Ratchet couldn't sleep that night, and Resonance didn't come home.
He wasn't worried about the Res's safety. He could feel that Resonance was physically okay. Res was somewhere that music was playing, and younglings were dancing. Res wasn't dancing, but he was watching the other kids. Ratchet could tell that much, because the Resonance was uncharacteristically careless about maintaining his side of the bond.
He could also tell that Res was truly upset.
Which meant that Ratchet was unable to sleep. He hadn't meant to upset Resonance this badly, and it bothered him. He felt horrible. He was not a nice mech, and he knew it. Point of fact, he was an aft. He'd been known to be an aft for most of his life. He was hot-tempered, brutally honest, and arrogant, and he didn't care what anyone else thought.
But he'd never meant to hurt Resonance.
He could have been more tactful. He could have introduced Res to more younglings; Resonance needed to find a lover his own age. He couldn't bond with another mech, but that didn't mean he couldn't have fun. Instead, Ratchet had monopolized his time, had apparently led him on, and now Resonance ... wanted ... him, and it just wasn't fair to Res.
Ratchet lay awake, working himself into an exceedingly miserable mood.
Morning came, and Resonance was recharging fitfully somewhere close, perhaps in this same tower ... Ratchet had not slept at all.
Anodyne knocked on his door sometime just after dawn.
"What?" He said, without any other greeting. "'Dyne, it's early."
Anodyne stepped through his door, and then palmed the switch to shut it. "Res is asleep on my dorm room floor. What did you do to him?"
"It's none of your business."
"He's my friend." Anodyne said, stubbornly. "You are my professor, but I also thought we were friends. I don't like my friends fighting."
"Anodyne, it's private."
"Resonance is just about the most forgiving mech I've ever met. He puts up with you." Anodyne crossed his arms over his broad chest and glared down at Ratchet. "He said something about you not wanting him."
'It is an issue that would be totally inappropriate to discuss with a student."
Anodyne lifted one optic ridge. "Let me guess. Interface, right?"
Ratchet growled. Wordlessly. He didn't want to discuss this with a one-vorn-old youngling!
Anodyne clapped a hand over his face. "Ratchet. Let me keep guessing. Resonance desires you, right?"
Unwillingly, he admitted, "Yes."
"And you desire him. Don't answer that, I know the answer to that. He's gorgeous."
"I'm not." And he was pretty sure that, despite all the recovery he'd managed, he would have technical trouble with the act of interface.
"To quote my human friends, bullshit."
"I'm not going to be his pity frag, and I'm not going to let him be victimized by the bond!" Ratchet snapped his mouth shut, and then pointed at the door. "Out. This isn't an appropriate discussion with a student. You're overstepping."
Anodyne looked like he wanted to argue, but at that moment, the door slid open to reveal Res. Ratchet suspected his own temper had woken the mech. Res had a thunderous expression on his face, and it was aimed squarely at Anodyne. "'Dyne, OUT."
"I'm just trying to help!"
"You're not! The more someone argues with Ratchet, the more stubborn he gets. This isn't helping. It's making things worse."
Anodyne opened his mouth, shut it, and then said, "Sorry, Res. He's just ... oh, slag both of you."
Resonance slapped the 'close' button on the door with a little too much force, and then, as soon as Anodyne was gone, rounded on Ratchet. He pulled himself up to his full height, which was a good ten feet taller than Ratchet, and then he snapped, "When you behave like this, you are not attractive."
"Yeah? This is the real me." He couldn't keep a sullen snarl out of his response.
"You can't lie to me. It's not the real you."
"And what do you mean arguing with me makes me more stubborn?"
Resonance snorted. "Ratchet, you are an aft."
He gaped, startled. Resonance's voice tone was not angry. It was matter-of-fact. Resonance had never called him out before, and at least some of his surprise was because Resonance sounded exactly like Optimus in that moment. Optimus had, occasionally, told him, "Ratchet, don't be an aft," in a matter of fact tone of voice, usually followed by a precise and blunt analysis of exactly how he was being an aft.
Resonance didn't disappoint there, either. In the same calm tone of voice that Optimus would have used, he continued, "You are rude to your friends. You are so selfishly wrapped up in your own problems that you are oblivious to anyone else's. You think you're the only person who misses Optimus? Jazz knew him longer than you, and I think the only reason Jazz puts up with you at all now is because he loved Optimus to the very core of his spark -- he'd have bonded with Optimus in a nanoclick, and he's told me as much. However, he not only respected Optimus's choice, but he's looked out for you because that was what Optimus would have wanted. So yes, at times, you are an aft."
His mouth stayed open. Resonance was angry, and he wasn't even trying to hide it. That cool tone of voice was deceptive. He knew a wealth of cold anger lurked behind it. Optimus used the same tone when dealing with senate meetings.
"Jazz kept me in the loop, as far as you were concerned, because he knew someday I'd need to deal with you and I needed the whole picture."
"That nosy little spy ..."
"No, Ratchet. Don't you dare get mad at him. The only reason he had to resort to surveillance was because you wouldn't let anyone in your life, much less him. If you'd had an arc-out while you were alone, or had gotten hurt, or had Primus forbid tried to commit suicide -- and he was terrified you would -- he'd have been there."
"I'm not going to kill myself."
"No. But he didn't know that." Resonance's voice was still dangerously cool. Ratchet wanted to shrink down inside his own plating until he completely disappeared from view. "You are an aft. You had friends, Ratchet, good ones. Not just Jazz. What about Wheeljack, or Percy, or First Aid? Skyfire thinks the world of you and he's scared to even talk to you for fear he might make you upset. Pit, Prowl was your friend, and that mech doesn't trust anyone. You broke his trust in you. And Bumblebee! Bee looked up to you like you were his surrogate sire!"
Resonance wasn't done. "And you have treated them all like they didn't matter because you got hurt. Ratchet, damnit, I get it. Something really bad happened to you. But instead of facing up to it like an adult and then moving on, you disappeared into a cube of high grade for over a vorn, and when anyone tried to help you, you drove them away by being as much of a jerk as possible to them. Deliberately!"
His voice rose on the last word for the first time. Optimus had used that tactic, a cool and collected tone ending, at the very last, with a sharp exclamation, in speeches and political arguments, and it was a stabbing reminder of just who Resonance was.
"You think I'm not aware?" Ratchet ground out. "I know, Res. I know I've been ..."
"Shut up, and listen to me!" Resonance interrupted. Ratchet wanted to apologize, and the sharpness of Resonance's voice brought him up short. He returned to that calm, controlled, tone of voice, and sounding remarkably reasonable, Resonance said, "You haven't been treating me fairly."
"Probably not," he agreed, in an ominous growl of his own that used to send interns and walking wounded scrambling for cover. The only reason he hadn't exploded at Resonance was that he was too shocked by the suddenness of Res's temper. And Resonance was extremely angry, despite how cool he sounded.
"It's not sudden, damnit." Resonance bit out, answering his unspoken thoughts. Now he sounded angry. "You have your head so far up your aft you haven't even wondered why you can't feel my moods most of the time! It's because I didn't want you to know just how pissed off I was!"
He stared. The kid had phenomenal mental control. Optimus had been similar, but he had always assumed that was a side effect of the Matrix and not a spark trait.
"I am not a child." Resonance threw his hands into the air. "I'm seventy-six years old. If I were human, I'd be considered a venerable elder, full of wisdom. Seventy-six years is plenty of time to learn about life. I'm physically mature, as well, so stop thinking about me as a child, because I'm not! Damnit, Ratchet, you're the one who acts like a petty little brat most of the time!"
WItness: Cold anger exiting stage left, justified outrage entering stage right. Resonance's words were different, he did not have Optimus's formality, but this pattern was incredibly similar to how Optimus had argued. He half expected to hear his own name roared in the same tone that Optimus used to snarl, "MEGATRON!"
"I'm sorry." His own temper abruptly disappeared. He could hear the truth in Resonance's words, and feel the sense of justified outrage in his spark. "I'm sorry. You didn't chose me. It's not fair to you."
"No. I didn't." Resonance also huffed a deep sigh. "And don't you dare go off and have a private pity party inside a cube, either. I won't let you. We're stuck in this together, you and me, and you're right -- the bond probably has something to do with how I feel about you, but I do not care. Those feelings are still genuine. I am still deeply attracted to you, as a mech, and I admire you greatly, and you know what? There are times when I'm completely pissed off at you, but I never stop caring about you even when you are being a total aft. Having spoken to a few mecha who are bonded, that seems to be pretty damn normal for a relationship."
"I'm sorry. For being a stubborn aft." He had been rude.
"I actually like your determination. It's what's made you the best physician on Cybertron, it's what kept you alive -- and saved the lives of tens of thousands of mecha -- through the war. It's integral to your spark. But sometimes, it is also frustrating, when you're being stubborn about something stupid."
"That's real honest of you." He raised an optic ridge at Resonance. He was trying not to get angry again.
"And," Resonance continued, "I really am attracted to you. Pit take it, Ratchet, maybe I didn't have a choice in this, but I am not unhappy about it! I want to spend the rest of my life with you, but you won't have me, and I don't have the option of chosing someone else! That is NOT FAIR to me!"
"You know what? Just leave me alone." He turned to stomp off into his bedroom. He didn't want to hear any more. He couldn't take any more.
Resonance caught his arm.
He spun back, real anger lighting in his optics.
Resonace had droppd down to one knee. Their considerable height difference meant this made him just a little taller than Ratchet. Before Ratchet could process what Resonance had planned, Res simply kissed him.
He started to push away, but Resonance had opened his side of the bond fully. Ratchet could feel everything in the young mech's spark, including both real desire and a true sense of vulnerability, overlaid with lingering irritation. Resonance was taking a tremendous risk, and he was terrified of being rejected by the one mech -- Ratchet -- he truly wanted. He was also still pissed off at Ratchet, but he was trying to push his way through that and make peace. He didn't want to fight with Ratchet.
If Ratchet rejected him, he had no other options. Not only did he desperately want Ratchet's approval, and love, but he was being dangled over a yawning abyss. His fate would be to live a life forever lonely if Ratchet denied him.
Resonance wasn't a mech who fought with others, unless he was fighting for something. In a shining moment of clarity, Ratchet realized that Resonance found him worth every minute of unpleasant anger.
Resonance was also ... clumsy. It was very clear that he was inexperienced. He was trying, certainly, but he didn't seem to know what to do with his hands, and his lips were too soft, and what the heck was he doing with his tongue?
Ratchet leaned back, but only far enough to look Resonance in the optics. "Res, have you ever kissed anyone before?"
Resonance sounded, and felt, just a little embarrassed, but only a little, "Is it that obvious?"
Ratchet snorted in sudden amusement. "You win, Res."
He thought, could not help but think, that Optimus had been the only mech he'd ever allowed to win a fight.
Res pressed his helm to Ratchet's chevron. "I'm not Optimus."
"I know that."
Resonance stroked Ratchet's cheek with his thumb, and said not a word.
"I ... am horribly attracted to you." Ratchet admitted. Resonance was so vibrant, handsome, tall, beautiful, and kind without being patronizing. He was brilliantly intelligent, responsible, and he had wisdom far beyond his youth. Ratchet would never have been attracted to a 'kid' who was still immature in behavior, but Resonance's combination of youthful vigor combined with adult maturity was incredibly attractive.
"It's not horrible to be attracted to me. I promise." Resonance smiled at him.
Ratchet huffed. "This is inappropriate."
"Says who? I am an adult. I consent, and if I didn't consent to this, I could walk away and you would let me -- you'd not only encourage me, you'd probably pay for my ticket back to Earth and wave me on my way."
Ratchet chuckled. "You know I'd throw you a farewell-and-good-riddance party, and then pretend I was happy you were gone."
He was making fun of himself. He hadn't done that in too many years. Optimus had always had that effect on him; had made him see his own foibles and see the humor in them.
Resonance snorted a laugh that was very un-Prime-like and yet, somehow, sounded exactly like a noise a very young Optimus might have made before dignity and gravitas overwhelmed his naturally well-developed sense of humor. "Seriously, Ratchet, I like that you are attracted to me. We are bondmates. There is no moral nor practical nor legal issue with us having a relationship. I've even discussed it with Rodimus and Jazz and Alpha Trion."
"I didn't want any sort of a scandal. You teach younglings; that could be very bad. However, Roddy says if anyone has a problem with our relationship, he will bop them on the head with a clue bat. A direct quote."
Ratchet shook his head in mild disbelief at Rodimus's threat. Roddy was amazingly effective as Prime for a mech who had none of Optimus's dignity and far more energy, enthusiasm, and youthful charm than any Prime should possess.
Decided, Ratchet pulled Resonance back to his feet with a tug on his arms. "C'mon. If we're going to do this, let's do it right." Privately, he was terrified he wouldn't be able to ... perform ... but he could at least give the kid a good time.
He led the way to his room, trying to hide his nervousness. Resonance was such an amazing mech, and this was his first time, and Ratchet didn't want to screw up.
"Relax, Ratch." Resonance said. Despite his inexperience, he seemed far calmer than Ratchet was. He sat easily down on the edge of the berth, then reached out and pulled Ratchet towards him by the hands. "It'll be fine. If this doesn't work, we can just do it again and keep practicing and someday you'll heal fully. Right?"
He shot Resonance a startled look, then frowned. "You're reading my mind again."
"I can't help it."
"I give up. I'm just going to assume you know all my deepest and darkest secrets."
One corner of Resonance's mouth turned up in half a smile. "Probably for the best if you do."
Ratchet smiled back at him. Of the two of them, it amused him that Res, despite his lack of experience, was far calmer. "What ever did I do to deserve you?"
"Stop worrying so much. This isn't about impressing me," Resonance said, then added, "I want to touch you."
"That's pretty much the idea."
Resonance's chuckle made Ratchet grin. He reached up, took one of Resonance's hands in his, and guided Resonance's fingers from a chaste handhold on his arm to a much more intimate caress of his hip joint. Resonance promptly gripped both his hips, then slid his hands back and stroked Ratchet's aft. "Been wanting to touch this ..."
Ratchet ran a hand down Resonance's chest, fingers expertly finding transformation seams and half-hidden sensors. Resonance gasped in both surprise and pleasure, and pressed into his hand.
In his own youth, Ratchet had been known to party, hard, and he'd had any number of lovers. He couldn't remember the last time he'd simply explored another mech's frame with curiosity and real interest. It took him a moment to realize he was acting this way because he was picking up on Resonance's sparkfelt emotions. Resonance was genuinely curious, not at all anxious, and not in any particular hurry. He was aroused, yes, but his formidable self-discipline translated to incredible patience in the berth.
"You are amazing," Ratchet murmured at him, as he pushed Resonance onto his back. His spike was definitely not going to come online, and the jury was still out on his valve, but that didn't mean that he couldn't appreciate the fact that Resonance wanted him and was in his berth. His mind and spark were certainly interested, even if his frame was refusing to cooperate.
Most younglings were overly eager, extremely excitable, and clumsy. Resonance was none of those. In this moment, he seemed far, far, older than his years. Perhaps, in some ways, he was. He had no memories of his past, but they claimed the spark had a sort of memory of its own. Optimus had been the best lover of Ratchet's life, for the eight days they had together.
It didn't take him long to find Ratchet's most sensitive spots. There were nerve wires and sensor clusters and exposed patches of protoform that were deeply erogenous, and which made Ratchet groan when touched, even if his actual array was missing in action. Resonance was a bit clumsy, and inexperienced, but he wasn't rude, or grabby, or selfish. Also, he wanted Ratchet, in ways nobody had wanted Ratchet since Optimus had died. Resonance, sensing Ratchet's reaction to his honest desire, let the bond between them open fully. He let Ratchet's reactions guide him.
He could feel Resonance's feelings, and even hear his thoughts now. Resonance's entire focus was on him; his thoughts were full of desire, and admiration, and ... real love. Resonance saw something in his spark that not even Ratchet himself understood, and Resonance loved him for it.
"If you want to spike me," Ratchet gasped, as Resonance nuzzled his throat, nipping and kissing, "you'll need to ..." He provided a mental image, overlaced with raw need that he couldn't contain and didn't try to hide. He wanted this. Primus above and below, he wanted this.
Resonance's hand cupped his panel, then when it slid aside, slipped a single finger inside him. He was dry; his interface equipment was, damnit, just not cooperating. Those motor circuits were way down the priority queue for repair and reintegration, particularly since his frame and protoform itself wasn't entirely healed yet.
Ratchet reached into his subspace and produced a tube of medical grade joint lubricant, which had a few well-known off-label uses. He provided Resonance with another mental image, with minimal actual embarrassment -- he was a physician, and he'd known this would be an issue from the moment he'd agreed.
Resonance looked him in the optics. ~We can wait.~
~Pit. I'm not some damned invalid.~
~But you won't be able to ...~
~So? I can still enjoy the intimacy.~
~I assumed you'd spike me, anyway.~ The much larger shuttle was worried he'd hurt Ratchet. Ratchet had always liked big mecha; he provided wordless assurance, backed up by experience, that Resonance wouldn't damage him. He also let Resonance feel just how much he really desired the intimacy and the tenderness, and how much he would enjoy bringing Resonance to a climax.
Then Resonance was atop him, heavy weight pressing Ratchet into the firm surface of his berth. Res propped himself up on his elbows, but he was still massive, and it was wonderful. Ratchet had always loved big mecha, at least partly because of the illusion of loss of control ... just for a bit, he could give up all responsibility, and simply let Resonance take over.
Resonance pressed into his valve; he was hot, and large, and the stretch hurt. Resonance tried to stop, but Ratchet shifted the angle of his hips, and spread his legs wider, and before Res could pull back, he rocked his hips upward. Resonance, reacting to the heat, and to Ratchet's clear intent, responded with a firm thrust. The change in position was all it took; there was no more pain.
Resonance was careful, and had more stamina than Ratchet expected. Despite the fact that Ratchet's equipment remained stubbornly offline, Resonance showered him with mental praise and compliments and incredible desire. He responded with how much he was enjoying this, and he was -- even if Ratchet couldn't overload himself, watching Resonance come undone was amazing and to know that he was behind Resonance's arousal was truly overwhelming.
There was a burst of heat, of fluid, of mild pressure, and Resonance called his name in a choked, overwhelmed voice, then slumped to one side and threw an arm over Ratchet's chest. Resonance pulled Ratchet close, sliding down a bit so their heads were at the same level as he did, and then he pressed a kiss to Ratchet's lips and looked him in the optics. "I can't wait until you can spike me."
Ratchet's interface drive liked that, even if his equipment refused to respond to his processors' insistent pings.
Even so, doubt crept into Resonance's expression. He said, ~I feel selfish.~
~So do I.~ Ratchet retorted. ~I've got a mech who's as handsome as a young God all to myself, and I refuse to share him with anyone.~
Resonance grinned at him, and then his expression changed to one of surprise when Ratchet wriggled down a bit, reached a hand out, and closed it around Resonance's now-flaccid spike. ~What are you ...~
Ratchet's smirk turned positively mischevious. ~There's a young god in my berth. I think I want to play with him a bit.~
~Oh!~ Resonance's reaction was wordless, and very surprised, when Ratchet rose up on his hands and knees, then closed his mouth around his now not-entirely-limp spike.
~Flight frames have a rather minimal refractory period, particularly young ones,~ Ratchet said, conversationally, even as he showed Resonance just how very much experience he had. He might not do casual relationships, but he was old enough to have had many lovers all the same. He knew what he was doing in a berth. Age did have some benefits.
Resonance threw his head back, and clenched his hands into fists in reaction to Ratchet's tongue hitting a certain sensor bundle just so. Ratchet chuckled deep in his throat, and considering what else he had down his throat, the effect on Resonance was spectacular. Resonance pounded the berth with one fist and clutched at Ratchet's shoulder pauldron with his other. Ratchet, pleased by the sounds coming from his bondmate, slid his thumb into Resonance's valve and pressed down on a particularly sensitive node while simultaneously sucking hard.
This time, he knocked Resonance right offline.
Ratchet, quite smug, was straddling Resonance's thighs when he rebooted. Resonance blinked down at him. Ratchet smirked. "I'm curious how many overloads I can get out of you ..."
~You're enjoying this far too much,~ Resonance said, tone playful.
~Why yes, yes I am.~ Ratchet decided he didn't feel guilty about this at all. Resonance had started it, had made his interest clear, and now Ratchet had one of the most stunning mechanisms he'd ever seen in his berth. Resonance was all his at this moment, and Ratchet saw no reason not to have a good deal of fun.