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"So," Raoul said, leaning in toward his comm screen, "guess who's finally getting married?"

"Wait," Tracks said, after going through his mental list of Raoul's unattached friends. "Not Rocksteady?"

"You got it." Raoul grinned widely. "I was starting to think he'd never work up the nerve to ask."

"And Kimberly actually said yes?"

"There's no accounting for taste, right?" Raoul took a sip from his steaming mug of coffee. "The ironic part," he added, "is that Rock didn't even have the excuse of having to wait 'til it was legal."

"Well come on now," Tracks chided. "To be fair, not everyone can be as sure of what they want as you and Myles."

Raoul and his partner had been among the first to marry when New York finally made it legal in 1996. The Ritz-Powerglide amendment, which allowed humans to marry Cybertronians, had been ratified in California the previous year. Once that took effect, it had seemed natural—inevitable, really—that humans of the same sex should be allowed to marry also.

"I'll make sure he sends you an invite," Raoul said. With a slight frown, he added, "You'll come, right?"

"Wouldn't miss it," Tracks assured him.

"You better not." Raoul stretched, yawning. His arms, bared by the rolled-up sleeves of his work shirt, were roped with hard muscle, a fact which Tracks noted with some relief. He wasn't sure exactly when he'd started studying his friend in this way, watching for the inevitable signs of aging and finding himself dismayed by streaks of silver that had appeared in Raoul's hair around his temples, and the crow's feet that no longer quite faded with his smiles. It was morbid to think this way, but humans lived such frighteningly short lives.

"So what about you?" Raoul asked, jolting him from his distressing train of thought.

Tracks shrugged. "About the same," he said, and launched into a description of his newest project, which was to oversee the restoration of some vital infrastructure in Iacon's once-picturesque canal district. Word had it that Orion Pax himself had worked on the docks there, and so the area had historic as well as economic significance, and would doubtless become a draw for tourists once it had been made functional again.

Raoul listened for for a few moments, the held his hand up. "I meant your love life, Tracks. What's going on in that department?"

"Oh!" Tracks reset his optics in surprise. "It's probably better that you don't ask."

"Aw, c'mon. It's been a year since your boyfriend turned into a pumpkin—or should I say, a Prime? It's time you started dating again."

"He was never my boyfriend! And, for your information, we were never even dating."

Raoul leaned back in his chair just looked at him.

"I do have a job to do over here," Tracks said, getting annoyed now. "I'm too busy for that sort of thing."

"Sour grapes, man."

"I don't see how a bitter-tasting fruit has anything to do with it," Tracks huffed in annoyance.

"It's an expression," Raoul explained. "Means you're pretending you don't want something because you're scared to go after it."

"Scared? Now you're being ridiculous!"

"Then prove me wrong," Raoul challenged. "I dare you."

Deciding it was time for a change of subject, Tracks asked Raoul about his young niece and nephew, and then about his business. Both topics were close to Raoul's heart and he spoke about them with enthusiasm, though Tracks doubted he was fooled for even a moment.That was the downside of having a best friend. They knew things about you that you'd prefer not knowing about yourself.

Raoul was kind enough to avoid bringing up any more sensitive topics for the rest of the call, but once the screen went dark, Tracks felt the silence of his apartment pressing in on him. It wasn't just his apartment, but his entire building, and indeed, the entire city-sector that he lived in. He had just a handful of neighbors, mostly government contractors like him, and they all pretty much kept to themselves. The city beyond his balcony window lay silent and mostly deserted, with just a few glimmers of light in some of the buildings that had been less damaged by the bombing. It was a far cry from his life in New York.

He rose from his chair, got a can of Visco from the chill unit in his small galley, and settled on his settee for a night of watching holos. There had been a time when he might, on an off-shift, have taken himself down to one of the various nightclubs in Manhattan that were built big enough to accommodate mecha, or paid a visit to the raceways. Jazz, Sunstreaker and Sideswipe had been his usual companions on those excursions, along with Hot Rod. Jazz pretty much kept to himself these days, though, and the twins were stationed at Metroplex. And Hot Rod… well. Hot Rod was a different story.

After some deliberation, he chose Wheeled Assassinator, Part III from his private collection of favorites. It was possibly the worst action holo ever made, which was what made it so much fun to watch. He was about halfway through the opening credits when it occurred to him that the reason why he'd always found it fun to watch was because he'd had others to watch it with. Watching alone didn't have quite the same effect. He was just about to turn it off when his door suddenly flew open and a large, fuchscia-and-orange blur stormed into his apartment.

"Rodimus?"

The young Prime didn't answer. He went straight to the galley, yanked a can of hi-grade from the chill, and downed it in a long, continuous gulp. Tracks put the holo on pause and went to lean in the galley doorway, watching with a mixture of concern and irritation as Rodimus tossed the can at—rather than into—the recycler, and grabbed a second one.

"Feel free to help yourself," Tracks remarked.

Rodimus finally glanced at him. "Thanks." He pounded the drink, got another, and pushed past Tracks on his way to the living room. He plunked down on the settee and swung his pedes onto Tracks' brushed titanium entertainment table. "What're we watching?"

"I was about to watch Wheeled Assassinator, Part III," Tracks said, flinching at the sight of Rodimus' pedes on the table. "I don't suppose you'd care to join me."

"Sure!" Rodimus took a big swallow from his drink. "That's one of my faves."

Tracks sat down and picked up the remote, but he didn't start the holo. He studied Rodimus instead, suddenly noticing how scuffed his armor looked. "What happened?" he asked. "Were you in a battle?"

"Battle?" Rodimus echoed, momentarily nonplussed. Then, following the direction of Tracks' gaze, glanced down at himself. "Oh, nah. Just sparring damage from the dojo."

"You should take care of that," Tracks said with a frown.

"Yeah," Rodimus snapped, "I guess it doesn't look so good at state appearances." He reached for the remote in Tracks' hand. "Gimme that."

Tracks held it out of reach. "That isn't what I meant," he said. "You should take care of it because it's important to take care of you."

"Oh." Rodimus' expression fell, and his broad shoulders sank along with it as if bowed by some tremendous, invisible weight. "I'm being kind of an aft," he said, taking his pedes off the table. "Sorry."

"It's an old table," Tracks lied, still looking at him. "Rodimus," he said carefully, "is something… wrong?"

"Wrong? Nah!" Rodimus barked out a laugh, then launched to his feet and stalked out onto the balcony, taking his drink with him. Tracks followed, and found him glaring out over Iacon's war-ravaged skyline. "What could possibly be wrong?" he asked, taking another gulp of his drink.

"You should pace yourself with that stuff," Tracks warned. "It goes down smooth, but it's got a real kick."

Rodimus scowled at his drink, then vented a sigh. "I can't get drunk."

"Can't?" Tracks moved to stand near him, leaving a respectful distance. Rodimus was a Prime, now, after all.

Rodimus shrugged. "It's the Matrix, I dunno. I can't even catch a buzz anymore."

"I didn't realize," Tracks said, mulling it over. "That sounds… frustrating."

Another short laugh. Rodimus spun away from the railing and paced the length of the balcony. "Tracks, it sucks. I can feel this thing inside me," he put a hand to his chest. "It's always whirring away in the background, doing… whatever it does. I feel like I'm just its host; I don't feel like me anymore."

"I can imagine how that would make someone want to drink," Tracks agreed. He realized that he hadn't given much thought to how the Matrix might have affected his friend. He'd been too focused on the downside that it had for him, namely the fact that it had put an end to his and Hot Rod's… well, whatever it was that they'd had together, that it hadn't occurred to him that Rodimus might be suffering too. If anything, Tracks had assumed that it must be exhilarating to suddenly be so much larger, more powerful, and… chosen.

Rodimus glanced at him. His mouth twitched in a softer smile as he murmured, "Thanks, Tracks."

Tracks shrugged. "Any time." He moved to lean against the railing next to Rodimus, and they gazed out over the city for a moment in silence. Rodimus' frame radiated warmth in the cool air, and Tracks resisted the urge to edge closer. Rodimus wasn't quite the same as Hot Rod, but he was handsome in his own way and it was hard for Tracks to stifle the swell of attraction he still felt for him.

"We haven't talked that much since your… change," he said eventually.

"No," Rodimus replied. "There's been so much going on, and…" he trailed off, his gaze fixed on the eastern horizon where Cybertron's new "moon," the severed head of Unicron, was rising, its one shattered optic glaring balefully across the bleak landscape. "Oughta get rid of that thing," he muttered. "I'll add that to my list."

"It is something of an eyesore," Tracks agreed. "But I'm sure you have more important things to worry about."

Rodimus snorted. "Right. Like putting dead war criminals on trial."

"What?"

"Oh." Rodimus shot him a wry look. "Forgot to tell you about my day. Well guess what? Apparently, we are having show-trials of some of the main Decepticons. Including dead ones."

Tracks nodded. "It makes sense."

"Really? How does it make sense? We've got Quintessons and Nebulons and actual real-live Decepticons to worry about, not to mention rebuilding an entire planet, and we're putting on show trials?"

"All the more reason," Tracks argued. "Even if it's just for show, it solidifies the Autobots' position as the new government, and makes a clear statement about our moral code. It might also provide some small comfort to those who have lost those close to them," he added, thinking once again of Jazz and remembering the empty look behind his smile the last time they'd spoken. "It'll provide a sense of justice."

"An illusion of justice, you mean." Rodimus gave him a hard look which gradually turned searching. "You sound like Ultra Magnus."

"Maybe he's right," Tracks suggested.

"Maybe." Rodimus sighed. "You seem to understand this job a lot better than I do."

"It's politics," Tracks said. "It has its own logic."

"Well, I don't get it," Rodimus said. "I don't get any of this scrap. I'm just… Tracks, I'm not built for it."

"You look built for it," Tracks said without thinking.

Rodimus gave him a startled look, then sighed. "Yeah, well. I guess appearances are all that really matter anymore."

He pushed past Tracks and went back inside. Tracks followed, and found Rodimus standing over by the settee, his drink held loosely in one large hand and his gaze fixed on the paused holo-screen. He looked too big for the room.

Tracks crossed to his side and pried the bottle from his fingers before he had a chance to spill it on the carpet. "Sit," he instructed, and went to the kitchen for a couple more cold ones—just Visco this time, not the hard stuff. He set one drink in front of Rodimus and sat down, taking care not to sit right next to him. "Rod," he said quietly.

Rodimus glanced at him. At this range, Tracks could sense his field, and it felt… jangly. It reminded him of Raoul's description of the feeling humans got when they'd had a few too many cups of java.

"The Matrix chose you," Tracks said. "There's obviously a reason for that."

Rodimus picked up his drink, but didn't take a sip. "I think it chose me because I was responsible for Optimus' death."

Tracks, who had been on the brink of taking a sip from his own drink, froze. He set the can down carefully, turned off the holo-screen, and stared at Rodimus. "What?"

"I got in the way," Rodimus went on. "If I hadn't jumped in the middle of everything, he'd still be alive."

Tracks shook his head. "That's a load of scrap, and you know it."

"Do I?"

"Yes! If you took a moment to think about this rationally, you'd—" Tracks paused, his mind clicking through the events of the past year. "Is that why you weren't at the memorial?"

"I couldn't be there," Rodimus said in a haunted whisper. "I couldn't face everyone, I couldn't face… him." He bowed his head, seeming to fold in on himself, and suddenly, Prime or no Prime, Tracks couldn't take it anymore. He reached across the short distance between them, and put a hand on Rodimus' shoulder.

"It's okay Rod," he said, instinctively falling back on his old pet name for him. "It wasn't your fault, and no one blames you."

"You'd be surprised," Rodimus muttered.

"Well anyone who does is just—" Tracks broke off, unable to think of a suitably damning adjective. "Rod," he said again, and realized that he was gliding his thumb against the smooth armor of his friend's shoulder. He turned the gesture into a firm squeeze, then withdrew his hand to a safe distance. "I'm glad you came over."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah." Scratches on his entertainment table notwithstanding, the fact that Rodimus had come here, to him, warmed him in a way that he couldn't express, and really, it was probably better if he didn't try. He picked up the remote, activated the screen, and began scrolling back through the holo credits. "Why don't we start over from the beginning?"

A large hand caught his wrist. "Tracks?"

"Hmm?" He glanced over to find that his friend was gazing at him with a quiet intensity.

"I'd like that," Rodimus said. "Starting over, I mean." And then, before Tracks could react, Rodimus' other hand was reaching to cradle his jaw, and warm lips brushed against his. It was as light as air, almost chaste, a question more than a kiss, but its impact on Tracks was like a ten-car pileup on the New Jersey Turnpike. He forgot to move, or vent, or even kiss back—and then it was over. Rodimus pulled away.

"You… uh. You were talking about the movie, not us. I'm… Primus, I'm an idiot." He rose abruptly, nearly knocking over his drink. "Sorry. I'll… ah. See you around."

He practically bolted for the door, and Tracks sat frozen, his lips still tingling from that soft kiss. It took precious nanoklicks for his central processor to work through what, exactly, had just happened, but luckily he was built for speed. He caught up to Rodimus just as he was reached the door and grabbed his arm, spinning him around.

"I didn't think you still wanted that," he said.

"It was a misunderstanding," Rodimus said, pulling his arm free and reaching for the door panel. "I'm just gonna—"

Tracks ducked beneath his arm to get between him and the door, and was surprised, somehow, to find that he had to rise on the tips of his pedes to wind his arms around Rodimus' neck. He and Hot Rod had been the same height, so it felt strange—in a good way—to now be pulling Rodimus down in order to kiss him.

Rodimus held back, seeming almost reluctant, but then a shudder ran through him as he opened for Tracks. His mouth was hot, and in fact, his whole frame felt a few degrees warmer than Tracks remembered. Maybe the hi-grade was having an effect after all, or maybe it had something to do with the Matrix. Either way, his kiss tasted just like Hot Rod's had, or at least the way they had after a night out drinking, and there was something intoxicating about being wrapped up in all that heat.

He swept his glossa deep inside Rodimus' mouth, stroking and caressing, then nuzzled his chin and kissed his way down along his throat, licking and nipping at sensitive, exposed cables. Rodimus made a sound that might have sounded like a whimper coming from his previous frame, though from this one it was more of a growl. It vibrated through Tracks' whole body, lighting his circuits with a sudden shock of arousal. He growled back, giving a light nip to the base of Rodimus' neck, and felt him shiver in response.

"Tracks, ah…"

Big hands caught his shoulders and pushed him back against the door. Tracks pretended resistance, but surrendered when the big frame pressed against him and a powerful thigh nudged between his legs. Rodimus held him pinned, one palm flat against the door next to his head while the other cupped his cheek, pulling him into another kiss. Then those amazing hands were gliding down over his chest, coaxing up jolts of pleasure when they knowingly found all the sensitive areas that Hot Rod had always been so good at finding.

Kisses trailed after, following the same path until finally Rodimus was kneeling, is hands wrapped firmly around Tracks' hips as if to hold him in place while his warm glossa traced the outline of his cod. There was something vaguely improper about this, Tracks thought, though he found himself strangely unconcerned about propriety when Rodimus glanced up and whispered, "Open for me?"

It wasn't exactly phrased as an order. It was more like a request, but who was he, Tracks thought, to turn down an order from a Prime? He sent the internal command to unlatch the panel, letting it slide just a fraction of the way open. Rodimus did let out a recognizable whine this time as he pressed forward to taste the head of Tracks' spike with just the tip of his glossa. He swept over and around it, nuzzling its housing and venting soft puffs of warm air over it until Tracks relented with a groan and let it extend. Rodimus seized it with both hands, as if fearing that Tracks might try to withdraw it again, and trailed his lips reverently along its stiffening length.

"Mmm, the red rocket," he murmured, and Tracks had to grin. He supposed there was no reason why Rodimus wouldn't remember Hot Rod's old nickname for his spike—which was, of course, red like his face—yet hearing it still came as a pleasant surprise.

"I think you know what to do with it," he said, slightly shocked by his own boldness as he rocked his hips forward to brush his tip against Rodimus' mouth. The notion that there might be anything wrong about this seemed entirely lost on Rodimus, who molded his shapely lips around the head of Tracks' spike. He swirled his glossa, sweeping beads of lubricant from his slit tip before sucking him in. Hot Rod had never been able to take him all the way, but Rodimus did so easily, hilting him in wet, seductive heat.

Track's knees buckled, and he grabbed the door for balance as Rodimus began to work his spike with an almost desperate urgency, as if he was literally starving for this. Tracks realized it had been a while for him, too. He hadn't interfaced with anyone since the end of the war, and in fact, the last person he'd been with had been—

"Primus!"

He wasn't going to last at this rate, and he wanted to. Wanted this to mean something, and not be something that Rodimus was going to just forget about, or write off as a mistake.

"Berth," he said, tugging one of Rodimus' spoiler wings to get his attention. The rest of his vocabulary seemed to have escaped him, but Rodimus seemed to understand. He released Tracks' spike with a regretful lick and allowed himself to be pulled to his feet and dragged down the short hallway to Tracks' berthroom.

"Sit." It was an order, more or less, and Rodimus obeyed. He sank down on the edge of the berth and gazed up at Tracks. There was a trace of silvery fluid at the corner of his mouth, and Tracks automatically reached to brush it away, then thought better of it and kissed it off him instead.

"I missed you," he said, when they broke apart.

"I never went anywhere," Rodimus said. "I'm the same on the inside, just…" he put his hand to his chest. "Is it weird? Having this ticking away inside me when we're about to…" he made a gesture to indicate their general situation. "You know."

Tracks thought about it. "Not really," he said, feeling that he owed Rodimus an honest answer. "I don't know much about the Matrix, but if it really has all the wisdom of the ancient Primes stored away in there, we're probably not about to do anything they haven't seen before."

Rodimus laughed. "When you put it that way…" He leaned back on the berth, supporting his weight with his hands. His face had relaxed a little and he looked younger, more like Hot Rod, as he glanced Tracks up and down, his gaze settling, predictably, on his spike. "You gonna bring that beauty over here?"

"Not just yet," Tracks replied. He opened a drawer in his berthside table and brought out a stack of cleaning cloths, along with a jar of frame-wax. "I'm going to take care of those scuffs first. I can't stand the sight of them for another astrosecond."

Rodimus gave a small huff as Tracks took a dollop of the expensive wax on his fingers and began smoothing it over Rodimus' chest. "It's cold."

"It'll heat up," Tracks promised as he worked it in wide sweeps across Rodimus' hood. Rodimus sighed and pressed into his hands, and Tracks felt some of the lingering tension drain away.

"Wasn't complaining," he murmured. "It feels good."

"That's the idea." Tracks smoothed his palms over Rodimus' flame-adorned chest panel and followed with circular motions with the soft cloths. He owned a number of mechanical buffers in various sizes, and while they did provide a more even finish, there were times when it was just more rewarding to do this manually. "Just forget about the Matrix," he said. "There's no one here but us."

"Mmm." Rodimus' big engine was settling into a hypnotic, pulsing rhythm, and he moved beneath Tracks' hands as if his frame was itself becoming pliable. "I don't have time to do this stuff anymore."

"You don't make time," Tracks retorted. "Tonight, we're making time."

Once he'd finished buffing Rodimus' chest to a deep, lustrous shine, he moved on to his shoulders and then down the length of each arm. Rodimus' hands fascinated him. They were broad across the palms and blunt-fingered, yet somehow elegant. It was tempting to imagine them probing between his legs and pushing inward, stretching him open with exquisite slowness. He took his time polishing each digit separately, and finally couldn't resist kissing one and then slipping it into his mouth, enfolding it the way his valve would.

Rodimus let out a soft groan, hips arching off the berth. "Oh, Tracks."

Tracks hummed his pleasure as he took a second digit along with the first, and bobbed up and down on both of them as if they were Rodimus' spike. This was getting distracting—for both of them, he could tell. Determined to finish what he'd started, he let go of Rodimus' fingers and sank down to kneel between his legs. He spread wax over Rodimus' calves and thighs, buffing firmly as he went. Rodimus' armor was hot to his touch as he slid his palms between his thighs, slicking the smooth metal.

Rodimus shivered and rocked forward with his hips, but Tracks ignored the cod that was now so tantalizingly within his reach and skated his hands up to Rodimus' narrow waist, then down across his belly. He was reaching for a fresh buffing cloth when a big hand grasped his shoulder.

"Tracks…!"

Tracks glanced up, and had to smile. Rodimus' optics were blazing a fierce, brilliant blue, and his body was trembling in the grip of an entirely different kind of tension from that which he'd displayed earlier. Tracks kissed him. He couldn't help himself, and he hoped that he wasn't betraying too much. They'd never exactly been lovers. They had started off as racing buddies, sometimes with a little action on the side. That had progressed to something more along the lines of "friends with benefits," though Tracks had never really tried to define it. It had never seemed to matter until it suddenly did—but by then it was too late.

The last thing a newly-minted Prime needed, Tracks had told himself, was some lovesick moron pining over him. But at least there was this. Something he could still do for his friend, something he could give, even with this insistent voice within him that kept crying out for more. Rodimus gave as good as he got, though, cupping the side of Track's face with one hand while his other arm wrapped tight around his waist and dragged him halfway onto the berth. Powerful thighs clamped around Tracks' hips in a way that was, at once, totally commanding and at the same time utterly… oh.

Tracks levered up, breaking the kiss. "Rod?"

"Hmm?" Rodimus arched up to recapture the closeness, dropping little kisses along the side of Tracks' helm.

"You've…" Tracks paused, considering how best to phrase his next question. "You have interfaced in this frame before. Right?"

Rodimus huffed a quiet laugh. "When would I have had time?" He burrowed his face against Track's neck, softly biting the sensitive cables.

Damn.

"If you haven't," Tracks continued carefully, "then how do you know what this new frame likes?"

"Likes?" Rodimus dropped his helm back onto the berth and stared up at him. Then, "Oh." His cheekplates tinged a shade of pink that was only a little bit lighter than his paint job. "I guess I just assumed we'd… like we always did." His optic ridges puckered into a troubled frown. "It's because I'm a Prime now, isn't it?"

It was Tracks' turn to feel his faceplates heat up. "I guess… maybe," he admitted. He'd always tended to being a top, though he was comfortable going either way, and Hot Rod had always liked to bottom. But there was something strange, even improper, about the idea of mounting a Prime.

"I'm still the same person," Rodimus said. "At least I think I am. Somewhere in here."

"I'm an idiot," Tracks muttered, glancing away. "I'm sorry."

Rodimus caught his chin and turned his face back toward him. "S'okay. We can do it any way you like, but right now I'd really like to be just… me. Whatever that means anymore."

"Maybe…" Tracks' throat tightened, making it hard to get the words out. "Maybe we can figure it out together."

"I'd like that." Rodimus' voice was rough at the edges and he seemed, at the same time, both ancient and incredibly young. Tracks' spark flipped. When had this happened, this indefinable something that stirred within him whenever their gazes met?

He slid his hand down to delve between Rodimus' legs. Rodimus gasped and pressed into his touch, fluid already slicking the edges of his rear panel when Tracks glided his digits against it.

"Open for me?"

Rodimus did, and Tracks' fingers were instantly drenched. He found Rodimus' external node standing up firm and proud, and he glided his fingers over and around it, then pinched gently, loving the little groans he was able to coax from Rodimus. A shudder ran through Rodimus' frame as Tracks slipped a finger between his damp folds, and he drew his knees up, crossing his ankles above Track's back.

"More," he whispered, and Tracks obliged, pressing deeper. Rodimus was like a furnace inside, the walls of his channel gripping the contours of Track's finger and pulling it deeper. Tracks stroked the walls of his sheath, mapping the locations of interior sensor nodes. Nothing felt quite the same. Whatever the Matrix had done to Rod, it had reconfigured his frame literally from the inside out.

He eased a second finger in to join the first, and found his suspicions confirmed when he stretched Rod's first caliper ring and felt a sudden tightening through his frame. Rodimus gasped, biting his lip, and Tracks withdrew his fingers.

"I think we're going to have to take this slowly."

Rodimus groaned. "I have to lose my virginity all over again?"

"Pretty much." Tracks bent to kiss his full bottom lip. "Lucky for you, I happen to have deflowered my fair share of virgins."

"Is that a fact?"

"It's not as if I go looking for them," Tracks explained. "They just… arrive."

"Yeah? Just how many are we talking about?" Rodimus asked, glancing around as if he expected a virgin or two to pop out of one of the storage compartments.

"Enough that I know what I'm doing." Tracks reached for one of the cushions. "Raise your hips."

Rodimus gave him a mutinous look, but cooperated. Tracks slid the cushion beneath his aft, then opened the bedside drawer and pulled out a bottle of lube.

"Not that you don't have plenty of your own," he explained as he showed it to Rodimus, "but every little bit helps. Besides, this one tingles." He gave the bottle a good shake and set it aside. "Now." He laid his hand flat against Rodimus' chest, just above the Matrix, then slid it down the length of his frame to cradle his cod. "Give me your rod, Roddy."

Rodimus sighed, pretending reluctance, but his unwillingness seemed less than convincing when his panel slipped open and the most unfailingly honest part of his anatomy sprang, fully pressurized, into Tracks' palm. Tracks let out low whistle of appreciation as he stroked its length. It certainly was… well, for lack of a better word, Prime.

"You're beautiful, you know that?"

Rodimus' cheekplates flushed again, but he looked pleased. He seemed about to reply, but whatever he might have said choked into a groan as Tracks ran the tip of his glossa along the path his hand had just taken, tracing the sculpted ridges of that thick, silvery column. It was a stretch to get his mouth around the heavy crown, but he took it in as far as he could, all the while using his free hand to work the bottle open. He got some of the lube on his fingers and eased one of them into Rodimus' channel.

"Oh." Rodimus looked surprised. "That does tingle."

"Mmhm," Tracks responded. His mouth was stuffed full, and he wasn't letting go of his prize for anything. Not just yet, anyway.

He worked his way deeper, feeling the tingling sensation on his digit tips. It would feel far more intense against the delicate inner walls of Rodimus' valve, offering a distraction from any discomfort he might experience. Tracks intended to keep discomfort to a minimum, though. He found the first ring and worked it with slow corkscrew movements, all the while bobbing up and down on Rod's glorious shaft.

Rodimus bucked into his mouth, the movement of his hips inadvertently pulling Tracks' fingers deeper inside. Tracks reached the second ring, which opened almost eagerly after a few moments of patient coaxing, and he felt a hot gush of fluid soak his fingers to the knuckles. He slicked himself anyway. He wasn't freakishly large—certainly not Prime-sized—but he wasn't exactly small, either, and besides, he'd bought the tingling lube for a reason. Getting to use it in a context apart from self-pleasure was an unexpected bonus.

He let go of Rodimus' shaft and braced his knees against the edge of the berth as he leaned up to kiss him. Rodimus kissed back with abandon, eagerly seeking traces of his own flavor in Tracks' mouth.

"Ready, babe?" Tracks asked. The question was probably redundant at this stage, but he wanted to make absolutely sure.

Rodimus hitched his hips into position and glared at him. "Primus, just frag me!"

Tracks laughed. He nipped softly at the lower lip that Rodimus had, himself, bitten earlier, and lined himself up against the slick entrance. It was Rodimus who pushed first. Tracks briefly considered trying to discourage that, but his words evaporated in the ferocious wet heat that suddenly clenched around the tip of his spike.

"Oh," he muttered. "Oh frag, frag, frag—"

Rodimus chuckled. He wrapped his powerful legs around Tracks' hips and clamped down on him, dragging him deeper. Tracks' vision snowed at the edges as those silken walls gripped with improbable strength, squeezing him past the point of pain, though it was pain of the best possible kind.

"Hot Rod," he muttered, using Rodimus' old name without meaning to. It was just that this was Hot Rod, the brash young racer that he'd first met, fearless and carefree and— "Damn it!" he gasped as a big hand caught the back of his helm and hauled him into a deep, claiming kiss.

Rodimus set up a punishing rhythm, contracting his legs to pull Tracks deep, then releasing him. Tracks pushed almost as an afterthought. It hardly seemed necessary; Rodimus was fragging him, not the other way, but he certainly wasn't going to complain about it. Any fears he might have had about hurting Rodimus were dissolving in the scent of ozone and the crackling buildup of charge between their frames.

This wasn't going to last. It was like being caught in a tidal wave, and there was nothing he could do except hang on and enjoy the ride. Oh, and one other thing. He adjusted the pillow to raise Rodimus' hips a little higher, grabbed his knees and pushed them down against his hood so that he was pounding into him from a steeper angle. It was obvious when he hit the sensitive node at the apex of Rodimus' channel.

Rodimus' hands dug into his upper arms hard enough to leave dents, and his hips arched right off the pillow. Tracks had just enough presence of mind to reach between them and grasp Rodimus' spike, pumping him in time with his thrusts once, twice, and—

Rodimus threw his head back with a shout loud enough to rattle the windows, which proved that there were certain advantages to not having any neighbors. Hot fluid sprayed across Tracks' belly, and there was a corresponding burst of charge inside Rodimus as his caliper rings seized tight, locking around Tracks' girth with ruthless force. Tracks heard a sound from himself that he scarcely recognized, it was so raw and primitive, edged with static. A shudder rocked him from helm to pede as his overload was practically dragged from him. He exploded inside Rodimus' greedy channel, then froze, trembling, until warm, powerful arms caught him and he sagged against Rodimus with a whimper.

"Hm. Sorry 'bout your sheets," Rodimus said, eventually. "They look like they might be expensive."

Tracks' laugh was muffled against the side of his neck. He levered himself half off his friend and glanced around, assessing the damage. The bottle of lube, which he'd forgotten to close, lay on its side, contents spilled across the berth, and… well yes, the sheets. He'd probably need to replace them.

"They were old," he lied, and buried his face against Rodimus' jaw, nuzzling the sculpted lines and luxuriating in the softened purr of Rodimus' engines.

"It's not just that I haven't had time," Rodimus said after another long pause, during which he kept his legs gripped tight around Tracks' hips, trapping him inside.

"Time for what?"

"To interface," Rodimus explained. His fingers traced Tracks' shoulder, and glided idly along the edge of one of his wings. "I've been busy, but not that busy, not so busy that I couldn't have had a frag now and then. I just…" he shrugged, and Tracks felt his cheekplates getting warm again, "I just thought you weren't interested."

"Me? I thought you wouldn't be."

"Oh." Rodimus gave a soft laugh. "Guess we're idiots."

"Hmm, yeah." Tracks' legs were cramping from the awkward position, and he guessed that Rodimus' must be as well. He eased out, slowly and carefully, and had to smile at the additional gush of hot liquid that landed on his sheets. He was definitely going to need new ones, and he didn't care. He leaned over the edge of the berth and groped around on the floor until he found one of the polishing cloths, unfolded it, and began cleaning up the spatters that had ended up on his Prime's chassis.

Rodimus caught his hand. "Let me."

He drew Tracks fully onto the berth and coaxed him onto his back. He took hold of the hand that Tracks had used to prepare him and carefully licked each finger before wiping it clean with the cloth. He continued over Tracks' chest and belly, and Tracks relaxed with a sigh, enjoying the firm, yet soft, caresses. His body felt deliciously warm and heavy. He could almost fall into recharge right here, but then something occurred to him.

"Rod?"

"Hm?"

Rodimus' polishing strokes were migrating lower to glide teasingly over his hips. Tracks' spike stirred with undeniable interest, and he decided that maybe he wasn't quite as wrung-out as he'd imagined.

"I haven't deflowered any virgins lately," he said. "Apart from you, that is. I haven't actually been with anyone since you and I stopped…" he shrugged. "Well. Whatever it was we were doing back then."

Rodimus' hand went still. "Really?"

"Not that I wasn't getting offers, you understand."

Rodimus grinned. It was Hot Rod's grin, as bright and clear as sunshine, but also wasn't. It was something new, and Tracks could only marvel at it. "I do understand," Rodimus said, his gaze sweeping down the length of Tracks' frame, then back up to his face. "So… it's all right if I stay?"

Tracks sighed. There really was, he supposed, only one way to answer that. He lunged at Rodimus and knocked him flat, pinning him beneath his weight. "Yes," he said, and kissed him. "It'll save having to hunt you down."

"Sounds intriguing," Rodimus said, "but maybe I'd like to hunt you down instead." He grabbed Tracks' shoulders and flipped him on his back, trapping him effortlessly with his large frame.

"Seems this new frame does like a few things that the old one didn't," Tracks remarked, then gasped as Rodimus pushed a knee between his thighs and ground their hips together. He could already feel that magnificent, Prime-sized spike getting hard against his belly, and the thought of having it inside him made him dizzy.

"Not really," Rodimus answered softly. He brushed his thumb against Tracks' lower lip and tugged his mouth open as he bent to kiss him. "Still wants you." He paused just shy of that kiss, his optics searching Tracks' own. "Whatever we were doing back then," he said, "I think it could be more. Do you agree?"

Tracks stared blankly back at him. Nonsensically, a part of his processor began to debate just how he'd explain all this to Raoul the next time they spoke.

"I'm not trying to put pressure on you," Rodimus added with a frown. "I mean just being open to possibilities, seeing where the road takes us, and—"

"Yes!" Tracks interrupted, and dragged him into that kiss before he could spout another cliche. "Yes, if that's what you want."

"It's what I always wanted," Rodimus whispered. "I just didn't know how to ask for it."

"Makes two of us," Tracks replied, suddenly giddy. Maybe Raoul had been right about the sour grapes, but it no longer mattered. What he'd been looking for had come to him, in the most unexpected of ways, and when he wrapped his arms around Rodimus' neck and surrendered to his next kiss, he could think of no outcome sweeter.