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Dream of Life- Escapism

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“I shouldn’t be taking you out so soon, but I need the regen tank,” Tremorwave said, unhooking the wires and cables from First Aid’s body with deft precision. He grabbed the jumbled mass of cabling and dragged it over the next medical table.

Turning his head, First Aid gazed at the prone form of Sunstreaker. He was covered in puncture wounds, some of which looked like they’d festered from acid, and hastily done patch work to some of his worst injuries. Tremorwave worked fast to prepare the former warrior for the tank.

Static burst from First Aid’s vocalizer when he tried to speak up and offer help, and he grimaced at the sound.

Tremorwave glanced at him with a deep frown. “You’re in bad shape, still. Don’t move and stay quiet until I have him in the tank,” he said, in an unusually sour tone.

First Aid sighed and did as he was told, settling for simply watching the talented medic work.

Tremorwave was strong for his smaller size, heaving Sunstreaker up over his shoulder and walking him to the open lift right next to the tank. Slamming his hand over the control button, the gears sprung to life and took him to the top. After some careful maneuvering, the medic slid Sunstreaker into the thick, healing liquid. He then snapped all the wires and cables into place in the top console, before taking the lift part back down. His fingers then flew over the main controls on the front of the tank, setting it up to help heal the patient within.

“You aren’t dying anytime soon if I have any say in it, Mr. Sunshine. Not after all the repairs I’ve already done to you,” Tremorwave said, his voice returning to a more light-hearted tone. Finished, he glanced at First Aid and sadly smiled. “Now as far you’re concerned, I’ll hand repair anything more I can until the tank is available again.” He walked over to First Aid and smiled down at him. “We need to sort out that vocalizer of yours, don’t we? But first thing's first! We both need fuel. Think you can stand?”

First Aid wanted to try to walk on his own and nodded. With Tremorwave’s assistance, he got to his feet and took shaky steps by leaning his entire weight against his savior.

He’d gone underground before the final battle along with several others that prefered to not be involved in combat and were tired of war and fighting. They’d survived on rations as long as they could, but when the supplies ran out, the infighting began. First Aid had run away from them, hiding in the labyrinth of tunnels and barely surviving on what small amounts of energon he could scrounge up. Most of what he’d survived on until his body shut down was the fuel in the tanks of the dead he found now and again down there. It had been bleak, and when he shut down he never imagined he’d online again.

But he had.

“Here we are,” Tremorwave said, helping him to sit down at a table in his kitchenette area. “Would you like some sweet energon? Not that I’m giving you much of a choice, since that’s all I have,” Tremorwave said, chuckling.

After drinking the fuel of his dead comrades, all other fuel tasted sweet to First Aid. Sitting down across from him, Tremorwave pushed a glass full to the brim with a bright yellow-tinted fuel then stuck a straw in it.

Letting his lower port on his mask open he happily took the straw into his mouth and sipped his serving. They enjoyed their fuel in peace as Tremorwave scrolled through information on a datapad.

“Dislocated this, corroded that, why do Decepticons think it’s acceptable to treat their slaves like drones? I have at least three of these I should tend to this afternoon.” Tremorwave sighed and frowned as he glanced at First Aid. “And I had wanted to take a better look at your vocalizer, not deal with this slag.”

First Aid had been shocked when he learned shortly after coming back online here that most of his former comrades were now enslaved.

“Well, since I’ll have to be away most of today, and you’re up and about, how about I get you that hover chair, and you look after Mr. Sunshine in the tank for me? Be sure his levels remain stable and all that?” Tremorwave offered with a bright smile.

First Aid paused drinking his fuel and nodded. He liked that Tremorwave gave him tasks to do, even if he wasn’t fully repaired yet. He’d never been comfortable with being idle for long.

“Excellent!” Tremorwave tipped up his glass, downing the remainder of his fuel. “And on my way back, I’ll pick up some energon goodies since I’ll be going past the shop.”

First Aid still couldn’t believe he’d been found so deep in those tunnels and revived by another medic. But as luck would have it, those were the areas that Tremorwave scavenged for his massive collection of parts. The first thing he planned to say once his vocalizer was fixed was ‘thank you’. For now all he could do was nod.

"Excellent. I'll go get it. Don't you move," Tremorwave said with a chuckle, early teasing.

...

Skyfire woke to the sound of Red Alert whimpering. They'd been floating in and out of consciousness, interfacing to release the buildup of charge in their arrays, fueling and then curling up to rest more since they'd arrived.

“Red?” Skyfire quietly asked.

Curling in closer, Red Alert shivered. Gazing at him, Skyfire could see he was experiencing memory feedback while still recharging.

A tap on the door drew his attention, and he looked up just as Prowl entered. He held a fresh pitcher of energon in his hands, and frowned a little as he looked at Red Alert.

“Memory feedback,” Skyfire whispered.

Prowl nodded, then quickly crossed the room to the berthside table, trading the full pitcher for the empty one.

“What happened earlier? That alarm thing?” Skyfire asked in a hushed voice.

“Outer wall breach. The Swarm made their way inside, but the situation was dealt with,” Prowl quietly replied. “Do you need anything else?”

Skyfire shook his head. “Just more time to detox.”

Prowl nodded, then silently swept back out of the room, door snapping shut behind him.

Looking back at Red Alert, Skyfire saw he was awake now. The sickly white color of his optics had faded to a light-blue tint. Skyfire knew whatever concoction Starscream had given them had done more than stimulate their arrays, it had dulled their processors, too. Numbed them to what was happening.

Skyfire gently traced his fingers down Red Alert’s cheek. “Hey, there.”

Red Alert looked up at him and then swatted at his hand. “Stop it.” Sitting up quickly, he winced and grabbed his head. “Frag.”

Unsure why Red Alert had scolded him, Skyfire frowned at little. “You might need some extra fuel. Prowl just brought some more.”

Giving Skyfire a dark, almost angry look, Red Alert shook his head. “Just stop already.”

Skyfire pushed to sit up, holding Red Alert’s gaze. “Red…”

“Just frag off!” Red Alert stumbled as he got off the berth and went to the corner of the room, crouching down, and wrapping his arms over his head. “My head hurts…”

Surprised and at a loss, Skyfire tried to figure out what he’d done to upset Red so much. He carefully poured out some fuel and cautiously approached. “You were having memory feedback, which can be a drain on your reserves. Please, have some fuel, Red.”

“Don’t you dare call me that!” Red Alert snapped, lowering his arms to scowl at Skyfire.

“What have I done to upset you?” Skyfire asked, genuinely confused.

“Stop trying to replace him! You aren’t him! You won’t ever be him!” Red Alert shouted.

“Inferno…?” Skyfire quietly asked.

“Don’t say his name,” Red Alert replied, optics glassy with tears.

“Red, I could never replace him. I know that,” Skyfire replied, as he knelt down on a knee beside Red Alert.

“Then why are you being so nice to me? Why do you act just like him with me?” Red Alert asked, body shivering as he fought back his tears.

“I’m not. This is just who I am. And I do care about you. I want to help you,” Skyfire replied.

“Why? No one else does. Everyone looks at me with nothing but pity in their optics.” Red Alert frowned and looked down at the floor with a grimace. “I see it in their faces. What they think. Poor Red, he’s lost his bonded. Poor Red, Starscream’s little frag toy. They just see me as some lost cause, happy to be a drugged up and let Starscream and Megatron do whatever they wanted. But I hated every second of it! I only stayed alive because Inferno made me promise to not give up. It was his last request…” Red Alert started to sob, and buried his face in his hands. “All I want is to be dead. To be with him again…”

“Oh, Red,” Skyfire set the glass down on the floor, and moved closer to put a hand on Red Alert’s back. “I can’t even begin to imagine what losing a bonded would be like.”

“There’s a hole inside my spark,” Red Alert replied, voice filled with static.

“Red…” Skyfire gently pulled him into his arms, and held him as he cried for a long while. The drugs had definitely numbed them, and now that their systems were clearing, the wounds underneath were surfacing.

After several minutes, Red Alert calmed somewhat, pressing close to Skyfire and dimming his optics as he stared off into nowhere.

“Did you want the fuel?” Skyfire quietly asked.

“Sure,” Red Alert replied.

Skyfire handed him the energon, and Red Alert drank half of it down. He then peered up at Skyfire. “I’m sorry.”

“For what?” Skyfire asked, giving him a small squeeze in his arms.

“You remind me of him so much. You’re gentle and caring and protective. It makes my spark ache even more for Inferno.” Red Alert frowned. “But, as much as it hurts, I do like you a lot. You don’t look at me like everyone else.” He bit his lower lip for a moment and sadly frowned. “So I’m sorry for yelling at you.” He then held up the glass. “Here, have the other half. You need fuel, too.”

Skyfire sadly smiled and accepted the glass. “Thank you.” He took a small sip, then dimmed his optics. “I wish I could ease your pain. If there is anything I can do or you’d rather I stop doing, please tell me, alright?”

“Just keep being you,” Red Alert replied, resting his head against Skyfire’s chest.

There would be no healing for Red Alert’s literally broken spark. Skyfire could only offer him comfort. The strength of will it had taken for Red to live through his loss and remain with Starscream all these months was incredible. No matter what the others thought, Skyfire knew the truth and deeply admired Red Alert’s inner strength.

First Aid maneuvered his hover chair in front of the regen tank to check the readings. Sunstreaker’s vitals were stable and upon visual inspection, he could see the puncture wounds and acid scarring already fading from his plating.

He glanced down at his own damaged body, frowning behind his blast mask. Being left offline for so long the way he’d been, it was a wonder he was able to move around at all due to the incredible amount degradation in his joints and internal structure. Only prolonged dips in the regen tank were effective in healing some of the worst parts of his substructure.

He gave Sunstreaker one last look, feeling satisfied he was doing fine, before hovering into a nearby room. He liked to fish through the piles of junk Tremorwave kept around. He reached down and carefully picked his way through some pieces of various-colored plating, pausing at the sight of an Autobot sigil. He pulled the piece of plating into his lap and cursed his stiff fingers as he worked to pry it loose. It finally snapped off with a pop, and he set the plating back on the pile in favor of the trinket in his hands. He rubbed his thumbs over it to clean it up a little, and noticed it was pretty worn. Whoever this had once belonged to must have been an Autobot for a long time.

Placing it in his lap, he hovered the chair to another area to look through some other parts.

“I’m finally back,” Tremorwave said in a loud bellowed voice in the other room. “You in my storage areas again, my friend?”

First Aid turned the chair around and returned to the room with the regen tank, waving hello to Tremorwave.

“I see Mr. Sunshine is already looking a lot better.” Tremorwave grinned. “Oh, and you found another one for the collection, hm?”

Nodding, First Aid fingered the sigil in his lap.

“What’s that, eight you have now?” Tremorwave asked with a light chuckle.

First Aid nodded, smiling behind his mask.

“Well, let’s get you onto the medberth and let me take a look at your vocalizer.” Tremorwave gestured to the main repair room.

Moving the chair, First Aid followed him. Inside the room, Tremorwave helped First Aid up onto the medberth, and turned up the pain dampeners. First Aid examined the sigil closely as Tremorwave gathered his tools and babbled on about his afternoon.

“–That club should be shut down. This poor mech I fixed was a disaster. It didn’t look like he’d been cleaned between clients at all. Few things more disgusting than wiping mech fluid off just to see the injury I needed to repair.” Tremorwave settled in on his stool.

First Aid looked at Tremorwave, his spark heavy as his savior described the horrid conditions he’d performed the repair in.

“Two mechs were fighting over him, and he got stabbed in the process of their brawl,” Tremorwave said, shaking his head. “But I patched him up. He’ll be alright. Well.. relatively. Anyway. Let’s have a look at your vocalizer, hm?”

First Aid rolled his head back, giving better access for Tremorwave to exam the vocalizer buried between neckcables. He felt gentle prodding of tools carefully parting the tightly knit cables.

“Corroded connections. That would do it. The vocalizer itself looks worn, but not damaged. Would explain why when you try to speak only static comes out.” Tremorwave sat back and smiled. “Time to put you under, my friend. When you wake, we can have a proper conversation. You can tell me to stop babbling on so much!” Tremorwave laughed, then tapped the controls on the berth, sending First Aid into a deep recharge within moments.

Thundercracker was less than thrilled to be summoned to Starscream’s apartment. He and Skywarp sat on the couch as their former Air Commander paced in front of them.

“Whoever this seeker is that stole my slaves will pay dearly for his actions. Decepticon or not, I’ll peel the plating off his wings, piece by piece until he screams so much his vocalizer fritzes out!” Starscream stopped and looked at them. “I’m supposed to meet with Megatron later. I was supposed to take my slaves with me, but now I can’t!”

“The enforcers’ll find ‘em,” Skywarp replied.

Starscream leaned down so his face was mere micrometers from Skywarp’s. “If my slaves aren’t returned by this evening, you two will come with me to see Megatron.”

Thundercracker had avoided that particular part of his duties since they took over Cybertron.

“We gotta?” Skywarp whined. “I was gonna stop by the club for a little action.”

Starscream straightened his posture and grew eerily quiet as his gaze sharpened on Skywarp.

“Just get Swindle to lend you a slave. He’s done that before. All you gotta say is that it’s for Megatron. Like that big red one we had that time,” Skywarp suggested, trying to worm out of having to go. "I already booked my favorite one..." He murmured mostly to himself.

“We’ve been an official trine for eons now, and yet you’d prefer some dirty, used up husk of a slave at Divebomb’s club over me?” Starscream asked.

There was only one correct answer, and Thundercracker prayed Skywarp wasn’t stupid enough to be honest. “Of course not, but you’ve had your slaves lately…”

“And you,” Starscream said, glancing at Thundercracker. “You feel neglected as well?”

Neglected? More like relieved… “We’ve all been busy adjusting to post-war life,” Thundercracker carefully replied.

“Perhaps I shouldn’t have put off a bonding between us,” Starscream quietly replied. “I feel you’ve both pulled away from me, which is unseemly seeing as we are elite fliers from Vos.”

That notion sent a chill through Thundercracker. Bonding to these two went against his noble standing, but moreover, he despised them both. Locked in a bond sounded like a recipe for future suicide just to escape them.

Thundercracker knew he needed to distract Starscream from his obsessing, but there was only one way to do that. He sat forward and reached out to trail his fingers down the leading edge of one of Starscream’s wings. “You need to relax and let the enforcers do their jobs.”

Starscream’s optics instantly darkened. “Relax, hm?”

Skywarp smirked. “After a couple good overloads, you’ll feel a lot better.” Primus, Skywarp had all the subtlety of a freight ship.

Starscream smiled a little, pressing his wing into Thundercracker’s hand.

Thundercracker felt guilty for betraying Mirage, but this was a matter of survival. He needed Starscream focused elsewhere to forget about the bonding idea.

Starscream cupped Thundercracker’s face. “My slaves were obedient but uncreative.” He swept his thumb over Thundercracker’s lower lip. “I've missed being with you.”

“What about me?” Skywarp asked, not wanting to be left out.

Glancing at Skywarp with predatory look, Starscream darkly smiled. “Missed being with you both.”

Starscream turned and strutted toward his berth room. Knowing the cue all too well, Thundercracker got up and he and Skywarp obediently followed.

Up on the berth, Starscream got on his knees in the middle. “Skywarp at my back, Thundercracker facing my front,” he ordered.

Skywarp practically bounded onto the berth, groping Starscream’s wings eagerly. Thundercracker was more graceful as he joined them, kneeling in front of Starscream and trailing his fingers down the all too familiar frame. Starscream leaned into Skywarp and hummed his approval. Thundercracker mouthed his way down Starscream’s front, flicking his glossa out to trail over sensitive areas as he made his way down.

He tried not to think of Mirage, but it was hard. Normally interfacing with Starscream and Skywarp wasn’t a big deal to him. Just another part of his duty, and truth be told, outside a battlefield this was the only place they worked well together, but he knew in his spark how hurt Mirage would be.

"How I've missed this," Starscream moaned, his panel retracting for Thundercracker.

Like Mirage, Thundercracker was meant to be given away to be bonded for political alliances. With that purpose in mind, he'd been trained in the art of interfacing, too. He parted his lips, slowly gliding them up Starscream's spike then carefully swirled his glossa around the head.

"Frag, I almost forgot how hot TC can be," Skywarp commented as he peered over Starscream's shoulder.

Petting Thundercracker's helm, Starscream groaned his agreement. "He is quite splendid."

Tuning his audience out as best as he could, he slowly let his mouth sink down over the hard spike. His glossa swept around it as it slid in deep enough to tap the start of his intake. Twisting his head to the side, he slowly pulled back, glossa curling around it as he did.

"Oh frag," Starscream moaned, hands grasping tightly at Thundercracker's helm.

Starscream was easy to please. Skywarp, too. He continued to slide his mouth over the hard length, putting his training and eons of experience with them to use.

Dark blue hands pulled Thundercracker hard by the head, forcing the throbbing spike partway down his intake as Starscream overloaded with a shriek. Buried so deep, it took little effort on his part to swallow the eruption of fluid. It mostly shot it's way right down. Not something he'd been taught to do, but learned to do when performing this act on his Air Commander.

Starscream sighed and released his tight hold. Thundercracker gracefully swirled his glossa around Starscream's spike as he pulled off.

Skywarp actually whined at the sight, gaze fixated on Thundercracker.

"Your spike is stabbing my aft, Skywarp," Starscream commented, sounding amused.

"I need to frag one of you," Skywarp replied, his fingers tight around Starscream's hips.

"Was there something in particular you wanted to do? Seeing as it's been a while," Thundercracker asked Starscream.

"Both of you inside me at once," Starscream replied with dark ruby-red optics

Skywarp groaned at that. "I gotta..." He pushed Starscream forward by the center of his back and angled his hips, impaling him with his spike. "Frag, so slick and hot already." He then began to thrust hard and fast, jarring Starscream with each roll of his hips.

Starscream grunted at the roughness, but didn't protest. Thundercracker moved in closer, helping Starscream into a more upright position.

"Gonna–" Skywarp threw his head back, moaning as he overloaded.

Starscream glanced over his shoulder and smirked. "You better have more than that I you."

Skywarp grinned, optics unfocused and dazed with lust. "Still hard inside you, aren't I?"

"You certainly are," Starscream crooned. He then turned his attention back to Thundercracker. "Join him."

Panel retracting, Thundercracker massaged his spike to get it harder. Scooting in closer, he grabbed one of Starscream's legs, lifting it upward to get better access. Using his fingers to find his way, he nudged the head of his spike just inside next to Skywarp's. He could feel the sticky heat of overload as he carefully penetrated Starscream along side Skywarp.

The passage was hot, wet and tight, drawing a moan from Thundercracker despite his best efforts not to enjoy this. He imagined this might be close to what Mirage would feel like, being smaller than him. That thought helped harden his spike, which Skywarp obviously felt as he whined 'TC'.

"Stop dawdling," Starscream said, grasping at Thundercracker's shoulders. "Both of you rip me open. Make me overload hard enough to pass out."

Bossy as always.

They started by alternating, each thrusting into Starscream and sliding past one another as they took turns. Thundercracker wished he didn't enjoy this, but it did feel amazing. Though, it was devoid of the intense spark flutter he felt around Mirage. This was pure physical lust, nothing more, and with Mirage it was so much more.

Starscream's fingers dug into Thundercracker's plating and he shrieked his enjoyment. "Harder! More! Please!" He begged, writhing between them.

"Same time?" Skywarp asked.

Thundercracker nodded, and they matched rhythm, spreading Starscream to his limit. He screamed in response, which to any normal  mech would be cause for worry, but Thundercracker recognized the pitch of his screams as pleasure caused by the pain. For as long as he'd known Starscream pain turned him on. He'd been like this before Megatron made him his favorite berth toy and it had only gotten worse after.

Skywarp groaned. "Not gonna last..."

To Thundercracker's shame, neither was he. Having his spike compressed as it slid against the stretched mesh of Starscream's valve and the throbbing length of Skywarp's spike.

Roaring, Skywarp filled Starscream with hot fluid that dribbled down all of them. It took only another couple of thrusts before Starscream cried out at the top of his vocal pitch and Thundercracker was drawn into overloading with him as his spike was squeezed hard by the spasming valve wrapped around it. Starscream sagged between them, spent from his overload, and all three panted hard.

Skywarp slipped out first then flopped on his back on the berth. "Frag that was good."

Thundercracker carefully sat back on his heels with Starscream holding fast to him.

"I need you both here with me," Starscream murmured. "We've been apart far too long."

Worry curled around Thundercracker's spark at that.

Lifting himself off, Starscream tugged Thundercracker to lie down with him and Skywarp.

"Like you want us to move in here?" Skywarp asked, snuggling against Starscream's back.

"Precisely." Starscream pet Thundercracker's chest and cockpit.

"I'm cool with that. TC's got slaves, too. He can give you his," Skywarp suggested.

Worry morphed into cold dread at Skywarp's comment.

Starscream peered at Thundercracker with a hazy, sated expression. "You have more than one? You're full of surprises as always."

Fraggit.

Pressing closer against his side, Starscream relaxed between Thundercracker and Skywarp. "A short recharge, then we go see Megatron. Tonight you'll both stay here and tomorrow grab essentials from your apartments. I want you to both move in here with me."

"What about our apartments? They'll remain vacant?" Thundercracker asked sounding casual and calm despite the panic rising inside him.

"Soundwave could do with more space," Starscream drowsily replied before his optics flickered off.

Thundercracker immediately opened a secured link and spoke silently over the internal comm. ::Soundwave, I have an emergency.::

::Nature of emergency?:: Soundwave quickly responded.

::Starscream's reaction to his loss was more extreme than expected. Please take Mirage, Bluestreak and Bumblebee to Shockwave's compound. They aren't safe,:: Thundercracker replied.

There was a worrisome pause. ::Autobots will be relocated,:: Soundwave eventually replied.

::I need you to make it look like a break in. Smash the locks on my balcony entrance. Overturn items in the apartment, and especially the area they live in,:: Thundercracker said. ::Cast the suspicion on the same red seeker that took Starscream's Autobots.::

::Understood,:: Soundwave replied and the line cut.

As if betraying Mirage by interfacing with his trine wasn't terrible enough, he knew there would be no forgiveness for sending him and the others away. His spark deeply ached at the loss of what might have been for them. It was all so unfair. He did his best to do what he felt was right, only to lose everything he'd gained. His only solace being the knowledge that Mirage and the others would be safe with Shockwave.

....

The next morning Soundwave waited for the lift. His camera loop was in effect to hide his movements and he intended to ride up the one level to Thundercracker's apartment level to retrieve the Autobots. The plan was to keep them in his own apartment until later in the evening when Shockwave could more safely ferry them off under cover of night.

To his dismay the door opened and Megatron stood in the lift. He hesitated, unsure if he should step on or not. What lie could he use for going to the flier levels?

"Are you going to just stand there?" Megatron asked as he raised an optic ridge.

Soundwave stepped on. "My apologies." He pressed the button for the next level.

"Going to see the apartments?" Megatron asked.

Unsure what Megatron was talking about, Soundwave played along. "Affirmative."

"Starscream told me last night. He's having his trine move in with him. I'm a little surprised he already told you," Megatron said, suspicion edging his voice.

"Thundercracker offered his apartment to me," Soundwave replied, quickly seizing the information and twisting it to fit his motives.

"Ah, I see." Megatron's gaze moved over Soundwave's frame. "It's been awhile hasn't it? Since we've had a private meeting?"

"Yes, my lord," Soundwave replied, his plating practically crawling in response to the lustful look in Megatron's optics.

Megatron smiled. "Tonight, come up to my suite and bring that lovely slave of yours. I'd like another chance to enjoy his services before we reconnect."

The lift stopped and the doors opened.

"As you desire, my Lord," Soundwave replied before stepping off. He walked down the hall toward Thundercracker's apartment, panic gripping his spark.

He couldn't expose Jazz to Megatron again. It would break him. His mind raced, trying to formulate the best plan for protecting Jazz. He stopped short of his destination, frowning behind his mask. Never in million light years had he expected to fall in love with anyone, let alone the fiery little spy he'd bought to protect. He'd do absolutely anything to keep him safe...

He turned on his heel and returned to the lift, partial plan in mind as he opened a secure channel to Shockwave.  

::Change in plans,:: Soundwave said as he stepped back in the lift.

::It's unlike you to change a set plan,:: Shockwave replied.

::Urgency greater than expected. Arrive as soon as possible,:: Soundwave replied.

There was a pause. ::Soundwave, if I arrive now there will be surveillance footage. At night you have easier access to diverting the cameras. Doing it midday might raise suspicion,:: Shockwave replied.

Soundwave grimaced behind his mask as the lift doors opened and he stepped off. He didn't usually take risks or not fully process a scenario and its implications, but he was desperate to protect Jazz. ::Alternative options are not viable.::

::You will need to come back with me in that case. Leaving you there will eventually lead to exposing us both. If we are going to make our objective known, then let's just lay our credits on the table and be done with it,:: Shockwave replied.

Surprised, Soundwave paused outside his apartment door. :: Negative. I must stay until Thundercracker can be extracted as well.::

::He's unable to slip away?:: Shockwave asked.

::Affirmative.:: Soundwave replied.

There was another long pause. ::Hm, I might have a way around exposing us. Call Tremorwave in for a repair. Use his shuttle. It won't raise suspicion and give you time to work out freeing Thundercracker..::

That was a much better option. ::Suggestion for alternative accepted. Thank you.::

::Of course. Be careful,:: Shockwave replied.

Soundwave opened the door to the apartment and stepped inside.

Jazz was on the couch with Frenzy and Rumble watching an old show on the vid screen with Ravage was on the floor, recharging at their feet.  He gazed at Jazz who glanced at him and grinned. His spark fluttered madly inside his chest, as it did every time he was around Jazz.

"I require all three of you to assist me," Soundwave said after a moment.

"Oh? What's up?" Jazz asked.

"You got a job for us, big guy? Awesome!" Rumble replied.

"There has been an unanticipated consequence for our actions," Soundwave explained carefully. "Thundercracker's Autobots need to be moved to Shockwave's compound. His apartment must look like it's been breached through the balcony entrance."

"We get to smash stuff up?" Frenzy asked, excited.

Soundwave nodded. "False circumstances to be created by Rumble and Frenzy, while Jazz assists moving Autobots to shuttle landing pad on roof."

"Alright! Smash stuff!" The brothers said giving one another high fives.

"I must contact the medic, Tremorwave. We will go up once I have confirmation of his impending arrival," Soundwave replied.

Jazz got up and wandered closer. "They're in danger, so that means TC is, too, right?"

Unable to resist, Soundwave gently cupped Jazz's face and nodded. Why did this mech have to capture his spark? This rearranged plan would protect Jazz. He just hoped he had the strength to give him up when the moment came.

Leaning down, he parted his mask and kissed Jazz sweetly, ignoring the whooping sounds Rumble and Frenzy made.

Peering up at Soundwave, Jazz brightly smiled. "Too bad we're pressed for time, huh?"

"Perhaps later," Soundwave replied before stepping back to open another comm channel to contact Tremorwave. Please forgive me for deceiving you, Jazz...

...

"He hasn't been back since yesterday," Mirage said, clearly worried.

"I'm sure it's fine," Bluestreak replied. That was a lie, though. Thundercracker had never been gone overnight before and he was worried, too.

Mirage got up and began to pace around. "Something's happened. I can feel it in my spark..."

Bluestreak and Bumblebee exchanged looks.

"I bet he'll walk through the front door any second," Bumblebee replied, putting as much cheer as he could into his voice.

"And if he doesn't? What will become of us?" Mirage asked as he came to a stop. "Don't you see? If he's not coming back we will be put on the market to be sold off to whatever sick-minded Decepticon has a fistful of credits in his grubby hands."

Bluestreak frowned. "Mirage, it's too soon to think that. Bee is right, he'll probably show up soon."

Miserable look on his face, Mirage shook his head.

The sound of the front door opening and closing drew all their attentions. Mirage took off first, sprinting down the hall toward the foyer. Bluestreak picked up Bumblebee on his back and followed him toward the front. Reaching the entrance, he frowned at the sight of Soundwave and Jazz.

“Where is Thundercracker?” Mirage demanded. “Why are you here?”

“Thundercracker is being detained by Starscream. He’s asked me to move you all to Shockwave’s compound. Gather anything you need and we will proceed to the landing pad on the roof,” Soundwave intoned.

“Detained? What does that mean?” Mirage asked, voice pitching higher with his increased worry.

“I think Screamer’s got him and Warp sorta held hostage in his apartment,” Jazz tried to clarify.

Bluestreak dimmed his optics and looked around. This had been his only home since he’d been sold at that awful auction. He’d known nothing else. The idea of stepping through that door into a world that harmed Mirage, Jazz and Bumblebee sent a small wave of panic through him.

“Blue?” Bumblebee gently pet his fingers against Bluestreak’s chest from where his hands were holding on for his piggyback ride. “You okay?”

“Yeah,” Bluestreak replied.

“I only want one book from the library,” Mirage said, now visibly shaking he was so upset.

Jazz moved to put an arm around him. “Let’s go get it, then, hm?”

Mirage nodded, and they wandered off down the adjoining hallway.

Soundwave glanced at Bluestreak and Bumblebee. “Retrieve items as well.”

“Haven’t lived here long enough to have anything,” Bumblebee replied.

Bluestreak momentarily considered grabbing his game console Thundercracker brought him, but decided it was a frivolous kind of thing to be bringing along. “Can’t think of anything I want to take.”

Mirage and Jazz returned.

Holding a datafile to his chest like it was the most valuable thing in the universe, Mirage cast a long look around. “I can’t believe this is happening.”

“So, if you’re taking us, how exactly is this going to be an escape? Won’t someone figure it out? How we left and why?” Bumblebee asked.

“Once you guys are outta here, Soundwave’s cassettes are gonna trash the place a little. Make it look like someone broke in and took you guys. Since Starscream’s Autobots were taken, it should look like a vigilante or somethin’,” Jazz explained.

“The red paint...” Mirage looked at Soundwave. “There is a can of red paint in Thundercracker’s room. You’ll need to dispose of it.”

“Affirmative,” Soundwave replied. “Shuttle is here. Please come with me.”

“Into the hall?” Bluestreak asked as he watched Soundwave turn toward the door.

“Feedback loop will hide our movements within building. You are safe,” Soundwave replied.

“We won’t run into someone out there?” Bluestreak asked, tensing.

“Starscream, Thundercracker and Skywarp have not and will not be leaving the apartment. I have confirmation from Thundercracker,” Soundwave replied.

“We don’t got much time, so let’s go,” Jazz said, jerking his head toward the door.

“It’ll be okay, Blue,” Bumblebee said softly into his audio. “You aren’t alone. You’ve got all of us.”

The door opened, and Soundwave led the small group down the hall to the lift. They all crammed inside, and were completely silent for the ride up to the roof. When the lift doors parted they could see a shuttle sitting on the landing pad. Soundwave ushered them toward it and then pulled out a small black device.

The shuttle door opened and Tremorwave frowned at Soundwave. “You’ve got a lotta nerve asking me to do this!”

“Repayment for earlier favor when I assisted Deadlock and his Autobot to escape the planet at your request,” Soundwave replied.

Tremorwave huffed and shook his head. “Fine, whatever.”

Soundwave then looked at Mirage. “Collar deactivation will be performed here. Step closer.”

“You can deactivate them?” Mirage said, baring his neck as Soundwave pushed the device against it and pressed the button.

“Affirmative.” Soundwave then gestured for Bluestreak to step up. He frowned, but did as he was asked, and both his and Bumblebee’s collars were also deactivated.

“Get your afts onboard,” Tremorwave snapped from the shuttle.

Mirage got inside, but Bluestreak needed a hand with Bumblebee. Jazz moved in to help them, taking Bumblebee off his back so he could get inside first. Leaning over the edge of the shuttle’s open door, Jazz handed off Bumblebee.

Soundwave moved fast for a large mech, pressing the device to Jazz’s collar and deactivating it.

Jazz whirled around, clearly shocked. “What the frag, Sounders?”

“You are going with them,” Soundwave replied.

“Like frag I am,” Jazz replied. “I’m stayin’ here with you!”

“It is not safe for you,” Soundwave replied.

Jazz shoved Soundwave hard. “Frag you! How dare you send me off!”

Bluestreak settled in on the floor with Bumblebee in his lap, watching the scene unfold with the others.

Soundwave pulled Jazz in close, hugging him and petting his back as Jazz weakly pound his fists against his chest. “Megatron requested your presence this evening. I will not let him harm you again,” Soundwave said.

Jazz peered up at him and shook his head. “You’re a fragger. Why didn’t you tell me that earlier?

“Time is limited, and you would have resisted.” Soundwave parted his mask, frowning at Jazz. “Please forgive me.”

It was weird to see Soundwave’s face, so Bluestreak found himself staring despite the burning jealousy he felt in his spark. They so clearly loved one another. It hurt to watch. It hurt to know Jazz hadn’t really loved him, not like that.

“You better not abandon me, or else I won’t ever forgive you,” Jazz replied with a petulant frown.

Soundwave smiled just a little. “I will join you as soon as it is safe.” He then leaned down and the two kissed.

Bluestreak quickly averted his gaze, and Bumblebee took hold of his hand, squeezing it between his two smaller ones. He stared at a spot on the shuttle floor, fighting to keep himself together. He could fall apart later when he was alone. He didn’t want anymore of his friends’ pity. They’d already done more than enough comforting. He just needed to find a way to get over it already.

Jazz finally stepped on board and sat down in the cramped area behind Tremorwave’s pilot seat.

“Alright, we’re outta here,” Tremorwave said as the door slid shut and the shuttle lifted off.

“Blue?” Jazz asked.

Don’t,” Mirage warned.

Bluestreak didn’t look up from the spot on the floor, focusing on the feeling of his hand being held by Bumblebee and doing his best to shut out Jazz’s presence.
Thick silence filled the air as they were carried away from what had been their home toward some place completely unknown.