He'd barely set foot on Earth's soil before Bumblebee, the youngest of the pace, tackled him in exultant greeting.
"Cosmos! You're back!"
"Hello, Bumblebee," Cosmos greeted in return. "It's good to see you again."
"It sure is! Will you stay a while, this time?"
"Maybe not too long, but I would like to get some recharge before I leave. A quartex would be okay, if Optimus Prime agrees."
"I'm sure he will," Bumblebee encouraged. "You deserve a break, you're always on duty."
"And I am still on duty now," Cosmos reminded him. "I need to make my report to Optimus Prime, and then I will be finished."
A little over a breem later, Cosmos left Prime's office to find the entire pace waiting for him.
"About time you got back." Cliffjumper, always the most forward of them, grabbed Cosmos by the hand and began to drag him toward their shared quarters, the others following eagerly behind.
"I can't recharge without you," Gears informed him. "I haven't gotten a good defrag in cycles!"
"And he lets us all know it, too," Cliffjumper grumbled.
"It's awful, you know," Huffer chimed in. "Gears is going to get himself offlined with his processor all cluttered, and you're always alone out in space, you could be damaged or ofllined or captured and we would never know it!"
The worries and complaints were nothing new; it had been this way since they had accepted Cosmos into their pace after his own had perished in the first cycles of the war. They were familiar and expected, and Cosmos felt his spark expand with fondness for his pacemates' peculiarities.
"But you're here now," Bumblebee said, skipping ahead to enter the code in their doorlock, "and that's what matters." As the door slid open, he turned and took Cosmos' free hand, leading them all toward the single large berth. "For a whole quartex, right?"
"A quartex!" Gears exclaimed. "Hardly long enough for one decent defrag!"
Cosmos laughed as they climbed onto the berth together. "Optimus Prime decided to give me a full cycle before I leave again. I will have some shifts on patrol duty, but we will have plenty of time to spend together."
Bumblebee cheered. "You'll finally have time to meet Spike!"
"That human is going to get stepped on," Huffer predicted, pressing close to Cosmos' side.
"I don't even want to think about that. There's enough grit in my servos as it is. Bumblebee, move over, I can't get close."
Bumblebee shifted agreeably, and Gears flopped down over top of Cosmos with a sigh. "This isn't comfortable at all," he complained.
"Shut up and recharge," Cliffjumper said, and they did.
"I miss it, you know."
Cosmos took a nanoklik to reroute his processors' attention from the stars overhead. "Hmm?"
"Space. Flying. It isn't the same in atmosphere."
"Have you asked Optimus Prime about it?"
"I have. They need me on Earth."
Cosmos hummed quietly and stroked the plating under him soothingly. "Sky Lynx is still on Cybertron. Maybe if he comes here, you could fly?"
Skyfire's engine rumbled, sending gentle vibrations through Cosmos' armour. "It's a thought."
"Earth is not so bad," Cosmos tried.
"No," Skyfire agreed. "It's lovely here. I just..."
Cosmos nodded. He understood; they both had spaceflight written in their coding, a longing for solitude and darkness and zero gravity which could not be quelled. Cosmos knew that whatever his pacemates desired, when his cycle was up he would leave again to travel the empty reaches between here and Cybertron.
"When the war is over," he said, "you can fly to the edge of the universe and back."
He couldn't see Skyfire's smile, but he heard it in the shuttle's voice. "Yes."