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The More Things Change

Chapter Text

Rodimus couldn’t remember the last time he woke up this late. Staring at his chronometer, looking at it in tired befuddlement, he could hardly believe what it read. He didn’t move immediately, just blinked dimly, still drowsy. Sure, some of the times he spent drinking himself to a stupor resulted in sleeping in the next day, shirking his duties over to the next mech in line.

But this? Even by in-space-time-is-a-lie, two whole days was a long time to be on his recharge slab.

The moment Rodimus started to fully wake, he was bombarded with several messages, followed by the sudden and very painful need to purge his tanks. His HUD screen cluttered with commands and notes that need him to respond and they flashed horribly right in his eyes. His EM field flared to life with sudden need.

He didn’t even have time to yawn, as he shot up from the bed and stumbled off. Nausea hit him like a train; he wobbled toward his private washroom, nearly tripping over his own feet to make it. His tank lurched and he feel his abdomen tighten. He prayed to Primus himself that he give Rodimus this one favor of preserving his dignity and letting him make it to the washroom.

The messages blurred together as he held in his energon till he made it to the modest sized room. Rodimus prompted the messages to go away and curled on himself once he was fully in the bathroom. Instantly, he wretched over the floor drain and fumbled with the shower knob. Hot, cold, as long he got it on, it didn’t matter, but by virtue the solvent was cold.

He groaned, holding his stomach as cool liquid washed over his heated frame. Two days of rest should’ve settled anything wrong in his stomach. The Prime knew he’d have to make a trip to the medbay. He dreaded the visit. The CMO was a prick and a half, but Rodimus couldn’t avoid him, not when he was in this state. He could already hear Cascade fussing at him and berating him for yet another visited due to Rodimus’ drinking habits.

The CMO on board the Exitus was an off-putting mech, who wasn’t afraid to show his disdain for the Prime. It probably had something to do with Rodimus’ frequent visits to the medbay after a few times drinking himself to black out. His staff was alright though, but the CMO practically lived in the clinic, so he was near unavoidable.

It made him ache for his old life on the Lost Light.

Rodimus reached into his subspace for a drink, but found the pockets of space didn’t have anything in them and groaned as he sat properly in his washroom. Probably for the best, he thought bitterly.

Warnings in his HUD screen slowly stopped flashing so rapidly as everything eased down and his frame had stopped steaming. He didn’t even realize how hot he felt, which was odd. Rodimus opted to not think about it. Now he was just wet, cold and slightly disoriented. He didn’t dare move from the spray of solvent being showered on him and the tiles.
The Prime gave his inbox a nudge to open now that he wasn’t so overcombared with warnings pop ups and his stomach threatening to explode. One or two of the mechs who had cover for him had messaged him, and handful of from the medbay or memos from other staff, and the majority digital mail came from an overly concerned Thunderclash.

Captain Thunderclash.

Rodimus would ultimately have to explain to the him. And this wasn’t exactly the first time this has happened. This was definitely extreme, but he could already feel the bigger mech try and urge the speedster to seek help. Not directly, never directly, he was kind enough to never bluntly point out the mech’s obvious drinking problem. And Rodimus was no longer allowed to bring drinks back into his suit. But it was aggravating that Mr. Perfect was trying to selflessly save him.

Rodimus tried to shake the resurfacing disdain he felt towards the big guy. Thunderclash was an understanding mech, but that’s possibly the worst part. He was genuinely good captain. Excellent captain, the speedster thought as he righted himself in the shower. He didn’t even override the locks to his hab suite when he could’ve and opted to trust and respect his privacy.

The very hab suite that had its own person despincerary and washwrack, given to him as a gift, Captain to former captain. A gift that was very clearly given to him out of respect. And… Skipping out on two days of work and late to whatever came next was Rodimus’ way of repaying the literal physical embodiment of kindness (aka Thunderclash).

Rodimus rubbed at his optics and pinched the point of his crest in lue of frustration at himself. He really knew how to frag a good thing, didn’t he? Carefully, he got up, and turned off the faucet.

Soaking wet, nauseous and dizzy from the sudden vertigo, he could do little more than shake off what he could and towel dry the rest, Rodimus did his best to quickly wash up and dry off before he made a call to let the medbay know he was on his way. He’d let Thunderclash know he was still alive after the fact to try and keep the opportunity to disappoint him as short as possible. He made a quick note to the medbay, and unfortunately got an acknowledgement from Cascade.

Great. He was surely in for it now.

The first thing the former captain did was assess himself, he looked like slag but that wasn’t exactly new. He was still wobbly and just barely upright. He should definitely go to the medbay. If he felt and looked as sick as he did, he should go soon. He prepared by keeping his EM field wrapped tightly against himself.

He saw only a few mechs along the way, most of them kept to themselves, eyeing the former captain with some level of worry or scrutiny. Rodimus said nothing, but the silence was enough to get him to transform and race down the hall when the quiet judgement became too loud.

Rodimus drove himself toward the clinic. It was good to be closer to the ground, there was less chance of falling over and making a fool of himself to any other passer byers. As he arrived close to the automatic doors to sweet sterilized bliss, he transformed back to route mode and walked himself inside. No less wobbly than before, he noted.

Thankfully the medbay was mostly deserted and only the on-duty medics seemed to be alert to his entrance. Cascade more so than the rest, unfortunately.

“Ah, Rodimus, so you’re alive after all.” The doctor on duty gave him a once over, ignoring the embarrassing twitch the mech in question gave at being acknowledged. “You’ve looked better; here for another system flush? This’ll be the 15th sense you’ve joined us on the Exitus, Rodimus. If you’re trying to break a record, you should know you’re the only one competing.”

Cascade had a motorcycle altmode, and unlike most medics Rodimus met, was mostly white blue and yellow. Though the two-wheeler wasn’t apart of the 4 million war, he did come from the New Cybertron. He never spoke much about his home or what his life was like. At least not to Rodimus.

What little he did know came from other’s: that he had followed Functionist scripture and wasn’t overly friendly to anyone who made anything more than acquaintances. The few amicas and conjunx aboard the Exitus sought different staff members as often as possible. He was deeply devout to Primus, and abhorred contempt to anyone who caused unnecessary problems. Especially self inflicted ones.

A far cry from the medics Rodimus had on the Lost Light. Rodimus wondered how Thunderclash kept such a belligerent afthole on board, but then again, Cascade’s skill was unquestionably good.

That, and through shame, Cascade convinced some of his more at risk patients to not say anything. And it unfortunately worked, even under someone like Thunderclash.

Rodimus tries not to think about how it might’ve been had he been captain.

“Yeah, yeah, whatever, Cascade, if I wasn’t feeling like I’ve been scraped off the underside of someone’s foot right now, I’d give it right back at you.” The Prime might’ve felt insulted if he wasn’t feeling like slag right now. Rodimus stumbled reaching for the nearest leveled surface. “ Please, just scan me, tell me I caught something and prescribe me some minerals and I’ll go back to hab suite.”

Cascade simply stared at him before making any moves to help -- or touch -- the speedster. He really did look and feel like slag. The shower he had early only compacted any oils or grease he managed to have on him now. With his paint lacking any hint of former luster, it was hard to tell, but right now, Rodimus just cared about sitting down in the nearest private room.

Like most medbays, it was sparse, cold, and void of any comforting objects. Very unlike the ship he captained, the Lost Light. No, the Lost Light was made simply home-y and welcoming. Even Ratchet didn’t entirely mind the fanfare that went into making the medbay as non-threatening as possible.

Rodimus shook the thoughts from his mind, thinking about the Lost Light and what happened to it and his crew… It only made him sick AND sad, and being sick was bad enough. He didn’t need Cascade berating him about still being sentimental. Plus he was pretty sure he’d be banned from the bar for a few days.

Cascade asked him a series of questions in the most annoyed tone of voice possible. Mostly about his alcohol consumption, or what else he has been “torturing his systems with”, and Rodimus gave him the usual answers. ‘No, I don’t remember how much I had to drink’ and ‘No, I haven’t had any of the experimental candies Coil has made recently’.

Taking a metal stick off Rodimus’ glosa, and tossing it away, the Doctor made a face. “Well, at this point, you could’ve burned a hole in any number of your internals through the consumption of as much engex as you tend to. So I’ll do a quick scan to see if anything pops up.”

“Just get it over with, doc, I’m starting to see double again.” He held his face has he burped slightly as a ping of naeusa popped up again.

Cascade rolled his eyes and grumbled at him, “Hold still.”

Rodimus held as still as he could, gripping the sides of the medical berth, cold as it was. There was a brief, soft buzzing noise followed by dead silence. Cascade scratched at his helm and made a face at the small screen.

“Primus, still my spark, this… Can’t be right.” Rodimus heard the CMO whisper, “No, you must’ve moved… Rodimus, I told you not to move, I need to scan again.”

Before he could even protest, the Cascade was scanning him a second time. “No… No, there’s something wrong with this scanner then, hold on.” Cascade then disappeared out of the private room for all of 5 minutes before returning with a brand-new, only just now being opened scanner. “Alright, this should work. Now Rodimus, I can’t stress this enough, stay still.”

“Trust me, Doc, I couldn’t reach Mack 5 even if I wanted to right now.”

“Ha. Ha. Very funny.” He responded stiffly.

A second later, another soft buzz went as quickly as it came. The former captain had been completely still, even held his vents as Cascade helped him to a seated position. The medic turned away to looked over the scan with bewilderment. Rodimus tried peer over his shoulder kibble to get a picture of what all the fuss was about but the vent-towers were too tall. “Stay here. I’ll be right back, I… I need a second opinion on this”

“Seriously, Cascade? If you’re trying to scare me--”

“For the love of primus, Rodimus, just stay here.”

Rodimus snapped his mouth shut. He had no ranking here, so he did as told and made no smart remark. Instead he opted to glare at the floor as once again, Cascade left the room. Seriously, for a CMO, Rodimus wasn’t sure if it was humoruos that Cascade of all mechs needed a second opinion or if he was worried, for the same reason.

If this was the Lost Light, First Aid would’ve just politely told him that he’s fragged with playful quip. Or Ratchet would be blunt and get it out already, and call him an aft for getting in this situation. Or-- no, no, it’s better to not think about it. Hurt to think about. Rodimus’ spark ached and spiraled. He tried to stifle his field from being too overwhelming.

But… As time passed, the harder it got.

It wasn’t much longer till Cascade returned, alone, thankfully. “Rodimus, you really know how to just. Make yourself an affront to nature, don’t you?” Cascade’s hurried and tempered tone didn’t inspire any confidence per usual, and Rodimus could really feel the energon rolling in his abdomen now. “Primus forgive me, I know he’s one of your 13...”

“What?”

“Only to you would this happen. Only you, and whoever you’ve been -- been, augh, I swear, canoodling with. Are you seated well?”

“Y-yes, why? Cascade you’re freaking me out a little,” an understatement. Rodimus’ field eked of worry. He knew Cascade wasn’t exactly a charitable mech, but what could possibly be going on with Rodimus that he was an “affront” to his very religion? “Please, just tell me!”

Cascade turned from him, arms folded, probably trying to think of a way to deliver the news. Rodimus straightened when the CMO turned back to him with bewildered and tired look. “Well, there’s simply no other way to put this… Rodimus Prime of Old Nyon…”

He waited a moment, pausing either for dramatic effect or sheer disbelief at his own words, Rodimus couldn’t tell as his vision started to swim.

“It appears you are carrying a new spark.”

Chapter Text

“It appears that you are carrying a new spark.”

Rodimus blinked rapidly, his intake squeezed and tightened on nothing. A new spark? He was carrying? A baby? It wasn’t unheard of, but no one has carried a new spark for as long as, well, when he was Hot Rod in the slums of Nyon. But even that was rare. Functionists on old Cybertron outlawed and criminalized that millais ago and no one has been keen on creating new sparks themselves after the war between Autobots and Decepticons began either.

Not to mention the amount of effort that goes into creating as a couple, rather than adopting from the well… There were so many steps that no one just created a new spark. Young-minded he might’ve been, but the Prime knew his way around making newsparks, even if mostly to avoid it.

The speedster rubbed his crest and helm, trying to right himself. No, he couldn’t have a new spark. Not him, not Rodimus. He just… Caught a virus and need to sleep it out. The medic had to be wrong. Had to.

But Rodimus was a Prime, after all. Maybe Optimus’ celibacy was for good reason. The big guy never said anything to him, at least.

A helmache was beginning to develop in the Prime’s head. And he still had to deal with Cascade.

The Autobot could distantly hear the CMO try to talk and coax him back, “Rodimus, I need you to focus on being present.”

“I… I have to go…” Rodimus started to slide off the medical slab, his legs felt like gel. He didn’t care that he’d likely fall, he’d crawl to get away from… All this. However, Cascade had stopped him, putting firm hands on the mech to stabilize him.

“I really think you should stay here,” He said instantly, urging the Prime to lay back against the elevated table. “This is just what my scanner is telling me, and while it’s hardly ever wrong, I need you to open up your spark chamber to let me get a visual confirmation for myself. Can you do that for me, Rodimus? Or do I need to strap you down?”

Wordlessly, Rodimus shook his head and opened his chest to show his spark chamber. The room filled with bright light, and the Prime couldn’t help but feel naked. Next thing he knew, Cascade had a pair of goggles, investigating his chest, but being careful not to touch. He was muttering something, either religious or curt, but he couldn’t hear the medic. His helm ache continued to bloom under the inspection.

A soft pat on his upper chest prompted him to close up and instantly the room felt too dark all of a sudden. He didn’t sit up right away, feelings very distant and detached.

“Well, the scanner isn’t wrong. I swear, you new mechs just come up with more and more ways to be devious every time I turn around. Bad enough there are so many Sentimentals on board, but this!” Cascade jabbed at the Prime’s chest, “This is unbelievable, irresponsible and reckless.”

“Oh, would you just shut up, Cascade? For all you know this could be divine and Primely intervention.” Rodimus snapped back, and huffed. “I didn’t spend four million years fighting you fraggers to be subjected to-to this.”

The CMO elected to hold his figurative tongue at that. Maybe he suddenly realized that among those ‘Sentimentals’ was Thunderclash, his Captain. Small blessings, Rodimus supposed.

The two wheeler started to type up on a document Rodimus could only assume was his medical file, “Well, who is the happy sire, then, Rodimus?”

Now that was a question. Rodimus paused. “I… Don’t know.”

Cascade made a noise, the former captain could practically hear the optic roll without looking. “Typical Rodimus. Too many drunken nights?”

The more they were bound to argue, the more Rodimus seemed to find his strength. “Really, Cascade? Even I know how hard it is to just accidently make a sparkling. First, your frame has to be in tip-top condition, then you have be void of any stressors, and then you have form an actual bond with your… intended… Basically, if you’re not conjunx’d then you run a low risk of creating. All of which I’m not, right now, so don’t berate me like-like… I don’t know! Just don’t!”

Rodimus wished he could say there were few people that could get under his plating, but that wasn’t true. Now, how many could get under his plating and get a rise out of him, like this, that was a nice small little number. Cascade being a Functionist (no matter how much denied this due to his religion), the Autobot felt no qualms giving it right back, when didn’t feel deserving.

“You may. Have a point.”

“Gees, don’t hurt yourself admitting it, wise-guy.”

“I’m serious, with you being a Prime, Allspark-knows why, you could be sparked out of thin air, or it’s just insanely easy for you to become sparked, taking out half the work.” Cascade rambled a bit, pulling the goggles from his helm, “Never in my time did we see Primes, but it was said in some of the rare religious texts that were leaked, they never took on a partner. Its really irresponsible of you to not consider the fact while-while… Augh... Canoodling.”

“Great, whatever, Cascade, can we just get the ‘options’ part of this conversation? I have to call Captain Thunderclash sometime today between freaking out about all this.” Rodimus could feel himself shaking again as realization started to sink in once more. He paused, and shook away the urge to bite his finger tips, “Which, can I just say? I’m very freaked out right now!”

The CMO sighed, but otherwise made no comment. Wisely, so. “Well, there are two options, keep it or snuff it.” He said matter of factly, looking through the datapad and not at all in the direction of the Prime. “Though, I would regret it later if I didn’t urge you to keep it. As a Prime, whatever spawn that comes from you would be considered a blessing, even outside of my own religion-”

“Keep it to yourself, Cascade, get on with it.”

“If you decide to keep the tyke, then you should know: It won’t be easy. Most literature and documentation of the process is completely lost, and few medics have training or even experience. And to my knowledge there are no Blacksmiths on board.”

“That’s fine, I know a girl,” Rodimus waved. Truth was, he wasn’t sure were Lug and Anode were these days. He… Didn’t know where anyone was anymore.

“You know a Blacksmith?” Cascade perked at the information.

“Yes, and I’d sooner let Unicron consume the world before I’d let you near her.” Rodimus waved a hand to shoo away the conversation, trying to get on with this. He wanted to be alone. “Sometime today, please.”

The medic sighed, exasperated, “ So impatient. Well, the other option is to remove the spark. I won’t lie to you, no one I know has performed this operation, but from what I’ve heard it is unavoidably painful to both remove the small spark as well as to let it fade. Side effects have also been known to not go away for months at a time.

“Rodimus, even I don’t expect you to have a decision right now. For the time being, I’m going to recommend that you stay off-duty and also away from the bar. I should’ve done this sooner with your track record, but I’m going to give an order to the bar on board.”

The Autobot made a noise to protest, even raising a finger at the CMO, but the argument died quickly in his throat as a knock wrapped on door. Both mechs looked at each other confused but Cascade was the only one who moved to see who it was. “Ah, Captain! It’s good to see you! What brings you down to my medbay?”

No. No no no no. Rodimus felt himself panic again. Thunderclash could NOT find out about this. No one could! Save for Cascade and the other medics, but that was because they were… Well, medics! They’re bound by law to not share info. More to the point, he didn’t want anyone he knew, Thunderclash or anyone else, to know about his current state. Not right now.

“I was informed that Rodimus made an appearance. I wanted to see if he’s okay, if I’m allowed to?”

Cascade leaned away from the door to look at his patient up and down, giving him a positively loathsome look that their captain likely couldn’t see. Rodimus shook his head and signaled that he didn’t want Thunderclash here, but the CMO was already opening the door.

Thunderclash made his way inside the small room, a room typically used for bots his size or smaller but felt cramped with the 3 of them. This did nothing to help Rodimus feel less smothered.

The large Autobot had a cheery smile, elated to see his former Captain was still alive. If the speedster was in any mood for it, he might’ve even returned it with a smile of his own. For now, he deigned to keep to himself and not look at the mech approaching him.

“Rodimus! It’s good to see you. You had everyone worried about you, but it’s relieving to see you not worse for ware.” His voice was smooth and soft, but not exactly quiet.

Rodimus lips twisted, and thankfully Thunderclash made no comment on his demeanor. “Hey, Clash. Sorry about the past few days. I’ve been… The usual.”

In the back, he could see Cascade stare at him with a deadpan, disapproving look. More so at Rodimus’ lie than the fact that Thunderclash was being overly friendly.

“Actually, Captain, we may have a situation.”

“What? Is Rodimus okay?”

Rodimus’ head practically spun as he looked up; Cascade was typing away at a datapad. “Rodimus, do you want to tell him, or shall I?”

“No! Neither! Cascade, you can’t just tell him--!”

“Actually Rodimus, as there is no specialist on board, I’m obligated to inform the captain that we will need a Novus Partus medic.”

Rodimus looked away, not wanting to concede verbally. Thunderclash however looked worried and blankly gawked at whatever was being said, “I’m sorry, Cascade, a Novus-?”

“You know, a Novus Partus? A Nopa medic?”

Thunderclash shook his head slightly.

Cascade closed his optics, attempting to retrain a neutral look on his face before he looked to his captain again, this time with a soft demeanor, opting to smile with his optics now. “A New Spark Specialist, Captain.”

“A-a new spark-” Thunderclash went wide-opticed and looked at Cascade and then at Rodimus and then back at Cascade. “You mean? Rodimus is-?”

“Yes. It seems the Prime is carrying, Captain. We will need a specialist as he goes through this.”

Thunderclash immediate lit up in a sort of pride. His field emitting a strong vibe of sincere joy. “Oh, Rodimus! That’s! That’s so wonderful! I’m so happy for you!”

The young prime scowled, his field far more caustic than his captain’s. The attention and the information eating at him. He just wanted to leave. It was too crowded. It was too loud. It was too much in general.

Thankfully, the bigger Autobot made no move to touch him, but when Rodimus didn’t respond, he turned back to Cascade. “Thank you for the good news, Cascade, I’ll be on the lookout for such a specialist next time we’re in orbit.”

“They’re hard to come-by these days, but with any luck, you might find one. But, Captain, please refrain from getting your hopes up.” Cascade inwardly smirked at himself and would slide a sly smile at Rodimus later for his next slip of information. “Our Rodimus isn’t sure if he’ll keep the dear thing. He doesn’t have a sire to co-parent, and anything is on the table.”

There was a silence and Rodimus didn’t care to look to see the expressions being glared into his backside. Or so he thought.

“If that’s the case, Cascade, do you think it’s appropriate to divulge such information, even to someone such as myself, if a decision hasn’t been reached?” The Captain folded his arms over his chest. Rodimus turned slightly at the defensiveness. “If there is another reason to tell me this other than to breach the medical standard of confidentiality, which by the way is, upheld by even basic Functionalist clinics on New Cybertron, I suggest you explain yourself.”

Cascade’s expression didn’t falter, “Captain, you know I deeply respect you and your hospitality. I am telling you this because a Nopa medic also perform extraction at all stages of the new spark’s lifespan within a carrying mech. Including the extinguishment of such a life.”

Thunderclash gave a hard look to Cascade while thinking over the information. “I see. Well, then, I’ll keep a lookout for a Nopa medic.”

“Good, that’ll certainly help Rodimus in the end no matter what he decides.” Cascade’s expression brightened, “I need to wrap up this appointment, Captain, if you wouldn’t mind waiting in the lobby for our resident Prime, I’ll send him out once I’ve finished.”

“Certainly. Rodimus, I’ll see you in a few minutes.”

Once Thunderclash exited the room, Cascade waited a few seconds before exhaling and turning to Rodimus. He had suddenly felt very small and alone in room with the CMO.

Saying nothing, he eyed the medic, who started to tap a lot on the datapad. “I’m writing you a beginner’s guide to a natural system enrichment. It’ll be good for you and the new spark if you decide to keep it. You can technically still drink engex while carrying, but it won’t give you the same buzz or feeling as you continue.”

Rodimus said nothing, looking to the floor as he started so sit up fully, getting ready to get off the medical slab. He couldn’t even look disappointed.

“And Rodimus?”

The prime slid off the table and look to the CMO, who was suddenly too close.

“That was Thunderclash’s reaction to you not keeping the new spark. And he’s the most reasonable mech on this ship. Imagine, if you would, how everyone else would treat you if they found out, mm? Of course, it is your choice. I just thought you’d like to make the most informed choice.”

The Autobot couldn’t find it in him to bite back at the medic, he just stared at the ground, his helmache appearing suddenly with vengeance. He was handed a small slip and was sent on his way. He gave the list to the nurse at the front desk to get the minerals. He looked at it, but was starting to space out and he couldn’t make out the glyphs if he wanted to.

And as he said, Thunderclash waited patiently, with a soft smile that seemed ever-present on his face. Rodimus didn’t want to deal with this, he thought as he subspaced his prescriptions, and walked toward the entrance and his Captain followed behind the mech as he trekked to his room.

“Big news, huh?” Thunderclash tried to keep at Rodimus’ pace.

“Uh-huh.”

“Are you excited?”

Silence.

“Are you sure you don’t who the sire is?”

“Cascade isn’t sure that there even is one. It might just be… I dunno, Prime stuff.”

“Oh…” Thunderclash thought for a moment, “Did Optimus Prime ever mentioned this?”

“No, we didn’t talk much,” Rodimus said, his head fogging and finding his way through the halls on memory alone.

“Ah… Do you need--”

Rodimus practically leapt away from the hand that attempted to help him, “Don’t touch me!” He cried out.

Thunderclash froze, “Rodimus, I’m so-”

Panting, the Prime put a hand to his chest and then quickly back to his side, realizing there was another spark circling his inside. “It’s-- You’re fine, just. Please. Don’t touch me. I… Don’t--”

“No, no, you’re right, Rodimus, I’m sorry,” Thunderclash shook his head and kept his smile, “Can I walk you to your room?”

“... Yes, I’d like that.” The mech started walking again, albeit slowly. “But… Let’s just walk in silence for now, please.”

“Of course, Rodimus.”

Chapter Text

Rodimus and Thunderclash walked in silence back to the speedster’s habsuite. Rodimus was glad he didn’t walk the whole way himself. It helped to have the Captain’s warm EM field to ward off any onlookers from thinking something was amiss or anything.

Once they arrived, Rodimus pressed his pin into the keypad to prompt the doors to open. “Thanks for walking with me, Clash.”

“Of course, Rodimus,” He seemed to bow his head slightly, his smile never faltering. “Do you think I could come in for a moment? I would like to speak with you, if you have the time.”

Rodimus knew the only reason Thunderclash asked was because he knew Rodimus had nothing to do, especially now that he knew he was carrying. The Prime wouldn’t be back on duty for the next several days. Not before they find a more appropriate doctor for him. Rodimus looked at the Captain exasperated, but motioned for him to follow.

“If this is about the whole new spark thing, I have to level with you, I’m not really in the mood.” Rodimus sighed as he looked at his messy room. He apologized for it quickly. There was only a noise of acknowledgement from the bigger mech as they walked through the threshold. Luckily it was only empty cubes littering the floor. Mostly by his berth or desk. “Hey, since you’re here, can make me this drink? I need to sit down.”

Un-subspacing the minerals he received from the medbay, he handed them off to his Captain with little care. He knew Thunderclash wouldn’t refuse him.

Rodimus winsed and rubbed the back of his helm, “Er. Sorry. I don’t mean to sound… How I sound.”

“It’s alright, Rodimus. Today has been a rather… Intense day.”

“You can say that again. I’d rather be playing Cybcat-and-mouzap with Unicron than this.”

Thunderclash chuckled at the joke as he kept busy at the sink, “Yes, I image so.”

It was quiet for a while longer and Rodimus began to kick his feet awkwardly as he sat on his berth now, saving his desk chair for the Captain. Not long after, Thunderclash was in front of him, offering a cube. It fizzed slightly. “It’s recommended you drink while it’s still dissolving, it says.”

Rodimus shrugged and threw back the entire contents, gagging slightly after he swallowed, “gees, what was that?”

The Captain laughed again, more loudly, “I can’t pronounce it, but I’m glad I’m not the one who has to drink it.” He mosied over to the empty chair, scooting it across the way to sit closer to his friend. Sitting, he clasped his hands together. “So… Any idea of who the sire is?”

“I told you, Clash, no. I don’t know who the sire is.” Rodimus hid behind the now empty glass, his shoulders slumping. He tried not to sound aggravated over being asked for the third time that day.

Thunderclash adjusted himself in his seat awkwardly, “I know this is a bit forward, Rodimus, but do you know how many partners you’ve had?”

“Augh, you do not want to know that answer.” Rodimus looked away, becoming quiet, “Besides. You’re an educated mech, TC, you know how hard it is to get sparked. It doesn’t JUST happen.” And now he was repeating himself again.

“Well, if Cascade is correct, and your Primely gifts include unusual sparking circumstances, then it might be useful to know who might be the other expecting parent.”

“I haven’t even decided to keep it yet… I’m a single mech, who accidently got sparked up,” Rodimus sighed, remembering how hard it had been for several of the mechs he knew back in Nyon, “I… I may have… Some other problems,” He admitted harshly after gesturing to the mess, his voice warbling in threat of a on-coming breakdown, “I’m not exactly a catch.”

Thunderclash looked at him with sympathy. The Prime almost hated him for it. But he could feel solvent build up behind his optics and thought better than to push his emotional luck.

“You don’t have to bond to anyone, Rodimus. I would never suggest that. I will say, however that I think you have more people willing to saddle up with you than you realize.”

At that, Rodimus blurted a laugh, his throat aching from holding back a sob. “‘Saddle up?’ Pft, really, TC? You spent way too many nights at Swerve’s movie nights.”

“Maybe so.” Thunderclash leaned back in his chair. “Rodimus, I want you to know I support you in whatever conclusion you come to.”

“Thanks. I appreciate it. Even if I have a hard time showing it…”

Thunderclash got up from his seat, “It’s understandable.”

Rodimus didn’t look at the few empty cubes the other mech managed to pick up when he wasn’t paying attention. As Thunderclash threw the cubes away, the sound of clashing of glass hitting the bottom of a waste can had made Rodimus flench. He really did need to clean up…

Thunderclash gave him a parting smile before his exit, “I’ll leave you be for now. Don’t hesitate to comm me if you need anything. We’ll be in orbit of New Cybertron in a couple of days.”

“Alright.”

With that, his guest left and Rodimus waited a few minutes after the sound of sliding doors shutting to take a deep breath and sigh. Surveying the room, Rodimus really needed to clean, now that he was alone.

Alone.

Thousands of memories started to flood his mind as he sat there. He didn’t stop the wandering his mind did this time. He briefly thought of Nyon and the old days as Hot Rod. The war. But ultimately his mind settled on the Lost Light.

The adventures. The people. Magnus. Megatron. Ratchet.

Drift.

He could see that bright, genuine smile in his mind like picture pinned to a wall.

The ship the ex-con gave him was the closest thing he had to a home in what felt like ever. He’d never be able to repay him for it. Drift… That mech could make his spark sing. Even the darkest days didn’t feel so bad when he had his best friend nearby.

His spark ached.

Rodimus sprang from his berth and took large strides to his washroom. Suddenly possessed with desire to see this new spark for himself. He could certainly feel the intrusion since it was pointed out to him, but now he wanted to see.

One of the walls was entirely a mirror. One that had been utilized for some tantalizing one on one sessions with a few of… Well, whoever. Rodimus took the time to really examine his features, getting close enough that his vents caused it to cloud up as he practically leaned against the surface.

His breathing sped up as he panicked. He stepped back shakily as he hesitantly opened his chest panels to reveal his spark.

It was bright, brighter than anyone else’s spark Rodimus has seen, due to being touched by the Matrix. But he could still see the shape. And floating around it, he could see a smaller, frail thing. He stared so long at the new spark, before closing up. He could feel tears well up in his optics again.

He wished Drift was here. He’d know how to comfort him, how to make him smile despite himself.

Even with no one to hide from, he still stifled a sob. His throat clenched hard and miserably as choked back his emotions. His optics, however, blurred from tears. He closed his chest, and stumbled toward his bed, kicking several empty cubes around to reach it.

By the time he face planted into the hard berth, he couldn’t hold back anymore and sobbed. He didn’t want a sparkling. He had a hard enough time taking care of himself, scratch that, he didn’t take care of himself. There were cracks in his plating that would need to be sanded down, he needed a new paint job and yes, he did have a drinking problem. Probably what got him into this mess to begin with.

But, he hardly wanted to just remove what was likely the first mech-made sparkling in millenia. Rodimus did eventually want children. He remembered helping the few carriers he’d seen the best he could with their children when the slums were his home. They were always either scared or oblivious. Hot Rod had envied their naivety.

But, he was alone.

Rodimus hiccuped as he cried. He lost his ship. He lost his captaincy. He lost his friends. He lost respect and dignity. The only thing he gained was a long list of ‘Done that’ and a drinking problem. There was no way he could handle a sparkling on his own.

Rodimus did the only thing he could think of, his judgement completely clouded in sorrow.

He stood up from his bed and stumbled to his desk, reaching into the stuffed bottom drawer for a phone. The device’s weight was insignificant yet felt like like it weighed a ton in his trembling hands. He still hiccuped on his own vents, his engine stuttering every so often.

The feeling of something small and also trembling made him ache all the more. The newspark already attuned to it’s carrier’s field and emotions.

He dialed one of the numbers he had stored and sat at his desk as it reached out.

A peppy, familiar voiced message played, “Hello, you’ve reached Ratchet and Drift’s residential number! We can’t come to the phone right now, but leave your name, number and a brief message and we’ll get back to you shortly! Have a blessed day!” “Drift…” “What-” Click. End Voicemail.

More memories and fresh tears flowed through Rodimus as he struggled to remember the last time he called or talked to his best friend. He had been to the after party of Drift’s and Ratchet’s conjux ceremony. They had opted for something private and between the two of them, and had brief after party. Rodimus couldn’t say he wasn’t jealous of them. Of Ratchet, even, but mostly the both of them. Especially now.

Rodimus had been mesmerized by the voice on the other line that he had to snap back in time to leave his message, only he wasn’t even sure as to what he should say. He was still crying, his voice a fried mess of what a non-crying Rodimus would sound like. “H-hey, buddy, I’m! Uh, long time no chat! I’ll give it to you straight uhm… I-i’m not doing so great, if… If you could call me back.I’d--” He paused and looked around him, his hab suite. The mess.

He. Couldn’t pull Drift into this. Or Ratchet.

“You know what? Ignore that, I’m great! Talktoyoulaterbye.”

The Prime tossed the phone to the side, and held his head in his arms over his desk tabletop. He let out a loud cry as the speedster finally allowed himself to release the floodgates. How could he bring anyone into this? His room was a mess, his situation was a mess, he was a mess.

Rodimus doesn’t talk to the mech in ages and suddenly he calls because he got himself into yet another bind and who does he call? The one mech who’s probably the most tired of him. No. He couldn’t do that.

A few minutes passed before his phone started to ring, despite leaving the sorry message, he was still surprised it rang back. He contemplated answering and decided not to, and sucked back the remainder of his cries. He still hiccuped when he couldn’t manage and dried his eyes as the ringing died.

He knew it was likely Drift. Hopefully he’d give up on returning the call.

But then he’d be wrong. One ring after another until Rodimus picked up and eventually he did, sheepishly he greeted “whoever” it could be. “This is Rodimus,” He announced, his voice still plenty shaky from his outburst mere minutes ago.

“Roddy? What’s going on, we got your message. Is everything okay?”

“Ye-Yeah! Everything’s great, why do you ask?” He lied through his teeth, thanking Primus he didn’t have to face the mech, or he’d be caught as easily as new tears started to well up again.

Silence. Drift obviously trying to work something out.

“Rodimus. Please. I’m worried about you.”

The former captain bit his lip. He couldn’t lie. Not to someone like Drift, even if he wanted to.

Now it was Rodimus’ turn to play quiet, as he thought. “Heh,” he tried to laugh, though it came out as a warbly mess. “Yo-you’re not going to believe the mess I, uh, I got myself in.” Rodimus swiveled in his chair, trying to downplay his predicament for his friend.

Opting to just go with it, Drift conceded and asked him to explain.

“Well, I was asleep for, like! T-two days, can you believe it? An-and I went to the medic. And you know what they find?”

Drift pauses, concerned but plays along, “What? What did your doctor say, Roddy?”

“That I’m sparked! No idea how. But! Here I am!” Rodimus’ voice quivers and he has to pause for a second, “Saw it for myself in my bathroom before I called. It’s not some cruel joke, I--” By now the mech can’t hold back the sob he lets out as he tries to overcompensate for his plight. “I’m scared, Drift. 4 million years of near death situations and this scares me. I don’t know what to do-- I don’t know”

“Oh Roddy,” Drift was quiet for a moment, “ Is there anything I can do to help? I know you’re probably on the Exitus right now, but--”

Rodimus heard someone speak in the background,“What’s going on? Is the kid okay?”

“Shush Ratchet, I’ll tell you in a minute-- Roddy? Are you still there?”

“Ye-yeah, I am,” He sniffled, “look, Drift, I-I’m sorry I called, I know you guys probably have a lot on your plate, I don’t mean to worry you.”

“No, it’s okay, Rodimus. Hey look, are you going to be in orbit anytime soon?”

Rodimus didn’t want to answer that. “I think so. Should be in two days or so. The onboard CMO says we need a some special doctor. Opusnopas or something.”

Ratchet could be heard in the background, grumbling, “You mean a Nopa medic? Why would-- oh, Primus.”

“Ratty, please, go over there till I finish -- Rodimus, when you get here, comm us, okay? I want to see you right away. There’s no reason for you to be doing this alone, okay?”

The prime rubbed his nose to stifle a sniffle. It didn’t work well. “Okay, yeah. I’ll comm you.”

“Roddy. Promise me you’ll comm.”

“I promise, Drift. Please.”

There was a small pause and a small bout of silence grew.

“Okay, I believe you. I have to get going Roddy, but don’t hesitate to call if you need me or Ratchet.”

Another pause, Rodimus didn’t feel inclined to respond to his friend now.

“And Rodimus? It’s going to be okay.”

Chapter Text

The following day, Rodimus woke to the soft hum of the sparkling in his chest. He didn’t budge as he laid there on the berth, simply feeling the small thing. Yesterday had been such a roller coaster he could hardly recall anything after his phone call with Drift.

To think he was going to see his best friend soon. He beamed at the thought of hearing his laugh and seeing his smile. His spark thrummed and plating fluffed at memories of his best friend.

The smaller spark responded in kind, spinning as fast and excitedly as the spark supporting it. Rodimus tried to not let it get to him. He abscently thought about grabbing a drink to try any dull the sensation, but quickly shook the thought away. No, no. Booze was likely what got him into this situation, it wasn’t going to get him out of it. And according to Cascade, it wouldn’t do anything for him, and he was effectively banned from the bar at any rate.

There was nothing he could do about small thing growing in his chest this very second.

But there was something else he could do, something about the state of his room.

Rodimus sat up and surveyed his space, trying to get a idea of what he was seeing. There were still some boxes he hadn’t unpacked yet. Not that he had a lot of items. Then there was the trash. Bottles, cubes, dirty washrags, cubes. If he was going to have company, then the garbage had to go.

Not that it would be Drift’s first time seeing the amount of clutter Rodimus would sometimes find himself in the middle of. Usually not so much trash and more mini projects never finished. But after so much time passing, the Prime wanted to at least put a little effort into keeping appearances.

After stirring his prescribed minerals into his morning ration of energon, he chugged it away and got to work.

He absent-mindedly thought of how Ultra Magnus would be proud of him for cleaning his room. The smaller spark throbbed in response to the sadness it’s host had. Rodimus was still not completely used to the small reactions the tiny spark had in time with his own, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as it was the first day.

Sometimes, if Rodimus was quiet, he could concentrate on it and feel the small sparkling in his chest hum. He wasn’t sure if he should get used to doing so. The spurts of happiness he felt were echoed by the smaller one, and he realized that whatever he felt was going to be compounded.

However, one corner at a time, the suite was cleaned. Garbage thrown away into an incinerator to be recycled. He even dusted and mopped. His room almost shined.

Looking over his freshly cleaned room, he smiled proudly. “You’ve really outdone yourself, Rodders!” He exclaimed, hands on his hips. It took awhile, he had gotten distracted along the way several times, but he couldn’t help that the different mementos he didn’t know he stashed somewhere caught his attention. He even invented a new beat with some of the surfaces he was cleaning and opted for a little solo concert.

Next was Rodimus himself. He had to admit it, he was just about as filthy as his room was. There was no way he was going to let himself look like this in front of Drift and Ratchet. No, he was going to look good when they saw him. Not some shadow of former glory and a latency of depressing, drunk nights.

He could really go for at least a Turbo Twist, some pink mixed drink he had on his easy nights at the bar.

Nope, new sparkling, new him, he thought as he scrubbed himself with solvent and soap. He might see if anyone does detailing on this ship some time later, but he wasn’t sure how much effort he should put into looking good. Should he do the “special occasion” clean or the ‘yeah, I take care of myself regularly’ to keep up appearances clean? Drift would have a hard time believing he polished weekly or even monthly.

He should probably polish. It has been a while since he last got a good detailing. Plus, there’s some smoothing he needs to take care of. He’d need help with that one. Too bad Sunstreaker wasn’t on board. That mech knew his stuff.

Rodimus was in the middle of washing when his comm buzz suddenly, causing the Prime to jump a little. Without looking, he answered, still in the shower. “This is Rodimus, what’s good?”

“Oh good, you’re awake… What are you doing?”

Rodimus sighed at the voice, “Hey Cascade. I’m in the middle of a shower, what do you need?”

“If you’re in the middle of bathing then why-- You know, what? Never mind, look, you need to stop by the Medbay today. I need to do a check up of all your vitals.”

“Didn’t you do that yesterday,” He drawled, scrubbing between some seams.

Cascade huffed over the communications link, “I took scans of your spark and sent you on your way. I didn’t get your vitals. I need to do a small energon biopsy and perhaps--”

“Yeah, yeah, I got it, Cascade, I’ll be there in a few minutes.”

“I’ll send over one of our staff members to walk you over,” the motorcycle grumbled and ended their comm.

Now it was just Rodimus and his thoughts. Otherwise he spent the rest of his shower in silence.

He puffed up his plating letting water and solvent run over parts he normally wouldn’t be able to get clean otherwise and soon went to blow dry himself off. A quick glance in the mirror gave him a good look at the work he put in. Rodimus still needed a polish and shine, but still he looked good without the oil stains and grease. Even if he didn’t have time to do that, the Prime looked fine, even like this.

Rodimus’ moment of self-admiration was soon interrupted when his door chimed, and he went to answer it. The Prime openedthe door and was met with what looked like tall, lanky helicopter towering over him, almost ominously. His expression was unreadable, the mask didn’t help. But at least he had the typical medic badges that signaled others of his position. That at least put him ease.

Not too sure about the color scheme of purples and blues. There was a distinct Decepticon vibe radiating from it. But that could be all in his head. War’s over anyway.

Rodimus folded his arms over his chest and gave him a peculiar look, “Cascade sent ya?”

The helicopter nodded.

The Prime waited a moment more, “Not one for conversation, huh?” All that got Rodimus was some blinking in response. “Well, that’s fine, I’m not interested in talking either. Lead the way, er… uh, I don’t know your name…”

The helicopter simply shrugged and walked on, rather slowly Rodimus might’ve noticed. Either way, he followed the nameless helicopter as he led on. But despite what he said, the Prime found it hard to keep his mouth shut for long in the silence, even if he didn’t realize it.

“Does Cascade know I’m capable of getting to the medbay on my own? He doesn’t need to waste your time with this. I’m sure you have more important medical things to do than play goffer for the two-wheeled sack of scrap.”

More silence.

“Sorry, I know you probably can’t say anything about him since he’s your boss and all that but... Seriously, just because I’m sparked,” Rodimus pauses to make a gagging effect, but didn’t catch the way his chaperone pauses mid stride to look at him with bewilderment, “doesn’t mean I can’t walk without supervision-- Oof!”

Rodimus walked right into the other, causing him to stumble slightly, “Hey, what gives?”

The helicopter just stares and points at Rodimus’ chest.

“Huh? Yeah, I’m sparked, doesn’t everyone in medical know this by now?” Rodimus found himself folding his arms again.

The medic looked at him for a moment longer but turned to continue on towards the Medbay. “Yeah, okay, whatever. Not creepy, at all,” he muttered to himself. However, Rodimus couldn’t help but find the mech extremely peculiar.

Neither said anything the rest of the way to their destination.

Once they arrive, the helicopter escorts Rodimus inside, and Cascade is already fuming with impatience. “What took you so long? Are you a race car or is this flashy get up all for show?”

“Tall, dark and Con-y here walks slower than Magnus in his largest suit of armor. Your idea, by the way.” Rodimus examines the seams along his fingers in nonchalantly, making a show of how unbothered by the eccentric doctor he was. “Maybe let me walk myself next time and I might get here faster.”

Cascade simply glared up at the purple cybertronian with more vigor than Rodimus’ cared to evaluate. “Mercykill, I believe an in-patient may have made a mess in room 4, if you’re not otherwise preoccupied.”

The looks between the two mechs was icy, but eventually the purple mech sauntered off in the direction he was told. The room was quiet save for subtle noise from machinery. The other medics didn’t dare to speak up if they could help it.

“Rodimus, come this way,” Cascade turned to him and with one hand motion, ushered him to follow and the mech did without fuss for once. He breathed comments under his breath but Rodimus couldn’t hear him.

Behind closed doors, Rodimus settled on a med bed and kicked his feet slightly. “So what’s this about again?”

“A more thorough check up. You were in a severe emotional state yesterday, if I had taken any tests, it would’ve bauched the entire exam with your elevated spark rate and core temperature higher.”

“Trust me, my core temperature is just like that. It should be in my medical file.” Rodimus looked around the room for anything more interesting than this conversation. “Blazing fire, molten metal, asteroid surfing, etcetera, you name it, I can withstand it.”

“Hm. Still, typically it’s good to check these things on a calm patient.”

“Uh huh, if that’s the case, maybe you’d like to clean up your act a bit, Cade.”

“Don’t.”

“What?”

“Don’t call me ‘Cade’. I’m not your friend. I am not familiar with you. Just because you are a Prime, doesn’t mean you can be so- so! Affable with me, cretin.”

“Oh trust me, we’re not friends. Not even close.”

“Then I suggest you hold your tongue, Rodimus; one slip of a document, and this whole ship could go a frenzy over your new spark.”

“You don’t know. They could be okay with it. We could be one big happy family. Or whatever. I don’t know.”

“Or it could go badly. Being an affront to nature. A whore. An Alcoholic. Reckless, irresponsible, terrible influence and selfish. They might pressure you to get rid of it - demand it, even. Is that what you’d want, Rodimus? A foolish, deprived drunk, incapable of taking care of himself, let alone the responsibilities of being a parent? Don’t you feel looked down upon enough?”

Rodimus stayed silent for a moment, thanking whoever’s watching that he wasn’t shaking despite the stress he felt and was echoed back to him through the newspark in question. “You… You don’t know. You can’t know that. You can’t know their reactions.”

“Oh, and you do? I have patients in and out every day, listening to all their complaints, their gossip. I know who a good potion of this crew is, even if they’re only slightly better than you. Well, Rodimus? Can you say the same? Drinking yourself to a stupor as often as the bar can stand you, holing up in your room to recover only to do it again? Can’t imagine you as the life of any party.”

Rodimus said nothing in return.

“Well? Any other smart comments or are you going to sit there, and do as I tell you?”

He shook his head.

“Good. Now sit still, I’m going to take an energon sample to see just much damage you’ve done to yourself lately.”

The rest of the check up went on quietly, with only a few quips from Cascade. Rodimus found that he lost all bite he had before coming in. Thankfully, by some miracle, his vitals and energon all came back average and clean. Small blessings.

Once finished, Cascade cleaned the space up before giving Rodimus a few more ‘encouraging words’ and sent him on his way, this time without an escort. Rodimus used to wonder why no one spoke out against the CMO. He didn’t have to anymore. With just a small argument, the very thought of saying anything was washed away with the threats against him.

There were still rumors but, if no one was to back them up, then the rest is just conjecture for an otherwise thorough medic. And Thunderclash wasn’t the kind of mech to dig into false leads or just plain rumors.

The new spark within his chest mimicked his. Rodimus tried to ignore it.

The Prime made it all the way to his room without looking up. If anyone else was in the hallways as he walked the small trek back to the safety of his personal space, he didn’t know it. So wrapped up in his on thoughts and guarded he just walked straight into his room and locked the doors behind him.

“Hey, Hot Rod.”

Rodimus was startled right out of his tunnel vision at the sound of his old name, “What the-, who’s th-?!” The red mech looked around frantically when his optics landed on none other than Springer, standing by the window of his hab suite, back facing out into deep space. Looking cool as always.

The Prime couldn’t contain himself. His mood immediately lifted at the sight of an old friend. He rushed in for a hug and the green mech matched the strength with him and hugged him tightly. “Long time no see, Rodders. It’s been ages!”

“No kidding. Why are you here? When did you get here?”

“Just catching a ride. We happened to be in the same sector, heading to the same place. Thunderclash reached out about 12 hours ago and suggested that our ships magnetize and take turns steering. What about you, I thought you were on the Lost Light and all that?”

Rodimus made a face, not wanting to go into the details of how he lost the Lost Light to the World Biggest afthole, “We finished our quest and then, well. Prowl happened.”

“Oh. That explains a lot.”

“Tends to.” Rodimus sighed, glancing out the his window when it dawned on him. “Wait, if you didn’t know I was here, then. Why are you in my room? Of all rooms?”

Springer took a moment to look over his friend, as if making up his mind about something. “Honestly? At first, I turned Thunderclash down, when he offered to travel to New Cybertron together. But then he mentioned you could use a friend right now. Plus, you left your door unlocked.”

“Look, Springer, if you’re hear to pity me-”

“Pft as if, dude, I’m sure whatever mess you got yourself into, you can get yourself out of. I’m mostly here because I know you and I know that once one thing starts to fall apart, you start looking like slag.”

Rodimus barked out a laugh, “Frag you, mech.”

“In your dreams. Now, are you going to let me make your plating shine or do I have tie you down?”

“Don’t threaten me with a good time, Springer.”

The two find a place in the washroom to settle down in before getting to work and Springer can’t help but whistle at the nice setup his friend has. The pair chat away catching up and playfully giving each other a hard time, as they usually do. When getting Rodimus back to old shimmery self, Springer went over and over spots that have the worst of the neglect. Scrubbing through the hard-to-reach seams found on Rodimus’ back. Cracking jokes till they were completely finished and Rodimus sighed at how handsome he forgot he was. As he relaxed, so did the newspark, ever reminding him of its presence.

The Prime missed his glowing, warm shine. He missed his friends. He missed a lot of things.

But he wasn’t safe in silence for long.

“Sooo,” Springer started awkwardly, voice wavering in a sing-song manner. The Wrecker was unsure on how to pry, “Uh. What exactly is going on? Thunderclash said you looked awful and had something personal going on but wouldn’t tell me when I asked. Said you weren’t dying, but the rest was up to you to spill.”

Rodimus thought for a moment, leaving the washroom to go look out the window. Seeing it now, he understood why Cyclonus spent so many hours just staring off into the distance. So much to think about. “Honestly, you’re not going to believe it. Or… Maybe you will, I dunno.”

Springer stayed silent as he joined Rodimus beside the window, looking out into the great expanse of stars and rocks floating aimlessly.

“I went to medical the other day. And. Well,” He grinded his denta together, finding it hard to speak above a whisper, “I’m sparked.”

“What?”

“I’m sparked, Springer! Sparked!”

“No, I heard you, I just can’t believe it. Who in their right mind would--”

“Don’t frag with me!” Rodimus pointed a finger in Springer’s chest, pressing only slightly. He took a step back and pulled his hands over his face in a groan, waving his arms about, “This isn’t funny, I’m so incredibly stressed out, I called someone yesterday. Full blown crying, just uncontrollably. I’d be embarrassed but I’m too stressed for even that, right now.”

Springer stayed silent again, raising his brow ridge slightly and puffing out his cheeks, in a mixture of both confusion and disbelief. “Wheew. That’s loaded. Who’d you call?”

“Tell me about it.” The Prime pinched bridge of his nose, “Augh don’t give me slag about it, but I called Drift…”

“Drift?” The mech perked at the information, “Drift of Rodion? As in Drift-currently-hitched-with-Ratchet Drift?”

“I told you not to give me slag about it!”

“I never agreed to that. Besides, there’s nothing wrong with calling an old friend about your problems...” Springer paused, “Well, maybe. If that friend wasn’t your huge crush who was also already conjunx’d--”

“Holy slag, I am going to kill you. I’m literally going to strangle you in your sleep. I don’t have a crush on Drift.”

“Yeah and I’m not green. Obviously, I don’t believe you.”

“Go ahead, don’t believe me!”

The two mechs go back into joking and talking about the predicament Rodimus is in, without mentioning how Cascade had treated him. Rodimus finds himself repeating a lot of the same things he told Thunderclash. Not that he’s thought about it much but he still doesn’t know who the sire is, if there even is one. Nor if he’s going to keep it, considering all the stress it is and will continue to cause him. The red mech was careful to remind his friend that the whole thing is a tightly guarded secret that he and a few others know about.

That’s when Rodimus embarrassedly brought up how he plans on meeting both Drift and Ratchet on shore leave and is glad that Springer came along to finish off his glossing and shining.

“Of course! You want to look good in front of your crush, don’t chya?” Springer teased.

“Really.”

“Hah, yeah, really. I mean it’s not like its unreasonable, you guys shared a lot of years together. I’m honestly surprise that-- Well. Nevermind.” Springer took one last look out the window before sighing deeply, and getting up “Hey it’s getting late for me, I think I’m going to head back to my ship and snooze for a bit. I wanted stop by and see how an old pal was doing and well--”

“I’m royally fragged up,” Rodimus finished for him from his spot on the windowsill.

“Yeah, basically.”

“Whatever.”

“Heh. It’s just so like you to find yourself in the middle of the latest trouble.” Springer makes it to the door when he turns back to his friend, just before he leaves, “All jokes aside Rodimus, you don’t have to do this alone.”

Chapter Text

“Wake up, sleepyhead.”

Rodimus woke up to a familiar voice and that an energon cube had been shoved into his face before he could even clear his vision from a night of deep sleep. The green and yellow blur snickered at him as he sat up in a sleepy daze. A yawn escaped the Prime, one so big it threatened to dislocate his jaw. “What in Primus’ name- Springer? What are you doing this early?”

Maybe it was that he still hadn’t fully woken up, but Rodimus could’ve sworn that Springer looked a little. Dejected.

“Early?” Springer laughed as he finally came into focus, “Mech, you’ve been sleeping for 10 hours.”

“And?”

“And nothin’, it’s time to get up. Sleeping all the time like that isn’t good for the spark, you know.” Springer shoved the drink towards Rodimus again, who took it with a grumpy noise. “Also drink this, it’s about to lose the fizzy stuff.”

“Oh, and when did you become a doctor?” Rodimus grumbled as he chugged the whole cube down, and shuttered for a moment at the odd sensation. He had a felt that there was nothing about the mineral additives that Cascade prescribed to him that he was going to enjoy or just get on with. But until he made up his mind about spark that orbitted his own, down the hatch goes the horrible, gross fizzy energon mixture.

Jazz could learn a thing or two from Cascade, he thought absently.

Springer huffed. His posture still wasn’t one of confidence, even with his arms folded over his chest in feigned annoyance. The wrecker pulled up the one desk chair his friend was allowed, and sat just beside the red mech. “I didn’t, it’s just common knowledge.” A green finger pointed to the kitchenette just over in the corner. “Plus, you also had instructions pinned to your wall over there, next to your dispensary.”

“I’ll show you common knowledge…” Rodimus grumbled and looked away, only to whip an uneasy look at his friend, “Wait a second, I know for sure that I locked my doors this time, what gives?”

“I’m a wrecker, Rodimus, you think a door is going to stop me from getting to where I wanna be?”

“Okay, point.”

The pair fell into silence, and not the familiar kind that comes with having known someone for so long. Springer shifted uncomfortably in his chair and Rodimus struggled for once to come up with something to say. Something was up, Rodimus had felt it and the taste in his mouth started to sour. All sorts of thoughts came to mind while in idle. One stood out, and the Prime and his newspark already bristled at the idea.

Silence is loud.

“So,” Springer started, “I, uh. I have some disappointing news.”

Rodimus didn’t look at Springer. As Spinger’s ship dangled just in view, Rodimus sighed. Somehow, he knew what he was going to say next.

“We’ve. Been called to somewhere else.” He said, almost too loud. Springer reached out to lay a hand on Rodimus’ shoulder, his voice solemn but steady, “I got the call while you were asleep-”

“I want you to stay,” Rodimus interrupted and pulled away from the hand. He looked to the window. Beyond the other ship, vast spaciousness and a sense of longing. He didn’t care how pathetic he looked now. He needed a friend, and now that one was here, he was leaving as quickly as he came. Not looking unhappy was the farthest thing from his mind. “I need you to stay.”

“I know.” Springer pulled his hand away. Rodimus didn’t look to him.

“You always leave.”

“I know.”

There was more silence.

“Can I at least come with you?” It was quiet, just barely a whisper.

“Rodimus-”

 

The Prime whipped his head around, his entire being pleaded. His EM field, his aura, this body language -- his used it all in this attempt. He needed off this ship, away from Cascade, away from how unfamiliar everyone felt. Rodimus felt displaced, he desperately needed something, anything, familiar. “Please, Springer? I don’t want to be here. I don’t know anyone. I’m all alone here. All alone.”

Springer looked at him, his brow ridge furrowed and face scrunched into something torn. “I can’t, Rodimus. You know I can’t. I don’t have the medical staff.”

“Fuck the medical staff!” The human word sounded weird on his tongue, but it had the same effect getting the wrecker’s attention. Rodimus turned in his seated spot on his bed and scooted closer to his friend. He took his hand and squeezed, doing his best to urge him to allow him on board his ship and away from all this, “I don’t care, Springer, I just- I just can’t stand it here on this ship anymore.”

The green mech let Rodimus take his hand, sitting back in the chair as he eyed the pair. He looked around the room they were in as if looking for something. He pursed his lips and shook his head, “Rodimus, I can’t. I don’t have the medical staff or supplies to take care of you, and I’m not going to take them from Thunderclash. You were a captain, once. Rodimus, would you let someone on your ship knowing you couldn’t take care of them?”

The comment bit at him more than Rodimus cared for. Springer could be insensitive, but it did the trick. Unlike other wreckers, Spinger was the full package. His skill on the field well matched with this skill in a war room. And that’s what his room was now, wasn’t it? A War room. Certainly felt like it.

“I might’ve. If I knew the situation, I might’ve.” Rodimus squeezed the hand he held again, adding a his other into pleading hold, “I’ve always been good at biting off more than I could chew and coming out mostly alive.”

Springer didn’t look at him now, “The answer is no, Rodimus. Please. Don’t ask me again.”

“Then leave,” Rodimus said venomously, he took back his hand and completely turned from his friend. “Just... Leave...”

For a long while, Spinger just sat there. Both of their fields ran sour, and after a few more moments, the wrecker quietly made his exit. Rodimus would deny that he flinched at the sound of his door opening allowing his friend to leave and shut just as quietly behind him.

Rodimus didn’t move. He looked outside the window, the small spark he carried next to his own, thrumming quietly.

He wasn’t sure how much more disappointment he could take.

Only one mech came to mind now. Rodimus rubbed over his chest. “Sorry, lil guy,” Rodimus slumped slightly, “Cascade was right about me.”
--

Just before he left, Spinger made another, final visit. With Thunderclash. After he broke the news to Rodimus, getting right down to business was usually the best course of action to soothe some nerves.

Except when Spinger found the captain. He was nearly keeled over the front of his desk, in a heavy coughing fit and a loud, high pitched zinging noise. Data pads were scattered all over, and littered the floor. And if he didn’t know any better, that was the heavy whirl of a very overtaxed spark struggling to stabilize. A sound he was accustomed to hearing a on a battlefield from a dying mech struggling to hang on. Not someone who was likely making rounds about his desk for a missing datapad. Springer furrowed his brow in serious concern for Thunderclash. The mech already went through one near fatal brush with illness.

He didn’t need another.

But however much concern the wrecker had for him, he didn’t make his presence known immediately. Watching clinically like Thunderclash was a target. If Thunderclash were trying to hide this, he didn’t want him to cover it. Springer wanted him to know he caught him in the act. As Thunderclash started to recover, he soundlessly slid the door away and stepped into the captain’s office. “Have you gotten that looked at?”

Thunderclash nearly jumped, and sighed in relief to find his guest there, “Wreckers! Best of all us Autobots and then some and the death of me,” he laughed. Thunderclash made his way back to his seat and offered Springer to sit and enjoy some of the energon sweets he had in a bowl upon his desk. “Springer, what brings you to my office? Is there something I can do for you?”

Springer just smiled as he took the offered chair and scooted it closer to the desk, adjusted it’s height. He did decline on the candy, however. “Not the best, just not polite enough to announce myself,” he said as he settled into the chair. “That cough sounds pretty bad. Do you need to see a medic?”

“Over a simple ventilation hiccup?” Thunderclash chuckled confidently. A clear attempt to dismiss any concern. “Please, Springer, I’m a lot more hardier than that.”

“Simple my aft, your spark was wheezing, Thunders. Wheezing.” The green mech crossed his arms over his chest at being lied to. “I just watched you.”

“It’s not that bad, I assure you-”

“Captain Thunderclash,” Springer said firmly, as he repostured himself. “It’s your responsibility and duty to stay healthy while you’re in charge of your crew. You need to see a doctor.”

Thunderclash sighed deeply, and conceded. “Of course, you’re right, I just. Don’t want to end up like I did last time, tethered to a ship for life support.”

“I get that, but captain to captain, we both know what’s more important.”

“Indeed.” Thunderclash relaxed in his chair, “Though, I have a feeling you came here for something other than making sure I am fit for duty.”

“Yes. It turns out I won’t be traveling with you to New Cybertron. Something else requires my attention and has diverted me.”

“I see. And Rodimus?”

“That’s… The other thing I came here to talk to you about.”

---

It's much later in the day and Rodimus was watching springer’s ship leave when he receives and odd encrypted message from someone. It told him to meet them in a… Storage room? And that it was time sensitive.

Rodimus almost ignores it, but the message that follows has him slowly getting up despite his mood. The text reading “For Sparkling”.

It’s gone slowly and Rodimus wondered who it could possibly be meeting him in secret. It wouldn’t have been Cascade. He dominated the Medical Bay like it belonged to him, personally. He, so far, had no problem calling Rodimus to an appointment. Neither did Thunderclash, but he always met with him on Rodimus’ turf. Probably to seem less intimidating. There were few people Rodimus hung out with, and none of them messaged him like this.

Rodimus supposed he’d just have to find out.

Not much later, Rodimus stood outside the storage room and paused. Anyone could be on the other side of that door. Cascade, Optimus Prime, Pits, even Overlord.

To Rodimus’ surprise, he found the strange mech from the day before. Standing near the middle of the room. He appeared to have been waiting for him. “Mercykill?”

The tall, lanky mech pulled a finger over his mouth, and gestured for Rodimus to not speak. He slowly closed the door behind Rodimus before he turned the lights up to a soft dim. He pulled out a keypad and typed as Rodimus watched on.

He was about to ask when a small blinking notification popped open on his HUD screen.

“No time. Check sparkling. Cascade tracking,” it read.

Rodimus looked at the other mech, then their surroundings. The room seemed somewhat lived in, but very sterile. Medical supplies lay here and there. A berth. Well used and makeshift space. It dawned on him slowly. “You’re not just a janitor or nurse, are you?”

Mercykill shook his head.

“I’m not the first person you’ve had here.”

Mercykill did nothing at this.

Rodimus didn’t need an answer. It was obvious. He sat on the berth provided and opened his chest, his spark glowing bright. Mercykill did his best not to waste time and worked as fast as he could. Which was not much faster than their walk to the medbay yesterday.

For some reason this hadn’t come as nearly a surprise as Rodimus thought it should. The Med Bay was hardly a welcoming place. Rodimus had always wondered how certain mechs -- conjunx’d or mentally ill usually -- sought medical attention. Cascade was not shy about his hatred. Even if there were other medical staff members, the CMO always imposed his views on others. Cascade would interrupt sensitive cases to let the patients know the level of disdain they found themselves on with him.

To say it was a toxic environment was a laughable understatement.

But the ridicule suffered by him was enough to keep mechs silent. The badgering. The belittling. Most people stayed quiet about Cascade just for that alone. Rodimus sure did.

Meanwhile, Mercykill groped and felt around the spark chamber, and measured. If the medic took notes, they were all mental ones. It was as awkward as it could be. Someone silently rummaged through Rodimus’ chamber, not even a hum or comments made under their breath. None. Nothing.

It wasn’t a long appointment, just a quiet one. Which definitely made it feel long to Rodimus. He felt his plating itch.

There was only a moment where the purple mech paused to grab their keypad. “Sire?”

“Don’t know them. Don’t know if there is one.” Rodimus iterated for what felt like the thousandth time. But it was all Mercykill needed before getting back to work.

The next time Mercykill backed away, they were finished. Rodimus couldn’t help but instantly relax.

The medic pulled his keypad up again, typing out a message to Rodimus. “Go. Will Stay. Sparkling healthy. Carrier healthy.”

“Well, that’s a relief,” Rodimus said and slid off the berth. “I take it this is just between you and me, right?”

Mercykill gave him a nod and took to typing again. “Socialize. Drink minerals. Healthy. Seclusion unhealthy.”

“Right. Well. Then I should go.”

“Rodimus, brave. Cascade, harsh. Wrong.”

Rodimus stopped for a second. It took him a minute to say anything, but eventually he spoke very meekly. “He doesn’t seem wrong. Doesn’t seem very wrong about me at all.”

A few seconds later he received a short message, “Cascade. Wrong.”

Although there wasn’t anything to indicate it, Rodimus somehow felt the slight chill and severity of the short message. He said nothing to refute it this time. “Thanks again. For the check up.”

Mercykill bowed his head, before he walked to the door and ushered Rodimus out. There was a final message he received that read “Will be in touch.”

The red mech stood there for a moment before he started towards his room. There were only a few other mechs around when he finally approached his door. He stopped. He had been locked away in his room for... A while. Maybe he should go to the rec room? Try out that social thing that Mercykill mentioned.

Rodimus turned down another hall and made his way to one of the few rec rooms Thunderclash’s ship provided. There were maybe 3. Maybe 4. Rodimus couldn’t be sure. Upon reaching the archway of the entry point, he stopped to see who was there. Just a few mechs. Not enough for it to be loud and buzzing but enough to say it was a smidge on the crowded side.

He hesitated, but stepped into the room anyway. He chose a spot that let him see anyone that’d walk up to him and sat there. Slid into the booth, and took out a pad to doodle on as he tried not to take note of everyone who stopped everything to watch him pick his seat before moving on. Yes, yes, he got it, he’s never there unless he’s drowning in a bottle. How weird that Rodimus wasn’t tripping over his own feet, laughing while he hiccupped from the last few drinks he’d have. Give or take 20 or more.

Rodimus focused on his doodling. Tried to.

It wasn’t too long before someone came up to speak to him. A few someones.

“Well if it isn’t Rodimus!”

The red mech looked up from his doodle pad, “Coil?”

“The one and the only.” Coil slid into the seat in front of Rodimus, “so you gonna tell me where you’ve been? I’ve made some new candies, but no one wants to try them.”

“Yeah, probably because they have to crawl their way to the med bay because their internals are about to bust.”

“That was one time!”

“One time too many! The bot left the ship first chance she got!”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever.” Coil dismissed the judgement and Rodimus couldn’t help but laugh. “So. Want to try them?”

“Sorry, no thanks.,” The Prime declined again, as he watched some others come into the room.

“What! It’s a whole new recipe. I got it from those 3 headed organics we made a delivery for about a few cycles ago. Finally got the ingredients to make them.”

“Not even if I knew what half of what you put in them, Coil. Sorry. Doctor’s orders.”

Suddenly, it wasn’t just the two of them. A few new mechs, who apparently know Coil well enough, greeted him. They sat with them, and laughed. The one beside Rodimus was seated particularly close. “If it isn’t Rodimus, you back amongst the living?”

He didn’t miss the fact that he was boxed in the booth.

“That’s what I said,” Coil practically giggled.

“Gees, lay off would you? Yeah, I’m not dead.” The sudden attention started to get Rodimus worked up and the sparkling matched the amount of stress he felt. He tried to quell the thing as best he could.

“Couldn’t help but over hear you saying you’re gonna try one of Coil’s new candies. Didn’t want to miss it. Can’t wait to see what the reaction will be this time,” said one of the nameless mechs. Coil jabbed them in the side and made a comment Rodimus couldn’t hear.

“Absolutely not. Learned my lesson from last time.” Rodimus sighed and waved his hand. “Besides, doctor’s orders. The tyrant himself ordered me to stay away from that stuff.”

“Oh no, laid low by Cascade, huh?”

“That’s certainly a way of putting it. He’s really--” Rodimus stopped by a sudden jabbing pain in his foot. Coil looked at him strangely as Rodimus looked to the mech beside him after finding the mech’s foot over his.

The other mech’s expression is steely cold, and the EM field that reached Rodimus felt acidic.

They didn’t come to this table by accident.

“Rodimus?” Coil’s voice sounded far away suddenly.

The mech beside Rodimus kept eye contact until he looked away into the small crowd, directing Rodimus’ attention with his eyes to across the room to another bot who had been watching. They unfolded their arms and pointed at their own chest before placing a finger over their mouth in a shushing gesture.

They knew. They knew about Cascade. They knew about him. About the sparkling.

“Rodimus are you okay?”

Rodimus spun his head back to Coil. His own expression blank and withdrawn before he felt pressure on his own pedes again, which stirred him back to reality as quickly as it unfolded. “What? Yeah, sorry, I’m not feeling so good.”

“You’re not contagious are you?” Coil made a face at the thought.

“I’m… I’m not sure. I need to get back to my room.” Rodimus subspaced his belongings and made way to move, the foot moved from his own. The mech beside him did not move.

“Want someone to take you,” the mech offered.

“No! No. I can get there myself.” Rodimus stood in his spot until he let out. The two mechs that sat joined him and Coil both were giving him deathly stares. Rodimus almost tripped to get away. “I’ll talk to you later Coil.”

On the way out, the mech who watched him from afar waved goodbye to him as he left the room and nearly ran all the way back to his room.

What the hell was going on in this ship?

Chapter Text

Rodimus barely got any sleep after the rec room incident.

The Prime paced around his room for hours, trying to calm down and simultaneously obsessed about the... The whatever it was. A threat? Rodimus has been threatened before. So much rushed through his processor and he could barely get a vent in. It was almost... This felt. Personal? Surreal, mostly.

Whatever it was, the message was clear: Don’t badmouth Cascade. Don’t blab about Cascade, period.

He really wished Drift was there. His spark ached. His sparkling was stressed. Terribly stressed. But Rodimus couldn’t -- wouldn’t -- go see Cascade. And he didn’t have a contact for Mercykill.

But why? Honestly, it wouldn’t be the first time that Rodimus insulted someone’s friend, and it wasn’t like either of the two mechs at the table adamantly disagreed with Rodimus or insulted him right back. The strange mechs seemed to know both Rodimus and Coil. Coil didn’t even look at them weirdly when they joined but Rodimus didn’t recognize either of them. They could’ve said anything, that would’ve been the normal don’t-talk-about-my-friend-like-that thing to do.

No. Nope, nada. Of course they had to be complete weirdos. Instead they quietly glared daggers into him and jabbed his pede, unnoticed by his own friend Coil. Completely unnoticed. Which was weird for a whole lot of other reasons that Rodimus didn’t know where to begin with.

Coil might’ve been a spindly, self absorbed conductor foil of a mech, but even that beige idiot could have seen the way they looked at him. He certainly noticed Rodimus’ odd behavior as it happened… But if he were in on it… Surely he would’ve been just as bold as the other two.

Right. Three. There was the other mech across the room. Rodimus dug out a memory file of the bot that gestured at him from his spot in the rec room. That mech was probably the most terrifying part. The quiet, wordless communication.

This wouldn’t have happened if Springer just stayed with him. Or let him go with him.

Rodimus stopped himself, he couldn’t let that line of thinking progress. There was no way of knowing what would’ve happened if Springer had stayed. But it was hard to not to go that route. He was still so freshly hurt by the green mech. And now this.

Nothing could calm Rodimus. Paranoia started to set in. He could barely fix his prescribed meds without some spilling over the counter. The Prime checked the locks on his door at least four times before he laid down to stare at the door for hours. He thought and thought about what exactly happened in the rec room.

And why couldn’t he recall any of their features? The Prime couldn’t even really recall what they looked like. Not even the color of their armor came to mind as he desperately tried to remember on his own. If it hadn’t been for the split snaps of memory that his mind somehow saved, he’d think he was going crazy. Unless Rodimus looked through memory files he must’ve saved automatically.

In his memory files, the mechs were clearly there. One in shades of blue with white accents, the other in shades of red with white accents, and the one in the distances a mixture of both with white accents. They weren’t extremely striking, just your average looking mechs. Probably related, based on their similar appearances and altmodes. Rodimus couldn’t quiet place if he was asked.

Still didn’t explain why he couldn’t remember without looking at the pictures. Still didn’t explain why he had these photos to begin with.

That was weird all in itself. Why was his mind taking snaps of people? Without any prompting? Rodimus checked through his stored data, practically scoured his data banks and found nothing except things he recorded on purpose. Like a few… Hundred pictures of Drift. And a handful of other mechs.

Primus, he missed Drift. He could barely stand how much he missed him.

Almost on cue, the Prime received a message from the dear Captain Thunderclash. The Captain left him a brief message that basically danced around the fact that it would take them a whole other day -- or whatever -- before they’d reach New Cybertron. A whole other day before he got to see his best friend. A whole other day he was in this mess.

Another day of being trapped on the same ship as Cascade and his three lackeys.

Rodimus thought about sending him vaguely passive aggressive message in return, but didn’t have it in him. He simply replied with a quick acknowledgement and rolled over to face the wall, determined to get some manner of sleep.

At least he’d see Drift soon. It’d be nice to see Ratchet too. If anyone would listen to him, they would. He calmed. As too did his sparkling. A small harmony.

Within the realms of his dreams, Rodimus found himself already on new Cybertron. He was racing across a sun-setting horizon. The sky was a rainbow of oranges and pinks and yellows. Just a glow of color. He looked good, felt good. So did everything around him. A quiet hum of his engine going along an empty road. Just him. No one else.

When did Rodimus start dreaming of being alone?

That’s when he heard another engine. A purr of hydraulics he’d heard before. Just barely behind the Prime. When he looked to his side, the familiar presence pressed beside him and then a familiar speedster. It was very clearly Drift. Just barely behind him, racing along. There was a playfulness in his field that Rodimus missed and his spark ached even in his dreams.

Together they drove through dreamspace, racing each other and weaving around over the road, a nearly complete song to his thrumming spark.

Another EM field made itself known, with its own rhythm. Rodimus looked beside him and… Ratchet was there? Wh-- What? Why? The Prime didn’t have time to question it as both Drift and now Ratchet were squeezing their altmodes almost against his own.

Usually this would give him an extreme pause, but this… This almost felt like an embrace. They drove completely in sync, keeping at a leisurely speed. Rodimus felt himself ease. Their fields all felt flirtatious. It became overwhelmingly obvious that it wasn’t just for the two conjunx mechs, but for him. In this dreamscape, he easily allowed his field to flirt and mix with the others.

Eventually the three of them would slow and roll into their root mode at the sight of a cliff, one Rodimus had seen on old Cybertron. Weird, though… He didn’t remember the gazebo being there. It was ethereal, almost, a soft glow and a view out looking the various peaks and canyons. In the gazebo was a large mat big enough to fit...

All three of them?

It would’ve been romantic if-- Rodimus did his best to shake the thought. No, Ratchet and Drift where conjunxed. Whatever that line of thinking was, it needed to be stopped.

The Prime’s dreamscape floated them to the structure and the next thing he knows, he’s between the two again. This time, they’re all relaxed, laying out on the mat. It’s plush and soft, like something out of a Resort Vacation commercial. Around them, all sorts of goodies and candies where laid out and either Ratchet or Drift munched on them at this point.

Rodimus’ insecurities shone through, despite this being his dream. Sitting between the two, he became meek and withdrawn as the two mechs chatted and laughed. But then Drift fed him a candy. Then another. And another. Ratchet rubbed Rodimus’ back as they both spoke utter gibberish, that sometimes sounded like words.

But the tone was unmistakable. Rodimus knew flirting when he heard it and. Ratchet flirted with. Him? No, he must’ve meant it at Drift. Who rubbed a hand along orange thighs and had eyes on Rodimus alone. The Prime couldn’t tear his eyes away from Drift’s hand sensually touching his plating.

Then Ratchet used the palm of his own hand to turn Rodimus’ face upwards his own. The medic spoke gently, in a tone he never used with him before. Rodimus can hardly stifle the laugh that bubbled in his throat at how absurd this was, and yet, a small fleeting feeling warmed is plating. A feeling he wasn’t sure he was ready for. In the distance, he heard Drift giggle at whatever Ratchet was saying, and then a few words of what sounded like encouragement.

Even in his dream, Rodimus could feel his plating heat up from the undivided attention from two mechs.

The two conjunxed mechs had their hands all over Rodimus, with Ratchet slowly bending ever toward his face.

It was all so much and then suddenly it was gone, Rodimus bulted up in a cold sweat. What on Cybertron was that? His face was mere inches away from Ratchet’s-- No, full-stop. Analyzing dreams never brought anything good. Especially, the vague and… Romantic ones. Was that romantic? No. Maybe.

A quick shower should cure him of his confusion and warm plating. Not that he needed a shower after the buffing Springer did. But the sound of running water felt calming and he couldn’t help but imagine Drift meditating beside a waterfall. Trying to balance his energies or something. It made Rodimus smile to think about, but washed it away as his dream swirled back to him. Nope! He was just going to ignore the romantic dream he had about his best friend and best friend’s partner.

Especially sense tomorrow, they’ll be docking for supplies runs. The red mech couldn’t face them if he obsessed over a silly dream. It was probably a result of all Springer’s teasing and all his excitement and stress.

The Prime looked at his chronometer and saw that he got in just enough hours for his next dose of metal supplements. He didn’t know how much he trusted Cascade-- scratch that, he didn’t trust him at all. Double scratch it, Rodimus trusted him to be an aft and do things that an aft would do, but nothing else. However, Mercykill seemed to agree that the supplements were necessary.

But he didn’t really know how much he could trust Mercykill either.

Rodimus looked at the bag of mixed minerals and noticed he was low. He groaned loudly, he’d have to go back to the Medbay to hopefully receive a larger quantity to insure less visits. Best to get that out of the way as soon as he could.

The march down the halls felt longer, but only took a few minutes to navigate. Same as always, the trip to the medical office was uneventful and nearly no one was there. Thankfully.

Rodimus spied the big automatic doors as he approached. He was just about to enter when Captain Thunderclash walked through, rubbing his chest like it was sore. Before Rodimus could even comment, Thunderclash lit up.

“Rodimus! It’s good to see you,” he smiled one of his big, soft, genuine smiles. Anyone but the Prime might’ve swooned over him.

But Rodimus wasn’t them, and he felt stuck against the wall. “Hey, Thunderclash. What are you doing here?”

Suddenly Thunderclash’s demeanor changed, if only slightly. Mech’s not used to Thunderclash or his mannerisms might not have noticed. He became rigid and stiff. “Routine check up,” He officed stiffly, his smile now wary.

Surely Cascade wasn’t tormenting their too-nice Captain? Cascade wouldn’t be that stupid, would he? Thunderclash wasn’t one to put up with bullying. Rodimus remembered the anti-bullying campaign Thunderclash started shortly after the whole Swearth fiasco. It went on for days. No, there’s no way that would be happening. Would it?

“You sure?” Rodimus tried to press carefully, folding his arms over his chest.

“Yes, Rodimus. I assure you, I just saw Cascade for a routine check up before we dock tomorrow.”

The Prime wasn’t convinced. Something was going on, but already Rodimus could tell that he wasn’t going to get anything out of the mech here. “If you say so.” He dropped the subject and moved on.

The two mechs chatted for a moment about what they planned to do off shore. For Thunderclash it seemed it was mostly business related with a few hours of downtime. Rodimus was going to spend the entire time with his best buddy and Ratchet. He didn’t mention how he didn’t want to return to the ship after.

They parted ways. Rodimus watches Thunderclash go, and reach for his chest plates again. Something was definitely up.

Rodimus walked into the medbay and it’s quiet as usual. He walked up to the counter and asked for a larger fill so he didn’t have to keep bothering them every three days for minerals which they agreed to. Cascade is nowhere to be seen which was a huge relief. Though, he was antsy without knowing where Cascade was anyway.

As soon as he could, he left and started the way back to his room without encountering anyone when an encrypted message popped into his HUD, same as the day before.

It was just the room number again.

Rodimus sighed. But headed in the direction anyway.

When he arrived, he made a bee-line for the Medical Berth and sat on the edge, “Alright, doc, what are we doing today?”

Rodimus kicked his feet lightly, as he waited for the response to reach him.

“Spark signature. Find sire.”

A wave of dread washes over him and he gets up out of his seat. “No.” Rodimus sees how Mercykill looks over him critically, “I don’t want to know. I don’t want to find out.”

Mercykill sends him a new message, a simple question mark.

Truthfully, he hadn’t really thought about it. But now that finding a sire was on the table, if there’s one at all, seemed like the worst possible thing to do. “Mercykill. I don’t remember half the people I’ve been with. I don’t want to give anyone the responsibility of being a sire when its my fault. I don’t want them to resent the sparkling.” He explained. He sat on the berth again and sighed. “Or me.” He said in a much quieter tone.

The purple helicopter considered his response and eventually shrugged. For now, he would not perform a procedure that seemed to cause a carrier more stress than necessary.

In the meantime, Mercykill handed Rodimus a clipboard full of questions for him to answer while Mercykill started to do a checkup. Of what, Rodimus could hardly say, but it was only slightly invasive.

Rodimus was finishing the last of the questions when the Decepticon stepped away and did idle tasks. “So how come you can’t talk?”

Mercykill did not respond.

“C’mon the suspense is killing me, I gotta know. Did you take a vow of silence?”

This time the medic looked to Rodimus, his gaze steely as ever. For once, the Prime kept his mouth shut, but still elated to see Mercykill taking a keypad out to very slowly type in a message. The suspense was killing him.

The message just reached his HUD when in Rodimus’ vision refocused, the door slammed open against the inner walls. In the doorway, Cascade and two other mechs stood.

Rodimus and Mercykill were so engrossed in their own conversation, they didn’t hear the torch melting the lock away.

Everyone froze. Mercykill didn’t move a single servo. Rodimus felt his chest tighten up as he saw Cascade become more and more enraged. His anger firstly directed at Mercykill.

“What. Is the meaning of this?!” the small two wheeler stomped over to Mercykill, yanking the small keypad from him. “What are you… Have you been...” He looks at him in the optics before he snapped the device easily in his hand and dropped the crumbling technology to their peds. “You’re going to regret that.”

Mercykill does nothing, but cast his unreadable gaze to Cascade who is unphased. Cascade grabs onto his arm and pushes him towards the other two mechs, who shove at him back, nearly making the helicopter stumble to his feet with his slowed reaction time.

“I want these doors replaced, and I want this… This shack dismantled and scrapped.” He says with such hatred and disdain Rodimus thought he might be foaming as he looked around. He took in the scene of the make-shift medical office.

The CMO then sets his sights on Rodimus, who flinched at the shift in attention. Cascade was unreadable as he spoke, “Take care of Mercykill. I’ll see to him personally once I’ve dealt with this little problem.”

Both mechs take Mercykill by the arms and guide him to… Somewhere. Rodimus hardly paid attention, as a fuming Doctor made his way to the medical berth. It’s then that the Prime thought to get away. He started to slide off the edge of the berth to his peds when he heard Cascade closing in.

The Prime started to make a break for it, when he felt a hand latch onto his arm. He tried to slip away, twisting his arm in almost painful way. But Rodimus was pulled so hard toward the opposite direction, he felt his joints pop.

Rodimus heard it before he felt it. A loud clap cracking the air like thunder. Next thing, he felt was the intense sting that Cascade’s hand left behind on his face. It would’ve completely stilled him if Cascade wasn’t shoving him back onto the berth.

“-- listening to me?!”

Rodimus then realized he was being spoken to, but the shock from being smacked across the face froze him. He feels Cascade shaking he shoulders furiously. The red mech tensed up, in an attempt to stop the shaking and Cascade took that as his cue to repeat himself.

“I have had it with your insolence, you terrible excuse of mechanism!” Cascade grabbed Rodimus by the jaw to keep his eyes on him. The motorcycle bristled with hate and EM field flooded the space with what felt like acid. “How dare you see him behind my back. You thought I wouldn’t find out? I meant what I told you, Rodimus. I hear everything that goes on in this ship. It's bad enough you have the gall to complain about me in public, but to see him? To go around me and see Mercykill about that abominable thing growing in your chest!?”

Cascade then shoved Rodimus away from him, “If I weren’t so sure that this sparkling business would be the end of you, I’d rip it from your very chest cavity and watch you wallow in agony.”

He looked like he was about to go on, but a noise had distracted him. Someone calling him over a private communicator. “I’m busy right now, this had better be-- What? What do you mean he escaped?! I don’t care that he’s big, he has a specially modified inhibitor install, how--”

This entire time Rodimus’ very energon was rushing both warm and cold. This caused him to be absolutely nauseous. His plating felt clammy. He felt stiff until his eyes focused again. Cascade had wandered far enough from him and the entrance to the room was unguarded now.

Rodimus made a break for it.

In the distance he could hear Cascade laughing, “Run all you like, Rodimus. You can’t escape me.”

The Prime ran, and ran, and kept running until he found his door. He didn’t even stop when he heard footsteps following his, not daring to look back. When he finally made it to his room, he swiftly turned to lock the door. He jammed the code to the lock and stepped back when he heard pounding and muffled sounds.

No. No he couldn’t do this, he just couldn’t! He’s had enough!

Rodimus scrambled for his washroom and closed and locked himself in and turned on the water to drown out all other noises as he hyperventilated into sleep.

Just before he finally closed his eyes, Mercykill’s message flickered before his eyes. The answer as to why the helicopter wouldn’t or couldn’t speak was a simple response.

Cascade.

Chapter Text

Drift had been by the loading bay every day since Rodimus’ projected arrival. Each day, the speedster would be told to come back the next day as the ship was taking longer to return to conserve resources.

Which was smart, he told himself. Sensible. Drift nodded diligently to the harbour manager and left. Of course, it was very responsible of Thunderclash.

It did nothing but stoke his excitement and eagerness however. He was restless in berth and only got decent shuteye with the help of a sleep aid. Ratchet would poke fun at him with a loving smile over his excitement. Drift would rush through his daily routine of meditation and quick rituals to hurry over to the docks to be told the same thing each day.

The next time Drift went, Ratchet decided to go with him to the docks. For the most part, they watched ships come and go while snacking on something idly from one of the many concession stands littering the area.

“Think today’s the day?” Ratchet asked between bites on something fluffy like Earth’s cotton.

Drift didn’t answer right away, optics darting from ship to ship, looking for something familiar. Ratchet turned and would let him be, until something caught his eye. Something big with clashing color scheme and heading their way.

“Drift? Cybertron to Drift-”

“Just a few more minutes, Ratty, I have a good feeling about this!”

“Drift!” Ratchet said just a little more firmly.

“What!” Drift turned on his heal, almost aggravated at being rushed when he sees the Exitus started to make its descent into the loading dock just behind the pair. He practically vibrated as the ship slowed to just a hover as cables and machinery began automatically hooking and snapping into place. The ship was massive. Not the same size as Lost Light, but big enough.

Drift was filled with mixed emotions. He took Ratchet by the hand and pulled them closer to the rail that led from the shuttle bay smack dab in the middle of the ship’s front side, under what looked like the command deck. The colors a stark reminder of who’s in command, gaudy and mismatch, but confident enough to pull it off. Just like the captain himself.

Around the railing, a crowd began to gather, Drift and Ratchet apparently not the only one’s anticipating the arrival of the Exitus crew. The pair stayed mostly quiet, as everyone did the cheering for them as the shuttle bay doors slide open to reveal the bots waiting patiently to disembark.

Small groups of friends made their way down the railing and into the crowd or past it to head into the city just beyond.

Drift noticing right away that Rodimus was not among the first wave.

Or the second.

Or third…

His EM field began to shift as worry set in. Ratchet placed a reassuring hand on a heavily armored shoulder.

Thunderclash and the remaining command started to make their way down and the crowd around the two conjunx had become almost instantly infatuated. It was hard to see them, as the other bots around the couple started to become a little more lively.

Ratchet, seeing his conjunx worrying face still pointed at the top of the rails, started to head toward the front of the crowd. Drift picking up on his movement followed quickly behind as a space was made for his bulkier frame. He fit easily in the empty spot it left in its wake. Before they knew it, Ratchet was waving for his long time friend to come over.

It took a moment but Thunderclash didn’t miss the medic waving at him and hurried over. Surprisingly the crowd mostly died down as the mech came closer.

“Ratchet! And Drift, it’s good to see you both. I can’t congratulate you two enough.”

Ratchet laughed easily, “Thunderclash, it’s been years now, you were at the ceremony, you don’t need to congratulate us every time you see us.”

“Thank you, Thunderclash, it’s always good to see you.” Drift piped in, between politely looking at the shuttle doors and the captain of the said ship.

Thunderclash and Ratchet talk a little while longer, simply catching up. Drift was starting to shift from one foot to the other as his patience started to run thin. This didn’t go unnoticed by his conjunx.

“Hey, Thunders, you wouldn’t happen to know where Rodimus’ is, would you?”

“Oh, that’s right, he was very excited to see you two, especially Drift. Sorry, last time I saw him was he going into the medbay, probably to see our CMO.”

“Ah, and how is Mercy treating your crew? They were highly recommended, I’m told. At least by Decepticon standards.” Ratchet laughed that last bit. The old Autobot didn’t know the Decepticon well enough to say otherwise, but as long as it wasn’t Hook, they weren’t that bad off.

But the questioning look didn’t reassure Ratchet or Drift in the slightest.

“Mercy?” Thunderclash almost laughed out, “Ratchet, my dear friend, we don’t have a mech by that name on our ship. Our CMO is a neutral bot, from Cybertron, Cascade.”

“Cascade? I’ve never heard of them,” Ratchet said nearly solemnly, raising a finger to his chin in thought.

Drift laughed, completely unworried, “Why would you, Ratty? You’re retired. In fact, you’re so retired that the nearby hospitals have stopped calling for advice because you shouted at them for incompetence.”

“Well, I fixed their problem, didn’t I?”

“You traumatized the staff, Ratchet. They went to Froid for consultations after. And he’s in jail.”

“If you can’t do a spark chamber bypass to the neural cortex to keep your monochromatic patient alive just because everything looks the same color, I don’t know what to tell you. Someone has to take responsibility.”

Both Thunderclash and Drifty look at him almost exasperatedly.

“Well, either way, I’m afraid I have business I need to see to. You might want to comm him. Otherwise, you both are free to board and search for him yourself.” There was a quick pause and then the Captain smiled, “I just alerted staff that you have basic clearance. I hope the three of you are able to enjoy your time together.”

The two stay a while longer after Thunderclash left them and the crowd slowly dispersed after. They’re the last two at the end of the rails when Ratchet starts to head aboard the Exitus.

“Ratty, where are you going?” Drift asked as he began to follow the ambulance up the rails.

“Thunderclash said we were welcomed aboard. So I’m going on board.”

“Do you even know where Rodimus is?”

“Check your inbox, Drift, there should be a map there.”

It took Drift a second but a map indicating basic areas of the ship with the additional detail of where Rodimus’ room was highlighted. “Oh.”

The pair head through the ship, trying to find the first pinpoint which happened to be the bar. There was hardly anyone there except for a few mechs. They didn’t stop to mingle, heading straight towards where Rodimus’ room should be.

It took a lot longer, Ratchet getting them lost twice and Drift at least once. But eventually they came upon two double sliding doors, both painted in matching colors to the owner. Drift laughed. It was very fitting of Rodimus to paint his door like this.

Drift knocked on the metal doors lightly.

No response.

The swordmech readjusted, and knocked a little harder this time.

They waited for a little longer and aren’t sure what to do when the hiss of a sliding door finally opens. On the other side of the doorway stood Rodimus Prime, in all his glory. Drift didn’t miss the way he was looking over both their shoulders as if to look out for someone. “Drift? Ratchet? What are you guys doing on the ship?”

But it didn’t stop Drift from pulling his best friend into a welcoming hug, “Thunderclash said we could come on board and find you ourselves.” He held them together, until he squeeze just a bit tighter before letting go. Ratchet came up to give Rodimus a side hug and a pat on the back. He pulled away a lot quicker than Drift had.

“Surprised we even had to,” Ratchet smiled with some concern in his voice. “We expected you to be the first one off the ship.”

To that, Rodimus looked down at toward their feet. “Oh. Sorry, I was asleep. I didn’t mean to disappoint.”

Drift and Ratchet share a look between each other.

“Why don’t we get some fresh air, huh?” Ratchet said, urging everyone forward. Ratchet couldn’t help but also notice the lack-luster look about the Prime.

The three of them make their way off the ship and back onto the streets. Rodimus looked a bit relieved to be off the ship and on solid ground for a change. Drift noticed he kept looking over his shoulder but said nothing as they reached the bottom of the rails and headed off to find a good place to sit and catch up. There was so much to talk about, after all.

 

Eventually, they find a place where the food’s good and the atmosphere was relaxed, where the Prime insisted on a booth against a wall shaded windows. The way there was a little awkward. Rodimus was uncharacteristically quiet. He almost seemed lost in his own world. Ratchet looked to the speedster and Drift knew it was up to him to get Rodimus’ attention.

Drift cleared his throat and adjusted his seating, startling the Prime from his thoughts. But at least he got his attention. “So-- How’s space?”

Rodimus’ laughed, “Still big. Not as exciting as it used to be, but. Yaknow. Big.”

“Really? Not exciting? Rodimus, it’s space,” Drift gave him a lofty smile, even as he sounded as if he didn’t believe his best friend.

“Drift, you know that most of the missions are just political-peacekeeping missions, right? At worst, Thunderclash runs a very nice delivery transport.”

A waiter came by and took their order. They were a very patient mech, as Rodimus quickly skimmed through and picked out a dish, where as Ratchet and Drift both knew what to order straight away already.

Drift suddenly perked up, “Oh Rodimus, you’re going to love this- Excuse me, sir, one last thing, can we uh, can we get some energon chips and the chunky dip thing you have, please?”

The waiter smiled and nodded before he left the three.

Ratchet made a soft, disbelieving noise though he was still smiling. He took Drift’s hand in his own. “Drift almost loves that stuff more than he loves me.”

“What can I say, I love a good chip and dip,” He laughed, squeezing the hand that held his captive lovingly and looking at his conjunx, optics filled with adoration.

Rodimus looked at two hands and quickly looked away. If either one of them paid attention, they’d see the blush spreading across Rodimus’ face before it quickly went away. “Good to see that you guys are even more lovey-dovey than before. Married life suiting you two well?”

Ratchet looked to Drift as he rubbed his thumb over the speedster’s hand. “Very.”

Drift smiled but pulled his hand away when the waiter came back to the table with their drinks and appetizers and left just as quickly. Rodimus didn’t even have time to politely say thank you before the waiter went to attend other people.

“Okay, okay-- I know this is a little odd, but hear me out. Take a chip and dip it in the liquid stuff - they call it a ‘sauce’ - and!” Drift dramatically bit into the food and made a show of how much he loved it. “Try it Rodimus, it’s so good.”

Rodimus gave Drift a skeptical look before eyeing Ratchet to confirm, “Well, ‘Ratty’, is it as good as he says?” He laughed.

“Don’t look at me, I prefer a more liquid diet over these new… Solid energon dishes.”

“But you did try it!” Drift exclaimed loudly, turning almost his entire body in feigned hurt.

“... I did.”

“So? Was it good or not, Ratch?” Rodimus smiled, he enjoyed ganging up on the old doctor with his friend.

Ratchet sighed and relented. “Yes, it was good. Happy?”

Drift gave him a light peck on the shoulder, “Yes.”

Rodimus felt his cheeks light up with warmth and quickly, remembering his dream from the night before and looked away quickly. “You two are adorable, you know that? I didn’t think it was possible, but I’m genuinely moved, hah.” The Prime picked up a chip, eyeing it carefully. It wasn’t unlike the goodies Swerve or Coil made. “Might actually be hopeful that I can find someone like that,” he mutters under his breath as he carefully dips the chip and shoved it into his mouth.

Ratchet rolled his eyes, but Drift leaned in on his elbows. “Well?! Tell me! Do you like it?”

 

Rodimus sat there quietly as he chewed and once finished with, he sat in almost a dazed silence.

“I think you broke him, Drift.”

“What?! No, Rodimus, come on, quit playing!”

It was totally quiet as Rodimus reached over and grabbed Drift’s hand and looked at him with a stern face. “That. Was amazing.”

Drift beamed with pride as Ratchet smiled and scoffed at the two.

“I mean what even is this, Drift? Sauce? What in the Pits?”

“Yeah, this place tries all sorts of new recipes that are for more solid forms of energon and such. It’ll liquify over time, you know, they don’t add any organic stuff or anything that you need to unclog in your system.”

“Well, it’s delicious and this is all I want for the rest of my life.”

“Right?” From then on, the two talk and talk and talk, with a few interjections from Ratchet. Mostly they talk about what the two love birds have done while Rodimus mostly avoids telling them the things he’s done. Or not done. He told them about how Springer stopped for a visit. Told them about a few of the more exciting things they’ve done or how his friend Coil sent half the crew to the medbay with an experimental recipe he found on while they were on a planetary market somewhere in the cosmos.

Slowly Rodimus relaxed more and more, but there was still something that made him feel uneasy. Insecure. Small. Being with his two oldest pals certainly helped. He couldn’t tell if Drift noticed or not, he probably did - sensing his aura or something - but Rodimus was grateful neither asked about it in a public venue.

The three caught up and stuffed their faces and even had a couple of drinks. Well, Ratchet had drinks, Rodimus refrained and so did Drift to be polite. All the while, Rodimus learned all sorts of new things about the couple.

That the two were happy being home-bodies. That Drift visited a temple regularly. That Ratchet was thoroughly enjoying retirement and doesn’t miss being the head of medical. That they both really enjoyed renovating their home after Swerve sent them several seasons of an Earth show about fixer-uppers, whatever that meant. That the two regularly volunteer where its needed.

Rodimus couldn’t help but laugh a little, it sounded like a dream. Compared to his haphazard lifestyle, Drift and Ratchet found a piece of the All-Spark all for themselves. He was simultaneously jealous and happy for them. He wished he could find what he’s looking for and be content and happy.

The Prime thought he had it on the Lost Light. And knew he did, when it was all ripped away from him.

“Alright, I think we’ve occupied this table long enough. I think we should take the kid back to house. I’d like to see if this Cascade person’s treating Rodimus well or if I need to make my displeasure known.”

“What? Kid?” Rodimus scoffed indignantly.

Drift started to get up, “Right, It’ll be nice showing him our home. It’s been a minute since he’s seen.”

Rodimus almost protests but the couple is playfully laughing as Drift heads to the checkout desk and paid the tab and tipped the waiter. The Prime could imagine the sort of tip he’d leave.

The three of them transform and make there way to what Drift and Ratchet call home. Rodimus between them. He couldn’t help feeling this was familiar to his dream just the other day. The drive was silent.

When they come up to the house, it was huge. Way huger than any house for just two had the right to be, and the driveway even… Felt nice on his tires. He couldn’t remember the last time he drove on something nice before.

They all transformed out of their altmode as they came up to the house, Rodimus leading as he gawked at the home. He could practically feel Drift bristle with pride. “This… This is where you live? Just the two of you? No one else?”

“Yep, just the two!” Rodimus could hear the swordmech’s smile.

“Why all this?”

“Well, we bought some land and decided to build our dream home. Something that’ll last, you know?”

Rodimus wanted to say he thought that about the Lost Light and look at it now. But he refrained. “How many rooms do you have? Do you even use all of them? Why all this?”

Ratchet stepped up to the door and a piece of technology transformed from the wall to scan the mech. “How many rooms? Too many, so no, we don’t. But we use most of them.” The door slid open for them all to walk through and a mechanical voice greeted them by name as they entered. Even Rodimus.

“How does it know I’m me?”

Ratchet went past the front arch into a vaulted foyer, big enough to fit the three of them with some room to spare. “Spark signature. I had the files from the Light Light and had the readings recorded into the security device. It reads the spark signature and if it matches, you’re in.”

Rodimus stood there, dumbfounded, as Drift wrapped an arm around his back, “... Am I- Am I able to open the door-”

“Yes,” Drift smiled as he headed toward Ratchet, though his hand lingered too long on Rodimus’ back. “You are listed as a family member. So you have a key to the house, as they say.”

“We can do a tour later. For now, I’d like to take a look to make sure this Cascade mech knows what he’s doing.”

Drift made a noise but followed the two into Ratchet’s office. It wasn’t the same full-scale medical office Rodimus was used to seeing him in, but still. To see Ratchet in this surrounding was a huge relief.

“You know the drill, Rodimus. Open up, let’s take a look inside.”

Rodimus complied, though slower than he might’ve if Cascade wasn’t apart of his life. All the while, Ratchet worked in silence except for a few grunts, whatever they meant, and yes or no questions. When Ratchet pulled away and set down his equipment, Rodimus close his chest. “Well, doc?”

“Well, you look like you’re in good health. Whatever medication you’re on, you should stick to. Your sparkling is healthy too, I don’t see anything wrong with it, and I’d like to do some more scans and spark type matches.” Ratchet rubbed his chin, “But you have some… Obvious signs of stress all throughout your casing. This is somewhat expected when a mech is carrying, everything you’re feeling? The newspark also feels, as I’m sure you’re able to tell.”

“But Rodimus, there are signs all throughout your spark casing,” Ratchet looked at him sternly, “Like someone whose been tortured.”

“Yeah well, you wouldn’t be far from the truth…”

Ratchet and Drift share another look of concern between each other and Rodimus almost hates them for it. Almost. He could never really hate them. But he already knows what they want to ask. “I guess this is the part where you ask how I’ve really been doing, huh?”

Drift made a small noise, “Well… We would like-”

“Just the parts you’re willing to talk about, Rodimus.” Ratchet said, his voice was a softness the Prime has never heard before.

Rodimus took a deep sigh, “Well. Honestly? You want the truth? Exitus life has been… Has been hell. It has been for a while, you know? Like these past few days have been just waay blown out there kinds of weird. Like the kind you read in stories. Not even the good kind of stories, like the kinda stories those weird fans write about their favorite, I don’t know, comic book or something. Honest to Primus shit-show.”

“I honestly don’t know where to begin. Should I start when the Lost Light was torn apart? When my crew went their separate ways? Should I start when I joined Thunderclash under HIS captaincy? Should I start with Cascade? Or maybe the fact that I found out I’m apparently carrying a brand new spark in my chest?”

Th Prime looked at the two when he finished his rant. They weren’t sure what to say and frankly neither was he. He was exhausted. “I’m sorry, I just. I haven’t been myself in… A while. I-” He stopped to look at the floor. “I’ll just talk. I don’t know if it’ll make sense, but I’ll talk.”

Rodimus goes over everything that’s happened over the week. How he slept for two days, how Cascade treats him and the stress and how he’s felt. About the short visit from Springer. All the while having to take gross medication and how now even Cascade’s goons are harassing him. Worse, how this is all happening right under Thunderclash’s nose! Rodimus has them sat down for at least an hour before he’s even close to being done. Neither of the two interrupted him.

He went into detail about Cascade’s abuse, how it escalated from emotional and blackmailing to physical. About how he was intimidated into keeping silent. How he was ambushed seeking outside help and smacked clear across the face by the doctor himself. How he was functionist and had the bedside manners of Sentinel himself.

When Rodimus finished, he leaned back against the couch, exasperated from recounting the important details of his fragged up life.

“Well guys? Any questions?”

Ratchet was first, practically fuming but staved his anger for the time being. “Does Thunderclash know about this?”

Rodimus laughed, “No, obviously not. Do you really think Thunder’s would let someone like him on board? The guy’s a walking Anti-bullying campaign.”

“I realise, but... But then how is this guy able to operate? How is he getting away with this?”

“Honestly, Ratchet? One part blackmail. No one knows about the sparkling. No one. I don’t want anyone to know yet. He uses that against me to keep me quiet. And… other things. And the goons.”

“Can you tell me what they look like?”

“No, but I can show you. For some reason I can’t remember seeing them, but i got a picture of them somehow.” Rodimus sent Ratchet and Drift a file picture.

Drift looked it over in his HUD, “Are they using camo-tech?”

“Probably,” Rodimus said. “I don’t think these are the only guys either. Cascade has a few people at his disposal. If it weren’t for this lanky helicopter, I’d be in deeper than I am.”

Ratchet nodded suspiciously, “Right, and who is the mech?”

“Huh? Oh, mech goes by Mercykill. I hope he’s okay. He was captured while he was helping me last, but by the sounds of it he escaped.”

“Wait, hold on, did you say Mercy?”

“No, I said Mercykill.”

Drift and Ratchet looked to each other, “I think we have a much bigger issue on our hand.”

“What? Why?”

“Mercy was supposed to be CMO. Ratchet was able to look over the documents during the first take off because he wasn’t fully retired yet. Mercy was to be CMO. Not this Cascade guy.”

“We saw Thunderclash on our way to see you, and I asked about how Mercy was doing, as CMO.” Ratched said.

“And Thunderclash said no such mech was on his ship.” Drift finished for him.

Rodimus stood up immediately, heading for the door. “Guys, we have to find him, he’s the only other person who can legitimize my story.”

Drift followed him through the office doorway, grabbing Rodimus by the arm. “Do you have his contact information? Comm him!”

“I don’t.” The Prime whipped around to face both mechs now. “Every message he sent me was encrypted and I have no idea where he went after Cascade’s lackies came in. I don’t think he can send out communication, and I think that doctor is why.”