[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?”

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[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.”

[G1] Behind the Scenes 06

06: The Importance of Trust

“It’s not fair,” Bluestreak whined and tried not to pout, though he must have failed if Ratchet’s amused look was any indication. “Your pretty is so obedient and mine’s…”

“Currently back in your quarters chained up because he can’t behave?” Across from him, lounging like a king on his throne, Ratchet barked a laugh. “That’s your own fault, Blue. They only disobey if their owner isn’t firm enough.”

Bluestreak’s lips pressed together before he ex-vented a burst past them. “Or maybe he’s just an ornery little brat.”

Ratchet laughed again and leaned back, shifting his foot where it was braced against the table. “Well, that might be part of it.” A shiver visibly raced across Ratchet’s armor. “Mm. Bring him next time. Maybe I can teach him something. Ah!”

Ratchet startled and his optics shifted toward the mech between his legs. His optics narrowed, fingers gripping Prowl’s chevron and giving it a light tug.

“What did I say about your denta, love?” he asked, his tone loving, but something harsh behind it.

Prowl’s sensory panels flicked, first one and then the other. He didn’t say anything, and from Bluestreak’s position behind him, he couldn’t see Prowl’s expression. Which was a pity, because he bet it was a gorgeous sight, coated as it had to be in Ratchet’s lubricant.

He’d been hard at work for the better part of twenty minutes, lovingly licking and suckling on Ratchet’s valve, while his engine purred and Ratchet enjoyed. Honestly, Bluestreak was envious of Ratchet’s never-ending stamina, even if it had annoyed the pit out of him when he’d undergone Ratchet’s training.

Prowl’s fingers twitched where they were tangled together, clasped at the base of his backstrut, a form of self-bondage that Ratchet often utilized.

“Let the sub live or die by their own restraint,” he’d instructed with a devilish grin.

Ratchet’s grip on Prowl’s chevron tightened and Bluestreak winced. Such a sensory laden part and Ratchet held it as though it were a piece of unnecessary kibble.

“Well?” Ratchet prompted.

“No denta,” Prowl finally bit out, and there was a hint of indignation to his words.

Bluestreak was quick to cover his smirk behind his palm. That was the last time he’d praise Prowl’s behavior where Prowl could hear him. Perhaps Prowl had taken it as a challenge.

“And yet what did I feel?” Ratchet asked, though there’s no way Prowl could have nipped him hard enough to hurt. Prowl might have been playing with disobedience, but he’d never be half as contrary as Jazz.

Prowl’s sensory panels shivered. “I’m yours,” he said, by way of answer.

Ratchet tilted his head, but then his chastising expression softened, as did his grip. “Of course you are, love,” he said, stroking his fingers over Prowl’s chevron. “You misunderstood. I meant to supervise and offer feedback, not take Jazz under my own hand.”

Prowl made a low sound in his intake, his head dipping a little as did his sensory panels, flattening against his back in apology. “Forgive me, Ratchet. I presumed.”

“Yes, you did.” Ratchet sighed softly and stroked his palm over Prowl’s head, behind the jut of his chevron. “And that is partially my error as I was not clear. I am offering instruction and nothing less, though I can retract the offer…”

Prowl’s head dipped a bit more, until he was all but bowing before Ratchet. “No, sir. I…”

Bluestreak’s optics widened. Prowl rarely dropped back into the deferential terms for Ratchet. The both of them rarely relied upon the standard monikers, preferring more affectionate designations.

“We’ll discuss it later.” Ratchet’s hand slid back to Prowl’s chevron, fingers pinching the left-most crest and sliding up to the tip of it. “For now, there is the matter of you disobeying me, no matter what you may have presumed.”

Prowl whimpered.

Primus, but Ratchet was a master at this. Honestly, if Ratchet came back and rescinded his offer, Bluestreak would be fine with this. Just watching Ratchet and Prowl together was enough to learn him a thousand lessons.

Ratchet’s optics lifted back to Bluestreak, optical ridge arching as if asking ‘do you see what I mean?’

Bluestreak jerked his chin in a nod. Yeah, he was starting to see. Though, to be fair, Jazz had always been a misbehaving little sneak. A year or so in Bluestreak’s berth and under his thumb wasn’t going to change that.

“On top of that, our guest is going to leave disappointed,” Ratchet continued, his tone full of disapproval now, even as he clucked his glossa and released of Prowl’s chevron.

Ratchet fully straightened, planting his feet on the floor and rising to his full height, not at all ashamed of the lubricants dripping down his thighs, or his bared equipment.

“I’m sorry, Bluestreak. It appears this one is in need of some re-training of his own,” Ratchet said, the tips of his fingers resting on the crown of Prowl’s head.

Prowl whined deep in his intake, his hands tightening around each other. He leaned forward a bare fraction, and the quiet noise of a glossa lapping up dribbles of lubricant filled the space. Not that Ratchet seemed to notice.

“Perhaps another time?” Ratchet suggested.

Bluestreak pushed to his own feet and made a show of stretching as nonchalant as possible. He, after all, knew how to play this game. “For sure. Just let me know when you’re free and I’m free and let me know about that offer for instruction, too. Primus knows I could use some advice from the Master of Masters.”

Ratchet barked a laugh. “Master of Masters, hmm? I might have to borrow that.” He shifted his weight, tilting his leg toward Prowl, and Prowl obeyed, moving to lick the inside of Ratchet’s other thigh.

Bluestreak’s engine purred, lust drizzling throughout his internals. Thank Primus he’d left his own pretty back in his hab-suite. He looked forward to having someone to handle this charge for him.

“It’s yours,” he said with a playful bow and wiggle of his sensory panels. He offered Ratchet a devilish salute. “Thanks for the invite.”

“Anytime, Blue.”

Ratchet, however, had already shifted his attention back to Prowl, and Bluestreak knew better than to address Prowl right now. He was fully focused – or supposed to be – on showing his guilt and apology to Ratchet. As it had been his fault the game was ended, the guest did not even need to acknowledge him.

It was almost a shame. Bluestreak did so enjoy watching Ratchet punish Prowl. The medic was very, very creative. Devious, too. However, given the nature of what had startled Prowl right out of his assigned task, Bluestreak did not linger.

He suspected the punishment here would be less physical and sensual, and more of the hardest thing for Prowl, sitting down and having a discussion of the spark. He and Ratchet had been together a long, long time, but Prowl still found it hard to open himself like that. He probably always would, which was one reason he thrived under Ratchet’s dominance.

Ratchet’s rules, his expectations, that made it easy for Prowl. It gave him guidelines, structures, and when he behaved, performed well, it was a reflection of his own feelings and emotions. Prowl showed Ratchet how much he loved the medic, with every bowed head, bared intake, or bound limbs.

Trust and love were one and the same, to him.

In that, he and Jazz were a lot alike.

Bluestreak paused outside of Ratchet’s door as the realization poured over him, fast enough to make his engine stutter noisily.

Was that where he was going wrong? Had he not fully earned Jazz’s trust? Was that why Jazz misbehaved, acted out, even when it wasn’t part of the game? Was he still holding a part of himself back, wary of putting his spark into Bluestreak’s hands?

Perhaps Bluestreak was going about this all wrong. He forced his feet back into motion, turning toward his tiny, private habsuite, where he’d left Jazz.

He and Jazz had dove right into the games from the start, with a very eager Jazz all but hungry for it, begging for the sweet emptiness in his processor that came from handing over his control. But perhaps he hadn’t acquired full surrender yet, and his misbehavior was a way of telling Bluestreak that it wasn’t working.

He should take a step back, erase the board, and start from the beginning. As if they had just met and were learning one another. Leave the toys and the punishments out of it, and work solely on building and strengthening trust.

Bluestreak keyed his code into the lock and stepped into the room quickly, before the random passerby could look in and get a glimpse of Jazz. This section of the Ark was usually deserted but all it took was a moment of inattention for the gossip to spread like wildfire.

Autobots loved to gossip.

“Right where I left you,” Bluestreak murmured as the lights surged to sixty percent power, when he’d left them on a dim ten. Which was actually for Jazz’s comfort. He flourished best in the shadows. It was the bright lights which unnerved him.

Currently, Jazz knelt on the floor, a small puddle beneath his knees where lubricant had seeped out from his closed panels. His wrists were cuffed behind his back – self-bondage did not work well with Jazz at this point, too disobedient. Though he could get himself free of the cuffs in a matter of moments. Bluestreak was well aware of this.

Jazz’s frame quivered, little shudders running across his armor in bursts. The room was drenched with the scent of arousal, and Jazz’s field was blazing hot when it brushed over Bluestreak’s.

As far as Bluestreak could tell, however, he hadn’t moved. And he hadn’t overloaded. Unless Jazz had some Special Ops trick that helped him disguise the physical evidence of an overload.

Jazz looked up at Bluestreak’s words, his visor hazy. “Welcome back, Master,” he rasped and an urgent whine rose in his engine. “Early.”

“Yes. Someone has been taking lessons in behavior from you apparently,” Bluestreak said as he moved to stand in front of Jazz, nudging one foot between Jazz’s knees, until he felt the damp ex-vents against his upper thighs. “Did you overload?”

“No, sir.” Jazz shuddered again, his vents roaring.

“Are you close?”

That whine eeked out of Jazz’s intake this time. “Yes, sir.”

“Look at me then.”

Jazz tilted his head up and back and Bluestreak shivered as the weight of his lust-filled gaze fell on Bluestreak. Need clawed in Jazz’s field, volcanic and desperate. His bumper nudged against Bluestreak’s leg.

“We will talk,” Bluestreak said as he reached down, the tips of his fingers brushing around the edges of Jazz’s visor. “I owe you an apology, and you owe me an honest answer.”

Jazz’s shaking increased in earnest, and there it was, a treble of fear in his visor, and a small shiver of it in his field. Emotions, Bluestreak reflected, were a far worse fight than any punishment.

“I…”

“Shh.” Bluestreak stroked the jut of Jazz’s sensory horn between two fingers, and felt the crackle of charge with it. “Overload for me, pet. And then we can talk.”

Jazz keened and his forehead tipped forward, pressed to Bluestreak’s thigh. He shuddered violently, engine roaring, as he overloaded then and there, more lubricant spilling down between his knees. The quiet vibrations of the toy lodged in his valve abruptly ceased – triggered, as it was meant to be, by the charge of Jazz’s overload. More proof that he’d not disobeyed Bluestreak for once.

Bluestreak hummed soothing sounds, stroking Jazz through the echoes of his overload, until Jazz abruptly sagged against him. Only then did Bluestreak kneel to unlock the cuffs, remove the toys from Jazz’s array, and set to cleaning up his pretty. All while Jazz panted and radiated heat and leaned against him, as if stripped of all energy.

His field clung to Bluestreak’s, humid and sticky, as if in dread of the conversation to come. Bluestreak murmured reassurance, his own processor babbling at him a mile a minute.

He wanted so desperately for this to work, and communication, he knew, was key.

So it was time both of them stopped letting their frames do all the talking, and opened their mouths and activated their vocalizers.

[G1] Behind the Scenes 05

05: A New Mission

Ironhide had hemmed and hawed and debated with himself for a week before he decided enough was enough and he had to say something. Because Wheeljack never would, the self-sacrificing fool, and Ratchet wasn’t paying attention.

So while they three piled into Prowl and Ratchet’s quarters – the two idjits finally agreed to start sharing instead of pretending they weren’t – Ironhide chose his words carefully.

“Ya should stop invitin’ Wheeljack,” he said, blunt and to the point. So maybe he hadn’t been as careful as he should have.

Ratchet leaned back into the thin couch. “Why?” he asked as Prowl came around with the decanter of spiced mid-grade, filling his cube. “You bored of playing with him already?” His lips curled. A tease then.

Ironhide shook his head and lifted his empty cube, giving it a waggle. “He’s getting attached,” he said.

Ratchet scoffed. “Pft. That’s ridiculous.”

“Perhaps not.” Prowl’s voice floated from behind Ironhide before he moved into view with the decanter of energon. Should have known not to think he was done yet. “I believe Ironhide may be correct. I enjoy an audience, Ratchet, but not at the expense of someone’s emotions.”

Ratchet stared at of them, and he looked baffled. “You both are wrong. Wheeljack’s fine.”

Prowl carefully filled Ironhide’s cube as Ironhide shook his head. “Yer pretty blind for a mech ‘sposed to be diagnosin’ folks,” he drawled. “And yeah, it ain’t attachment like love, and it ain’t about keepin’ Prowl either.” He lifted his chin to thank Prowl, who replied with a head tilt of his own.

Prowl set the decanter on the table between them. Wise mech. Wouldn’t want to have to go fetch it again, now would he? “Wheeljack is a romantic,” he said, thoughtful tone at the forefront, as he tucked himself onto the couch next to Ratchet. “He envies you.”

Ratchet’s optics narrowed. He squinted at Ironhide, then his mate, and then back again. “You’re serious.” His arm slipped over Prowl’s shoulders, hand curving inward so that his fingers could stroke over the barely visible collar around Prowl’s intake.

They enjoyed this, the subtle displays of their relationship in front of those privy to the truth. It gave them the freedom to be themselves, and it had stopped bothering Ironhide decades, frag probably even centuries, ago.

They just spun themselves their own way, and Ironhide reaped the benefits of a sexy and adorable free show.

“Wouldn’t say it if I wasn’t.” Ironhide sipped his energon and leaned back. “Jack’s a mighty fun dance partner and I’d hate ta lose ‘im, but he wants more than I wanna give.”

Ironhide liked Wheeljack, he really did. But he’d always been something of a wandering spark, never one to settle and commit himself. He had the feeling Wheeljack probably started out thinking he just wanted some fun, but started aching for something with a little more permanence.

He’d seen the way Wheeljack looked at Prowl and Ratchet. Half in awe, half in lust, and one-hundred percent in envy. Not because he wanted to frag Prowl – which he did, frag, Ironhide wouldn’t mind tumbling that pretty himself so who could blame him? – but because he wanted what Prowl and Ratchet had: a meaningful relationship full of love and trust.

“He doesn’t want Prowl,” Ratchet snapped, defensive. Probably out of guilt because bringing in Wheeljack had been his idea from the start.

They’d asked Ironhide his opinion, too. At the time, he’d thought it was a great idea. Jack was the sort of mech ya could trust, and he tended to roll with the punches, so he wasn’t likely to cause a fuss.

Now, Ironhide wondered if maybe he should’ve been paying better attention, too. How could he have missed that longing? Wheeljack’s favorite genre was romance, sometimes with a hint of comedy after all. Loved the ballads, Wheeljack did, though Primus knew he couldn’t carry a tune with all the buckets in the world.

“No.” Prowl snuggled into Ratchet’s side, his sensory panels pinned between himself and the back of the couch. “He wants what I stand for.”

Ah. So Prowl had noticed, too.

“Not a game like what you play either,” Ironhide said, giving his cube a wiggle, though it was yet half-full. “But a sparkling tale. Knight in armor.”

Ratchet frowned. “It’s not a game.” His thumb stroked Prowl’s collar, hooking under the delicate platinum band and giving it a small tug. “It never has been.”

Ironhide waved a dismissing hand. “I know that, Ratch. Been knowin’ that. So quit dodgin’.”

Ratchet ex-vented noisily then and scrubbed his free hand down his face. “Fine. I’ll talk to him.”

“Sure that’s a good idea?” Ironhide asked.

“There’s been some kind of misunderstanding here. Clear communication is–”

“–only going to make him feel worse,” Prowl interjected as he slid a hand to Ratchet’s thigh, fingers gently stroking up and down the white armor. “Especially if we continue to invite Ironhide, yet exclude him from this moment on.”

Ratchet growled, his free hand grabbing Prowl’s and setting it aside. Not in the mood apparently. He’d gotten his fanbelts all in a twist.

“Then what do you suggest?”

Ironhide shrugged. “Redirection,” he said, and purposefully took a long, lingering drag of his energon.

Ratchet scowled. “What?” He sounded offended. Well, tough.

Prowl tucked his hands under his thighs, his optics turned toward the floor. Ah, that wordless chastisement must have stung. “He may have a point,” he said. “Perhaps if Wheeljack had a partner of his own…”

“I’m not going to… to… trick Wheeljack into being with someone else,” Ratchet snapped, jerking forward, nearly unseating Prowl from beside him. He visibly bristled.

“That ain’t it, Ratch! Primus!” Ironhide rolled his optics and finished off his cube, crunching it into non-existence. “We’re just sayin’, I dunno, see if there’s someone his type and see if they spark.”

Ratchet leaned forward entirely, bracing his elbows on his knees. “If there was anyone in the Ark like that, don’t you think I’d know?”

Ironhide smirked. “Who says they gotta be an Autobot?”

“A Decepticon?” Ratchet pinched his chevron as he sighed. “Seriously?”

“Why not?” Prowl, Ironhide noticed, did not pout as visibly as say someone like Sunstreaker or Mirage, but the flutter of his doorwings echoed his disappointment.

Bad Ratchet, neglecting his pretty like that.

“It only takes a spark,” Prowl pointed out.

“Yeah, to ignite a fragging powder keg,” Ratchet muttered, throwing the reply over his shoulder.

It did, at least, have the added effect of making him notice Prowl. He sat back up and groped behind him for Prowl’s nearest wrist, pulling Prowl forward. The tactician made a startled sound as he was tugged across Ratchet’s lap, his bumper and belly tucked over Ratchet’s thighs.

Prowl squirmed, but only until Ratchet’s hand landed on his back, between his sensory panels, pinning him in place. Then Prowl went still and strutless, sinking over Ratchet’s lap like he belonged there, his arms pillowing beneath his head, his legs twisted at what had to be an awkward angle to hang over the edge of the couch so that his pedes brushed the floor.

Ratchet’s other hand rested on the back of Prowl’s head, fingers stroking it gently, and that’s when Prowl’s engine kicked into gear, purring with content.

Sometimes, Ironhide swore he didn’t understand those two.

“Ya know, sometimes sparks can ignite other things, too, ya overprotective nanny bot,” Ironhide retorted, after what seemed an embarrassing amount of time. “Like, ya know, affection that leads to peace.”

Ratchet vented and leaned back, his hands still gently stroking Prowl, who’d gone so limp his sensory panels flattened against his back like a blanket.

He did, however, manage enough to stir and turn his head toward Ironhide, though his optics were hazy. “You had someone in mind?” His backstrut arched, aft bobbing a little, as Ratchet stroked along the length of his back.

“Nope.” Ironhide slid his optics toward Ratchet with a sly grin. “But I’m bettin’ the Party Ambulance here does.”

Ratchet went rigid, his fingers stalling on their path toward Prowl’s aft. “Ironhide!” he snapped, hissing a warning, as his faceplate burned pink.

“I am aware of Ratchet’s history,” Prowl said even as he made another quiet, urgent noise, prompting Ratchet’s hand to continue. “To whom is he referring, Ratchet?”

The medic sighed and growled, his hand stroking over Prowl’s aft and lingering there. “Starscream,” he said.

Prowl’s sensory panels froze. His optics cycled.

Ironhide sorely wished he had an energon cube to hide behind, if only to conceal his Sharkticon grin and the way his optics hungrily followed Ratchet’s fingers as they started to dip between Prowl’s thighs.

“And it’s stupid,” Ratchet continued as he kept his hand between Prowl’s thighs, and judging by Prowl’s shiver and sudden kneading at the arm of the couch, his fingers were going to a very nice place. “It’s ridiculous. Of all the mechs–”

“Actually, Ironhide may have a point,” Prowl said, his vocals shuddery, his faceplate starting to heat. “Starscream is many, many things, but at his core is a mech desperate to be loved.” The last word petered off into the softest of moans, his aft rocking toward Ratchet’s fingers as he hauled his knees and legs onto the couch.

Ironhide nodded. “And here is Wheeljack, achin’ to love someone.”

Ratchet shook his head. “You’re both mad.”

“Probably so.” Ironhide shrugged dismissively. He knew that tone of Ratchet’s and what it meant. “But we aren’t wrong either.”

Ratchet cycled a ventilation. “Fine. Then both of you will come up with a plan that’s not going to blow up in all of our faces,” he said. “But later. Apparently, I have something that needs attending, isn’t that right, love?” He looked down at Prowl, his expression that intriguing blend of diabolic affection that never ceased to amaze Ironhide.

Prowl’s ventilations quickened. “Please,” he panted, knees digging into the couch cushions, his sensory panels quivering.

Ironhide licked his lips.

Ratchet withdrew his fingers, visibly damp with lubricant, and ignoring Prowl’s whine of displeasure. “Then get on the floor,” he said with a light swat to Prowl’s aft. “On your knees in front of me. But face our guest.”

Ratchet looked up at Ironhide and smirked, enough that Ironhide almost felt he should be the one obeying, too.

“Ironhide, if you’ll be so kind as to move that table,” Ratchet said as Prowl moved to obey, though slowly and with lubricant slicking his thighs. “I do believe my lovely here wants to give you a show.”

Ironhide’s engine revved. He almost leapt to obey, sliding the cheap table aside so that there was nothing to obstruct his view of Prowl on his knees between Ratchet’s legs. Lubricant dripped from his open valve, his pressurized spike standing proud at the apex of his thighs.

Ratchet leaned forward, one hand cupping Prowl’s jaw from behind. The hand, Ironhide noticed, still sticky from Prowl’s lubricants. Said sticky fingers were urged toward Prowl’s lips, and Prowl moaned as he sucked them into his mouth, optics going half-shuttered and dark with need.

“Well,” Ironhide drawled as he dropped back into his chair and made himself comfortable. “If he’s offerin’, then I suppose it would be rude of me to decline.”

Ratchet chuckled. “That’s right,” he said and dragged the fingers of his free hand along the top edge of Prowl’s nearest panel. “Go on then, love. Put those hands of yours to good use.”

Prowl moaned around Ratchet’s fingers again, his hands falling to his array, sweeping up lubricant and pre-fluid alike as he started to self-service.

Poor Wheeljack. He was gonna miss this.

But if he ended up with a pretty Seeker to call his own, maybe he wouldn’t mind so much.

Meanwhile, Ironhide intended to enjoy the show.

[G1] Behind the Scenes 04

04: Over the Edge

It was not the oddest invitation Wheeljack had ever received from Ratchet, but it was certainly the most disconcerting. It was also not the first time he’d received a list of instructions regarding his own behavior. Ratch trusted him. It was why he was often invited to witness one of Ratchet and Prowl’s sessions.

But this… this was something else entirely.

Do not interrupt for any reason, Ratchet had warned, in bolded glyphs for emphasis. He is going to say ‘no’. He is going to tell me to ‘stop’. And I’m not going to.

That bothered Wheeljack a little. It made him squirm deep down inside, but part of him wasn’t entirely sure if it was lust or discomfort or an off-putting mix of both.

If you can’t watch without trying to intervene, don’t come, Ratchet added. If you shove him out of his headspace, I will remove yours and shove it up your aft, understand?

Wheeljack had debated with himself long and hard about whether or not he would do this. In the end, lust and curiosity won out. He wanted to watch. He wanted to accept this invitation.

And wasn’t at all surprised when he arrived at Ratchet’s quarters at nearly the same time as Ironhide, the Prime’s bodyguard grinning from audial to audial, his field already dizzy with lust, and his armor billowing heat.

“You, too, eh?” he said as he hit the call button to request access.

Wheeljack nodded and wriggled his datapad. “Did you get some weird instructions, too?” He tucked said datapad back into his subspace.

Ironhide laughed. “Just the one.” He leaned in close, lips inches from Wheeljack’s audial. “My job is to make sure ya don’t do anythin’ stupid.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Wheeljack demanded, indignant.

Ironhide leaned back, lips curved. “Look, I’ve seen this before. And I know how you think, Mr. Knight in Shining Armor with a fetish for reserved tacticians. You ain’t savin’ no one from nothin’, so I need to make sure ya don’t try. Got me?”

Wheeljack ground his denta, even as the door slid open to admit them. “It’s not a fetish,” he bit out as he followed Ironhide inside, the door nearly clipping his aft in its urgency to close.

“Sure it ain’t.” Ironhide snorted.

Wheeljack wanted to retort, but the words died on his glossa. Instead, he nearly swallowed said glossa, and may have briefly forgotten how to ventilate.

The scene had already begun apparently. There would be no waiting around for the set up. Not at all. Prowl was already bound and on display, with two chairs arranged near enough to see everything, but not interfere.

Ironhide took a seat, and Wheeljack blindly groped for his, unable to look away from the enticing sight.

Ratchet had Prowl pulled to the very edge of the berth, though enough pillows stacked up behind him to support his back and head. He was partially reclined, which allowed him to see both Ratchet, and the two invited voyeurs. But his wrists had been bound to his ankles, and ropes looped around his knees, which were then bound to something under the berth, keeping his legs spread and open. His interface array was on full display, and Wheeljack’s mouth went dry.

Prowl’s spike had been locked away, and his secondary port panel was closed as well, but his valve was bared, already swollen with arousal and soaking wet. Lubricant glimmered in the shadows of it, and glittered where it trickled over the caudal lip and down the curve of his aft. The urge to lick those plump folds – decorated in vertical strips of grey and red – rose up in Wheeljack so fast his mouth filled with lubricant and his engine gave the quietest of revs.

Ironhide grabbed Wheeljack’s nearest wrist and tugged him. He all but fell into his chair, his spark hammering in his chest, and his array slamming into readiness with a speed that nearly hurt.

“Behave,” he hissed.

“I am,” Wheeljack snapped.

“You’re late,” Ratchet said. He stood to Prowl’s right, one of his hands resting on Prowl’s knees, the other propped on his hip. He didn’t look annoyed. If anything, Ratchet looked like the turbofox which caught the metallocanary.

Wheeljack cycled his optics. “We’re right on time.”

Ironhide squeezed his wrist as though in warning before he let Wheeljack go. “Sorry, Ratch.”

“I didn’t wait,” Ratchet said, his tone conversational, even as his hand slowly slid down Prowl’s knee, toward his thigh and hip. “Which Prowl is grateful for. Aren’t you?” The lazy rasp of metal over metal was captivating.

Prowl visibly shivered, the blue of his optics darkening to an oceanic hue. “Y-yes, Ratchet,” he said, glossa flicking over his lips. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome, Prowl,” Ratchet purred, his hand now resting at the apex of Prowl’s thigh, fingers curved around it, millimeters from his valve. “Ironhide, did you get my memo?”

“I did.” Ironhide shifted around in his chair and rested a hand on Wheeljack’s thigh, giving it a pat. “Ya ain’t got nothing to worry about, Ratch. Right, ‘Jack?”

Wheeljack’s intake bobbed. He found himself watching Ratchet’s hands with perhaps a little more scrutiny than was merited. “Right.”

“Good.” Ratchet’s fingers slid toward Prowl’s array, his palm skating over the puffy, dripping pleats of it. “Because someone here has a lesson to learn. Tell them what you did, Prowl.”

Prowl’s engine whined. His ventilations hitched. “I-I overloaded without permission,” he said, breathless, his frame twitching in the confines of his bonds. The biolights around his array were pulsing fitfully, his optical lenses fully dilated.

The air was thick with the smell of lust, of lubrication, and Wheeljack swallowed another groan. Heat pooled behind his array.

“For which the punishment is…?” Ratchet prompted with a quick flick to Prowl’s anterior node cluster, the crimson nub swollen and bright.

Prowl’s back arched. His headlights flashed. He moaned, optics falling to half-shutter. Charge snapped like little fireworks from beneath his armor. He was already close. Wheeljack had seen Prowl close to overload enough times to recognize the signs.

Ratchet pinched Prowl’s anterior node. “Prowl.”

Prowl stirred. “T-to overload on your command.”

“Until?”

“Until I’m allowed to stop.” Prowl’s vocals were more dreamy now, enraptured, and his gaze had shifted to Ratchet, staring at him with the kind of open awe mechs tended to reserve for their first meeting with Prime.

Ratchet met Prowl’s gaze, his touch to Prowl’s nub almost incidental, save that his fingers worked in tiny, tiny circles. Prowl’s hips moved, as little as he was able, to match Ratchet’s motions.

“That’s right,” Ratchet purred and Wheeljack had to swallow a whimper. “Now give me the first one.”

Prowl’s engine whined. He sucked his bottom lip into his mouth, his hips bucking against Ratchet’s fingers, liberally soaked in his lubricant. His hands curled into shaking fists, and his head tossed back as he overloaded, charge crawling over his armor in a burst of blue fire.

Ironhide’s fingers dug into Wheeljack’s thigh plating. “Breathe, ‘Jack,” he said, subvocal.

Wheeljack sucked in a ventilation. He forced himself to lean back, as he’d moved to the edge of his seat. He sat on his hands to stop himself from scrubbing over his groin, though Ironhide seemed to have no such hesitation. His free hand was tracing his array seam, though he hadn’t exposed his equipment.

“Very good, Prowl,” Ratchet said as his fingers continued to rub and pluck over Prowl’s anterior cluster, though it had to be sensitive in the wake of his overload.

Prowl’s engine revved. His optics returned to Ratchet, though they were hazy. His hips moved in little circles with Ratchet’s fingers. He ex-vented shakily.

“Now I want another,” Ratchet murmured.

His thumb pressed circles on Prowl’s nub, but his fingers moved down, two stroking over Prowl’s swollen rim before they plunged inside. Prowl whined, thighs trembling, his lips parting in a breathy ex-vent.

“Y-yes, Ratchet,” he stammered, his doorwings twitching restlessly behind his shoulders. His field, what little of it Wheeljack could sense, turned liquid with pleasure. His hips moved in stuttered bursts, riding Ratchet’s fingers.

He was beautiful. Wheeljack couldn’t help but be enraptured, almost sorry that he wasn’t allowed to record this in any way. He would have to do with his memory alone, when tucked away in his private berth, whimpering around the toy shoved in his valve.

Prowl was gorgeous. His submission to Ratchet even more so, and the hungry rocks of his hips were intoxicating. He shivered and shook, biolights pulsing, valve spilling lubricant, as Ratchet continued to press hard circles on his nub. Prowl sucked in vent after vent, optics hazy, but focused on Ratchet.

Prowl licked his lips, doorwings fluttering. His valve lips were puffy and swollen, his anterior node increasing in size. His vents turned ragged, his little moans staticky.

Wheeljack’s own vents stuttered. He found himself leaning forward and forward, until Ironhide’s hand on his chestplate shoved him back.

“Ought get ya a seatbelt like the humans got,” Ironhide muttered, subvocal, too quiet for Prowl to pick up, as distracted as he was

Wheeljack shot him a glare, but it melted away when Prowl whimpered and made a caught sound. He looked back just in time to see Prowl jerk, another spill of static lighting up his armor in blue fire. The room filled with the scent of arousal, of overload, and Wheeljack’s in-vents sucked it up.

“Very good,” Ratchet murmured as Prowl twitched and panted on the berth.

Ratchet leaned in and nuzzled Prowl’s helm, even as he slowly withdrew his fingers from Prowl’s valve, the red digits liberally streaked with lubricant. Prowl whimpered, his hips rising as little as they were capable, as though chasing Ratchet’s fingers.

“Y-your fingers…” Prowl mumbled, his optics hazy and his ventilations coarse.

Ratchet leaned back, blinking innocently. “Yes?” He lifted his hand, admiring the lubricant drenching his fingers and now dripping down his palm and wrist. “They are quite dirty, aren’t they. I do believe that’s your fault, love. Care to clean them for me?”

Prowl’s tongue swept over lips before they parted in silent offer and Wheeljack had to swallow a moan as Ratchet’s fingers painted lubricant over Prowl’s lips. Prowl made a hungry noise, mouth chasing after Ratchet’s fingers before he sucked them into his mouth. The noisy smack of his lips and glossa over them might as well have been a taunt.

Wheeljack’s vents gusted scorching air.

Beside him, Ironhide chuckled so quietly it was nearly inaudible. “You’re so fraggin’ predictable,” he murmured.

“Shut up,” Wheeljack said.

Prowl moaned just then and Wheeljack’s attention snapped back toward him. His hands formed fists in his lap as he watched Ratchet slowly withdraw his fingers from Prowl’s mouth, the tips of them lingering on Prowl’s bottom lip.

“Mmm, much better,” Ratchet said, his voice humming with approval.

Prowl undulated in his bonds. “I didn’t mean…” He shuddered, and his valve visibly contracted, lubricant oozing free, as his biolights fitfully pulsed. “I want them back.”

“Oh, is that so?” Ratchet’s hand rested on Prowl’s bumper, thumb sweeping over a headlight before it dragged down, down, ever so slowly, and Prowl trembled. “After you’ve gone through all the trouble to to make them clean? You want them back in your valve, is that it?”

“Yes,” Prowl pleaded. His fingers squeezed in and out of fists, his ventilations whooshing noisily. “Please.”

Ratchet’s hand rested on Prowl’s groin, just above his valve, the weight of his palm on the cover to Prowl’s spike.

“Tell you what,” Ratchet said with a flick to Prowl’s spike-cover before he lifted his hand, and Prowl whimpered.

Wheeljack might have echoed him.

“I have a better idea,” Ratchet continued and groped at his subspace, withdrawing a false spike that made Wheeljack’s valve clench, and he wasn’t sure if it was anticipation or dread.

The toy was thick, easily more so than was standard, and it was riddled with ridges and bumps and whorls. It looked heavy in Ratchet’s hand, like a weapon, yet the sight of it made Prowl whine, his hips canting upward, his aft glittering with dribbled lubricant.

“This, I believe, is a better substitute, don’t you think?” Ratchet asked as he nudged the rounded, bulbous tip against Prowl’s anterior node.

Prowl’s hips bucked. He whooshed a ventilation. He gnawed on his bottom lip.

“Yes, Ratchet,” he wheezed.

Yes, please, Wheeljack wanted to say. He was enraptured. He couldn’t look away.

“Would you like it, love?” Ratchet all but crooned, his words syrupy sweet, but with a devious edge to them that made Ironhide swear and shift in his chair. “Are you empty? Do you crave something inside you? So deep it touches all of those nodes and makes them sing?”

Prowl’s head jerked in a nod. Wheeljack’s optics tracked another drop of lubricant as it oozed free, dangled from the caudal lip of his valve, and drizzled further down.

“Come now, love.” Ratchet circled the head of the false spike against Prowl’s anterior cluster before he rubbed it over the entrance to Prowl’s valve. “You have to speak up so the audience can hear you. After all, there may be some question as to whether or not you truly want this.”

Ratchet’s smirk was a subtle thing, but the devious look he tossed over his shoulder in Wheeljack’s direction was far from it.

That aft.

Wheeljack ground his denta so hard he tasted sparks.

Prowl keened a moan. “I-I want it,” he said, hips jerking, the berth creaking, his engine revving and roaring. “Please, Ratchet. May I have it?”

“Of course, you may,” Ratchet purred, and the tip of the false spike pressed against the plump folds of Prowl’s rim, nudging against them with an audible squish of lubricant.

Wheeljack wheezed as Prowl’s backstrut arched, as his head tilted back, as thighs trembling. Inch by inch, the spike slid into him, and inch by nubbed inch, Prowl’s valve swallowed it. His engine roared, a whine rose in his intake, while charge crackled and danced over his armor.

He went taut, like someone caught on the edge, his face one of sheer, agonized bliss. And then he tumbled over it, whimpering as he overloaded, as the spike seated itself so deep the end was barely visible, and his rim visibly contracted around it.

Wheeljack whimpered, too, and was glad that Prowl’s pleasure was louder than he was. Ironhide blazed like a furnace next to him, his vents rattling and roaring, the shove of his palm over his array more urgent. But they both knew the rules.

They didn’t expose their equipment, but Primus how Wheeljack wanted to. He ached everywhere.

“Three,” Ratchet said, the heel of his palm keeping the false spike deep within Prowl. His other hand came into view, bearing a small device which he slipped over his own fingers. “Let’s dive right into four, shall we?”

There was a click, a buzz, and then Prowl all but shrieked, frame snapping against the berth. His hips bucked, and his knees yanked on the bindings, and his doorwings smacked the pillows behind him. His lips peeled back into a snarl over gritted denta, flashing optics vanishing behind optical shutters, and his field exploded, so hot and raw with lust that Wheeljack drowned in it.

He groaned, lolling forward, but Ironhide’s hand on his thigh was a vise, a metal-denting vise that kept him pinned in his chair, even though he knew he had to be leaking through his seams, soaking the seat of it with his lubricant.

What did that feel like, he wondered. To be catapulted straight toward another overload while still reeling from the one before it. Did it hurt?

Wheeljack couldn’t tell from Prowl’s expression or his field, which was a swirling vortex of pain-pleasure-need-want. Prowl shook in the confines of his bounds, his vents heaving, his plating lifted away from his protoform.

Barely could Wheeljack hear the soft buzz of the vibrating device Ratchet circled over his swollen, angry anterior node. Two fingers kept the thick false spike deep in Prowl’s valve, no doubt grinding it against his ceiling node, his calipers struggling to clasp around it.

Prowl whined, a high, needy sound, and he bucked harshly. His optics flashed, lubricant seeping out from around the false spike, and his field flooded the room with heat. He collapsed back into the pillows as Ratchet’s fingers moved away, the vibrator deactivated, leaving them a clear view of Prowl’s flickering, swollen nub.

“That’s four,” Ratchet said, still impressively calm. Wheeljack admired his control. He didn’t know how Ratchet was resisting the pretty sight Prowl made. “Do you want another?”

Prowl moaned, his head lolling, his armor clattering. “N-no, Ratchet.”

“Then it’s a shame that’s not your call to make,” Ratchet said and the low buzz of the vibrator became loud, as it was reactivated and intensified.

Prowl whimpered. “N-no…” He twitched in his bonds, his expression pained. “Hurts.”

“I know it does,” Ratchet said, calmly, terribly calm and in control. “And it burns. Like the press of an iron, yes?”

Prowl jerked his head in a nod.

“A fire so hot it burns cold,” Ratchet murmured, relentless as he rubbed the vibrator over Prowl’s anterior node, so swollen it had doubled in size. “A pleasure so consuming it becomes pain, until it rebounds back again. Am I right?”

Prowl’s optics shuttered. He whined.

Ratchet leaned closer. “I’m talking to you, love,” he growled. “Are you listening to me?”

Prowl’s optics snapped back open. His hands were in such tight fists that his knuckles ached. “Y-yes, R-R-Ratchet.”

“Then you’re going to do as I say and give me another overload,” Ratchet demanded.

Prowl’s armor rattled. “I can’t,” he gasped, his optics bleeding color. His hips jerked, engine roaring, the scent of hot metal so thick in the air. “I can’t. P-please, d-don’t.”

“It wasn’t a request,” Ratchet said.

Prowl whimpered.

Wheeljack almost lurched out of his seat, but Ironhide’s hand on his thigh kept him pinned. He sucked in several ventilations, realizing that at some point he’d matched his own to Prowl’s frantic struggle, and it left him dizzy.

He was hot, scorching, both valve and spike demanding attention. As much as he wanted to jump across the room, fling open those restraints, and soothe Prowl’s aches.

“Don’t,” Ironhide said.

Wheeljack almost whined himself.

“You seem to have forgotten the point of this,” Ratchet said, his finger circling and circling, pinning that angry vibration against Prowl’s pitiful node.

Prowl sobbed, his face turning, tucking into his own shoulder. His optics were squeezed shut, oral vents desperately sucked through his mouth.

“Punishment, love, is not meant to be enjoyed.” Ratchet’s circles became tighter, more focused, as though seeking the most sensitive angle and aggressively assaulting it. “And I am meant to be obeyed. So you will overload again. Understand?”

Prowl’s answer was to whine, his engine making a pathetic sound. His face was hidden, but his hips twitched and jerked. His cooling fans rattled, his legs and thighs visibly shaking.

Ratchet leaned in close to Prowl’s face, pressing his forehead to Prowl’s chevron. His fingers continued their assault on Prowl’s anterior node.

“I want your overload,” Ratchet almost hissed, his tone firm and commanding, for all that affection peered at the most distant edges. “And you will give it to me. Now.”

Prowl shrieked through gritted denta. His entire frame jolted, hands clenched into creaking fists, valve folds visibly contracting around the end of the false spike. The charge that leapt out from his substructure was electric and lit up the room.

“Mmm. Thank you, love,” Ratchet said with a nuzzle to Prowl’s face. His fingers slid away from Prowl’s anterior node, the vibrator still faintly buzzing. “Almost done.”

Almost? Wheeljack nearly choked on a ventilation.

Prowl moaned dully, his head lolling. “Hurts,” he mumbled.

“I know.” Ratchet shifted, sliding away from Prowl, but only so that he could climb onto the berth.

He shoved the pillows aside as he put himself in their place, cradling Prowl between his legs and against his front. His arms curled around Prowl’s sides and dipped down between the tactician’s thighs, delicately framing Prowl’s stuffed and swollen valve.

Ratchet tilted his head against Prowl’s, his expression a mixture of devilish need and proud affection. One hand stroked around Prowl’s rim, teasing the soaked, swollen mesh. The other, with the vibrator, returned to Prowl’s anterior node, though he only circled the housing around it.

“I think you have more in you, love,” Ratchet said with a smirk and a glance to Wheeljack and Ironhide. “I think you’re going to give me one more. Just so we both know that you are sorry for your misbehavior.”

Prowl’s ventilations hitched. His optics unshuttered by half, becoming slits of dim blue. “No, Ratchet. Please.” He whimpered, hips attempting to twitch away from Ratchet’s hands. “I can’t.”

“And who decides that, hm? Certainly not you.” Ratchet’s fingers gently stroked over Prowl’s array, circling in closer and closer to the blazing heat of his puffy node. “Besides, you don’t want to disappoint your audience, do you? Go on. Look at them.”

Wheeljack’s vents caught in his intake. He froze. His internals throbbed with heat as Prowl lifted his head achingly slow, his gaze turning on both Wheeljack and Ironhide. His faceplate filled with heat, darkening in color, but his valve pulsed and his field throbbed so prettily with arousal.

Prowl’s glossa flicked over his lips, even as he shook in Ratchet’s arms.

“You’re beautiful, love. They know it and I know it. I think they believe you’re contrite, too,” Ratchet continued, something hypnotizing in his words, in the tender touches that gradually turned more and more aggressive.

The vibrator was buzzing again, oh so lightly, getting closer and closer to Prowl’s nub. Prowl whimpered, still trying to twitch his hips away, but there was nowhere to go.

“Another overload, and I’ll start to believe it, too,” Ratchet insisted, less urge and more command, the vibrator coming perilously near to Prowl’s nub.

Prowl visibly sobbed. “Don’t want to,” he said, optics hazy, ventilations coming sharper and faster. “Can’t.”

“You can and you will,” Ratchet insisted and applied the vibrator to Prowl’s nub, direct where before it had been a tease.

Prowl keened, head tossing back, frame thrashing in his bindings as he overloaded, lightning snarling out from beneath his armor.

Wheeljack thought Ratchet would back off then. Surely he could smell the scorched metal, the bitterness of hot lubricant, the ozone of a burnt circuit. But no, if anything, Ratchet became more relentless. He plunged the false spike in and out of Prowl’s valve, leaning harder with the vibrator against Prowl’s node, and Prowl’s keening turned to a shriek.

His back bowed, into a sharp parabolic curve that Wheeljack was amazed he was capable of. He must have overloaded again, if the need boiling in his field was any indication. So soon on the heels of the one before! Could it be anything but agony at this point?

Wheeljack panted, enraptured, unable to take his optics away. He drank in the sight of Prowl thrashing, his cries sinful in Wheeljack’s audials.

“No, no, no, no, no,” Prowl wailed, the mumbling litany nearly incomprehensible. He sounded wrecked. “Please!”

And still, Ratchet persisted. “Almost,” he said, breathless and fierce, his optics so bright and dangerous. “One more. You can do it.”

Prowl’s frame creaked, his doorwings battering against Ratchet’s front. He’d squeezed his optics back shut, his denta clenched, his field begging for relief.

“Come on, love,” Ratchet insisted, vibrator so fast and strong that the sound echoed in Wheeljack’s audials, made his processor spin. “Last one.”

Prowl’s head jerked back, his intake bared, and his entire frame went taut, frozen as if caught in time. His mouth opened in a soundless cry, even his vents stalled. The brightest flare of charge erupted over his armor, snapping back against Ratchet’s. He froze, arrested by ecstasy, frame twitching so minutely it could barely be seen, until he abruptly dropped, collapsing back against Ratchet.

His cooling fans started up again, roaring. His vents hiccuped. But he was slack in Ratchet’s arms, unconscious.

Wheeljack leaned forward, his spark throbbing. Ironhide’s hand was a heavy weight on his chestplate, but he itched to do something. Anything. Prowl had sounded so desperate, so hurt.

//Hush.//

He startled at the abrupt comm. His gaze swung back to Ratchet.

//He’s fine,// Ratchet said, though he wasn’t looking anywhere near Wheeljack. //He’s in a reset. He’ll wake shortly. So be quiet. I don’t want your voice to be the first thing he hears when he onlines.//

Even as he commed Wheeljack, he was inactivating the vibrator and tossing it to the berth beside him. His hands were gently petting over Prowl’s frame, loosening the bindings but not removing them completely.

//Ratch, I don’t–//

//If you have questions, I’ll answer them later,// Ratchet replied, sounding distracted. //For now, just be still and silent. Close your optics if you can’t bear to watch.//

Ironhide’s hand slid from Wheeljack’s chestplate down to his knee. He patted it carefully, quietly, before he leaned in. “This ain’t nothin’ new,” he murmured, so quiet it probably didn’t carry past Wheeljack’s audials. “Just follow my cues ‘nd I promise Ratch won’t get mad at’cha.”

Wheelljack made a noncommittal noise, even as a soft sound emerged from Prowl and he started to stir. His optics lit, dim at first, but then gaining brightness. He made a questioning sound, to which Ratchet immediately noticed.

“Shhh, I have you,” Ratchet was murmuring, every touch gentle and careful as he unknotted the bindings and eased Prowl’s limbs out of their stiff posture.

Prowl’s mouth opened, but his vocalizer produced static interspersed with a whimper. Ratchet moved his limbs for him as Prowl rested against his chassis, his expression one of exhaustion and satisfaction.

“I’m so proud of you, love,” Ratchet said, his attention on removing the bonds and easing Prowl’s limbs. “You did perfectly. You were so obedient. So beautiful.”

Prowl’s face tucked into Ratchet’s intake, little tremors racing through his frame. Yet, Ratchet continued to speak to him.

It was a constant litany of reassurance, and Ratchet’s field echoed it, pulsing love and comfort and pride, wrapping around Prowl like a blanket. Prowl clutched at him, his face streaked with optical fluid, his thighs trembling, but he wouldn’t bring his legs together.

Wheeljack doubted he could. His valve was so swollen it had to be tender. His node was a bright, angry color, nearly doubled in size. Was there even a drop of lubricant left in Prowl’s tank? He didn’t know.

Prowl whimpered, again, as Ratchet eased the false spike from his valve. It was liberally coated in lubricant, and Prowl’s valve contracted in it’s wake. Yet, he was also loose and open, his valve folds swollen, and some of the interior of his valve visible to Wheeljack and Ironhide both.

The toy was set aside. Ratchet slipped a single finger into Prowl’s valve, shushing him again when he whimpered.

“Shhh, it’s all right. I’m just checking for damage, but there is none, as I knew there wouldn’t be.” Ratchet pressed a kiss to the side of Prowl’s face. “Don’t I always take care of you, love?”

Prowl gave no answer. At least none that Wheeljack could hear.

Wheeljack ex-vented quietly, hoping not to gain Prowl’s attention and disturb him. He leaned back in his chair, feeling jittery and out of sorts.

The tension was gone from the room. Wheeljack shifted again, uncomfortable for an entirely different reason. Ratchet’s murmurings were so sweet, so loving, that Wheeljack now felt like an intruder of a different sort.

He wondered if there were supposed to go, and followed Ironhide’s advice, looking at the other mech for guidance. Ironhide shook his head and made a shushing noise.

They would wait then.

Wheeljack looked at Ratchet and Prowl again, who were curled together on the berths as lovers might in a post-coital glow. If it weren’t for Prowl’s subtly parted thighs, and subsequent bare valve, it might have felt like a different story.

“There we go, love, all better,” Ratchet said, at last, and he patted Prowl’s chestplate, over his Autobot symbol. “You can recharge soon, I promise. First, you need to thank our guests.”

Prowl stirred, his hazy optics shifting toward Ironhide and Wheeljack. There was no embarrassment, just a bleary acknowledgment.

“Thank you,” he rasped, obedient.

“Yer welcome, Prowl,” Ironhide said as he leveraged himself to his feet, though Wheeljack did not fail to miss the way his knees wobbled. “Ya did good, mech. Proud of ya.”

Prowl’s face pinked, and he tucked it back into Ratchet’s intake.

Ironhide nudged Wheeljack with an elbow, and Wheeljack lurched to his feet with less grace than he usually had.

“Uh, yeah. Happy ta help,” Wheeljack said, rubbing the back of his head.

Ironhide elbowed him again, coughing a vent.

Wheeljack worked his intake. “And, uh, good job! You’re forgiven.” His indicators flashed, and he hoped it was an encouraging color.

The look Ratchet gave him was both contemplative and tense. Something to worry about later, Wheeljack supposed. He and Ratchet were gonna have to have a serious talk, because Wheeljack wasn’t sure about what all he saw, and he kinda wished he’d had a more… in-depth warning.

“Thank you, Wheeljack. Ironhide.” Ratchet nodded at them both before his attention turned back to Prowl.

Wheeljack took that for dismissal. And he was right, because Ironhide snagged his elbow and tugged him toward the door. Wheeljack only looked over his shoulder once, to see Ratchet and Prowl kissing. Gentle-like, as though they were two lovers who’d just been sharing the sweetest of spark-merges.

It boggled the processor.

In the hallway, the door beeping a lock behind them, Ironhide didn’t so much as pause. He just made a beeline for the storage room across the hall and honestly, Wheeljack was pretty damn grateful.

He didn’t know entirely how he felt, save that his knees trembled, his valve ached, his spike throbbed, and he was pretty sure he’d left drips behind him. He wanted to overload, needed to, and he all but threw himself at Ironhide once the storage shut behind them.

“Frag me,” he gasped, pawing at Ironhide’s chest, trying to hitch a leg around the larger mech’s waist.

Ironhide growled, grabbed his aft, and lifted him up. Wheeljack’s panel snapped aside mere seconds before Ironhide pinned him against the wall, and his spike filled Wheeljack in one quick, deep push.

Wheeljack moaned, head knocking back against the wall, vents roaring. His valve quivered with relief, clutching hungrily at Ironhide’s spike, and he moaned again when Ironhide didn’t bother to tease either of them. He pounded into Wheeljack, fragging him against the wall, no grace, just mindless pursuit of pleasure.

Thank fragging Primus.

Overload came far too quickly, Wheeljack’s vents gasping as he keened. He writhed on Ironhide’s spike, even as the larger mech spilled hotly into him, hips pumping in deep, satisfying grinds.

“Gahhh.” Ironhide’s forehead knocked against the wall beside Wheeljack’s head. He ex-vented hotly. “Primus, what they do ta me,” he groaned.

Wheeljack tightened his thighs around Ironhide’s waist and rolled his hips. “Again,” he demanded, urgent, his valve still cycling desperately, his spark throbbing.

He didn’t precisely know why, except that he wanted the pleasure to chase away all else. To remind himself that this was supposed to be fun, and it was. But it had also been optic-opening and revelatory and he kind of didn’t want to think right now.

Ironhide chuckled. “One more,” he said. “And then we go to a room and a real berth so ya can frag the spark outta me, too.”

“Deal.” His heels drummed against the back of Ironhide’s thighs, even as Ironhide’s rumbling engine growled through them both.

Wheeljack panted, processor spinning as Ironhide started to thrust once more, the heavy drag of his spike the perfect sensation and distraction both. He tightened his arms over Ironhide’s shoulders and gave in to it.

The rest he’d worry about later.