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Late Nights and Early Mornings

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The office was completely still and silent; not really surprising, given the time of orn it was. Everyone but the skeleton night crew had long cleared out and gone home. Only the light in the Superintendant's office was lit, the two inhabitants hard at work.

Thundercracker had already dismissed Nightsun and sent him home--the poor mech had already been slipping into recharge on his notes--with the understanding he'd be the first in the office tomorrow to set up for the impending budget meeting with the council. He and Celerity were trying to hunt down and fix the last of the discrepancies and have things ready for Nightsun in the morning before they crashed as well.

Things were going...well. Celerity and Thundercracker had been taking it slow; off-shift meals and talks led them to discovering they had more in common than they thought. Both loved their work and excelled at it, both were the "quiet ones" in their family; Thundercracker's wingmates were infamously loud, and Celerity's twin was boisterous and confidant, often overshadowing her sister. They were becoming very good friends and comfortable around each other.

Despite a patch of awkwardness between the two after their talk on the roof, it had been surprisingly easy to fall into a routine at work. Celerity was right; they did make a good team, and Nightsun's professionalism meant that they didn't have to have sit down and have a really uncomfortable conversation with their third in the office. Oh, neither was fooled that he didn't know, but Nightsun's way was to not call attention to it, to keep his helm down, and work. His field had been easier though, lately, and not so tight. They'd fallen in a good rhythm, and work was going smoothly.

Well, despite the impending budget mess.

"Seriously, let's just set fire to the pile and blame Skywarp."

Celerity snorted a laugh into her flimsy and shook her helm, but privately agreed with her superior. They'd just gotten the numbers from the council to match some semblance of working budget for the station without cutting hours or staff. She had to hand it to Thundercracker; he could be creative when he needed to be, and dogged. He cared about his staff and fought for every scrap he could give them. The issue now was the proposal for supplies for New Vos, which officially wasn't tied to the budget of Deixar's police force (except that it totally was because of the "sheer audacity" of the seeker leading said force...even his wingleader being ON said council couldn't change that bias). "You're just tired, and the energon isn't working to keep you up anymore."

The blue seeker leaned back in his chair, drooped wings brushing the floor and sighed. "You're totally right." He smirked over at his friend, "And yet, you put up with me."

"Because I'M too tired to say no." She smiled as he laughed, then smirked as he almost over-tipped his chair, which would have sent him aft over wings. "...I think we both need some rest."

"I think you're right," he declared as he stood, wings flexing and stretching. "Let's call it a night."

Celerity nodded, threw her flimsy on the pile and stood with a stretch of arms over helm. "Meet back here same time as Nightsun?"

Thundercracker hesitated before casting a glance her way. "Why don't you just stay with us tonight?"

Celerity's optics flew to his, brightening into an alarmed cyan. "Wh-"

The blue seeker held up his hands. "It was just a thought. By the time you get across town to yours and Vecks' flat it'll be time to turn around and come back. This way we might both get some rest before being cooped back up in here. Unless...you sure we can't blame a paperwork bonfire on Warp?" His wide-optic innocent look made her splutter a snicker despite her earlier panic.

"You are supposed to be setting an example, Sir."

"I guess."

---

They'd touched down in the little yard leading to the seeker's house in a fourth of the time it would have taken Celerity to get home, and despite the small thread of anxiety in her processor--is this too fast?--she had to admit his idea had some merit. She followed the blue wings into an entrance all but concealed in the outer wall to a wide, dark atrium beyond. The house's other occupants seemed to all be retired; the whole place was dark. She felt a hand slip into her own, and followed the pull to a lift set in the corner.

The light came on at half-strength as soon as they entered, and Celerity was struck at how tidy it was. Even the desk, while it had a few supplies on it, was orderly (which was very different from his office desk which was littered to the edges with flimsies and datapads). Thundercracker was rifling through the drawer in desk mumbling about a spare charge cable, and Celerity took the moment to look around her friend's living space. A few shelves embedded in the wall held some datapads and photo cubes, and there was a small sitting area across from the berth. A desk with a terminal was across the room from that by the door, and a small worktable of sorts was in the corner.

It was different than the other surfaces in the room in that it wasn't cleaned off. It looked like an unfinished project of sorts; small tools and brushes were arranged on the surface around a damaged piece of metal, and polishing compounds and other chemicals were in a basket against the wall. She unconsciously ran a digit across the edge of the metal; it looked very old, the pictures etched into it half obscured by damage, scorch and age. "What's this?"

She felt the winged mech come up behind her, and then a surprising small fissure of embarrassment flash through his field. She looked back at him. "I-I'm sorry," she quickly apologized. "I didn't mean to pry." But the other mech was already shaking his helm, a small smile tugging at his mouth.

"It's a...well, I guess you can call it a hobby. It's pieces of Vos. Old Vos." He picked up the piece on the table and ran soft digits over it. "When we started going through the destruction we found more than frames. Anything useable was reused, anything too damaged was smelted into the new foundation when we were ready to lay it...a piece of home in rebuilding, you know? But there were...objects that just needed a little bit of repairing to be okay again. There isn't a lot left of the Vos that was...I think it's important to save what culture we could. So we gathered it up and stored it, and I've taken to doing what I can with it." The smile turned a little sheepish. "It's something I can sit here and do, where my mind doesn't have to be active, and no one is counting on me to deliver. It's a way to relax, in a way."

She was smiling at him; he hardly talked about himself--so much of his life revolved around his wingmates--it was nice to hear something about him. "So...what is this one?"

"It's a crest shield. Each aerie had one, and it not only marked what clan you were attached to, but served to help identify lineage. Some seekers could trace back family ties to the first seekers...if you were into that sort of thing. It was an old practice by the time Vos fell."

"Is this one yours?"

The smile turned sad then. "No. I haven't found anything tied to my family yet. Might have been too close to the attack..." His wings flicked as he shook off the moment of loss. "It's Starscream's." He carefully placed the piece back on the table. "He doesn't know I have it yet. Once it's done I'll give it to him in private."

He took her hand in his own and squeezed gently. "Take the berth. I'll go crash on the couch." He smiled and spoke before she could protest. "Isn't the first, and won't be the last time I crash there, it's a good couch. Get some rest. We'll be back to work before you know it." He rolled his optics, smirked at her, and with one last squeeze he headed for the door.

Celerity...smiled after the door closed behind his wings. She would figure out a way to reciprocate his kindness later, right now the berth and hookup cable were calling her designation.

---

Morning came WAY too soon, and with a missive from Nightsun. Meeting cancelled. Council to reschedule at their earliest convenience. I've got it handled here, see you later this morning. The invective that the professional mech would never use in an official message was fairly dripping from between the lines.

Thundercracker, sitting at the table surround by the rest of his little ragtag family, nearly banged his helm on the table repeatedly. He finally settled for covering his face with his hands and groaning.

"Jeez, who pissed in your energon?"

"Don't start. I swear to Primus, Skywarp, I will shoot you."

"You'd have to catch me first, slow-aft-eep!" The teleport leapt out of the way as his wingmate growled and made a leap for him. Unfortunately for the blue seeker (or fortunately for Skywarp), his underpowered frame wasn't fully alert yet, and he went crashing to the floor.

Fully used to their antics, Pulsar scooped up her flask and dodged the frame before it came down on her.

Skywarp kneeled down to look at his wingmate under the table, grinned, flipped him a one-fingered salute, and disappeared with a pop of displaced molecules.

Thundercracker grumbled as he pulled himself back into his chair at the table. "Pulse, are you sure you like him? I'd really like to shoot him."

"If I can't shoot him, Thundercracker, you can't." The blue seeker just glared tiredly at his wingleader.

A little kuff of static from the door had four pairs of optics turning towards the noise. Embarrassed/panicked blue optics started back at them for a moment before they found the blue seeker's.

"Ah-...did you get Nightsun's message?"

Three pairs of optics turned and stared at Thundercracker.

The blue seeker stared right back at them before sighing. He turned a smile at the femme at the door. "Yeah, I got it, Lara. Come in and have some energon. Skyfire just got back from a run to New Vos. I don't think you've actually met him."

The femme was introduced to the (still very tall) refit shuttle as she was ushered to Skywarp's vacant seat and given a flask of energon. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to interrupt."

Thundercracker shook his helm, "It's no-"

"Thundercracker." Starscream glared at his wingmate from across the table and jerked his chin to the door. "We need to talk."

Thundercracker rolled his optics. "Starsc-"

"NOW."

The blue seeker exhaled a vent slowly, as if counting, and pushed his chair from the table, following his wingleader out. The two could be heard speaking in hushed tones from across the house.

"...He doesn't like me much," Celerity's gaze was on the table, "does he."

Pulsar chuckled and put her hand on her friend's arm. "He doesn't like many people, but TC neglected to mention you were here. Screamer hates surprises. He'll calm down once he reads TC the riot act."

"O-oh."

The smaller femme patted her arm gently. "Seriously, don't worry about it. He'll get over it. You just surprised him. We don't have a lot of house guests."

"She's right," Skyfire chimed in. "Some things are just too ingrained in them to change at this point. The walls in this house mean safety, and everyone in them is trusted not to turn on them. Surprises are generally a bad thing. Star will calm down and adjust. It might just take him a bit longer to; as the leader of the trine he was generally taking the brunt of anything that came at them."

Celerity quietly nodded, taking a sip from her energon as the conversation turned to lighter fare; how New Vos was doing and the latest gossip, Pulsar's latest case, the latest impossible dent that Skywarp had seemed to acquire. Celerity slowly started to feel herself relax, and even added bits to the companionable talk about their late night and the fragging council meeting.

The pair of wings soon rejoined them, one set calmer than the other. Startscream's white and red wings were hiked with residual irritation, but they were both calm as they griped about the cancelled meeting. Pulsar stood, smiling at Celerity, and declared she was going to work. She gave Thundercracker a friendly smack on his wing as she left.

"You can bet I'll bring it up to those fraggers. Reschedule on their time? That's ludicrous! I bet-"

Skyfire rumbled his turbines and pulled the irate seeker over to him by his waist. "It's a waste of energy getting all angry with them. They want a rise out of you, and they'll be all excited when they see it's gotten to you."

Starscream stilled in the other's grasp, casting a measuring look at the femme across the table before apparently deciding fuck it and turned back to his partner. "This is getting really old, Skyfire."

"I know. But we're playing the long game here. I know waiting's not your best suit," he grinned as the seeker squawked in protest, "but one day they'll wonder what they ever did without you. Just be patient."

The white seeker sighed, wings lowering and grumbled. Skyfire smiled.

"Go to your meeting. By the time you get home the house will be empty. I'll help you polish your wings before I make the second run to New Vos, and then you can have a quiet afternoon."

Celerity stifled a smile into her flask as the other seeker actually purred.

"Promise?"

"Yes. Now go get it over with." He nuzzled the other's cheek and watched him head for the door. He stood and stretched and smiled at the other two. "I'm going to go catch some recharge. I didn't get back until this morning. You two have a good day."

"It was nice to meet you, Skyfire."

"Bye, 'Fire."

It was quiet until the sound of a door upstairs hissed shut, and then Thundercracker vented a long sigh and slumped in his chair.

"I'm sorry, Lara. I didn't mean to get you caught up in the morning routine. I know they can be overwhelming and I-" She pressed a digit to his mouth and Thundercracker obediently stilled his glossa.

"Thank you." The blue seeker tilted his helm in confusion. "You trusted me enough to bring me here, with your family and its secrets. I get the feeling that's a big deal." She lowered her digit and gathered his hands in her own. "TC, you all came here with nothing, not even your wings." He looked to the side and flicked his wings; he was over it and it was faded, but the memory would never fully go away. She waited for him to turn back to her. "You have scraped and worked for what you have here, and I understand you want to protect it. I'm just...honored you trust me to keep it safe too by letting me in."

A rare, self-conscious smile appeared on the seeker's face, and he held her hands. "It was time. Two-way street, right?"

She returned the smile. "Right. Though, I admit, they're so loud out there, I would have thought they might be quieter here. Do your wingmates ever get tired of hearing themselves? I'm honestly surprised no one is shot with any sort of regularity!"

He laughed, gathered her cheek in his hand, and gently pulled her into a kiss. She could feel a mix of relief and fondness in his field, and they were both a little breathless when they parted.

"Come on."

"To the office?" she smirked. "Very romantic, TC."

He laughed. "Hell no. Nightsun politely told us to stay the frag away until later. I say we go sleep in."

That sounded amazing. She was still exhausted. "Only if we share the berth. I don't care how comfortable the couch is."

"Sounds good to me."