Strong black hands moved over Prowl’s sides and hips as he rode the thick spike embedded in his valve. His doorwings flared and fluttered as he gave himself over to the pure pleasure Sideswipe offered him. Things had started off shy and unsure between them, but in the months they’d been here together they’d grown close.
Sideswipe still needed the inhibitor while they recharged, his nightmares continuing to plague him, though, not as often as when he’d first arrived. And Prowl enjoyed sharing a room with the larger mech. There was something reassuring about being curled up around his frame. He felt less alone, less guilty.
Prowl keened, pleasure curling inside his array. These moments with Sideswipe were the sweetest moments of escapism. It helped chase the oppressive monotony of their repressed lives away.
“Primus, you’re a sexy slagger,” Sideswipe groaned, his spike hard and throbbing on the edge of overload. “Gonna blow any sec…” He rolled his helm back, jerking his hips up to impale himself to the hilt.
Prowl’s fingers curled into his still scarred chestplate and he moaned. “Fill me,” he said, voice breathy and thin before devolving into a guttural moan.
“Yes, sir,” Sideswipe teased, then roared as he overloaded.
Fluid exploded from his spike, filling Prowl’s valve with the electrical, hot pleasure he was chasing after. He was pulled over the the edge into an intense overload, doorwings taught and held high on his back while the rest of his frame shuddered with the wave of pleasure that overtook him.
“Beautiful,” Sideswipe murmured, hands following the curve of Prowl’s trembling chest as he rode out his moment of release.
Sagging, Prowl lightly panted, his cooling fans whirring to life as he braced his weight against Sideswipe’s chest with his hands. He’d never been one for casual interfacing before the end of the war, but he couldn’t deny this relationship, if it could be called that, helped him cope. Especially in light of Shockwave’s continued flirtation, despite Prowl making it clear he wasn’t interested.
“You two, ah, done?” Ironfist asked from the hallway.
Prowl frowned a little. “What do you need?”
“Just was gonna head to the lab for a bit. Wanted to let you know,” Ironfist replied through the door.
“We’ll get cleaned up and meet you there shortly,” Prowl replied.
“‘Kay.” Ironfist’s footfall indicated he left after a moment.
“Think it bugs him?” Sideswipe asked. “You and me?”
Crawling forward to lay over Sideswipe’s chest, Prowl’s fingers traced the jaggedly healed cutlines in the red plating. “Is it terrible of me that I’ve begun to no longer care? That I just want this corner of bliss with you for myself?”
“Not terrible. You’re coping like the rest of us. Nothing wrong with that.” Sideswipe pet Prowl’s chevron with his thumb. “We’re getting a new member soon, right? He’ll have someone to occupy his attention.”
“In the next day or two. Shockwave is building a fighting arena for Octane to run in return for his Autobot,” Prowl replied.
“Did you find out who it is?” Sideswipe asked before nuzzling Prowl’s helm.
“No. Shockwave hasn’t been as free-flowing with information since I spurned his advances,” Prowl replied.
This whole situation was starting to really wear on Prowl. His processor tired of trying to calculate odds and whether they’d ever be free. He knew if he shared a berth with Shockwave things would turn more in his favor, but he wasn’t sure he’d be able to live with the self-loathing that would follow, nor hurt Sideswipe’s feelings in the process. After all, this pseudo-relationship was what had helped Sideswipe stabilize here. Prowl didn’t want to rip that away from him by spreading his legs for their master.
Ironfist sighed as he dug through the piles of junk. He was glad Sideswipe was happier now, and Prowl seemed more content, too, but it did leave him as the odd mech out. It didn’t help that the walls between the rooms in the suite weren’t very well insulated. He’d lie there waiting for them to finish before he could offline and recharge, and more often than not, he’d wake to similar noises.
The door to the lab opened and closed.
Ironfist perked up and peered over the large mass of scrap and junk to see Shockwave. “Sir!” He slid down the pile and walked up to greet his master, standing nice and straight before him.
“You’ve completed almost 50 drones. I’m impressed,” Shockwave said, looking at the small army Ironfist had been working on. “Where are your comrades?”
“Back in the suite. I decided on an early start and came down on my own,” Ironfist replied.
“Taking initiative I see,” Shockwave replied. Ironfist could hear the smile in his voice. “When Prowl arrives, tell him I want to see him in the Skylight room.”
“Will do,” Ironfist replied.
Shockwave turned and left as quickly and quietly as he’d arrived and Ironfist relaxed his posture once his master was out of sight. He was aware they had it better than most after hearing the tales of what Sideswipe endured, but still. He felt pretty lonely here. Lost even. He touched his collar and dimmed his optics.
Prowl didn’t know why Shockwave wanted to see him, but these days being called to the Skylight room usually meant lots of small talk that he was now growing weary of.
The door had been left open and Prowl cautiously entered when he heard voices murmuring from the sitting area. Coming around the large plush chair Shockwave prefered to sit in, his spark nearly skipped a pulse when he was greeted by the sight of Soundwave and Jazz.
Shockwave scooted to one side on his oversized chair and patted the open space beside him for Prowl to sit. “Have a seat. We’re discussing transactions to acquire more Autobots to be kept here.”
Not wanting to seem reluctant, Prowl sat beside his master and he and Jazz exchanged small smiles.
“As indicated, Vortex will acquire a secondary slave,” Soundwave said. “Praxian build currently housed with the Constructicons.”
“Designation?” Shockwave asked.
“Smokescreen,” Soundwave replied.
“Why are Constructicons willing to part with a rare slave build?” Shockwave asked.
“Being sent off world by Megatron to mine raw materials for more energon production,” Soundwave droned. “Effort to maintain slave while away, too costly.”
Shockwave leaned back in the chair and rubbed his chin with his hand. “I also have a trade to be completed tomorrow with Octane in exchange for his Autobot. What sort of deal might I strike to get both of the Autobots away from Vortex?”
“Vortex seeks power and status,” Soundwave replied.
“Sir, if I might suggest offering Vortex a position in your advisory council to Megatron?” Prowl said, glancing up at the larger purple mech.
His master’s singular gold optic brightened. “There’s a reason you’re my favorite,” Shockwave said, sounding pleased as he pet Prowl’s back. “Yes, we can see if that will please him enough to give up at least one slave.”
Prowl frowned. He’d rather no mech be left in Vortex’s “care”, but it wasn't up to him.
“Soundwave brought Jazz with him so you and he may spend some time together. He’s not allowed in the habitation suite area, but feel free to take him to one of the other rooms and socialize while Soundwave and I work on the details of our plans.” Shockwave gave Prowl’s doorwing a passing touch then gestured with his laser hand for them to leave.
“Thank you, sir,” Prowl replied. He slipped off the chair and Jazz rose to his pedes. “How long?”
“I will summon you over the intercom," Shockwave replied.
Prowl nodded his thanks, then led Jazz from the room and down the hallway. They walked in silence side-by-side. If not for the collars around their necks, this moment almost felt normal. Prowl pushed open a door and Jazz proceeded inside.
“Whoa,” Jazz said looking around. “This from the Towers?”
“I believe so.” Prowl looked around the ornately decorated room. Shelves along one wall were partially filled with salvaged datapads, constituting a library of classic literature and historical accounts going back millennia. In the middle of the room were three plush sofas that were incredibly comfortable. Prowl liked to come in here and read when things were quiet.
Jazz looked back at Prowl, then grabbed his hand, pulling him into a tight hug. “Frag, it’s so good to see you.”
Prowl happily hugged his best friend back. “I’ve missed you.”
“My cheeky aft? Really?” Jazz said, leaning back and smiling brightly at Prowl.
“So how’s things here at casa de Shockwave?” Jazz asked as he dragged Prowl by their still linked hands to a sofa and plopped down.
Carefully sitting down beside Jazz, Prowl smiled a little. it was good to see Jazz be himself like this. In Soundwave’s presence he was different, quieter and strangely obedient. “Things are alright, I suppose. Sideswipe has been here for sometime now, and is adjusting. Out of curiosity, have you heard who Octane has?”
“Shockwave didn’t tell you? It’s Ironhide. And the trade already happened. ‘Hide’s been with the medic, Tremor, for almost a week now. Guess he was pretty messed up,” Jazz replied.
Prowl’s doorwings lowered a little. Had his good favor with Shockwave dropped so much he was no longer privy to such important details?
“I saw,” Jazz said after a moment. “The way Shockwave is around you and all that. Touchin’ you when you don’t want him to...”
“He’s made his desire known, but I told him I wasn’t interested in him.” Prowl frowned. “It appears to have affected things between us.”
“Wish I had helpful advice, but I don’t know what to tell you,” Jazz said, holding Prowl’s hand sandwiched between his. “Not like I’m exactly able to help.”
“Listening helps,” Prowl replied.
The intercom crackled on. “Please return to the Skylight room,” Shockwave said.
“As always, time’s too short,” Jazz said with a sad smile.
Prowl nodded. “Perhaps they’ll let you visit again.”
Jazz flashed a grin. “If I ask Sounders, he’ll do his best to make it happen.”
It was nice to know Jazz was being treated fairly well by current standards. “We should get back,” Prowl said after a moment of basking in the warmth of the moment.
Jazz hissed at Ravage, but the turbocat wasn't dissuaded from her toothy grip of the small lute Soundwave bought him a few days earlier.
"Let go!" Jazz said, exasperated with Soundwave's unruly hoard of cassetticons. They stole his energon goodies, and took or destroyed most of the small gifts Soundwave would buy for him.
The lute's metal creaked and suddenly the neck pulled away from the body. Ravage held the body with her teeth, and then triumphantly trotted away.
Jazz threw the neck part in his hands across his room in a fit of anger.
"What's the matter Autobrat?" Rumble asked, peering into his room.
"Frag off," Jazz replied as he waved a dismissive hand at the smaller mech.
"As you wish!" Rumble ran into Jazz's room with Frenzy on his heels. They got up on his berth and Frenzy got on all fours, baring his valve, and Rumble cackled as let his panel retract and began 'facing Frenzy from behind.
"What the frag is wrong with you two?" Jazz stormed out of the room. He hated when he was left alone here with the cassetticons. Soundwave had been called to a meeting with Megatron, and that was one place he never took Jazz.
Stepping out on the balcony, Jazz leaned heavily on the railing and sighed. He stared down at the ground far below and imagined jumping off. What would his body look like at the bottom in the street if he fell from this height? Mangled? Broken into pieces? He didn't think he'd ever actually go through with it, but he couldn't help but think about it sometimes.
"Aww, big guy. We were just messing around!" Jazz heard Rumble say. He didn't move, though, continuing to stare downward.
"Jazz's room off limits," Soundwave replied, rare sternness in his monotone voice.
"Fine," they replied in unison.
The footfall of his master moved toward the balcony door. "Jazz, upset?"
"Nah," Jazz replied. He wasn't going to complain. He had it good here and he was acutely aware of that.
Soundwave joined him on the balcony, standing at his side. "Mini-cassettes will not bother you again."
"They will, but don't worry 'bout it," Jazz replied.
Soundwave turned his visored gaze on Jazz. "The goal is to give you a comfortable life."
"And it is." Jazz looked back into the red glowing visor.
"The agitation you experience when here is evident. A factor in taking you with me as often as possible," Soundwave intoned.
Jazz half-smiled. "I appreciate what I have here. I like goin' places with you. Primus, you even let me have time with Blue & 'Raj. If puttin' up with the cassettes wrecking my handful of belongings and generally giving me a hard time is the only price I pay, I'm okay with that."
"Wrecked belongings?" Soundwave asked.
"Oh, yeah. Ravage broke the lute you got me. Sorry." Jazz frowned a little.
Somehow even with a visor and mask, Soundwave looked genuinely upset. "Music you play is soothing." He reached over, and did something he'd never done with Jazz before; he pryed his hand off the railing and took hold of it. "Warehouses open still. Replacement important."
A mech that never allowed touching was holding Jazz's hand. He remained still, taking a moment to let it sink in. Soundwave trusted him.
Jazz flashed a smile. "Alright. Maybe you can lock the new instrument in the closet in your berth room to keep it safe?"
Soundwave nodded. "A viable solution."
Prowl stood beside Shockwave at the entrance to the compound. He’d been summoned here early in the morning but not told why. He tried to not think about how he’d been cut out of the information loop now that he’d denied Shockwave’s advances. What could he do, though?
A hand pet the back of his doorwing panel. “You appear distressed. Are you nervous about the newest member I’ll add to your group?” Shockwave asked.
So that was why he was here? To be a greeter of sorts? “No, sir.” Prowl didn’t resist the touch or pull away this time, and Shockwave’s fingers made lazy trails over the sensitive plating.
“What seems to be bothering you then?” Shockwave asked.
Prowl forced himself to relax his tight posture to give the illusion that he enjoyed the unwanted ministrations over his doorwing. “When I don’t have information to cull through, I get restless.”
“I see.” Shockwave’s voice lilted slightly. “Then I shall give you some intell to analyze for me later this evening after my meetings. Would that be helpful?”
“It would, sir,” Prowl replied, looking into the singular golden optic.
The door to the compound creaked open and a large triple changer entered with Ironhide in tow.
“Got him fixed up by Tremorwave like you asked,” Octane said, sounding annoyed as he yanked the lead, forcing Ironhide forward another couple steps.
“Thank you,” Shockwave replied as he stepped forward and took the lead from his fellow Decepticon. “The full ownership rights of the arena have been transferred into your name as of this morning. Megatron looks forward to seeing the gladiator fights return and has indicated he’d like to participate as well.”
Octane smirked. “Sounds good to me.” The triple changer looked at Ironhide and sneered. “Stripped his gears but good, so he should be ready for use.”
Prowl saw Shockwave’s frame tense slightly as he nodded.
“See you around.” Octane groped Ironhide’s aft once then turned and stalked out.
Ironhide hadn’t reacted at all. He was staring at the ground, unmoving. He hadn’t even looked up at Prowl. His plating looked like it was in good condition, though. Tremorwave had repaired him well on the outside at least.
Shockwave removed the lead from Ironhide’s collar, and canted his head when the elder warrior still didn’t move or look up. He then tipped Ironhide’s helm upward by his chin with his one hand. “You’re safe here. Free from abuse. You will be cared for and in the company of your fellow Autobots. As you see, Prowl is here.” He stepped aside to let Ironhide see.
Prowl’s doorwings lifted and he sadly smiled. “Ironhide. It’s true. You’re safe here.”
The elder warrior remained mute, no indication what-so-ever he even understood them let alone was processing what they told him.
“It appears Octane did more than ‘strip gears’,” Shockwave said with a clear tone of disapproval.
Taking a tentative step forward, Prowl reached out and gently touched Ironhide’s arm. “I’ll take you back to our habitation suites. Follow me, okay?”
Ironhide nodded once. The first indication he was even remotely aware of what was happening.
“I won’t lie that it makes me somewhat nervous to have another large mech in the suite with you, Prowl. I don’t want anymore harm to come to you,” Shockwave said after a moment of staring at Ironhide intensely with his optic.
“The incident with Sideswipe wasn’t his fault. And it’s been weeks since without another instance of his dissociative behavior.” Of course that was only because of the inhibitor, but Shockwave didn’t need to know that.
The golden optic shifted focus to Prowl, as he reached out and gently ghosted his fingertips over his chevron. “I trust your judgement.”
“Thank you, sir.” Prowl gently pulled Ironhide’s arm. “Come on. Follow me.”
Ironhide obediently stepped closer to Prowl. Sideswipe’s memory dumps were much less upsetting to see when compared to how Ironhide was currently behaving. What had become of the Autobots Prowl had failed? Were they all like this? So broken inside? Prowl would be sure Ironhide would be cared for, but he had no idea how to heal unseen wounds like this.
As they walked down the corridor away from Shockwave and toward the suite, Prowl glanced at Ironhide. “This is all my fault, and I’m so sorry Ironhide.”
Ironhide didn’t even lift his downcast gaze at his words. He simply followed Prowl like an obedient drone and Prowl felt his spark deeply ache with guilt in response. Primus, was there going to ever be an end to all this suffering?
Fingers danced down the neck of the holo-guitar, melodic notes resonating in the room as Jazz played a warm, slow song for Soundwave. The larger mech sat on the berth with his back against the headboard, listening with his visor dimmed.
As the song ended, Jazz half-smiled. “Wanna hear another one?” he asked.
Soundwave’s dimmed visor came back to full brightness. “Tomorrow evening,” he replied.
“Deal,” Jazz replied. He gazed at the holo-guitar, and ran his hand over the smooth curved body of the instrument. This was much nicer than the lute Ravage destroyed. “Thank you for getting this for me,” he said looking back at over at Soundwave.
“Mutually beneficial arrangement. Music is soothing.” He then moved, stretching out his arm to place a hand on Jazz’s forearm. “Jazz is soothing to watch while playing.”
“Glad you enjoy it, too,” Jazz replied, amazed by the forward touch.
“Protecting you is important.” Soundwave let go his arm. “Possible solution to issues with mini-cassettes is to share my berth.”
Jazz canted his head curiously. “You mean, recharge here?”
Soundwave nodded. “Affirmative.”
To not be woken up multiple times during the night by one or more of the cassetticons was a tempting offer, but Jazz was naturally suspicious. “Just recharging, right? I mean, you know… nothing else?”
“Affirmative. Recharging. Nothing else,” Soundwave intoned.
Jazz considered the offer for a long moment, fingers petting the guitar slowly. “Maybe we can try a test run? I’ll stay tonight and see how it is?”
“That’s agreeable.” Soundwave swung his legs over the edge of the berth and held out his hands.
Jazz placed the holo-guitar in his master’s grasp, and Soundwave got to his feet and crossed over to the closet, placing it inside, and sliding the door shut. The locking mechanism kicked on and the green light on the keypad turned red.
Returning to the berth, Soundwave sat and gestured for Jazz to lay down.
Crawling over to the far side of the berth, Jazz curled up on his side, his collar jangling as it touched the berth surface. Soundwave picked up the remote on the berthside table, shutting the door to the berthroom and turning out the lights before he settled down beside Jazz.
This was weird. Jazz wasn’t sure he could relax enough to rest like this. He’d grown accustomed to his own little berth in a small room. He’d even sort of gotten used to the cassetticons coming in and intentionally waking him. The silence here, the massive size of this berth, it was all so foreign.
“Relax,” Soundwave said after a long moment of silence.
Jazz felt a hand on his helm, fingers gently stroking one of his audio horns. It was as comforting as it was unexpected. “Okay, I gotta ask. You don’t even like your little guys touchin’ you. You barely touch them, except with like Laserbeak and Buzzsaw when they land on you. So why are you suddenly… you know, touching me?”
Soundwave’s hand withdrew into the darkness. Jazz stared at the red visor focused on him. “I wish to show my appreciation of your presence. If the touches are unwanted, I will desist.”
“They aren’t unwanted.” Jazz dimmed his visor a little. “Just tryin’ to understand is all.”
Fingers returned to his sensor horn, tracing the edges of it slowly. Soundwave remained quiet, and Jazz soon relaxed thanks to the soothing strokes over his helm and horns, visor dimming then flickering off. It felt like a small victory to have reached this level of trust with Soundwave. Plus, the opportunity for a whole evening to recharge without interruption was definitely a nice perk.
“He still won’t come out?” Sideswipe asked.
Prowl let the door to the room Ironhide was using shut behind him. He held an empty glass in his hands. “No. At least he’s accepting fuel, but he won’t speak, and he doesn’t move from his berth.”
Sideswipe sighed. “And I thought what I went through was bad. What in the world happened to him?”
“I don’t know,” Prowl replied as he walked down the hallway, doorwings low against his back.
Out in the main area, Prowl took the glass to the sink and rinsed it. Sideswipe stood behind him, petting his doorwings to try and offer comfort. He then leaned in and nuzzled Prowl’s helm, one hand wandering to cup his aft. “You wanna distraction?”
Ironfist made a huffed sound as he cleared his vocalizer.
They both looked over at him. He was sitting at the table, tinkering with some items he’d brought back from the junk pile.
“My apologizes,” Prowl said to Ironfist. “We’ll take this conversation elsewhere.” He walked smoothly with Sideswipe just behind him back down the hallway and they disappeared into the room they now shared.
Heaving a sigh, Ironfist frowned behind his mask. He was glad they had one another, but at the same time it also pointed to just how alone he was here. He’d foolishly hoped the new mech might be someone he could make friends with at least, but so far other than watching him walk in a daze to the room he still hadn’t left, Ironfist hadn’t seen him at all.
The sounds of a berth squeaking at intervals started up a short time later. It had become something he could tune out if he occupied himself with something else, so he focused on the small gravity disruptor he was repairing. It wasn’t strong enough to add to his hidden stockpile of potential weapons, but once fixed it would be a nice trinket to give their master. Shockwave always appreciated adding items to his collection.
“So every night they do that?”
Startled, Ironfist lost his grip on his small wrench he was using and it went flying off the table. He stared up at the large, red warrior looming in the doorway.
“Uh, yeah. Sometimes in the morning, too,” Ironfist replied.
Ironhide walked over and picked up the wrench, setting on the table as he took a seat across from Ironfist. “As far as ways to cope go, could be worse.”
“You, ah, haven’t left your room in three days. Or spoken since you got here,” Ironfist said, staring at the war-etched face of the larger mech.
A sardonic smile curved Ironhide’s lips. “Was waitin’ to see how things would play out in this place.”
“It’s one of the best places an Autobot could hope to end up from what I’ve gathered. Didn’t Prowl tell you how good we have it here?” Ironfist asked.
“I don’t trust Prowl,” Ironhide replied in a curt tone.
“Really?” Ironfist deeply frowned behind his mask. “Prowl looks out for us.”
“Maybe he’s changed. Never even thought he had a working interface array until my first night here.” Ironhide snorted a laugh. “He’s louder than I thought.”
Ironfist shrank a little in his seat, and started to tinker with his project again. “They both are, but the walls of this place are thin. I just try to ignore them.”
Ironhide offered his hand to shake. “I’m Ironhide. It’s nice to meet you. What was your name again?”
Ironfist took hold of the large dark grey hand and gave a firm shake. “Ironfist. We both have ‘iron’ in our designations. Pretty funny, huh?”
Chuckling a little, Ironhide nodded. “You remind me of an old friend.”
“Oh? Who’s that?” Ironfist asked.
“Wheeljack. Quirky little mech, obsessed with inventin’ things,” Ironhide replied, gazing at the pieces and tools on the table.
“Wheeljack trained me,” Ironfist said proudly.
“That explains a lot,” Ironhide said with a sage nod.
Ironfist felt his intense loneliness begin lift away. Maybe a warrior and a scientist didn’t have a ton in common, but Ironhide didn’t seem like a bad mech. There was something sort of comforting about him.
“So, what’cha got cookin’ here?” Ironhide asked, poking at piece of his project.
“A gravity disruptor. It’s from the Towers. I almost have it all fixed.” Ironfist took his small wrench to the bolt he’d been tightening. Once he finished, he picked up a circuit. “Just need to attach this to the power source…” Ironfist’s fingers manipulated the small circuit into place and gently pushed it into the housing. “There.” He slid the completed object to the middle of the table and pressed the power button at the base. A blue glow emitted from the center and formed a see-through sphere around the top of the object. “Heh. Time to test it!”
Ironhide lifted an optic ridge. “It’s not gonna blow up or anything, right?”
Ironfist chuckled as he picked up a small piece of unused metal and threw it at the glowing sphere. The metal was caught in the blue light and floated around as if there was no gravity at all. “It works!”
Leaning in close, Ironhide stared with bright optics. “What’s it used for?”
“I think it’s for displaying items. Like if you’re a rich Towers mech and you want to showcase a crystal or a few crystals you toss them into the anti-gravity field and they float around,” Ironfist explained.
Ironhide looked bemused. “Tell me about Shockwave. How is he as a master?”
“He’s good to us. He’s trying to rescue mechs from bad situations when he can, like you and Sideswipe. He bought me and Prowl off the auction block, though,” Ironfist replied as he poked at the metal piece to make it float around in a different direction.
“There’s a bunch of rooms,” Ironhide said as he gazed at the floating metal.
“Prowl thinks at least one more mech might be coming here soon. Shockwave tends to tell him about that sort of thing ahead, though.” Ironfist then fingered a tool on the table. “Not that it’s my place to say so, but you shouldn’t be too hard on Prowl. He’s been the one holding things together, making this a home for us.”
Ironhide dimmed his optics a little and sadly smiled. “Things have been pretty messed up since I was sold off. Trusting someone like Prowl is gonna take me some time.”
“Oh.” Ironfist looked down at his finished project.
“If it makes a difference, I trust you,” Ironhide said.
Ironfist looked back up at him with bright optics. “Really? Well, I’ll look out for you. Promise.”
Ironhide chuckled a little. “Good to know I’m in capable hands.”