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Dream of Life- Escapism

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Part I-

 

Curled up in his berth, Sunstreaker tried to sort out his thoughts. Prowl wasn’t how he remembered him. This post-war life had really taken it’s toll on all of them. It was clear Prowl wouldn’t stop him trying to get his brother back, but Sunstreaker wasn’t sure he deserved Sideswipe’s love. His brother already had someone who cared deeply for him, so who was he to rip them apart?

The door to his room opened. He glanced over to see Smokescreen poking his head inside. “Can I recharge with you?”

Sunstreaker rolled to his back and nodded.

Smokescreen stepped inside and shut the door. He then crawled onto the berth, pressing up against Sunstreaker. “I don’t like being alone.”

“I know,” Sunstreaker quietly replied as he gently pet the middle of Smokescreen’s back.

“Why did you let Prowl wax you?” Smokescreen asked after a long quiet moment. “I would have done it. If you asked.”

Sunstreaker could hear the touch of jealousy in his voice, and knew he needed to make it clear that they were friends and nothing more. “He offered. We needed to talk,” Sunstreaker replied. “Look, Smokes. What I did the other night, asking you to ‘face, I shouldn’t have done that. I was just upset.”

Smokescreen pushed up onto his elbow and looked down at Sunstreaker. “Tell me what’s going on. It’s got to do with Sideswipe, right?”

Grimacing, Sunstreaker nodded. “He’s my fraternal twin.”

Realization washed over Smokescreen’s face, followed by a touch of disappointment. “Oh.”

“I’m sorry… Me and Sides haven’t spoken in a long time, though. He hates me for things that happened a long time ago,” Sunstreaker tried to lamely explain. “Seeing him again… it’s been really rough. I took advantage of you.”

Cupping Sunstreaker’s face, Smokescreen leaned down and placed a chaste kiss to his lips. “He doesn’t hate you. And it’s pretty clear you love him.” He sadly smiled as he gazed into Sunstreaker’s optics. “I wanted to ‘face you the other night. You didn’t coerce me and you needed it. I’m happy to whenever you need me, okay?”

Slowly nodding, Sunstreaker dimmed his optics. Everyone saw him so differently than he saw himself. “Okay.”

After a small sigh, Smokescreen fingered the middle of Sunstreaker’s chest. “You two are forever linked. You’re both are gonna have to hash it out when he’s back.”

“I know. Prowl said the same thing to me, basically,” Sunstreaker replied. “I’m just scared to talk to him. How dumb is that?”

“Not dumb,” Smokescreen replied. “He’s with Prowl, so it’s complicated. I get why it’s scary. Who wants to be rejected? I can imagine it’s even worse since you’re spark bonded.”

Sunstreaker gazed at Smokescreen for a long moment. He felt terrible because he knew he was the one ‘rejecting’ Smokescreen. But what could he do? He didn’t love him. He never would. It was better he do this now rather than later. He wrapped arm around Smokescreen, giving him a little squeeze. “Tired?” he asked, trying to shift the conversation elsewhere.

Smokescreen laid back down as he nodded. Curling up against Sunstreaker’s side, he dimmed his optics. “Tired of life,” he replied.

Smokes,” Sunstreaker whispered, guilt filling his chest.

“Not ‘cause of you. It’s been nice having you to cling to, but I need to figure out who I am now. If that makes sense,” Smokescreen said, fingering the side of Sunstreaker’s chest.

Sunstreaker sighed. “It does.”

They weren’t altering themselves anymore to conform to someone else anymore. Here they were protected and allowed to come to terms with what they’d all endured. But this post war world was beyond broken, and there was no telling how long this safe place would remain that way. Sunstreaker felt more lost than ever.

Sideswipe remained still lying flat on the medical berth as Tremorwave used his tools to remove the scarring on his plating. His sensory net was offline, so at least he couldn’t feel anything. The sound of metal being scraped away made him wince, though. Tremorwave made his way up his chestplate, carefully cleaning up the surface from each jaggedly healed-over injury. He soon reached the two scars on Sideswipe’s upper chest that Prowl always kissed when they laid down together to recharge.

“Wait, can you leave those two?” Sideswipe said before Tremorwave pressed the tool down to remove them.

“Leave them? But why?” Tremorwave asked, looking confused. “Shockwave paid very well to have you looking like new.”

“Please. Those ones–” He dimmed his optics. “They’re important to me.”

Touching them with his fingertips, Tremorwave gazed at them. “Why would you want to remember what was done to you?”

“It’s more than that–” Sideswipe paused, biting his lip for a moment. “It’s about remembering what happened and why I didn’t give up already. Those two imparticular, someone important always touches them.”

Tremorwave regarded him for a moment. “Alright. But if Shockwave complains, I’m removing them.”

Sideswipe nodded.

Moving to another area, Tremorwave resumed his work. “Someone important, hm? That little Praxian seemed rather upset when they brought you in here. Would you be referring to him?”

Shrugging, Sideswipe dimmed his optics. “Maybe.”

“Interesting,” Tremorwave replied. “Did you know all fraternal twins have gold colored coronas around their sparks, no matter what color the spark itself is?”

His face fell. “You… know.”

“I did some digging around in your old medical files when I saw your spark. I had to dig back pretty far, but I did find out your twin is Sunstreaker,” Tremorwave said with a side glance. “Did you know back before the war fraternal twins were coveted by noble society?”

Sideswipe raised an optic ridge, giving the medic a look of disbelief. “Really? Why?”

“Nobles liked to have rare attributes incorporated into their sparklines. Triad bonding was a coveted status many wanted. The only spark that leant itself to a stable triad bond, though, were those of fraternal twins,” Tremorwave explained.

Staring at the medic, he narrowed his optics. “Why are you telling me that?”

“I’m simply imparting some rare known facts about your special spark,” Tremorwave replied. “Interpret how you’d like.”

Sideswipe frowned and looked away.

How in the world could he be so selfish and want them both? He adored Prowl. He’d never been with anyone that made him feel so safe and cared for before. Being happy with Prowl should be enough for him. Right? He stared up at the dingy ceiling, knowing it wasn’t that simple no matter how much he wished it was. Because even after all that happened, seeing Sunstreaker again reminded him how much he still loved him, and he knew nothing would change that. He would always love him.  

Stepping off the shuttle, Sideswipe followed Shockwave inside. He was led down the corridors toward the habitation area. His spark was pulsing hard and fast the closer they got. Why did his brother have to be such a strong force in his life? He’d finally found a way to exist and even be a little happy with Prowl. Now it was being torn to shreds.

Shockwave stopped just shy of the habitation suite doorway.

Sideswipe also stopped and looked into his owner’s yellow optic. “Sir?”

“Tremorwave shared your medical files with me. I know what you and Sunstreaker are.” There was a grim tone in Shockwave’s voice. “Don’t hurt Prowl. Do you understand me?”

“I understand,” Sideswipe replied. “Prowl means the world to me.”

Shockwave nodded. “I wish he’d chosen me, but a spark’s desire is unpredictable. That said, your spark is determined to choose one mech above all, and it’s not Prowl. Find a way to make it work.” He then turned and began to walk again.

That was a tall order.

Sideswipe fell in step behind Shockwave as they walked into the habitation suite. Only Prowl, Ironhide and Ironfist were there when entered. Prowl got to his feet, while Ironhide and Ironfist remained seated at the table playing what looked like a card game.

“Welcome back, kid,” Ironhide said with a smile.

“Thanks,” Sideswipe replied.

Ironfist’s optics curved from his hidden smile as he waved. “Look how shiny you are!”

“Heh, yeah. Back to normal,” Sideswipe replied.

Prowl approached, glancing at Shockwave. “Thank you.”

“Of course, Prowl,” Shockwave replied. He started to leave, but paused at the door. “In the morning I would like you to attend an important meeting.”

Nodding, Prowl held Shockwave’s singular optic gaze. “In the Sunlight room?”

“Yes. First thing,” Shockwave replied.

Prowl nodded again. “I’ll be there.”

Once Shockwave left, Prowl was about to hug Sideswipe when he spotted the remaining two marks. White fingers touched them as their gazes met, but Prowl didn’t ask. He seemed to know, and to Sideswipe’s surprise, he leaned in and kissed each one.

Sideswipe was overwhelmed, and wrapped his arms around him, hugging him tightly. “Missed you,” he whispered, not caring that they weren’t alone.

“Missed you, too,” Prowl whispered back.

Smokescreen and Sunstreaker emerged from the washrack. Sideswipe’s gaze met his brother’s. Sunstreaker quickly looked away and then stalked across the lounge area and down the hall to his room.

“Welcome back,” Smokescreen said, looking back at Sideswipe after watching Sunstreaker flee.

“Thanks.” Sideswipe’s grip loosened, and Prowl reached up, cupping his face in one hand. “Go talk to him. I’ll wait for you in our room.”

Sighing, Sideswipe nodded. “Okay. I’ll try.” He leaned down and they shared an all too brief kiss, before Prowl pulled away. Sideswipe sucked in a deep breath of air before letting is slowly escape his intakes. This wasn’t going to be easy or fun, but he needed to do it.

Reluctantly letting go of Prowl, Sideswipe followed after his brother.

He approached the door, finding it already partway open, and peered inside, seeing Sunstreaker sitting on his berth obviously waiting.

“Can I come in?” Sideswipe cautiously asked.

“Yeah,” Sunstreaker replied, keeping his gaze pinned on the floor.

Sideswipe entered and sat down on the other end of the berth. “So, we should talk.”

“Yeah, I know,” Sunstreaker quietly replied.

Sideswipe glanced at his brother. He looked so defeated and so lost. Sideswipe remembered feeling like that when he arrived here. Though, for completely different reasons. “First, I’m sorry. I never meant for all this to happen. To not talk to you this long. I just thought it would be for a little while, until things felt more stable, but things never got stable. It’s not a good excuse, I know. So really am sorry.”

“I’m sorry, too. For being possessive and driving you away,” Sunstreaker replied.

Silence then filled the space for a long awkward moment.

Sideswipe frowned, and sighed. “How do we make things okay again?”

“We don’t.” Sunstreaker shook his head. “There’s too much hurt for both of us.”

“I know really mending things will take time, but I still love you, Sunny. I’ll always love you. I want to make this better–”

“You love Prowl, not me,” Sunstreaker interrupted. “I see it in your face, and he told me he loves you. So don’t say things you don’t mean.”

“I do mean it, you glitch,” Sideswipe replied, already annoyed. “Primus, this is part of why I left. You constantly telling me how I feel about this or that. Not like you asked me. You just assume all this slag and most of the time it’s not even true.”

“So you don’t love Prowl?” Sunstreaker asked.

“I do love him. A lot. He means the world to me. He’s why I didn’t offline myself already. I still have memory feedback every night about the things Wildrider did to me. I could hang onto Prowl when I was sure there was nothing left to bother holding on for,” Sideswipe said, his admission clearly wounding Sunstreaker. He then reached over and took hold of Sunstreaker’s hand, holding it tight so he couldn’t pull away. “But I love you, too. My spark aches for you. My frame aches for you. The moment Prowl told me you were alive was the first glimmer of hope I felt when I got here. You and me, we belong together. We just do.”

Confusion colored Sunstreaker’s expression. “You can’t love us both.”

“But I do,” Sideswipe replied.

"Sides." Sunstreaker shook his head as he squeezed Sideswipe’s hand. “It doesn’t work like that.”

Sideswipe sighed, sadly frowning. He wanted it to be like that. Like how that medic said it could be, but maybe there really was too much hurt to ever get past.

Sunstreaker turned toward him, and scooted closer. He held Sideswipe’s hand in his lap, fingers grasping at it from both sides. “Are you still angry with me? For how I acted? You know before everything got all messed up between us?”

“No,” Sideswipe replied. It was the honest truth. He’d been mad, yes, but not for a long time. “Sunny, I forgave you a long time ago. I wanted to come find you, but–” He shook his head. “It had been so long and we were always stationed different places.”

“Yeah,” Sunstreaker replied with a nod. “As time passed it got harder to reach out…” He then leaned in, ghosting their lips together. “I missed you so much.” Sideswipe couldn’t resist, pressing forward and initiating their first kiss in eons. It was a kiss full of pain and loss as well as intense love. Their mouths fit together perfectly, like they were created for one another.

After the soft-mouthed kiss ended, Sideswipe gazed at his brother, feeling dazed and warm inside. His spark ached to merge, to reopen their dormant bond. To have back what he’d once had.

Lifting a hand up, Sunstreaker cupped the side of Sideswipe’s face and he sadly smiled. “That’s all I need. To be forgiven.” Sadness flickered over his face. “Now go. I’m not any good for you. I’m a mess, and you need Prowl. He gives you something I was never able to give you: stability. We were volatile back then, and now we’re carrying new emotional damage. I won’t let you be hurt by me anymore. You understand?” He withdrew his hand from Sideswipe’s face, and he pushed the hand he’d been holding away. “Go back to Prowl.”

“Sunny, how can you say that to me? How can you expect me to just leave you when you need someone to take of you? Let me do that. Please,” Sideswipe replied. His spark felt like it had been shattered by his brother’s words.

Shaking his head, Sunstreaker gently shoved Sideswipe’s shoulder. “I’ll be fine. I just needed to know you don’t hate me. That’s enough. Now get out of my room.” He shoved his shoulder even harder. “Get out. Now.

Dumbstruck, Sideswipe got to his feet, optics glassy from held back tears. “Sunny…”

“Get out!” Sunstreaker yelled.

Sideswipe spun around and bolted from his brother’s room. He ran the handful of steps to the room he shared with Prowl and slid the door open, stepping inside, then slamming it back shut with a growl.

“Sides?”

He glanced over at a very worried-looking Prowl, sitting on their berth. Tears then escaped along with a sob. His whole frame was shaking from the intensity of emotion he couldn’t quite process.

Getting to his feet, Prowl stood in front of Sideswipe. “What happened?”

“He rejected me,” Sideswipe replied, vision blurring as more tears escaped. “I just wanted to help him. Be there like you’ve been for me… But he doesn’t want that…”

Prowl pulled Sideswipe over the berth. “Sit.”

Obeying, Sideswipe sat down, wiping his face with his hands. “I don’t want it to hurt like this,” he whispered.

Draping his arms around Sideswipe’s shoulders, Prowl nuzzled his cheek. “I’m so sorry.”

Turning, Sideswipe pulled Prowl to straddle his lap, and then buried his face in his lover’s neck against his collar, letting go completely and crying. He sobbed for the loss of his brother, for the guilt he felt for leaving in the first place, for the torture he’d endured at Wildrider’s hands, for everything all at once. He clung tightly to the one mech that had made things feel right again in his upside down world. Prowl was stability, just like Sunny said.

Eventually his crying began to ebb, he pulled back and looked into pretty light blue optics. “Sorry,” Sideswipe said, voice staticy.

Prowl gently wiped at his tear-soaked cheek. “No need to be sorry.”

“I love you, Prowl. I know I never told you that before, but I really do.” Sideswipe gave Prowl a squeeze.

Gaze softening, Prowl leaned forward and kissed him sweetly. “I love you, too, Sideswipe.”

Laying back on the berth, still holding tight to Prowl, Sideswipe clung to him. Prowl didn’t seem to mind, relaxing in his hold and petting the two scars left on his chestplate.

“Can I do anything?” Prowl asked after a long stretch of silence.

“You’re doing what I need right now,” Sideswipe replied, before kissing the top of his helm. “I just wish things were easier. That I wasn’t broken. That Sunny wasn’t broken. That somehow you could help heal Sunny like you’ve helped me.”

“I’ll do what I can for both of you. That’s a promise.” Prowl kissed his scars, then settled over top of Sideswipe. “Try and get some rest, though.”

“Okay,” Sideswipe quietly replied, dimming his optics.

This pain in his spark wouldn’t stop until he and Sunstreaker were together again. But at the same time he didn’t want to hurt Prowl. What the frag was he going to do? He was trapped between two mechs that he needed and loved.

 

Part II- 

The world went in and out of focus as Skyfire stood on the stage with a spotlight on him. His vision was blurred in one optic, and the world around him was hazy and thick feeling. He should care he was about to be sold. Care he’d been mutilated so he could no longer fly. But none of it could penetrate the drug induced walking coma he was in.

They’d fled the planet, he and other fliers. Gone off planet and regrouped after scattering to escape. He’d tried to lead a rebellion force against the Decepticons now ruling their home, but they were too few, too late. Taken down easily by the better equipped enemy. It had been futile, but Skyfire imagined they would have at least had honorable deaths. He had no idea this would be their ultimate fate, or else he would never have come back.

Shouting began. Swindle was talking, and mechs were yelling numbers. Skyfire watched it all like it was just a show on a vid screen. The shouting stopped when an all too familiar voice cut through the crowd of yelling. He tried to focus his one working optic, but it was useless. The drugs were too strong, and he was too damaged. He knew that voice, though. Distinct in its pitch.

“The big shuttle goes to Starscream!” Swindle said, gesturing to Skyfire.

Starscream... He’d just been sold to that meglomaniac? Good thing Skyfire was so numb. Otherwise he knew he’d fight with all he had until he offlined to get away from that Seeker he’d once considered a friend.

Starscream looked over his new prize, and frowned at the cuts made into Skyfire’s wings. “Definitely need to get these fixed. You won’t be any good to me if you go insane from being grounded.” He pushed Skyfire to lie back in his oversized berth, and worked to secure him with bindings to his wrists and ankle joints.

Skyfire groaned as he weakly pulled on them.

“Swindle should be ashamed, drugging his merchandise with such wretched swill.” Starscream crawled onto the berth, and draped himself over Skyfire’s chest, gazing at his handsome face.
“Still as beautiful as I remember.”

“Master, will you like him more than me?” Red Alert asked.

Starscream glanced at his little pet sitting on the floor beside the berth and smiled. “You will each serve different purposes, little one.”

“Will you still take me with you to Megatron’s?” Red Alert asked. “Master?” he quickly tacked on.

Sliding off Skyfire, Starscream sat more properly on the berth and pat the open area next to him. “Come here.”

Red Alert scrambled to sit beside Starscream. Lightly petting the red helm, Starscream darkly smiled. “You will help me break Skyfire. I want him as obedient as you, little one.”

Red Alert nodded. His white-colored optics darting sideways for a moment to look at Skyfire.

“When I’m not here, you will give him the special energon I will leave out for you both. And I have some other activities you’ll enjoy with him once he’s been dosed with some special medicine. But he needs to detox that horrid drug from his systems first,” Starscream explained, letting his fingers trail down the slope of Red Alert’s neck and across his shoulder. “Would you like to pleasure me, little one?”

White optics brightening, Red Alert nodded. “Yes, please, master.”

Starscream grinned. Red Alert had been easy to train once he found the right combination of drugs to exploit a glitch in his processor. He knew breaking Skyfire would be much harder, but worth it in order to have a flier as a slave.

Letting his interface panel open, Starscream drew a line up the shaft of his semi-onlined spike. “Suck, little one.”

Red Alert bent forward, mouth wrapping over his spike, glossa swirling around it with practiced expertise. Starscream glanced over, seeing Skyfire watching with a frown.

“You don’t approve? I’ve trained him well. Better than most other slaves. Soon you’ll be as obedient. Observe.” Starscream pat the area next to Skyfire on the large berth. “Over here, little one and open up your cover.”

Red Alert didn’t hesitate, moving into position. He laid back with his panel retracted, ready for Starscream.

“On your front. That way Skyfire will see how much you love my spike inside you,” Starscream said, pinching Red Alert’s hip.

Red Alert scrambled to his knees, and Starscream kneeled behind him, sliding right into that lovely heated valve, nice and wet already thanks to his special drug concoction. He’d bought Red Alert because of his smaller size and his coloring which matched Starscream nicely. But he was a ground pounder. To have two matching slaves, one a flier, gave no room for doubt about his status in their new society. He couldn’t wait to show them both off in public.

Turned on by his own thoughts and the power he enjoyed wielding, Starscream thrust languidly into Red Alert’s grasping valve.

“Oh, master!” Red Alert keened, his body already trembling as he held himself back from overloading.

“No overloading until I say so, or else you’ll be punished,” Starscream replied, his spike throbbing with a building charge.

Red Alert whimpered, his hands grasping at the bedding on the berth as he shivered more.

Glancing over, Starscream noticed Skyfire shifting uncomfortably. Seeing his new prize upset was an additional turn on, and he growled a little before picking up his pace and thrusting harder and faster into Red Alert. Skyfire needed to know he’d be at Starscream’s mercy, just like Red Alert was.

“You may overload!” Starscream commanded sharply.

Red Alert’s whole frame shuddered, his valve clamping down on his spike as he whimpered and moaned. Thrusting into the tightness of his pet’s overload, Starscream reached the cusp of his own, and pushed to the hilt with loud shriek of pleasure as he climaxed. He held himself buried inside his pet, fluid pumping from his spike as he sighed his enjoyment.

He pushed a hand up Red Alert’s back. “Good little pet,” he murmured.

“You feel wonderful, master,” Red Alert replied.

“I know,” Starscream replied, withdrawing. Relishing the sight of fluid seeping from the exposed valve, he smiled then slapped Red Alert’s aft with a swift swat. “Now go clean yourself up.”

“Yes, master,” Red Alert replied, cupping his valve as he scurried off so he wouldn't leak on the berth or down his legs.

“What have you done?” Skyfire asked, his voice hoarse and staticy.

Starscream fingered his decompressed spike and smiled at Skyfire. “I’ve trained the perfect Autobot slave. Even Megatron loves to play with him.” He moved in closer to Skyfire, and leaned down staring into his bright optic and damaged dim one. “Soon you will be like him. Submissive. But unlike him, you’ll have the honor of being the one to spike me.”

“This is wrong. Why can’t you see that?” Skyfire asked.

“Subjugating inferior mechs isn’t wrong. It’s my right as the more intelligent and talented right hand to our Lord Megatron,” Starscream replied, coldness entering his voice.

Skyfire offlined his optics and turned his face away.

It would take time, but Starscream had no doubt he’d break Skyfire eventually. And it would be well worth the effort.

Skyfire shivered, the withdrawal symptoms taking hold of his body as the drugs he’d been on were purged from his systems.

Red Alert pushed a wet cloth over his plating, cleaning what he could reach. He seemed indifferent to Skyfire’s condition, rubbing at stains on his plating as he found them.

“Please,” Skyfire said. He wasn’t even sure what he was asking for. Death maybe?

Looking up, Red Alert stared at him. “Do you need energon?”

Skyfire huffed in frustration, pulling on his bindings.

“I’ll get you some.” Red Alert disappeared from the berth room.

Skyfire rather die than become some sad, obedient slave to Starscream. Tied up, processor slowly recovering, he unfortunately wasn't unable to think clearly enough yet to formulate a decent plan. But when he was more sober, he would definitely try to figure out how to escape this mad place, even if it meant death.

Red Alert returned, and held up Skyfire’s helm with one hand, while pressing the container of rich, purple-colored energon to his lips.

“Master says you have to drink regular energon right now. So please, have it. You’ll feel better,” Red Alert said, tipping the container up.

Starved systems compelled him to swallow. With greedy gulps he drank down the wonderfully sweet energon.

“If you obey, Master Starscream will reward you with this energon,” Red Alert said, smiling a little as he pulled the empty container away and let Skyfire’s helm rest back on the berth.

“What has he done to you?” Skyfire asked, the shivers returning.

Red Alert ran his finger around the bottom of the container, coating it with the residue of energon. He then licked his fingertip slowly, optics dimming a little with enjoyment at the taste. “He gives me special energon that keeps my interface equipment warmed up and ready all times. It took time to get used to.” He then leaned down close to Skyfire’s audio. “I have to self-pleasure at least once a day to make the burning need calm enough to be able to walk. But don’t tell master. He’d be upset.”

Skyfire turned his head, looking into those white-colored optics. “Red…”

“It burns right now,” Red Alert whined as he frowned.

After setting the container on the side table, Red Alert curled up against Skyfire’s trembling, bound frame. He rubbed his hips against Skyfire’s side.

“Master won’t be back for another hour. Enough time for…” Red Alert whimpered, his interface cover snapping back. Skyfire felt a semi-online spike rub against him. “Can I? Inside you? Oh wait, I shouldn’t. Master will notice.” Red Alert rolled to his back, one hand on his spike and sinking the fingers of his other into his valve. He keened at his own touch, seemingly unashamed to be doing this right next to Skyfire. “Maybe if I’m good, master will let me spike you. I bet you feel good.” He whimpered and moaned, body arching.

Skyfire wanted to look away, but he didn’t. It was sad and disturbing to watch, but he needed to see what the drug was doing to Red Alert to learn how to mimic it if he needed to. He knew Starscream would try higher doses on him, but would first start out with a minimum amount and work his way up. If he could convincingly fake his reactions at lower levels he might avoid some of the side effects.

Red Alert gasped and shivered, his spike exploding in his hand after a few hard tugs, coating his abdomen. “My valve still aches…” he groaned, sliding four fingers inside his valve. With a pained whine, Red Alert sat up and crawled to the head of the berth, opening a small drawer in the headboard. He took out a large false spike, and bent forward on his knees beside Skyfire. Reaching between his legs, he shoved it in with a sigh. “When Master Starscream and Master Megatron use me at the same time, the ache goes away,” he murmured.

Skyfire wasn’t sure if he was talking to him or not, but the visual it conjured made him grimace.

Pumping the false spike in and out hard and fast, Red Alert whimpered and then moaned, his whole frame shuddering with another overload. Sated look on his face, he glanced at Skyfire. “Better,” he said with a small smile.

Looking away, Skyfire felt his fuel tank churn. Red Alert was a shadow of who he’d once been. Slipping off the berth, Red Alert went to the adjoining washrack. Skyfire heard the water go on, followed shortly by more moans of self-pleasuring. He dimmed his optics, spark aching at the thought of being like that. "Primus, kill me before that happens," he whispered with a sharp shudder.

“With the Constructicons off planet for the time being I asked around and your name came up,” Starscream said, scrutinizing Tremorwave.

“Oh?” Tremorwave seemed unphased by the pointed look.

“Thundercracker said you tend to his slave, and I trust his recommendation. Thing is, this isn’t some ground pounder, this is a flier. Swindle had his wing plating cut to ground him. What Swindle doesn’t know is that will eventually drive a flier insane. I need his wings back in working order,” Starscream explained. “You able to repair fliers? Being a ground pounder yourself?”

Tremorwave glanced over at Skyfire currently sitting on the couch in Starscream’s living area. He was sober now, and in need of repairs beyond his wings. For now he was behaving semi-obedient, which earned him freedom from the bindings on the berth.

“I can fix anything. I’m one of the best medics around. Let me do a cursory exam. I’ll give a list of what needs to be done,” Tremorwave replied after a moment.

Starscream crossed his arms over his chest and nodded. “Have a look, then.”

Moving over, Tremorwave dropped his tool kit on the floor and opened the lid. He rifled around the messy contents until he located a scanner. He held it up and moved over various areas of Skyfire’s frame. He paused and looked into his mismatched optics. “I’ll need to see if the damage to his optic is from processor damage or not.” He then stood back at his full height, consulting his scanner. “Otherwise, he will need his wings repaired, and a full system flush. He’s not in bad shape, really. Just worse for wear after being off planet without proper fuel supplies. The stuff available on other worlds tends to be full of impurities.”

“Would you need to take him back to your little compound?” Starscream asked.

“Yes. Is that a problem?” Tremorwave asked.

Starscream regarded the medic for a moment. “Who else have you done repair work for?”

Without missing a beat, Tremorwave smiled as he rattled off an impressive list. “Soundwave, Thundercracker, Deadlock, Shockwave, Motormaster, Vortex, Octane, Astrotrain–”

“Alright, I get the picture,” Starscream interrupted as he waved a dismissive hand at the medic. “Fine. Take him with you. You have a transport, I assume?”

“I certainly do. It’ll be a bit a squeeze, but he’ll fit in the back. The repairs will take three days. I want to put him in the regen tank after I fix his wings to strengthen the repair,” Tremorwave replied.

Starscream didn’t look happy about that, but he nodded. “Three days I expect him returned to me first thing.”

“I’ll have him at your door first thing in the morning,” Tremorwave replied in a assured tone. He then pat Skyfire’s arm. “Up you go. I have a lot of work to do.”

Skyfire pushed to stand.

Walking over, Starscream pressed a pointed finger into the center of his chest. “Don’t do anything stupid while you’re with him. There’s a tracker in your collar.”

Skyfire nodded and frowned as he looked down at the floor.

Sitting on an exam table, Skyfire held a drying cloth wrapped around his shoulders as Tremorwave removed the wiring from his frame. Fresh out of the regen tank, his wings were fully restored. He happily stretched them behind him, enjoying the return of sensation they provided.

“So, while you were taking a dip in there, I had an interesting visitor come by,” Tremorwave said, smirking.

Skyfire looked at the medic and frowned a little.

“All I can say at this point is to hang on best you can. Obey Starscream, do not go against his wishes. There are efforts underway to remove you from his ‘care’.” Tremorwave coiled up the wiring, putting it all back in a container. “It’s not going to be easy. But do your best.”

“Who would want to do that?” Skyfire asked, his spark heavy at the thought of being trapped with Starscream again.

“I can’t say. I shouldn’t have even told you what I just did,” Tremorwave said, voice full of regret. “But I know what state he keeps Red Alert in. Do your best to not end up that way.”

Slowly nodding, Skyfire softly sighed. “How long will it be?”

“Unsure. But hopefully not too long,” Tremorwave replied.

 

Part III-

Waking, Jazz dimly lit his visor. He was held against Soundwave’s side, a position he often found himself in now when they recharged together. Soundwave had been getting more and more affectionate, which should worry him. After all, what if Soundwave wanted more? Jazz snuggled against the warmth of blue plating, feeling guilty that he knew he’d give more if asked.

Fingers fondled one of his helm horns. “Jazz is awake already?”

“Yeah,” Jazz replied, dimming his visor as he enjoyed the delicate touches to his sensitive horn.

“There is an early meeting with Shockwave and Thundercracker today. Would you like to accompany me?” Soundwave asked.

Jazz turned his face up to look into that red visor watching him. “Sure. Think Prowl’ll be there? I kinda wanna to know if he’s okay. After what happened.”

“There is a high probability,” Soundwave replied.

“Cool,” Jazz said, pushing to sit up. He stretched his arms over his head, letting his armor resettle. A blue hand ran down his back slowly and he glanced at Soundwave.

“You are very handsome,” Soundwave commented as he also sat up.

Heat flushed his face at the compliment. “I haven’t washed in like five days. I’m a filthy mess,” Jazz replied.

Soundwave canted his head. “Washing is important for health.”

“I know.” Up until recently he’d been fastidious in his taking care of his plating. But things felt different after what happened with Megatron. Maybe he was finally losing his hope. Shaking off his thoughts, he got to his feet and padded into the washrack.

Soundwave followed him, but stopped at the doorway. “Energon will be waiting on the berthside table when you finish.”

“Awesome, thanks.” Jazz stepped into the stall and turned the water on. He stood under the sprayer, letting the warm water slide over his plating. Things felt darker now to him. Knowing that Soundwave had endured the same if not worse treatment had helped strengthen his loyalty. It also made him sad. Megatron broke those around him to control them. How different would Soundwave be if not for what happened to him?

Not bothering to scrub at his plating, Jazz turned the water off and then dried himself. He wasn’t really clean, just rinsed. He honestly didn’t feel like bothering with really cleaning his plating. What was the point? He shivered, remembering how Megatron complimented his finish.

Walking back out in the berthroom, Jazz frowned at the sight of Rumble and Frenzy lounging on the berth. Soundwave was sitting in his recliner, looking over a datapad. Jazz cautiously approached the berthside table, and picked up his energon.

“Aren’t you supposed to be black and white?” Frenzy asked, rolling to his front and scrutinizing Jazz. “You’re more like black and dingy white.” They both cackled at the joke.

Doing his best to ignore them, he drank his fuel and wandered over to sit in the other recliner across from Soundwave.

“Hey big buy, I think your Autobot needs lessons on washin’.” Rumble hopped off the berth and strolled over.

Soundwave looked at Jazz, red visor narrowing slightly. Jazz squirmed a little in the chair, not liking all this attention on him. “Shouldn’t we go? That meetin’ is soon, right?” Jazz asked, trying to deflect their focus from him.

“Yes. We should leave. Finish your fuel first,” Soundwave replied.

Jazz quickly gulped the remainder down and then he got to his feet. “Ready.”

“Rumble, Frenzy, clean up berth when finished,” Soundwave intoned.

With a look of disgust, Jazz watched Rumble run over and jump back on the berth to pin Frenzy down. Soundwave walked out, and Jazz stayed right on his heels. “Why do you let ‘em do that in your berth?”

Soundwave glanced at Jazz. “They wish to.”

Jazz had been here for months and months, and he still didn’t understand why Soundwave was so lenient with his cassettes. It often felt like the patients were running the asylum, to borrow an Earth-ism. He wondered if Soundwave would even explain if he asked. He mentally shrugged it all off as they left the apartment and stepped into the lift. At least maybe he’d get to see Prowl for a little bit.

“Have a seat, Soundwave. Oh, I didn’t think to bring over another seat for your Autobot,” Shockwave said as they walked in.

Sure enough, Prowl was here. He and Jazz exchanged smiles, and then Prowl scooted over in his oversized plush chair. “Jazz can sit with me,” Prowl said, looking to Shockwave for approval.

Shockwave nodded.

Jazz happily squished in next to Prowl. “Got your own seat this time?” he whispered to Prowl.

“Yeah, things have been… different,” Prowl whispered back.

Thundercracker handed a datapad to Soundwave as he sat. “Shockwave already reviewed the information.”

Soundwave took it as he sat down. His red visor focusing on the files as he opened and read them. “Skyfire is a desirable Autobot?”

“He’s a brilliant scientist, according to his Autobot and pre-war records,” Shockwave replied. “Having him here to work with Ironfist would be incredibly helpful.”

“Starscream will not sell him,” Soundwave replied.

“Are you certain there’s nothing we could offer?” Shockwave replied.

Thundercracker sighed as he leaned back in his chair. “Starscream is creating his own trine with slaves. He's picked ones that match and compliment his own paint scheme. It’s about status for him, and there is nothing more important to him.”

“Are you not part of his true trine?” Shockwave gently probed.

“Officially, yes. But we never went so far as to create a triad bond. We don’t like each other enough, to be honest,” Thundercracker replied, acidic in tone.

“Acquisition of Skyfire may not be possible,” Soundwave intoned.

“What if he was stolen? Kidnapped?” Prowl offered.

Jazz glanced at his friend, a little surprised he was so openly taking part. He glanced at Shockwave, trying to read his unreadable face, but it gave nothing away.

“The collars have trackers. Even if we took him, Swindle would locate him in no time,” Thundercracker replied.

“Unless we perhaps disable the tracker?” Shockwave said after a moment.

“Removing a collar on a living Autobot sends an alert to Swindle,” Soundwave replied.

The ‘living Autobot’ part of his master’s statement made Jazz’s plating crawl. How many of them had died? How many more will die? It was something he tried very hard not to think about.

“I’m not suggesting we remove it. There must be a way to disable the tracker. If we had a collar to examine, I'm sure Ironfist would be able to figure it out,” Shockwave replied.

“At the energon refinery, I’m sure we could procure one from a deactivated Autobot,” Thundercracker said, clearly not happy with the notion.

“I have one you may use,” Soundwave said. Everyone looked at him, and Jazz had to bite back the urge to ask him why the slag he had something like that.

“May I ask, how you came by it?” Shockwave asked.

Soundwave folded his hands in his lap, giving the smallest of side-glances to Jazz. “During a meeting with Megatron and Starscream, they deactivated an Autobot. I took the collar before having his body melted down.”

The room grew so quiet that only the sound of their vents circulating air could be heard.

“Who was it?” Prowl asked, shattering the awkward silence.

“Designation: Inferno,” Soundwave replied.

Jazz felt sick. He stared at the floor, his fuel suddenly no longer settled in his tank. Prowl took hold of his hand and they laced their fingers together.

“If you could bring it to me, I will have Ironfist examine it. See if there is way to disable the tracking sensor,” Shockwave said. “I think this is the best avenue to explore.”

“I agree,” Thundercracker replied.

Soundwave nodded, then looked at Jazz. Unable to look his master in the face, he pinned his focus on the floor.

“Would you like some time to visit?” Shockwave asked, looking at Prowl.

“Yes, I would.” Prowl squeezed Jazz’s hand.

“Ten minutes,” Soundwave intoned, setting the timer as he always did for Jazz’s interactions.

They both stood, and Prowl guided Jazz out of the large room and down the hall to a smaller one. Once inside, they hugged one another tightly. Jazz’s hope was disappearing. He’d held on it all this time, but now… It was becoming almost impossible.

“Are you alright?” Prowl quietly asked, not letting go.

“Sure. You?” Jazz asked.

“Things here have gotten messy,” Prowl replied.

Jazz pulled back from the hug. He stared into his friend’s face, seeing how tired he looked up close. “Not rechargin’?”

“Was up late last evening. As it turns out, Sideswipe and Sunstreaker are fraternal twins,” Prowl replied. “Needless to say, it’s been tense since Sunstreaker’s arrival.”

“I had no idea they were… wow.” Jazz shook his head. “So you and Sides…?”

Prowl sighed. “I’d resigned myself to losing Sideswipe once I learned of the truth. But, now I don’t know. Sideswipe doesn’t want to let go of either of us.”

“Maybe you need a trine,” Jazz said, half-joking.

Light blue optics brightened as Prowl gazed at Jazz. “I know you’re kidding, but I’m seriously considering it. If for no other reason than to keep peace between them.”

“Do what you need to, but don’t force yourself into something that’ll make you unhappy,” Jazz replied.

Prowl nodded. He then ran his white fingers over Jazz’s chest. “You’ve stopped cleaning yourself?”

Embarrassed, Jazz chuckled and rubbed the back of his helm. “I dunno. Seems pretty pointless to me right now.”

Concern flickered over Prowl’s face. “Jazz, are you really okay? After what happened?”

“Yeah, course I am,” Jazz replied, making his voice pitch cheerfully. “I was worried ‘bout how you were, actually.”

“I’m coping. Having the issues with Sideswipe and Sunstreaker have sort of sidelined my other concerns,” Prowl said with a small shrug of his doorwings.

Jazz sadly smiled. “And what ‘bout Shockwave? He’s not bein’ all handsy anymore I noticed.”

“He’s been extremely respectful toward me. Kept me apprised of information. He’s trying to make up for what happened, I think,” Prowl replied.

“That good?” Jazz asked.

“Yes. It’s been helping me move forward. I need purpose, and he’s been giving me that,” Prowl replied.

“Good,” Jazz said, pulling Prowl into another hug.

The intercom came on with a light buzz. “Please return to the Sunlight room,” Shockwave’s voice ordered.

Jazz’s mood immediately fell, but he did his best to cover with a bright smile as he let go of Prowl. “Guess I need to head back.”

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Prowl asked, concern once again flickering over his face.

“Totally good,” Jazz replied with a giant, fake grin.

Normally Jazz didn’t feel annoyed with Soundwave but right now he was standing on Jazz’s last shredded nerves. Brusk blue hands scrubbed at his plating like he was some little drone pet that needed tending to.

Finally losing his temper, Jazz whirled around and grabbed the brush from Soundwave’s grasp. He threw it with force across the stall. “What the frag! If I want to be dirty, what does it matter?”

Soundwave looked surprised by his outburst. “Buildup of grime is unhealthy. It can permeate into joints, causing degradation.”

“Heh, right. I think the minute Megatron got his nasty hands on me I was degraded plenty,” Jazz spat back.

“Jazz is still upset?” Soundwave asked, managing to sound confused despite his monotone.

“Yeah. Yeah, I am,” Jazz said, shaking his head. “I thought I was okay, but I guess not.”

“If you wish to not clean, that is acceptable,” Soundwave said, trying to placate him.

Jazz snorted and began to laugh as it suddenly hit him. Soundwave treated him the same way he did his cassettes, letting him do what he wanted as long as he was happy. But Jazz wasn’t happy. Not by a long shot.

“Is something humorous?” Soundwave asked.

“You. Well, no, me. I’m just like your cassettes, aren’t I? You let me do what I want within reason, and you accommodate me. Enable me as much you can while I’m wearin’ this thing, anyway,” he replied tugging at his collar. “You watched ‘em kill one of my friends. You disposed of him like he was scrap metal. Always doin’ what is asked of you, right? Never facin’ up to your part in anything. Never standin’ up for what you want.”

Soundwave’s visor dimmed.

“What do you want?” Jazz asked, his anger hot and sharp.

“Jazz…”

“What?” Jazz snapped.

“I want Jazz,” Soundwave replied.

Jazz’s face fell at that. Did Soundwave know what his statement implied? “I don’t get what that means.”

Soundwave took a tentative step closer, and let his mask retract. Surprised, Jazz stared at his lower face, specifically at his lips as they parted to speak. “I regret letting you be hurt.”

Jazz stared into Soundwave’s visor, his ire fading. “You didn’t have a choice ‘bout what happened to me.”

“If it’s preferable, your residence could be moved to Thundercracker’s apartment,” Soundwave said after a moment.

Jazz frowned. “You’d give me up? Just give me away to be locked up with them?”

“Life here is stressful. I try to provide you with as much as possible, but you remain unhappy. With Bluestreak, you would happy, correct?” Soundwave asked.

“Don’t you dare send me away,” Jazz replied, fervently shaking his head. “I like my life here with you. I like the freedom I have when I’m with you.”

Closing what little space was left between them, Soundwave leaned in and pressed a kiss to Jazz’s forehelm. He then let his blue fingers stray down over Jazz’s neck, pausing at the collar before moving down over his chest. “No resentment toward me for what happened?”

“Not at all,” Jazz replied, guiltily enjoying the intimate touches.

Soundwave gently trailed his fingers down Jazz's abdomen. “I want you at my side. ” His mouth twisted as if he wasn’t sure he should keep talking. “In my berth. In my arms. Close to me. With me.”

“You’ve got feelin’s for me? Like genuine attraction? Thought you despised interfacin’ and that stuff,” Jazz asked, arousal prickling over his plating wherever Soundwave’s hand dared to wander.

Looking downward, Soundwave deeply frowned. “With everyone else, yes.” He glanced back up, red visor focusing on Jazz.

“But not with me?” Jazz asked.

“Not with you,” Soundwave confirmed.

Jazz tipped his head up and crashed their lips together. Desire flared inside his spark and his interface array all at once. Soundwave froze at first, hands stilling on each side of Jazz’s abdomen. Mouthing those never-before-seen lips, Soundwave soon melted into the kiss, returning it as he slid an arm around Jazz’s waist, pulling their bodies flush. Parting his lips, Jazz pulled Soundwave’s open then slid his glossa into the tempting heat. Soundwave moaned in response, a sound Jazz had never heard him make before.

A part of him was screaming to stop. Blue would be hurt. He’d declared his love for him only days ago, and here he was ruining it already. But he couldn’t stop himself. ‘Facing Blue had helped him cope, but this felt different. It felt liberating. Maybe he was just an expert at self-sabotage. Who knew why he felt compelled to give in, but he did.

The kiss broke with a gasp from each of them.

Soundwave’s visor was darker. “Proceed?”

“Primus, yes,” Jazz replied, arms wrapping around Soundwave’s neck.

Soundwave’s powerful arms wrapped around him, and lifted him up. Jazz clung to him, burying his face against his neck as he was carted into the berthroom. Soundwave set him back on pedes beside the berth, and Jazz let himself fall back onto the surface. Soundwave was over him a moment later, mouth kissing down his frame. “You are beautiful, even when unclean,” Soundwave intoned as he kissed down Jazz’s chest.

Jazz laughed at that. “‘Face me senseless and I’ll wash up proper after. Promise.”

Soundwave smiled at that. It was a sight that Jazz found captivating. He never imagined Soundwave having a mouth, let alone smiling with it.

Resuming his ministrations, Soundwave cupped Jazz's heated cover. Grinning, Jazz let it snap open. To his pleasant surprise, Soundwave didn't recoil. Jazz figured there was still a chance he'd change his mind once interface equipment made an appearance.

Blue fingers rubbed the rim of his valve then sank in. Jazz keened, his entire frame heating from the touch.

Seemingly satisfied after probing his valve for a few moments, Soundwave pulled them free. He then moved back over top of Jazz, their lips meeting in another heated kiss, which in the midst of the unmistakable sensation of a spike split his attention.

With glossae entwined between their linked mouths, Soundwave rolled his hips, impaling Jazz. The kiss broke as Jazz cried out, hands digging into Soundwave's sides.

Stilling, Soundwave looked worried. "Does it hurt?"

"Nah," Jazz replied. He hadn't expected the girth that had spread his valve open wide. "Hold there for a sec, need to adjust is all."

Soundwave nodded, then began to press little kisses all over Jazz's face.

Smiling at the affection, Jazz lifted his legs up, wrapping them around Soundwave's lower back. Lifting his head, Soundwave glanced down the side of their bodies. "You are flexible."

"Frag yeah, I am," Jazz replied. "I should be fine, just start slow. 'Kay?"

Gazing at Jazz, Soundwave smiled again then nodded. He rocked slowly, his spike only shifting a little inside him at first. Primus, it felt incredible. Jazz moaned his approval and squeezed with legs for encouragement. "I'm good," Jazz breathed.

The thrusts then went from shallow to long and deep. The build up charge in his array felt wonderful. Jazz squeezed his valve around the spike filing him, earning him soft moans. His whole frame shivered, completely at Soundwave's mercy. He was gentle with Jazz, despite his larger size. It wasn't the feral, insatiable sort of interfacing he shared with Blue, though. This was a deliberate buildup of charge in his array that was making his processor spin with pleasure.

"So close," Jazz whined.

Soundwave mouthed his throat above the collar, picking up his pace.

Shuddering, Jazz cried out. Overload slammed his systems like a freighter. It was intense enough to white out his vision as is took hold. After a long, intense moment it started his ebb and his vision returned. That's when he heard Soundwave groan and felt that spike push deep, unleashing liquid heat. "Frag," Jazz whispered, shivering at the sensation.

Soundwave fought not to collapse over Jazz, managing to land only partially over him, but still linked by their arrays. Jazz let his legs slide down, and panted as his body tried to cool itself down.

"Satisfactory?" Soundwave asked after a few moments, turning his head to look at Jazz.

"Slag yeah. Better than good. Think you practically melted my struts," Jazz replied.

Soundwave weakly pushed up onto an arm so he could lean in and kiss Jazz.

"Now that was a show worth watching!" Rumble said from the doorway.

"Who knew dingy the Autobrat could be so hot?" Frenzy replied with a cackle.

Soundwave awkwardly tried to get up, nearly losing his balance as he got off the berth. "Out!"

"Aww, come on big guy!" Rumble whined.

Jazz pushed up onto his elbows only then noticing Ravage sitting in the hallway peering in, too.

"Out! Now!" Soundwave ordered as he waved at them to scatter.

"We're going!" Frenzy said, sprinting out of the room with Rumble behind him.

Room free of cassettes, Soundwave shut the door and locked it. He stumbled back to the berth and sat down heavily. "My apologies."

Jazz rolled to his side, fingering Soundwave's hip. "I've watched them 'face on my berth. It's no big deal to me. If anything, it's a little like payback."

Taking hold of Jazz's hand, Soundwave lifted it to his lips and kissed the backs of his fingers. "Regrets?"

"'Bout you? This? No," Jazz replied honestly. About the things he's said to Blue, yes. He didn't want to think about that right now, though. "Curl up with me?"

"Anything you desire," Soundwave replied.

They settled in together on the berth. Jazz sank into the strong arms that held him close. Was this wrong? Was he selfish? Had he done this to make sure Soundwave wouldn't send him away? Were these real feelings of affection he felt for Soundwave? Pressing his face into the shoulder his head was resting on he offlined his optics and visor. He could face the fallout tomorrow. Right now he just wanted to recharge and enjoy how safe and cared for he felt.