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The cleaning solvent was hot, almost too hot thanks to the heat generated by the volcano, and ran freely into the tub for the first time since they had come back online on Earth. The bath itself was a perk of Prowl's rank that they rarely had the resources to indulge in, but after their most recent trade deal with the planet Lithone they had access to quality cleansers and additives again.

Sunstreaker was practically giddy at the prospect of having his first hot solvent bath--followed by a dip in the communal oil pool--in four million years.

"Planning a night in?" Prowl asked.

"Prowl!" The yellow mech started. He hadn't been expecting his partner to be home for another two hours at least. "Hi. You're out of the meeting early."

"We covered the majority of the agenda before the Primes decided everyone needed to take a long break." The black and white mech limped across the room to his lover's side and dipped a hand into the filling tub. "We should reached out to Lithone a decade ago. Imagine how much more efficient the Autobots would have been with proper maintenance."

"The Cons wouldn't have stood a chance, " Sunstreaker agreed. "You're welcome to join me, you know. Your tub is big enough for a squad of frontliners."

"Sunstreaker, I can't..." Uncharacteristically, Prowl fumbled for words. "I'm still not ready for--"

"I know." The frontliner pulled the Praxian into a hug. "I know you don't feel strong enough yet. I'm not asking to play. I just want to spend this time with you. Just you and me and this nice, hot bath."

"All right." Prowl returned the hug with a contented sigh. "On one condition."

"Anything for you. You know that." Sunstreaker loosened his hold on the tactician and reached over to turn off the tap. "Name your price."

"In the cabinet where we keep the polish, there is a jar of aromatic crystals for relieved tension." The corners of the black and white mech's lips turned up. "I confess to them being one of my favorite indulgences."

Sunstreaker returned his smile. "I miss those. I can't believe you still have any."

"I'm surprised they survived the stasis as well, but this seems like the appropriate time to use them."

"I agree. I'll be right back." The warrior stepped out of the bathing room and made his way to the storage cabinet in their berthroom. He found the jar of crystals quickly, hidden just behind an old jar of glitter polish that Jazz had given him as a joke gift, and pulled it out. Then he carried it back to his waiting lover.

"Are they still viable?" Prowl asked as the yellow mech held out the jar.

"I don't know. They're yours, so I didn't open them."

"My Sunstreaker. I will never understand some of your personal boundaries." Praxian shook his head as to took the container and opened it.

Sunstreaker stepped closer to smell the crystals with his partner. "Better than some issues I could have. They still smell okay."

Prowl reached into the jar and pulled out a few crystals. Carefully, he rubbed them between his fingers. "The texture is correct as well. Do you prefer a strongly scented bath or something more subtle?"

"Whatever you want, Prowl. This is your condition."

The Praxian smiled softly at the reminder of Sunstreaker's submission to him, despite the fact that the golden twin had been caring for his needs for the past three years. "Subtle then, so the crystals might last until some thought can be given to recreating them."

"We can talk to Sides in the morning. I bet he's still got some of his pre-war recipes sitting around and he'll probably have two ideas ten seconds after we mention it."

"Is the lack of combat boring him?" Carefully, the black and white mech poured the fragranced crystals into his hand. When he was satisfied with the amount, he turned and sprinkled them carefully into the to bath.

"No, Jazz and Ironhide are keeping him busy. Ironhide, especially." Sunstreaker sighed. "They'll both be happier when Hide's got a body that's back up to his old specs, though. The miracle of his survival has definitely worn off."

Prowl's now-empty hand moved to cover the scarring on his chest plates. "That any of us survived the shuttle is still a miracle."

"One I am never, ever, taking for granted." The warrior took the jar of crystals from Prowl's hand and set it on the floor. Then he pulled the elder mech into his arms and held him tightly. "Ironhide hates that he's still so weak, but you're both so much stronger than you think."

"So are you," the Praxian replied, returning the tight embrace. "Thank you."

Sunstreaker rested his head against his partner's and absorbed the dozens of ways Prowl could--and probably did--mean the simple words. "You're welcome. I love you."

The words hung in the air for a long moment, the first time they had been voiced over all their vorns together. The yellow mech had loved his partner all that time, but he had never wanted to say it when the war was at its worst.

"I love you." Prowl's arms tightened around him and the older mech made a sound that would have been a sob if he had been human. "I love you."

Sunstreaker understood his partner's reaction. Just hearing the words left his spark aching with happiness. "I am never going to get tired of hearing that."

The tactician looked up and smiled at him. "Neither will I."

"I love you." The warrior bent down and pressed a kiss to the other mech's lips, which Prowl returned with a pleased hum. "And if you get in the bath with me before the solvent goes cold, I'll tell you as many times as you want to hear it."

The black and white mech's smile shifted into something much more amused. "I suppose I should get off my feet before I strain First Aid's latest round of reconstruction."

"He really hates having to re-do his work." Sunstreaker kissed Prowl again before loosening his embrace so that the other mech could step back. "You need anything else before we settle in?"

"Only you," The elder mech replied.

"No problem there. I think you're pretty much stuck with me."

"I would not have it any other way." Prowl turned to face the tub, then sighed. "Will you help me in? The side is higher than I can lift my right leg."

"Sure." The golden mech stepped behind the Praxian and lifted him up so that Prowl could swing his legs over the side of the tub and into to the solvent. The older mech sighed again. "Temperature still okay?"

"It's fine," The black and white mech assured him as he lowered himself into the bath. "I am just longing for the day that First Aid is able to replace the melted joint."

"I bet he gets on it as soon as we receive our first shipment of parts and materials from Lithone." Sunstreaker stepped into the bath and sank down next to his partner. "Just a couple weeks longer."

"It will be a long two weeks." Prowl shifted so that he could lift himself over Sunsteaker's legs, and settled himself with his back resting against the younger mech's chest plates. "I don't think I would make it without you."

The yellow mech wrapped his arms around his partner, holding him close. "You could, and you would. You made it off the shuttle without me."

"First Aid would have needed to keep me offline like Ratchet to keep me from going mad."

"You may be right about that, but we're both still here." Carefully, Sunstreaker slid his hand along the black and white mech's chest plates until it was resting on the scar over Prowl's spark. "And I'm going to be here for as long as you need me, because where you go, I go."

"And I will always need you." Prowl lifted one hand and laid it on top of Sunstreaker's. "Where you go, I go."

Sunstreaker continued holding Prowl as they relaxed into the bath, and wondered if maybe they hadn't been saying "I love you" all along, after all.