse me?” Ratchet spluttered. “It seemed to do just fine last time!”

“The time that didn’t happen, you mean?” Megatron shifted and reached between their frames, dragging a finger up the length of Ratchet’s spike.

Ratchet made a strangled sound as his spike throbbed. “Do you want to get spiked or not, fragger?”

“I suppose it’ll do,” Megatron said with an aggrieved sigh that had to be feigned. He smirked down at Ratchet. “If it’s the best you have.”

The best, hm? Ratchet had a little surprise in store for Megatron, if he was going to act like that.

“Then move,” Ratchet said. “Get that aft in the air.”

Megatron laughed against Ratchet’s lips. “Such a dirty mouth,” he murmured and stole Ratchet’s lips for another scorching kiss before he drew back to obey.

Ratchet rather liked that, Megatron obeying without so much as a complaint or protest. Obedience was a good look for him. Ratchet slipped out from under Megatron and moved behind the former warlord, admiring the view. Now wasn’t the time, he knew, but he could just imagine Megatron wrapped in ropes, crimson ones, wound around his frame. Perhaps even framing this pretty valve right here.

Ratchet’s fingers grazed over Megatron’s valve lips, which were plump and hungry, lubricant painting them with an opalescent sheen. Megatron’s anterior node was swollen and bright, his biolights flickering with need. Two fingers sank into him easily, and Ratchet groaned as they were enveloped in hot, squeezing mesh, calipers rippling and trying to drag him deeper.

“This is not the time for teasing, medic,” Megatron growled as his forehead hit the berth, his fingers kneading the rumpled cover.

Ratchet smirked. “No, it’s not.” He patted Megatron’s aft and retrieved his fingers. He slipped off the berth. “I think I have something you’ll like.”

“Your spike in me is what I asked for!”

Ratchet’s smirk widened. He stumbled across the floor to his locker and input the code with fingers shaky and sticky with Megatron’s lubricant. The smell of it was dizzying, and Ratchet’s mouth lubricated.

Later, he told himself.

He rummaged around in his locker before he found what he was looking for: the special gift Wheeljack had pressed into his hands before he left with Rodimus and the Lost Light. For those lonely, lonely nights out in the middle of space when he needed a little stress relief.

Well. Perhaps little was the wrong word.

The false spike with a vast array of vibration and pumping settings could hardly be called little. It was long and thick, ribbed for pleasure, and filled every inch of Ratchet’s valve and then some when he had the patience and the time to himself to indulge.

It was also garishly painted, because Wheeljack had a sense of humor, but it filled Ratchet with fondness every time he saw the bright orange spatters mingled with bright blue and purple streaks. So he didn’t curse Wheeljack too much. At least, not aloud.

Ratchet returned to the berth, false spike in hand, and upon sight of it, Megatron burst into laughter. “What in Primus’ name is that?”

“A special treat,” Ratchet said with a wink. “You said you didn’t think my spike could do the job, didn’t you?”

“That is a monstrosity,” Megatron retorted, but his optics had gone dark with pleasure and more lubricant trickled from his valve. It visibly twitched, as if already imagining the false spike.

Ratchet chuckled and teased the tip against Megatron’s valve, playing in the gathered lubricant and applying pressure to Megatron’s node. “Are you saying you don’t want to play with it then?” he asked, pretending innocence, even as he briefly flicked the vibration setting on and off, sending a buzz against Megatron’s array.

A strangled groan was Megatron’s reply. The berth creaked as he rocked back against the toy, his hands tangling in the berth covers.

“I could always take it away,” Ratchet added, with perhaps a touch more devilish glee. He flicked the vibrations on and off again, as he nudged the head of the spike inside Megatron’s valve, only to remove it just as quickly.

“Frag you!” Megatron hissed as his optics burned at Ratchet, alight with the fire of his need. “Shove that spike in me or so help me I will–”

Whatever he planned to say choked off on a moan as Ratchet slipped the toy into Megatron’s valve, the way eased by copious lubricant, and thrust into him agonizingly slow. So slow he could feel every ridge, every bump, as it filled his valve and stretched his calipers and finally, ground against his ceiling node.

Megatron gasped, his hips squirmed. His elbows buckled and he sank down, aft up in the air, pushing back toward the toy. His engine growled as he kneaded the berth, lubricant painting the back of his thighs and his aft, his biolights bright and pulsing.

Ratchet licked his lips, ground the toy just a tad deeper, and then flicked on the vibration to its lowest setting. The quiet hum was barely audible over the roar of Megatron’s vents. His lower half wriggled as he moaned, thrusting back against the toy as Ratchet set up a rhythm, grinding it deep each time.

“Not so horrible now, is it?” Ratchet taunted. His spike throbbed, and he dropped his free hand to his array, giving it a squeeze. Pleasure lanced through him. He groaned.

He wanted to frag Megatron. The way his valve lips swelled. The sweet, heady scent of lubricant. How he squirmed and groaned. Ratchet wanted to grab him by the hips, pound Megatron’s aft, and spill himself deep.

The mere thought of it made Ratchet’s spike throb harder. He groaned as he stroked himself, fisting his spike with abandon.

Megatron moaned and his hips swayed as he eagerly clenched on the spike. “You should… make use of that,” he growled.

“Of what?” Ratchet asked.

“Your spike.” Megatron shoved himself up onto his elbows and directed a glare over his shoulder. “Frag me.”

“And here I thought you were enjoying my toy.” Ratchet moved closer, rolling his hips so that his spike brushed over the back of Megatron’s thighs. He increased the strength of the vibrations.

Megatron visibly shivered. His hands kneaded at the berth. “I am.” He panted, optics glazed over, and then there was a click.

Ratchet’s optics widened, lust like lightning in his lines, as Megatron’s aft port cycled open. The smaller opening clenched hungrily, and Ratchet’s ventilations quickened. He never thought, in a thousand centuries, that he’d ever find himself with the opportunity to frag Megatron’s aft.

Literally.

“You’re sure?” Ratchet asked, even as he spread pre-fluid over his spike, and gathered up some of Megatron’s lubricant, smearing it around and over Megatron’s aft port. His hands shook from anticipation.

“Wouldn’t have offered if I wasn’t.” Megatron’s forehead pressed into the berth again, his aft canted up in offering.

Oh, Primus.

Ratchet flicked the switch to notch the vibrating toy into place and activated the pumping action, keeping it on the lowest setting so he’d have both hands free. He shuffled closer on his knees, his hand steadying Megatron’s hip as the other guided his spike to that tiny port.

Well, tiny in comparison to Megatron’s valve, but perfect for Ratchet’s spike, he realized with a groan. There was resistance at first, the tiniest bit, before the head of Ratchet’s spike popped inside, and he sank into snug, rippling heat. Ratchet moaned as he pushed deeper and deeper, charge nipping his spike, the increased roar of Megatron’s engines vibrating them both. Even better that he could feel the pump and vibration of the toy filling Megatron’s valve as it carried through Megatron’s array.

Ratchet moaned and gripped Megatron’s hips. He panted, half-curled around Megatron’s lower half, his spike throbbing incessantly and the grip of Megatron’s aft making him see stars. He couldn’t quite thrust, the sensation too strong and arousing. He lingered for a moment, enjoying the squeeze and heat as he leaned over Megatron.

“Do something, medic!” Megatron growled as he bucked up against Ratchet.

Damn, impatient fragger.

Ratchet snarled and tightened his grip. He rose up on wobbly knees and started to thrust, slow at first, but gaining in speed with each subsequent push. Megatron’s frame opened to him, hot and welcoming, until Megatron shoved back against him needily, the crown of his head pressed into the berth.

“Harder!” Megatron demanded as his fingers tangled in the covers, and his plating flared, and his field stirred Ratchet’s into a frenzy. “Harder if you even think you can, old mech.”

The goads shot Ratchet’s arousal into new heights. And the sounds, Primus the sounds Megatron made. Little gasps and groans, whimpers buried in the rumbles of his engine, the copious trickles of lubricant, the revving of his engine. Megatron made a noise, like a keen, and his field flashed. His aft rippled around Ratchet’s spike as his rocking increased in earnest, and only then did Ratchet realize Megatron had overloaded.

There wasn’t a moment, however, where Megatron stopped moving. He kept shoving back against Ratchet, demanding more with his frame and his voice, lips spilling filthy challenges. Demanding that Ratchet frag him harder, make him feel it, mark him, fill him with transfluid, while the toy buzzed and danced and charge crackled blindingly over Megatron’s armor.

Ratchet groaned and sank deep into Megatron, hips making little stuttered jerks and circles, as overload swept over him. Pleasure sparked through him, stole his energy. His knees wobbled. His vents panted. His processor spun. He clutched at Megatron’s hips, emptying transfluid into Megatron’s aft with spurt after spurt.

Heat still raged through his lines in an inferno.

His world turned upside down, as Megatron seemed so fond of doing, and Ratchet had a moment of confusion as his spike slipped free of the snug place it had enjoyed. His back hit the berth, Megatron’s hands grabbed his hips, and then Megatron’s spike plunged into his valve in one fell swoop, lighting up every node along the way and making them sing.

Ratchet gasped, backstrut arching. He scrabbled at Megatron’s hands as the former warlord setting up a driving pace, shoving Ratchet into the berth. There was a low buzz on the edge of his senses. A buzz…

“Wait, the toy. Let me–”

“Leave it,” Megatron growled, his optics as dark and hungry as embers as he plunged into Ratchet, again and again.

Just the thought of that toy filling Megatron while he fragged Ratchet was enough to send Ratchet’s arousal soaring. Every overload felt like a sip of energon when he were starving, like wetting his glossa but not sating his hunger. He wanted and needed more.

Ratchet snarled, grabbed Megatron’s arms, and tightened his legs around Megatron’s hips. He rose up to meet each thrust, valve greedily clenching on Megatron’s spike and feeding charge into Megatron’s node receptors. The berth creaked and rattled beneath them as they fragged hard and fast, like the world was going to end tomorrow and this was all they had left.

The world narrowed down to nothing but this, the thick spike filling him, the eager clutch of his calipers, the heavy frame pressing him down, the charge that licked across his frame and snapped against Megatron’s. The clench of Megatron’s denta, the flash of fire in his optics, the need so blatant in his field which had become thoroughly tangled in Ratchet’s own. If he wasn’t so lust-drunk, he might have been able to read something of Megatron, secrets the once-warlord kept hidden. Right now, there was nothing but a deep craving.

Ratchet reached up and grabbed Megatron by the back of his head. He pulled Megatron’s mouth to his, though it was less kiss than a battle of glossa and denta. Their ex-vents intermingled, hot and humid. They rocked together, armor making a racket, the berth shuddering. Ratchet’s thighs tightened.

Megatron shoved deep, grinding hard, and then Ratchet felt the hot splatter of transfluid washing over his internal nodes. He shuddered, panting into the kiss, as the heat sent him into an overload of his own, his valve squeezing down tight on Megatron’s spike. The kiss never once softened, not even as the overload tremors eased, but the lust remained, and the need as well.

Like Ratchet’s, Megatron’s spike was still firm. It lingered in Ratchet’s valve, teasing his excited nodes, re-invigorating his arousal.

“It’s never going to end,” Ratchet groaned and he wasn’t sure if it was exasperation or delight at this point. He still felt charged, like he hadn’t had three overloads and there was enough energy inside him for a dozen more.

Megatron chuckled. “Can’t you keep up, medic? Or are you getting too old for this?”

“Frag you,” Ratchet retorted, though with less heat than he would have liked. “I’ll show you what I can still do. Roll over.”

Megatron smirked and slipped out of Ratchet, obeying as he had before. There was always something impertinent in his obedience, but hungry, too. Like the submission was something he wanted, but was afraid to admit.

Ratchet would never state aloud how much it ramped his charge. The idea of suborning Megatron to his will, not because he was a former warlord, but because he was big and strong and hungry, filled Ratchet with lust.

He slid between Megatron’s legs and slipped his hands under Megatron’s knees as Megatron relaxed into the berth. A king on his throne. The toy still peeked from his valve, the bright orange end an odd juxtaposition to the grays and reds of Megatron’s armor. It buzzed along, on the softest speed, yet Megatron didn’t seem to mind the constant stimulation.

“Let’s see how flexible you really are,” Ratchet said as he started to urge Megatron’s knees back toward his chassis, as Ratchet shuffled forward.

Megatron smirked. “I can handle anything.”

“Of course you can.” Ratchet laughed and eased Megatron’s legs further back, until his knees were nearly touching his chassis, before he pushed them out a bit, completely baring his aft port, valve, and spike.

“I take it the rumors of your experience are true?” Megatron said with an arched orbital ridge. His frame trembled as his valve visibly clenched around the end of the toy.

“You have no idea.” Ratchet smirked and moved until he straddled Megatron’s aft, his valve lining up perfectly with Megatron’s, so that their main nodes touched and the vibrations of the toy pleasured Ratchet as well. He sank down, grinding against Megatron’s valve, a bolt of ecstasy rattling through his lines.

Megatron, too, gasped, his optics flaring in surprise. His knees twitched in Ratchet’s grip, even more so when Ratchet leaned forward, as if he were thrusting into Megatron, and rocked their hips together, valves in delicious contact.

Megatron purred. “So I see.” He slipped his hands between their frames. “But I have a few tricks as well.” He grasped their spikes and pressed them together, squeezing them with his huge hands.

Ratchet’s head hung as he groaned. His knees wobbled, and his rhythm briefly stuttered before he found it again. Megatron stroked them together, throbbing metal to throbbing metal, as the pleated folds of their valves kissed. The vibrations of the toy rattled against the exterior of Ratchet’s valve, stimulating his anterior node.

“It’s a… good trick,” Ratchet panted as he rocked against Megatron, grinding their arrays together and pumping his spike into Megatron’s grip. The feel of Megatron’s spike against his, heated and throbbing, was an extra burst of eroticism.

Megatron chuckled, but it was breathless and distracted. He rolled up to meet Ratchet’s thrusts as best he could, their combined pre-fluid making his strokes slick and sweet. He gnawed on his lips, his backstrut arched, his field vibrating with pleasure.

Every nudge of their anterior nodes made Ratchet quiver. His backstrut licked with lightning. He groaned, head hanging, mouth open for desperate draughts of cooler air which were nowhere to be found. Ecstasy hovered in the wings, matching the beat of Ratchet’s sparks and the rhythm of their frames.

In the end, he wasn’t sure which of them succumbed first, he or Megatron. It was a blur of heat and wet, transfluid painting Megatron’s fingers and lubricant slicking their arrays. Megatron groaned and pawed at Ratchet with transfluid-sticky fingers and Ratchet’s balance abandoned him as he toppled forward on top of Megatron, scrabbling up to pull their mouths together.

Their limbs tangled. The scent of scorched circuits and hot metal and spent transfluid and lubricant soaked the air until it was dizzying. The noise of frames coming together, sliding and impacting, rang in Ratchet’s audials.

Ratchet groaned, his engine revving. He wanted, no, needed more. More overloads, more ecstasy, more to sate the hunger inside of him, the slick rippling of his valve, the desperate throb of his spike. Megatron’s roaming, gripping hands reflected the same urgency, the same driving need. If it bothered him, Megatron didn’t say so. Instead, he rocked with Ratchet, ground against him, wordlessly asking for more with lips and denta and fingers.

Ratchet obliged because he wanted it, too. His processor spun and the world blurred into sensations: hot and wet and smooth and soft and pleasure, pleasure, pleasure until it seemed to take over all the rest.

It was going to be a long, long night.

~

Everything hurt. Ached like it hadn’t since he’d woken from a night celebrating his graduation from the medical academy with the highest honors, and had partied until long past sunrise with five of his closest friends. Engex, candies, and the kind of creative interfacing that only a half-dozen medics could think of.

That had been a good night, but the morning, or late afternoon rather, had been rough. Stiff and sore and aching everywhere, but in a good way, depleted of all of his fluids, vocals a rough rasp, frame marked with lubricant and transfluid and so many paint transfers on his frame he looked like a hot mess.

At the time, he’d wondered if Wrench had slipped a little something extra into their engex, to extend the fun.

Ratchet felt a lot like that now. Exhausted. Sore. Wrung out. Needing to replenish all his fluids, but energon and coolant especially. The consuming heat had faded, leaving him only with the soft warmth of another frame flush with his. He ached, but felt satisfied, and like he could recharge for another few days, if allowed.

At some point, the evening had become a blur of overloads and fluids and hands and valves and spikes. He vaguely remembered the press of Megatron’s body on top of his, a languid pace as Megatron thrust into him and fingered his aft port at the same time and Ratchet spilling transfluid all over the berth as he overloaded. He remembered swallowing Megatron’s spike as Megatron writhed on the toy, which had been increased to the strongest vibrations at some point. There had been grappling and rolling around, their frames pressed together, arching against each other, armor scraping.

He’d ridden Megatron’s spike more than once. He’d bent down and licked his own transfluid from Megatron’s aft while Megatron swallowed his spike. Ratchet had taken Megatron’s aft again while Megatron sucked on his fingers, mouth wicked and optics dark. At some point, he’d taken out the toy and fragged Megatron with four fingers, his promise to fist Megatron at some point dragging another overload out of Megatron.

No wonder he ached. It had been a night of debauchery unlike anything Ratchet had experienced in centuries. Everything tasted and smelled and felt of interfacing.

Ratchet probably should move. He didn’t know if he could. He didn’t have the energy. There was a heavy weight on top of him, a head pillowed on his shoulder, a heavier arm and leg draped over his frame. Megatron’s field was thoroughly entangled with his as well, which was something Ratchet could have never anticipated either.

And then Megatron’s optics unshuttered, and Ratchet lost his chance to sneak away before the uncomfortable morning after needed to be addressed.

Megatron stared at him for a long moment, as though trying to see who was going to make the first move. Ratchet decided to bite the bullet

Megatron chuckled, vocals rough and grated, vibrating down Ratchet’s spinal strut, though he didn’t have the energy for lust to stir. “Is this the part where you tell me it’s never happening again?”

Ratchet snorted. “I think that ship has left port.” He tried to move and his entire frame creaked. It wasn’t even Megatron’s weight that kept him immobile. “I can’t move.”

“Neither can I.” Megatron made an aborted attempt to lift his arm, but all it did was slide a little over Ratchet’s abdomen.

“Frag.”

“I believe we both did that last night. Multiple times.”

Ratchet rolled his optics. “You’re not funny.”

Megatron’s ex-vents teased against Ratchet’s intake. “Actually, I think I’m hilarious.”

If Ratchet could move, he’d hide behind his palm right now. As it was, all he could do was sigh. “This is all Rodimus’ fault.”

Megatron’s smirk was positively obscene. “Remind me to thank him later.”

Ratchet sank into the berth, surrendering to the pull of comfort and to the demands of his frame. If he was going to be stuck here, he might as well enjoy it. “This–”

“–doesn’t happen again?”

“No, you aft, I was going to say this is a bad idea,” Ratchet snapped, and made himself ignore the twinge of guilt radiating through his spark. He shuttered his optics and cycled a ventilation. “As was joining this quest so apparently, I’m full of them.”

Megatron laughed, soft and genuine. “Being that I didn’t have a choice in the matter, I find your comparison of the two strangely apt.”

Ratchet snorted. “Does that mean you’re trying to figure out how you can escape? Or that I’m as appealing as fool’s energon?”

“If you were so foul, I would not be here, medic,” Megatron growled snappishly. He twitched on the berth, moving his leg a few inches but not fully off Ratchet.

One optic onlined to direct a glare at Megatron. “What a stirring compliment. And here I thought you were supposed to be some kind of poet.”

“You want me to wax lyrical about your skills in the berth? I’m sure that one will be a hit at Swerve’s later this evening. If I can find the strength to move from this spot,” Megatron said dryly. Humor lurked in his tone.

Ratchet abruptly got a mental image of Megatron standing in front of a crowd at the bar and reading a dirty limerick with a completely straight face, while the rest of the patrons looked on in a mixture of horror and confused arousal. The image was so clear, so absurd, that Ratchet burst into laughter, and then he couldn’t stop. Because everything about this was ridiculous, from the quest down to what had happened in this berth last night, and somehow, it was all fitting.

“If you do, please record it,” Ratchet managed to gasp out as the laughter started to subside, but the humor lingered.

“I’ll keep a private copy, just for you.” Megatron shifted on the berth, not managing to put much distance between them. “So then, medic, what now?”

In other words, where did they go from here? Their fields were still intertwined, though Ratchet couldn’t read anything from Megatron’s, save the distant echoes of agitation, resignation, and a touch of shame.

Ratchet sighed, flopped himself into a side curl and pressed back against Megatron. “Now we go back to recharge because I’m too tired to deal with this slag right now.”

He felt the rumbles of Megatron’s laugh against his backstrut. “Works for me.” His hand draped over Ratchet’s side.

The most surprising was how unthreatened Ratchet felt. His defense protocols should have been screaming at him. This was Megatron after all, the mech responsible for millions of deaths and destruction, and everything Ratchet hated.

The universe was a complicated place now, Ratchet admitted to himself. And people were complicated things. Or maybe he was just too tired to think about this rationally.

So he offlined his optics and prepared to slip back into recharge. He made a mental note to contact someone who could both keep their mouth shut and be willing to bring he and Megatron the necessary fluids before they slipped into stasis for lack of coolant.

His life had become really strange. Or maybe it had always been. Ratchet didn’t know anymore. He just knew this was the beginning of something he couldn’t name.

[G1] Behind the Scenes 09

They quickly learned that playing cards with Prowl was not fun. It wasn’t that he tried to cheat, it was that he did the math in his head before he consciously made the decision to do so, and then the answers were there, right in front of him, impossible to resist.

Card games and anything like them were quickly handed over to others to enjoy. Smokescreen was particularly fond of Phase 10. It made for a rousing betting game apparently.

Which left board games. Things that didn’t rely on math, but absolute luck and nothing less. Prowl was less good at lucky games. Which meant he didn’t win one-hundred percent of the time.

Tonight’s choice was Monopoly – scaled up for Cybertronians and a gift from their human companions, who had been quite proud to present the game to the Autobots as a whole. Hoist and Grapple were quick to duplicate the efforts once the squabbling over whose turn it was began, and now there were enough sets to share.

(They also quickly learned that Scrabble was not a fun game to play with Prowl either. While none of them were idiots, Prowl’s ability to absorb and regurgitate ridiculously complicated words was, to be frank, unfair. Again, he didn’t cheat, and they never had to quibble over whether that ridiculous word made of all consonants was actually a word, – because it always was. It was simply Prowl’s way.)

Monopoly was an easy game that required little to no concentration. Which was a good thing, because Bluestreak couldn’t focus on it to save his spark. He was vaguely aware that he had all of the horses – altmodes to be more specific. And he knew Ironhide’s side of the board was a treacherous place to be.

But most of his attention was on Prowl. Stolen glances and outright staring because Prowl was putting on a show, subtle as it might be, and Bluestreak’s libido had stood up to take notice.

Ratchet leaned back, smirking, seemingly heedless of the suffering of his mate. But Bluestreak knew that Ratchet was paying twice as much attention as anyone else. He caught every ventilation stutter, hitched breath, plate tremble, and barely audible moan.

Ratchet was a maestro.

Bluestreak admired him greatly.

“Prowl,” Ratchet said as he scooped up the dice and gave them a roll, “Drink your energon.”

“Yes, Ratchet.” Prowl’s hand visibly trembled as he reached for the weak engex, not enough to overcharge, but just enough to pool in his tanks, warm and fizzy.

Prowl sipped, intake bobbing. A tremor raced across his frame. He squirmed in his seat, and if one listened closely, they could hear the telltale hum and whirr of vibrators working their magic.

Prowl’s cooling fans whirred quietly. Heat wafted from his frame, and his field was drenched in lust. He’d long foregone containing it, and with every beat of it, Bluestreak’s own internals tightened and tightened.

“Seven!” Ratchet declared and the click-click-click of him moving his miniature wrench was barely audible over Prowl’s fans. “Well, frag it. Why do I always end up in the brig?”

“Because you’re a nuisance and a menace?” Ironhide teased with a rumbling laugh. He snatched the dice from Ratchet, but his gaze kept slanting toward Prowl. “Keeping you in the brig is the only way to keep ya outta trouble.”

Ratchet snorted. “You’re such a charmer, Ironhide.” He planted his elbow on the table, propping his chin on his hand. “Are you going to roll anytime soon?”

“I’m getting to it. Hold yer horses.” The dice clattered across the table.

Bluestreak ignored them. He was too busy watching Prowl as he took another sip of the engex before setting it down with uneasy fingers. Prowl’s intake worked, his doorwings shivering. He fidgeted in his chair, his cheeks flushed. He shuffled the cards indicating the property he’d purchased. He nibbled on his bottom lip. His gaze wandered to Ratchet, bright and yearning. A shiver ran across his armor.

Bluestreak startled as something nudged against his arm.

“Here kid, your turn,” Ironhide said, smirking as he handed over the dice.

“Oh, really?” Bluestreak made himself peer at the board, but Ironhide’s little matrix replica was nowhere near Bluestreak’s properties. “You’re always so lucky, ‘Hide. How do you manage to avoid every owned property every time?”

Ironhide laughed and wriggled his fingers. “I’ve got charmed hands.”

Ratchet snorted.

Prowl moaned.

Bluestreak’s doorwings went high and taut, arousal spinning tight in his belly. He and Ironhide both snapped their attention to Prowl, who was listing in his seat, lips parted, optics a little glazed. He had his hands braced on the table, and his headlights were faintly flickering.

Ratchet, the devil, grinned and leaned in close to his mate. “Everything all right, love?” he all but cooed, hand easing over to slide down Prowl’s arm and tickle over his wrist.

Prowl cycled his optics and drew in a long, shuddery ventilation. “I’m… well,” he managed, after a noticeable pause, and fidgeted in his chair once more.

“You’re sure?” Ratchet squeezed Prowl’s hand and then leaned back, his hand disappearing below the table, presumably to rest on Prowl’s thigh.

Prowl visibly swallowed. “Yes, Ratchet.” His glossa swept over his lips and his armor juttered, lifting away from his substructure. He leaned in closer to Ratchet, hands still flat on the table.

“So long as you’re sure,” Ratchet purred and shifted his attention to Bluestreak. “Well, you gonna roll or not?”

As if he could concentrate on the game right now.

Next to Bluestreak, Ironhide snickered. “You a little distracted, Baby Blue?”

Bluestreak rolled his optics. “It’s not like I’m the only one.” But he rolled a three and moved his miniature tank – not the sniper gun this time, hah! – to the free space. “And my good luck prevails!”

Utter glee filled him as he scooped up the central pot and added it to his funds. Ironhide groaned. Ratchet snickered.

“That’s the only luck you ever have, Blue. You always land there, right after I’ve paid taxes three times over,” Ratchet said, one hand still hidden beneath the table.

Prowl made a muffled noise. His fingers curled against the tabletop.

“I am never goin’ ta win,” Ironhide groaned.

Bluestreak grinned. “There are different kinds of winning,” he said with a smirk and a long, slow pan down Ironhide’s frame. Then he turned his attention to Prowl, holding out the dice. “Your turn.”

Prowl looked at him, shaky, his optics bright and burning. “T-thank you, Bluestreak,” he said, and accepted the dice. He licked his lips, and he rolled.

Two. Doubles. Click-click went the tiny datapad across the board, wherein Prowl landed upon one of his own properties. Ratchet scooped up the dice with his free hand and dropped them into Prowl’s palm with a wink.

“Roll again, love,” he said. “And drink your energon.”

Prowl’s intake visibly bobbed. “Yes, Ratchet,” he said, vocals husky, another ripple dancing over his armor, his doorwings wriggling.

He rolled again, sliding into Ironhide’s danger zone, and forked over rent to the grinning weapon’s master. He drank his energon, and squirmed in his chair, a hot and heavy ex-vent making his optics glaze over.

Primus.

Bluestreak’s internals wound tighter and tighter. “So,” he said, and had to reboot his vocalizer because it spat static at him. “So, uh, what kind of accessories do you have today, Prowl?”

Prowl’s optics lifted toward him, a little focused. “A-accessories?”

Ratchet laughed and leaned back, the twitch of his shoulder suggesting his hand was doing something untoward to Prowl beneath the table. Bluestreak wished he could see, though Prowl’s reactions were fuel for the imagination.

“How did I dress you up today, love?” Ratchet clarified with a wink. He did something and a low moan escaped Prowl, his chin drifting downward. “Go on. Tell our guests what gifts I gave you.”

Pink stained Prowl’s cheeks. He visibly squirmed. His gaze slanted toward Ratchet, but Ratchet only nodded and waved for him to continue.

The order was given.

Bluestreak watched, enraptured.

Prowl cycled a ventilation and affected the most no-nonsense tone Bluestreak had ever heard. “There is a plug in my port,” he said, voice unwavering. “And a false spike in my valve. There is also a plug in my spike housing, which vibrates on command.”

Stuffed full then. Primus.

Bluestreak licked his lips. “Your spike housing,” he repeated, and tried to imagine it, his own hips squirming at the thought.

Prowl nodded. “Yes. The sensation is quite pleasant.”

Ratchet snorted. “Pleasant,” he echoed and his smirk widened to a ridiculous degree. “Prowl, you are adorable. Please don’t ever change.” He leaned over and plucked the dice from Prowl’s hand. “My turn!”

He rolled with an almost absurd glee, humming a little subvocally, one of the humans’ popular songs that Jazz liked to blast at full volume as he bebopped down the corridors.

“No doubles,” Ratchet observed with a theatrical sigh. “Drat. Guess I’m stuck in the brig still.” He leaned in close to Prowl, lips brushing over his partner’s shoulder. “Unless I can get out on good behavior?”

Prowl visibly shivered, his field going flush with heat. His doorwings shivered as he shuffled his cards again, an act that betrayed his aroused agitation.

Ironhide snorted. “Frag that. You stay where you belong, medic.”

Ratchet laughed and nuzzled Prowl’s shoulder again. “You’re such a stickler for the rules, Ironhide,” he said, but his gaze was on Prowl alone, something sharp and devilish in his gaze.

Whatever he did beneath the table, that Bluestreak couldn’t see, must have been good, because Prowl jerked. His ventilations caught, and his armor visibly ruffled. The property cards fluttered to the table as he abruptly gripped the edge. A low whine built in Prowl’s throat, audible to them all. He looked at Ratchet, casting him a glance full of longing.

“Ratchet,” he said, drawing out the syllables, a yearning in his tone.

A smile slowly stretching his lips, Ratchet bent his full attention upon his trembling mate. “Yes, love?” Their faces were inches apart as Ratchet looked up at him.

Prowl’s intake bobbed. His wings trembled. “Please.”

“All you had to do was ask,” Ratchet purred and he crooked a finger from his free hand at Prowl. “Come here, love. Allow me to help you with that.”

The chair groaned as it was shoved backward. Prowl all but lurched out of it, and tumbled into Ratchet’s embrace, for a moment allowing them a glimpse of the lubricant glistening on his thighs, despite his closed panels. Prowl made as if to sit in Ratchet’s lap, but Ratchet guided him otherwise, until he straddled one of Ratchet’s thighs, his own clamped tightly about it.

Prowl shivered, his hands pawing at mid-air before Ratchet took them and placed them on Prowl’s thighs. He curled an arm around Prowl’s waist, tugged him closer, and left it there, keeping Prowl close.

“There,” Ratchet said, as if he’d accomplished some great task. “Now, Ironhide, isn’t it your turn?”

“Uh…” Ironhide’s gaze was locked on Prowl’s squirming frame and shivering doorwings.

Bluestreak couldn’t blame him. Prowl made quite the fetching picture, trapped on the edge as he had to be. All Bluestreak could see was his back, his doorwings, the curve of his aft, and the subtle shifting of his hips, as he rocked himself on Ratchet’s thighs.

“What’s a matter?” Ratchet smirked. “Tactician got your tongue?”

Ironhide grunted at him, but made no attempt to hide how avidly he watched Prowl. “You know damn well yer puttin’ on a show, Ratch. What else am I supposed to do but watch?”

“Actually, to be fair, Prowl’s the one doing all the hard work,” Bluestreak pointed out, as Prowl’s rocking motions increased in urgency, and the wet slide of metal on metal became more audible.

Prowl’s hands lifted again, hanging in the air, as though he couldn’t decide what he wanted to do with them. Ratchet’s free hand tapped them, and Prowl lowered them again, resting on his knees.

“I could use a little recognition, too,” Ratchet said as Ironhide finally snatched the dice and hastily rolled them, sloppy as he moved his piece onto one of his own properties, narrowly avoiding a Chance card. “This is all my plotting, after all.”

Ironhide tumbled the dice into Bluestreak’s hands. “Give me a reason to bend Blue here over the table, and I’ll applaud for you all ya want.”

“Hey! Who says I’m the one who’s gonna be bent over?” Bluestreak retorted, though his engine gave a little rev at the thought. It wouldn’t happen, at least not here in Ratchet and Prowl’s quarters. But later maybe?

Yes, he wouldn’t mind at all if Ironhide bent him over the nearest flat surface and fragged him silly. Ironhide’s big, strong hands on his hips, holding him down, pounding into him, fragging him nice and deep, grinding on his ceiling node…

Bluestreak shivered. No, he wouldn’t mind at all. He just resented the implication, no matter how slight, that it was what he wanted by default.

“Because I said so,” Ironhide said.

Bluestreak rolled his optics and rolled the dice, too, letting them clatter across the board. He passed over Go, collected his creds, and settled in for a nice wait on the Crystal Gardens, hoping a very blissed out Prowl wouldn’t notice that Bluestreak was occupying his property.

He didn’t. All Prowl did was shudder, hips moving more urgently, the rasp-slide of metal on metal barely audible over their conversation. But Bluestreak could lean a little to his left, look under the table, and see the lubricant glistening on Ratchet’s thigh. Prowl’s fingers kneaded at his own knees, his engine revving in rolling growls. Ratchet kept a hand on Prowl’s backstrut, just below his doorwing mounts, and seemed to be ignoring Prowl’s current state for all the attention he paid to it.

Restraint of duryllium, that one had.

“It’s okay, Bluestreak,” Ratchet said graciously and with a wink at Ironhide. “We’ll figure out how to get old Ironhide here on his knees soon enough.”

“Pah, I ain’t one of yer toys.” Ironhide gave Bluestreak a calculating look. “Though mebbe we do need ta find ya one of yer own.”

Bluestreak waved dismissively. “Isn’t it Prowl’s turn?” he asked, desperate to change the subject. The last thing he needed was to ignite a gleam of matchmaking in Ironhide.

Ratchet snickered. “Well, love, it is your turn.” He scooped up the dice and offered them to Prowl. “Don’t you want to roll?”

Doorwings shivered. A low whine rose in Prowl’s intake. “I… I forfeit,” he said, vocals ripe with static.

It was so much easier to win against Prowl when Ratchet was there to bend the luck in their favor.

“Very well,” Ratchet said. “Though I suppose that means all of your properties are now mine. Being as you are, too.”

Prowl groaned and his head dipped forward, his vents coming in a sharp burst.

“That is not fair,” Ironhide grunted.

“We’re getting a free show out of it. Hush,” Bluestreak retorted and ducked the teasing swat Ironhide sent his way, though he left his doorwings in range on purpose, as Ironhide grabbed the edge of one and dragged his fingers along the length.

Heat and charge licked up Bluestreak’s backstrut. He swallowed down a moan. Maybe he really would get Ironhide to bend him over a table after this…

Ratchet grinned. “Nothing in life is fair,” he said as he rolled the dice and watched them clatter across the gameboard.

Doubles! At last he was free from the brig, only to land on the unclaimed Tagan Heights.

Prowl, meanwhile, trembled harder and his field flashed through the room, carrying with it the heat of need. Bluestreak shivered again, and inspiration struck.

“Ratchet?”

“Yes?” the medic asked, oh so innocent as he contemplated his game piece as though it held the secret to chronic rust.

Bluestreak licked his lips. “Any chance we might see your pretty’s accessories tonight?”

Ratchet nodded to himself. “No, I don’t think I’ll buy Tagan Heights this time around,” he said, before he looked up at Bluestreak and grinned. “And of course! Why, all you had to do was ask, Baby Blue.”

He groaned. “I hate that nickname, you know.”

“No, ya don’t.” Ironhide laughed and nudged Bluestreak with his shoulder. “Ya love how much it confuses mechs cause they expect one thing and experience an entirely different thing.”

Well, Ironhide had him there.

Meanwhile, Ratchet had taken Prowl’s chin in hand, tugging Prowl’s face up toward his, a soft moan leaving Prowl’s lips. His optics were dim, this much Bluestreak could see, and there was something unfocused in his expression.

“Well, love, up for a little show and tell?” Ratchet asked, his tone dark and sultry as he stroked his lover’s face.

Prowl leaned in to the caress, another moan slipping free. “Yes, Ratchet,” he said, vocals shaky, his doorwings shivering and drooping, though not with discomfort. It seemed he just didn’t have the strength to keep them up in their usual high and severe configuration.

“Such a lovely mate you are,” Ratchet cooed and leaned in, brushing his lips over Prowl’s in the softest of kisses, and brief at that. When he leaned back, Prowl followed after him, a whimper of disappointment in his wake.

Bluestreak almost echoed him. There was something wholly intoxicating about the sight of Prowl like this, open and wanting, uninhibited, his entire focus on the pleasure Ratchet offered him, rather then the dregs and vagaries of war.

“Up you get, love,” Ratchet added with a pat to Prowl’s aft before he eyed the table intently. “Bluestreak. Ironhide. Mind clearing us a spot on the table?”

They sprang into action, and Bluestreak giggled, because the rate at which they swept the game’s pieces into the board was utterly ridiculous and made quite the mess. One that would make Prowl frown and twitch over later. Who won? No one won. No one ever won. It was impossible to play a game of Monopoly and actually have a winner.

Ratchet chuckled. “Much appreciated,” he said, he and Prowl both on their feet now, though Ratchet guided Prowl backward toward the table, pushing him onto it with a little nudge.

Prowl hefted his aft on the edge and lay back, flicking his doorwings to lay flat beneath him. His knees still hung over the edge, and they slid apart with a nudge from Ratchet, who dropped back into his chair and scooted between them, now at the perfect height to nuzzle Prowl’s panels with a cheek.

“Mm, my favorite meal,” Ratchet purred as he dragged his fingertips over each of Prowl’s panels – spike, valve, and port – making Prowl shiver and his hands curl into fists. His hands smoothed down Prowl’s thighs and curled around his knees, pushing them further open.

Bluestreak eased around the table, if only to get a better look, and didn’t fail to notice Ironhide mimicking him, only on the other side.

“Ratchet,” Prowl moaned, his fingers scraping at the table, but other than that, he didn’t try to touch himself, though his hips surged toward Ratchet’s fingers.

Ratchet chuckled. “Yes, I know, love.” He looked up at Bluestreak, his fingers circling Prowl’s spike panel. “Open for me.”

Prowl’s panel spiraled open so fast, Bluestreak worried Ratchet’s fingers lost a few paint layers. And rather than see the head of Prowl’s spike, Bluestreak spotted the blunt end of some kind of interfacing toy, in a very bright blue, and glittery to boot. It was vibrating, that much Bluestreak could tell, and fluid seeped out from around it – lubricant or pre-transfluid, Bluestreak wasn’t sure.

Ironhide made a strangled sound, and Bluestreak didn’t know if it was awe or trepidation, as if he couldn’t fathom one such plug himself. But Bluestreak certainly could. His own spike throbbed at the thought, of both experiencing it for himself, and playing with his own pretty in such a way. Should he ever find one, at any rate.

Ratchet lifted a single finger and pressed it to the visible end of the blue object. He exerted a light pressure, and Prowl moaned, his backstrut arching off the table, his hips squirming. Lubricant seeped around it in an audible squelch.

“This,” Ratchet said, conversationally, “is the spike housing plug. It’s been custom-made for Prowl, to be half the length of his spike and the same diameter when pressurized.” He looked at Bluestreak, his tone taking on one of teaching. “All spike plugs should be custom-made unless your pretty is a masochist who doesn’t mind a painful fit.”

Bluestreak swallowed thickly. “Noted,” he said, ventilations shallow and uneven.

“Primus, Ratch. Please tell me yer not gonna drag this out with lessons,” Ironhide groaned.

Ratchet chuckled and nudged the spike plug again, making Prowl twitch, his hands creaking as they pulled into fists. “Not entirely, Ironhide.” The flat of his thumb pressed against the spikeplug, and he moved it in tiny circles.

Prowl’s pedes made shallow kicks, his head tossing back, optics tightly shuttered. A whine eeked out of his intake, bottom lip tucked between his denta, as a burst of hot venting filled the room.

Bluestreak licked his lips, arousal building to a dull, heavy throb in his array. He squirmed where he stood, shoving his hands behind his back to keep from touching.

Ratchet circled the spike plug one more time before he lifted his thumb, and the plug bobbed upward just enough he could grasp the end of it. As he pulled it free, pre-fluid trickled in its wake, and the head of Prowl’s spike surged into view. Prowl groaned, low and deep, his spike pressurizing so quickly it had to be painful.

He had a nice spike, Bluestreak observed, trying to focus on anything but the need pulsing in his field. Full and thick, glistening with pre-fluid, Prowl’s spike was a gradient of black to grey to white, and thin stripes of red came to a star-like point around the transfluid slit. Said opening was currently dribbling with fluid.

Ratchet set the plug aside with one hand, as he drummed the fingers of his other hand over Prowl’s valve closed panel. “Open.”

Obedience was immediate. Prowl trembled as his cover spiraled open, and lubricant spilled out, filling the room with the scent of his arousal. His anterior and posterior nodes were both plump and bright. In the shadows of his swollen valve lips was another object, much larger than the spike cap, with a small knob on the end as if to make it easier for Ratchet to remove it. This one was a bright yellow.

“This one needs no explanation,” Ratchet said with a grin before he leaned in, pressing a kiss to Prowl’s upper sensory cluster. He flicked out his glossa over it, and Prowl whined, knees pushing further apart until they could go no further. His hips rolled up, toward Ratchet’s mouth, only for Ratchet to withdraw again, his lips shiny with Prowl’s lubricant.

Ratchet grasped the end of the toy and began to pull out slowly, achingly slowly, and all of Prowl went tense as he did so. A low sound rose in Prowl’s chassis, like a keen, and he abruptly hugged himself as he squirmed.

The toy began to emerge, still bright yellow, and Bluestreak’s ventilations caught as he spotted the numerous ridges embedded into its surface. At the rate Ratchet was going, each one had to be catching Prowl’s internal nodes, one by one, and making them sing.

Ironhide swore subvocally, his field spilling into the room with lust, making Bluestreak’s sensory panels and substructure tingle. When Bluestreak looked up at him, his optics were burning with it, and Bluestreak shivered.

Fine.

Assumptions aside, Bluestreak would let himself be bent over a table later. Because a desperately aroused Ironhide always meant for a ride that promised Bluestreak more overloads than he could count, until he had an ache that he could savor for a week.

Licking his lips, Bluestreak watched Ratchet once more, just in time to see the obscenely long toy pull free with an audible pop. Prowl moaned and his valve fluttered, lubricant spilling out in the wake of the toy and his biolights pulsing fitfully.

Ratchet set the toy aside, where it left a smear of lubricant on the table, as his free hand traced circles around Prowl’s valve rim, gathering up pearls of fluid. His engine grumbled and he leaned in, pressing a kiss to Prowl’s main node.

Prowl’s trembling increased in earnest, his engine making these low, mournful revs. His armor creaked where he held himself, and his field lashed out with so much lust and arousal, it was dizzying. Especially when Ratchet didn’t stop at the gentle kiss. When he made a hungry sound and licked a long line up Prowl’s valve before licking him deep, licking him like he was the tastiest treat around.

Bluestreak ached. His entire array throbbed. His spike demanded release. His valve pulsed longingly, and he could feel the wet gathering behind his panel. This was almost torture, damn it.

Ratchet made a sound, one of enjoyment, and pressed a suckling kiss to Prowl’s main node cluster once more before he pulled back.

“Sometimes, I just can’t help myself,” he said, a thumb sweeping around Prowl’s valve rim. “But I suppose I need some restraint. You don’t want to miss the rest of the show.”

Bluestreak worked his intake. “No, we wouldn’t want that,” he said, and maybe his voice sounded a bit faint, but damn it, he couldn’t tell whose cooling fans were louder at this point: his, Ironhide’s or Prowl’s.

Ratchet was a master of suspense, at keeping everyone on the edge, and though neither Ironhide nor Bluestreak were his pets, he still managed to effectively have control of them.

Bluestreak was in awe of him.

“One more, love,” Ratchet said as he stroked his fingers over the panel protecting Prowl’s port. “Open for us.”

Prowl was ever so obedient. The panel snicked aside, revealing the end of a bright green toy, more of a plug than a false spike, however. Ports were shallower than valves.

Bluestreak might have leaned a little closer as Ratchet nudged the plug and wiggled the end of it, making Prowl gasp and jerk.

“Ratchet,” he moaned, closer to a whine, the need in his voice making Bluestreak’s substructure prickle, and he had to stop himself from reaching over and offering Prowl some relief.

“I know,” Ratchet replied, and this time it was closer to a croon, as one hand stroked Prowl’s thigh and the other toyed with the end of the plug. “You’re doing so well. I’m so proud of you. Just a little bit longer, and you can have your reward.”

Prowl keened.

Ironhide blasted a ventilation so loud it almost made Bluestreak startle.

It was a toss up, at this point, who was going to blow a gasket first.

“If ya don’t give him a reward, I will,” Ironhide teased, though he’d been a part of their games far too long to actually do such a thing.

Ratchet snorted. “He doesn’t need your rough pawing, ‘Hide.” He tilted his head and gave Bluestreak a wink. “Though I might be convinced to let Baby Blue over here love on him a bit.”

Bluestreak groaned. “Stop teasing, Ratch. Or you’ll have to replace burnt chips from all of us tomorrow.”

“And I wouldn’t want to do that.” Ratchet smirked and nuzzled Prowl’s inner thigh. He grasped the end of the plug and gave it a wiggle. “For future reference, Blue, port plugs are the best accessory for long term wear. Especially since they are well suited for all kinds of remote play.”

Remote. Play.

Bluestreak shivered. Yes, the idea of teasing his pretty from across the room, in public, with no one else the wiser appealed to him very, very much.

“Good to know,” he said, even as Ratchet finally took mercy on all of them and started to work the plug free.

Shallow a port might be, but it was capable of accepting items of greater… girth. The plug that Ratchet worked loose made Bluestreak’s internals tighten with lust. It was thick and fat, with a sensory spiral around the circumference of it. The rim of Prowl’s port stretched to accommodate it, shiny with lubricant, and seemed to cling to the plug until it, too, audibly popped free.

Prowl’s port rim fluttered. Biolights flickered madly, lighting up the shadows of his port interior. The plug was discarded as Ratchet’s free hand teased the rim, one finger slipping inside to curl and massage clusters of sensory nodes.

Prowl whined. His backstrut arched, thighs trembling, charge lighting up the room as it spilled out from under his armor. So much heat wafted from his frame that he felt like a furnace, and Bluestreak almost choked on the need in his field.

“So good, love,” Ratchet purred and leaned close to Prowl’s array, his lips barely brushing over his port, his valve, the base of his spike and back down again. “I think you’ve earned a reward. Don’t you, Blue? ‘Hide? Has my love earned a reward?”

“Yes,” Bluestreak said.

“’Course he does,” Ironhide added.

“Well,” Ratchet purred. “The guests have spoken.” He stroked a free hand along Prowl’s inner thighs. “Tell me, love. What would you like as your reward then? Which of these shall I enjoy?” He traced a loving path down Prowl’s spike, down the length of his valve teasing each node cluster along the way, and around the rim of his port.

Prowl trembled so hard that his armor clattered. “W-whatever you wish to reward me with, Ratchet,” he said, vocals liberally laced with static.

Ratchet hummed a laugh. “Good answer,” he purred and leaned in close, ex-venting heat over Prowl’s valve. “I think I shall enjoy all three.”

Oh, Primus.

Bluestreak locked his knees just to keep himself from falling when they turned to jelly. The deviousness in Ratchet’s optics, his smirk, made him wobble. He was captivated, vent-less, as Ratchet followed through on his promise.

Fingers curled around Prowl’s spike, giving him a stroking squeeze, even as Ratchet’s mouth descended on Prowl’s valve, and his other hand slid three fingers knuckles deep into Prowl’s port.

The response was electric.

Prowl’s head tossed back, his entire frame thrashing in a sharp jerk. His knees snapped against the table edge, pedes swinging back to curl under. His backstrut bowed, his engine roared, and the sound that tore from his intake was nothing short of a wail. He thrust down against Ratchet as charge lit up across his frame in a dazzling crackle of blue fire, overload nearly immediate once offered permission.

Bluestreak groaned and gnawed on his lip, hands squeezed into such tight fists they ached, himself refusing the pings his array sent again and again. He was breathless, hovering on the cusp of his own pleasure, unable to tear his gaze away from the sight of Prowl writhing in the grip of a triple overload.

His spike spurted, long stripes of transfluid decorating his belly, his arms, his chassis, and then trickling down to soak Ratchet’s fingers, a few droplets even splattering Ratchet’s helm. What Bluestreak could see of his valve and port had both clamping down, his port tight on Ratchet’s fingers, his valve fluttering and his swollen anterior node throbbed in the grip of Ratchet’s lips.

All while Ratchet worked him gently, long licks and laps and gentle thrusts and squeezes, extending the pleasure as long as possible. Prowl shuddered and shook, frame a wave of motion on top of the table, his sensory panels twitching hard beneath him.

Bluestreak swayed, dizzy from it all, and didn’t even startle when a hand gripped him by the upper arm. He had a moment, blearily wondering how Ratchet had a hand to spare, until he realized it was Ironhide. He’d somehow come around the table without Bluestreak noticing him, and now he pressed against Bluestreak from behind, hot and heavy and ex-venting scorching air down the back of Bluestreak’s neck.

He moaned and lolled in Ironhide’s grip, stumbling backward, his array aching. Sheer self control kept him from extending himself, but Bluestreak swore his entire frame throbbed with the need to release.

Ironhide tugged, and Bluestreak followed, wondering how in the Pit he could manage to be so coherent. Vision hazy with need, clouded by the suffocating lust, caught Ratchet standing up to gather Prowl into his arms and kiss him deeply, Prowl’s arms and legs instantly clamping around his mate. Little rolls of Ratchet’s hips indicated he was slowly, lovingly fragging Prowl, and somewhere in the buzz of staticky need that filled Bluestreak’s sensors, he heard Prowl whimpering quietly.

Bluestreak moaned and stumbled, finding it all too easy to imagine taking his own pretty to the limit and pushing him farther, building his pleasure to great heights and letting him float in the clouds of ecstasy.

Ironhide tugged him through a door, and Bluestreak expected to be blinded by the bright lights of the exterior corridor. But, no. Here it was dim, barely lit except for a few strips set into the floor, until Ironhide smacked a wall panel.

Here came the blindness, which was nearly enough to distract Bluestreak from the fact they were in a washrack. A private one. Prowl and Ratchet’s washrack.

“What? Wait. We’re not supposed to–”

Ironhide swung him around, and Bluestreak hit the wall just as Ironhide dropped down in front of him and licked a hot stripe up his panel. Bluestreak jabbed a fist into his mouth to muffle his moan even as his panels sprung open, his spike tapping Ironhide on the cheek.

“It’s fine,” Ironhide said as he grasped Bluestreak’s hips. “I asked.” And then he didn’t say anything else because he was too busy swallowing Bluestreak’s spike in one fell swoop, down to the base, the head of it nudging the back of his intake.

Bluestreak whined around his knuckles, his optics flickering as his head slammed back against the wall. His knees trembled, and he thanked Primus for Ironhide’s grip, because surely he would have dropped without it.

Ironhide was relentless, lips and denta and glossa working in concert, swallowing him harsh and deep, sucking like he wanted to pull the overload right out of Bluestreak. Which was good because that was exactly what he did.

Bluestreak gasped, struggling to ventilatte, engine screeching as he bucked. His free hand formed a fist, one that pounded against the wall behind him as he jerked. He overloaded, spilling straight down Ironhide’s intake, his array throbbing and volcanic heat sluicing through his lines.

Ironhide swallowed everything he had to offer before he shoved himself to his pedes and easily hoisted Bluestreak up the length of the wall, until his spike nudged at Bluestreak’s valve in a thick and heavy weight.

“It’s not a table,” he said, vocals dark and just shy of a growl, the blaze of his optics betraying his need.

Bluestreak panted and clamped his thighs tight around Ironhide’s hips, his pedes drumming the back of Ironhide’s thighs. “I don’t care. I swear to Primus if you don’t frag me right now I’m going to shove you down and take care of it myself, see if I don’t!” He rolled his hips, lubricant leaving a wet swath, and moaned as the head of Ironhide’s spike nudged his rim.

A snarl peeled from Ironhide’s intake as he claimed Bluestreak’s mouth in a kiss, his hips snapping forward to sink deep inside Bluestreak in one heavy push. Bluestreak keened against Ironhide’s lips, backstrut arching, his hands gripping Ironhide’s arms as the older mech began to frag him in earnest.

Metal clanged against metal. Bluestreak moaned as Ironhide’s spike raked over his sensor nodes, pounding them with pleasure, surging the arousal back to roaring life. He rolled his hips to match Ironhide’s thrusts, manipulated his calipers to squeeze and ripple around the rock-hard heat of Ironhide’s spike, and gave as good as he got. He buried his cries in the kiss, and nipped at Ironhide’s lips, and spun out his field, wrapping it around Ironhide’s and tugging it into a spiral of lust.

Ironhide growled, all but slamming Bluestreak into the wall as he thrust hard and deep, pounding on Bluestreak’s ceiling node. His field was heavy and blistering, hungry and when he overloaded, he ground deep, spurting his transfluid in searing splashes deep into Bluestreak, triggering him into another overload of his own.

He was glad Ironhide’s mouth was there to drown out the noises he made, because what little escaped echoed in the washracks, as charge crackled fire through his lines and briefly made his vision fill with static. His cooling fans roared, his vents stuttered, and his hips pumped arrhythmically, extending the pleasure as Ironhide throbbed inside of him, grinding deep.

Primus.

Bluestreak moaned against Ironhide’s lips and sagged, his entire frame tingling as his valve rippled and clutched around Ironhide’s spike. His circuits still fairly buzzed with arousal, but at least the fog of need had cleared. He could think straight again.

He tipped his head back, panting, staring up at the obscenely bright lights of Ratchet and Prowl’s private washrack. It was just… really clean in here, too. Did they bleach the tiles or something?

Ironhide leaned his forehead on Bluestreak’s shoulder with a little raspy laugh. “Well,” he said. “Think yer under control enough now that we can take this somewhere I can’t feel Ratchet’s optics on the back of my head?”

Bluestreak snorted. “I dunno.” He squeezed his valve calipers, making them ripple around the mostly pressurized length still nestled snug within him. “Are you?”

Strong hands squeezed his hips. Ironhide laughed again. “You are a brat,” he said as he lifted his head. He slid free of Bluestreak’s valve and retracted his spike, though not without some effort Bluestreak was proud to notice.

“Better a brat than old,” Bluestreak teased as he triggered his valve panel to close, trapping lubricant and transfluid alike inside of him.

Well, he’d just have to make sure Ironhide cleaned up his mess, was all. Not here, because he was pretty sure Ratchet and Prowl were getting antsy. But definitely elsewhere.

“Can still frag ya against a wall though,” Ironhide said with a leer.

Bluestreak licked his lips. “But only half finished the job.”

Ironhide laughed and shook his head. He snatched Bluestreak’s hand and tugged him to the door. “Allow me to fix that then,” he said as he palmed open the door and peered cautiously back into Ratchet and Prowl’s quarters.

Bluestreak poked his head out as well. Ratchet and Prowl were still at the table, Prowl seated on the edge with his legs wrapped around Ratchet’s waist, and Ratchet with his hands propped on the table to either side of Prowl’s hips. Prowl’s arms were over his shoulders and their foreheads pressed together. Ratchet was talking, Bluestreak could see that much, but it was so quietly that it registered as only a low murmur.

His spark gave a twinge.

Someday, he told himself. Someday, he’d have a partner like that, too.

Ironhide gave him a gentle pull toward the door, and Bluestreak let him take the lead, assuming that Ironhide was in some sort of comm contact with Ratchet. The door wasn’t locked, so they let themselves out, and it locked behind them.

“So,” Ironhide said as he squeezed Bluestreak’s arm before letting him go, “my place or yours?”

Bluestreak laughed and arched an orbital ridge. “Depends. Do you have a table?”

[IDW] Chasing Cars

Ratchet expected a lot of things from their return to the Lost Light. A sense of belonging again. A sense of fellowship, of homecoming. He expected relief, exultation, the simple pleasures of a large berth, a variety of engex, and the relative safety of a larger ship.

He did not expect to find himself so poisonously, insidiously angry. Or worse, jealous.

Another soft laugh dragged Ratchet’s optics from his datapad to the corner of the small lounge. Drift and Rodimus were crowded around a low table, some kind of boardgame set up between them, their heads bent so close their facial spurs nearly tangled.

Rodimus was laughing, his frame language animated, his spoiler twitching upward happily. Drift grinned, his optics sparkling, every bit of him as joyful.

They’d only been back for a few weeks, but Drift and Rodimus had fallen into their friendship as if Drift had never been exiled from it. Ratchet knew they’d had a single, private conversation upon Drift’s return, one Ratchet had not been privy to and neither did he demand to be part of it.

He still did not see how a single conversation could fix what Rodimus had so thoroughly broken. Never mind that Drift had volunteered to take the weight of the disgrace. If there was one thing Rodimus was having trouble learning, it was the consequences of his actions and damn it, the quicker Drift forgave him, the sooner Rodimus forgot his lessons.

Drift, however, was too relieved to have his friend back, he had so few. Ratchet was reluctant to put any kind of damper on his partner’s enthusiasm. Injecting rationality into matters of the spark never worked anyway.

It still infuriated him.

Grinding his denta, Ratchet forcefully returned his attention to his datapad, and read the opening sentence of this novel for the fortieth time. He hadn’t gotten past the first chapter. He was reluctant to blame the author.

Not when Rodimus and Drift laughed again, louder this time. Ratchet tried not to flinch. He knew he failed. Luckily, neither of them were paying him much attention, too wrapped up in their game with each other.

“No way, that’s an unfair move!”

“Unfair, but not illegal,” Drift pointed out, with that new calm he’d carried since Ratchet found him and convinced him to come back home. “Don’t sulk because I’m winning.”

“I’m not sulking!” Rodimus retorted with a flutter of his spoiler halves and a roll of his optics. It was a very calculated bit of frame language, meant to make him look cute and charming. Frag but if it didn’t work, too. “I’m taking stock.”

Drift coughed a vent. “Really. Where have I heard that before?”

“How should I know?”

“Been picking up more from your co-captain than you think, hm?”

Rodimus hissed, but it barely counted as angry. If anything, it was in good-natured fun. He grinned at Drift. “Shut up,” he said. “I need to concentrate if I’m going to whip your aft this time.”

“You mean, for once.”

“Hush!” Rodimus shoved his palm in Drift’s face, pushing a laughing Drift away from him. “Concentrating here.”

Any other time, Ratchet might have found their interaction cute. He would have been glad to see Drift relaxing in the presence of another, acting like the average mech who didn’t have the gutter hanging over his shoulders. A part of him would have even been happy for Rodimus, who bore his own unbearable weight, and deserved to laugh, genuinely laugh, from time to time.

Their easy camaraderie was even enviable. There was a time Ratchet had been like that, too. So long ago. A lifetime ago. He’d been a different mech then. Just as Optimus had been Orion Pax and Roller still lived…

Today, however, Ratchet only felt that sick, seething emotion. Not quite jealousy, not quite anger, perhaps closer to resentment.

Drift and Rodimus were so damn close. Drift was more relaxed with Rodimus than anyone else, and that included Ratchet. Sometimes, he still held himself separate, as though he was terrified of doing the wrong thing or disappointing Ratchet. He was occasionally cautious and restrained.

But not with Rodimus. Rodimus was so damned cute, and unfairly so. Rodimus who was closer to Drift in personality, though not in age. (It was easy to forget how old Drift was when he behaved like that around Rodimus). They had far more in common. They actually looked good together.

Drift smiled around Rodimus in a way Ratchet envied. Did Drift smile for him like that? He wasn’t even that comfortable around Ratchet.

Ratchet ground his denta. He turned his attention back to his datapad. He told himself to focus on it and not the two laughing mechs, leaning so close together they shared ventilating space, touches playful but genuine. And easy, so easy.

Ratchet knew he didn’t have a right to be jealous. That there was nothing to envy. But the jealousy still ran deep. It loitered around his spark, and tangled in his tanks like a heavy coil of chains.

Later, the question spilled through his vocalizer before he had the good sense to rein it in. He hoped he didn’t sound as bitter as he felt, or as accusing.

“Are you sure you and Rodimus were only ever friends?” Ratchet found himself asking, and then felt horror creeping on up him that he’d been so bold as to ask it.

But Drift only blinked as if confused. “Yeah, though it’s kind of hard to believe, given what happened, right?” Drift laughed, it didn’t sound amused. “He’s my friend, though. One of the few that I have. And that’s all.”

Ratchet knew Drift wasn’t lying.

But he also knew that in the nooks and crannies of a mech’s spark, there lingered secrets. Little desires that maybe the mech himself didn’t even know. Like Ratchet, who had realized all too late, how much Drift had meant to him. And he, almost like Rodimus, in waiting too long in going after him.

“Why?” Drift asked.

Ratchet shook his head and focused on tucking his datapad onto the shelf. “You two are close. You spend a lot of time together, before and after,” he said, as though that should be explanation enough. “And it’s not uncommon for friends to have extra benefits.”

Drift barked a laugh. His finials twitched with humor. “Not those kinds of benefits.” His hand rested on Ratchet’s arm and slid down the length of it, fingers curling around his wrist and then his fingers. “I saved those for you.”

Cheeky speedster.

Ratchet’s spark warmed and thumped. “The grumpy old ambulance,” he said, dryly.

“Hey, even creaky piles of rust have their charm,” Drift teased and leaned in, his lips brushing the curve of Ratchet’s intake. “Come to the berth with me and I’ll show you.”

Ratchet’s spinal strut tingled.

No more was spoken of Rodimus last night. Words, in fact, were offered very little, and Drift showed his love with lips and denta and glossa. His optics glowing and his fingers clever and every action in them speaking of worship.

Ratchet pushed the worst of the thoughts from his mind. That even though Drift was here, kissing him, embracing him, he pictured Rodimus and Drift wrapped together. Two younger, faster, sleeker frames, all polished armor and glossy paint.

How could Drift choose Ratchet over that image?

It gnawed at him, coiled in his belly, sat there like a lump of unprocessed low-grade. Ratchet held Drift tighter, kissed him fiercely, and fought away his own insecurities as they were none of Drift’s fault.

He trusted Drift. He told himself that time and again. He did trust Drift. That was not a lie. But sometimes… sometimes it had little to do with trust and everything to do with feelings a mech didn’t even know he carried.

Sometimes, one could be too blind to see what was right in front of him. And that worried Ratchet most of all.

~

Ratchet thought he could let it go.

His processor, however, had a different thought about it.

He remembered the times Drift returned to their quarters late, more often than not because he was with Rodimus. They played games, or went racing, or sparred, or kept trying to pick up Rodimus’ much-neglected sword training. Sometimes, they sat in the commissary, shared energon, and talked.

There was no reason for Ratchet to be jealous about any of it.

He was.

He’d watched a couple of times when they sparred. Drift usually won, having experience on his side, but sparring often devolved to ridiculous play. Rolling around, laughing, trying to tickle one another, wrestling like they were a pair of sparklings. Rodimus giggling, and Drift laughing, and teasing Rodimus as he pinned their captain down again and again, positions more obscene than they had right to be.

Envy twisted and coiled in Ratchet’s gut. He and Drift wouldn’t ever do anything like that. Not only was Ratchet too old and irritable, he was simply too large and heavy. He was taller than Drift, though not by much, but he thoroughly outmassed his lover. Medics were built that way a-purpose. Especially forged ones.

Ratchet made himself stop peeking in on their training sessions for that reason alone. He didn’t like the poisonous thoughts that encroached on his mind. But then the doubt settled in. What were they doing while he wasn’t watching? What about all those fond looks Drift kept giving Rodimus? Why was it so easy for them to be friends when Ratchet and Drift’s relationship had always been one of friction?

The darkness seeped in, tainting every thought he had, until he found himself speaking out again, less than week later, before he could fully form the reasons why.

There in the medical bay, with Velocity pointedly pretending not to look, and First Aid making no effort to hide he was eavesdropping, Ratchet all but glared at Drift, who blinked at him in genuine confusion.

“What?”

Ratchet shook his head. “I said ‘no.’”

Drift blinked at him. He frowned. “I wasn’t asking permission.”

“You asked if I was okay with it. I said no.” Ratchet set down his datapad. He’d been taking inventory – time filler, more than anything to do. He hadn’t been in the medbay in so long he felt he needed to familiarize himself with everything.

“Is something wrong?” Drift murmured and his gaze slid past Ratchet as if to point out the other medics who continued to both stare and not-stare. “Maybe we should talk about this, um, elsewhere?”

Ratchet forced himself to cycle a ventilation. “There’s nothing to talk about,” he said, at once ashamed of his own reaction. He’d let irrationality speak for him. “Just go. Have fun with Rodimus.” Did he sound bitter? Probably.

Drift stepped closer, his hand sliding down Ratchet’s arm until he touched Ratchet’s fingers. “Is this about–”

“No.”

Lies. And yet, he had the audacity to think Drift was the one he couldn’t trust. Ratchet chastised himself. He was too old to behave like this. He was not some immature little brat.

“Sure seems like it,” Drift said, and gave Ratchet’s hand a squeeze. “Look. It’s just a spar. Nothing important. I’d rather spend time with you, but I thought you were busy.”

“It’s just inventory. He’s free to go,” First Aid piped up. No shame that one. Didn’t even have the decency to pretend he wasn’t paying attention.

Velocity, meanwhile, coughed and buried her head further behind the portable scanning unit, her faceplate darkening with heat.

Ratchet glared in his apprentice/kinda-sorta the CMO’s direction. “I don’t need you deciding my shifts for me.” He untangled his fingers from Drift’s, and pretended he didn’t see the brief flash of hurt over his partner’s face.

Jealousy battled with guilt. He was making an absolute aft of himself. Yet, he couldn’t seem to stop, as if he’d committed to this trainwreck and was determined to make as much a mess as possible.

“Technically, that is his job now,” Velocity offered.

Ratchet ground his denta. “Fine.” Never let it be said that he didn’t know how to surrender his post gracefully. “Come on, Drift.” He tossed his stylus onto his discarded datapad and took his leave.

First Aid snorted, and muttered something subvocally, that Ratchet didn’t bother trying to catch. Velocity wisely kept her silence.

Ratchet didn’t check to see if Drift followed him, and it wasn’t as though he could hear Drift’s footsteps. The mech walked like he belonged in Spec Ops half the time. It used to be disconcerting, until Ratchet got used to it.

Drift stayed quiet until they stepped out of the medbay and into the empty corridor. “I’ve already canceled with Roddy,” he said.

Ratchet sighed and scrubbed a hand down his faceplate. “You didn’t have to do that.” He hung a sharp turn at their door and punched the code into the panel.

Drift made a noncommittal noise.

They moved into the privacy of the habsuite, and the door closed behind them. Ratchet pinched his nasal ridge and turned to face Drift, only to freeze as his partner curled his arms around Ratchet’s chassis and rested his head on Ratchet’s chestplate.

“I’d rather spend time with you,” he reiterated.

Ratchet’s spark throbbed. He lowered his arm, wrapping both back around Drift. He cycled a ventilation and leaned his head against Drift’s.

“Then I’ll be less busy,” Ratchet replied, attacking the bites of jealousy with shame, until it sulked away. “Not like I have a lot to do around here anymore anyway.”

He’d make time. He didn’t want Drift to slip through his fingers, knowing there was something he could have done to prevent it.

He wanted to squeeze Drift tighter. He wanted to ask if Drift had thought about leaving him. He wondered if Drift would rather spar with Rodimus, but guilt had him insisting he’d rather stay with Ratchet.

He wondered a lot of spark-clenching things. He voiced none of them. His own jealousy was none of Drift’s problem.

“Sounds good to me,” Drift murmured and nuzzled into Ratchet’s intake, pressing a kiss to the cables there. “Engex and a movie?”

Ratchet barked a quiet laugh. “What an exciting life we lead,” he said and turned his head, lips brushing over Drift’s forehead. “That sounds good.”

If Drift was further bothered by their little confrontation earlier, he said nothing else that evening. They curled together on the couch, selected one of the Earth movies from the intranet, and snuggled for the rest of the evening.

Like this, Ratchet could easily believe Drift loved him and only him. He could push away the jealousy and the worry.

Right now, Drift was his.

He just hoped circumstances would remain that way.

~

The question had caught him off-guard. As had the rest of Ratchet’s behavior in the following week.

Drift answered honestly, not because he hadn’t the time to work up a lie, but because it had been the truth. He and Rodimus had only ever been friends, as intimate as that could be. Rodimus flirted, as he did, he flirted with everyone. And yes, Drift had been tempted, but they had never taken a further step.

As Drift’s relationship with Ratchet took shape, molded into something important and genuine, thoughts of berthing Rodimus vanished to the furthest depths of his mind. He still found Rodimus attractive, he didn’t think that would ever change, but his fantasies had shifted gears to Ratchet’s warm embrace and warmer kisses and the approval and affection he caught in the medic’s optics.

He’d thought he’d exorcised those particular feelings during his exile. Especially when Ratchet came to look for him, and told the truth about what happened on the Lost Light in Drift’s absence. He’d thought that knowing Rodimus never came after him was enough to throw what feelings lingered into a dark pit, never to see the light of any sun again.

He’d not expected for them to come crashing back upon their return to the Lost Light, and the first exchange of hesitant smiles between them. He hadn’t expected for Rodimus’ awkward, but genuine overtures to rev his engines so strongly. Or that he’d want to pin his friend to the nearest berth and frag the Pit out of him.

Or how much his deepest, darkest fantasies involved Ratchet and Rodimus both, wrapped around him, embracing him. And that the most profound of them, the darkly buried, didn’t even involve interfacing, but domestic moments. Shared berths and shared energon and inside jokes and himself painting Rodimus’ armor to a deep shine, and the both of them tickling Ratchet to submission and just…

Drift didn’t admit any of that to Ratchet. He didn’t know how the medic would take it, and honestly, Drift himself didn’t even know if it was what he wanted. Or if it was one of those fantasies that sounded lovely in his daydreams, but terrible in reality.

So he hadn’t lied to Ratchet.

He just hadn’t told the whole truth.

What good would it do to tell Ratchet how much he wanted both of them in his berth? To be the sole focus of two very determined, stubborn mechs? To whimper and melt beneath their gazes? Or to even watch them together, while Drift self-serviced again and again.

“Drift!”

Drift startled, lurching himself out of his circuitous thoughts. There was a hand in front of his face. A yellow hand with snapping fingers.

Drift cycled his optics before he jerked his head back and swatted the hand away. “What?” he demanded, a touch annoyed.

Rodimus grinned and laughed. His optics sparkled with amusement. “What’re you thinking about? You’ve been staring into space for forever.”

“It wasn’t forever,” Drift said, just shy of a scowl. But his face was hot, and he realized too late that he was blushing.

Mostly because Rodimus poked him in the cheek, right where the heat had gathered. “You and Ratchet get up to something naughty and you can’t stop thinking about it? Is that it?” he teased.

Drift batted his hand away again. “No.” This time he did scowl and purposefully bent his head back over his sword, sliding the whetstone against the edge of it. He felt heat gather in his finials, and knew that gave him away.

“You’re such a liar.” Rodimus laughed and bounced on the balls of his feet. “Come on, Drift. What’s up? Your field is all… wobbly.” He flicked his fingers through the air as if to illustrate, his spoiler dancing happily in its mounts. “And you’re blushing.”

“I’m not blushing,” Drift said and sighed. Rodimus was as stubborn as Ratchet. He wouldn’t let this go.

Drift set the whetstone aside, wiped down his blade, and slid it back into his right sheath. Apparently, resuming Rodimus’ sword lessons was going to wait. Again.

Sometimes Drift wondered if Rodimus even wanted to learn, or of it was just an excuse to spend time with Drift. He didn’t know which answer he preferred.

“It’s Ratchet,” Drift said.

Rodimus’ grin widened. “I knew it.” He grabbed his chair, spun it around and plopped his aft in it, bracing his arms on the back of it. “Tell me. Details. And make them sordid.” He dropped his chin onto his crossed arms.

Drift rolled his optics. “Not like that.”

“Come ooooon, Drift. Don’t tell me you two only snuggle and coo sweet nothings at each other.” The chair rattled beneath Rodimus. “Ratchet’s gotta have a kinky streak wider than the Lost Light!”

Drift’s face blazed. “Rodimus!” he hissed, and hoped it came out chastising. “For Primus’ sake!” He dragged his hand down his face. “It’s not about interfacing!”

“Oh.” Rodimus slumped and looked disappointed. Even his spoiler drooped. “Then what is it about?”

“You,” Drift huffed, and then cursed himself for being unnecessarily sharp. He dialed back. “I mean, you and me, spending time together.”

Rodimus blinked. “Why? We’re just friends.”

“Yeah, I know that. And I’ve told him that but–”

“Well, to be fair, I am hot stuff,” Rodimus interjected with a toss of his head and a waggle of his spoiler. He snickered.

Drift rolled his optics. “Yes. So hot I can’t keep my hands off of you. See how difficult I find you to resist?”

Rodimus leaned forward against the back of the chair and lifted his aft, giving it a wiggle. “I am one fine piece of speedster, after all.” He winked, glossa flicking across his lips.

Drift pointedly did not stare.

Much.

“And so modest, too,” Drift drawled. He shook his head, trying to steer the discussion back on course. “That’s not the point anyway. He’s just being difficult about it. Like I’m trying to hide something.”

“Pfft. He’s Ratchet. When is he not difficult.”

Drift folded his arms over his chestplate. His badge-free chestplate. “Ratchet came for me, Rodimus.”

“Which is more than I did, I know.” Rodimus sighed, and his spoiler flattened against his back. He scrubbed the back of his head. “You want me to talk to him?”

“No!” Drift lurched forward, his internals tying into knots. “Primus, no. That would probably have the opposite effect.” His spark thudded so hard it tried to escape from his chamber. Rodimus going to Ratchet with this kind of topic was just a disaster in the making. “It’ll work itself out somehow.”

Rodimus shrugged. “If you say so. Just say the word, though, and I’ll step up.” He offered Drift a wry look. “I’ve caused enough problems, don’t you think?”

“This time, it really is my fault though. To be fair.” Drift laughed and pushed himself back to his feet. “Anyhow, didn’t you want more lessons?”

Rodimus’ face lit up. In this, at least, he’d been sincere. He wanted to learn, even if he did sometimes put it off. At first, back then, Drift had assumed Rodimus was only saying so to be close to Drift. More of that weird flirting that wasn’t.

He bounced up from his chair and spun it back into place under his desk. “About time you remembered!” He planted his hands on his hips, spoiler flicking up happily.

Primus, he was unfairly adorable sometimes.

Drift chuckled and withdrew his left sword, handing it to Rodimus hilt first. “And yet I must ask, do you remember anything?” It had been months, if not a couple years, after all.

“I remember how to hold it.” Rodimus rolled his optics as he took the blade in hand, fingers wrapping around the hilt. “I’ve held a sword before, Drift. Along with other things.” He snickered.

“All right then, hot shot. What’s your first pose?” Drift asked, arching an orbital ridge. He pointedly did not comment on the innuendo. If he let Rodimus get started, his friend wouldn’t stop.

Rodimus’ spoiler drifted downward. “It’s… um…” His field rippled, betraying his confusion, as he shuffled his feet. “I mean, honestly, you and me?” He laughed, abruptly redirecting the conversation. “The world would combust with all that pretty wrapped together, right?”

Drift’s optics narrowed, even as his face heated. He pointedly did not picture that very scenario, and his fans absolutely did not click on. “Right,” he said and coughed a ventilation. “That pose is wrong, by the way.”

“It’s not a pose yet!” Rodimus retorted, waggling the sword in Drift’s direction. “You haven’t given me a chance to try.”

Brat.

Drift shook his head and moved closer. “Feet here, hands here,” he said, directing Rodimus with words as well as light touches. “No, your feet are too close. Further. You’re going to destabilize your stance.”

“Oh! I remember now!” Rodimus fluidly shifted into the first stance, gripping the hilt properly this time. “Told you!”

Drift gave him an amused look. “Uh huh. And the second stance?”

Rodimus’ face flushed. “How many stances are there?”

“Seven.”

“Oh.”

Rodimus rolled his shoulders and shifted his weight. “Give me a minute. I’m sure it’s in here somewhere.” He grinned and stared at his borrowed sword, as if Drift had inscribed the instructions on the hilt as a cheat sheet.

Drift folded his arms and watched. If his optics wandered, just a little, well there was no way for Rodimus to know. He was absolutely focused, for once, and it was cute how his bottom lip poked out as he concentrated.

“Have you ever, you know, thought about it?” Drift asked, the question spilling out of him before he could realize it was a bad idea. Because it was. He didn’t need to put any thoughts in Rodimus’ head that weren’t already there.

Rodimus startled. “What? You and me?”

Drift shook his head. “Never mind. It’s a stupid question. Forget I asked.” He gestured toward Rodimus. “You remember that second stance yet?”

Rodimus’ jaw dropped. He lowered the sword, whirling to face Drift. “Of course I have!” he said, and he threw his free hand into the air. “Do you have any idea how hot you are? Plus, you’re smart and you put up with my bullshit, though Primus knows you shouldn’t. And you’re my best friend and–”

He cut off, his optics bright, his face visibly pink. He coughed a ventilation and backed up a step.

“But, uh, that was the kicker, you know?” He rubbed the back of his head. “You’re my best friend. I didn’t want to lose that.”

Drift’s spark throbbed. “I thought about it, too. A lot,” he admitted and the safest place to look was the floor, so he focused on it. There were some scuffs, he noticed. “But like you said, we’re friends. And then we were part of the command structure, and things were kind of…”

“Uneven,” Rodimus supplied.

Drift nodded and forced himself to lift his gaze, lest he come across as a coward. “And now…”

“Now you’re with Ratchet, and you’re still my best friend.” Rodimus shrugged, but if he meant it to be nonchalant, he missed the mark. “Either way, I win, if you ask me.”

“I love Ratchet,” Drift said, and feared he wasn’t sure if he was trying to convince himself, Rodimus, or both. “I genuinely do, Rodimus.”

“I know.” Rodimus dared step closer, his hand resting on Drift’s shoulder, giving it a pat and a squeeze. “The spark’s a tricky thing, isn’t it? Love doesn’t often constrain itself.”

There were times Rodimus was the most reckless, ill-informed, and irresponsible person Drift had ever come to know. And then there were times which proved he had a depth to him, one he rarely let people see.

This was one of the latter.

“Sometimes, you really are the smart one.” Drift smiled, though he admitted it was wobbly. As shaken as his spark felt.

“There’s a little bit of wisdom knocking around in here.” Rodimus tapped his head and winked. “I mean it, Drift. Don’t let me come between you two. Unless Ratchet wants me to.” He chuckled and waved his hand dismissively. “Just kidding. Don’t we have work to do?”

“You do,” Drift said with a pointed look to Rodimus’ borrowed blade. “I still haven’t seen the second stance from you.”

Rodimus pouted. “I did it! You just weren’t paying attention.”

“Liar.” Drift chuckled and moved closer to Rodimus, correcting his pose with gentle touches to Rodimus’ elbow and hip. “And don’t worry. Everything’s going to be fine. Me and Ratch, we’ll work it out.”

Rodimus nudged him with an elbow. “I know you will. Now where does my heel go again?”

And that, as they say, was that.

Drift bent his focus toward training Rodimus, and tried to turn his thoughts from more tawdry directions. But Rodimus’ words still lingered, echoing in the back of his processor like an audible tease.

Why not both?

Only if Ratchet wants me to.

The notion was there, and it wouldn’t leave him. Would Ratchet be open to it? Would it hurt just to ask? If he explained himself properly?

Ratchet was always talking about how communication was important. That and honesty both.

Maybe asking was better than letting things fester. Maybe, just maybe, he could find a solution for the emotions clawing at his spark.

Maybe Ratchet had the answer Drift needed to hear.

All he had to do was ask.

~

Ratchet regretted ever bringing it up. From the day he’d asked Drift about Rodimus, Drift had started behaving oddly. Well, odd for Drift. It was almost a little sad how much that hippy-dippy bullslag had started to go in one audial and out the other.

It wasn’t that he was avoiding Ratchet or playing coy. He was as present and attentive as ever, but there was an absence to it, as though his thoughts were elsewhere. On top of that, he didn’t spend much time with Rodimus. While part of Ratchet was relieved, another part of him felt guilty.

Drift had so few friends. Ratchet didn’t want to be the possessive kind of afthole mate who demanded their partner had no other companions. Couldn’t Drift find someone else to befriend? Nautica perhaps. Or Velocity even. Both Camiens didn’t hold the same hang-ups about Decepticons, ex- or otherwise, that the rest of the Lost Light-ers did.

Now Ratchet was in the uncomfortable position of wanting to talk to Drift, but worried he’d only make things worse. How could he reassure Drift that he didn’t mind his partner’s friendship with Rodimus when he quite obviously did? Worse was that it wasn’t his place to decide who Drift was friends with.

Either Ratchet trusted Drift or he didn’t. That was what it came down to. And Ratchet did, by the way, trust Drift.

Maybe he simply didn’t trust himself. His own inadequacies, peeking out at him, reminding him that Drift could do so much better.

Though whether or not Rodimus qualified as ‘better’ was certainly up for debate.

Ratchet growled to himself. He was talking himself in circles and getting nowhere. If he was a turbofox, he’d be chasing his own tail, yipping at the infernal thing for not having the good graces to get caught.

The agitation built.

Drift spent less time with Rodimus, and more time with Ratchet, and it was hard to be worried when he was being lavished with attention. When they spent so much time in the privacy of their hab-suite, as though they missed the cramped, yet isolated space aboard their rickety shuttle.

Or maybe Drift was hiding from something. Someone. Ratchet didn’t know. He was afraid to ask.

Two weeks later, as Drift tangled his fingers together and hesitantly presented a question, Ratchet wondered if maybe he should have poked at the combiner in the corner a little sooner.

“Beg pardon?” Ratchet cycled his optics and rebooted his sensory suite, just to be certain he’d heard what he thought he’d heard. “Care to repeat that?”

Drift’s face flushed, and his finials twitched. “Have you ever, you know, thought about a threesome? Both of us agreeing to let another join us in the berth?”

Ratchet stared at him. Yes, he’d heard Drift correctly the first time, and no, he couldn’t believe his audials. What in Unicron’s rusted undergarments was Drift thinking? Was he serious?

Another look and yes, Drift was serious. His face had gathered heat, and his hands were doing that nervous tangle they did when he was resisting the urge to grip his swords for comfort. His optics were steady. He nibbled on his bottom lip.

He was serious.

Ratchet put down the remote. He’d thought they were going to snuggle on the couch and try to watch something on the vidscreen. Between Bluestreak and Swerve both, all of the habsuites had access to a vast collection of Earth entertainment now. Most of it wasn’t worth the dataspace it took up, but Ratchet was more looking forward to getting a grope or two on his pretty speedster, not the movie itself.

That certainly wasn’t happening now.

“You mean with Rodimus,” Ratchet said flatly. Because he wasn’t an idiot.

“W-what?” Drift’s field flared, panicked. “No. I just meant–”

Ratchet cut him off with a growl. “Don’t you fragging lie to me, Drift. This isn’t some random wondering. There’s only one mech you’d be interested in like this, and it’s Rodimus.”

Unless, of course, it was Megatron. But that was a whole different pot of nanites Ratchet wasn’t touching right now. Drift was still skittish around their co-captain, and though he obeyed and could hold down a shallow conversation with the mech, they had miles to go before they’d be at all comfortable around one another.

Megatron, at least, was preferable. And what that said about Ratchet’s own irrational jealousy, he didn’t know.

“Isn’t it?” Ratchet demanded.

Drift cycled a rattling ventilation, and on the ex-vent, his shoulders sank. “Yes.”

“That’s what I fragging thought.” Ratchet huffed and palmed his face. His head ached, and he assumed it was because fury and disappointment both raged inside of him. He knew it. He fragging knew it.

A smart mech would have taken the opportunity to apologize. Backtrack. Realize what a huge mistake he’d made and try to make amends.

But not Drift. Oh, no. He’d been spending far too much time with Rodimus apparently.

“Well?”

Well? He asked. Well? As if Ratchet’s reaction hadn’t been abundantly clear.

His hand slid down his face. He glared at Drift. “Are you seriously asking me that?”

Drift folded his arms over his chestplate, defensive. “You didn’t answer the question.”

“Because I thought it was obvious!” He was snarling, and he half didn’t mean to, but he also did. “The answer, Drift, is no. Emphatically. No. I’m not interested in whatever fantasy the two of you have cooked up together.”

“But–”

“No,” Ratchet hissed and felt his armor flare, his ventilations quickening. He pointed an angry finger at Drift’s chestplate. “If you don’t want to be with me, that’s one thing, but don’t dress it up under the guise of a casual threesome like I’m some kind of fragging idiot.”

Drift shook his head. “That’s not what I’m trying to do.”

“Isn’t it?”

“No, it’s not!” Drift’s vocals were louder now, nearer a shout, and he leaned forward, his optics flashing. “Primus, Ratchet. Do you think so little of me?”

“Apparently, you think that little of me,” Ratchet snarled and threw his hands into the air. “You want to stick your spike in something prettier than me, fine, I get that. But I don’t have to go along with it. I don’t have to participate. And I don’t have to fragging like it. Especially not with Rodimus Slagging Prime!”

Drift’s field spiked with anger, like he had a right to do that, when he was the one who presented this absurd request as if he genuinely thought Ratchet would agree to do it. “It’s not about that,” he snapped, his plating flaring, his field an aggressive push. “It’s not just… lust or wanting to play or wanting to leave you or any of that! It’s just…” He trailed off, huffed a noisy vent, and continued, “Ugh, I don’t know why I’m bothering to talk to you about this. You’ve already made up your mind about Rodimus.”

Ratchet rolled his optics. Drift did not get to guilt-trip him. “Probably because I can see him with a clear head. Whereas you’re just looking at him through the rose-colored lens of your spike!”

Drift had the audacity to snarl, his engine revving. “Damn it, Ratchet! If I just wanted to frag him, I would’ve done it already!”

Ratchet lost his mind. That was the only excuse he had.

“And how do I know you haven’t?” he demanded.

Drift’s optics widened. His finials reared back. If Ratchet had to guess, he’d say the reaction was genuine, but what the frag did he know? Drift wanted to frag Rodimus, and that was new to him. Clearly, he didn’t know Drift at all.

He took a step toward Drift, jabbing a finger toward his chestplate again. Reason abandoned him, leaving behind the anger and the fear. He saw it now, crumbling around him, losing Drift to a mech who shone bright enough to blind, while Ratchet slowly rusted away into irrelevance.

“You two have been up each other’s afts since we got back,” Ratchet hissed, leaning toward Drift, looming over him, truth be told. “How stupid do you think I am?’

Drift stared at him.

Ratchet expected the denials to come pouring out. The anger, even. He expected Drift to fight back.

He did not anticipate Drift spinning away from him and start stomping toward the door, the jewel of the Great Sword flashing angrily.

“Where do you think you’re doing?” Ratchet demanded. “We’re not done here!”

“Yes, we are. And I’m going out.” Drift paused and threw the rest over his shoulder, his expression disturbingly blank. “If I stay in here any longer, I’ll say or do something I’ll regret, and you’re doing enough of that right now as it is.”

Taking the moral high ground, was he? Of course he was. Because Drift keyed himself right out of their hab-suite after that, and he didn’t look back again. The door slid shut behind him, soft and quiet, disobedient to the roil of emotion it had just sealed in.

Ratchet snarled.

He threw himself into the couch, which rattled and creaked beneath him. The urge to shout burbled up inside of him, but he swallowed it down. What use was it? Nothing compared to the growling of his engine, and the pounding of his spark, and the chastising thoughts snarling at his processor.

Drift hadn’t answered the question, he realized, most worrisome at all. The fury continued to claw at him, nestling deep, sinking in, taking hold.

He was angry at himself, at Rodimus, at Drift. He didn’t know which of them inspired his ire more, or whether he only had himself to blame.

Right now, Ratchet was just angry.

Drift had the right idea in walking away.

Ratchet wished he’d thought of it first.

~

There were only a handful of places Drift could go, and of those, most were somewhere public, and around other mechs was the last thing Drift needed. Well, other mechs who weren’t all that keen on him to begin with, at any rate.

He knew he shouldn’t. Given that argument, the accusation in Ratchet’s words, the look in his optics, Drift shouldn’t be letting his feet take him down a familiar corridor. But his spark ached, and he needed comfort. He needed familiarity. He needed…

“Drift?” Rodimus opened his door and looked visibly shocked. He stuck his head out into the hallway and peered around as if expecting Ratchet to be not far behind. “Isn’t it date night?”

Did Drift look as miserable as he felt? Or did he always look this way?

“It was,” Drift said, and cycled a ventilation, as stuttered though it was. “Are you busy? Can I come in?”

“You know you’re always welcome.” Rodimus stepped aside, gestured him along. “I’m not busy either. Magnus is on shift right now, and I gotta take over for him later, but I can talk.” The door slid shut with a quiet beep. “What’s wrong? Your field is a mess.”

A mess. Drift wondered what color it was. Obnoxious hues, dull shades, fuzzy lines. He felt as disordered as his aura and his spark ached. It went so wrong and so quickly.

And yes, he told himself. Yes, there was a harm in asking.

Drift gently removed the Great Sword and set it aside before he flopped down onto Rodimus’ couch. A second later, he leapt up and started pacing. He couldn’t sit. He didn’t want to sit. He needed to be moving, though the urge to flee rattled at his processor.

“Drift?”

“I made a mistake,” he said, and stared at the floor, watching his feet as he paced a circuit around Rodimus’ habsuite and furniture.

“What kind of mistake?” Rodimus asked as he lowered himself into his chair. “Did something happen with Ratchet?”

“I’m an idiot.” Drift skidded to a halt and dragged a hand down his face. “I asked him a really dumb question and I should’ve known better. I don’t even know what I was thinking.”

Rodimus made a noncommittal noise. “Well, whatever it was, I’m sure it’s not that bad. I mean, you didn’t try and cut off your own arm to escape your own destiny or anything like that.”

Drift stared at him. “What?”

“Never mind. It’s a long story.” Rodimus waved it off. “Anyway, my point is, whatever it is, I’m sure you two can work past it.”

“I kind of asked for a threesome,” Drift said, deadpan.

Rodimus blinked. His spoiler twitched. He coughed into his hand. “Oh.”

“With, um, well, with you,” Drift said, and he felt the heat in his cheeks and his finials spat sparks.

“Oh.” Rodimus blinked again. His face pinked and suddenly, he couldn’t hold Drift’s gaze either. “Well, uh… that’s…”

“Yeah.” Drift rubbed the back of his head and started to pace again. “It wasn’t like that though. I mean, it was, but it also wasn’t. I didn’t really get the chance to explain.”

Rodimus coughed again. “I’ll bet not. Ratchet is, uh, not too fond of me for many reasons. In fact, if he knew you were here, he’d probably hate me a little more.”

Drift sagged. He flopped back down onto the couch. “I couldn’t stay there. Not with him yelling.” He buried his face behind his palm. “I just… it’s not about the ‘facing even. I just thought that would be, I dunno, easier.”

“Easier for what?”

“For you two to get along,” Drift replied and cycled a long ventilation. “I know Ratchet isn’t happy with you. He gets growly anytime he sees you and me together. But I just, I don’t know, I’d like it if my two favorite people could at least be friends.”

“And you thought interfacing would solve that?”

Drift dropped his hand and shrugged. “Why not?”

Rodimus stared at him. “Drift, no offense, but that’s the kind of idiotic plan I’d have come up with. Which, you know, is kind of why it didn’t work.”

Drift groaned and sank further into the couch. Rodimus really did have all the best luxuries. “I know.”

“Do you even really want a threesome? And I mean, not just a quick frag, but like a real triad type thing?”

Drift gnawed on his bottom lip. “No,” he said, but it didn’t come out as sure as he’d like it to. “I just… Look, I love Ratchet and you’re my best friend. I want to be able to be in the same room as the two of you without Ratchet getting agitated and you being anxious. That’s all.”

Well.

Maybe not all. But it was the best he could hope for. Drift would be happy with that. He would. He didn’t need to have Rodimus in his berth. He just wanted both Ratchet and Rodimus in his life.

“Okay.” Rodimus audibly ex-vented. “Okay, that’s a reasonable request.” He slapped his hands on his thighs and popped to his feet. “I can’t speak for Ratchet and eventually you’re going to have to do that yourself. But I can meet him halfway. I can try and make amends.”

Drift shook his head. “Roddy–”

“I know you said you didn’t want me to get involved,” Rodimus said as he held up a hand, cutting Drift off. “But I think it’s too late for now. I can’t fix things. But I can do something about my half. Even if all I do is start with an apology.”

Drift cycled a ventilation. He scrubbed his hands down his thighs. “I don’t know if it’ll make a difference, Roddy.”

Rodimus patted him on the head, careful to avoid his finials. “It can’t hurt to try. Right? And it’s the least I can do. I owe you a lot.”

Drift reached up, snagging Rodimus’ hand before his best friend could withdraw. “You’ve already apologized. I’ve forgiven you. There’s nothing more that you owe me.”

The smile Rodimus offered to that was small and broken, as was the shame that echoed behind his optics. “Maybe for you,” he said, and turned his wrist, grasping Drift’s fingers and giving them a squeeze. “But I know I have a long ways to go.”

Drift wanted to argue otherwise, but he read Rodimus’ field, and well, there wasn’t much he could say to convince Rodimus to let go of his own guilt. That would come in time.

“We’ll figure it out,” Rodimus said before he extricated his fingers and offered that shaky smile. “You’ll see. You and Ratch’ll make up sooner than you know it and everything will work out just fine.”

Drift hoped he was right.

Though he couldn’t help but wonder when Rodimus had become the optimistic one.

~

One day passed, and Ratched held onto his anger as if it were high grade that kept him fueled and fit to chew nails. He glared at the door to the medbay, at the door to his habsuite, waiting for Drift to saunter back through it, full of self-satisfied bravado.

One day passed and Drift did not return.

Three days passed, and Ratchet had only seen Drift from a distance, glimpses of white and red armor that he could identify as Drift with an eighty percent certainty. Drift avoided the medbay. He did not return to their habsuite. He crashed with Rodimus, no surprise there, or on some occasions, Rung, much to Ratchet’s surprise.

Rung, of course, who looked at Ratchet as if they both were being idiots and kept stressing the merits of communication because Ratchet ought to know better. Well, he did. Know better, that was. He wasn’t keen on being the bigger mech right now. That involved letting go.

Ratchet really wasn’t good at letting go. As the bottles of high grade would attest, scattered around in the mess of their habsuite he’d made. He was getting too old for this.

By day seven, Ratchet wasn’t expecting much when he dragged himself home. He still held on to his righteous anger, though even that had started to dull. He wondered if maybe Rung might have a valid point, which yes, he did. But that didn’t mean Ratchet had to accept it immediately. Rationality had to take time to seep in when matters of the spark were on the line.

Ratchet opened the door to the habsuite, expecting to step into a chilly, messy, dim – as he had for the past seven nights – and cycled his optics when instead he found a bright, warm interior which had been recently tidied. His first assumption was that Rung had come over to pull Ratchet out of his rut, and couldn’t help himself. Such was the way of things with Rung.

That assumption was immediately derailed by the sight of Drift, sitting cross-legged in the sectioned off corner he’d claimed as his meditation area when they first returned to the Lost Light. Drift gleamed as though he’d spent hours in the washrack prior to his return, polishing away his shame.

Ratchet wrestled with himself for all of ten seconds before he decided to rely on blithe indifference. “Decided to come back, I see.”

Drift unfolded himself from the floor and rose to his feet, fluid and smooth, shining and pretty. “We’re still partners, last I checked,” he said, an eerie calm in the way he carried himself. “I just wanted to cool off.”

“In Rodimus’ arms no less,” Ratchet sneered, knowing good and well he sounded petty and not giving a frag. “Good for you.”

Drift’s jaw visibly clenched. Only for him to cycle a ventilation as if gathering his patience and wrapping it around his shoulders like a cloak.

“I’m sorry,” he said, when a part of Ratchet had been hoping he’d argue, just for Ratchet to have an excuse to yell. “Sorry I ever asked. Sorry I even thought of it. Sorry I made you think you weren’t good enough and that I hurt you and made you think the worst of me.”

That… was not how Ratchet expected this to go. His processor stalled, all of his waspish retorts withering on the tip of his glossa. This wasn’t the script he understood.

Drift sighed again and took a step toward Ratchet, his hands raised as if beseeching. “Just pretend I never asked, okay? Pretend I was an idiot, which should be easy, and let’s just move past this. Can we do that? Please?”

He was earnest. Honest even.

Ratchet sighed. He searched Drift’s face, wanting to believe him. “It’s not that easy. I can’t pretend that you don’t want him.”

“Look. He’s my best friend and you’re my conjunx.” Drift closed the space between them, and Ratchet was too weak to resist the warm press of his field, the way it begged forgiveness. “Is it so wrong that I want to, I don’t know, manage to be in the same room with you two at the same time without you trying to glare his face off?”

Ratchet twisted his jaw. “And you thought having a threesome was the solution?”

Drift’s shoulders hunched. “I didn’t say it was a good plan,” he admitted, and his finials twitched guiltily. “Even Rodimus poked at me for it.”

Ratchet sighed and scrubbed a hand over his face. “You’re an idiot.”

“I know.”

Why did he always fall for the idiots?

He snagged Drift by the shoulder and pulled him into an embrace, one Drift returned with a grip strong enough to test the durability of Ratchet’s armor. “I’m not going to frag Rodimus.”

“Noted.” Drift’s reply was muffled in the crook of Rodimus’ intake. He trembled, ever so minute, and his grip on Ratchet’s hips was unrelenting.

Guilt soaked in, chasing away the anger. He still felt righteous in it, but maybe he’d overreacted a tad. Sparks were complicated things. He knew that as well as anyone.

There was a reason he and Drift never spoke of Pharma.

“But if it means that much to you, I can at least try to make friends with him,” Ratchet said with an exhausted ex-vent. Maybe it was time he let go of his resentment, hm? After all, Rodimus shared a captaincy with Megatron, so clearly all bets were off now.

“Sound fair?”

Drift’s engine purred, vibrating through both of their frames. “Yes. Just don’t… don’t leave.”

“I’m not going anywhere, kid.” He swept a hand down Drift’s back. “I’m sorry I was such an aft. I was angry. Not that it’s an excuse.”

Drift sighed softly. “Apology accepted.”

Ratchet was still convinced Drift let him get away with far too much. Or maybe they both did. It was a learning experience, a curve even, one so steep Ratchet didn’t know if they’d ever find the top.

But he’d meant it. He would at least try and be friendly with Rodimus. For Drift’s sake. And eventually, maybe he could convince himself that he was enough.

“I love you,” Drift said, much quieter this time, as though it were a fragile thing that he feared shattering with too much volume.

Ratchet’s spark squeezed tighter. He pressed the side of his head to Drift’s, arms tightening around the swordsmech.

“I know,” he said. “And I love you. Though that doesn’t preclude you infuriating me sometimes.”

Drift laughed, and there was a hitch in it, genuine though it was. “If I said you frustrate me, too, would that be fair?”

“More than.” Ratchet pulled back, slipping one arm free of Drift’s chassis so that he could tip a knuckle under Drift’s chin. He tipped Drift’s head up, so that their optics could meet. “But Drift, if you ever–”

“I don’t and I won’t,” Drift said, cutting him off, his hands squeezing where they gripped Ratchet’s hips.

Ratchet stroked the curve of his jaw with his thumb. “If you ever find your spark shifting,” he repeated, because sparks were funny things. People changed, and sometimes they didn’t, and you could never be sure, millennia later, who you might love and who you wouldn’t.

Just ask Pharma.

“If you want to… to….” Ratchet paused, cycled a ventilation, feeling the shrinking-compression of his spark that made it hard to ventilate. “I want you to be happy. Even if it means that happiness is not with me. Understand?”

Drift’s optics hardened, determined slits of fiery blue as he set his jaw. “Yes,” he replied, and his head turned into Ratchet’s palm. “But that’s not going to happen. I am happy with you. The fact that I’m an idiot hasn’t changed that.”

“You’re happy now,” Ratchet corrected. Or at least Drift thought he was. “But I just want you to know that you’re not not obligated, all right? Don’t stay because you think you have to or that you owe me or something or–”

Actions spoke louder than words, Ratchet supposed. That was the only explanation for Drift interrupting him again, only this time with a kiss, with the eager press of lips to his, Drift’s field pouring over him as well. It was warm and tingling, affectionate and apologetic, desperate.

He knew it wasn’t quite the mature thing to do. That they needed to talk more than they needed to kiss and touch and do… other things. But talking hadn’t gotten them anywhere right now, and Ratchet just wanted Drift in his arms again. He didn’t want his words to drive his conjunx away.

This was better. Safer. And far more appealing.

Ratchet relented into the kiss, softening Drift’s desperation, his fingers stroking the curve of Drift’s jaw. He stroked a hand down Drift’s back, letting their fields tangle, their ventilations rhythm match. He hadn’t had Drift in his arms in a week, and his spark felt that lack.

There was always time to talk later.

~

Rodimus paced back and forth outside of the door for the better part of ten minutes. He thanked Primus that no one ventured near this section of the Lost Light, and therefore, no one was privy to his obvious indecision. Well, except whoever was watching the security feed.

He knew what he needed to do. He just didn’t know if he was brave enough. Why was it easier to surf meteors or leap into the Dead Universe or strap himself to Tyrest’s Kill Switch than it was to raise his hand and buzz Ratchet’s door. Ostensibly, his office, though he claimed he wasn’t reclaiming it from First Aid or Velocity.

Rodimus stopped and stared at the door. He gnawed on his bottom lip. He’d promised Drift that he’d try and repair the rift between himself and Ratchet. It was something a long time coming anyhow.

He knew he was a disappointment. He didn’t know if there were enough apologies for that.

Rodimus sighed and scraped a hand down his face. He wouldn’t prove himself by being a coward, that was certain.

He buzzed the door.

It opened immediately.

Rodimus gathered his courage and stepped inside, though he hovered in the doorway, preventing it from auto-closing. He wouldn’t linger if Ratchet was busy. He didn’t know if he could do this with the medic in a tetchy mood.

“If you’re bleeding, you’re in the wrong place,” Ratchet said without looking up from whatever datapad he was examining. There was a dim cast to his optics, deeper lines in his face than Rodimus remembered.

Or maybe his anxiety was making him exaggerate.

“I’m not injured,” Rodimus said. “Got a minute?”

Ratchet looked up then, and a flurry of expressions flickered across his face before he leaned back in his chair, dropping his stylus to the top of his desk. “You’re the captain.”

Rodimus tried not to flinch. He didn’t think he was successful. “This is personal.”

Again, that same long look, indecision obviously warring within Ratchet, before he sighed and scrubbed a hand down his face. “I have a minute.”

He could not have sounded least engaged if he tried. Well, it was better than nothing. Rodimus stepped fully inside and the door closed behind him. Locking him in. Trapping him under the force of that heavy stare, which somehow always felt as though it examined Rodimus and left with disappointment.

Ultra Magnus used to be bad about that, too. But they’d come to something of an accord since Tyrest. Meanwhile, Rodimus’ relationship with Ratchet had only ever worsened. It wasn’t so much that Rodimus sought Ratchet’s approval in particular, but he did wish for it.

Ratchet was old guard. Friends with Orion Pax and then Optimus Prime. He’d been there from the beginning. He’d seen it all. He’d fought through it all. To be judged by a mech like him and found wanting, well, it stung.

Ratchet sighed again. “Well?” He looked just short of a scowl.

Rodimus startled. He’d been standing there too long like an idiot. Damn it.

He cycled a ventilation and swept a hand over his head. “I just came to apologize,” he said and dared step closer to the desk. He didn’t want to have to shout. “I never meant to cause a rift or anything like that between you and Drift.”

“Noted.” Ratchet lifted his head in a nod, but only in the barest sense of the word. “Was that all?”

He was cold, colder than liquid nitrogen. Rodimus failed, once again, to not flinch. He wondered how Megatron held his head up when so many people on this ship hated him. When so many people in the universe did. Meanwhile, Rodimus withered under the disappointed looks of a handful of mechs.

He supposed that’s what made Megatron the kind of mech people would follow, even to their deaths, while Rodimus just got his own killed.

Ratchet sighed and pinched the bridge of his nasal structure. “Look, Rodimus, I have a lot of work to do.”

“I know.” What was he hoping for? That Ratchet would smile at him? Idiot. “Sorry, I just… I know you hate me, Ratchet, and you have every right to. I wish it was different, is all. For Drift’s sake.”

Yes. Exactly that. For Drift’s sake. No selfish reasons here. None at all.

Ratchet’s engine rumbled. “I don’t hate you, kid,” he said, and his hand dropped to the desk with a loud clunk. “Hate is a very strong word. I’m angry. I’m disappointed. I’m upset. But I don’t hate you.”

Rodimus flinched. He couldn’t help it. Disappointed. There was no quicker way to cut the rug out from beneath him, honestly. Then again, that was Rodimus. Reaching for the stars, and crashing so hard back to the planet’s surface he killed other dreams along the way.

Good for him.

He believed Ratchet at least. Hate wasn’t part of the equation. But there was still something else there.

“But it bothers you that Drift is friends with me,” he said. And he knew it was with good reason.

He’d fragged up. A lot. He’d let himself be manipulated by Prowl. He’d let Drift take the blame. He’d tossed Drift off the Lost Light as though he meant nothing. And then, when the guilt consumed him, he eased his own conscience by admitting it to the crew.

He didn’t, however, go after Drift. Because guilt was one thing, and fear another. It was easier, so much easier, to admit what he’d done to a crew of a couple hundred mecha who constantly waffled on liking him anyway. But to go after Drift, his best friend, and admit that he’d fragged everything up…

That was a thousand times more frightening.

Ratchet chuffed a vent. “My issues with Drift are none of your business.”

Ow. That sounded defensive.

“When it concerns me, I think they are,” Rodimus said, and held up his hands, backing away a step. “Look, Ratchet. You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to him. Don’t think I don’t know that. I don’t want to get in the middle of it.”

“Except, apparently, where you do,” Ratchet gritted out.

Rodimus ground his denta. “That was Drift’s idea, not mine. But that’s not even the point. I’m not trying to take him from you, Ratchet. I swear! I’m happy just being his friend.”

Which was the truth. Rodimus adored Drift, and if friendship was all that ever came out of it, he’d be glad for it. He didn’t want to lose Drift either.

“I fragged up,” Rodimus said, which he didn’t know if he said it often enough. “I know I did. I don’t even deserve to call myself his friend, so if you want me to go away, I will.”

As much as he wanted Drift’s friendship, he would not cling to it if it meant Drift risked what he had with Ratchet. Drift had given up too much for Rodimus already.

Ratchet audibly cycled a ventilation and scrubbed at the base of his chevron. “I don’t want you to go away,” he said testily, though it didn’t sound like the absolute truth. “And it’s unfair of me to make that decision for you or him.”

“I’m not talking about what’s fair, I’m talking about what’s right.” For the love of Primus, if they brought fairness into it, they’d never see the end of weighing the scales of justice.

“And so am I, kid.” Ratchet sighed again and lowered his hand to the desk. “I don’t hate you. And I can’t lose something that wants to leave.”

“Drift loves you,” Rodimus insisted. He didn’t like the resignation in Ratchet’s tone, as though he’d already lost Drift and was just waiting for Drift to realize it. “You went after him when no one else did, including me. He doesn’t want to leave you. I’m sure of it.”

Ratchet snorted. “I don’t need you to tell me that either.”

Contrary stubborn old medic!

Rodimus leaned back and rubbed his forehead. “All right. I can take a hint.” At least he could say he’d tried. He backed toward the door, which opened when it sensed his proximity. “We don’t have to be friends or anything, Ratchet. But it would be nice if we could get along. Or, at least, pretend to.”

He left, his spark quivering, and his armor drawn tight.

He’d tried. He’d made the effort. Maybe it was enough. Maybe it wasn’t.

But he’d tried.

~

Ratchet knew Rodimus was right.

He didn’t want to admit it, because all the other emotions crowding into his spark kept him in the grip of shame, but Rodimus had a point. They didn’t need to be friends. But they could stand to get along. If not only for Drift’s sake, but also for the sake of the crew of the Lost Light.

Ratchet was no longer Chief Medical Officer. He’d left that position to First Aid, who may or may not have turned it over to Velocity. Honestly, Ratchet wasn’t sure anymore. The war was supposed to be over. Titles didn’t matter anymore, except to the people who needed them.

Ratchet hadn’t returned to boot Velocity out of the medbay. It was her territory, her domain. He assisted. He took shifts. He counseled. And that was that.

For the crew, however, it was not that simple. They still looked to Ratchet for guidance, especially when it came to the fact their co-captain was Megatron.

Ratchet bore that responsibility in stride. The weight of it was at least familiar. But that also meant he couldn’t be seen acting like a sparkling or an immature protoform.

So when Rodimus pinged his door again, a week later, Ratchet braced himself and allowed the captain inside. He expected it to be another attempt at an apology, and he was right. Only it came with a gift attached.

“Drift said you forget to fuel sometimes,” Rodimus said with an almost sheepish air as he presented Ratchet with a cube of mid-grade which, judging by the glittery bits floating around in it, was spiced to his specifications.

Ratchet peered at him, but accepted the cube. “I do,” he said. “Though it’s usually on purpose because it gives Drift an excuse to bother me.” At least, currently that was the rhythm. Before, yes, when he was Chief Medical Officer and that was all, he did forget to fuel, entirely on accident.

“Oh.” Rodimus’ face heated and his finials twitched. It was kind of cute. “Do I want to know why you want him to, ahem, bother you?”

Ratchet smirked and leaned back in his chair, fingers cupped around the cube – which was warmed, he noticed. Someone had been spilling secrets. “That depends on how much you want to be embarrassed right now,” he replied. Did he sound smug?

Probably.

Drift was his goddamnit. And Rodimus might be one of the prettiest things wandering the corridors of the Lost Light, but Ratchet wasn’t going to count himself out of the equation just yet.

Rodimus stared at him for a long moment, his optics flickering, until he suddenly reared back, his spoiler twitching upward. “Wait? Is that why he sent me here?”

Ratchet almost choked on his energon, though that kind of half-cocked plan did sound right up Drift’s alley. “I should certainly hope not,” he spluttered as his vents heaved. He didn’t know if he was amused or outraged, or possibly both.

“Primus,” Rodimus muttered and pressed the heel of his palm to his face. “That idiot. I’m going to kill him.” He spun on a heelstrut and stalked toward Ratchet’s door.

“Not if I get to him first!” Ratchet called after Rodimus, but the captain was already gone.

Ratchet shook his head and wiped droplets of energon from his desk and chair, his vents still twitching. Energon did not belong in the vent system. Primus, that would itch for a few hours.

And well.

That was kind of nice, he reflected. He’d tried, hadn’t he?

As it would turn out, neither he nor Rodimus killed Drift. If anything, the fragger looked smug as Ratchet returned to their shared habsuite, and vociferously denied any evil intentions behind sending Rodimus to Ratchet’s office.

It must have been the start of some kind of grand plan on Drift’s part, because surely it wasn’t Rodimus’ idea to clean the medbay and Ratchet’s station prior to Ratchet’s arrival.

Surely Rodimus was too busy for the thrice weekly visits to Ratchet’s office, brief stays where he brought energon or little goodies or a new book from the bridge box Brainstorm had installed before they left Cybertron again.

Only Drift, and perhaps Rodimus in concert, could envision a plan of rekindling a friendship that looked an awful lot like old-fashioned courting.

Ratchet did, at least, believe Rodimus was sincere. And if Rodimus was trying, then Ratchet could, too. He could meet Rodimus halfway.

~

It was Drift’s idea.

Ratchet had agreed, burying his reluctance deep in the pit of his tanks, and drowning it out with half a bottle of engex. Not enough to get him wasted or drunk or even tipsy, but just enough to have the courage to agree. It was worth it, for the soft and careful smile on Drift’s face. For the way he leaned in, lips brushing over Ratchet’s cheek, fingers lingering on Ratchet’s hip. The way he murmured his gratitude, and his field spoke a heated promise for later.

It was just snacks and a movie, nothing special or unusual, save that they’d invited Rodimus to join them this time. Three friends and sorta-friends enjoying a casual past-time. There should be nothing special about it.

Anxiety tightened around Ratchet’s intake. He distracted himself by tidying, barking at Drift about the incense odor lingering, and picking up random odds and ends scattered around their shared quarters. They weren’t messy mechs, but clutter did tend to linger.

Drift wisely didn’t comment on Ratchet’s behavior. He didn’t even defend himself about the incense. It was a row they’d had before, but not with any seriousness behind it.

The door chimed. Ratchet’s hackles rose. He let Drift answer it, and tried not to act like he was watching too closely. Except that he was.

Drift opened the door, and Rodimus stood there, holding some kind of box, his lips curved in a nervous smile, his spoiler-halves twitching with visible agitation.

“I’m early, aren’t I?” Rodimus said.

“Just a little,” Drift replied with a soft laugh. “I admit I’m a bit impressed. I didn’t know you could be early.”

The mech who usually somersaulted onto the bridge and never showed up somewhere without making a scene, all but crept into Ratchet and Drift’s shared habsuite.

“Hi, Ratchet,” he said, fingers tightening around the box that he lifted to show. “I brought snacks.”

“Rust crisps?” Drift asked, popping up beside Rodimus and leaning over his side, trying to peer into the container. “Oilcakes? Magnesium jellies?”

Rodimus chuckled and twisted away from Drift as if trying to hide the box. “You’ll find out,” he said teasingly, only for his gaze to slide to Ratchet and he coughed a ventilation. “I mean, yeah, it’s rust crisps. I figured everyone likes them.”

Tension crept in. Drift backed away from Rodimus, though there had been nothing untoward in their behavior. Rodimus fidgeted. Drift moved further away.

“I do like them,” Ratchet said, to be polite. “Thank you, Rodimus. That was considerate of you.”

Rodimus lifted his shoulders in a shallow shrug. “It’s nothing special,” he said, and his faceplate heated. “Skids owed me a favor is all.”

“I didn’t know Skids could cook.” Drift moved next to Ratchet, taking his hand and giving it a squeeze.

“Neither did he.” Rodimus laughed. “He decided to give it a try a couple months ago and lo and behold, it started to come back to him. He likes cooking though. Says it relaxes him.”

A couple of months ago. No wonder Ratchet hadn’t known it either. This would have happened while both he and Drift were gone.

There were so many things they didn’t know.

Drift nudged Ratchet with his shoulder. “Maybe I can get him to teach me. That way I can spoil you.”

“Perish the thought.” Ratchet rolled his optics and eased his fingers free. “Aren’t we going to watch a movie?” It was weird. Drift wasn’t usually this clingy when others were around.

Maybe this was his fault. His little jealousies and accusations probably made Drift wary in his behavior around Rodimus. Usually they joked and teased each other, playful little nudges and looks. Now there was a distance, a hesitation. Rodimus stood around as if he didn’t dare come closer, and Drift wanted to be attached to Ratchet’s hip.

“That was the plan,” Drift said cheerfully. “Come on, Roddy. You can put the crisps on the table over here.”

“I’ll get the engex,” Ratchet said, and left them to it. He tried not to watch like some kind of jealous lover, keeping his attention focused on the bottle and cups he’d collected specifically for this evening.

It wasn’t very strong. Wouldn’t even produce a light buzz for a lightweight, but this particular blend was about taste anyway.

Weakness set in. Ratchet snuck a glance at Drift and Rodimus, but Drift was arranging pillows on the couch, and Rodimus was tapping through the movie selection at their disposal. They weren’t even talking.

Guilt scorched away the weakness. Ratchet dropped his gaze.

There was no maybe about it. This was his fault. He should feel triumph. Instead, he felt a sickly unease. As if he’d stolen something precious from Drift.

Ratchet gathered up the engex and cups, put them on a tray, and joined the two speedsters. He set the tray on the table next to the unboxed treats, which sparkled bright and enticing at him. He recognized more than a few of them, and the guilt clawed at his spark again.

They were all his favorite flavors.

“What did you pick?” Ratchet asked before he flopped down on the couch, sinking into the thick, plush cushions he and Drift had agreed to buy on an indulgent whim.

Rodimus turned with a grin. “I couldn’t decide,” he chirped and swept up the remote, only to present it to Ratchet. “Figured you should have the honor.”

Drift dimmed the lights before he settled in next to Ratchet, snuggling up to his right side, leaving more than enough room on his other side. He was warm, his engine purring quietly, vibrating both of their frames. His field nudged at Ratchet’s, thick with affection.

“Besides, we all know my taste in movies leaves something to be desired,” Drift said with a quiet chuckle. “Right, Ratch?”

“Right.” Ratchet grunted and accepted the remote.

Rodimus laughed, but he didn’t take the bait or the opportunity. The chance to tease Drift came and went and fizzled away. The awkwardness settled back in.

“I’ll watch anything,” Rodimus declared. He looked at the couch, the empty space next to Drift, and then he spun around and plopped his aft on the floor, next to the table.

He fidgeted for a few seconds before Drift wordlessly handed him a pillow, and Rodimus accepted it with a quiet thanks. He tucked it under his aft and leaned forward, draping his arms over his knees, his spoiler halves twitching faintly.

Ratchet quietly selected something that looked vaguely entertaining. It had three stars and declared itself as some kind of bold, action-filled romp. He figured it was loud and exciting enough to captivate both Drift and Rodimus. Ratchet had the feeling he wouldn’t be able to concentrate on anything no matter what he’d picked.

“Good choice,” Drift murmured as he slid an arm around Ratchet’s chassis, pillowing his head on Ratchet’s shoulder. His field was still that heavy, affectionate pulse against Ratchet’s. “This is an interesting series.”

“Glad you approve.” Ratchet’s arm rested around Drift, and he had to admit, it felt nice. But the guilt gnawed at him the more he stared at the back of Rodimus’ head, while the empty half of the couch mocked Ratchet for being such a jerk.

He leaned forward, setting the remote on the table and grabbed the tray of engex. As he leaned back, he plopped the tray into Drift’s lap.

“Get off the floor, Rodimus,” Ratchet said, and maybe his tone was a touch cranky, but damn it, he hated feeling like this. “There’s plenty of room up here.”

Rodimus ducked his head and peered over his shoulder, the opening strains of the film’s credits nearly drowning out his words. “You sure?”

“Wouldn’t have offered if I wasn’t,” Ratchet said with a dismissive shrug. “Get up here. And bring the crisps with you. I’m too old to be moving around this much.”

Drift chuckled. “You’re not that old,” he said as he nuzzled Ratchet’s shoulder. It was a tease, but it couldn’t hide the tension in his frame as Rodimus obeyed, unfolding himself from the floor and snagging the tray of treats.

Drift, in the middle, became the holder of snacks. The treats joined the engex as Rodimus eased onto the couch next to him. There was a noticeable distance between them, a great care taken. Rodimus perched on the cushion as if it would bite him, his armor drawn tight, and his gaze was firmly focused on the screen.

He startled when Drift nudged him, offering a cup of the engex, and accepted it with a small smile.

“Help yourself to the treats,” Drift said. “Just because you brought them doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have any.”

Rodimus hid behind his engex. “I think I’ve had enough already,” he said, and then his gaze slid past Drift, to Ratchet, and suddenly, he went silent. His attention returned to the screen.

Tension sizzled in the air. Drift cuddled closer; Rodimus leaned further. He shifted. His thigh brushed Drift’s. They looked at each other, and then hastily looked away.

Ratchet sighed, but only to himself.

This wasn’t tenable. This wasn’t fair.

This was his fault.

He had to fix it, repair what he’d ruined. He’d done this, with his accusations and his insecurities. He’d made this uncomfortable rift between two people who should have been friends, who should be able to be there for each other.

He had to fix this.

And soon.

~

A month into Rodimus’ quest to make himself a helpful nuisance that Ratchet couldn’t seem to stop tripping over, he invited Rodimus to join him at the bar. A public place even. Swerve’s, as public as it got on the Lost Light, and without the Drift-shaped buffer between them.

Drift was busy assisting Perceptor, rekindling another old friendship, yet one that did not make Ratchet quite as growly as the hesitant flame-colored mech currently sliding into the booth across from him. Rodimus smiled, but it held nothing of the confident smirk it usually did.

“Where’s Drift?” he asked, looking all around them as if Ratchet had Drift tucked behind the bar or under the table.

“It’s just us,” Ratchet said, and gestured to the tall flute of bubbling sweetness in front of Rodimus. “That’s for you. I’m told it’s your favorite.”

Rodimus’ optics lit up, even as his face heated, and he quickly moved the cup out of view of anyone else in the bar. Though not before he discreetly took a sip.

“It is,” he said. “Thank you.” His spoiler waggled with sheer delight.

Frag it.

He was unfairly cute.

“You’re welcome,” Ratchet grunted and took a heavy hit of his own engex, something thick and oily, vaguely unpleasant, if only to keep him from getting too enticed by Rodimus. “Thanks, by the way. Don’t think I haven’t noticed the effort you’re putting in around me.”

Rodimus actually ducked his head. “I’m not good with words,” he said and stared hard at the table top. “I don’t know how else to say I’m sorry.”

“Actions’re a good start.”

“Yeah, but….” Rodimus trailed off and shrugged. “They don’t say enough.”

Ratchet tilted his head. “That’s debatable. I suppose it depends on the offended person.”

Rodimus lifted his gaze, though the hesitation in it made Ratchet’s internals squirm. “Why isn’t Drift here?”

“Can’t talk to me without him?” Ratchet said with a raised orbital ridge.

“No, I just….” Rodimus scrubbed the back of his neck with his hand. “Just didn’t figure you’d want to bother with me without him.”

Ratchet snorted. “Contrary to popular belief, I do exist without a swordsman shaped shadow. Besides, there’s only so far friendship can be pushed for someone else’s sake.”

Rodimus’ optics rounded. “Friends?”

Ratchet waggled a finger at him. “Don’t get ahead of yourself, kid. I’m just saying, we can work on it. But it’ll only work if we don’t have Drift playing peacemaker. Get me?”

Rodimus nodded so vigorously his spoiler flaps wriggled. “Yeah. I get you. Does this mean you forgive me?”

For what? Ratchet wanted to ask, but he bit it back. Lots of things Rodimus had done weren’t Ratchet’s to forgive. He was angry, furious even, on the behalf of others. But Rodimus was trying, had tried.

He had his bobbles. He was still reckless, occasionally tactless, and hopelessly desperate to please. But he was miles farther than where he was when he started this journey, and he had miles yet to go.

“It means that we can start to move forward,” Ratchet said, and focused intently on his engex. “And I’m going to make an effort to be less of an aft.” And, quite possibly, offer some apologies of his own.

By the way Rodimus beamed at him, Ratchet would have thought he’d just said he was going to boot off Megatron and the quest would be Rodimus’ alone again.

“I can work with that,” Rodimus said and slurped at his fizzy, lurid pink drink, the smile on his face enough to make Ratchet’s spark squeeze just a tad. “I just, you know, wanna fix things.”

Ratchet nodded. “Then I think we’re on the right track.”

It occurred to Ratchet then, that maybe Drift was right when he said things weren’t so simple. That it wasn’t about just wanting to frag Rodimus.

No one worked this hard just for a quick night of swapping cables or exchanging fluids. There had to be more, something Ratchet was missing. Something Drift had either been unwilling or unable to explain.

“It’s not just about interfacing, is it?” Ratchet found himself asking, much, much later, when he and Drift were curled up in the berth, ostensibly trying to recharge.

Ratchet, however, wasn’t doing too much sleeping. He was staring hard at the ceiling, his processor churning, memory core bringing up image after image of Rodimus, of Drift, observations of the two of them together. Memories of Rodimus’ behavior toward himself.

There was more to the story, he was sure of it.

Drift stirred, his field lifting from where it had been blanketing them both in a sleepy haze. “Huh?” he murmured, curling inward, nuzzling Ratchet’s windshield.

“This thing with Rodimus.”

Tucked under his arm, Drift went still. So still he barely ventilated and the warmth of his ex-vents scarcely fogged Ratchet’s windshield. “I’m not sure what you want me to say, Ratchet.” He still curled close, but something in him felt as though it were withdrawing. Bracing himself, perhaps, for what felt like an inevitable fight.

Ratchet didn’t want to fight. He wanted to understand.

“I want the truth.” However much it hurt. “The real answer.”

Drift didn’t look up. He was silent for a long moment before he cycled an audible ventilation. “It’s not,” he said, so quietly Ratchet almost didn’t hear him. “Just interfacing, I mean.”

“And it’s not about making he and I friends either.” Ratchet shuttered his optics and worked his intake. It was as he’d feared. “You love him.”

He felt, more than saw, the shiver that raced through Drift’s armor. His silence was telling, but Ratchet still wanted to hear the words. He needed to know it wasn’t all in his head.

“Drift,” he prompted.

“Please don’t make me say it.”

“Drift. Look at me.”

Nothing. Honestly, Ratchet had himself to blame in part for this, given how he’d ‘blown up’ for lack of a better term, at Drift a few months ago. What did he expect?

He curled an arm around Drift’s frame and nudged a finger beneath Drift’s chin, tipping his head up. Drift’s optics were pale, but he focused on Ratchet nonetheless.

“You love Rodimus.” It was a statement.

Another harsh tremble ripped through Drift’s frame. “Yes.”

There it was. Did Ratchet feel better? Not at all. But as he’d told Rodimus, he couldn’t lose something that didn’t want to stay. And he had no right to cling tightly to someone who wanted to leave.

“Do you want to dissolve our partnership?”

“No!” Drift lurched into motion, bursting out of his huddle to slam his hands to either side of Ratchet’s head. “No, that’s not it at all. Primus, I wish I’d never asked that stupid question!” Anger flashed in his field, but it was turned entirely inward.

Ratchet’s hand slid to Drift’s back. “I believe you.”

“Huh?”

Ratchet sighed and tilted his head back into the pillow, half-shuttering his optics. “I’m old and cranky and creaky, and there’s a part of me that still doesn’t believe in us. Not because of anything you’ve done, but because of what I am.”

Drift’s expression turned fierce, his mouth opening in what was most likely a vigorous defense of Ratchet’s attractiveness. Ratchet quickly cut it off with a finger across Drift’s lips.

“Hush, I’m not done yet,” he said, and Drift’s mouth closed. He nodded.

Good. Ratchet shifted to cup Drift’s face, stroking his thumb over the jut of armor framing Drift’s cheek. He was so handsome, and maybe the numerous re-builds were to blame, but Ratchet still found it hard to reconcile the fact that Drift was almost as old as he was.

“I love you,” Ratchet said, because it was a truth that would not change, no matter what Drift told him. “And you love me. But you also love him.”

Drift’s cheek heated under his hand. He trembled, but he said nothing.

“Rodimus and I have come to a… ceasefire, if you want to call it that.” Though Primus knew Ratchet was the only one wielding a blaster. “And I think, if you truly want to give it a try, then I’m willing to make an attempt.”

Drift stared at him. His field pushed at Ratchet’s, as though trying to be invited within so as to suss out his intentions. “What are you saying?”

Ratchet cycled a ventilation. He hoped he wasn’t making a huge mistake. “I’m willing to try sharing a berth with Rodimus.”

Drift’s optics rounded. His ventilations caught and stuttered.

“One,” Ratchet was quick to correct, before Drift got ahead of himself. “One try at the least. It might not work out. It could be that I’m far too possessive or he’s a pain in the aft in more ways than one but–”

Drift kissed him. Fierce. Deep. Desperate. It held echoes of before, after their first messy argument about this, as though Drift sought to reassure Ratchet with actions, not words, all over again.

Their denta clanged, and the faint taste of energon flavored the kiss. Drift’s field rose up and around him before crashing down, thick with relief and need and desire and so much love that Ratchet felt he were drowning in it.

Drift approved, Ratchet assumed. And was grateful for it.

Now he could only hope it wouldn’t be a concession he would come to regret.

For both of their sakes.

~

Upon receiving the invitation, Rodimus had thought it a cruel joke or an even crueler prank. But he’d triple-checked the signature, and confirmed it with Drift and Ratchet both before he was able to believe it.

He was then faced with a choice: to confirm or decline.

His spark leapt at the opportunity. It had his cursor hovering over the acceptance and only the screeching protest of his processor kept him from clicking ‘accept’ within seconds of realizing the invite was real.

This could backfire, his processor told him.

Horribly.

He’d meant it when he told Ratchet he didn’t want to come between them. He’d also meant it when he told Drift he didn’t need interfacing to be with Drift. He was happy with their friendship alone.

But he wanted. By Primus did he long to accept this invitation. Not just because of Drift, but because of Ratchet, too.

He liked Ratchet. He respected Ratchet. He’d heard stories about Ratchet.

He wanted to accept, but the risks nagged at him. He could mess up, make things worse somehow. Triads weren’t always the solution. They often caused more problems than they solved.

He didn’t want to decline.

Rodimus gnawed on his bottom lip until it felt bruised. And then he clicked the ‘accept’ option and sent the response on its way. Feelings bubbled up within him. Excitement. Elation. Arousal.

Dread.

But he’d made his choice, and he would see it through.

For better or worse.

A week later found him standing outside of Ratchet and Drift’s habsuite, nervously shifting his weight from foot to foot as he waited for one of them to answer his ping. He was early, perhaps obnoxiously so, but having spent the better part of the day pacing around the Lost Light with both Ultra Magnus and Megatron asking him what was wrong, he couldn’t wait any longer. Else he might lose his nerve altogether.

The door opened, revealing a smiling Drift who looked as nervous as Rodimus felt. “Hey,” he said.

“Hey,” Rodimus replied and tilted to the side, trying to see past Drift, but not able to spot Ratchet. “I, uh, know I’m early but…” He trailed off and offered a nervous smile of his own. Somehow, knowing Drift was anxious also made Rodimus relax by a fraction.

“It’s okay. We figured you would be. Come on in.”

Drift stepped aside, Rodimus cycled a ventilation and accepted the invitation. His spoiler was twitching, he realized, and his knees wobbled, but he planted a grin on his face, and a mantle of confidence on his shoulders.

Ratchet was here, as it turned out, seated in his favorite chair with a glass of engex cupped in one hand.

“Guess being early is your new habit,” Ratchet said, closer to a grunt, and probably the closest thing he had to friendly.

Rodimus’ face heated. “I… uh…”

“Ratchet, play nice,” Drift said with a roll of his optics. “Besides, which one of us has been sitting in that chair staring at the door for the past hour?”

Ratchet’s optics narrowed, and his grip on his engex tightened. But his expression told all that Rodimus needed to know.

More of the apprehension eased off his shoulders. It was nice to know he wasn’t alone in his anxiety.

“Fair enough,” Ratchet grunted and took a long drag of his engex. “Then let’s set some ground rules.”

Drift sighed and scrubbed his palm down his face.

Rodimus planted a bigger smile on his lips. “I’m okay with ground rules,” he said with a sage nod. “Are we talking safe words or…?”

“No. Primus, no. We are not engaging in that sort of play,” Ratchet said with a shake of his head.

“At least, not this time anyway,” Drift cut in with a long, exaggerated wink. He looked fit to burst, bouncing on his heel struts, his optics bright and energized. Gone were the blades, all three of them, set aside in preparation for this.

He was pretty cute like that.

Rodimus tried not to stare. He distracted himself by coughing into his fist and redirecting his attention to Ratchet.

“So… is this one of those things where I’m not allowed to spike Drift or something?” Rodimus asked, and then winced. Way to reveal you’d been in a threesome before Rodimus. Way to show them just how much of a slut you were.

Drift groaned. “Roddy…”

“No, nothing of the sort,” Ratchet said, and his lips curved in the closest thing to a smile he’d managed so far. “Just… keep it simple. Stop if someone says stop. Ask first. And above all, communicate.”

Rodimus nodded. “I can do that.” He folded his arms and then realized that looked defensive, so he dropped them again. His gaze skittered toward the berth. “Are we just going to… uh…” Primus, he felt awkward. Where was all his charm?

Ratchet leaned back in his chair, his expression at once unreadable again. “You two’ve waited long enough. I think, for now, I’ll watch.”

“Hardly a trial, right?” Drift said lightly, obviously a tease.

Ratchet snorted a laugh. He said nothing further, however, only waved them on. Rodimus felt the weight of his gaze, however, and it made his backstrut tingle.

Just as much as Drift suddenly looking at him did. They were within arms reach of each other, but Rodimus didn’t know who should make the first move. What was more acceptable? What if he looked too eager? What if Drift did?

His spark pounded in his chassis. He licked his lips, nervous.

“Well?” Ratchet urged, his voice sounding as if it came from a distance. “Do you need me to play director?”

Rodimus flushed.

Drift rolled his optics. “He’s such a mood-killer,” he murmured as he closed the distance between them. “No, we don’t!” he added in an aside to Ratchet.

“Then get the show on the road!”

Rodimus chuckled, his spark palpating as Drift reached for his hand and tugged him the last step or two, until their chestplates rang together.

“He’s just nervous. Awkward. We all are,” Rodimus said, shivering as Drift’s thumb rubbed circles on the inside of his wrist. There must have been a hidden node cluster there or something because it made heat coil in Rodimus’ belly.

His vents quickened.

“What’s there to be nervous about?” Drift asked as his other hand rested tentatively on Rodimus’ hip, his fingers stroking a soothing pattern.

Rodimus huffed an uneasy laugh. “Everything,” he admitted and dared rest a hand on Drift’s shoulder, his thumb stroking over Drift’s tire. “I don’t want to mess anything up. You know I already have a pretty good history of that.”

“You can’t mess this up,” Drift said with a little smile. “But let’s make it simple. We could just start with a kiss.”

Rodimus liked his lips. “Okay,” he said, and cycled a ventilation.

He leaned in. Drift reflected him.

Their lips brushed together, tentative at first, before Rodimus dared press his mouth to Drift’s. His hand tightened around Drift’s even as Drift tugged him closer, their chestplates colliding, heat building between them.

The kiss deepened. Rodimus shivered. He startled when Drift’s glossa introduced itself, the damp tip touching Rodimus’ lip in quiet request. He heard Drift laugh softly, into the kiss, before he pressed onward.

Rodimus moaned, Drift’s glossa plunging into his mouth, the kiss turning heated. Hungry. Drift tasted like he’d been snacking on those energon jellies he liked, sweet and sour both at once. His field flowed in around Rodimus’, surrounding him on all edges. Heat wafted off his frame and Rodimus shivered again.

And then it was over, far, far too soon. Drift’s forehead pressed to his, their lips so close they exchanged ventilations.

“See?” Drift murmured, his hand squeezing Rodimus’ hip. “Nothing to be nervous about at all.”

Rodimus grabbed him by the head and kissed him again, fiercely this time. Because Drift was right. He had no need to be anxious, and if this was his only chance, he intended to enjoy it.

Drift groaned into the kiss, grabbing Rodimus’ hips, squeezing tightly enough to stress the metal. His armor rippled, his field turning thick and heavy with lust.

For Rodimus.

Primus save him.

Heat flashed through his frame like a wildfire. It curled in his belly, pooled in his array, made his spike throb and his valve twitch. His engine purred hungrily, and he didn’t realize Drift was slowly urging him backward until his aft bumped into something. Table? Couch? He wasn’t sure.

He supposed it didn’t matter. It gave him something to lean against, trapped with Drift pressed hard to his front, knee nudging between his thighs. Rodimus moaned as he parted them obediently, his valve throbbing. He refused to release his grip on Drift’s head, worried that Drift might pull away, and Rodimus wanted to kiss him more. Wanted to drown in it, honestly.

He knew, distantly, that Ratchet was watching them. It was a constant prickle on the edge of his awareness. A worry. What did Ratchet think? Was he angry? Was he upset? Was he jealous?

Rodimus unshuttered his optics and glanced to his left, catching a glimpse of the medic. Ratchet’s expression was unreadable, his gaze focused on the both of them. But one hand had wandered to his interfacing panel, and he was stroking it. Hopefully, that was a good sign.

Drift squeezed his hips, and Rodimus’ attention swerved back toward his best friend. Drift looked at him, his optics warm and affectionate.

“You okay?” he asked, his voice soft so as not to carry.

Rodimus’ face heated. “I’m fine,” he replied. “I just…” His backstrut tingled. He knew Ratchet was watching them. What if he crossed some line?

“Hey.” Drift squeezed again, and then loosened his grip, fingers tickling into seams and making Rodimus shiver. “You can just focus on me, okay? Just me. Worry about the rest after.”

Rodimus nodded, but even he knew it was distracted. Heat pulsed through his frame. Arousal was definitely there. Need, too. He wanted Drift. He felt like he always had. He just…

“We can still stop, you know,” Drift added, and his field was nothing if not earnest.

Rodimus shook his head. “I don’t want to! I just…” He sucked his bottom lip into his mouth and cycled a ventilation. “Just don’t let me frag things up.”

Drift smiled. “You can’t. Not in this,” he said, and slanted their lips together, drowning Rodimus in a kiss that made his knees weak and his vents stutter.

He moaned, clutching onto Drift, arousal returning with a vengeance. His cooling fans roared as he rolled his hips, grinding his array on Drift’s thigh, his panels snapping open and leaving a streak of lubricant behind. His spikehead poked at Drift’s groin, rubbing over heated metal, and it felt so damn good.

He took his best friend’s advice, pushing all else from his mind. If this was his first, last, and only chance, he wanted to savor it. So he focused on Drift, the heat of him, the scent of him, the feel of his field wrapping around him. He’d wanted this for so long after all. He’d always wanted this.

Rodimus tucked his face into Drift’s intake. “Drift,” he panted, scrubbing his valve over Drift’s thigh. “Frag me. Please.”

A low growl spilled from Drift’s intake. His panel snapped open and Rodimus shivered as he felt Drift’s spike grind against his belly. Drift leaned against him, pinning him against the back of the couch and Rodimus nearly whimpered. His valve ached, lubricant trickling down the inside of his thighs.

His fingers curled over Drift’s shoulders. He shifted his weight, hooked a leg around Drift’s waist, and shivered as Drift’s spike bumped against his valve. Yes. This right here. This was what he wanted.

“Just tell me to stop,” Drift growled into his audial, his vocals rough and hungry. He gripped Rodimus’ hips, tilted him, his spikehead sliding through the swollen, dripping folds of Rodimus’ valve.

Rodimus moaned. “Never.”

Drift slid into him, one long push that slowly filled him, igniting every one of his inner nodes along the way. Rodimus shivered, his backstrut arching, his sensornet tingling. His valve clasped hungrily on Drift’s spike, spilling charge at him.

He clutched Drift tighter, burying his face against Drift’s intake, in-venting the scent of his best friend. The cheap wax, the incense, the heat of his arousal. He trembled as heat spilled into his groin, tightening into a coil.

Drift bottomed out and lingered, his spike throbbing, the head of it pulsing against Rodimus’ ceiling node. He, too, was shaking, though more subtly. His grip on Rodimus’ hips was almost bruising, but there was a desperation in it, too.

Rodimus panted and pressed a kiss to Drift’s neck, his denta grazing the heated cables there. “Frag me,” he murmured, right into Drift’s audial. “Come on, Drift. Make me scream.”

A low whine eeked out of Drift’s engine. His grip tightened, and then suddenly he was claiming Rodimus’ mouth again as he pulled back and thrust, harder, deeper.

Rodimus gasped into the kiss. His backstrut curved, his hands scrabbling at Drift’s shoulders. He moaned as Drift pumped into him, rattling him against the couch, making it rattle in return.

Pleasure flooded Rodimus’ array in a bright burst of charge. His calipers clenched, fluttering excitedly, as ecstasy spooled within him. His spark throbbed to the same beat, as Drift’s field wrapped around him with tingling warmth.

Oh, Primus. It was good. It was so good. Better than this imagination, far better than the secret fantasies in the dark of his quarters.

“Harder,” Rodimus moaned. “Oh, Drift. Harder. Make me feel it.” Give him something to remember, if this was all there ever would be.

He trembled, his vents coming in gasping bursts against Drift’s lips. They less kissed as their mouths clashed together. Rodimus’ foot drummed against the back of Drift’s thigh before he felt Drift hitch him up, both of his legs encircling Drift’s waist. His aft slammed into the couch as Drift pounded into him, raking over his node clusters. The change in angle trapped Rodimus’ anterior node cluster against Drift’s pelvic span, sending a new burst of pleasure through Rodimus’ frame.

Charge built and built, his spark throbbing to the oscillations of it. Rodimus growled out a moan, his hands forming fists on Drift’s shoulders, his frame shivering. Static fire crawled through his lines, and his thighs trembled.

Drift slammed into him, grinding hard against his ceiling node, and Rodimus jolted. Overload snapped through his frame, his calipers cinching tight as he rippled around Drift’s spike. His own spurted, spilling transfluid against Drift’s belly, and his vents roared.

Drift claimed his lips, growling as he overloaded as well, and Rodimus felt the hot spatter of transfluid within him. He moaned as it triggered another, smaller overload within him, his valve rippling and hungry. He panted, hips rocking gently against Drift’s, extending the pleasure.

Drift pressed his forehead to Rodimus’ as he panted. He rolled his hips, grinding into Rodimus in slow motions, as if savoring. They were both trembling, their vents roaring.

Rodimus groped for words. Something glib to say even. But his processor offered nothing but static, and his frame hummed.

“Ahem.”

Rodimus froze. Drift echoed him.

Ratchet.

He’d forgotten about Ratchet.

~

In his relative youth, Ratchet had been something of a mech known to party. He’d had his fun, dancing and playing around and hopping from berth to berth in search of the next, best pleasure high. He’d chased after the good times as though they were going to vanish, and hah, little did he know, but they would.

Ratchet was not an inexperienced mech. And it would take one with no interest in interfacing whatsoever to not look at two mechs like Rodimus and Drift intertwined and think anything short of “Primus, but can I join them?”

Because he did want to join them. His array was so hot that his panels scorched to the touch and only sheer force of will kept his equipment hidden. His spike was desperate to pressurize. Lubricant pushed at the panel concealing his valve. He trembled, already on the cusp of overload.

The two of them separate were gorgeous. Wrapped around one another, they were the stuff interfacing fantasies were born from.

One of them belonged, for lack of a better word, to Ratchet. The other did not.

Attraction warred with jealousy. He gripped his cube of energon to conceal the conflicting emotions. He ground his denta because he didn’t know if he wanted to storm across the room and separate them, or slide between them.

His control faltered. Which led to his interruption of their afterglow.

“Ahem,” he’d said, and judging by their half-guilty, half-embarrassed looks, it had come across as accusing as he hadn’t meant it to.

He wanted them. He wanted them both. He just didn’t know if his own possessiveness could handle it.

“Should I go then?” Ratchet said, a touch snide, because when it came down to it, he wasn’t as mature as he thought he was.

Drift and Rodimus looked at each other, some wordless conversation passing between them, before they separated. Fluids streaked their respective frames, and the both of them were still pressurized. Eager, as only mechs with their kind of frames could be.

“What?” Rodimus drawled with that easygoing smile that got him so many things, including the ship they were currently residing upon. “You didn’t like the show?” He planted a hand on his hip, but his attempt at flippancy fell felt.

Ratchet tilted his head. His gaze slid from Rodimus to Drift and back again. “It’s more a question of whether or not I’m going to be part of it.” Because from where he was sitting, they looked as if they were in their own world, one Ratchet didn’t belong to.

“Part? But you’re the main course!” Rodimus’ grin widened, and he licked his lips. He raised his arms as if to highlight the mess of his frame, the pulse of his biolights, the jut of his spike.

Drift moved, stepping behind Rodimus, his hands slipping around Rodimus’ frame. Ratchet watched them as they slid down Rodimus’ admittedly gorgeous chassis, before one encircled Rodimus’ spike and other slid down to cup Rodimus’ array.

“We did agree to share,” Drift said from over Rodimus’ shoulder, catching Ratchet’s gaze and holding it. There was warning in the look, as well as invitation. His fingers stroked Rodimus’ array as though demanding Ratchet’s attention. “He’s very pretty, isn’t he, Ratchet?”

Yes. Yes, he was. Rodimus’ attractiveness had never been what was in question.

Ratchet squirmed on the chair. He gripped his cube tighter. His array demanded attention, panels juttering, informing him that like it or not, he couldn’t deny himself forever.

Drift smirked and turned his head, his lips grazing Rodimus’ audial though he kept Ratchet’s gaze. “I think you should go introduce yourself, Roddy,” he purred and squeezed Rodimus’ array.

Rodimus groaned, his hips jutting forward, but into nothing as Drift suddenly released him. Rodimus stumbled a little, looking unsure of himself, until his spoiler twitched upward and determination replaced all else. He strode forward, with what Ratchet assumed was meant to be temptation.

Ratchet set the energon aside and watched Rodimus. He didn’t know what game the two of them were playing.

“Well?” Rodimus asked with a cocky grin and a slide of his palm down his own belly. “Am I pretty?”

“You already know you are, brat,” Ratchet said as Rodimus came to a stop in front of him, one leg pressed to the chair between Ratchet’s. “You don’t need me to tell you that.”

“Maybe I do.” Rodimus leaned closer, his hands braced on the arms of the chair, their faces inches apart. “Hi.”

Hi, he said. Like they’d just met for the first time. Attached to it was a cute little blush and damn it, this was entirely unfair.

Ratchet snorted. “Hi yourself,” he said, and cupped Rodimus around the back of the head, tugging the mech in for a kiss.

Rodimus made a little squeak – again, unfairly adorable – and melted into the kiss, their lips brushing together before Ratchet introduced his glossa. Rodimus made a muffled noise, one that sounded hungry, before he returned the kiss, his mouth opening to Ratchet’s. He hummed in his intake, his field pushing against Ratchet’s with desire and need.

Desire. Actual desire. For Ratchet.

Rodimus’ hands flexed on the arm of the chair. He pulled back from the kiss, licking his lips, his optics bright and hungry.

“Wow,” he said and Ratchet felt the heat of a hand on his thigh then. “So, um, I was thinking…” His hand slid up Ratchet’s thigh, his thumb brushing over Ratchet’s blazing panel. “Do you mind if I…?” He trailed off, licking his lips for emphasis.

Lust shot through Ratchet like a lightning bolt, the last of his restraint crumbling. His panel snapped open, his spike jutting toward Rodimus’ fingers. Ratchet tried to play nonchalant as he leaned back and spread his hands.

“Help yourself,” he said, even as his spike bobbed and pre-fluid dribbled from the tip.

Rodimus’ fingers curled around his spike, and Ratchet’s engine growled. His hips surged toward the younger mech’s grip.

“I think I will,” Rodimus purred, some of his confidence at once returning.

He stepped back and fluidly knelt between Ratchet’s knees as if he wouldn’t have trouble standing again later. Che. Young mechs.

Rodimus’ hands rested on Ratchet’s knees, and they slid forward, achingly slow, stroking his armor toward the apex of Ratchet’s thighs.

“I like your spike,” he said, the words bold, but something shy in them. “And I’m sure when you show me, I’ll like your valve, too.”

Ratchet obligingly spread his thighs, making room for Rodimus. “Nothing special about them,” he grunted. He didn’t want either of them to spill pretty words at him. He knew what he was. No need to pretend otherwise.

Rodimus leaned forward, ex-venting over Ratchet’s spike, and he shivered. The moist heat made his spike twitch and throb, need boiling in his lines. He was already perilously close to overload, just from watching them, from wanting them.

“Mmm. I’ll be the judge of that,” Rodimus murmured before he lapped at the tip of Ratchet’s spike, licking up a dribble of pre-fluid.

Ratchet gripped the arm of the chair. He huffed a ventilation, his hips rising toward Rodimus’ mouth before he made himself sit back down.

Rodimus had the tact not to smirk. Instead, he looked cutely focused as he licked at Ratchet’s spike again before taking the head of it into his mouth. He made a humming noise, like someone might if they’d eaten a delicious energon candy, and then took Ratchet deeper, his spike inching into the warm grip of Rodimus’ mouth.

Ratchet groaned, his ventilations hitching. He rested a hand on Rodimus’ helm, his fingers stroking over pointed finials, and Rodimus moaned around his mouthful. He took Ratchet deeper, until the head of his spike bumped the back of Rodimus’ intake, where the vibrations of his moans teased Ratchet’s spike.

His hips stuttered again, and Rodimus’ hands gripped them, keeping him down. He worked Ratchet’s spike with single-minded dedication, swallowing around him, glossa flicking over and around, tracing the bands of his sensory net.

Ratchet felt Drift’s field seconds before Drift leaned over the back of the chair, his arms sliding over Ratchet’s chassis, the side of his head pressed to Ratchet’s.

“You two make a pretty picture,” Drift murmured, his lips caressing Ratchet’s audial.

Ratchet licked his lips. He looked down, watching his spike sink into Rodimus’ mouth, Rodimus’ lips wet and shiny as they were stretched around his length. Rodimus’ faceplate was stained pink, his optics half-shuttered, like he enjoyed himself.

“Can’t wait to get you both on the berth,” Drift purred, his lips blazing a path of tingling pleasure as he caressed Ratchet’s audials, and chevron, and intake. “Feel both of you around me.”

Ratchet swallowed thickly, his spark throbbing, pleasure cresting inside of him in faster waves as Rodimus swallowed him down, lips and denta and glossa working him with sheer dedication. He hummed around Ratchet’s spike, oral lubricant dribbling around the corners of his mouth.

Drift’s hands stroked Ratchet’s chassis. “He wants you to overload for him,” he purred. “He wants you to spill in his mouth.”

Ratchet groaned, his fingers trembling on Rodimus’ head. Rodimus moaned around him, in unison, taking Ratchet deep again, until his spikehead ground against the back of Rodimus’ intake.

Rodimus swallowed.

Ratchet jerked and spilled down his throat, ex-vents breaking free in a whoosh as the pleasure stripped him raw and left him rocking his hips into Rodimus’ mouth. He spilled spurt after spurt down Rodimus’ intake, and Rodimus swallowed him down, making little hungry, happy sounds.

Drift chuckled against his audial, pressing little kisses to the sensitive plating surrounding it. His hands stroked over Ratchet’s belly, even as Rodimus suckled on Ratchet’s spike. He slowly withdrew, Ratchet slipping from his lips, but not before Rodimus pressed a parting kiss to the tip of it. He licked his lips, his optics dazed.

“Taste good,” Rodimus said, his vocals striped with static.

Ratchet growled and hauled Rodimus up, pulling the almost Prime into a deep, hungry kiss. He tasted himself on Rodimus’ lips, even as Rodimus squeaked and sank into the kiss, his engine growling, his hips thrusting against Ratchet’s knees. Arousal flooded Rodimus’ field, tugging at Ratchet’s as well.

Drift’s arms tightened. “Berth,” he suggested with a hot ex-vent. “Now.”

Ratchet nipped at Rodimus’ lips, the younger mech looking back at him, a bit dazed. “Yeah,” he said, not nearly as gruff as he would have liked. “Let’s.”

Rodimus moaned.

Drift always did have the best ideas.

~

If there was truly an Afterspark, a Well of Allsparks, a heaven for Cybertronians, Drift thought it might look a little something like this. Not just for the interfacing, as processor-blowing as it is, but for the sensation of having two energy fields pulsing in tune with his. The two fields of the mechs he adored most in the universe.

They tumbled onto the berth, Rodimus with a little giggle, Ratchet with an exasperated roll of his optics, but his hands nevertheless reaching for both of them. Drift’s spark grew three sizes as he bent over Ratchet, stealing a kiss from his partner, and then he leaned toward Rodimus, indulging in a kiss from his best friend.

He returned to Ratchet, whose grabbing hands were almost desperate, and Drift poured his love into the kiss, his reassurance. He let his lips and his hands speak for him, his field spinning back into theirs, broadcasting his happiness.

Rodimus’ whimpering captured his audials. He broke away from the kiss to peer at Rodimus, only to find his best friend stroking his own spike, wriggling about on the berth.

Drift shared a conspiratorial look with Ratchet before they pounced in tandem, Rodimus greeting them with a yelp of surprise. A damn cute one. Unfair, was what he was.

Drift made a beeline for Rodimus’ spike, rigid and dripping, a gaudy decoration of glittering flames spiraling the length of it. He chuckled to himself, because of course, before he let his glossa do the exploring.

Rodimus moaned and clutched at him, but his moans were muffled and his hands captured by Ratchet. Drift savored, tasting Rodimus’ spike, the sweetness of his pre-fluid. He looked up the length of Rodimus’ frame to see Ratchet kissing him fiercely, his hands pinning Rodimus’ flat to the berth.

Rodimus trembled beneath them, his field rising and falling to the same stuttered rhythm that his hips rocked toward Drift’s mouth. His valve trickled lubricant freely.

Drift stalled, caught between the feel of Rodimus in his mouth, and the temptation that Rodimus’ valve offered. He didn’t know if this was his first, last and only chance. He didn’t want to waste it. But his own valve clenched, and the interesting whirls and ridges of Rodimus’ spike demanded to be tested.

Rodimus’ hips bucked. He whimpered. Drift’s mouth watered and moved of its own accord. He took Rodimus past his lips, moaning as the heated length slid over his glossa. Rodimus tasted like heat and charge, like hunger.

He took Rodimus deeper and looked up his frame again, just as Ratchet moved to straddle Rodimus’ chassis. He was nipping at Rodimus’ intake, and Rodimus moaned. Shivers wracked his frame.

“Sit on my face,” Rodimus gasped out a plea and made a strangled sound. “Please, Ratchet. I want you to–”

“I’m too heavy, Rodimus.”

“No, you’re not!” Rodimus whined low in his intake and squirmed in Drift’s grip. “I swear. Please. I want to lick you. Want to taste you. Want to–”

His words cut off, muffled, and Ratchet was kissing him again, fiercely, with a possessiveness few knew him capable. Drift’s own engine revved at the sight.

Heaven, he thought, for sure. And swallowed Rodimus deeper, until his best friend’s spike nudged the back of his intake. Pre-fluid trickled over his glossa and down his throat. Rodimus throbbed on his glossa, smelling of arousal and need.

The berth jostled. Rodimus’ frame did, too.

Drift let Rodimus slip from his mouth. Hunger gripped him as he watched Ratchet move – cautiously, ever so careful. He shifted around to face Drift and knelt over Rodimus’ face, sure not to rest his weight on Rodimus’ spoiler. Rodimus’ hands were busy, tugging him around, guiding him. His optics were bright, focused on Ratchet, his glossa sweeping over and over his lips, even as Ratchet dripped onto his face.

“Rodimus, I don’t think–”

“It’s fine!” Rodimus interrupted firmly. His hands curled around Ratchet’s thighs and he pulled, his mouth rising to meet Ratchet’s valve halfway. Rodimus’ moan was muffled, but genuine, a desperate sound of lust.

A low whine eked out of Ratchet’s intake. His hips rolled, backstrut curving as the sloppy sounds of Rodimus licking him filled the room, barely audible over three sets of spinning fans.

“Oh, Primus.” Ratchet’s head hung, his optics shuttering, his face bright with need. His spike rose between his thighs, proud and eager once again.

Drift’s mouth watered. His valve clenched, and he pulled himself upright, straddling Rodimus’ hips, dripping lubricant down on Rodimus’ spike. He didn’t hesitate, guiding Rodimus’ spike to his valve and sinking down to the hilt.

Rodimus moaned, his hips bucking upward, feet sliding against the berth for leverage. His spike pulsed eagerly, and through the vee of Ratchet’s thighs, Drift could see Rodimus licking him, the eager flicks of his glossa and the lubricant glittering on Rodimus’ face.

Ratchet panted, his hips moving in little rocks as his armor lifted away, allowing for heat flow. His field rose in the room then, thick and tingling, so heavy with lust it made Drift’s processor spin.

He lifted and dropped himself harder, riding Rodimus’ spike as though it offered him salvation. His valve clutched at it, spitting charge between nodes and receptors. His ventilations roared, his fingers curling against Rodimus’ belly.

He couldn’t stop watching, his optics locked on the sight of Ratchet riding Rodimus’ face. His audials soaked in the sounds, Rodimus moaning, and Ratchet sighing happily, and the slick noises of Rodimus’ glossa against Ratchet’s valve.

Rodimus’ spike throbbed in Drift’s valve, spilling charge, dancing against his inner nodes. It spiraled around the strange whorls of Rodimus’ spike and seemed to double in intensity. Drift gasped and ground down, his valve spasming. His hips moved in little circles as overload throbbed through him, the pleasure singing through his lines. His valve grasped and squeezed on Rodimus’ spike, extending the overload, until he quivered and panted.

He sank back down, letting Rodimus’ spike throb within him. He looked blearily at Ratchet, his face eclipsed with pleasure and need, and his spark trembled.

Perfect. This was so perfect.

Rodimus whined, his hips pushing up toward Drift, but unable to get any leverage. His hands tightened on Ratchet’s hips. He doubled his efforts, and Ratchet muttered a curse, his hands clawing at the air. His hips danced in Rodimus’ grip, his spike dribbling onto Rodimus’ chassis.

Drift’s mouth watered again.

He dug his knees into the berth and shifted. He tilted forward, kept Rodimus deep, and was ever so glad he and Rodimus were of similar heights. He could keep riding Rodimus’ spike, and wrap his lips around Ratchet’s spike. He purred as he took his partner into his mouth, Ratchet’s pre-fluid slithering over his glossa, joining the taste of Rodimus lingering there.

Perfect. Absolutely perfect.

Drift moaned. He thought that Rodimus and Ratchet echoed him.

Ratchet’s hands landed on his shoulders, fingers hooking in his seams. He made urgent noises, hungry ones, as his hips rolled toward Drift’s mouth, and back onto Rodimus’, and he couldn’t seem to decide which he wanted more. Which suited Drift just fine. Ratchet’s field, in the grips of pleasure, was a beautiful thing.

He swallowed Ratchet down as best he was capable and rolled his own hips, squeezing down on Rodimus’ spike, loving the feel of Rodimus throbbing within him. He wasn’t able to thrust, not really, with his attention split and unable to get any leverage.

But they figured it out. A rhythm emerged.

Ratchet sank back, Rodimus thrust up, Drift rolled down, Ratchet thrust forward. Over and over and over, their vents whirring and fans roaring and engines purring.

Drift’s field rose up, encapsulating both of his lovers, and he purred when they responded in kind. Mingling and joining, heat and pleasure, affection and understanding. It spun and spun, tighter and hotter, and honestly, if asked later, Drift wouldn’t be able to tell you who overloaded first.

He remembered the taste of Ratchet on his glossa and down his intake. He felt the hot gush of Rodimus’ transfluid in his valve. He remembered trembling between them, his spike spilling a hot mess over Rodimus’ belly. Ratchet clutched at him, and Rodimus’ field stroked over his, and Drift couldn’t recall a time he was happier.

Ratchet was the first to pull away, hissing softly his discomfort as he eased Drift off his spike and Rodimus away from his valve. Sensitive as always in the wake of overload. He rose up on his knees, and Rodimus squirmed out from beneath him, even as Drift lifted himself off Rodimus’ spike, his knees wobbling and his frame wrung dry.

Rodimus lay there, his armor quivering, but his field speaking of satisfaction. Drift managed enough effort to flop down onto the berth beside him, and was very relieved when Ratchet tucked himself against Drift’s back and slung an arm over his waist. Or, well, halfway on top of him, to be more accurate. Ratchet was a heavy, sticky weight against Drift, and he preferred it that way. Ratchet was safety for him. Had always been.

Drift’s engine purred. His field kept a grip on Ratchet’s and Rodimus’, energies mingling together. He didn’t want to let go. He wanted to keep this forever.

He slipped an arm over Rodimus’ chassis, his hand laying over Rodimus’ chestplate, feeling the whirr of Rodimus’ spark beneath his palm. It throbbed much like Drift’s did. But whatever Rodimus actually felt, Drift couldn’t tell. He was suddenly a closed book, one that shifted away from Drift.

Subtly, but all the obvious in the aftermath.

Drift frowned. “What are you doing?”

Rodimus squirmed. “It’s just, you know, I should probably go,” he said. He followed it with a chuckle, but there was nothing humorous in it.

Drift cycled his optics. He propped himself up with an elbow and felt Ratchet do the same behind him, peering over his shoulder.

“Go?” Drift repeated. “What?”

“Well, we’re all tired now, and I’m pretty sticky, so I’m thinking a shower. Recharge a little.” Rodimus shrugged, an attempt to be dismissive that failed. He squirmed a little further from Drift’s hand. “In my hab. By myself.”

Ratchet stirred. “Because you want to or you think you’re supposed to?” he asked, his tone careful, but holding none of the emotions Drift expected.

He’d though Ratchet would be happy to see Rodimus go. But, no. Instead Ratchet sounded worried.

“Either?” Rodimus said. “Both?” He cringed.

“You’re welcome to stay,” Drift said.

“We want you to stay,” Ratchet said with a grunt. He reached over Drift, grabbed Rodimus’ hand and tugged.

Sometimes, Drift forgot how strong Ratchet could be.

Rodimus yelped. Armor clanged. Drift grunted as an elbow caught him in the chest, and a knee in the belly, before Rodimus wound up firmly pinned between Drift and Ratchet.

Rodimus blinked in surprise. Drift stared, looking at Ratchet as if he’d never seen his partner before. Because honestly, this wasn’t what he’d expected. Ratchet’s willingness to do this had always been grudging.

“Unless you want to leave, you’re going to stay right here,” Ratchet said with a hand pressed to Rodimus’ chestplate. “You’re going to lay with us in this berth, recharge if you’re as tired as we are, and after a nap, we’re going to all three get up and use the washracks. Understand?”

Rodimus’ mouth opened, closed, and opened again. “No,” he finally said.

Ratchet sighed. “I suppose that’s my fault.”

Drift carefully snuggled up to Rodimus’ side, though he kept his gaze on Ratchet. “A bit, yeah.”

Ratchet sighed again, and his field flexed, pressing against both of theirs with a blooming mix of affection and confusion. “We need to talk. All of us,” he said, and though his words were firm, his tone was gentle. “We’ve complicated something that was a mess to begin with, and we’re going to have to solve it. Together. But right now, we’re all going to recharge, and yes that includes you, Rodimus. You’re a part of it now.”

“I don’t want to leave,” Rodimus said in a small voice.

“Then don’t.” Drift tilted his head against Rodimus’, slipping a hand over Rodimus’ frame and letting it rest on Rodimus’ belly. “Stay right here with us.” He smiled at Ratchet and was glad when his partner caught it.

Ratchet nodded and lowered himself back down next to Rodimus, though his hand remained on Rodimus’ chestplate. “We’ll talk later,” he said.

“Okay,” Rodimus said and turned his gaze toward Ratchet, his lips curving in a smirk that was an echo of his usual confidence. “Guess that means you like me now, huh?”

Drift snickered.

Ratchet rolled his optics. “Don’t push your luck, kid.”

Which was just Ratchet speak for ‘of course I do, but I can’t very well say it, can I?’

Ratchet was so transparent sometimes.

Drift grinned and tucked his head beside Rodimus’. He cuddled close, soaking in the sensation of both of their fields, listening to their respective engine’s purr, luxuriating in the heat their frames radiated.

Ratchet was right. A talk would be necessary. But for right now, Drift had this, and he couldn’t imagine anything that would make him happier.

~

After centuries of waking alone, it had taken time for Ratchet to get accustomed to sharing a berth again. He’d only just adjusted to recognizing Drift beside him, having learned how to recharge with sensors attuned to another system, but not one in distress.

He’d memorized everything about Drift: his field, his scent, the sound of his systems, the rhythm of his vents. Ratchet had committed those tiny details to memory, imprinted them on his spark and into his autonomic scanners.

It was the unfamiliar cant of another mech that stirred Ratchet from a deep recharge. As awareness settled in, subtle scans identified Rodimus as the other visitor, not that Ratchet needed his scanners to tell him so.

Ratchet supposed he would have to learn Rodimus as he had learned Drift.

He sighed softly, neither loud enough to attract attention nor wake his berthpartners. What a complicated mess. But one that was inevitable.

Sparks were tricky things after all.

Sensory suites fully online, Ratchet engaged his optics, the world seeping into color around him. He was overheated, he realized, no doubt due to sharing his berth with two speedsters.

He gingerly sat up and extricated his arm from where it had been pinned beneath Rodimus, careful not to wake him in the process.

Sometime overnight, Drift and Rodimus had curled into one another, their faces pressed close. Rodimus’ spoiler was tucked at an odd angle that had to be uncomfortable, but he was deeply asleep nonetheless. They both were.

Ratchet’s spark twinged looking at them, and it wasn’t entirely jealousy. They were adorable together, and clearly their feelings ran deep. But Ratchet was also certain Drift loved him.

Sparks were such many-layered things.

Ratchet did not love Rodimus, but he was fairly fond of the reckless mech. The attraction was there also. Rodimus was very appealing in construction, and when not behaving in an absurd manner, could often hold an intelligent conversation as well.

Could Ratchet bear to share? This he did not know.

Ex-venting once more, Ratchet gently leveraged himself out of the berth without disturbing either of his berthmates. He retrieved a warming tarp and lay it over them, tucking it around their tangled frames. He supposed Rodimus was like Drift, craving heat for comfort whilst in recharge.

They didn’t stir, except to curl closer together. Ratchet’s spark trembled once more. He was getting soft in his age, he thought, as he resisted the urge to rejoin them, perhaps wake them with careful touches and teasing kisses.

Ratchet left them to rest and went to his private dispenser, summoning a cube of midgrade to burn off the recharge fog. He should probably visit the washracks, but that sounded like effort. He then felt rather like Cyclonus as he moved to the window, peering out into the inky black. Perhaps Cyclonus had the right idea. The view was certainly one for contemplation.

And contemplate Ratchet did.

He had told Rodimus and Drift that they would all three need to talk. In truth, Ratchet knew the burden of choice fell on his shoulders alone. He was the tipping point. And he knew, without any doubt, that he could turn Rodimus away, refuse to accept him, and decades down the way, he would lose Drift as a result.

Because sparks were complicated things, and Drift could not fathom having to decide and hurt anyone. He would choose a life of solitude first, even if he tore himself apart in the process.

Ratchet sighed and turned toward his chair, dropping heavily into it. The weight of ages creaked in his gears. He set the energon aside, appetite gone.

He loved Drift. That was not in question. Could he share? Could he court a mech like Rodimus, bring him into their pair? Or would Rodimus upset a carefully crafted balance?

Then again, who was to say he hadn’t already? They were here now, weren’t they? Facing this difficult choice.

Ratchet tipped his head back against the chair and shuttered his optics. He did not know if he could love Rodimus simply because he had never taken the time to consider it before. He had not courted Rodimus. He had not interacted with the mech with the notion of making Rodimus his lover.

It wasn’t necessary, truth be told, that he even court Rodimus. So long as he was willing to share.

That was the true question, he supposed. Could he share?

If it meant a happy Drift, if he was certain Drift would not leave him. But then, did it matter? He could fight and grumble and complain and put his foot down, and it wouldn’t matter in the end.

The options were simple.

He could either walk away now, from both of them, and perhaps spare himself the sparkache in the future.

Or he could put forth the effort. He could learn to mitigate or even surrender his jealousy. He could learn Rodimus. He could, potentially, make room in his spark for the errant, reckless mech.

It wasn’t impossible. Frag, Megatron was sharing captaincy of their quest, after all, and being slowly fused into the crew as a result. If that was possible, then surely Ratchet could find room in his spark for acceptance, for affection, at the very least.

Warmth brushed over his cheeks, both of them, and Ratchet’s optics snapped online. Two familiar fields nudged against his as he startled.

“Good morning,” Drift purred into his right audial.

“You left us in the berth,” Rodimus said into his left, his vocals sounding as though he were pouting at Ratchet.

This was it.

Ratchet calmed his throbbing spark and straightened. He turned first toward Drift, acknowledging him with a brief brush of their lips.

“Had to think,” he said, and turned toward Rodimus, who unlike Drift, had leaned back after the teasing kiss. “Good morning, Rodimus.” Perhaps a touch too formal, but they’d thrown him off balance, and he’d already been teetering.

“Only you would wake up first thing in the morning wanting to rationalize, rather than roll over and continue where we left off,” Drift teased as he nuzzled Ratchet’s head with his own.

Rodimus’ face flushed under Ratchet’s steady gaze. His head ducked. “Well, he’s probably right, Drift. I mean, fragging’s good and all, but it doesn’t really solve anything.”

How unexpectedly astute. For Rodimus anyhow.

“Maybe not, but it sure was fun.”

Ratchet fought off the shiver Drift’s murmurs raked down his spinal strut. He rocked himself out of the chair, because it would be far too easy to fall under their spell if he was nice and comfortable.

“It was,” he said, and hoped his gruff tone covered up how much he tingled. “Fun, I mean.”

He turned to face both of them, Drift nothing but mischief and Rodimus back to that hesitant hope he’d displayed last night. Ratchet’s spark squeezed and squeezed. He wanted Drift. He didn’t want to surrender anything.

He thought he could grow to like Rodimus, beyond the thin-ice professional respect he already carried.

“I’m sensing there’s a ‘but’ in there,” Rodimus ventured, his armor clamped tight, and everything about him withdrawn.

Ratchet shook his head. “Not in the way you think. We can’t just… just dive into a sexual relationship and assume that’s the solution. It won’t work. We’re three very different people.” Honestly, how long had it taken him and Drift to realize what they wanted from each other? And then to add Rodimus, himself a very volatile mech?

No. They couldn’t just leap from a meteor and assume all would be well.

“We’ve already established it’s not just about interfacing,” Drift said, his words sounding as though they were carefully chosen. He folded his arms over his chassis. “And it’s pretty obvious whatever happens, it’s going to take a lot of work.”

“And honesty,” Rodimus chimed in, his faceplate visibly heating. He ducked his head, coughing into his hand. “Something that, uh, there wasn’t really a lot of.”

Ratchet arched an orbital ridge at both of them. “Oh, I’m more than aware of that. I just want to make sure that you two reckless idiots realize what you’re signing up for.”

Drift and Rodimus both stared at him, optics gradually widening as realizations started to trickle in. They solidified for Drift first, whose field all but surged forward and tackled Ratchet with both relief and affection. Rodimus was much slower, and he held something of himself back – roiling thick with uncertainty.

His fingers tangled together. “I don’t…” Rodimus paused and cycled a ventilation. “I don’t want to be in something where I’m just going to be tolerated.” He flinched, barely visible, but Ratchet caught in nonetheless.

He had the feeling there was a story behind that. But now was not the time to poke at an internal scar.

“And it definitely won’t work if you deal with it because you don’t want to lose Drift,” Rodimus added. He nibbled on his bottom lip before he met Ratchet’s gaze with a more common boldness. “I guess what I’m really asking is… what part are you expecting me to play?”

“I don’t know yet,” Ratchet said, honestly. “I don’t want to make a promise I can’t keep. But I am willing to try and see what happens. Maybe I’ll find out that I’m not really built for a trine or whatever we’re going to call this.” He paused, and his lip quirked into a wry grin. “Or maybe I’ll find out that I have a kink for speedsters and can now strut around with one on each arm.”

Drift snorted a laugh.

Rodimus’ face flushed a deep crimson. He looked away, scratching at his chin. “Can’t be any worse than me realizing how much I want you to pin me down and frag me,” he said, almost offhand, only to freeze.

Drift’s laughter turned to wheezing gasps. His field burst with amusement, trickling down over both of them, shattering the tension.

Ratchet felt his grin turn far more sly than crooked. “Oh, do you now?” he asked and planted his hands on his hips.

Rodimus’ engine gave a weak little rev. “I guess this is the part where I stick my foot in my mouth.” He chuckled, his face still ablaze. “But I do mean it, Ratchet. I’m willing to try if you are.”

“One step at a time? Patiently? With no rushing?” Ratchet said, cocking his head. Though now Rodimus had planted an idea in his processor, and his array was agreeing with it quite heatedly.

Drift draped himself against Ratchet’s side, armor still quivering with amusement. “Well, we can rush some of it,” he said, his lips brushing over Ratchet’s audial. “Physical compatibility is just as important as the rest.” His hand boldly slid over Ratchet’s abdomen, and this close, Ratchet could nearly taste the elation in Drift’s field. He was giddy with it.

“I meant what I said. I can’t promise anything,” Ratchet murmured as he turned his face toward Drift’s, their lips inches apart.

“That you want to and are willing to try is more than I could have ever dreamed,” Drift breathed, and brushed his lips over the curve of Ratchet’s jaw.

Ratchet shivered and shifted his attention back to Rodimus, who looked caught between wanting to participate, but not wanting to interrupt. His optics focused on them, and echoing in his gaze was a longing that made Ratchet’s spark ache.

He lifted his left hand toward Rodimus, beckoning him. “Come on then,” he said. “You’re a part of this now, too. If you want it.” Mess and all.

Rodimus surged forward, before he seemed to realize he appeared too eager, and tried to ease into a suave strut.

Adorable. Unfairly adorable.

“I want it,” he said and made a point of letting his gaze slide from Ratchet to Drift and back again. “And you. Both of you. I mean, I want to try.” His fingers slid into Ratchet’s, and he politely didn’t comment that they trembled.

Ratchet tugged, pulling Rodimus close enough that Drift could reach him as well, and brushed his lips over the crown of Rodimus’ forehead.

“Then let’s try,” Ratchet murmured, feeling Rodimus shiver against him, his field flexing against theirs, ripe with heat and want.

Sparks were such convoluted things.

But Ratchet was more than certain that he had enough room in his for one more.

[IDW] Furniture Misuse

“It’s undignified!” he claimed.

“It’s unprofessional!” he sniped.

“It makes a mess!” he whined.

And yet none of that kept Pharma from snapping, “Harder, rust you! Or I’ll take it myself!” as Ratchet pounded into his valve with sharp thrusts.

He had Pharma against a filing cabinet this time, one of his partner’s legs thrown over his hip while Pharma clutched at him with fingers turned to gripping claws. Pharma huffed and snarled, his valve cinching hungrily on Ratchet’s spike. His ailerons fluttered, his lips peeled back over his denta.

“Any harder and I’ll dent your damn thruster,” Ratchet growled.

“You don’t have the strength,” Pharma hissed. A challenge.

Ratchet’s engine rumbled. He bit at Pharma’s intake, leaving a dent on those pristine cables, even as he hiked Pharma’s leg higher on his hip. He pounded into Pharma with abandon, hearing the scraping skreel of thruster on fancy cabinet.

“I’ll show you strength,” Ratchet snapped.

Pharma hitched a laugh. “Do try your best, Ratchet. We’ll see.”

Fragging. Arrogant. Jet!

There were going to be scrapes in the cabinet later.

Oh, the frag well.

It wouldn’t be the first time.

[G1] Control or Lack Thereof

“You really don’t have much self-control, do you?” Starscream mused aloud, his lips curved in a grin.

“Shut the slag up!” Ratchet snarled, his hips bucking, his wrists tugging ineffectually at the cuffs that kept them bound above his helm.

Starscream chuckled and dragged his lips over the inside of Ratchet’s trembling thighs, bring his mouth closer and closer to the bared, dripping array.

“Haven’t you ever heard that patience yields a sweeter outcome?” Starscream teased as he slid a hand up, working a talon into one of Ratchet’s seams to scratch at the cables beneath.

Ratchet groaned, his backstrut arching. “Just get the frag on with it!”

Starscream clicked his glossa, shaking his helm. “Such language, Ratchet. I’m appalled.” He ex-vented wetly and dragged one finger up the under-side of Ratchet’s spike. The medic quivered. “We intellectual types should be better than that.”

Ratchet growled at him, all of his words unrepeatable to delicate audials. His thighs quivered as lubricant formed a growing puddle beneath his aft.

Starscream hummed a laugh. “Mmm, it looks like I’ll have you begging soon,” he purred and his finger circled the tip of Ratchet’s dripping spike. A ring encircled the base, blinking in accordance with the level of Ratchet’s desperation. “But you’ll be waiting on that overload a while yet.”

Ratchet’s engine roared. The cuffs rattled. “Just remember what they say about payback,” he snarled, his optics flashing fire.

Starscream chuckled. One finger flicked over Ratchet’s swollen, aching node.

“Promises, promises.”