Fireworks decorated the sky overhead; the booms and cracks drowned out Hot Rod's memories and calmed him. There was probably something wrong with him, something not-quite-Autobot in how his spark could be calmed by explosions, but it didn't seem worth it to question it too closely. He leaned against the railing atop Metroplex's tallest tower, and watched the humans' colored fire bejewel the night.
Not even fireworks, however, could drown out the approach of his perennial rival, even in as oddly calm a mood as Galvatron had been since the Matrix's final unleashing. Hot Rod glanced over his shoulder at the sound of his footsteps coming out onto the landing. The Lord of the Decepticons was alone, not even Cyclonus at his back as he approached the former Prime - but that 'former' was the thing, wasn't it? Hot Rod was no threat to him. It might have crossed his mind in different circumstances that Galvatron represented a threat to Hot Rod, but if that had been Galvatron's intention, he would have announced himself with a cannon shot. Instead he joined Hot Rod at the railing without a word, gazing up into the sky as if he, too, found the fireworks display a balm to his spark, and it never occurred to Hot Rod to be afraid.
For a while they simply abided in silence. It was... strange, but warming, that this moment of peace could even exist between them. They'd never been this close without trading blows. This close, Galvatron's body radiated heat, sheltering him from the chill wind of spring in the mountains. Had he been a fellow Autobot, Hot Rod might have leaned against him to take advantage of his warmth and solidity - even now, he had the oddest urge to do so anyway, wondering how it might feel if Galvatron allowed it as he now allowed Hot Rod to share the balcony with him. Hot Rod found himself wondering if the wisdom Optimus had spoken of had truly changed Galvatron this much, and if so, hoping the change would last.
Maybe there really is something wrong with me.
Galvatron might have had the same thought, or at least he'd gone long enough without engaging his vocalizer. "The humans should do this every night. Make it so, Prime."
Hot Rod muffled a laugh in his wrist blasters. "Uh, it doesn't really work like that. ...and it's Hot Rod now. I'm not Prime anymore."
Galvatron snorted his opinion of that. "You Autobots and your inexplicable attachment to baubles."
Hot Rod tilted his head, tempted for a moment to remind Galvatron that not so long ago, he would have killed for the chance to get his hands on that 'bauble'. It didn't seem an especially wise thing to say. "You still see me as your rival?" he asked instead, turning to face him, leaning with one arm on the railing. "The next time Autobots and Decepticons do battle, will you call me out as you have before?"
"If I do," Galvatron countered, turning a sharp red optic his way, "will you answer as you have before?"
Hot Rod grinned, feeling for a moment like his old self. "Try it and see for yourself.”
Galvatron’s optics glittered, and for a moment the part of Roddy that was still Rodimus wondered about the advisability of challenging the Decepticon. Then amid a crackling drumroll of fireworks Galvatron moved toward him, and Roddy startled but didn’t duck away.
Galvatron wrapped his arm around Hot Rod’s back, grasping his shoulder, and pulled the smaller mech tight against his side. Roddy’s engine stalled. Galvatron was warm, warmer than any normal mech, but Hot Rod’s vents wouldn’t open to deal with the excess heat. He was paralyzed - not with fear, though. Shock, maybe. Shock, indecision, and an intense, crazy longing to keep this, grasp it with every part of himself and hold onto it for as long as he could.
Crazy because this was Galvatron, and the only thing that would hurt worse than Galvatron pushing him away would be what happened if he didn’t. Yet Hot Rod thought maybe he could deal with pain, if the promise implicit in that tight, stubborn embrace was true.
He bit his lip at that thought as his engine picked up. “Um. Galvatron?”
“Hmm?” Galvatron’s amused voice rumbled through him, making his insides twist and coil like hot metal. “Something you want, Prime?”
Hearing the title hurt all over again, like Galvatron was rubbing his face in his failure - the loss of the Matrix, the terrible threat of the Hate Plague so unstoppable that Optimus Prime had to give up his final rest to fix it after his successor had failed to, putting a merciful end to the mistake that was Rodimus Prime. Yet he wasn’t just Hot Rod anymore either, was he? If not Prime - someone else. Someone who maybe didn’t need to carry the whole of Cybertron on his shoulders. Someone for whom it was okay to fling himself into something crazy, like Galvatron’s arms. ...for whom it was okay to fail.
Feeling like something vital in him had snapped, Hot Rod turned his optics up to Galvatron’s. “I want a lot of things.”
“So take them.”
He made it sound so simple. No, he made it a challenge, a taunt. Hot Rod reached up and gripped the side of his helm, urging the crowned head to bend - and it did, just far enough.
Their lips met.
The sky exploded in a final, joyful crescendo of fireworks.