They got a much larger two bedroom apartment down the hall the next week. One bedroom was for their berth; the other they turned into a shared office. The furniture that Sideswipe had purchased Ratchet was given to Anodyne, who happily carted it off to his dorm room nine floors below them. Ratchet held no grudges towards Sideswipe, but he wanted no reminders, either. He'd been in a terrible place, then, and his future was much brighter now.
Resonance loved the color red, even though his armor was gold. ("I remind people a bit too much of Optimus when I wear red," he'd explained. ) Ratchet let him pick out their new furnishings, and Resonance selected furniture that was sturdy yet stylish, with red accents. A few lamps with blue shades lit the corners of the room, and Resonance had also purchased some potted plants. All of them were Terran. Some of them were big enough that humans would have called them "trees." Resonance, who had grown up tending hydroponic farms, seemed determined to turn their quarters into a giant greenhouse.
(Ratchet, in his snarkier moments, called their quarters "the terrarium, complete with local fauna" -- the local fauna being a pack of humans. Ratchet could barely tell them apart, and he was not inclined to befriend creatures whose lifespans left him grieving their loss in less than a vorn, but Resonance adored humans and humans adored him right back. He grumbled sometimes about having to watch his step in his own quarters, but he knew Resonance had made real friends among the human population on Cybertron and so he tolerated their presence. He felt it was good for Res, young and vibrant, to have a life beyond his affair with one curmudgeonly old medic.)
And thinking of 'affairs' reminded him that their berth was enormous, with a springy rubber mattress. Resonance had imported the mattress, at great expense, from Earth.
Ratchet's contribution to the apartment's design was to install a very good sound system. He wasn't much of a music connoisseur but Res was, and this was a gift to his bondmate.
And then he learned that he and Resonance did not share the same taste in music. Wryly, he thought he should have expected that. He and Optimus had disagreed on music too. Ratchet didn't like music with words. He found words in his music distracting when he was trying to concentrate. Resonance had never met a long ballad he didn't like, regardless of musical style. Anodyne, who helped them move, found this disagreement hysterical, and then as an apartment-warming gift, he had sound-proofed their shared office.
After the new apartment was set up, and everything in its place, and Anodyne had left, Ratchet cornered Resonance in their berthroom. Res felt his intentions as he approached, and turned with an open smile on his face. Ratchet, wordlessly, attached the false spike to his interface panel and then advanced on Resonance with focused purpose.
He wasn't tall enough to pin Resonance's hands over his head, but he held them down at Res's sides with a good bit of his weight. Grinning, he proceeded to pound into Resonance, punctuating each stroke with words. "You. Are. Mine. Forever. Mine. All. Mine."
Resonance's heels scrabbled at the berth's mattress, and he arched his back against Ratchet's weight. He cried out, panted, gasped. Ratchet had no mercy, and since it was a false spike and not his own, it would never deflate. He drove into Resonance until Res had climaxed a good four times, and then he collapsed across the mech and said with satisfaction, "I will never get tired of that."
Res stroked his helm with a large hand and said softly, "I love you, Ratchet."
It was Quintessons, at Earth. Ratchet didn't think that anyone was surprised by this development.
They never actually reached Earth orbit. This seemed to surprise everyone but Resonance and Prowl. (And likely Jazz, but Jazz was still away on his "mission." Music had never approved the release of his medical records, so Ratchet assumed that Jazz's mission was a failure.)
To everyone's else's surprise, and certainly that of the Quintessons and their galactic supporters, Earth's Defense Force came boiling out to meet the advancing Quintesson dreadnought with unmatched ferocity. The Quintessons were ancient, and had the technological advantage, but they could not win against tens of thousands of human drones each remotely piloted by a human or a Cybertronian expat. Each craft was very heavily armed, courtesy of their Cybertronian allies, and incredibly nimble, and they tore the attacking Quintessons to shreds within minutes.
Then the humans boarded Cosmos and Indigo plus six Terran-made unsparked transports and took the fight to the nearest Quintesssan military base. There, they proceeded to to beat the Pit out of the Quintesson's army, blow up a few bases, and utterly destroy two orbital defense stations out of nine.
Indigo saw his first combat, and by all reports, did quite well. Skyfire was disturbed by this; Astrotrain, delighted. Prowl, ever pragmatic, made plans for the young shuttle to get formal combat training with the seekers and his sire, Astrotrain. Cosmos had apparently been tutoring the kid, but Cosmos was a large courier, not a warframed shuttle.
Point made to the Quintessons regarding human military competence, the humans returned home two weeks later, victorious and more than a little smug.
Prowl's assessment, to Ratchet, was that the Quintessons would probably be back ... but not for a very long time. Multiple human lifespans might pass before the Terran system saw them again.
All bets were still off for Cybertron.
Resonance sat crosslegged on the floor, watching the sun set over Iacon from their lofty apartment. When Ratchet walked by he reached out, caught Ratchet around the waist, and pulled the medic effortlessly into his lap.
It was undignified ... Ratchet thought, for a moment, then he realized the benefits of this position. His back was to Res's chest, and Resonance was easily able to loop his arms around Ratchet's frame and hold him close. Resonance rested his chin on the top of Ratchet's head, and Ratchet could feel the heat of Resonance's interface panel against his own pelvic cradle.
Resonance absently stroked Ratchet's legs. His touch was platonic; Res wasn't thinking about interface (yet, the mech had a very healthy drive) but they'd been lovers for long enough that Resonance rubbed the inside of Ratchet's thighs as a casual form of intimacy.
Ratchet relaxed into the touch, leaning back against Resonance's chest. His equipment remained resolutely offline, but he sent Resonance a very clear visual of what he'd like to do, had he been able to. It involved Resonance on all fours.
~There's the false spike,~ Resonance suggested. He liked the idea. His fans clicked on instantly. So much for non-sexual touches. Resonance's long fingers stroked the edges of Ratchet's panel.
~Nah. I'm liking your lap too much. Maybe later.~ Ratchet said, then rose briefly, but only to turn around so he was straddling Resonance's legs. It didn't take long for Res's spike to stand tall and proud and large between them, and Ratchet lowered himself onto it. He was thrilled with his ability to cause Resonance to come completely undone.
After, he remained leaning against Resonance's chest, and looked up at his lover. Resonance smiled down at him, expression very tender. "You are the center of my world," Resonance said, "And I wouldn't have it any other way."
Ratchet stroked Resonance's chest. "Sparks?" He suggested, almost shyly. What he was suggesting was incredibly intimate, beyond merely the bond, and also fraught with possible complications. Ratchet wasn't ready for those complications, but he felt it was a risk worth taking. He wanted to feel Res.
"Can you?" Resonance hesitated. They'd talked about procreation a few times, and that meant spark merges, but they'd never tried it yet.
"Not without your help." Ratchet guided his hand to the manual latch to open his chest plates. He could have flipped the latch himself, but he couldn't do the rest. He explained, "You'll need to retract the iris on my spark chamber, too. It won't open unless I'm physically aroused or I trigger the release sequence, and I can't do either until my motor repairs finish."
Resonance's fingers were nimble, despite their size, and he was careful. Cool air wafted across the inside of Ratchet's spark chamber as his spark was bared. The glow lit Resonance's face from below; Ratchet's spark was just a few shades shy of the clear crystal blue of a Prime.
His lover's fingers brushed his spark, and Ratchet gasped as an electric feeling more intense than mere arousal seized his frame. "Primus!" He hadn't been expecting that, somehow, even though he knew that a climax from a spark merge was not the same as an overload from interface.
Resonance cried out too, as he caught an echo of that sensation across the bond, and he yanked his hand back in surprise. Then a slow grin spread across his face, and he ran a finger right down the edge of the chamber, just out of reach of the corona, with real intent. The touch was intoxicating, and Ratchet arched his back, trying to force Resonance's hand closer. Res obliged, teasing the very tips of the tendrils. Ratchet groaned, "Resonance ... Pit, I want you so bad ..."
Resonance guided him backwards to lie on the floor, and then lowered himself to meet Ratchet. His own spark was bare, and filled the rapidly darkening room with brilliant clear blue light, and then they came together and it was like coming home.
If he hadn't already been bonded to Res, he would have chosen to do so in that moment. Resonance was steady, and calm, and he considered Ratchet his, and it was incredibly clear, with no barriers between them, that Resonance not only wanted but expected to spend the rest of his life with Ratchet. He was operating from a basic assumption that they would never be parted, and that they were going to build a life together.
Ratchet was terrified he would lose that future. He had, once.
He wanted it enough to seize it and make it his own. If he lost Res tomorrow, today would be worth tomorrow's pain.
Resonance ground against him, pushing their sparks closer, with urgent need. Neither of them ever wanted to be separated. This was perfection, the two of them together.
But physics intervened at last, as a ripple of potent energy radiated out through their circuits, forewarning of the climax to come. It rolled over them like a tide, like an avalanche, and then coallesced into a singularity of energy between them.
Oh, thought Ratchet. It was beautiful, and the tiny sparkling floating between them had a spark frequency very close to Resonance's. The color was close to identical.
Oh, Resonance thought. Beautiful. Beautiful child.
Brief communication passed between them. One of them would have to host it, until a protoform could be initiated in a lab. Ratchet was not in the best physical condition, while Resonance was young and healthy. It made more sense for Res to carry it. However, Ratchet was startled by the fierce longing in his spark to be the carrier. He'd never really thought about it before, but he loved children, and he wanted this child.
~Can you safely carry?~ Resonance said.
Ratchet, physician, checked his own stats. ~Yes, but it will delay my final motor repairs for a significant amount of time. Sparklings draw a lot of energy and get priority over everything else.~
Ratchet cupped the floating ball of energy in his hands and guided it into his own chamber. He now had options. It could gestate there for months until the protoform for it was forged in a lab from their nanytes, and the sparkling's growth could then finish in a vat. Alternately, he could trigger his own gestation chamber to begin constructing a protoform for it using a combination of his CNA and Resonance's.
Most mecha opted for the latter choice. While there was less control over the results, primally created mecha were generally psychologically healthier (they were exposed to subliminal socialization cues while still in the gestation chamber rather than being isolated in a lab vat) and the whole process was simply much more personal. The child belonged to the couple from the very beginning. It was also, frankly, cheaper.
This child, however, would be a Primal candidate. So many Primes went to war that Ratchet was inclined to have her protoform grown in a vat simply to ensure that she was physically as strong as possible. She needed every advantage she could get. Few Primes had psychological issues.
The sparkling nestled against his spark, and the feeling was electric. There was an awareness of other ... not sentient thought, but consciousness. She, and he could tell it was definitely a femme by the polarity of the spark, was brightly curious and instantly affectionate. She wrapped herself in the tendrils of his own spark, responded to their connection with bubbling joy and deep trust. He fell in love at once, even before Resonance gently pushed the iris of his spark chamber shut.
Resonance said softly, "I wasn't expecting that on the first try."
"Only takes once, kid. And that is one reason why merging isn't common." Ratchet spread his hand over his chest. He could feel her. He loved her, selflessly and without qualification. The intensity was unlike anything he'd ever experienced before, yet it was not frightening. It felt natural. It felt right.
And though the sparkling would not have conscious thought until she had a processor and protoform, she loved him back with the entirety of her limited awareness.
Resonance shifted, and sat up, and then when Ratchet sat up too, he guided Ratchet into his lap in a mirror of the position that had started it all, half an hour before. Ratchet nestled in his lap, back to Resonance's chest, and with hands still over his spark. They were silent, for a long moment.
"I'm not ready," Resonance said, ruefully. "But ... but I can feel her, through you. She is mine. And I will be hers."
"We'll have about five years to get used to the idea," Ratchet said. He admitted, "I'm not ready either."
"Ratchet," Resonance said, softly, "I never realized sparks could love without conscious thought. Optimus loved you. As do I. Perhaps my love for you has been unwavering, despite everything that has happened, because sparks love."
Ratchet didn't know how to answer that.
"Don't." Resonance's grip on Ratchet tightened. "Just accept it. But -- I do have a question. Why do I feel so different from Optimus?"
"Optimus was emotionally exhausted, Res. He'd not only seen the destruction of his world, and his people. It wasn't true, but he did, and nothing I, nor anyone else, could say would convince him otherwise. Not only was he a self-sacrificing idiot, he had delusions of grandeur, too."
"You sound far too fond when you say those words," Resonance chuckled.
Ratchet snorted. "Only Optimus would blame himself for the destruction of our entire world when there were so many other mecha involved. Every single mech who pulled a trigger, threw a bomb, invented a device, or even healed a soldier, and yes I'm talking about myself! was responsible for that. It took all of us, and quite a bit of mutual effort, to destroy Cybertron. So yes, Optimus had a few delusions of grandeur when he held himself solely responsible."
"Surely not 'solely' ... there was Megatron."
Ratchet snorted. "Optimus always thought if he could just find the right words, he could talk Megatron into agreeing to a peace treaty. So he felt responsible there, too."
Resonance rested a hand on Ratchet's thigh, and Ratchet covered his hand with his own. Resonance said, a bit wryly, "That explains a few things Rung likes to focus on with me."
"You loved Optimus so much, though."
"Oh, so very much. Res, he could have healed. Getting him to talk to a shrink would have been about as easy as getting me to talk to a shrink, but I knew he had the capacity within himself to find peace, and redemption. And he was just ... he was my everything, my entire world. Now you," Ratchet poked Resonance in the leg with his index finger, "you are about the last mechanism I would have chosen for myself. You are way too cheerful and optimistic. But I think you're the best thing that's ever happened to me. I needed you, and I never even knew it."
Resonance kissed the back of his helm, a lingering touch. ~Yet I am him on core level, and he could have been like me.~
~Yeah. I know. In another universe, Optimus might have been just like you. Strange to think of that. I will miss him to the day I die, but I am very glad I have you.~