[G1] Feels Like Tonight

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunstreaker’s hackles raise.

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

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

“Hm?”

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

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

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

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

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

It still sounds fake.

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

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

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

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

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

“Where are you going with this?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Welcome to the party,” Ratchet says.

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

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

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

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

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

It’s wonderful.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Words, Sunny,” Ratchet reminds him.

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

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

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

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

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

“Close up,” Ratchet says.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Primus.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh, Primus.

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

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

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

Sunstreaker groans.

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

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

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

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

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

Oh. Oh, Primus.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sideswipe. Ratchet. Both. Together.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Sorry,” Sunstreaker mumbles through static.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He’s getting closer to it any rate.

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

***

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[CtE] Undaunted 03

“Could you bring me out another box of the tumblers and a small carton of the swirl straws?” Mirage called out to the back as he surveyed his supplies for the evening’s celebration with a critical optic.

He didn’t want to run out of anything because celebrating drunks could quickly turn into angry drunks if they didn’t get what they wanted. Mirage wasn’t above throwing anyone out of his bar – after all, they weren’t a cred-based economy at the moment, so Visages was a matter of fun for him, not necessity. But he still didn’t want the irritation.

“Sure thing!”

Mirage flicked a glance at the chronometer above the bar, cheerfully letting him know that he had fifteen minutes before he’d officially open. Already, night was taking over, stars dotting the dark sky, and streetlamps brightening one by one. Mechs of all shapes, sizes, and affiliations – some no longer even visibly wearing a badge – clogged the streets.

It was going to be a busy night. It was going to be loud, noisy, and above all else, cheerful. After all, weren’t celebrations supposed to be?

Two boxes thumped to the counter in front of him, where space was left open for mixing drinks in front of the flavoring display.

“Anything else I can get for ya, boss?” Cliffjumper asked as he dusted off his hands and planted them on his hips.

Mirage’s lips quirked into a grin. “It will never cease to amuse me that you call me that unironically.”

“What? Boss? That’s what you are. At least in this place.” Cliffjumper made a vague gesture to the entirety of the bar. “Besides, I call lots of people ‘boss’ these days.”

“Speaking of, how is it working with Glyph? Going well?” Mirage peeled the lids off his supplies, examining them with a critical optic before he started pulling them out to put the extra stock behind the bar.

Cliffjumper shrugged and leaned against the counter. He knew better than to offer to help. “He’s not all bad, for a NAIL.”

Mirage gave him a stern look.

Cliffjumper rolled his optics. “Sorry. Neutral.” He spoke the term with evident distaste, nasal ridge wrinkling. “He’s not bossy like some people, and he lets me work at my own pace. Better than calling some fragging ‘Con boss at least.”

More swirly straws filled the cups lined up behind the bar. “Are you sure you’re going to be okay here tonight?” Mirage asked, giving Cliffjumper a sidelong stare.

Recovery had been a long, grueling process for the minibot. Five years since the treaty had been signed, and Cliffjumper had only been released on parole within the last six months, now that the urge to attack anyone wearing a Decepticon badge had been quelled. He was still angry, still bitter, but he had learned the value of restraint.

Mirage didn’t want to compromise Cliffjumper’s growth. Visages was a bar open to all factions, regardless of badge. There were, of course, a few mechs who had been banned from the establishment, not that anyone would know but Mirage and said mechs. He had subtly informed them that they were not welcome anywhere near him.

Or Cliffjumper, who under the terms of his release, had Mirage for a sponsor. A task which Mirage had volunteered for.

Cliffjumper’s day job involved working with Glyph, further and further from the little metropolis of Polyhex, Nova Cronum, and Iacon. They ventured into databases, crypts, barely standing structures – all to find the lost arts, the lost datanovels, the lost histories. Anything that could be preserved of the Cybertron-That-Was.

It was a good job for Cliffjumper. One that kept him well away from potential Decepticon sightings, but enabled him to feel useful without being used. Plus, it would probably surprise many an Autobot to learn that Cliffjumper – brash, bold, and vulgar as he was – loved history and loved to read.

Cliffjumper nibbled on his bottom lip, his gaze drifting away, to the closed sign on the main door. “Honestly, Mir. I’m not sure. I wanna be, because I hate feeling like this, but I dunno. It might be too much.” He shifted his weight, from one foot to the other. “If one of them came walking in here–”

“They won’t,” Mirage interrupted gently. He closed the space between them, carefully laying a hand on Cliffjumper’s shoulder. “Take my word for it. Not a single one of the monsters we loathe will ever step foot in our safe harbor. I swear it.”

Cliffjumper sighed, but his field relented to the warm push of Mirage’s, accepting the comfort for what it is – a resonance of shared pain. “I believe you. But maybe I should stay in the back for a while. Just in case.”

Mirage squeezed his shoulder. “Whatever you think is best, I’ll support you. And you don’t even have to stay if you don’t want to. I know you worked all day.”

“And miss the party? I get some kind of celebration, too, don’t I?” Cliffjumper grinned, and if it was a pale copy of the old brash smirk he used to have, Mirage didn’t comment.

It was still miles above the Cliffjumper who had barely survived Decepticon captivity.

“Besides, Smokescreen’s gonna be here, and you know he’ll pout if I don’t join him for at least one game.” Cliffjumper straightened, his shoulders growing firm, and his field equally so, billowing with strength.

Mirage’s spark swelled with pride. They had both of them come so far. “All right then. If you insist.”

His wall clock chimed a warning sound. Five more minutes to open, and per the usual, his bartender was running late. Mirage would have to fill in until Pipes – who was probably off cavorting with Riptide again – arrived. It would help that friendly competition in the form of Swerve’s – a more raucous and cheap bar across the way – would keep Mirage’s Visages from getting overcrowded.

Mirage stirred into action. “Flip the last of the chairs for me, will you? I’m going to turn on the lights and music.”

Cliffjumper sketched a salute at him. “Sir, yes, sir.”

Mirage chuckled and watched him vault over the bar as though it wasn’t as high as his chin. True minibot mentality that one, no obstacle too large to stand in his way. As indomitable no matter the odds.

What would you think to see us, my love? Mirage wondered as he slipped to the main electrical panel in the back, flipping switches one by one to active the interior and exterior lights.

Would you be proud? Would you be happy? Would you have loved this mess of a world we have left? Would you ever believe me to find a friend and kindred spirit in Cliffjumper?

The world is a strange, strange place.

Mirage flicked on the music and a cheerful, wordless song poured through the speakers. A classic, actually, from Cybertron-That-Was, and a gift from Cliffjumper. One of the first of his finds, an entire datadisc of ancient songs.

I think you would have liked it here, Tracks.

Mirage cycled a deep ventilation, steeling himself for another night, another day in the life of New Cybertron, spinning toward a brighter future. The loss of his beloved was an ache he’d never forget, never lose. But it was getting easier to bear.

“Mirage, it’s time!”

“Coming!”

Mirage stepped out of the electrical room and locked the door behind him. Tonight was going to be a good night, he decided. A night worthy of celebration.

He intended to enjoy every minute of it.

~

Perceptor took one look at the final preparations for the massive colorful display they planned on offering tonight, and lunged across the platform, diving between Wheeljack and Brainstorm in a spectacular display of speed no one could have ever expected of him.

“No! Are you insane?” he demanded as he spun on a heelstrut and planted himself in front of the console, arms splayed wide, defending it with his very spark. “You’ll overload the whole system!”

Brainstorm sniffed and crossed his arms, wings twitching. “What’re you even talking about? The console we’ve built here is more than enough to handle the charge.”

“Yes, for calculations we’ve confirmed thrice over, in a planned display that we’ve tested on countless computer simulations,” Perceptor snapped and flung a quivering hand in Wheeljack’s direction, at whatever newfangled contraption the engineer had appeared with. “That is a disaster in the making!”

Indicators flashed in merry bands of color. “Aw, Percy, don’t you trust me?” Wheeljack asked as he bounced on his heelstruts, craning his frame to look around Perceptor at the waiting console.

“I’ll have you know that my calculations are never wrong, and I’m absolutely sure the addition of this device will not end in disaster,” Brainstorm said with a huff.

“I trust you, Wheeljack.” Perceptor, for the moment, ignored Brainstorm. “I trust that you know what you’re doing, and I trust that since we’re dealing with displays of an explosive nature, your philosophy has always been, the bigger the better.”

Wheeljack laughed. “Well, you aren’t wrong.”

Brainstorm leaned in front of Perceptor, waving a hand wildly in front of his face. “Hey, you’re ignoring me again. That’s still rude.”

“I’ll pay you attention when you have something relevant to say,” Perceptor replied with a roll of his optics.

“This is relevant!” Brainstorm insisted. “We wanted something amazing for the finale, right? Something that would oo and ah everyone?” He flapped a hand toward the box in Wheeljack’s arms. “Well, that’s it right there!”

“We have a finale,” Perceptor retorted through clenched denta. “One we know is safe.”

Wheeljack loudly coughed. “You know, Percy, we could always run the numbers again. It won’t take that long.”

“But test–”

“Come on. We’re all smart mechs.” Wheeljack rolled his shoulders and the brightness of his optics was a peace-making grin. “We don’t need a dozen trials to know if something is going to work or not. I trust all three of us.”

Perceptor sighed and scrubbed at his forehead. He’d lost this battle before it even begun. “Fine,” he said. “Give me your data, and I’ll see what I find.”

Brainstorm shoved a datastick at him. “You’ll find that my calculations are accurate, and you’re making a big deal out of nothing,” he said as he wiggled the datastick. “You’re not the only genius in here, you know.”

“Just the most reasonable one,” Perceptor snapped.

Brainstorm rolled his optics and snatched the box from Wheeljack. “Then while you go confirm that I’m right, I’m going to go ahead and get this set up.”

“You do that.”

Perceptor glared at Brainstorm’s back, more annoyed by the younger scientist’s attitude than irritated in general. There was something about Brainstorm that turned him into an argumentative child, and he wasn’t sure why.

Huffing, Perceptor turned to the main console and plugged in Brainstorm’s datastick. He uploaded the contents to the algorithm he’d been using to determine the level of danger to be expected with their current explosive set-up.

Somewhere, in the background, Brainstorm sat down with much more noise than was necessary and started to unpack the box he and Wheeljack had brought. The amount of clunks and clatters coming from his direction were absurd and made Perceptor’s hackles rise even further.

“You know, he’s only annoying you because he’s trying to impress you,” Wheeljack leaned in and murmured, his field ripe with amusement.

Perceptor’s fingers flew across the keys, his optics locked on the screen and the cascading calculations. “Yes, I’m aware.”

“So. You gonna cut the kid a break or let him down gently?”

Perceptor tapped pause and slanted a look in Brainstorm’s direction as he considered Wheeljack’s honest query. He and Wheeljack had rarely agreed on many things, but he still considered Wheeljack a brilliant mech and a dear friend. Wheeljack often had a social insight which Perceptor lacked.

“He is brilliant,” Perceptor murmured as Brainstorm excitedly talked to himself and wielded screwdriver as though it were an extension of his frame. “Clever. Well-learned.”

Wheeljack chuckled and knocked his shoulder against Perceptor’s. “Not too harsh on the optics either, eh? Gotta love a mech with a spoiler. As sensitive as Seeker wings they are.” He wriggled his own for emphasis, and waggled his optical ridges.

Perceptor snorted a laugh. “You’re ridiculous,” he said. “But not incorrect. He is aesthetically appealing as well. Any other situation, I probably would have pursued his romantic interest in me.”

“But not now?”

“I don’t think it wise.” Perceptor worked his intake and returned his attention to his calculations, unpausing the system to continue its work. “I worry his reverence for my scientific acumen blinds him to my faults. I fear the inevitable dissolution of a romantic entanglement as soon as he realizes that the old adage is true: one should never meet their heroes.”

Wheeljack squinted at him. “Perce, are you telling me that you’re not gonna give the kid a chance because you don’t think he likes who you really are?”

“Is that so improbable?” Perceptor asked.

Wheeljack stared at him and then smacked his palm against his forehead. “My friend, you are really smart, but also, really dumb.” He half-spun and gestured in Brainstorm’s seemingly oblivious direction. “That kid’s been working beside you for three years, which let me tell you something, is no picnic. I love ya, Perce, but you can be a trial and a half and he doesn’t even have half the history we do. But he’s still here.”

Wheeljack turned back toward Perceptor and poked him in the chestplate, right in the middle of his window. “Nobody sticks around for that long just because they admire you. Trust me. He’s still here because he likes you. All of you.”

Perceptor’s face heated. His fingers paused on the keys as he stared without seeing the calculations scroll by. Wheeljack was probably right. He was always accurate about these things. He understood people far better than Perceptor did.

Perceptor was good at numbers. Theories. Scientific advancements. He understood how machines worked, how the universe fit together. He could make sense of the impossible. He could fathom the unknown.

He did not know how to translate people. He only knew how to be himself, cold and awkward and completely wrapped up in the science.

Somehow, Brainstorm was attracted to him? To that sort of personality? It was more than Perceptor could fathom.

“And yes,” Wheeljack added in a quieter tone. “I’m sure.”

Perceptor worked his intake and tried to focus on his calculations, but his gaze drifted toward Brainstorm, who was peering intently at a panel he was welding.

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Perceptor replied, just as quiet. He gave Wheeljack a soft smile. “But for later, yes? Best not to distract anyone with this much explosive material around us.”

Wheeljack chuckled. “You’re right about that.” He patted Perceptor on the shoulder. “Ratch would kill all of us if we lost any limbs or so much as scorched our paint.” He turned away from Perceptor, indicators flashing merrily. “Yo, Stormy. Everything good over there?”

Brainstorm tossed a thumbs up their direction as weldfire sparked at the panel. “We’ll be ready on time.”

“Great!” Wheeljack grinned and did a little dance of celebration. “Then we can get this party started.”

Perceptor chuckled and glanced at the screen, pleased to find the calculations had finished – and proven Brainstorm’s theory correct. It was going to be a beautiful show, a celebration truly worth what Cybertron had become.

His gaze slid to the side, where Brainstorm had finished his welding and was patting the panel with a satisfied air about him. His little winglets flicked up and down, a rather adorable little quirk in Perceptor’s opinion.

Yes, tonight was going to be something to remember.

In more ways than one.

~

Chaos and Noise.

They’d come up with the name together, and it was a perfect fit. This wasn’t a quiet place for weary mechs to come and rest and relax. No. Chaos and Noise was for play and games and social interaction, for laughter and loudness and remembering what it was to have fun.

It wasn’t a club, nothing so fancy. The only music to be found were the various theme songs pouring from the different game consoles spread around the open-floor interior. Arcade machines constantly beeped and dinged and burbled cheerful success. They served basic energon and snacks, but no intoxicants.

It was an arcade. In all honesty.

Frenzy chuckled to himself as he leaned over the ledger and scribbled down another note. He liked to pretend that his and Eject’s business was something grand and important, but really, it was an arcade. It was a collection of different types of game systems, some modeled after those on Earth, some recreated from Cybertron-That-Was, others scaled up versions of Earth consoles, but all of them with a plethora of games that could be enjoyed by the Cybertronian masses.

Pinball was both a classic and a favorite.

Frenzy saved his calculations and powered down the datapad, leaning back in his chair to stretch his arms above his head. He groaned as cables twanged and joints popped. They were open already, but unsurprisingly, no one had come yet. Most mechs were waiting for the party to get started before venturing out of their homes.

Honestly, Frenzy would be surprised if they were any kind of busy tonight. Well, maybe with competitions. Happy mechs tended to get a little competitive. DDR was always popular when it came to wanting to beat the tar out of your enemy, but without blaster or missile.

He glanced at his messy desk, visor spotting a note he’d tacked up there after closing yesterday. A reminder.

Frenzy groaned and leveraged himself out of the chair. “Yo, Eject!” He stuck his head out the doorway.

A voice hollered back at him from the front room where Eject was propped up behind the front counter, ostensibly working. “What?”

“The Atari’s busted again. See if Graham or Doc Green have the time to look at it.”

“Call ‘em yourself!”

“They like you better!”

Frenzy didn’t hear Eject’s response, but was sure it contained nothing polite. Chuckling to himself, Frenzy ducked back into the tiny room they deemed an office and glared at the piles of paperwork sitting discarded on his desk.

Frenzy did not like paperwork. Or datawork. Or arithmetic. Or… this administrative slag. They really needed to think about bringing in a third partner, someone to handle the business side of things while he and Eject had all the fun. Someone who liked datapads and numbers and hassling with Swindle for their supplies.

Speaking of…

Frenzy dug out the bottom-most datapad, battered and beaten all to the Pit, but still perfectly functional and the life’s blood of Chaos and Noise. It was their ledger, listing every console, game and prize available in the arcade.

And yes, there were prizes. Just like some of those places on Earth where people could play games of chance and earn tickets to spend at the prize shop. Currency wasn’t much of a thing on New Cybertron, but prize tickets hardly counted as currency, did they?

Frenzy flicked on the power and swiped the screen to the prize list, which was updated by the hour as tickets were earned and redeemed. They were running low on a few quick and easy prizes, as well as one of the larger, surprisingly popular ones. A talk with Swindle would have to be in order.

Frag it.

Frenzy hated dealing with Swindle. He always walked away feeling like he’d been cheated, though he’d squinted at the terms of their agreements with a practiced optic.

Maybe he could convince Eject to take one for the team.

Frenzy flicked the switch to off and tucked the datapad into his subspace. He fled the office, cutting off the lights behind him, and joined Eject behind the front desk instead.

Sure enough, the cassette was sprawled out in a chair, feet propped up on the counter, the long length of a controller cord drawn taut between his hands and the Sega Dreamcast arranged on a rolling cart. The console was connected to a moderately sized flat-screen monitor and was one of many mobile systems they had. The Dreamcast was Eject’s favorite, while Frenzy was more partial to the 64.

“You know, you could at least pretend to be working,” Frenzy said with a snort. He hooked the other rolling chair and plopped his aft down into it.

“You’re not the boss of me,” Eject retorted without looking away from the screen, his fingers flicking fast over the controller.

Frenzy rolled his optics behind his visor. “Right. ‘Cause we’re partners.” He pulled out the datapad and tapped it against Eject’s shoulder. “And here’s your share of the work, partner.”

“Can’t. Busy.”

Frenzy gently whapped him on the head with the datapad. “Pause it, dorkus. This is important.”

Eject uttered an exaggerated sigh and paused the game, plucking the datapad from Frenzy’s fingers. “You always give me the scut work.”

Frenzy shouldered him aside and snagged the controller from his limp grip, taking over before Eject could say a word. “Well, maybe if you acted like you were doing work more, I wouldn’t hafta.”

He unpaused the game – Marvel vs. Capcom, so predictable Eject – and continued punching the slag out of Spiderman. The graphics were terrible, the music was tinny, and he’d seen better final blows from a Gameboy, but still. Better a little fun than no fun at all.

“What? Negotiate with Swindle? No way. It’s your turn.” The datapad smacked Frenzy in the chest as Eject tried to wrestle the controller away from him.

Frenzy wrenched his frame to the right, putting his back and shoulders between Eject as he tried to maintain control. “Too late. Datapad’s yours.” He snickered as he thumbed through the player selection and tried to pick a cool one.

Eject threw himself at Frenzy, nearly toppling them both to the floor. Frenzy shouted, the controller flying from his hands, as he fought back. He couldn’t stop laughing as the datapad squirted out of the scuffle, clattering to the floor. Good thing it was durable.

“That’s unfair!”

“Who says?”

“I say!”

“You’re not the boss of me!”

“You said that already!”

“Ahem.”

Frenzy froze; Eject did, too. Their limbs were thoroughly entangled. The television continued to blare the opening credits of the game.

They had a customer standing in front of the counter. Though honestly, Blaster hardly qualified as a customer. No doubt he was just here to check on one of his “kids.” Pfft. Eject wasn’t the one he should worry about. He should be stalking Rewind and that once-Neutral mindwarper he was dating.

“Hi, boss!” Eject chirped and squirmed his way free of Frenzy’s super-effective grappling technique. “What’s up?”

Blaster grinned at them, an orbital ridge raised. “I came by to see if you wanted to watch the fireworks with me, but it looks like the show is here.”

Eject rolled his optics. Frenzy righted himself and snagged the datapad off the floor, making a show of dusting it off.

“I’m working,” Eject said with an indignant tone.

Frenzy snickered behind his hand. “Yeah,” he agreed with a smirk. “We’re working. Can’t ya see how busy we are.” He gestured to the empty playroom.

“Ah, yes. Silly me.” Blaster rummaged about in his subspace and pulled out a box, setting it gently on the counter. “Well, here’re a few snacks for the hard-working cassettes so that they can still enjoy their evening.”

“Snacks?” Eject’s optics got big and round. He pounced on the box, ripping it open with little sounds of glee. “Gummies! Jellies! Rust sticks!? Boss, you really do love me!” He shoved a candied oilcake into his mouth.

No manners that one. Frenzy eyed the box with ravenous intent. As soon as Blaster left, he was going to be all over that thing. There was an energon donut calling his name, iron sprinkles and all.

Blaster chuckled. “Yes, brat, I do. But make sure you share.”

Eject snorted, his mouth coated with powdered sweetening, his cheeks puffed out. His field was all the answer Frenzy needed. They were going to have to fight over that yummy looking nuts and bolts cookie.

Blaster shook his head and turned away, waving goodbye at them. “Alright, I’ll leave you two to your work. Try and stay out of trouble, and yes, I mean you, Eject. Frenzy has been perfectly behaved… for a cassette belonging to that nuisance.”

That nuisance being, of course, Soundwave.

Their rivalry had become a tad more friendly over the years, but Frenzy would never call the two of them friends. There was a lot of history there. It would take more than half a decade for them to get over it. Blaster could seriously hold a grudge.

“Yeah, thanks for the love,” Frenzy shouted at Blaster’s back.

The moment the other dock was out of sight, Frenzy dove at the box of treats in Eject’s clutches. “He said for you to share!”

Crumbs flecked in all directions as Eject tried to refuse around a mouthful of rust cakes. And was that a mercury glaze? No fair! Eject even stuck out his glossa, losing more crumbs in the process, as he tried to run away with the box of yummies.

Frag that!

Frenzy gave chase.

If any customers came in, well, they’d get over it. The arcade was called Chaos and Noise after all. What else could they expect?

~

“If you get any more polished, you’ll blend right into the scenery.”

The soft chuckle from behind Sunstreaker was the first indication he wasn’t alone. He should have seen movement in the mirror, but Drift was as sneaky as any one of Jazz’s special ops mechs. How someone with nearly all-white armor could walk around and not be noticed, Sunstreaker would never know.

Sunstreaker snorted and glared harder at the mirror, examining his finish with the sort of intensity he reserved for lining a difficult commission. “Maybe that’s the point.”

In the mirror, he spied white arms encircling his frame from behind before he felt the heat of them, and their owner, pressing against his back. Drift’s engine revved gently, vibrating against Sunstreaker’s armor. His face appeared, chin hooked over Sunstreaker’s shoulder, a gentle smile curving his lips and baring his pointed denta.

“But how is anyone going to compliment you if they can’t see you?” Drift murmured into Sunstreaker’s audial. His palms flattened over Sunstreaker’s ventral, black against black.

Sunstreaker cycled a vent, alarmed to find it shuddery, and rested his hands over Drift’s. “I doubt anyone will want to.”

Drift nipped his audial. “You know better than that,” he chastised, though his gentle tone meant it barely qualified as one.

“I know reality,” Sunstreaker retorted and dropped his gaze from the mirror. He turned away from it, easing out of the comfort of Drift’s embrace. It wasn’t rejection.

Drift’s voice followed him anyway. “You’re just nervous.”

Sunstreaker made a noncommittal noise. He pulled a polishing cloth out of his subspace and focused on an invisible mark on his arm. His back was cold without Drift’s warmth, but it was hard to accept that right now. The anxiety was turning his spark inside out, reminding him all too much of that time spent in Shockwave’s custody.

“Okay!” The door to the dressing room slammed open and Sideswipe came strutting inside, a big grin planted on his lips. “We are ready for opening night. In less than ten minutes, we’re going to razzle dazzle everyone.” Sparkles all but glinted in his optics, his field a rolling burst of excitement, nearly enough to combat the tension in the air.

“Not if no one comes,” Sunstreaker muttered, which he thought was overshadowed by Drift’s excited, “Great!”

Unfortunately, Sideswipe heard him. “What?”

Drift rolled his optics. “He’s nervous.”

“It’s not nerves!” Sunstreaker snapped, his fingers clenched around the polishing cloth, which he only barely resisted from tossing at his idiot twin and their just as idiotic partner.

Sideswipe’s mouth twisted in contemplation. “Bro, we’ve been working on this for months,” he said, and he used that tone. That calm, collected tone Sunstreaker simultaneously hated and craved. “We’ve got a line of mechs out there waiting to see the fruits of our labor. We don’t even have to worry about whether or not we’re going to be a hit. It’s a done deal.”

Sunstreaker nibbled on his bottom lip. Every ventilation was a trembling one. He shook his head. “I changed my mind. This is a bad idea.” He tossed the polishing cloth into a bin and spread his hands. “We’re not opening.” He turned toward the door, fully ready to tell everyone not to bother.

Sideswipe intercepted him before he could take more than three steps. He cupped Sunstreaker’s face, hands gentle as he pulled them together, foreheads coming into soft contact.

“Sunny,” he murmured. “You can do this. We can do this. We’re not alone anymore.”

“No, you’re not,” Drift agreed from nearby, close enough to touch, but always waiting for permission, to be invited, especially in moments of weakness like this.

They were bonded, yes, at the spark even. But they weren’t yet mates. It was a very fine distinction. It was a bond they hadn’t made. They were working on it, little by little, month by month.

Drift understood all too well the kind of life Sunstreaker and Sideswipe had survived. He’d been there with them, before the war, and he’d suffered agony of his own.

He was their first choice, five years ago when Ratchet had told them their options. Former Decepticon or not, Drift was kin. He knew the circumstances which birthed them. He’d clawed his way out of the same gutters.

And this? This terrifying, uncertain, glorious event? It was something Sunstreaker had always dreamed of, even in the dark and the dank and the rot. During the war, he’d buried the longing down deep. He stopped thinking of it as a possibility. Frankly, he didn’t think he and Sideswipe would survive the war.

Now here they were, on the precipice, with everything Sunstreaker had ever wanted, and he was too afraid to seize it. He was too afraid of what failure would mean. Too afraid to even try.

Drift moved closer, reaching with his field first, and when they reached back, Drift once again embraced Sunstreaker from behind. Surrounded by his mates, their warmth and their support, the clatter in Sunstreaker’s armor softened.

This was too hard to do alone.

But he wasn’t. He never had been. He’d always had Sideswipe. And now they, together, had Drift. He felt emboldened by them, drawing strength from the bond.

“All right,” Sunstreaker said as he cycled a ventilation, still shaky, but not unbearable.

He had stood down combiners, super soldiers, and Megatron. He might not have always emerged unscathed, but he’d faced them with his head held high, and a fury in his spark. Surely he could face this, these mechs come to view the very spark of him.

“I guess we shouldn’t keep them waiting,” he said.

Sideswipe grinned and pressed a kiss to Sunstreaker’s forehead. “I’m proud of you.”

“As am I.” Drift squeezed Sunstreaker a little tighter, his lips brushing across the back of Sunstreaker’s shoulder. “Now, should we not get out there? Wouldn’t want to be late for opening night.”

“No, we wouldn’t,” Sunstreaker agreed. He pulsed affection and gratitude into his field.

They separated.

“Now that it’s settled. Here. Put these on quick.” Sideswipe pulled something from his subspace and handed them to Sunstreaker and Drift.

They were small sacks. Sunstreaker frowned and drew open the drawstring, peering inside. It was some kind of fabric? He tugged out something long, flat, and black, and it took him several long seconds to realize what it was.

Sunstreaker rolled his optics. “I’m not wearing a bowtie, Sideswipe,” he said flatly.

“Why not?” his idiot of a twin brother asked. Already in the midst of tying his own white bow and adjusting it at the base of his intake, Sideswipe was all but glowing with glee. “I think it’ll make you look dashing.”

“I can’t wear a hat,” Drift said as he held up what could only be a tophat, sized for Cybertronians of course. And with his helm spurs, Drift couldn’t wear it even if he wanted to.

“Then just put on the bowtie,” Sideswipe said as he whipped out a tophat and planted it on his head, cocked at an angle to avoid the issue of his own sensory horns and give him a somewhat dashing air, if not ridiculous. “There. Perfect.”

Sunstreaker sighed. He swept his palm down his face. “No one’s going to take us seriously if we walk out there looking like this.”

“I don’t know. He may have a point about the tie,” Drift replied as he moved to admire himself in the mirror, the bright red bowtie quite fetching against the black of his intake. “It’s simultaneously nonsensical and charming.”

Great.

Sunstreaker groaned. If Drift was already falling for Sideswipe’s madness, then Sunstreaker had no choice. He would have to play along as well.

He was not, however, wearing the stupid tophat. Let Sideswipe be the only of them sporting the ugly accessory.

“Looking good, handsome,” Sideswipe purred as he draped himself along Drift’s side and nuzzled his cheek against Drift’s, careful not to disturb his tophat. “And thank you for locking up those swords tonight. We can’t be scaring the customers away.”

Drift nibbled on his bottom lip. “You’re welcome,” he said quietly and after a long moment.

That had been a point of long discussion between Sideswipe and Drift for the past month. Sunstreaker had stayed out of it. Privately, he agreed with Sideswipe. But he also understood Drift’s point.

It still felt anathema to Sunstreaker to walk around without being visibly armed. Of course, no one knew about the blades hidden beneath his forearm armor, or the blaster in his thigh compartment. But visible armament was often a warning and deterrent. He felt vulnerable without them, and knew Drift, who had spent far too long in the company of Decepticons, shared the same apprehension.

With a sigh, Sunstreaker tightened the bowtie around his neck. The weight was negligible and he barely felt the smooth touch of the fabric. He peeked into the mirror and had to admit, it didn’t look as bad as he thought it would.

Like the Pit he’d admit it though.

Suddenly, Sideswipe hooked an arm around his midsection and tugged him toward the mirror. He had Drift on his other arm, and he grinned at the sight the three of them made: shiny armor, bowties, and a lone, crooked tophat.

“We look fantastic,” Sideswipe declared.

Drift grinned.

Sunstreaker rolled his optics. He folded his arms over his chestplate, the perfect shine catching a glint of overhead lighting. Though Sideswipe had a point. They looked great.

“Alright, enough preening,” Sunstreaker said. “It’s time to open.”

Time for all of them to realize their dreams.

His mates smiled and Sideswipe tugged them in for a tighter embrace.

It was a brand new world, after all. They need only reach out and take it.

~

First Aid didn’t exactly leap out of his chair when he heard the chime for the main door go off, but he was close to it. Excitement made his spark skip an oscillation, and he might have flung himself at his office door, hurrying out to greet his visitor. Or well, he hoped it was a visitor and not a patient at any rate.

When Ambulon came around the corner, spotty paint and all, First Aid’s optics brightened in a smile. “Thanks for coming!” he said as he greeted Ambulon with a massive hug, something the self-contained medic had finally opened up to a couple years prior.

Ambulon’s field was amused and appreciative as he returned the embrace with a quick squeeze. “You don’t have to thank me for this kind of thing.”

“Well, I kind of do.” First Aid shrugged and released Ambulon. “I know I didn’t have to be on shift. We’re all supposed to be dismissed, but someone has to be ready for all the high grade related mayhem.”

Ambulon’s smile was soft and sincere. “To be honest, that kind of noisy revelry is not something which appeals to me. I wouldn’t have attended on my own. I would have stayed in Nova Cronum for the same reason.”

First Aid chuckled and turned, gesturing for Ambulon to follow him. “Then it’s a good thing you’re here. You’ll have a better view of the fireworks later, and my window overlooks the stage.”

“All of the entertainment without any of the crowds or ambient noise,” Ambulon murmured. “Yes, that is quite preferable to me.”

“Good.”

The Autobot medbay in Polyhex was located in a building that faced the neutral territory in the middle, where the three cities had started to merge together to form a sort of triumvirate. The memorial obelisk and the spacebridge also occupied this tri-state area and it was where the ever-growing celebratory festival set up every year. Though this year was truly the first time it could be called a festival.

First Aid had a wonderful view of the events, though he didn’t want to attend in person. It had only been five years. He still wasn’t ready to accidentally bump into a Decepticon, former or otherwise, and he’d rather serve his purpose as a medic. Besides, he was on the fast track to being Chief Medic, what with Ratchet gradually stepping back in his duties.

Ratchet, after all, had a youngling to raise.

“And what if I told you our night might involve inventory?” First Aid teased as he led Ambulon to the rather spacious and lush break room. They would still be within audible range of the front chime.

Ambulon twitched. “… even so,” he said.

First Aid chuckled and gestured Ambulon toward the most comfortable seat in the room, located at the best table with the best view of the tri-city area. “Well, we won’t be entirely without fun.”

“Oh?” Ambulon slid into the seat and braced his elbows on the table.

First Aid rummaged in the cabinet for the basket he’d stashed earlier in the week, when Ambulon confirmed that he’d once again be present for their yearly observation of the festivities. It had a delicious array of tasty treats and a few bottles of sweet engex far too weak to get them intoxicated, but pleasant enough to pass the time.

He emerged victorious with the basket and plonked it down in front of Ambulon, sweeping off the cover with a flourish.

“You came prepared,” Ambulon observed with one of his small, telltale grins. He plucked a small box of mercury meltaways from the stack. “And you remembered.”

“That those are your favorite? I sure did.” First Aid dropped into the seat opposite of Ambulon and started laying the spread across the table. “It’s the least I can do if I’m going to steal you away for the evening.”

Ambulon chuckled as he peeled back the wrapping around the meltaways. “Spending time with you is hardly a trial.” He sniffed the candy before he popped it into his mouth – an odd little tic he’d had as long as First Aid knew him.

First Aid grinned behind his mouthplate. “Good to know.” He glanced out the window, where bright lights were already making the night a smear of colors and hundreds of mechs had started to crowd the narrow streets.

Maybe one year, he’d actually go out and join them.

“How’s Nickel by the way?” First Aid asked to change the subject. The former medic for the DJD had been released on parole six months ago and assigned to Ambulon’s supervision in Nova Cronum per her request.

“She’s doing well. She’s made friends with Catscan.” Ambulon took a sip of the engex, his gaze falling to the window as well. “She still despises Autobots, but she has no love for the new Decepticon command either. Very little has changed in that regard.”

First Aid made a noncommittal noise. “It is difficult to blame her. She still hates Grimlock for Tarn’s death, despite knowing he would not have surrendered, and she grieves for Vos.”

“Even murdering psychopaths have someone who love them,” Ambulon murmured. He shook his head. “Our world has become a strange and unusual place.”

First Aid deactivated his mouthguard and snagged one of the rust sticks. “But a better one though. Right?”

Ambulon ate another of the meltaways and made a humming noise of approval in his intake. “Getting better by the day.”

****

[TF] Strung Up on You

The weird part wasn’t the invitation, but the person who’d issued it.

Sunstreaker.

Oh, sure. Rodimus had spent time in their berth on a few occasions, always by Starscream’s offer. Sunstreaker had been lukewarm to him at best. Tolerant, most likely, because he never denied Starscream anything. He’d never seemed interested in Rodimus himself, instead treating him more like a pet or an intrusion.

Which made it doubly odd he’d sent Rodimus an invitation to come to their shared habsuite. Rodimus rolled the invite around in his head for several days, debating on whether or not to accept it. He believed the offer was genuine; it was just that he didn’t understand the motivation behind it.

Unless, he guessed, this was all Starscream’s idea. The Seeker could be quite devious when the situation called for it, and he loved being a tease. Especially toward Rodimus.

In the end, curiosity won out.

The evening of the invitation arrived. Rodimus finished his last client of the day – tip included again! – and took his time in the washracks, more considerate than usual of his post-client clean-up. He knew how particular Sunstreaker could be and didn’t want the mech finding any reason to see fault in Rodimus.

Even if Sunstreaker had been the one to invite him, Rodimus still didn’t intend to leave himself open to Sunstreaker’s scrutiny.

Clean and polished, Rodimus climbed the residential tower to the nearly top floor where Sunstreaker had claimed one of the larger, better habs. He had the right to, Rodimus knew. Sunstreaker had been here longer than just about anyone else. Rumor had it he was never going to leave.

Rodimus wondered what Starscream thought about that, Starscream who had every intention to quit and move on with his life as soon as he earned the creds he needed. Rodimus didn’t blame him. As soon as he’d paid his own debts, if that ever happened, Rodimus planned to run far and fast from Blue Sun.

Outside Sunstreaker and Starscream’s room, Rodimus hesitated. He nibbled on his bottom lip. He checked his chronometer. Perfectly on time. He raised his hand to ring the chime, and hesitated again.

He’d come this far. No point in turning back now. Honestly, what did he have to lose?

Rodimus pressed the button. He shifted from foot to foot as he waited, wondering what they had in store for him, what the game was this time. Or maybe it was extra lessons? Starscream kept saying Rodimus needed more.

Starscream could be just as much of an aft as Sunstreaker. Rodimus was too grateful to the Seeker to point it out though. They both had really helped him. At this rate, he might actually pay off his debts, rather than get stuck here forever. Every tip was a spit in Turmoil’s face.

Metaphorically anyway. Rodimus knew better than to piss off his former lover by actually spitting on him. Fragging off Turmoil had gotten him into this mess in the first place.

The door opened, and Sunstreaker stood there, perfectly polished as usual, but there was a weird sheen on his lips and face. He smirked upon sight of Rodimus and stepped back, gesturing him inside.

“You’re on time,” he said, his deep voice doing sinful things to Rodimus’ spinal strut. Things that weren’t very fair. “Don’t mind Starscream. He’s where he’s supposed to be.”

Rodimus crinkled his orbital ridges but obeyed. Don’t mind Starscream? What the frag was that supposed to–

Oh.

Rodimus’ optics widened as the door slid shut behind him. The scent of interfacing struck him nearly at the same time as a frazzled, hungry energy field. For there Starscream was, expertly strung up with some red-gold chains dangling from the ceiling. His arms were pulled above and behind his head and chains of the same color wrapped around his knees, tying his ankles to the back of his thighs.

He knelt on the berth. Or actually…

Rodimus looked a bit closer. Starscream was kneeling, but just above the berth. He strained to catch it with his knees, his engine revving, the chains creaking. He was strung up in such a way that his weight was evenly distributed. It didn’t put too much strain on his arms and shoulders, but no matter how he squirmed, he couldn’t touch himself.

Not his pressurized spike, wet with slick, beaded at the tip, encircled at the base by a ring. Or his valve, visibly swollen and dripping, the piercings twinkling as they caught the overhead light.

Rodimus’ mouth watered.

Well. That explained the damp on Sunstreaker’s face.

“Damn it, Sunstreaker!” Starscream snarled, seething. Wide gaps in his plating dispelled heat, his wings flicking in all directions. “Now is not the time to answer the door!”

He was blind-folded, Rodimus realized.

“Have a seat,” Sunstreaker said, ignoring Starscream’s snarled curses.

Have a…? Was he serious?

“You’re kind of in the middle of something, aren’t you?” Rodimus asked, but he obeyed, plopping his aft on the chaise, fixated on the tempting picture Starscream made.

Primus but he wanted to climb onto that berth, put hands and lips and glossa on Starscream, and see if he could make the Seeker writhe for him. The sounds Starscream might make, if only Rodimus could pleasure him.

“Yes, but that’s the point.” Sunstreaker’s glossa flicked over his lips, his attention shifting back toward Starscream. His optics turned both soft and hungry at once. “This is, after all, a reward.”

Rodimus wasn’t sure what to think. Did that mean Starscream had agreed to this ahead of time? Did he want Rodimus here? Rodimus couldn’t imagine Sunstreaker doing anything to hurt Starscream or lose his trust.

“For what?” Rodimus asked.

No answer came. Not immediately.

Instead, Sunstreaker moved nearer to the berth, which had been pulled more toward the middle of the room. All the better to put Starscream in the spotlight, Rodimus supposed.

Sunstreaker’s hand trailed along the berth before it found Starscream’s knee. He dragged his fingers up the length of it, then his thigh, then to his hip and further still. Up and up, teasing him, as Starscream shivered and tilted into the touch.

“Someone passed his exam.” Sunstreaker traced the edge of Starscream’s nearest wing. He pinched the aileron and a pearl of lubricant dripped from Starscream’s valve, dampening the berth beneath him. “He was a hard-working little Seeker, studying all night, practicing during the day. And he passed with flying colors.”

Exam?

Starscream loosed a small moan. He leaned into Sunstreaker’s touch. He licked his lips and his field rolled out, hot and heavy, prickling over Rodimus’ armor.

“This is a reward for that?” Rodimus asked as Starscream’s backstrut arched, and tiny nips of charge spilled over his frame in blue-white fire.

“Rewards are a matter of perspective,” Sunstreaker purred, and Starscream suddenly sucked in a heavy ventilation. He moaned, long and low, like it had been pulled from his belly.

It took Rodimus several seconds to understand why. Sunstreaker’s fingers were between Starscream’s thighs, the tips of them dragging through the gathered lubricant and teasing Starscream’s valve folds.

“Now hush.” Sunstreaker’s fingers slid further up and curled, the tips of them tapping on Starscream’s anterior node. “This is the part where you watch.”

Rodimus worked his intake, his hands squeezing on his thighs. Normally, it grated on him to obey Sunstreaker’s demands, but this time, it felt different. He wasn’t sure why. Something compelled him to keep his mouth shut.

Sunstreaker stroked along Starscream’s valve again, gathering lubricant with his fingertips, and then he pulled away. Starscream made a protesting sound as Sunstreaker stepped around Starscream’s other side, popping his damp fingers into his mouth to suck them clean.

Starscream’s engine growled. “Stop stalling and pay me attention,” he demanded, though it came out pained and husky.

Sunstreaker chuckled and moved to Starscream’s right side. He traced Starscream’s bottom lip with his thumb. “You always have my optic, Starling.”

Starscream leaned into the touch, and his glossa lapped at the tip of Sunstreaker’s thumb, quick like a voltaic cat. “Then stop teasing me.”

“I’m not teasing, beautiful. I’m enticing.” Sunstreaker abandoned Starscream’s mouth, and his finger trailed downward, over the delicate cables of Starscream’s intake to splay across the nearly transparent transteel of Starscream’s cockpit.

Starscream moaned and wriggled in his bonds. More lubricant dripped from his valve, soaking the berth cover. Rodimus wanted to moan with him. Sunstreaker was barely touching Starscream, but he had complete mastery of the room. It was intoxicating. Inspiring.

It made Rodimus want to try for himself.

Sunstreaker’s hand drifted lower still, skating the length of Starscream’s spike. He pinched the tip, swept his thumb over the weeping slit, before abandoning Starscream’s spike in favor of his valve. Black fingers parted the mesh lips, playing in the slick gathered there.

Starscream made a noise, a cross between a growl and a whimper.

Sunstreaker hummed in. “You didn’t greet our guest, Starscream,” he said in a tone that was half-purr, half-rebuke. “I know I taught you better than that.”

Starscream’s hips rocked toward Sunstreaker’s fingers, his biolights flashing faster and brighter. “I know he’s here,” Starscream snapped. “What more do you want from me?”

Rodimus almost laughed. Trust Starscream to be somewhat disobedient, even while submitting to Sunstreaker’s domination. He wouldn’t be Starscream if he didn’t struggle the whole way.

Sunstreaker’s fingers pushed deep into Starscream’s valve, and they must have curled, because Starscream suddenly whined and sucked in a ventilation. His entire frame shuddered, wings and all, as the turbines on his chest started to spin.

“That’s not a respectful tone, Star,” Sunstreaker said. His voice sounded pleasant, but there was a chastisement in it. One that made Starscream’s face flush with heat.

He sucked his bottom lip into his mouth. His fingers curled into light fists. More lubricant dribbled down before Starscream loudly cycled a ventilation.

“Welcome to our hab, Rodimus,” Starscream said, his voice steadier than Rodimus expected it to be, what with Sunstreaker fingering all of his pleasure points. “P-please enjoy the show.”

Rodimus didn’t know if he was allowed to speak or not. He risked it. “Thanks.” He rubbed the back of his head, wondering if Starscream could hear the arousal in his voice. “Pretty sure I will.”

Starscream’s lips curved toward a smirk. One that did things to Rodimus, made his internals tighten and heat wash through his lines. His spike throbbed, and Rodimus pressed the heel of his palm to his panel.

He hadn’t been given permission.

“That’s better.” Sunstreaker dropped to a crouch in front of Starscream.

His hands curved around Starscream’s thighs, pushing them further open, completely baring Starscream to the room. He tilted Starscream’s hips up and back, putting his array at perfect height for Sunstreaker to lean forward and give a long, lingering lick to Starscream’s valve.

Starscream’s ex-vents turned ragged.

“Mmm.” Sunstreaker hummed as he swept his glossa over his lips. “My favorite treat.” He pressed a kiss to Starscream’s anterior node before licking him again, deeper this time, more savoring.

Starscream whimpered and rocked against Sunstreaker’s face. Rodimus found himself leaning forward, further and further out of the chair, if only to see better. The taste of their fields in the air was intoxicating.

Rodimus didn’t really understand why the two of them couldn’t admit they were madly in love with each other. It was plain as day to everyone else. Kind of a running joke with some of the temps downstairs and the entirety of the cleaning staff.

‘Cowardice’ some of them whispered. Because everyone knew Starscream was going to leave, and Sunstreaker couldn’t. Rodimus still wasn’t sure why. Just like he didn’t know why Sunstreaker was sometimes sick, and had more time off than anyone else in Blue Sun. There was an answer there, Rodimus was sure of it.

It most definitely wasn’t cowardice. It was something else.

The sound of Sunstreaker slurping at Starscream’s valve dragged Rodimus’ attention back to the erotic show in front of him. Chains jingled as Starscream trembled in Sunstreaker’s grip, more aroused charge dancing across his frame.

“Sun,” he pleaded, and Rodimus shivered. The desperation in Starscream’s tone almost yanked him out of the chair, just so he could soothe Starscream’s need himself.

Sunstreaker made a noise, nipped at Starscream’s anterior nub piercing, and pulled back. He rose to his feet, his hands still cupping Starscream’s thighs before he gently let go.

There was a moment where Starscream rocked in the air before he seemed to realize Sunstreaker’s mouth was no longer on him. He thrashed and spat out a curse Rodimus had only ever heard from back-alley drunks and the rustheads Turmoil dealt with.

Sunstreaker licked his lips and tucked his face into the crook of Starscream’s neck and shoulder. “Do you want to overload?” he asked as he slipped a single finger into Starscream’s valve, not nearly enough to be anything more than a tease.

“Of course I do!” Starscream’s head tipped back, his intake bobbing as he swallowed, another low whine building in his intake.

“Then you’ll have to work for it,” Sunstreaker murmured into Starscream’s audial. His thumb swept over Starscream’s anterior node before he drew back, popping his damp fingers into his mouth.

Starscream snarled an invective and thrashed in his chains. His frame twisted and writhed under the lighting, which Rodimus belatedly realized was a lamp positioned to best highlight Starscream’s frame. He looked gorgeous like this, strung up and desperate, pleasure bleeding in his field, and need so raw and open.

“Why are you being so mean?” Starscream demanded, just short of a wail. His field boiled through the room, his biolights so bright they betrayed the strength of his arousal.

How long had it been already? Since Sunstreaker strung him up and decided to drive him crazy with pleasure? How long before Rodimus arrived? Because condensation had started to gather, and Starscream’s vents were ragged. His valve lips were swollen, his anterior node an angry nub. He was so close to overload Rodimus could taste it in the air.

Sunstreaker nuzzled Starscream’s face. “Patience, beautiful. Don’t I always spoil you in the end?”

Starscream’s lower lip jutted out in a sulk that should not have been as adorable as it was. “I want you to spoil me now.”

Sunstreaker’s soft laugh sounded so fond Rodimus’ spark clenched in envy. “All in due time.”

Rodimus’ hands smoothed down his thighs as Sunstreaker moved back behind Starscream, his hands never leaving the Seeker for long. He traced seams and edges, and the tangle of their fields was intoxicating. Starscream arched and swayed into Sunstreaker’s touch, and what Rodimus could read of his expression spoke of absolute trust.

He wondered if they forgot he was there.

Sunstreaker kept moving, until he dropped down to the berth, twisted over onto his back, and wriggled upward. It took a minute for Rodimus to figure out what he was doing, until he saw Sunstreaker’s hands wrap around Starscream’s thighs from behind and tug Starscream backward, his thighs bracketing Sunstreaker’s face at the perfect angle. Lubricant gathered in the folds of Starscream’s valve, and a single drop slipped free, landing on Sunstreaker’s lips.

Rodimus’ internals clenched out of sheer anticipation. He wondered what it would be like to experience Sunstreaker’s mouth for himself. He wanted to change places with Sunstreaker, be the one to ex-vent hot and wet over Starscream’s valve, and then place an ever so gentle kiss on the swollen metalmesh.

Starscream moaned, his backstrut arching, wings twitching. Chains rattled as he wriggled in their grasp, his hips sinking down against Sunstreaker’s lips.

Rodimus couldn’t tear his optics away, barely found himself ventilating, truth be told, as Sunstreaker’s mouth moved over Starscream’s valve. He licked and sucked, treating Starscream like candy to be savored.

“More,” Starscream demanded, though it barely counted as one, since it escaped on a moan, and his head lolled about on his neck.

Sunstreaker hummed and shifted his focus to Starscream’s anterior node, drawing it between his lips, giving it a lengthy suck. The sound that emerged from Starscream’s intake was positively illegal, and the way he arched, his entire frame lengthening, was ridiculously erotic.

Black hands tightened around Starscream’s thighs. Sunstreaker tugged him down further and buried his face against Starscream’s valve. The sounds he made, lewd licks and suckles, made Rodimus’ face burn as much as they made Starscream squirm and pant.

“Please, Sunny,” he whined. His vents clicked into a faster spin, dumping excess heat into the room. Charge crawled over his armor in blatant display of a fast approaching overload.

Dentae found Starscream’s piercing, giving it a tug and the gasp that wrenched free of Starscream’s mouth made Rodimus jerk. His array throbbed, and he shifted in the chair, swallowing over a lump in his intake.

The blindfold made it impossible to see Starscream’s optics, but the rest of his face made it clear how aroused he was. Totally open, totally trusting, totally dependent on Sunstreaker for his pleasure. His field was a frenzy of need, and little spikes of it filled the room, tapping on Rodimus’ own, as if demanding he see to Starscream’s pleasure as well.

It was so very tempting. But so far, he’d only been invited to watch. So Rodimus kept his aft in the seat, his hands under his thighs, as the need twisted in his internals.

A pearl of pre-fluid gathered at the tip of Starscream’s spike and rolled down the length of it. Rodimus’ mouth watered. He wanted to lick it off, taste Starscream on his glossa, swallow him down, consume every spurt of transfluid.

Lubricant trickled from Starscream’s valve, soaking Sunstreaker’s face. Starscream writhed, his hips rocking as much as they were able given his restraints.

Sunstreaker focused on Starscream’s anterior node again, pressing it between his denta, glossa flicking the tip of it.

Starscream made a sound of pure sin. His head tossed back, his frame going rigid as he overloaded, rocking down hard on Sunstreaker’s face. His wings snapped upright and more fluid dribbled out of his spike.

Sunstreaker’s oral attentions eased, but didn’t cease. He gentled his touches to soft licks, savoring ones, staying away from Starscream’s sensitive node and focusing on his swollen valve folds. Starscream made a little whine in the back of his intake, his hips still twitching, even as Sunstreaker pressed a small kiss to his nub.

“So sweet,” Sunstreaker murmured, his voice thick with that affectionate note again, the one that made Rodimus’ spark ache.

He wondered if anyone would ever talk to him like that, would look at him the way Sunstreaker looked at Starscream, especially when he thought Starscream wasn’t looking back.

Starscream went limp in his chains, little shivers attacking his frame. His armor had parted, widening the seams to vent heat. His wings twitched in minute motions. He made a little noise as Sunstreaker nuzzled his valve.

Rodimus licked his lips, his array burning. He wanted to touch himself so badly, but didn’t know if that was allowed either. Would’ve been nice if they’d given him more instruction than ‘sit and watch’.

A parting kiss and Sunstreaker eased out from beneath Starscream, rising to his knees behind the Seeker. His hands remained in motion, gliding gently over Starscream’s plating. He traced the edges of Starscream’s wings and dragged the tips of his fingers, featherlight, up the length of Starscream’s arms.

“Still all right?” Sunstreaker murmured into the crook of Starscream’s neck, his lips within reach of Starscream’s audial.

A low sound rose in Starscream’s chassis. “No.”

Sunstreaker’s orbital ridges drew down, lips curving into a slight frown. “What’s wrong?” His hands stilled on Starscream’s elbows, lustful teasing immediately shifting into concern.

Sunstreaker couldn’t see Starscream’s face, but Rodimus could, therefore he had a first hand view of Starscream’s adorable pout. “You haven’t kissed me at all,” he complained.

Sunstreaker twitched. The concern flipped into exasperation in the blink of an optic. He vented a sigh and slid his hands down Starscream’s arms.

“You are a brat,” Sunstreaker said as he slipped off the berth and came around Starscream’s side. He tapped Starscream on the nose like a misbehaving sparkling.

Starscream didn’t sound the least bit chagrined. “You still owe me a kiss.”

Sunstreaker’s field flicked with amusement, but there was affection in the way he cupped Starscream’s face and brought their mouths together. Rodimus expected something possessive, maybe rough, but the kiss was soft. A slow merging of their lips, that made Starscream’s vents stutter and his ailerons flutter.

The envy returned with a vengeance, clawing up out of his tanks, into his intake, and tightening around his vocalizer like a vise. He’d had a dream like this once, of this very thing, and like all else in Rodimus’ life, it had turned out to be a fantasy.

Maybe he shouldn’t have accepted the invitation after all.

Sunstreaker’s thumbs swept over Starscream’s cheeks. “Want more?” he asked, his tone half-affectionate, half-amused.

“Of you? Always?” Starscream smirked, his expression smug, which was quite the feat considering he was still blindfolded.

“You’re so greedy.” Sunstreaker chuckled.

Starscream tilted forward, trying to shift his weight toward Sunstreaker. “Well, this is supposed to be a reward after all.”

“The night’s not over yet.” Sunstreaker pecked a kiss on the corner of Starscream’s mouth before he looked over his shoulder.

At Rodimus.

Oh, so they hadn’t forgotten he was there. Rodimus found himself sitting a little straighter, and then scowled because like frag he was going to behave because Sunstreaker looked at him.

“Well?” Sunstreaker prompted with that smug tone Rodimus had learned to hate. “Interested in doing more than looking, newbie?”

Rodimus twisted his jaw. “You actually want me to participate?” Because honestly, that hadn’t been clear from the beginning.

Sunstreaker shifted toward Rodimus. One hand slid around Starscream’s waist, the other resting on Starscream’s belly. “That’s the point of your being here.”

“Don’t act like I’m stupid.” Rodimus’ scowl deepened, and he was doubly glad Starscream couldn’t see the heat of his glare. He was always chastising Rodimus for riling up Sunstreaker. “Your invitation was vague on purpose, and you know it.”

Sunstreaker’s smirk only made the irritation burn hotter. “And yet you came.”

“Not yet, I haven’t.” Rodimus sharpened his smile, wishing he had filed denta to go with it. So what if Starscream didn’t approve? He was too tied up to notice at the moment. “And by now, you owe me several.”

Sunstreaker arched an orbital ridge. “Is that so?”

The hand on Starscream’s belly slid further down, moving past Starscream’s spike to his valve. His biolights still glowed and lubricant had formed a wet sheen around his rim. Black fingers slid through the damp, turning them glossy.

Starscream shivered, his hips canting forward, giving Rodimus a better view of the fingers spreading his folds, and the glittering trail of biolights leading within. Rodimus wanted to follow them with his fingers, trace them back to their prize — the high ridge of Starscream’s ceiling node.

“Does that mean you don’t want to play with my pretty pet?” Sunstreaker asked.

Rodimus paid a bit too much attention to the motion of Sunstreaker’s fingers. He crossed his arms as he could see Starscream’s valve clench, squeeze out more lubricant. His biolights flashed in a seductive pattern.

Damn.

“Not if you’re going to be an aft about it,” Rodimus retorted, but it didn’t have any heat behind it. At least, not the right kind of heat. He hadn’t managed to lift his gaze yet, not while Sunstreaker’s fingers continued to stroke and rub, parting Starscream’s valve as though giving Rodimus a non-verbal invitation.

Starscream’s engine growled. “If Rodimus isn’t interested, then just leave him and focus on me instead, damn it.”

“Mmm. I don’t think so.” Sunstreaker tilted his head, his attention never leaving Rodimus. “If you want another overload, you’ll have to get it from Rodimus here. You might have to beg him for it, since he’s being difficult.”

Rodimus’ jaw literally dropped. “What?”

Starscream echoed him, though his voice was closer to a screech.

“You heard me.” Sunstreaker’s fingers slid free of Starscream’s valve and dragged up Starscream’s frame, leaving a trail of lubricant behind. “I want you to join us, Rodimus. Starscream doesn’t get another overload unless you do.”

It wasn’t that Rodimus didn’t want to join them, because that was certainly the case. Rodimus quite enjoyed touching Starscream, and he considered it something of a challenge to make the pretty Seeker overload.

However, he didn’t much like Sunstreaker’s attitude, or the way Sunstreaker tended to treat him like some unwanted stray Starscream had plucked off the street. Rodimus absolutely loathed how Sunstreaker assumed Rodimus would obey just because Sunstreaker had been the one to issue the command.

So what if Sunstreaker was the most experienced veteran on staff here in Blue Sun? So what if he was Starscream’s lover and obviously, Starscream’s Dom? So what if he was the single, most expensive Dom in the entire building?

So the frag what?

Maybe it was about time Sunstreaker learned Rodimus wasn’t around to be an obedient servant. Maybe he didn’t want to be Sunstreaker’s plaything. Maybe he wanted to show Sunstreaker just how strong his spinal strut was.

“I’m not some toy you can pick up and put down whenever you want, you know,” Rodimus said as he rose to his feet, making a show of brushing off his armor, though his gaze never left Starscream’s trembling frame.

Need wafted off the Seeker in tangible waves. Rodimus could smell the arousal in the air, could taste the previous overloads on the tip of his glossa. His mouth watered at the sight of Starscream’s valve, so swollen and wet again. And his spike, painfully rigid, soaked in pre-fluid. That ring had to feel like a duryllium band around the base of it by now.

“Are you sure?” Sunstreaker’s fingers painted lubricant over Starscream’s bottom lip, and the wet swipe of Starscream’s glossa to clean it was like a shot of charge to Rodimus’ array.

He took a step closer to them before he made the conscious decision to do so. And he knew he’d done it because Sunstreaker’s lips twitched into that infernal smirk Rodimus hated so much.

Sunstreaker crooked a finger at Rodimus. “Come here.”

Stubbornness planted Rodimus mid-step. He was beyond reach of the two of them, no matter how much he wanted to close the distance and steal Starscream’s lips. Either pair of them.

“No.”

Starscream whined, and it nearly broke Rodimus’ spark. “Stop being an aft!” he hissed, and Rodimus wasn’t sure which of them he was snapping at. Maybe both.

“There’s a point to this,” Sunstreaker said, and again, it was hard to tell who he was addressing, because his gaze never left Rodimus, but his fingers were soft as they traced Starscream’s waist. “Right now you have a choice. You can come here, or you can walk out the door. Better decide quickly.”

Rodimus’ optics narrowed. “Or what?”

“Or–” Sunstreaker abruptly broke off and tilted his head toward Starscream as Starscream turned his head against Sunstreaker’s. His lips moved, but he must have said something subvocally, because Rodimus couldn’t hear it.

Whatever it was made Sunstreaker’s smirk slide into a scowl, which was far more unnerving than the smugness that usually cloaked Sunstreaker like an over-bright polish. His hand twitched where it hooked around Starscream’s waist. His optics narrowed, almost accusing, at Rodimus.

“Fine,” Sunstreaker gritted out, like it pained him to do so. He audibly cycled a ventilation and lifted his chin. “Please come here.”

How much had that hurt, Rodimus wondered. Because the polite request definitely sounded forced, and it must have stung Sunstreaker’s pride dearly. It must have burned, and that honestly, was what made it worth it. The verbal slap, so to speak, made Rodimus feel a tiny bit justified.

So he made himself move forward, into Sunstreaker’s reach. Which turned out to be a mistake, because Sunstreaker grabbed him, faster than anyone with a weak spark had right to be, his fingers closing around Rodimus’ wrist. He yanked, and Rodimus stumbled forward, against Sunstreaker, whose mouth fell over his in a scorching kiss.

Sunstreaker tasted like Starscream – and yes, sweet was the appropriate word here – and his glossa was both urgent and demanding. Possessive, if Rodimus had to identify it, and he’d never admit his knees wobbled. His vents stuttered. A low sound escaped his intake as he sagged against Sunstreaker, arousal returning with a vengeance.

Primus, no wonder mechs melted for him. It wasn’t fair.

Like frag Rodimus was going to let Sunstreaker melt him though. So he picked up the dribbled remains of his processor and returned the ferocity of the kiss with an intensity of his own. He shoved his glossa into Sunstreaker’s mouth. He nipped at Sunstreaker’s lips. He grabbed Sunstreaker by the hip and ground their frames together, shivering at the contact.

Sunstreaker’s field flashed with amusement. He grinned into the kiss. “You’ve got spark,” he said against Rodimus’ lips. “I like that.”

Rodimus jerked back and glared at him. “Stop making fun of me.”

“Who said I was?”

A growl built in Rodimus’ engine. He shoved at Sunstreaker’s chassis, putting distance between them. He hated being toyed with, treated like some kind of pet. Especially with two mechs who weren’t supposed to be that way. They weren’t his clients, damn it. They were supposed to be his equals, and in Starscream’s case, his friend. Or at the very least, his mentor.

Rodimus had had enough of being taken for a fool by someone he cared for, someone he dared to trust.

“Stop acting like I should be grateful enough to be here,” Rodimus snapped. He wiped the back of his hand over his mouth, their mingled taste lingering on his glossa. “I didn’t ask to be invited.”

“No, you didn’t. And yet you came.” Sunstreaker tilted his head, his optics cutting as they examined Rodimus like he was a mystery to be solved. “I’ll bet you’re not even sure why.”

Rodimus’ hands balled into fists. “That’s not the point!” His vents heaved.

He was torn, half of him raging, the other half boiling with stilted arousal. He wanted this and he didn’t, and why did Sunstreaker always have to make everything so damn confusing? Why couldn’t he just be nice?

“Isn’t it?” Sunstreaker angled toward Starscream, one polished hand sliding down Starscream’s belly, toward his groin. “You came for my Seeker, didn’t you?” His fingers curled ever so slowly around Starscream’s spike, giving him a loose stroke.

Rodimus swallowed over a lump in his intake, heat spreading across his face. The background arousal surged to the forefront, his spike throbbing in its housing.

“Sun,” Starscream moaned, and the need in his vocals made Rodimus’ internals tighten out of sympathy. “Please.”

Sunstreaker leaned in close to Starscream, his lips brushing over the Seeker’s audial. “You want him to touch you, don’t you, Starling?” He moved over Starscream’s spike in slow, gentle squeezes. One optic glanced at Rodimus. “You want to feel his lips and his hands and his mouth and his array…”

Starscream arched his back with a soft keen. His hips wriggled into Sunstreaker’s grip, his spike weeping more pre-fluid.

“I know you want him.” Sunstreaker’s fingers grew damp with Starscream’s slick, but his pace remained unhurried. “I don’t think he knows though. Tell him, sweetspark. Tell him what you want.”

Starscream licked his lips, and his head turned toward Rodimus, though he couldn’t possibly see him with the blindfold on. “Rodimus,” he purred, still in control of himself despite the arousal trembling through his lines. “Get your aft over here and touch me.”

Sunstreaker chuckled. His denta nipped at Starscream’s audial. “That’s not very polite, beautiful.”

“You didn’t say I had to be polite.” Starscream scowled, though it didn’t last for long, not while charge flickered across his armor. He bucked into Sunstreaker’s hand. “I’m aroused. I’m dripping, and you’re too busy playing your damn games to give me the attention I deserve.”

Rodimus didn’t bother to hide his laugh. Sunstreaker was a controlling aft, and hearing Starscream snap back at him was music to Rodimus’ audials. Besides all that, the tease in Starscream’s voice was invitation in itself.

“Well…” Rodimus closed the distance between himself and Starscream.

He avoided Sunstreaker, taking position at Starscream’s other side. His hand slid over Starscream’s frame, down across his belly, chasing the path Sunstreaker’s hand had taken, until he found Starscream’s spike. He flicked Sunstreaker’s fingers away, smug when Sunstreaker obeyed, and replaced them with his own, grasping the rigid heat and giving it a squeeze.

“How can I turn down such a request?” Rodimus murmured.

Starscream moaned, his turbines giving a little spin. “More.”

Rodimus pinched the tip of Starscream’s spike, his fingers growing damp with Starscream’s slick, but he kept up the slow, leisurely pace. He loved the feel of Starscream throbbing in his hand, the Seeker shifting and writhing as his vents quickened and need roiled in his field. Yet, the gift of pleasure was entirely Rodimus’ own to give.

It was a heady sensation.

“More, rust you!” Starscream snarled.

Rodimus admired Starscream’s face, the way it turned pink at the edges, warm from need. He panted audibly now, mouth open for quicker oral vents.

“That’s not very polite,” Rodimus chastised.

Starscream squirmed. His hips twisted as he hissed another curse better suited to the gutters and the criminals.

Sunstreaker chuckled, his optics bright and admiring. “You’re learning.” He moved in front of Starscream and knelt between the Seeker’s thighs. Sunstreaker ex-vented over Starscream’s valve, making it visibly twitch. “Behave, Starling, or you won’t get a treat.”

“I am behaving!” Starscream snapped.

Rodimus smirked and let go of Starscream’s spike. The neglected unit bobbed in the air, dripping pre-fluid. Starscream’s biolights pulsed a hungry beat.

“No!” Starscream outright howled and thrashed in his bonds, but Sunstreaker’s grip on his hips was firm. “Touch me, damn it! This isn’t fair! I want my reward.” The last was clearly a whine.

Primus, he was beautiful. Rodimus wanted to touch him so badly. He’d been invited, hadn’t he? He could touch if he wanted?

Rodimus climbed onto the berth behind Starscream, immediately pressing his mouth to the edge of a wing tip. He swore he could taste the need in Starscream’s field, and the heat of it against his lips. His hands glided down Starscream’s sides, tasting seams with his fingertips, fondling the pert aft and–

Whoa. Starscream had a plug in his aft port. Decently sized thing, too. Rodimus’ spike throbbed at the sight of it. He’d heard rumors about what it meant to take a port like that, and how tight it felt, but he never experienced it for himself. He’d yet been paid for it either.

Maybe someday, Rodimus thought, and pushed it aside in favor of notching himself to Starscream’s back, feeling the heat of the Seeker against his front. He wound his arms around Starscream, his palms splayed over the Seeker’s belly, teasing the slats of it.

“You’ll get a reward,” Rodimus promised. He slid one hand down, teasing the ring which pierced the node housing at the base of Starscream’s spike. His other hand slid upward, fingers flicking at Starscream’s turbines. “But you have to be a good little mech to get it. So be nice.”

Sunstreaker chuckled, but didn’t contradict Rodimus. Instead, Rodimus heard the wet noises of him licking Starscream’s valve, his glossa slick and hot against Starscream’s array. Starscream rocked against his roommate’s mouth.

“More,” Starscream moaned, the syllables dragged out, his vents a breathy, hot rhythm.

Rodimus stroked Starscream’s spike in a loose fist, his other hand finding the hub of Starscream’s turbine and pinching it between thumb and forefinger. “Ask nicely.”

Starscream trembled, frame arching in all directions, as though he wasn’t sure which pleasure he should chase. “Please,” he begged. “Sun, please!”

“Much better.” Rodimus pressed his head to Starscream’s, nuzzling him.

His array was urgently tight, spike demanding release, and so Rodimus finally allowed it. His spike jutted free, the head of it brushing over Starscream’s aft, leaving a streak of fluid behind. The bare touch was enough to make Rodimus shiver.

“I’m going to take you.” Rodimus rutted against Starscream’s aft, spike slippery and hot. “Do you mind?”

His answer was a moan, a thready one, hips canting back before they thrust forward again, to the welcome heat of Sunstreaker’s mouth.

A laugh bubbled up from below. “I think that’s a yes,” Sunstreaker murmured.

Rodimus tucked his head over Starscream’s shoulder in enough time to see Sunstreaker mouth the tip of Starscream’s spike before sucking it into his mouth.

Starscream keened, tilting back into Rodimus’ arms as he helplessly bucked against Sunstreaker’s mouth. He was gorgeous like this, so hungry for pleasure, handing his trust over to both Sunstreaker and Rodimus. Starscream was usually so guarded, so closed off, like he’d built a titanium wall around his spark. It was a rare treat to see him this open.

Rodimus thrust against Starscream’s aft, until he shifted his angle slightly. His spike plunged between Starscream’s thighs, the head of it sliding over Starscream’s puffy valve. Rodimus moaned, and his hands clamped over Starscream’s turbines.

Starscream whined, trembling so hard Rodimus felt it. His field rose and fell in a scorching wave, one Rodimus met with his own. Maybe not as fiercely hot, but certainly getting there.

Rodimus licked his lips as he watched Sunstreaker suckle Starscream in earnest, taking him deeper and deeper with each wriggle of Starscream’s hips. Sunstreaker’s lips were shiny with lubricant, his intake working effortlessly as Starscream slid deep into it.

Arousal throbbed hard in Rodimus’ lines. It was all he could do to keep up a rhythm, thrusting between Starscream’s thighs and rutting over the swollen slick of his valve. He didn’t want to overload before Starscream, but it was a challenge. Especially as Starscream whimpered.

Sunstreaker grabbed Starscream’s hips, pushing and pulling Starscream out of his mouth, leaving it slick with his oral lubricant. The angle was too awkward for Rodimus to slide into Starscream’s valve, but this was more than enough to have him fighting back overload.

Rodimus shifted both of his hands to Starscream’s turbines, spinning and fondling the hubs with abandon. Starscream keened, backstrut arching as he pushed his chassis into Rodimus’ fingers.

“Oh, you like that, do you?” Rodimus’s vents were ragged as he nibbled on Starscream’s intake. “Will it make you overload?”

A shudder rippled across Starscream’s frame. Rodimus ground against his aft, between his thighs, spike throbbing in the small space. He pinched the hubs of Starscream’s turbines, grinning as Starscream trembled in his arms. Starscream gasped and squirmed, his vents getting sharper, more desperate.

Rodimus eased his touch, scrubbing his palms gently over Starscream’s turbines as Starscream’s shaking increased in earnest. Streaks of pre-fluid mingled with lubricant made a sloppy mess between his thighs, a slick tunnel for Rodimus to take.

“Ahhh.” Starscream whimpered. “That’s… that’s…”

“Good?” Rodimus supplied. He swept his hands up and down Starscream’s chassis, briefly toying with his abdomen before finding the sensitive turbines again.

“Too much,” Starscream whined, but his aft pushed against Rodimus’ groin, and his field was so hungry for overload, that his protest was thin at best.

Besides, Sunstreaker hadn’t given any sign Starscream was in true distress. So Rodimus would follow his lead. He suspected Starscream wanted to whine for the sake of it, sulky little Seeker he could be.

“Is it now?” Rodimus breathed against his audial. “Does that mean you’re close to overload?” He rubbed the tip of his forefinger against Starscream’s hub, like he might a sensor node. “Do you want another one?”

Starscream thrashed in his binds and found no escape. Sunstreaker’s hold was like iron, and Rodimus had enough of a grip Starscream was trapped. Aggravation puffed in Starscream’s energy field in a faint whiff.

Rodimus grinned and pressed on the turbine hub, pretending it was a button. “If I play with these more, will you overload? Will you spill in Sunstreaker’s mouth? Will you shriek for me?”

Starscream moaned. “P-Please.”

Rodimus glanced at Sunstreaker over Starscream’s shoulder, just to be sure, but the other mech just looked up at him and winked with a little smirk, his lips stretched around Starscream’s spike. He swallowed Starscream to the hilt, chin rubbing over Starscream’s anterior node, his intake visibly working around Starscream’s spike.

Well then.

“So you can ask nicely,” Rodimus said, refusing to hide his glee.

He laid the entirety of his palm over Starscream’s turbine, rubbing in large circles. He wished he could get his mouth on one of them. He bet Starscream whimpered when they were sucked on.

“And so prettily, too.”

Starscream panted, his head tossing back, lying on Rodimus’ shoulder. His cockpit arched forward, pushing his turbines into Rodimus’ hands. His field buzzed with arousal, almost painful in its intensity.

Rodimus nibbled on Starscream’s intake and decided to be merciful. He abandoned one turbine to slide his palm down Starscream’s belly, fingers finding the base of Starscream’s spike and toying with the quick release to the spike ring.

“One more time for me, beautiful,” Rodimus murmured, his internals twisting with want at every panted word. “Do you want to overload?”

Starscream whimpered. “Yes. Please.” Chains rattled, and his frame echoed them. His vents roared desperately.

Rodimus was entranced. His self-control threatened to vanish, and only a steadying ventilation kept him focused on the task. His spike shoved between Starscream’s thighs, eager and dripping, and as he looked over Starscream’s shoulder, he could see Sunstreaker. His lips were wet with lubricant, his face was flushed with heat, and Starscream was deep down his intake.

“I think you’ve earned it.” One hand mercilessly fondled Starscream’s sensitive turbine hub. Rodimus suspected he’d be paying for this later, but later was too far away to worry about. “Our pretty, pretty Seeker.”

His other hand flicked the quick release for the spike ring. It snapped open and dropped down, hitting the head of Rodimus’ spike as it fell.

The response was immediate and electric. Starscream tossed his head back and wailed, hips jabbing forward, wings flicking against Rodimus. He overloaded, thrashing in their combined grip. His thighs pulled tight around Rodimus, forming an impossible squeeze, and Rodimus could only hang on for dear life as overload roared through his frame.

He spattered transfluid between Starscream’s thighs. Starscream spilled down Sunstreaker’s intake, his hips jerking in stuttered bursts as his wails gradually rasped into quiet sobs of pleasure. His entire frame went taut before he abruptly sagged, back into Rodimus’ arms, dragging in heaving breaths through his vents.

Rodimus nuzzled Starscream’s head. His mentor trembled, his thighs quivering and his valve rim throbbing where Rodimus’ spike nestled against it.

Sunstreaker pulled off Starscream’s spike with a noisy slurp and rose to his feet, optics intent and hungry. He cupped Starscream’s face and slanted his lips over Starscream’s, a thin dribble of transfluid leaking from the corner of his mouth.

Rodimus hissed through his denta. Starscream moaned into the kiss as Sunstreaker deepened it. The noisy sounds of their kissing made arousal tighten in Rodimus’ belly all over again. He smoothed his palms over Starscream’s belly, his mouth suddenly very lonely.

Sunstreaker eased off the kiss with a smile on his lips, glossa sweeping out to catch a stray dribble of transfluid. Starscream made a quiet mewl of a noise and leaned in, cheek rubbing against Suntreaker’s. He said something against Sunstreaker’s lips, something Rodimus couldn’t catch.

That feeling of being an outsider caught up to Rodimus. He thought he should look away, pretend not to pay attention. Like he was intruding on a private moment.

Sunstreaker swept his thumbs over Starscream’s cheeks. “Speak up, Starshine. I didn’t catch that.”

Starscream squirmed, though it lacked strength. “My arms ache,” he rasped, though for once, it wasn’t a whining, playful complaint, but a soft, and very real, admission.

Sunstreaker’s expression instantly softened. “Then let’s get you down.” He started to reach for the chains.

“No,” Starscream said. “I don’t…”

Sunstreaker paused and nuzzled Starscream’s face, his expression one few had ever seen. Even Rodimus couldn’t believe Sunstreaker could look that tender. Was that what being in love looked like?

His spark gave a pang of longing. He’d thought he’d felt that once. He thought he knew what it meant. But he doubted Deadlock had ever looked at him like that. Not if he could abandon Rodimus so easily.

“It doesn’t mean we’re stopping, Starshine,” Sunstreaker murmured with a touch of amusement in his voice. “You’re still getting every bit of that reward I promised you.”

“Oh.” Starscream sounded, of all things, dazed. It was actually kind of adorable.

Sunstreaker chuckled and brushed his nasal ridge over Starscream’s. Then he pulled back and met Rodimus’ gaze over Starscream’s shoulder. “Hold him while I get him down.”

Normally, Rodimus would bristle at being given a command like that. But even he had to concede it made sense. Besides, it was for Starscream’s sake, so he’d yield this once.

Rodimus nodded, not trusting himself to speak, and wrapped his arms carefully around Starscream, shifting to cradle him as Sunstreaker gave the chains some slack. He worked quietly and efficiently, no doubt because he’d made quick releases. He gently massaged Starscream’s shoulder cables as he lowered Starscream’s arms, tucking them against Starscream’s chassis.

Rodimus busied himself with his armful of languid Seeker. Starscream kept shivering, his frame exuding hot bursts of heat, and his spike was still hard despite his overload. The blindfold stayed, apparently, but Rodimus didn’t mind. He let one hand roam while the other cradled Starscream.

He didn’t often have opportunity to touch like this, so Rodimus took advantage while he could, tracing the seams of Starscream’s armor, tickling behind his knees, trailing his fingers up the length of Starscream’s spike, and rubbing patterns on the glass of Starscream’s cockpit. Starscream started to squirm in earnest, vents hitching, faceplate darkening with heat. His thighs parted as though inviting Rodimus to venture between them.

He ignored the offer for now. Wouldn’t do to let Starscream think he was in control, would it?

Instead, Rodimus made a beeline for Starscream’s turbines, fun as they were to play with. He skated his palm over the nearest one, and Starscream outright wriggled, wings twitching and hands lazily rising, trying to blindly smack his fingers away.

“No,” he grumbled, glossa wetting his lips. “Sensitive.”

Rodimus chuckled. Starscream’s petulant tone was unfairly endearing. “Are they now?” He dodged one protesting hand and cupped a turbine, rubbing the hub with his palm.

Starscream squirmed and tried to bat his hands away, but suddenly Sunstreaker was there, curling his hands around Starscream’s wrists. He held them out of reach, giving Rodimus tacit permission to fondle as he pleased.

“They aren’t that sensitive, Star,” Sunstreaker said, his tone half-chastisement and half-amusement as he brushed his lips over Starscream’s. “So behave and let Rodimus play with you.”

A whine eeked out of Starscream’s intake, and his lips curved into an adorable pout. But any protest he might have offered was lost to a moan as Rodimus took the opportunity to lean over and get his mouth on one of those hot nubs. He flicked it with his glossa first, and scraped it gently with his denta. His free hand slipped lower, curling around Starscream’s dripping spike to give it a squeeze.

Starscream moaned again, the noise swallowed by Sunstreaker’s mouth. He still wriggled on Rodimus’ lap, his wrists tugging against Sunstreaker’s grip in token protest. But his spike throbbed and wept copious pre-fluid, and his chassis started arching against Rodimus’ mouth.

Rodimus grinned around his mouthful and blew into Starscream’s turbine, making the little slats spin. He abandoned Starscream’s spike and slid further down, to the much neglected rim of Starscream’s valve. His thumb familiarized itself with Starscream’s swollen frontal cluster, as two fingers curled into Starscream’s valve, stroking the nodes on the inside of the rim.

Starscream bucked up, making noises Rodimus could only call a mewl. He panted against Sunstreaker’s lips, his lower half squirming, feet scrabbling at the berth as though trying to find purchase to rut on Rodimus’ fingers. His field swelled, hot and heavy, tugging at Rodimus’ and demanding he play harder.

A demand Rodimus was only happy to meet. He snagged Starscream’s hub between his denta and gave it a delicate pinch. Starscream gasped and arched toward Rodimus’ mouth. His valve rippled around Rodimus’ fingers, rhythmic clamps that tried to pull his fingers deeper.

Rodimus chuckled around his mouthful. “You complain and then you respond so prettily. No wonder we get so confused.”

“He complains for the sake of being spoiled,” Sunstreaker replied.

He abandoned Starscream’s mouth in favor of tasting the turbine currently left unattended. His glossa flicked over the hub as he looked up, his optics finding Rodimus’.

“Still up for more, rookie?”

There was challenge in Sunstreaker’s gaze. Fortunately, Rodimus had always liked a good challenge. He especially wasn’t going to back down from one offered by Sunstreaker.

His thumb rubbed harder on Starscream’s node, making Starscream whine. “Of course I am.”

Starscream vented a shuddery breath. “Well, maybe I’m not,” he gasped, but the rapid spinning of his fans belied the protest.

Rodimus grinned and teased Starscream’s valve nodes. Calipers fluttered around his fingertips, demanding more. “This sweet valve right here says otherwise.”

“And I know better.” Sunstreaker touched his nasal ridge to Starscream’s, and Rodimus wondered if he even knew how much affection shone in his optics as he did it. “This is your reward, Starshine. Don’t tell me you changed your mind.”

Starscream’s lower lip jutted out in a pout. “You’re too busy teasing me to give me proper attention.”

“When I tease you, you’ll know.” Sunstreaker chuckled, warm and low, and unfairly, the sound went straight to Rodimus’ groin. Arousal spiked when Sunstreaker looked at him again. “Is that spike of yours any good?”

Warmth quickly turned to irritation. “Good enough,” Rodimus near-snapped. Primus, just when he thought he could start to like Sunstreaker, he turned into an aft again.

“Roddy has a nice spike.” Starscream turned his head in Rodimus’ direction. “And he’s at least willing to pay me attention.”

Rodimus huffed a laugh. “That’s right.” He stole Starscream’s lips for a kiss, grinning into it as Starscream eagerly returned it with a flick of his glossa.

He rewarded Starscream by curling his fingers and stroking the inside of Starscream’s valve, enjoying the flex of hungry calipers around his digits. He added a third, for an indecent stretch, and preened when Starscream moaned against his lips.

A moan that quickly turned into a squeak when Sunstreaker returned to the party, wrapping his fingers around Starscream’s spike. A possessive grip, if you asked Rodimus.

“Is that so?” Sunstreaker’s tone was mild, conversational even. But when Rodimus looked up at him, there was a tightness to Sunstreaker’s jaw. “Then I guess I’ll have to see what the rookie can do.”

“Fine by me.” Starscream playfully nipped Rodimus’ bottom lip. “You’re going to treat me right, aren’t you, sweetspark?” He purred in that silky-sweet tone Rodimus had heard him use on many a prospective client. His thighs closed around Rodimus’ hand, trapping it so he could roll his hips onto Rodimus’ fingers. “You’ll give me a proper reward, won’t you?”

Rodimus groaned as the purred request went straight to his array and made his spike throb. He shoved his fingers deeper, knuckles grinding against Starscream’s rim. “Frag yeah.”

“Good.” Sunstreaker abruptly stood and hefted Starscream into his arms as though carrying the Seeker away to be his bridge. Rodimus’ fingers were left dripping and cold, away from the warmth of Starscream’s valve. “Get on the berth, rookie. Let’s see that spike you’re so proud of.”

Rodimus narrowed his optics. That didn’t sound like a challenge; it sounded like a dismissal of Rodimus’ abilities. It made him feel like the first time he met Sunstreaker all over again, when Blue Sun’s top-rated Dominant had looked down his nose at Rodimus, measured him in an instant, and found him sorely lacking.

“I’m not taking orders from you,” Rodimus said in a low tone. Aroused or not, he could still dredge up a glare for Sunstreaker, though his gaze flicked to Starscream.

Starscream who was squirming in Sunstreaker’s arms, one hand unashamedly creeping toward his unattended array. “That’s not fair,” he pouted. “I was enjoying those fingers.” Two of his own slid around his spike, painting his talon tips in his pre-fluid.

Rodimus’ mouth filled with lubricant. He wanted to lick those fingers clean. Though the idea of Starscream self-servicing while they watched was wholly appealing as well.

“Stop that.” Sunstreaker gave Starscream a jostle. “Rodimus is going to take care of that for you.”

Unsurprisingly, Starscream ignored him, and judging by his little hum of pleasure, he’d already slipped two fingers inside himself. “Not if you’re too busy with your spike measuring contest.”

Starscream probably would have given them a Look, if he weren’t blindfolded. Rodimus could hear the chastisement clear as a bell.

Rodimus hauled himself onto the berth, getting comfortable, if only so he could spoil Starscream, Sunstreaker bedamned. His spike bobbed at the apex of his thighs – he was an escort, what did he have to be ashamed about – and he stroked his fingers over the flames decorating the length of it. He was proud of his spike, not even Sunstreaker’s dismissive look could change that.

“Tell Sunstreaker you want my spike, Stars,” Rodimus murmured, using the sweetest tone in his arsenal, one he’d been working on with Starscream in his spare time. Got him a good tip a couple days ago, it did.

Starscream growled. “I’ll take anyone’s spike at this point!” His field snapped through the room like a whip, stinging where it struck Rodimus’. “Don’t make me walk out of here and bend over for the first person to walk by. Because right now, that’s what it’s going to take to get a spike in me!”

The look on Sunstreaker’s face was one Rodimus’ couldn’t quite define. Almost murderous, it was definitely possessive and irritated and outraged, all tangled up with frustration because there was an ache there. An understanding that he wasn’t allowed to be any of the three.

Because the two of them were idiots, mutually pining for each other, too cowardly to say the feelings they guarded in their sparks. What Rodimus wouldn’t give to have a connection like that with someone. What he hadn’t already surrendered, just for the illusion of it. But to have it right in front of him, real and tangible, he ached for it.

Sunstreaker reacted as he always did to that melange of emotion. He got defensive, and the next thing Rodimus knew, Starscream was tumbled out of Sunstreaker’s arms and into Rodimus’ lap. Carelessly discarded, to anyone unfamiliar with either of them, and Rodimus had to scramble to catch Starscream, struggling with an armful of squirming Seeker who was much larger than he.

Protest darted to the tip of Rodimus’ glossa, but he swallowed it down so quickly he choked on it, at the look on Sunstreaker’s face. The glint in his optics spelled murder, to whomever dared take Starscream up on that blatant offer, touching what rightly belonged to Sunstreaker without his permission.

Starscream was lucky. He couldn’t see Sunstreaker’s expression. And he’d never had any compunctions when it came to expressing himself.

“Hey!” he snarled, and flailed around on Rodimus’ lap, talons scraping several furrows into Rodimus’ paint until he managed to right himself. He straddled Rodimus now, sopping hot valve resting snug over Rodimus’ spike. “What the frag’s your problem?”

Sunstreaker didn’t answer. Not with words. His actions probably made less sense to a thoroughly confused Seeker. He climbed onto the berth behind Starscream, kneeling between Rodimus’ legs as a result, and his mouth fell hot and wet on the top edge of Starscream’s nearest wing.

Starscream hissed, half-outrage, half-pleasure, and his spinal strut arched. His hands blindly clawed the air before he found Rodimus’ chassis and hooked on a transformation seam. Sunstreaker’s hands moved down, curling around Starscream’s waist, as his mouth slid to the back of Starscream’s neck, glossa flicking over the delicate components there.

“Down,” Sunstreaker growled with a dark note to his vocals that should not have been so appealing. Nor the way he nipped at the back of Starscream’s neck, like a turbohound staking a claim.

Rodimus bristled on Starscream’s behalf. “Did you hit your head or something?” he demanded as he resisted the urge to pull Starscream to protect him. “How about giving orders that actually make sense!?”

One bright blue optic glared at him from over the rise of Starscream’s shoulders. Sunstreaker rose up on his knees, his hands resting on the back of Starscream’s shoulders. He gave Rodimus a long, unreadable look, and then he pushed, tilting Starscream’s weight against Rodimus.

Already unbalanced, and with Starscream both larger and heavier, Rodimus toppled backward, his spoiler sinking into the plush berth. Armor clanged as Starscream sprawled on top of him, his spike rubbing against the slats of Rodimus’ abdominal plating. A squawk of outrage spilled from his lips.

“Hey!” Rodimus snapped, but went unheeded. So he focused instead on Starscream, running his hands over the Seeker’s armor and making sure he was well.

Starscream shifted atop him, knees digging into the berth, hands landing to either side of Rodimus’ shoulders. Still blindfolded, he rubbed his cheek on Rodimus’, making a soft purring sound, his field thick with heat and want.

Sunstreaker’s hands moved to Starscream’s hips. They smoothed over his aft and then he bent down and over. Rodimus had no idea what he was doing, save that Starscream abruptly shivered and moaned. His backstrut arched, lips parting as he swept his glossa over them. His talons scraped at the berth, his hips rolling against Rodimus’, their spikes grinding together.

“Sun,” Starscream moaned, his face darkening where it was visible, his vents coming in sharper pants. “Oh, please. More.” He pushed his aft toward Sunstreaker, and the faint wet noises coming from that direction gave Rodimus all the mental image he needed.

Sunstreaker, perhaps having finally slipped free that plug in Starscream’s port and replacing it with fingers and glossa instead. That tiny, snug little port Rodimus had yet to taste for himself.

Starscream panted harder, rocking on Rodimus’ frame, sliding slowly down toward Sunstreaker and no, this wouldn’t do at all. They weren’t allowed to forget he was here.

“Hey, I’m here, too, you know,” Rodimus said.

He would, for now, ignore whatever had crawled up Sunstreaker’s tailpipe. After all, he had a pretty Seeker squirming on top of him, valve dripping and spike leaving a slick mess on his frame.

Rodimus cupped Starscream’s face and tilted it up toward his, within inches of his lips. “Don’t I get kisses, too?”

Starscream shifted to greet him, ex-venting warm over Rodimus’ lips. “You’d better,” he murmured. He slotted their mouths together, his ex-vents hot and wet and stuttered.

Rodimus swore he could still taste Sunstreaker on Starscream’s lips. Not unpleasant, but a stark reminder nonetheless.

Rodimus focused on the kiss, the press of Starscream’s frame against his, knees bracketing his hips, Starscream sinking down until his cockpit pressed to Rodimus’ chassis. His angle shifted slightly, and now the dripping core of his valve hovered over Rodimus’ spike, teasing him with droplets of hot lubricant.

He was aware, tangentially, that Sunstreaker was at the end of the berth as well, his armor occasionally brushing Rodimus’ calves and feet. His ministrations made Starscream tremble and moan, ratcheting his arousal higher and higher.

Rodimus still startled when he felt a hand on his spike. It curled around him, spreading pre-fluid and lubricant alike. A thumb swept over the tip, rubbing in small circles, and a strangled cry caught in Rodimus’ intake.

He broke off the kiss, a startled “Wha…?” petering off into a moan as the hand guided his spike straight to Starscream’s valve, and Starscream’s hips dropped down.

Bliss swallowed Rodimus whole as his spike was wrapped in rippling heat. He tipped his head back, feet digging into the berth for leverage as he thrust up into Starscream, the better to taste those deeper nodes.

Starscream vented and sank a little further down, until it was no longer his arms holding his weight, but Rodimus, who was all too willing to wrap his arms around Starscream. It left his hands free to explore, to trace seams and delicate cables, and make Starscream shake.

The berth shifted, dipping a little on the far end. Sunstreaker came into view again, his expression intent as his hands smoothed up the back of Starscream’s thighs, over his hips, and around his waist. He rolled his hips forward and almost immediately, Starscream moaned. His backstrut arched, forehead rubbing against Rodimus’ shoulder and claws ripping more stripes in Rodimus’ paint.

“Yes,” Starscream hissed, rocking back, forcing Rodimus deeper as he did so, and no doubt Sunstreaker as well. His spike throbbed against Rodimus’ abdomen, and his valve rippled, squeezing out more lubricant.

Rodimus was entranced. He stroked the flat of his palm over Starscream’s wing, swearing he could feel the rapid pulsing of Starscream’s spark where their chests pressed together.

“Tell me,” he murmured into Starscream’s audial, tracing it with the tip of his glossa. “What’s Sunstreaker doing, Star?”

Starscream rocked on top of Rodimus with little gasping vents. “He’s… he’s…”

“Use your words, darling,” Rodimus teased, harkening back to a smirking Seeker who’d taken way too much pleasure in teaching Rodimus all he needed to know.

Starscream’s moans reached another pitch. His field burst with hunger and need alike, intoxicating to taste, and dragging Rodimus’ arousal to new heights. He barely needed to thrust, given the way Starscream clenched and rippled around him.

“Is he spiking you?” Rodimus asked, knowing very well the answer, but wanting to hear it from Starscream’s lips. “He’s filling you. Not in your valve, though, because that’s me.” He thrust upward at that, grinding deep, gracing Starscream’s ceiling node. “So he must have taken out that plug and replaced it with his spike. Didn’t he?”

Starscream’s claws left a deep enough scratch Rodimus was going to need filler. He barely noticed the sting.

“Yes,” Starscream cried, and there was sheer delight in his tone. He moved shamelessly now, rocking on their spikes, faster and faster, seeking overload with delirious urgency.

Starscream went limp on top of Rodimus, his head tucked into Rodimus’ throat. He panted, whuffs of damp heat against Rodimus’ intake cables. His entire frame quivered.

“More,” Starscream breathed, each plea a blurred litany of need, his field crackling over Rodimus’ with unrelenting heat.

Rodimus groaned and wrapped his arms around Starscream’s waist, bracing his feet against the berth. He used all the leverage he had to thrust up, shallow as it was, grinding into Starscream, the Seeker’s spike trapped between them. Starscream’s valve eagerly clutched at him. Charge roared from his nodes, lighting up Rodimus’ sensornet.

Sunstreaker moved, thrusts deep and jolting. Rodimus could feel them through Starscream’s frame, feel the way Sunstreaker’s weight drove them deeper into the berth. Sunstreaker’s field joined the fray, tangling thickly with Starscream’s as though staking yet another claim, until Rodimus could hardly tell them apart.

And then he didn’t bother to try, because with so much lust and pleasure swirling in the room, he was dizzy. He gasped out hot vent after vent, denta gritting to hold onto his meager control. With Starscream panting and writhing on top of him, with Sunstreaker’s field all but demanding pleasure from the both of them, they were impossible to resist.

Sunstreaker leaned forward, bracing his hands over them, caging both Rodimus and Starscream beneath him. His hips never stopped moving, rolling deep into Starscream, filling his port with every thrust.

Starscream’s moans became a litany of words and pants, none of which made sense. He squirmed, spike rutting against Rodimus’ abdomen. His valve rippled and clenched in arrhythmic waves.

Rodimus glanced up only the once, and his spark clenched at the look on Sunstreaker’s face. The way his optics seemed focused on Starscream alone, shining with nothing short of love, and what a pained emotion it was. There was determination in his focus, to see Starscream come undone between them.

Rodimus groaned and tilted his head against Starscream’s, optics shuttering as he surrendered to sensation. He held Starscream closer, rocked up into him, fiery heat curling madly in his belly, in his groin. Warmth choked him, two sets of hot vents against his frame, and their weight bearing him down into the berth.

But their fields! Primus, their fields were intoxicating. Like sticky fingers tangled into his own, pulsing in tandem, dragging sharp bursts of heat against his sensor nodes, impossible to resist. Rodimus’ moans rose with Starscream’s, and if Sunstreaker made a noise, Rodimus couldn’t tell over the song of his own pleasure.

Restraint was something he practiced for his clients. Here, Rodimus only clung to it for Starscream’s sake, though every inch of him wanted to give in to the rippling clench of Starscream’s valve, and the taste of staticky charge leaping between their frames. He held Starscream tighter, rolling up into the Seeker in increasingly frenetic thrusts, and shivered as Starscream gasped into his audial, moans and whimpers and breathy pleas of want.

And then Rodimus found himself pushed deeper into the berth. His optics snapped open to find Sunstreaker leaning against Starscream’s back, his lips mere inches from Starscream’s audials, his optics half-shuttered.

“My pretty Star,” he murmured in a silken voice Rodimus didn’t even know Sunstreaker capable of making, but Starscream abruptly turned wanton. “Overload for us, Star,” Sunstreaker urged, or commanded, it was so hard to tell. “Take the reward you deserve.”

Starscream’s knees dug in at Rodimus’ hips. He shuddered from head to foot, and a breathy whimper puffed against Rodimus’ audial. Sunstreaker’s name might have been in the ex-vent, but it was quickly lost to a growing wail as Starscream obeyed and overloaded. His entire frame went taut, and Rodimus felt the warm splatter of transfluid against his abdomen.s Starscream’s valve spiraled tight around him, charge running up and down the lining of it.

All hope of restraint was swept away in the tide of pleasure swamping Starscream’s field, and the hot zing of that charge nipping at his spike. Rodimus’ head tipped back, hips snapping upward, as he followed Starscream over, spike spurting transfluid in heavy bursts at the back of Starscream’s valve, prompting another, smaller overload from the Seeker.

Rodimus groaned and as Starscream’s head turned, perhaps seeking a mouth to bury his cries, Rodimus gladly captured his lips for a hot, messy kiss. Pleasure stripped his awareness to nothing but sensation, frames moving together, fields thoroughly entangled, and Rodimus only knew Sunstreaker had found completion by the third bright burst of ecstasy where their fields mingled.

The kiss softened, though Rodimus couldn’t seem to stop tasting Starscream’s mouth. Starscream was limp in his arms, thoroughly exhausted and sated, a puddle of satisfied Seeker who purred into the kisses, his frame trembling and fans roaring from exertion. He made little sounds in his intake, hums and sighs. His valve twitched around Rodimus’ spike, half-pressurized as he was.

“Damn.” Rodimus rubbed his cheek on Starscream’s face. “Please say you’re going to invite me to play again.”

Starscream’s tired chuckle carried amusement. “I’ll let you know as soon as I pass my next exam.” He rested his head on Rodimus’ shoulder, rubbing his cheek over an armor ridge. “Primus, I can’t move.”

“You don’t need to,” Sunstreaker said. The berth shifted as he pushed himself upright and sank back on his heels, removing his weight from Starscream and a much relieved Rodimus.

Starscream was heavy by himself, but Sunstreaker was built stronger than he seemed. Had to be. Because Rodimus felt tiny and delicate beneath them.

“Stay right there,” Sunstreaker added as he smoothed his hands over Starscream’s lower back and hips, gentle pets that belied his earlier roughness. “I’ll take care of the rest.”

Starscream purred happily. “You don’t have to tell me twice.” He nuzzled into Rodimus’ intake. “Mm. Pet me.” His aft wriggled, shifting Rodimus’ depressurizing spike in that snug little space.

“Yes, your majesty.” Rodimus rolled his optics, but found himself obeying nonetheless. It was hardly a trial to touch Starscream, and with the Seeker so warm and limp and snuggly right now, he didn’t mind at all.

He let his fingers trail over Starscream’s frame, tracing seams and glyphs on the back of Starscream’s wings. Starscream’s optics drifted shut, his engine settling into a low idle of contentment.

Sunstreaker slid off the berth and stood beside it. His half-pressurized spike was slick with fluids, and Rodimus was not afraid to admit that he gave Sunstreaker’s equipment a look. He wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

Nothing special. Sunstreaker was adequately sized for a mech of his frame type, and he didn’t have any special mods or designs on his spike either. It was pretty plain, all things considered. He didn’t even have a piercing like Starscream.

“Don’t fall into recharge just yet, Starscream,” Sunstreaker said, though his tone had lost that commanding edge. One hand smoothed over Starscream’s aft as the other groped around the berth for some reason.

The answer became obvious when he pulled the port plug from the tangled covers and slipped it back into Starscream’s aft. Starscream loosed a little moan and sigh, his aft rising up into Sunstreaker’s hand.

“I’ll recharge if I want to,” Starscream muttered sleepily.

“Not until you’re clean,” Sunstreaker said. He looked fond as he caressed Starscream’s aft one more time.

“Then clean me.”

“And me, too,” Rodimus piped up, because he could, and because he was sticky everywhere. Starscream’s wriggling had caused him to slip out of Starscream’s valve, and while he’d retracted his spike, he could feel the tackiness of drying fluids everywhere.

Sunstreaker didn’t dignify Rodimus with a response. He did, however, roll his optics, and turn away from the berth, disappearing into the adjoining private washrack.

Rodimus chuckled and returned his attention to a delightfully snuggly Starscream. Who, he belatedly realized, was still wearing the blindfold. Oops.

“Keep antagonizing him and see what he does,” Starscream cautioned.

“Pfft. I’m not afraid of Sunstreaker.” Rodimus worked a hand free and tugged at the knot at the back of Starscream’s head. “Let’s get this off you. Can’t believe he forgot.”

He worked it loose and tossed it over the side of the berth.

Starscream blinked rapidly, optics spiraling in and out of focus. It was pretty darn cute, and when Starscream’s gaze finally focused on Rodimus, he broke into a grin.

“Well, hey there sexy. Fancy seeing you here.” Rodimus patted Starscream’s aft for emphasis, and went back to petting Starscream, as the Seeker had started making demanding noises in his intake.

Starscream rolled his optics, much like his roommate, and rested his head on Rodimus’ shoulder again. “You take Recurve as a client far too much, if you’re picking up on his terrible flirtations.”

Rodimus shrugged, bobbing Starscream on his shoulder. “Recurve’s fun, and he doesn’t enjoy smacking people around, so if all I end up with is a couple cheesy lines, who cares.” He tilted his head against Starscream’s. “So why’d Sunstreaker put the plug back in?”

All sleepy and cuddly and pleasure-drunk, Rodimus gathered Starscream might be more willing to be truthful and less caustic. Maybe he’d get a straight answer without some kind of cryptic wording.

“I asked him to,” Starscream replied.

“Oh.”

“And if you need me to explain why, perhaps you’re more innocent than I thought,” Starscream added with a laugh. Amusement fluttered in his energy field.

Rodimus bristled. “I am not!”

The last thing anyone could ever accuse Rodimus of having was innocence. He was at Blue Sun because of Turmoil after all, and there wasn’t a single mech in the entire city who didn’t know who Turmoil was.

Attaching himself to Turmoil was supposed to be safe. It was supposed to be his way out. It was supposed to mean he’d have a future. Turmoil could be charming when he put his processor to it, and they first time they met, he’d certainly laid on the sweet oils. Rodimus had been smitten.

He’d thought, in a way only the foolish and dream-struck could be, Turmoil would change for him. Become a better person. Out of love.

That foolish innocence went away all too quick. But by then, it was too late to escape.

Starscream wriggled on top of Rodimus as though trying to get comfortable. More amusement floated in his field, dragging Rodimus back to the present.

“You did well tonight,” he commented.

Rodimus blinked. “Wait a klik. Did you just praise me?”

“I give credit when it’s due.”

Rodimus narrowed his optics and tickled into one of Starscream’s seams, making the Seeker squirm in restrained laughter. “Where’s Starscream and what did you do with him?”

Starscream flicked him in the forehead. “Idiot. I’m feeling generous for once. Enjoy it while it lasts.”

“I’m not sure I trust a generous Starscream.”

Starscream flicked him again and flopped strutless on top of Rodimus, bearing him further down into the berth. “Shut up.”

Relieved that Starscream sounded amused rather than annoyed, Rodimus laughed and started petting Starscream again, long sweeps of his palm over every inch of smooth armor he could reach. Starscream moved into his strokes and his engine purred like one of the tamed pets rich mechs bought by the dozen.

“You’re like a voltaic cat, you know,” Rodimus commented.

Starscream rubbed his cheek on Rodimus’ shoulder. “I consider that a compliment.”

Of course he did.

The door to the washrack slid open, releasing a roil of steam into the room, though it was quick to dissipate. Sunstreaker stepped into view, gleaming clean, and carrying an armful of mesh cloths, likely damp. His orbital ridge drew down in confusion.

“What are you two giggling about?” he asked as he started to wipe down Starscream’s frame with little compunction, pulling a pleased hum from Starscream’s intake in the process.

“We’re not giggling,” Rodimus retorted, watching them both with a critical optic.

“If you say so.” Sunstreaker shrugged.

Sunstreaker, who was now so gentle and attentive, his expression softer now, his hands careful as he wiped down Starscream’s aft and thighs and probably his array, too. His field was much calmer than the storm it had been earlier. Starscream, for that matter, had a field full of utter delight. He lounged on top of Rodimus like he’d found a throne, and arched into the swipe of the cleaning cloths, his engine purring.

When Sunstreaker finished, Rodimus wasn’t sure what to expect, but Sunstreaker perching on the edge of the berth and pulling Starscream into his lap wasn’t it. Perhaps he should have, given how much Sunstreaker had been mechhandling Starscream all night.

“You’re so handsy today,” Starscream grumbled, but it was good-natured, because all he did was stretch under Sunstreaker’s hands, and arch into the careful swipes of the mesh cloths, now focused on his belly and groin.

Sunstreaker snorted. Verbose as always, that one.

“What about me?” Rodimus demanded as he sat up and gestured to his sticky front, where transfluid and lubricant alike were starting to flake up and form a mass. “Don’t I get some help cleaning up?”

“Washrack is right over there,” Sunstreaker said without so much as looking at him, his optics focused on Starscream only.

Rodimus sighed.

He should have known.

He leveraged out of the berth, pausing only long enough to see if Starscream would protest on his behalf, but the Seeker was too busy being pampered. Oh, well. It was his reward after all.

So Rodimus tucked himself into the washrack and dove under the steaming spray. He braced his hands against the wall and let the hot solvent wash over him for several long seconds. He cycled a few ventilations, loosening his armor, allowing the sudsy fluid to tickle his cables.

He shared a room with two other mechs. They and two other dorm-like rooms all used a communal washrack. It had enough space for four mechs to shower at once, but no elbow room and no privacy, and there was always someone else waiting, so you couldn’t linger. This, right here, was an absolute luxury, one few escorts deserved.

Sunstreaker was entitled to it since he was one of Blue Sun’s oldest, and arguably its most permanent, resident. His fees alone accounted for ten percent of Blue Sun’s overall revenue. He was invaluable to them. Even with his medical issues.

Rodimus didn’t know all the details. He just knew that Sunstreaker got more time off than anyone else. He tired easily, and fatigue often made him grumpier than usual. He saw a medic every other week, and some kind of specialist once a month. Whatever his condition, his skills were enough to grant him serious latitude.

Rodimus supposed that if he were worth ten percent of overall revenue, he’d be spoiled like that, too. Rodimus and his roommates – all of whom he tolerated but didn’t particularly like – together probably accounted for five percent of the total revenue. If that.

The difference in quality, in talent, in experience, was palpable. Didn’t mean Rodimus had to put up with Sunstreaker’s piss-poor attitude though. Primus that mech was an aft.

Rodimus vented another sigh and forced himself into motion, grabbing one of the scrubbers off the hooks – how many did a pair of mechs need, Primus! – and quickly giving himself a wash. He had a feeling he’d overstayed his welcome, if Sunstreaker’s behavior was anything to go by. No doubt he wanted to cuddle Starscream in peace, pretending like it was perfectly normal to be that possessive of your roommate, and it didn’t at all mean that you loved him like he was the other half of your spark.

Nothing to see here, mechs. Just a couple of best buds, roommates, good old pals. Who give each other sparkful looks and longing sighs and painful optics when the other wasn’t looking.

Relationships were complicated. This Rodimus knew all too well.

He slapped the shower pad, changing from solvent to rinse, and stood under the spray, turning to get every inch of his frame. It would do for now. He’d clean up, detail, attack the numerous scratch marks on his paint with filler later. Maybe he could bribe Clockwork into helping him.

Rodimus shut off the rinse and toweled himself dry, a task he’d perfected to finish quickly. He gave himself a onceover in the mirror and deemed he was good enough to head back to his corner of the shared room.

He stepped out of the washrack and into the room proper.

In his absence, Sunstreaker and Starscream had moved to theclean berth. They’d dimmed the lights, with only a single lamp illuminating the dark shapes of the room. Sunstreaker stretched across the berth with Starscream draped on top of him like an avian-themed blanket.

Rodimus swallowed down the twinge of jealousy rising up in his intake. Instead, he planted his hands on his hips.

“Well,” he said, maybe a touch snappy. “Guess this is the part where I don’t bother hoping for a tip and quietly excuse myself?”

Sunstreaker snorted. “Don’t be ridiculous.” One hand lifted from where it was softly petting the back of Starscream’s wings and gestured to the berth. “Get over here.”

Rodimus hesitated, unwilling to obey a command, but the lure of that berth, the warmth of it, was impossible to resist. He didn’t want to leave and go to his berth and recharge alone with the scent and taste of them still lingering around his frame. He didn’t want to feel like what he was: an abandoned mech selling himself to survive.

“Besides,” Sunstreaker added as Rodimus made his way to the berth and gingerly climbed up into the empty space beside them. “You can’t do anything quietly.”

Rodimus shot him a hot glare, but that only made Sunstreaker softly laugh. Perhaps he didn’t want to disturb Starscream, whose shuttered optics and almost liquid relaxation suggested he wasn’t awake, though his wingtips were doing these tiny twitches.

“He asleep?” Rodimus stretched out in the remaining space, on his belly to save a kink in his spoiler later.

“Yes.” Sunstreaker’s gaze turned soft, his fingers carefully tracing nonsense patterns over the back of Starscream’s wings.

That clench attacked Rodimus’ spark again. He folded his arms under his chin, resting his cheek on his wrist. “What test did he pass?”

“No clue. Something for his certification.”

Rodimus blinked. “He’s a student?” That was news to him. It was in poor taste to ask another escort why they worked at Blue Sun, so Rodimus had never brought it up. He’d often wondered though.

“Was,” Sunstreaker corrected, and his expression turned into one bright with pride. “He’s graduated now, but his loans are due, and he’s too practical to have them hang over his head like a prison sentence.”

“And this is the quickest way to pay them off,” Rodimus guessed aloud.

For someone who wasn’t already independently wealthy or well-established in whatever field Starscream had studied, there was no better or faster way to earn money than escort work. Except, perhaps, stimulant peddling.

Just ask Turmoil.

“He’s smart,” Sunstreaker agreed. “Too smart to be wasted here. When he’s made enough, he’ll leave.” He paused, something quietly grieving taking over his face. “It’s a good thing. He doesn’t belong here.”

“And you do?” Rodimus desperately wanted the actual truth. He knew rumors. Whisperings. But nothing concrete. Just that Sunstreaker was here, and Sunstreaker would never leave.

Sunstreaker answered him with silence, however.

“Well, I don’t belong here either,” Rodimus said, knowing that was all the personal conversation he’d get out of the yellow mech tonight. He stretched his frame and settled into the berth. “Soon as my debts are cleared, I’m gone. As far as I can.”

Another city-state for sure. Maybe even another planet. Just somewhere Turmoil and the memory of the mech couldn’t reach him.

Rodimus glanced at Sunstreaker and was startled to see the worried and resigned expression in the stoic mech’s face. It took him a minute to connect the dots, to realize what might have caused Sunstreaker alarm.

“I’m not trying to take him, you know,” Rodimus said, taking a guess.

Sunstreaker blinked. “Are you in the habit of making vague statements?”

Rodimus pointedly looked at Starscream. “He’s fun to play with and it’s nice to have someone looking after me, or whatever he says he’s doing, but I don’t want to keep him.” His spoiler fluttered before settling against his back. “You don’t have to worry about me. I promise.”

“You can’t lose something that freely gives itself away,” Sunstreaker muttered, but his arms tightened around Starscream as though he couldn’t bear to loosen his hold, lest Starscream fly away and leave him behind.

“But you can lose something if you don’t even try to keep it,” Rodimus replied, careful to keep his tone soft and unchallenging. He had a feeling Sunstreaker wouldn’t really respond to testiness.

Sunstreaker snorted. “Recharge, idiot, before I kick you out of the berth.”

And just like that, the moment of vulnerability was gone, and Sunstreaker was back to his usual caustic self. That felt more normal, but sadder, too.

Rodimus let it be.

“As if you would. Have you seen these scratches?” he bantered back as he wriggled his aft. “I’ll tell everyone I left your room like this, too. They’ll be appalled. Sunstreaker’s really getting soft, they’d say. Your reputation would be ruined.”

Sunstreaker rolled his optics. “Brat.”

“Aw, and now I have a nickname, too. You must really love me.” Rodimus grinned and tucked his face against his crossed arms, shuttering his optics.

Sunstreaker didn’t respond. Though Rodimus could feel the burn of his glare despite the dim of the room.

Rodimus kept his chuckle to himself. Best not to antagonize Sunstreaker and potentially wake Starscream. He doubted the Seeker would be in a good mood after being disturbed from his peaceful slumber.

This, Rodimus decided, was far better than restless recharge in the room he shared with two others. In fact, he’d just started to doze off, and was in that twilight state where memory purges threatened to rise, but he wasn’t fully conscious, when something tugged him back toward full awareness.

At first, it was a relentless, low donging sound. Like a door chime. And then he heard conversation, muted and murmured, enough to make him fully rouse. Rodimus onlined his optics and pushed himself onto his elbows, cycling his optics to clear the fuzziness from them. He’d been out for an hour, according to his chronometer, and Sunstreaker was still in recharge, too.

The voices were coming from the direction of the door.

Rodimus squinted.

Starscream stood just inside the doorframe, talking to someone. His wings twitched as though agitated and as Rodimus pushed himself to the edge of the berth, he caught a glimpse of the mech on the other side. It was Streamline, though why he’d be here was anyone’s guess. Far as Rodimus knew, both Starscream and Sunstreaker were off-duty tomorrow, and no one knew Rodimus was here.

Besides, Rodimus wasn’t popular enough to be scheduled ahead of time, or develop a loyal fanbase. Unless you counted Turmoil’s many cronies.

Ugh.

By the time Rodimus had scooted off the berth and padded over to Starscream’s side, the door had shut, and Starscream turned away from it. He blinked in surprise at Rodimus, but didn’t seem annoyed by it.

“Something wrong?” Rodimus asked, keeping his tone low so as not to wake Sunstreaker. Especially if there was an issue. Best not to poke a sleeping Sharkticon.

“Depends on your point of view.” Starscream lifted the datapad in his hand and gave it a shake. “I’ve got a client.”

“Right now?”

“No. Tomorrow.” Starscream’s lips curved into a frown. “My day off.”

Wait. That didn’t make sense. “I thought–”

“If they are willing to double my fee, I consider it. Streamline knows that,” Starscream replied, cutting him off. He sighed and there was resignation as much as acceptance in it. “He tripled it.”

“Whoa.” Rodimus’ optics widened. Starscream’s fee was already not too shabby. And to triple it to start? “Who is it?”

“First time buyer.” Starscream’s fingers flicked over the screen, pulling up the information before he turned it around to face Rodimus. “A merchant, name of Sideswipe.”

Rodimus peered at the screen. A black and red mech grinned back at him, his paint high-class and gleaming, his frame definitely made-to-order. His application listed a few basic facts about himself, including his net worth, and it made Rodimus boggle. The mech could buy and sell the entirety of Blue Sun a dozen times over.

“Handsome,” Rodimus commented, because that, at least, was very true. This Sideswipe had an easygoing grin, bright blue optics, and a kind face.

“And entitled no doubt.” Starscream thumbed the datapad off and set it aside, on a nearby desk.

“Are you accepting it?”

“I’d be a fool not to.” Starscream rolled his shoulders in a shrug, wings flicking. “Come on. This means I’ll need to wash up. You can help.”

“I’m getting tired of taking orders,” Rodimus grumbled, but he followed Starscream nonetheless.

Starscream stepped ahead of him and keyed on the spray, filling the room with the sweet scent of the solvent. “That’s because you’d rather be giving them,” he commented as he stepped under the spray.

“I guess.” Rodimus grabbed a clean scrubber off the rack. Starscream would probably need help with his back and wings the most.

Starscream braced his hands against the wall, offering aft and back to Rodimus. “You had fun playing master tonight, didn’t you?”

“Well… yeah.” Surprisingly so. More than he thought he would. But every time he’d teased Starscream and gotten a response, a thrill ran up his spinal strut.

Starscream tossed a smug look over his shoulder. “I thought you might.” He gave his aft a shake. “Do me a favor and take out that plug? I can’t very well keep it in with a client tomorrow.”

Rodimus’ gaze dropped to Starscream’s aft, and the end of the plug sitting snug in his port. It was a pale blue, a nice contrast to Starscream’s darker navies, reds, and grays. It was smaller up close.

“Are you sure?”

“Sure that I need it out or sure that I want you to do it?” Starscream chuckled and arched his back, putting more of himself under the spray. “Yes to both. Just don’t be lewd about it. This is no time to start something that can’t be finished.”

“You throw temptation at my face, and then tell me I can’t have it,” Rodimus grumbled as gently grasped the end of the plug and eased it free, enraptured by the way Starscream’s port rim contracted around it. “Now who’s being a tease.”

“Save it for a future lesson. Port-play is different from valve-play.” Starscream shivered, his talons scraping the wall, as Rodimus drew the last of it free and set the plug aside, on one of the shower’s inset shelves.

Starscream’s port rim twitched. A small trickle of transfluid eased out of his port, and Rodimus’ internals clenched with want. He would have touched if he could, but Starscream’s boundary had been clear: not this time.

So instead Rodimus sighed and grabbed the extendable shower head, directing the spray at Starscream’s back to wash away the escaping transfluid. Such a salacious situation, wasted down the drain.

“Is that why you invited me?” Rodimus admired the sudsy solvent sluicing down Starscream’s frame. “Was this another training session?”

“In part.” Starscream stretched his arms over his head and slowly turned, claiming the nozzle from Rodimus. “And also because I knew you could keep your mouth shut.”

Rodimus blinked. “You trust me?”

Starscream tilted his head. “Is that so difficult to believe?” He lifted a hand, twirling a finger. “Turn around so I can get your back.”

“I’m already clean.” Nevertheless, Rodimus obeyed.

“Yes, but Sunstreaker will need to fix your paint in the morning, and I can see where you missed multiple spots.”

Rodimus sighed. Sometimes, he wasn’t sure if Starscream treated him like an errant youngling, an exasperating sibling, or a pet.

“He’s going to love that,” Rodimus muttered.

Starscream laughed as he scrubbed Rodimus’ back, more intent than seductive, and it just wasn’t fair. “Don’t worry. He’ll do it. Especially if I ask.”

“Must be nice.” Rodimus hadn’t meant for his murmur to be heard, but the longing had boiled up and over, escaping before he could stop it.

“Hm?”

“To be so close to someone like that,” Rodimus clarified, and hoped he could turn it around, make a hint toward the blindness Starscream and Sunstreaker held for each other.

Starscream shrugged, and the brush gentled over Rodimus’ spoiler, scrubbing into the hinges and sweeping over the edges. “I suppose. Friendship is a luxury for mechs like us, to be fair.”

“For anyone,” Rodimus corrected, his spark giving an unwelcome clench.

Friendships, he’d learned, led to betrayal and abandonment. Being left to bear the brunt of a powerful mech’s anger, and ending up with a debt you couldn’t easily repay.

Starscream tweaked his spoiler, making Rodimus jump and whip around. “You’re mine, too. Just so you know. I’ve claimed you.” Solvent switched to rinse, and Starscream tugged Rodimus under the spray.

“Does that make us friends?” Rodimus asked, and hoped he didn’t sound desperate or hopeful or some mixture of both.

“If you need a term for it.” Hands on Rodimus’ shoulders turned him around and around under the spray, until he was fully rinsed. “You’re not just a charity case anymore.”

“Thanks,” Rodimus said dryly. “I feel special now.”

Starscream chuckled and hooked the nozzle back on the wall. He tossed Rodimus one of the drying cloths. “Well, you should. I don’t spend my time with just anyone. It’s far too valuable.”

“I noticed.”

Damp cloths were tossed into the basket to be collected by the cleaning staff later. Rodimus flicked his spoiler to get the last few droplets off and stretched his arms over his head. He did feel a lot cleaner now.

“Well, we’re as good as we can be without Sunny’s help,” Starscream said and spun Rodimus toward the door, pushing him out ahead. “Now let’s go back to recharge.”

“Yeah, I’ll bet Sunstreaker is missing his berthmate by now.”

Starscream snorted, but didn’t comment. Whether or not he agreed was up for debate. Rodimus, however, knew he was right. Because when they got back to the berth, Sunstreaker was frowning in his recharge. One arm had slid across the berth as though searching for the warm frame that should have been beside him.

But when Starscream slid onto the berth, notching himself against Sunstreaker’s side, the frown melted away and Sunstreaker instantly shifted to accommodate him.

Just roommates. Right. And Unicron wore rusted undergarments.

Rodimus rolled his optics and eased onto the berth next to Starscream, sinking into the plush surface, and letting his field tangle with theirs. It was nice, to be welcomed like this. Felt like good things he hadn’t felt in a while.

This time, recharge claimed him swiftly, and Rodimus sank into it all too willingly. Next time, it wouldn’t even be an internal debate.

Any further invitation would be an automatic ‘yes’.

[One Wish] Enchanted V

Sideswipe hated Prowl.

Well.

Perhaps hate was an overstatement. Prowl hadn’t done anything to incite hate in Sideswipe. Loathing. Dislike. Distrust. All of those were possible, viable even. Sideswipe certainly didn’t like Prowl, and he didn’t trust Prowl.

He very much did not approve of Sunstreaker dating Prowl. But as Sunstreaker had informed him, quite vehemently as he never had before, it wasn’t Sideswipe’s decision to make. It was Sunstreaker’s. And he’d decided to say yes to a date with Prowl.

Sideswipe still didn’t like him.

Prowl was too much like Outlash in the ways that mattered. They didn’t look alike. They didn’t act alike. But they were of the same stock, the same breed. They came from credits. They came from a good life. They came to Uraya, but they could leave anytime they wanted. They came here to play, to slum, to throw around their charm until some fool fell under their sway.

They promised things they couldn’t – or wouldn’t – deliver. They whispered sweet nothings. They murmured love and tossed around words like ‘always’ and ‘beautiful’ and ‘better’ but only to seduce. Mechs like Prowl and Outlash didn’t mean them. Such words were only tools.

And now Sunstreaker had fallen for their spell. Sunstreaker who deserved so much better. Sunstreaker who was so fragging stubborn he wouldn’t listen to anything Sideswipe had to say on the matter.

“Sideswipe, you’re not looking!”

He cycled a ventilation and turned back toward his twin, whose face was creased with a mixture of anxiety and anticipation, and had his hands on his hips in outrage. His paint sparkled and gleamed, pretty enough to outshine anything in Uraya, Iacon, or any of the citystates around them.

“You’re perfect,” Sideswipe said. “Not a scratch on you. There never is. I don’t know why you have anything to be worried about now.” He folded his arms over his chestplate, wondering if he presented the perfect mix of concern and disapproval, with a thin thread of support.

He’d promised, after all, that he wouldn’t be an aft about this. Even though he really wanted to stomp to the door when Prowl arrived, fling it open, and tell the mud-wading slagger to frag off.

“I have to be better than perfect,” Sunstreaker said as he twisted around in front of the mirror, trying to see himself from all angles. “First impressions matter.”

“It’s not like he hasn’t seen you before.” Sideswipe rolled his optics and leaned against the doorframe. “You’ve passed the first impression part.”

Sunstreaker frowned and snatched a rag, rubbing at nothing on his left thigh. “Looking good is all I have.”

“You’re wrong about that.”

“Am I?” Sunstreaker asked, but the question felt rhetorical, murmured as it was. He tossed the rag into a basket and went back to examining himself for imperfections.

Sideswipe gnawed on his bottom lip. “He should get down on his knees and thank Primus that you agreed to a date with him. You’re more than just a pretty face.”

Sunstreaker shot him a look. “You’re my brother. You’re obligated to say that.”

“Doesn’t make it any less true.”

Sunstreaker snorted, but a touch of blue graced his cheeks. His field fluttered at Sideswipe, warm with affection and gratitude. He twisted in front of the mirror again.

“You don’t have to worry,” Sunstreaker said after a moment. He stopped primping and looked at Sideswipe. “Pretty sure this first date is going to be my last, once he realizes how boring and uncivilized I am.”

Sideswipe worked his intake. He wanted to reassure Sunstreaker, but the truth was, he felt Prowl was only in it for Sunstreaker’s pretty face. He saw a mark, and he went for it. He saw something he wanted to tumble, and Sunstreaker fell for it. Sideswipe wanted to believe differently, but he was a bit more learned than his brother.

He knew how mechs like Prowl thought. He knew what they really wanted. And he didn’t want Sunstreaker to experience that pain.

Sunny was stubborn though. There was only so much Sideswipe could do to protect him.

“His loss then,” Sideswipe said with a shrug. “If he doesn’t see you for the treasure you are, he doesn’t deserve you.”

“Yeah, well, you can’t tell me it wouldn’t make you happy if he dumped me.” Sunstreaker’s engine revved until he spun away from the mirror. “Frag it. I look good enough.”

His words were dismissive, but the anxiety in his field was cloying. Sideswipe sent warm pulses of calm across the bond, and felt Sunstreaker greedily latch onto them as if they were a lifeline. For all his bravado, he was nervous.

In any other situation, his nervousness would’ve been cute.

Sunstreaker stomped past Sideswipe and out of his room, armor clamped, field a maelstrom of emotion. Sideswipe bit back a sigh and followed after his twin.

“You look perfect,” Sideswipe said, feeling like he was talking to a brick wall. There was nothing he could say to break through Sunstreaker’s anxiety, he knew.

Sunstreaker opened the door leading into the cafe, which was closed for the evening, the lights dim and casting odd shadows over the booths and display case. Through the windows, the streets were dark with the odd mech shuffling here and there, to whatever they did or could do here in this city.

“You’re not going to give him some kind of threatening talk, are you?” Sunstreaker asked as he moved behind the counter, fiddling with things but not doing much. His gaze, Sideswipe noticed, kept darting toward the door as he waited.

Sideswipe leaned against the counter. “Well…”

“Sides!”

He managed a chuckle, because that affronted tone was adorable. “I do have this huge speech planned out. You know, about knowing where to hide dead mechs and a pack of scraplets eager to be fed.” He propped his chin on his hand and watched Sunstreaker fiddle with nothing. “I don’t want it to go to waste.”

Sunstreaker rolled his optics. “You’re not my genitor.”

“Closest thing to it.”

“Not even!” Some of the tension visibly eased out of Sunstreaker’s armor at the banter. “I don’t need you threatening him away before I get a chance to scare him off myself.”

Sunstreaker stalked out from behind the counter and started pacing the length of the shop, beside the booths, his gaze flickering to the windows before hastily wandering away again, as though he didn’t want to appear eager.

“You seem so sure that’ll happen.”

Sunstreaker snorted again and stopped near one of the corner booths. He gave Sideswipe a peripheral look. “Have you met me?”

“Known you from the moment we split, bro.” Sideswipe glanced at the window and caught movement, but Sunstreaker hadn’t yet. “And you’re every bit as lovable now as you were then.”

Sunstreaker sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Why are you like this?”

“It’s part of my charm.” Sideswipe chuckled and pushed himself up from the counter. “Anyway, now’s your chance.”

No sooner had he spoken than the door chimed to announce Prowl’s arrival. Sunstreaker startled like he’d been struck and spun toward the door, a look of panic in his optics. Sideswipe took pity on him and moved around the counter to open the door, reading Sunstreaker’s struggle to get ahold of himself across the bond.

“Good evening,” Prowl dipped his head in a polite greeting all too common in the wealthy cities. “I am here to pick up Sunstreaker.”

Sideswipe frowned and fluffed his armor, a gesture any mech would recognize as one of menace. “Yeah. I know why you’re here. And I don’t like it.”

Prowl’s sensory panels flicked in a motion so minute Sideswipe almost didn’t catch it. “Has Sunstreaker changed his mind?”

“Unfortunately, not.” Sideswipe flicked his optics toward Sunstreaker, who was making urgent motions and glaring at him. “I’ve been told I’m not allowed to threaten you either.”

Prowl’s lip quirked. “Well. I appreciate your restraint.”

Sideswipe snorted and angled his frame aside, making room for Sunstreaker to join him at the doorway.

“Hi,” Sunstreaker said, sounding adorably shy, and Sideswipe wanted to grab him and snuggle him for it. But also shove him somewhere safe where mechs like Prowl couldn’t get to him and ruin that charming sweetness.

Prowl’s quirked lip turned into a full, soft smile. “Evening, Sunstreaker. Are you ready to leave or should we reschedule?”

Sunstreaker slipped past Sideswipe, subtly knocking their shoulders as he did so. It was probably meant to be a warning of some kind.

“I’m good to go,” he said. “Don’t mind Sideswipe. He’s an idiot.”

“He is your brother,” Prowl replied with an amused glance Sideswipe’s direction. “That comes with the territory.” He offered Sunstreaker a hand, like a gentlemech. “Shall we?”

Sunstreaker’s face visibly flushed blue. But he lifted his hand and rested his fingers on Prowl’s palm. “Sure. Let’s go.” He tossed a glance over his shoulder. “I’ll be back later. Don’t wait up for me.” He paused and glared at Sideswipe. “And don’t follow us either.”

Sideswipe chuffed a vent. “I wouldn’t do that.”

“Sure.” Sunstreaker rolled his optics and turned back toward Prowl.

“I will take utmost care with your brother,” Prowl said with a dip of his head. “Have a good night, Sideswipe.”

Not likely. He was going to spend all evening worrying about Sunstreaker. He just might camp out in the cafe, watching the door, as he waited for Sunstreaker to get back.

Or he’d leave and find a distraction. There was always some mech looking for a good time at the local bar, or rather, the only bar. Or maybe, he’d remain alone and drink just enough engex to dull his senses.

Sideswipe slipped back into Color and Conversation, locking the door behind him. He stared out through the transsteel, watching Prowl and Sunstreaker vanish into the night.

He hoped he was wrong. He sincerely did. Sunstreaker deserved to be happy. He deserved to have someone.

Sideswipe sighed and offlined his optics. He tilted his head forward, resting his forehead against the door.

Prowl wasn’t Outlash.

Or at least, he’d better not be. Or Sideswipe was going to make certain he wished he’d never stepped foot into Uraya.

***

[One Wish] Enchanted IV

It was too early for Sunstreaker to be online.

He said as much, and yes, one might describe his tone as ‘grouchy,’ but Sideswipe deserved it.

“You could have done this on your own,” Sunstreaker grumbled as he trailed after his twin, dutifully carrying a shopping basket identical to the one in Sideswipe’s arms, save that Sideswipe’s was empty while Sunstreaker’s was already stuffed full.

When had Sunstreaker become Sideswipe’s cart? This was unfair.

“And then I would have had to make two trips,” Sideswipe said with the exhausted tone of someone who’d repeated themselves multiple times. Because he had.

He snagged a bag of those cheap, ugly umbrellas their customers seemed to like so much and tumbled it into his basket. Sure. He got the light umbrellas, meanwhile, Sunstreaker was stuck with the canisters of liquid flavorings. All of which, by the way, were sitting on top of his paintbrushes.

“You’re the one who says you don’t get out enough,” Sunstreaker retorted with a roll of his optics. He glared at the shelves. There was nothing here he needed. “Not like you’re going to find a new lay here anyway.”

“Which is a good thing, because if I was, your bright and cheerful disposition would probably scare them away,” Sideswipe muttered, but of course, he couldn’t hide the irritation from the bond, and he didn’t mutter quiet enough.

Sunstreaker heard it all.

He ex-vented and dutifully followed Sideswipe into the next aisle, which was a pathetic selection of powdered flavorings. But pathetic or not, Sideswipe never could make a quick choice. He always lingered here, hemming and hawing over whatever new flake of metal he wanted to try next.

Sunstreaker growled and shifted the basket to his other arm. No amount of goading would convince Sideswipe to hurry. Sunstreaker knew this from experience. He’d walk away and leave Sideswipe here but honestly, then they’d have to waste time looking for each other, and Sunstreaker just wanted to go back home. Preferably, back to his berth.

It was too fragging early, damn it.

“Maybe I’ll try cesium this time,” Sideswipe muttered to himself.

Sunstreaker tipped his head back and swallowed a groan. He let his optics wander over the shelves, not that he expected to find anything of interest, he just needed something to do other than watch Sideswipe debate with himself.

This time of the morning, the store was sparsely visited, but someone was entering the aisle by the other end. Sunstreaker gave them a cursory, dismissive glance. And then he did a double-take.

He knew that black and white frame, those arched sensory panels, that perfectly neutral expression. It was the Elite.

Sunstreaker’s optics narrowed. He whipped back toward Sideswipe and poked an elbow into his twin’s lateral seam. “Sides,” he hissed.

“Give me a sec. I’m deciding,” Sideswipe replied absently, waving him off.

Sunstreaker jabbed him harder. “Look. It’s that Elite!”

“It’s– what?” Sideswipe tore his gaze away from the shelves and peered over Sunstreaker’s shoulder, his optics narrowing into flinty slits. “What the frag? What’s he doing here? Is he stalking you now?”

“How would I know?” Sunstreaker snapped. He shifted the heavy basket to his other arm. “Let’s just get your flavorings and go.” He nudged Sideswipe with a shoulder and tried to move past him.

Sideswipe’s frown deepened. “No. I’m getting pretty tired of this actually. Maybe it’s time to handle things my way.” He blindly grabbed one of the flavorings off the shelf and tossed it into his basket. “Come on, Sunny.”

“What?”

Sideswipe, however, was already stomping past him, moving with purpose and anger in his field, straight toward Prowl, who hadn’t even noticed them yet, as far as Sunstreaker could tell. He must have had some kind of spatial awareness, however, as he looked toward them as Sideswipe got closer, his optics widening into surprise.

“Taken to stalking, have you?” Sideswipe demanded, his armor fluffing aggressively, his voice maybe a bit too loud.

Good thing it was early. There wasn’t anyone here to see the kind of scene they were making.

Prowl’s sensory panels arched upward, and he backstepped a pace from them. “I beg your pardon?” He frowned, optical ridges drawing down.

“My brother brushes you off so you decide the best way to handle that is to follow him around?” Sideswipe snapped, his free hand balling into a fist. His lips had peeled back over his denta, and he looked two seconds from trying to pound the paint off Prowl.

Except.

Except Prowl wasn’t giving off the vibes of a mech caught doing something wrong. If anything, he looked confused, perhaps a touch angry at being accosted like this. Sunstreaker wasn’t the best at reading other mechs, but right now, he sort of got the feeling that maybe. Maybe he and Sideswipe were totally wrong about this.

“Or perhaps I am in need of the same basic supplies as the average mech,” Prowl responded, his tone so cool and even Sunstreaker could barely tell he was irritated underneath. “Which is a good reason for me to be here, the only market in town.” He lifted the basket tucked into the crook of his arm, displaying the items within.

It was half-full, Sunstreaker noticed, as he peered around Sideswipe and into the basket. There was a packet of polishing cloths, a bottle of cleanser, a few flavor additives for energon, and a couple paint touch-up sticks. Presently, Prowl stood in front of the individualized flavor additive section, which matched the ones in his basket.

All of which gave truth to his claim that he was here for personal reasons and not because he was stalking Sunstreaker. Which, in further consideration, now made both of them look rather paranoid.

Heat flooded Sunstreaker’s face. Sideswipe didn’t have the grace to look embarrassed, but Sunstreaker certainly felt it. Prowl, after all, had been nothing but polite in all of their interactions.

Sideswipe snorted. “Well isn’t that convenient?” he demanded as he crossed his arms and nearly smacked himself in the face with his basket.

Prowl’s gaze briefly flicked to Sunstreaker before he audibly cycled a ventilation. “I’m not sure how to respond to that,” he said and tilted his head. “Or precisely what I’ve done to offend you. So if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll make my purchase and leave.”

“Yeah. You do that.” Sideswipe whipped around and grabbed Sunstreaker’s free arm. “Come on, Sunny. Let’s get out of here.”

Sunstreaker twisted out of Sideswipe’s hold, his focus on Prowl, who had yet to move, as if he feared turning his back on them. Probably with good reason, given his and Sideswipe’s behavior. Prowl’s sensory panels were still lifted high and tight, definitely agitated. Sunstreaker had seen much the same out of Smokescreen before.

“Don’t call me that,” Sunstreaker said, but it was half-sparked at best. Automatic at this point. “Besides, I believe him.”

Sideswipe rolled his optics, his field flaring his disbelief. “Of course you do. Because you don’t know any better. But I do.”

Sunstreaker unhooked the basket from his arm and shoved it at Sideswipe, where it clanged against his brother’s chestplate. “I know enough that you’re being rude right now. For no reason.”

Sideswipe scowled and snatched at the basket, both of his arms now laden with them. “Fine. Go ahead and fall for it.” He shoulder-checked Sunstreaker as he stomped past, his field swarming with outrage. “But don’t come crying to me later and expect any sympathy, bro.”

He stormed down the aisle, past the additives he’d been debating earlier, without giving them a second glance. Sunstreaker assumed he left to go pay. He’d be fragged when he got home and realized he didn’t finish his list. He’d blame Sunstreaker for it, too.

Aft.

Sunstreaker glared at Sideswipe’s back. His end of the bond had narrowed to the thinnest feed, and Sunstreaker felt nothing from his twin but aggravation. Sideswipe would calm down eventually, this Sunstreaker knew for sure. They never could stay mad at each other for long.

Behind him, Prowl coughed a ventilation. Sunstreaker startled, embarrassment returning, and he slowly shifted his gaze toward the Elite mech.

“Sorry about that,” Sunstreaker said, unsure what to do with his hands so he tucked them behind his back. All the better to avoid Prowl watching him twist his fingers together, betraying his nervousness. “Sides being rude, I mean.”

Prowl shifted his shopping basket into the crook of his arm. His sensory panels drifted down a few millimeters. “And I apologize for making you feel so uncomfortable in my presence.”

Heat must have shaded Sunstreaker’s face an awful hue. “That’s not it either. He’s just overprotective and I… I’m sorry,” he said, and lamely at that. He couldn’t really put it into words, and he didn’t want to say all the awful things Sideswipe was really accusing Prowl of. That seemed ruder.

“Apology accepted.” Prowl tipped his head, and the ends of his mouth curved upward in a small smile. “Perhaps we could start over?”

Sunstreaker blinked. “What?”

Prowl’s smile widened by a fraction. “I am Prowl,” he said as he gestured to himself with his free hand. “And yes, I am a member of the Iaconian Elite Guard, as your brother surmised. I am in Uraya on business, but pure chance had us crossing paths. If you’d let me, I would greatly enjoying getting to know you.”

Oh.

Sunstreaker’s spark skipped a beat. He scratched at the side of his nasal ridge, though it did little to hide the flush of heat darkening his cheeks. Sideswipe was right about one thing at least. Prowl was interested in him. Seriously.

He worked his intake. “I… uh… I’m Sunstreaker,” he said, feeling silly for doing so, but maybe that was what they needed right now. A bit of absurdity to ease the tension. “I own Color and Conversation with my twin brother. Sometimes, I paint. And, yeah. I’d like that.”

“Happy to hear it.” Prowl’s smile softened, turned genuine, if Sunstreaker had a guess. Sides would probably call it manipulative, but maybe people were just nice. That happened sometimes. Didn’t it?

“Are you available two nights from now?”

“Yes.” Sunstreaker leaned forward, until he realized how stupidly eager that made him appear. “I mean, I gotta check with Sides, but I’m sure he can handle things without me for a night.”

Prowl pulled a small chip out of subspace and offered it over. “Here’s my contact information. In case you change your mind.”

“I won’t.” Sunstreaker refused to admit the small tingle that ran through him as their fingers touched.

Prowl tipped his head, his sensory panels fully sinking down. “I will pick you up then. Forgive me if this sounds alarming, but I do, after all, know where you live.”

Sunstreaker chuckled. “I can take care of myself, contrary to what my brother thinks.” He rose up on his heelstruts and sank down again. “But speaking of Sideswipe, I should probably catch up with him.” He gestured over his shoulder. “He’s only gonna get more annoying, the longer he has to wait.”

It was Prowl’s turn to laugh, though softly he did. “Brothers are often like that.” His basket moved from one arm to the other. “It was nice seeing you, Sunstreaker. I look forward to our meeting.”

“Me, too.” Sunstreaker’s insides jittered with an emotion he wasn’t sure he could name. Excitement? “It’s a date.”

“Indeed it is.”

Sunstreaker grinned like an idiot and made himself turn and leave before he said anything else stupid. His mouth hurt because he smiled too hard, and he just knew Sides was going to be an aft about it, but frag him. This was Sunstreaker’s decision to make. Sideswipe was always off in some random mech’s berth. Why couldn’t Sunstreaker have a date if he wanted one?

He headed out of the shop where Sideswipe waited for him, shifting from foot to foot. He clutched a crate in his arms, overflowing with goods, and a bag hung from his right shoulder.

“It’s about time you showed up,” he said, stomping forward and shoving the crate at Sunstreaker. It smacked against his chest with a loud clang. “I’m not carrying all this by myself.”

“Why not? Most if it’s yours,” Sunstreaker snapped. He obediently accepted the crate, however. He was in a good enough mood he did it without a fuss. “Why are you so obnoxious today?”

Sideswipe snorted. “I’m the obnoxious one? That’s rich.” He adjusted the fall of the bag on his shoulder. “Come on. We’re due to open soon.”

Sunstreaker fell into step beside him. He tentatively poked at Sideswipe’s field, sensing the irritation and worry buried in the depths of it. That didn’t excuse Sideswipe’s rudeness, but at least it explained it.

“You took a long time in there, for someone who was telling that Elite to get lost,” Sideswipe said after a minute, cutting his optics in Sunstreaker’s direction.

“That’s because I didn’t.” Sunstreaker nibbled on his bottom lip and looked everywhere but at his brother. “I actually have a date.”

Sideswipe screeched to a halt mid-step and whipped toward Sunstreaker. “A what?”

Sunstreaker rolled his optics and kept going, forcing Sideswipe to either follow or stand there like an idiot. “I know it’s a word unfamiliar to you, since you seem to always skip that step. But I’m going to go out with Prowl because I want to, and I’m going to do it because I don’t need your permission.”

“You don’t know anything about him!”

“I think that’s rather the point of a date,” Sunstreaker retorted as he heard the noise of Sideswipe hurrying to catch up with him. “I can take care of myself, Sides. And I can make my own decisions.”

Sideswipe growled. “I never said you couldn’t. I just think–”

“–that I’m an idiot? Or a child?”

“I never said either of those things!”

Sunstreaker whipped a glare toward his brother. “You didn’t have to,” he huffed. “I already know what you think.” He slowed to a stop, uncaring that they were not only running late, but also making something of a scene in public. “Can’t you just stop being my older brother for a second and just, I don’t know, be happy for me?”

Sideswipe sighed and moved in front of him. “You’re right. I’m sorry.” He swept his free hand over his head, suddenly looking a lot older than either of them were. “I just… want you to be careful, all right? He’s not Uraya. He’s not one of us. I don’t want to see you get hurt.”

“I won’t.” Sunstreaker managed something like a smile. “Trust me a little, yeah?”

“I do. Swear I do.” Sideswipe slung an arm over Sunstreaker’s shoulders and hauled him into an awkward half-embrace. “But you’re the only brother I got. I can’t help but want to keep you safe.”

Sunstreaker groaned. “Now you’re being a sap.”

Sideswipe grinned and planted a sloppy kiss on his cheek. “It’s ‘cause I love ya. Now come on. We gotta hop to it if we want to open the shop on time.”

“It’s your store.”

“It’s ours, Sunny.”

“Don’t call me that.”

***

[One Wish] Enchanted III

Prowl stayed away.

Or as much as his investigation allowed, at any rate.

Sunstreaker was clearly not interested, or even interested in having a conversation for that matter. It was a shame, but Prowl was not one to push. He knew when he was unwanted.

He kept his distance. He was polite, the few times he did stop by the cafe, and he took his meals to go. Sideswipe managed to be civilized, in such a way that Prowl understood the underlying threat.

Stay away from my twin.

Noted.

Prowl was many things, but a fool was not one of them.

He was here to do a job in Uraya, after all, not chase after another mech, no matter how lovely he was. Especially one, he soon learned, who was connected to the Regent.

“Fights for ‘im sometimes,” said one mech, multiple optics darting in multiple directions and making Prowl dizzy to try and maintain eye contact. He stopped bothering. His jittery informant was a miasma of anxiety and paranoia. “He sends ‘em to Kaon or Slaughter City as his… uh… you know? Face mechs?”

“Representatives?” Prowl supplied.

The mech nodded exuberantly. Something clattered and clunked in his lower half. “They always win. Come back with loads of creds.”

“And yet, they are still here,” Prowl said.

The mech shrugged. “Ain’t their creds.”

Hm.

“What business does the Regent have in those cities?” Prowl asked.

There the optics went, skittering in all directions, and the mech’s field turned chaotic and bristly. “Uh.”

Prowl sighed, if only to himself, and dug into his subspace, producing another fistful of energon bars. Pure, compacted energy. Not much for taste, but there was enough energon packed in one bar to keep a single mech going for a week. Here, in a place like Uraya where too many people were starving, these energon bars were almost better than creds.

The handful of bars was all but snatched out of his hands.

“Now,” the mech said as he shoved one into his mouth, and spoke around his raucous chewing, “ya ain’t heard it from me, but I hear that the Regent’s got contacts. Suppliers. Y’know. Mechs interested in the kindsa things he’s interested in, yeah?”

“What type of items?”

The mech chewed and swallowed, patting his rounded abdomen with a satisfied clang of metal on metal. “Equipment. Medical things. Cuffs. Lots of ‘em.”

Why on Cybertron would Starscream want a lot of restraining devices? Prowl shuddered to think of the possibilities.

“Do you know why?”

The mech shook his head, optics darting in all directions, as he suddenly backed up, back hitting the wall of the alley behind him. “Frag, no. I don’t know nothin’ about what the Regent does in that basement ‘o his. A’right? Nothin!”

Basement. Hm. Decent, legal things rarely occurred in basements.

“But whatever it is, you think Sunstreaker and Sideswipe are involved?”

“Ya ain’t that deep in the Regent’s subspace without knowin’ what vermin he keep in there.” The mech slid along the length of the alley, his armor clamped tight, the energon bars vanished, perhaps to his own subspace. “And that’s all I know. I dunno nothin’ more.”

Prowl shifted his weight. “Including, I assume, this entire conversation.”

The informer grinned, showing off the fact he was missing several denta, and a few of those that remained were rusted. “What convo, mech?” He melted into the dark, creaky ventilations the last evidence he existed at all.

Well. That was that then.

Prowl eased out of the alley, sliding into the darkness of the night. Uraya was so poor it could not afford street lamps save for the occasional few which were easy enough to avoid.

So. Sunstreaker and Sideswipe fought in the gladiating pits. That explained how they were able to maintain their business in a city slowly suffocating on its own waste. It also explained the thick armor and the confidence with which they carried themselves.

The extent of their involvement, however, remained a mystery. Sideswipe was apparently some kind of supplier for Starscream, but did that mean he knew why Starscream wanted those items? How deep was he in the Seeker’s clutches? Was Prowl only offering him the benefit of the doubt because of his attraction to Sunstreaker?

Prowl needed more information, but he’d reached something of a dead end. Short of asking the twins outright, which he refused to do. He’d tried subtly questioning some of the more frequent visitors to Color and Conversation, but the minute he’d steered the conversation toward Sunstreaker or Sideswipe’s connection to the Regent, said customers clamped up tighter than an oil drum.

Loyal, they were. Maybe not to the twins in particular, but against Elite mechs from large, flourishing cities? Most definitely.

Or worse, Starscream had a stranglehold on Uraya and only the desperate – like his informant – or the stupid, dared cross the mercurial Seeker.

Prowl had reached the end of what he could do by speaking. He supposed the only recourse left was to get his hands dirty. He was not as talented as Jazz when it came to the stealthy arts, but he was not unskilled. He would have to poke around in places no one wanted him to be.

Places like the storage room for Color and Conversation, or the apartment the twins shared. Places like the depot at the end of Salvage Lane, guarded by a rotating staff of mercenaries, all without badges but their demeanor clearly suggesting they belonged to the Regent.

Prowl had attempted to play dumb and wander inside by accident, and he’d been all but marched off the property, a not-at-all civilian blaster pointed at the base of his spinal strut. Whatever Starscream had stored there, it was something no one was allowed to see.

Though Sideswipe, he’d noticed, was granted unfettered access. Sunstreaker he’d never seen around the place, but he had spotted Sideswipe in multiple furtive conversations with mechs who worked for Starscream. He wondered how much, if anything, Sunstreaker knew.

Prowl snuck through the night, back toward the room he rented. Though calling it a room was generous. It had four walls, a door that only locked because Prowl installed his own manual fastener, and a plank of steel loosely called a berth. It cost a ridiculous amount of credits for the fact it was not luxurious, but it was on the edge of the worst part of Uraya and therefore, closest to the information Prowl needed.

Prowl’s biolights were all he had to light the room, not that he needed much to see or that there was anything to see. Everything important he kept on his person, in his subspace. There was no safe place to leave it otherwise.

He climbed onto the berth, grimacing at the discomfort, and longing for the soft plush of what he had back home. He was still confused why this particular task had been given to him when there were multiple others better suited, including his own brother, but Prowl had ran out of favors on questioning his orders. What his Prime demanded, Prowl obliged.

He set his sensors to alert him to anything, which meant he would only recharge in the lightest of dozes, but it was all he afforded himself here. There was no safety to be found in Uraya, and only Primus knew what Pit Prowl had stirred. He would not be caught with his gun unloaded.

Tomorrow was a new day. A new attempt to divulge more information from the local populace before he was forced to resort to methods which would make Jazz proud.

Prowl cycled a ventilation. He offlined his optics and prepared to recharge, but while his last thoughts were usually a revisit of the day’s events, a quick search of all his gathered intel to see if anything struck him with a revelation, that was not the case this time. Instead, Sunstreaker’s face popped into mind, angry, scowling, aggressive. Overly so, one might say.

Living in a place like Uraya, could Prowl even be surprised? Given how protective Sideswipe was, and Sideswipe seemed to be the less naive of the two, Prowl wondered what that aggression hid. There was a sensitive spark in Sunstreaker, he knew this much by the beautiful art he’d seen. He’d done his research, too.

Sunstreaker had sold a few pieces, mostly out of Uraya, and under a pseudonym, most likely in a bid to hide their origin. But there was no mistaking that style. It was clearly Sunstreaker’s. The sharp, bold lines and colors were quite distinctive. No doubt the few sales helped keep him and Sideswipe afloat.

Sunstreaker had talent. He was a gem in this ruin of a town. He belonged elsewhere. A place with glitz and glamor, a place that would appreciate him for the talent he was. For the beauty he was.

Prowl’s spark glowed with warmth at the thought. He imagined taking Sunstreaker from here, imagined his paint gleaming in the spotlights of his own art gallery. He imagined actually earning a smile from the mech.

Sunstreaker, no doubt, was beautiful when he smiled.

Not that he would ever smile for Prowl. He was too guarded, no doubt burned by the pain life had brought him. There was no getting beyond his walls. It was a pointless thought.

Prowl cycled a ventilation and buried the brief moment of hope. He was here to do a task. He would have to resupply tomorrow and contact headquarters for his weekly check-in as well. With any luck, he could find some good information on Starscream as well.

Prowl did not belong here in Uraya. That was becoming more painfully obvious by the day. And the sooner he could leave, the sooner he could forget about the romance that was not to be, and inappropriate as well.

To that end, Prowl shuttered his optics and initiated a manual recharge sequence, if only to ensure he’d achieve some rest before tomorrow.

After all, he had work to do.

[One Wish] Enchanted II

Clunk!

A tray of dirtied dishware dropped onto the counter above Sunstreaker’s head with enough noise to ensure that Sunstreaker paid the carrier attention.

“Ugh. He’s back again,” Sideswipe muttered, a sneer in his voice.

Sunstreaker bit back a sigh. He didn’t bother to look at his twin, who was no doubt griping about one of his many post-affair lovers. Instead, Sunstreaker focused his attention on arranging the treat display to maximum benefit.

“Who? Recoil?” Sunstreaker snorted a laugh. “That’s what you get for making promises you’re not gonna keep.” As Sideswipe was so fond of doing.

‘I’ll comm ya later!’ he always said, and then never did, mostly so they would get so angry with him, he didn’t have to worry about them contacting him later. Attachments were dangerous, he said. He didn’t want them. Just a bit of fun now and again. It wasn’t his fault mechs kept deciding they wanted more.

Aft.

“I didn’t promise Recoil anything,” Sideswipe retorted, his field screeching offense where it pawed at Sunstreaker’s, as if demanding he agree and offer comfort and attention. “But, no. Not him. That white mech. The Elite.”

Oh. Him.

Sunstreaker rose from his crouch and closed the cabinet doors with a little snick of magnetized metal colliding. He searched the dining tables, but didn’t have to look far. The Elite mech always picked the same table.

He’d been in here often enough, Sunstreaker recognized him. Most of their customers were regulars, true, but none of them stood out as much as this mech. He was pretty, Sunstreaker had to admit. Sturdy and polished, poised like others weren’t around here. He stood out as a result, which made him doubly easy to find.

Sunstreaker honestly didn’t know what Sideswipe’s objections to the mech were. Sure he wasn’t Sides’ type, but he was clean, and if he was Elite, he didn’t plan on sticking around. That meant he was available and not interested in getting clingy.

Completely Sideswipe’s type actually.

“If you don’t want to frag him, just say so,” Sunstreaker said with a roll of his optics. Honestly, his twin’s romantic and/or sexual entanglements were exasperating.

“I would, if it was me he had his sights on.”

Sunstreaker blinked. “What?”

Sideswipe sighed and dragged a hand down his face. “Are you seriously telling me that you haven’t noticed he can’t take his optics off you?”

Sunstreaker’s gaze wandered to the Elite mech, but he wasn’t paying Sideswipe or Sunstreaker any attention. One hand held a datapad, which seemed to captivate his interest, while the other blindly directed energon goodies to his mouth for a nibble.

“No, he doesn’t,” Sunstreaker said with a frown.

“Primus, you’re thick sometimes.” Sideswipe groaned and leaned closer, though he didn’t lower his voice at all. “Yes, he does. Want I should throw him out then?”

Sunstreaker reared back. “What for? He hasn’t done anything.”

“So?” Sideswipe shrugged, and looked a bit gleeful as he scratched at his chin. “It’s obvious he wants to. That’s reason enough for me.”

Sunstreaker rolled his optics yet again. Sometimes, Sideswipe’s overprotectiveness bordered on the absurd. And it was irritating.

“I think you’re just looking for a fight, Sides.” He glanced around the display area and counter, but couldn’t see anything else that needed doing. “I’m going to go sketch.” He slipped out from behind the counter, making it a point not to look in the Elite’s direction.

He wasn’t bothered. He didn’t care. Not one bit.

“Set your timer!” Sideswipe called after him.

Sunstreaker ignored him. Yes, he damn well knew to set his timer. He didn’t need his twin nannying him.

He scuttled off to his art room, but curiosity overcame him. He paused in the doorway, glancing over his shoulder at the Elite mech once more. Steady, blue optics looked up at him, and it felt like a bolt to Sunstreaker’s spark.

Heat stole into his cheeks, and Sunstreaker ducked into his art room, feeling more than a little shaky. No way was Sideswipe right. Or maybe he was and the Elite was just looking for a cheap frag. Well, joke’s on him. Sunstreaker wasn’t for sale. Not now, not ever.

Sunstreaker plopped down in his chair in front of his canvas, rolling his limbs to get himself in the mood. He tossed back the covering and peered at his most recent work. Half-finished, it was, and he felt if he was diligent today, he could complete it.

But the more he stared at it, but the more he felt – not contempt, but disinterest. The itch, the burn to work on it wasn’t there.

It wasn’t often he felt restless like this. He did, however, know better than to work on yesterday’s project in this state. So he pulled it from the easel and set it aside, careful to drape a covering over it to protect the expensive canvas.

He pulled an old canvas from the stack. One where he’d made an attempt at something on one side, but after loathing it the next day, had scribbled all over it. He couldn’t justify tossing the expensive plexifilm out, however, so he kept it for scrap drawings.

Sometimes, what he needed was to draw a series of slag sketches before his creativity would unlock. So that’s what he did. Nothing important. Nothing he’d worry about selling. Nothing he’d let himself judge or critique.

He just… drew.

It wasn’t until he’d covered half the plexifilm in messy circles and squares and sharp, jutting lines that he realized he was being watched. That wasn’t unusual. Their customers often stopped and peered in, and most of the time, it didn’t bother Sunstreaker. Sides kept away the obnoxious ones, and only let the truly interested observe.

This time, however, Sunstreaker’s plating tingled. Peripheral vision identified the observer, and despite Sideswipe’s insistence, he was still surprised that it was the Elite mech.

Sunstreaker froze.

“Looking for something?” Sunstreaker asked, just short of a scowl on his lips. If Sideswipe was right about the mech watching him, he was probably right about what the mech wanted.

“You, as a matter of fact.” The mech’s voice was as pleasant as Sunstreaker remembered, with none of the smarmy notes of the usual customers who thought their creds meant they were owed more than the energon and treats they purchased.

Sunstreaker swiveled about in his stool, clutching his brush. “Why?”

The Elite hovered in the doorway, his hands behind his back. “I fear I may have made a terrible first impression. I wish to rectify that.”

Clever mech. Sunstreaker snorted. “That doesn’t answer my question.”

Sensory panels arched and went rigid. “I wish to get to know you,” he said smoothly, the corners of his lips curving into the smallest of smiles. Condescendingly perhaps.

Did he think Sunstreaker so desperate for attention that he’d swoon at a little conversation? Pah.

“I’m not for sale.” Sunstreaker whipped back toward his canvas and focused so hard on it, he glared.

There was a beat. A ventilation hitch, and then, “Beg pardon?”

Sunstreaker’s armor drew tight. A little politeness would not be enough to sway him either, no matter how handsome the mech or how enticing his voice.

“You’ll find an easier frag elsewhere,” Sunstreaker said, careful to keep his tone icy. “Twice more if you have creds to spare.”

“That’s not–”

“I’m busy, mech,” Sunstreaker snapped, giving the Elite a sidelong glare. “Go find someone else.”

“I–” The Elite cut himself off and continued with, “Very well.” Sunstreaker heard the distinct click-hiss of a mech shifting his weight, the Elite finally buying a clue. “My name, by the way, is Prowl.”

Sunstreaker snorted. “Don’t care.”

“Then I apologize for disturbing you.”

‘Prowl’ took his leave as silently as he’d arrived, and Sunstreaker was left alone with his own thoughts, more than a little surprised it had been so easy. Usually the hungry ones were far more insistent, until Sunstreaker had to growl at them and flash a little blade.

Pah. Whatever. So long as he was gone.

Sunstreaker returned his attention back to his canvas.

Bullet dodged.