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Taking it Further

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It was common practice for many mechs and femmes to partner up solely for their heats. Somebot they could trust to have a quick frag and fulfill their coding with. Then, when it was all said and done, they would go back to their lives as per usual. Most being none the wiser to the situation. So after sharing Rodimus’ heat with him, Thunderclash didn’t expect their interactions in the day-to-day to change. Especially considering the thinly veiled distaste the red mech harbored for him. Rodimus had his reasons for it, Thunderclash was sure of it, but it didn’t make it sting any less when the speedster gave him the cold shoulder.

Though the temperature of said shoulder could be argued as warmer in the cycles after sharing his heat. Warm enough that Thunderclash let himself steal glances at the other mech more often than usual. Either fearing less from being caught or perhaps…hoping. Hope that maybe one day Rodimus would consider him a friend he could count on if nothing else. As it was, Rodimus may not have been as prickly when they spoke but there were less and less chances for their interactions. Thunderclash didn’t blame Rodimus for avoiding him, Primus knows the mech deserves his space after sharing something so intimate.

He would be lying if he said he hadn’t thought about it in those cycles since it happened. Thought of the warm heat that radiated from the red mech’s frame. Or the way the bright yellow spoiler had danced and trembled when he overloaded from Thunderclash’s fingers. Of course, Thunderclash was nothing if not professional though and he kept such thoughts to his private time.

He would sit in his hab, more often than he would like to admit, and just think about what a privilege it had been just to touch the prime. He had been able to appreciate that slender red frame in ways few other could claim they had. Thunderclash had enjoyed the feeling of the glossy finish under his fingers, the way it let his hands slide instead of scrape under his light touches. He recalled the way the little prime had let out small noises when he pressed his thumbs into his seams. Any noise he had been allowed to hear had been intoxicating to Thunderclash. Just the thought of when Rodimus had grabbed him in the end and said his name could get his fans going.

But much more than just interfacing, Thunderclash had enjoyed caring for the prime afterwards. Cleaning his finish of their fluids, bundling him up in his blankets and laying his head gently on the pillows. Seeing the prime so relaxed and unguarded. Thunderclash had almost left afterwards, thinking the prime would be irate with him if he stayed past his welcome. But his sensibilities told him Rodimus might be equally mad if he was abandoned post-interface. At least this way he might be able to calm his ire. So Thunderclash stayed and, much to his surprise, Rodimus almost seemed to appreciate it.

A feeling of longing entered Thunderclash’s spark in remembering how peaceful the speedster looked while in recharge when he read poetry next to him… His spark did little skips remembering the little prime’s request to be there when he woke. In the end Rodimus had sort of brushed him off, saying he wanted to make sure Thunderclash wasn’t seen leaving his hab at a strange time. But Thunderclash cherished that short time which he had spent with Rodimus.

He had told no one as to what transpired between them. Not that any bot asked, though there was one mech that seemed suspicious. Drift had caught Thunderclash looking at Rodimus more than once, much to his embarrassment, but the ex-decepticon had done nothing more than give him a quizzical look. Thunderclash was more careful with where his optics wandered whenever Drift was around after that.

 Now, a couple weeks after their encounter, Thunderclash milled about. Which was not something he was known to do. He was off shift but wasn’t feeling up for socializing. He bypassed Swerve’s in favor of going down to his habsuite. Maybe catching up on some reading would lift his mood. But even that thought didn’t really appeal to him. So he wandered around a bit. He lazily strolled the halls. He didn’t mean for his route to take him so close to the captain’s quarters. At least… not purposely.

 Unconscious or not, it was where he found himself. His optics caught sight of the familiar door panel and his processor recalled recent memories that surrounded the hab. The thought of barely restrained moans and a dancing yellow spoiler had a blush blooming across his faceplate. Ever quick to rectify his mistake in his embarrassment, he spun wildly to go in any direction other than where he was. And he spun directly into another mech, elbowing their helm on accident.

 “I am so sorry I wasn’t looking where I was- ”

 “Sheesh Blundercrash, what’s gotten under your plating.” Rodimus ground through gritted dentae, massaging his audial and Thunderclash secretly wished the Lost Light would swallow him whole.

 “My sincerest apologies captain, I was just- ” Thunderclash floundered for an excuse that wouldn’t sound like an outright lie and went for at least a half-truth. “-going for a walk to clear my head and I remembered I have to be somewhere.”

 Rodimus’ golden hand settled on his jaw to massage the tension from it. “Is it important, ‘cause if you’ve got a klik I wanted to have a word with you.”

 Thunderclash didn’t know if his spark was going to sink or explode but before he could overthink it he responded.

 “It is not pressing captain, I believe I can spare a klik.” They stood there awkwardly for a moment before Rodimus motioned just behind Thunderclash.

 “Well we should probably step into my hab so we can talk.”

 “Oh right- yes of course.” Thunderclash stepped aside to allow the speedster to pass before following. He didn’t miss how Rodimus glanced around before letting them into his habsuite.

 The captain’s quarters were large, they had their own wash racks and living area separate from the berthroom. Rodimus’s hab was lightly decorated with things he had collected from his time on Earth, most of it music related but there was also movie paraphernalia littered here and there. Thunderclash had always wanted to sit down with Rodimus to watch his Earth movies. To listen to Rodimus explain the plot when he didn’t understand or to gush about his favorite scenes. Thunderclash would have watched them himself but he felt that Rodimus wouldn’t want to watch them with him if he’d seen them before. It was just a silly daydream anyways. Thunderclash turned to the speedster then.

 “So what did-”

 “I want to frag with you.” The red mech said unabashedly. “You’ve proven yourself to be trustworthy enough, I haven’t heard any gossip related to my heat and I figured this might be a good way for us both to relieve stress.”

 Thunderclash honestly didn’t know what to say, the tone shift alone almost gave him whiplash. And so he just stared at Rodimus before eloquently saying.

 “What?”

 Rodimus’ optics rolled slightly and he growled out, “I said ‘I want to interface with you again.’ Regularly. ‘Friends with benefits’? Get where I’m going with this?”

 Thunderclash looked at him dumbly still, unable to believe what he was hearing. He wanted to say yes, here was the mech of his dreams offering to interface with him. Again. Which had to count for something right? He had to have pleased Rodimus well enough that he would consider coming back to him with such a proposition.

 “Listen, I realized that I haven’t been scratching a particular itch for a while and now that I know what I’m missing it’s become… Distracting.” Rodimus shifted to lean casually on the couch.

 “Not to mention,” A devious smirk crossed Rodimus’ face. “Drift said he caught you looking at my aft.”

Heat burned across Thunderclash’s face as he once again wished the Lost Light would open from beneath and devour him. Before Thunderclash could explain himself Rodimus continued.

“Multiple times he claims and I can’t help but feel that I might have a healthy dose to cure what ails you.”

His mouth ran dry as he caught the meaning behind the speedster’s words. Nearly a thousand thought branches sprouted through his processor. Each one as incoherent as the last. Most of them shouting at him to say yes. Say yes and you get to feel that gorgeous red plating again. Say yes and you get to hear those sweet noises again. Say yes and he might look at you during the next time. But another part of him wavered. He knew the red mech was only pleased with his performance in berth as opposed to wanting a relationship with the brightly colored mech. Which hurt his spark in a way he couldn’t explain. 

Thunderclash looked into his optics. Those Matrix-blue, endlessly sharp and glaring flares of light that threatened to end his spark with a glance. Only to find them… soft. Uncertain maybe? He fidgeted under Thunderclash’s own gaze and his spark swelled a little with adoration for the little prime.

“What would the… terms of this proposition be?” The words left his mouth before he could register it was happening. It wasn’t an outright yes but it may have well been in his own processor. Rodimus straightened his posture and his blue optics met Thunderclash’s ruby ones.

 “Well if either of us don’t want to anymore we just say so and that’s it. It’s done.”

 “Anything else? Any boundaries?” Rodimus thought for a moment.

 “Well, as with our last- uh, agreement, I would prefer if we keep this between ourselves. Nothing leaves the berthroom.” Thunderclash found himself nodding gently, more in understanding than agreement. For being such an outgoing mech Rodimus very much valued his privacy.

 “And we just keep things professional on the outside. I don’t need a member of your fan club starting rumours.” He found it hard to believe that anyone in the crew would go around gossiping about his or the captain’s interface activities but Thunderclash had heard more than once that his faith in others was a little blind.

 “Your terms are agreeable,” Thunderclash hesitated for a nano-klik before he continued with, “If I may I would like to name a few of my own.”

 Rodimus raised an optic ridge, “Of course Thunders, I’m not unreasonable.”

 “I didn’t mean to imply you were- ”

 “Just get to the point ‘Clash, I thought you were in a rush to get somewhere?”

 “R-Right,” Thunderclash swallowed thickly. “Right, well I would like to be able to dictate our pace. I am a much larger mech than you and I can easily hurt you.”

 Rodimus looked as if he was going to protest but looked down instead. Thunderclash could barely see the hint of a blush across the speedsters face. Rodimus nodded curtly and he took that as a cue to continue.

 “Furthermore, I would require time to prepare you for interfacing so I would like to be able to plan our… sessions… ahead of time.”

 Thunderclash surprised himself a little with his candidness. But he always spoke from the spark and above all he wanted to convey his sincerity in this situation. If he was going to do this, he wanted to do it they way he did everything; with cautious determination.

 Rodimus considered him for a while, his optics looking from Thunderclash to the floor and then back again. For a klik, Thunderclash thought maybe Rodimus would refuse.

 “I’m not really a ‘plan ahead’ kind of mech, I usually do things spur of the moment.” Rodimus chewed his derma for another klik, “How about this, I promise to notify you only when I know there will be plenty of time for you to- uh, ‘prep’ me.”

 It was a compromise Thunderclash could deal with. “I accept your terms then.”

 “Alright then.”

 Rodimus held his optics with his for a moment before looking to the door panel.

 “You needed to be somewhere right.”

 The lie of his half-truth suddenly weight heavily on Thunderclash’s spark. He didn’t like lying to the prime, in any capacity and he felt he needed to correct this before it got out of hand.

 “Actually my prime, earlier you caught me at an awkward time and I was hoping to make a swift escape.” Thunderclash shuffled his pedes in place. “I do not have any place to be right now but I will leave if you request me to.”

 “Hm,” Rodimus looked Thunderclash up and down, his glossa peeking out from his lips to wet them. “How much time have you got?”

Chapter Text

Rodimus was distracted.

And he hated feeling distracted. Despite what most bots thought of him, Rodimus was a fairly focused individual. It was just rare that he focused on what most bots found to be important. Like paperwork and reports. The speedster would rather be focused on how to beat his amica into the training room floor when they sparred. Or whether or not to add a different color sweatband to his holomatter avatar. Ratchet endlessly admonished him for only thinking in the now.

But now was when he lived and breathed. Now was when he could plan prank wars with Swerve and save planets in distress. Now was full of everything he knew and loved. And, more importantly, now kept him from thinking about then.

Rodimus hated thinking about the past, even more than the future. Brainstorm had already proven that dwelling on the past wouldn’t get you anywhere, if anything it just got you where you already were. The past was full of Rodimus’ many mistakes and traumas. Regrets that he harbored in his processor that would bother him for the rest of his lifecycle. So excuse him for wanting to live in happier times.

Which brought Rodimus back to his current predicament.

Ever since he had shared his heat with a certain brightly colored mech, who shall remain nameless, Rodimus had been distracted. He wanted to say it was because it was the first real interface he’d had in a long time and that he was merely feeling depraved. That it wasn’t because he was hung up on that feeling of being filled with that huge spike. That he wasn’t craving to be taken from behind again, on his knees with that heavy chassis hovering over him… He convinced himself it would pass soon enough and he could get on with his lifecycle.

But it didn’t.

Cycles passed and every time he saw that tacky paint job he felt a familiar stirring low in his belly. He continued to ignore it. He actively avoided seeing that bright paint job that melted his eyes and those red optics that only ever gazed at him with… adoration, admiration?

Yuck.

As time wore on, he was beginning to accept that he wasn’t going to get over it. That he was going to have to live with the fact that his most recent heat had revealed some things he just wasn’t ever going to forget. Such as how much he enjoyed being bent over and pounded into the berth…

Really not helping.

For that reason, Rodimus found himself sitting in a booth at Swerve’s, head down, his engex barely touched. To any onlookers he may have been either heavily depressed or overly drunk. Either way no one bothered him as he wallowed in self pity.

“Hey gorgeous, miss me?”

Rodimus shifted to peek a single optic at his amica.

“Wow you look… ” Drift sat across from him, sipping his own drink. “Pretty terrible, I won’t lie. Is something the matter?”

“Nothing I want to talk about.”

“That bad huh?”

“Uh-huh.”

They sat in silence for a few kliks. Not awkward really, but not peaceful. Rodimus let his optics consider his friend for another moment before he rolled his head to be face down again.

“Would it have anything to do with why I saw Thunderclash staring at your aft the other day?”

Rodimus’ head snapped up so fast it made an audible crack in his neck cables.

What!” Rodimus hissed, looking around to make sure no one had heard.

“It wasn’t the first time either. I mean thought the guy always had a thing for you but it’s like he has no shame now.”

“ShhHH,” Rodimus waved his hand insistently at his amica. “Keep your voice down.”

“What, there’s practically no one in here. Do walls suddenly have audials of their own now?” Now that Drift mentioned it, Rodimus felt a little foolish. There were only 3 other mechs in the bar right now; Swerve, Tailgate, and Cyclonus. Swerve was trying to do an Earth card trick he’d learned for the two of them so their attention was completely away from the duo across the room.

“No just,” Rodimus sighed outwardly, “I really don’t want people to know what happened.”

“So something did happen?” Drift looked incredulous. “I was kind of just fishing and letting you know a bot was checking you out, being a good amica, but really?”

Rodimus felt embarrassment coursing through his systems. He pushed it down as best he could and told Drift, leaving out any intimate details that didn’t seem necessary. How he had gone into heat and, being unable to withstand it, had gone to Thunderclash for help.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Drift sounded hurt, “I would have helped you if you had asked.”

A bit of guilt welled up in Rodimus’ spark. He had thought to ask his amica but he already knew there were rumors about them all over the Lost Light. He hadn’t wanted to substantiate any of them and risk hurting Drift and indirectly Ratchet.

“I didn’t want to hurt you or Ratchet.” Rodimus hung his head a little. “You guys are just starting out, I didn’t want to start any unnecessary drama.”

Drift leaned across the table and took Rodimus face in both his hands and kissed his cheeks before planting a kiss right on his lips.

“How’s that for drama, hm?”

“Drift please!” Rodimus couldn’t help but laugh as his amica repeated the action, kissing his helm sporadically. He knew he shouldn’t feel guilty about it, amicas showing each other affection was natural. More than once Rodimus had fallen asleep in Drifts arms and vice versa, and giving platonic kisses had been natural at one time. Things changed when his amica started seeing the medic more seriously. Not everyone knew what an amica bond felt like, and some bonds weren’t as affectionate as others, which meant bots could easily misinterpret their relationship.

“Sometimes you think far too much about others, you know?” Drift settled back into his seat but didn’t release Rodimus’ face. He playfully smushed his cheeks. “You should think about yourself more often.”

Rodimus took his amica’s hands from his cheeks and held them.

“I think of myself plenty, thank you very much.”

“If you say so.” Drift squeezed his hands. “So what about Thunderclash?”

Rodimus chewed his derma, not quite meeting Drift’s gaze.

“Well?” Drift prodded.

“What about him.” Drift scowled at him.

“Roddy I just came in here to find you acting miserable and you all but confess that Thunderclash is part of the problem and that is the only thing you can think to say to me.”

Rodimus winced at his amica’s tone but he knew he was right. As much as he would rather ignore the problem, he had to deal with the truth sooner or later. But he could hardly admit to himself that he wanted to frag that eyesore’s brains out, much less someone else.

“I don’t know what to do Drift.” He sighed. “I’m not exactly close with Thunderclash. Primus, if you told me a month ago that I would be this hung up on Blundercrash of all mechs I probably would have punched your lights out.”

“How do you feel about him?”

“I thought I hated his brightly painted guts.”

“I’m sensing you don’t anymore.”

“It’s complicated Drift.”

“Try and simplify it for me?”

Groaning in exasperation, Rodimus blurted, “I don’t know! He said all this weirdly sentimental crap during my heat and so I decided to start cutting him some slack. But now every time I look at him I’m reminded of his- ” Rodimus caught himself in time but Drift was hanging on his every word.

“His…?” Drift looked intrigued, optics wide and a slag-eating grin on his face. He probably already knew where Rodimus was going with that train of thought but wanted him to finish his sentence out of pure sadistic desire. The red mech cradled his helm in his hands as he relented with a whisper.

“His huge. Fucking. Spike.”

The silence was palpable as Rodimus waited for Drift to respond. He glanced up at last to see Drift’s face, eyes nearly welling with lubricants, biting his lips to keep from laughing.

“You have it sooooo bad.” Was the only response he could manage through his fit. And Rodimus didn’t even have the energy to fight him on it because Drift was right. And it made Rodimus miserable. His amica calmed after a few moments of barely repressed laughter.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do Drift,” Rodimus said, “Primus, I still don’t even know if I really like the guy.”

“Well,” Drift said finally, “You could talk to him about it.”

It was Rodimus’ turn to laugh but it held no mirth. “Very funny Drift, and say what? ‘Hey Thunders sorry about treating you like crap you wanna frag?’ Yeah I’m sure that would go over well.” He snorted.

“What makes you so sure it wouldn’t? Like I told you, he’s been checking you out lately. Maybe he wants the same things you do.”

That gave Rodimus an idea. “I suppose he could.”

“So you’ll talk to him?”

“Maybe.”

“I really think it will help.”

Rodimus grunted noncommittally but in his processor he was already forming a conversation. Clearly Thunderclash hadn’t had his fill, and though he would never admit it aloud, neither had Rodimus . So perhaps he could work something out with the larger mech. Something that would help him get that tacky paint job out of his processor so he could focus again

Rodimus pushed his unfinished drink in front of Drift. “See you on the bridge later.”

He made his escape before Drift could stop him and began planning how he would approach the larger mech. He thought of numerous ways to broach the subject but each one left him more frustrated than the last. Calling him up felt too formal, doing it during his heat was necessary but now it just seemed too business-like. He didn’t want to approach him at Swerve’s, to many listening audials and prying optics. Going to Thunderclash’s hab seemed like an even worse idea. Just when Rodimus had been about to give up for the cycle, he spotted him.

Thunderclash, wandering the upper deck, literally meters from Rodimus’ own habsuite. He had rounded the corner in front of Rodimus, oblivious to the other mech. It was like the universe was gifting him this opportunity.

So, still not sure of what to say but gathering his courage, Rodimus approached him.

Chapter Text

After telling the prime he didn’t have anywhere to be, and wouldn’t have to for some time, Rodimus had invited him to begin their “sessions” right there and then. This almost seemed to be going too fast, Thunderclash had to remind himself that the agreement was just this. It was interfacing, no preamble, no courting gifts or dates. He would get to look and touch but he couldn’t have.

Thunderclash nodded to Rodimus and he felt something in his spark ache as he followed the red mech into the berthroom.

The prime moved his blankets toward the wall and motioned for Thunderclash to lay down. Evidently he didn’t move fast enough because Rodimus was on him as soon as he sat down on the berth. Rodimus pushed Thunderclash onto his back gently, well what could be considered gentle by Rodimus standards, before climbing atop him nonchalantly and pinning him to the berth. The speedster ground their modestly panels together vigorously, sending jolts of pleasure straight through Thunderclash. He had to bite his cheek to keep from gasping loudly at the sensation.

The larger mech reached out and gripped Rodimus’ hips in the hopes of stilling their movement some. The red mech leaned back and rested his hands on Thunderclash’s legs and allowed his hips to be regulated by the large hands that held them. All the while Rodimus’ optics never left Thunderclash’s.

“Rodimus, you- you remember our terms correct?” Thunderclash’s voice came out strained.

“I do,” Rodimus smirked at him and gave an almost playful bounce that had Thunderclash floundering for coherent thought, “But I figured foreplay is harmless.”

One of those golden hands came around to stroke gently at Thunderclash’s abdomen, making lazy circles. Thunderclash was trying his hardest to keep his spike in his housing but between the way the speedster looked at him and those gyrating hips rubbing insistently against his own, it was an uphill battle… which he lost. Rodimus stopped his grinding when the larger mech’s spike pressurized from between his thighs.

“So there it is.” Rodimus broke eye contact in favor of taking in his spike. It wasn’t as flashy as the mech it was attached to, being mostly white with the ridges being stripes of aqua and the head being the same brassy color as his faceplate. Red biolights lined the underside of the shaft, Rodimus’ golden hand went from abdomen to caressing those lights without missing a beat. That hand gave the spike a few test strokes before trailing from the tip down to the base, taking in the ribbing and girth. Thunderclash was finding it harder to keep quiet under the speedster’s ministrations. He feared at this point he would finish too quickly.

“Not to rush you, Rodimus, but if we a-are going to interface I should start preparing you now.” Thunderclash kept his voice as level as possible, a feat that the speedster was only making more difficult.

“Still in a hurry to get somewhere?” The question held a surprising amount of venom that Thunderclash wasn’t expecting and when Rodimus moved he almost thought he had accidentally insulted the mech. But the speedster only changed positions, turning his back to Thunderclash, letting his own modesty panel slide open to bare his valve.

“Get to it then.”

Thunderclash felt disappointment twinge his spark a little. He had hoped to be able to see the speedsters face this time during. To see those blue optics on him when his overload hit. He shook it off, however, and reminded himself that this was still only the beginning. There was no reason to think that wasn’t something possible for the future.

He sat up, adjusting their position so that Rodimus rested on the tops of Thunderclash’s knees. Ever gentle, Thunderclash stroked the already wet folds of the valve in front of him. He admired the way the biolights around the rim of the entrance flickered under his touch. He briefly let his processor wonder whether it would be okay to use his mouth. They hadn’t really discussed it beforehand so Thunderclash decided against doing it this time. His mouth still lubricated at the thought of sinking his glossa into the wet heat of those folds. For now he continued with his fingers, sinking them in to the knuckle one by one, gently scissoring and stretching.

The feeling of the other mechs calipers cycling down on his fingers gave him small flashes remembering their last coupling. The tight grip on his spike had been almost painful. It renewed his resolve to be thorough, the last thing he wanted was to hurt Rodimus.

He added a third finger and sought out small bundles of nodes he knew would please the red mech. He was rewarded with a half-bitten moan that was pure music to his audials. Rodimus rotated his hips gently with the rhythm that Thunderclash had taken up. He had to use his other hand on the red mech’s hip to keep him steady, his fingers finding their way into the sensitive transformation seems on occasion.

Thunderclash brushed over Rodimus’ sensitive anterior node with his thumb and felt the other mech shudder, that expressive spoiler on his back dancing gently. Would Rodimus ever allow him to touch it he wondered. His hand that wasn’t preoccupied with the speedster’s valve moved from his hip and stroked up the spinal struts. Up. Then down. Small gasps came from Rodimus, his plating lifting to vent extra heat, arching his back with the movements of Thunderclash’s hand. And Primus, Rodimus was warm. Bordering on hot.

With any other bot Thunderclash might have been concerned but this was Hot Rod he was with. Already the room was warm from both their engines, and the excess charge coursing through them.

“ ‘Clash are you ever going to add that next finger.” Rodimus looked at him over his shoulder and nearly stole the air from his vents with his searing blue optics, bright with charge.

“Are you ready?” He asked, positioning his fourth digit at his valve entrance.

“I mean, yeah? That’s why I asked.” Despite how he tried to come off as confrontational, Rodimus’ voice was soft. Thunderclash nodded at him before the red mech turned away again.

He pressed four fingers in and immediately noticed a change in the speedster. He was trembling slightly, golden hands curling into fists, as Thunderclash pumped his digits in and out. The spoiler on his back danced more wildly and the biolights on his waist pulsed quickly. They were telltale signs that the red mech was close to an overload he seemed to be trying to hold back. Thunderclash spread his fingers gently as he pulled out and a true moan escaped Rodimus and he all but ground back down onto the fingers. Completely enamored, Thunderclash repeated the action several times and was rewarded for his efforts.

“Nnn, Thundersss.” The small overload racked through Rodimus’ frame as Thunderclash felt his valve cycle down on his digits, lubricants leaking over his hand. Thunderclash stroked the sensitive outer node through his overload, extending it slightly. He waited for the other mech to come down from his high, fighting a strange urge reach for that dancing spoiler.

“Rodimus?” the larger mech asked, “Are you alright to continue?”

“If you don’t spike me soon I won’t be.”

Thunderclash found himself chuckling lightly at the prime, despite his best effort to stifle it. He gave Rodimus’ valve a few last testing pumps with his fingers, finding the supple mesh of the protoform to be well relaxed. Thunderclash pulled his hand away and guided the speedster’s hips over his spike. A golden hand came down from it’s perch on Thunderclash’s knee to stroke his spike and guide it to the entrance of the red mech’s valve, rubbing lubricant over the head as he went.

Thunderclash lowered him cautiously down onto his spike. Rodimus was still so incredibly tight, the heat inside stimulating the sensors on his spike as plush valve folds stretched around it. He stilled those red hips the moment he felt any sort of tension or resistance, giving the other mech time to adjust. Mid-way down, Rodimus gave a full body shudder that cycled down on his length. Thunderclash once again bit his derma together to keep himself quiet. A habit he realized he picked up initially during Rodimus’ heat, thinking it would help the red mech relax if he forgot who he was with.

Thunderclash reached up higher than he had dared, to a seam located just below the spoiler. He massaged his fingers into it and felt the tension in the speedster’s fame relax into the touch.

“Well aren’t you just full of surprises.” Rodimus didn’t look back at him this time. “Been with a few speedsters to learn that trick?”

“I just know my anatomy well.” It was the truth, Thunderclash had read about points on many frame-types that could relieve tension and charge. This was the first time he got to use one that only spoiler-faring mechs had.

Rodimus didn’t say anything further save for a light moan as he sank further onto the spike beneath him. When their hips finally met, Rodimus let out another moan, a little louder than the last. Thunderclash took in the sight before him for a moment. Rodimus straddling his hips, their combined lubricants smeared across them. Biolights flared with charge and that spoiler that threatened to hypnotize the large mech with it’s rhythm. Thunderclash continued to pluck at the wires under his spoiler. Then Rodimus rotated his hips suddenly and Thunderclash had to clamber for them, biting his derma at the sensation that coiled in his gut.

“Rodimus!” He could barely get out his chastising thought against the molten heat that enveloped him.

“I couldn’t resist, sorry.” The red mech’s tone wasn’t the least bit repentant. “Thought it would be a good way to tell you I’m ready when you are.”

Thunderclash swallowed thickly, “I just don’t want to hurt you.”

“You won’t.” Whether it was blind confidence or not, Rodimus sounded so assured. He trusted Thunderclash.

Trembling hands gripped red hips and he squeezed them as he began with a soft thrust. He felt his spike hit the topmost node immediately and Rodimus bit off a groan. With that angle in mind, Thunderclash set a mild pace.

Rodimus leaned forward onto Thunderclash’s relaxed legs and worked his hips in time with his thrusts. From this angle Thunderclash was treated to the full view of the speedster’s stretched and slick valve as it took his spike. The red mech’s aft bouncing and clanging against his housing set his fans to their highest setting. He definitely wasn’t going to last long.

“Harderrr, Thunders, harder!” Rodimus ground out from above him. “I can take it.”

Thunderclash quickened his pace marginally and shifted his hips. Rodimus let out a loud gasp and grabbed Thunderclash’s hand that had been angling his hips.

“R-Right there, don’t stop.” Rodimus gasped. Thunderclash had no intention to. He rutted deeply into the red mech. He was so close to release but he had to make sure Rodimus was sated. His biolights pulsed quickly and his spoiler quivered, he was close but not enough. Thunderclash let the hand that wasn’t held to red hips slide over to the front of Rodimus’ array to stroke his anterior node. Rodimus bit off a moan at first but let it go as the pace consumed him and he overloaded with a loud cry. Thunderclash followed shortly after, thrusting through his overload as best he could before stilling and letting his tank empty into the speedster. Hot spurts of transfluid coated the inside of Rodimus’ valve, Thunderclash could feel it seeping out between them.

The two mechs sat there in the warmth of the room for a minute to come down from their overloads. Thunderclash panted audibly as Rodimus lifted himself off of his depressurizing spike. With a wet squelch, Thunderclash’s spike came free and their combined fluids leaked out of the speedster’s valve. Rodimus wavered and Thunderclash moved quickly to catch him, sweeping him gently into his arms. One arm looped under his knee joints and the other around his shoulders; he lowered the spent mech to the berth in one motion, rolling onto his side to ease the transition.

Rodimus’ optics were shuttered in bliss, his lips parted as his breathing evened out. His plating flared to let out excess heat, bathing Thunderclash in warmth as he cradled him. Blue optics finally opened to look at him, dim in almost recharge.

“What’re you doing ‘Clash?” Thunderclash realized he was very close to the prime’s face and currently had his arms around him.

“I wanted to be sure that you were alright Rodimus.” Thunderclash released his hold on him, taking care to release his shoulders softly onto the berth padding. Rodimus watched him as he did, a golden hand suddenly grabbed his collar plating.

“Just… stay awhile, yeah?” Rodimus’ request was soft as he bordered on the edge of recharge. Thunderclash couldn’t help the swell in his spark.

“Of course.”

Blue optics slipped closed again and Rodimus’ hand dropped to rest on his own chestplates. Thunderclash reclined next to him, shoulders brushing. Thunderclash felt light; he felt airy. He was full of hope.

Chapter Text

“Do you have problems with me kissing Roddy?”

Drift lay on a medberth close to where Ratchet sat. His shift was well over but the stubborn old mech had grumbled about getting his reports done. Drift staved off boredom by sitting with him, hoping his presence might speed up the reports if anything. He thought to earlier that cycle when his amica had told him of his heat. Rodimus had looked so dejected at needing help and had sought it from a strange source. Drift couldn’t help but feel he was partially to blame. He had been so caught up with his new relationship that he had let Roddy slide into the background.

The medic looked up from where he was sitting at his desk. “No. I know what you two were like before me. I don’t expect that to change.”

Drift swung his legs over the side of the berth and sat up to look Ratchet in his optics.

“But do you mind it? Does it make you uncomfortable at all?”

Ratchet sighed and got up from his desk to stand in front of Drift.

“What’s wrong, why is this bothering you now?”

Drift explained to Ratchet what Rodimus had told him that cycle. Leaving out some details, and Thunderclash’s name entirely, figuring Rodimus wouldn’t want the medic to know his whole business.

“Drift I know that your amica bond with Rodimus goes deep, Pit, I’ve had an amica bond that deep before. I understand how it feels and I don’t blame you for wanting to help him and I would never admonish healthy affection between bondmates.” Ratchet took one of Drifts hands and placed it over his chestplates.

“It doesn’t make you at all uncomfortable? I’m not saying that I want to interface with him, I just want to know what crosses the line?” Drift felt Ratchet’s spark pulsing under his hand. A strong urge to bond with said spark washed over him. Drift leaned forward and placed a kiss on Ratchet’s chest. Ratchet considered him for a moment.

“I’m not a possessive mech but I will admit that the thought of you two interfacing makes me a bit uncomfortable. If you had for his heat it would have been a different story of course, different circumstance.” Ratchet kissed Drift’s helm. “But kiss him all you like, if I’ll be honest, it will at least keep him quiet.”

Drift laughed, “Well what if I kiss him like this.” He pulled Ratchet into a deep kiss, sliding his glossa against his. The kiss was punctuated only by small gasps for breath.

“I might be a little irritated,” Ratchet said, slightly breathless when they parted. “But I’d forgive you as long as you remember to kiss me like that.”

Drift scooted forward to wrap his legs around the medic’s, effectively trapping him against him.

“So is my party ambulance ready to go? I’d like a ride before bed.” Drift whispered against his audial before finding Ratchet’s neck cables with his mouth. Ratchet shuddered once then grunted, which Drift took as a sign of him relenting. Before Drift could do anything further, however, the medic pried his legs off of his own and walked back to his desk. Leaving a hot and bothered Drift to flail after him.

“Last one for the night.” He said as he resumed his paperwork, a smirk just barely concealed.

Drift groaned loudly as he collapsed back onto the medberth. He wondered if this was what Roddy was feeling.

Chapter Text

Just stay awhile.

Primus why did he have to be so clingy. Rodimus thought inwardly. It had been two cycles since he and Thunderclash had their first clang as part of their agreement but he couldn’t get it out of his head. Those hands gripping his hips, the feeling of them stroking tension from his cables. Curse that blasted mech for having such a way with those hands of his. He had no right being so good at revving him up. At least Rodimus could say he’d done the same to the brightly colored mech.

He had to resist smirking when he remembered the look on Blundercrash’s face when he pinned him to the berth. Rodimus enjoyed making the mech squirm under him. It had been more fun than he’d thought it would be, watching the normally highbrow and put together facade of the other mech just melt away. Making his fans activate and his EM field radiate with desire. He tried not to think too hard on why he enjoyed it so much.

Rodimus’ leg bounced while he sat listening to Ultra Magnus and Megatron discuss future resupply locations. Normally Rodimus would listen intently because new planets were the most exciting part of this whole trip. But Rodimus was still feeling distracted. The first cycle he could blame it on the larger mech breaching his gestation chamber and filling him up to the point that it had sloshed around for hours. Now that the feeling had abated he would have thought he could push the thought of the brightly colored mech to the back of his processor. Thoughts of their interface activities still lingered though, try as he might to push them away.

Just give it time. It’s only been a couple cycles, control yourself. If for no one else, do it for you.

Rodimus crossed his other leg over his bouncing one in an effort to still its movement. It worked for a klik or two before it resumed in full force again. From the edge of his vision he caught Megatron sighing. What was he sighing about, it’s not like he had made a fool of himself asking the mech he’s fragging to stay in his berth then waking up to awkwardly tell him to get out.

In hindsight, Rodimus shouldn’t have asked the other mech to stay in the first place. It was only ever going to lead to more awkward conversations. Rodimus couldn’t help it, he liked to cuddle after interface, it just felt right. Rodimus always felt vulnerable after an interface and having another mech beside him was just more comfortable. His processor briefly flashed memories of Thunderclash, arms holding him close, face inches away from his own. Honestly Rodimus should count himself lucky he didn’t act on the other urge that hit him at that moment.

“I think we should resume this meeting at a later time Magnus, it would seem that my… co-captain has his mind elsewhere.” Both mechs looked at him from across the table where they sat. Rodimus put his hands up.

“Okay you caught me, I was thinking about my holoform and I think Brainstorm was right, blue really isn’t my color.” Ultra Magnus sighed. “It looks great on you of course Mags!”

The blue mech didn’t look amused as he spoke, “I expect you will be better focused next shift.”

“Sure thing Mags, just gotta get some mid-grade in me and I’ll be a-okay.” Rodimus stood to escape but not before Magnus side-stepped in front of him.

“I know you’ve been caught up on reports for the past couple weeks so why don’t you start on the next couple?” He handed a stack of data pads to a grumbly Rodimus. His stupid heat had been the only reason he had gotten ahead. It wasn’t likely that was going to happen again soon but still he accepted them.

As much as Rodimus didn’t want to have to admit weakness around Megatron, he was glad for the reprieve. Maybe he wouldn’t try magnetizing the silver mech to his berth after all. He made a beeline for Swerve’s, hoping fuel would put him in a better mood. It was around the time most bots had off so it was pretty much packed when he got there. He spied Ratchet sitting alone in a booth.

Probably scared off every bot who tried to sit with him, good ol’ Hatchet.

Of course nothing scared Rodimus so once he had his fuel he sat directly across from the grouchy medic.

“I was waiting for Drift.” The medic deadpanned at him.

“Don’t worry I’ll keep you company until he gets here.” Rodimus shot a wink across to the medic. Ratchet grimaced but resumed reading his data pad. Rodimus pushed his own data pads away from himself. He could work later… waaaay later.

He sipped his fuel and turned to the lively bar to watch the dancers. His gaze wandered over the crowd, taking in faces. Cyclonus and Tailgate were in their usual spot at the bar, Whirl standing just behind them. Nautica and Brainstorm had a booth of their own and appeared to be laughing at something on Nautica’s data pad. He caught a flash of Chromodome and Rewind dancing in the crowd, the mini clinging to his larger conjunx’s shoulders.

Rodimus could feel the energy from the crowd revitalizing his spirit already. It was nights like this that he lived for, surrounded by friends enjoying themselves. He couldn’t help but smile just watching. Once Drift got here he was definitely getting out there and dancing.

After taking another few sips of his fuel Rodimus spotted him. Just barely out of his optic line on his left, surrounded by mechs and femmes doting on him, Thunderclash sat conversing with Perceptor. A sour feeling that Rodimus hadn’t felt in a while was settling in his tanks. It wasn’t jealousy, how could you feel jealous of someone who was just a washed up old war-hero. Still Rodimus hated the way other bots just flocked to him. He didn’t want to examine those feelings too closely.

Thunderclash’s eyes flicked to his and they locked. Rodimus realized then he must have been staring with a pretty intense glare. Then Blundercrash, in his obliviousness, had the audacity to wave at him. His processor suddenly was going at the speed of light as Perceptor and a few of his resident posse turned to look at him. Those probing eyes asked questions, questions they would most likely fill in the blanks for if he didn’t do something.

But what? Should he wave back? Did that seem too personal. If he just huffed and turned away that would probably anger Thunder’s posse and Rodimus didn’t need another reason for his crew to dislike him. Should he smile too? Would that look too fake? He already had a moody look on his face it would probably be too forced if he tried to smile.

“Is this spot taken?”

“Drift!” A flood of relief washed over him as his amica stood at their table. “Not at all I was keeping it warm for you.”

Rodimus stood to let Drift into the booth effectively breaking optics with Thunderclash and his prying eyes. Drift leaned over the table and kissed Ratchet on his chevron before sitting, the medic mumbled a hello but remained occupied by his data pad. Drift then turned and kissed Rodimus on the cheek.

“I must have done something right if I get to sit with the two hottest mechs in the bar.” Drift winked at Rodimus.

“Pff, Drift,” Rodimus turned a crooked smile to his amica, “You’re making Ratchet blush.”

Ratchet, who was not blushing, not even smiling, leveled a glare at the red speedster.

“C’mon Ratch, you can work later. Relax!” Rodimus waved to Swerve and indicated for 3 drinks to be brought over.

“As much as I would love to do that,” Ratchet’s tone indicated the contrary, “Someone snuck into the medbay last night and placed 69 orders of 420v pain dampeners from Cybertron.”

Rodimus snorted his drink a little. He didn’t know who was responsible for that but if he ever found out he had to buy them a drink. Since it was Earth-based number humor it narrowed it down to a few suspects. Oh and he would make them clean the brig too, they did technically break into a medbay and use ship funds for a joke.

“I’ve been on and off comms with Knock Out trying to sort it all out. They don’t make 420v so some poor bot thought they needed to manufacture them. It’s been a slagging nightmare.”

Drift chuckled, “That sounds terrible Ratty but come on, you’re not on shift and Knock Out is perfectly capable of handling that.”

“But the perpetrator is still at large.” Ratchet huffed.

“I’ll get Blaster to review the security footage.” Rodimus chimed in.

“Please Ratchet, just relax and have some fun with us.” Drift scooted around to sit closer to the medic and leaned against him, planting kisses against the side of his helm. Ratchet sighed but relented and turned his attention to the white speedster. They started giving each other those eyes. And just before Drift could start making out with his medic Rodimus interrupted with a loud groan.

“You guys are so sappy I think I wanna purge.” Rodimus feigned gagging, causing Drift to kick out at him under the table.

“Don’t be jealous Roddy.” Drift said

“Jealous? Why would I be jealous?”

“Why wouldn’t you be,” Drift put his hand over Ratchet’s chest but it quickly sank below the line of the table, “Ratchet’s not just a looker you know.”

Ratchet grabbed Drifts hand from where it had gone and his face now bore a heavy blush.

“Okay I think that is quite enough of that.” Ratchet said.

“Sorry I was just teasing.” Drift said, his EM field reflecting his apology.

“I know, I know.” Ratchet took a swig of his drink. “Just teasing the old mech at the table.”

“To be fair Ratchet I know he’s not exaggerating,” Rodimus said leaning on the table. “He thinks he’s on the arm of the greatest mech on the whole Lost Light.”

“Think? I know I am.” Drift said giving Ratchet’s arm a squeeze.

“Bah,” Ratchet looked between the two of them in exasperation. “You two are gonna be the death of me.”

“Well if you want my opinion I think it’s the other way around.” Rodimus shot a cheeky smile to his amica.

The two speedsters continued to butter up the grouchy old medic and after additional prodding Drift even managed to get him on the dance floor. It was only one dance before the medic retreated to their booth but Rodimus had to give Drift props for doing that. Afterwards, Rodimus barely gave Drift time to take a sip of his drink before dragging him back to dancing.

 

~   ~   ~   ~

 

Thunderclash liked watching Rodimus dance.

It was hard not to since the speedsters were definitely the best dancers on the ship. When they were on the floor other bots got off to watch. Thunderclash knew several traditional dances of Cybertron, and even some from other planets he’d visited, but he couldn’t dance the way Rodimus did. His curvy speedster frame accentuated his fluid movements and rhythm. Desire burned it’s way through Thunderclash as he watched and he stifled memories of holding that hot red frame in his hands.

More than just watching him dance, Thunderclash was treated to seeing Rodimus smile. There wasn’t anyone that could make Rodimus smile the way his amica did. At the end of every song they leaned into each other and laughed. Though he knew he shouldn’t be, Thunderclash was jealous of Drift.

Every dance, embrace, and kiss to the helm that Drift gave to Rodimus made his spark twinge. He wished so badly he could share the same things with the red speedster. Rodimus hadn’t even returned his wave.

Their agreement sat in the back of his head. Nothing leaves the berthroom… Just keep things professional on the outside. Those words echoed in his head. Rodimus had made it clear he didn’t want other people to know about their relationship. In hindsight Thunderclash regretted agreeing to that. He wanted to be close to Rodimus, to sit and have drinks with him and just talk with him. He wanted to be able to lean close to him and hear him laugh. He wanted to kiss him on the lips and hold his hands.

But being professional didn’t mean he couldn’t be friendly, he reasoned. He just had to pick his moments to approach Rodimus. Now, judging from their earlier interaction, probably was not the time.

Thunderclash watched as the speedsters retreated back to their booth with Ratchet. Drift whispered something into the medics audial before turning to Rodimus and kissing him full on the mouth. The display of affection made Thunderclash turn back to the bar.

They’re just friends.

He tried to tell himself. He reminded himself that Rodimus hadn’t gone to Drift for his heat. He had gone to Thunderclash. Still the jealousy swirled in his spark and he had to struggle to keep it out of his EM field, he didn’t want somebot to catch him pining. He wished Perceptor hadn’t walked away, at least then he would have someone to talk to and distract him. The small crowd around Thunderclash were all more interested in talking at him than to him and he didn’t like to interrupt their conversations.

As it was he was having a hard time just facing the bar and he found himself turning back around. The booth that had contained Rodimus and his friends was empty now. A quick scan of the room told him that they had probably vacated. Thunderclash felt a sigh leave his vents as he turned to finish his drink. He lazily drew his finger around the rim. He barely noticed when he received a comm. ping.

:My room if you have time?:

Thunderclash felt his spark skip a beat. It was from Rodimus. His thoughts faltered for a moment before sending his reply.

:I will be there soon.:

Chapter Text

Rodimus went back to his habsuite after the bar. A restlessness still sitting in his tanks.

Don’t do it.

He paced his living space for a klik, arguing with himself.

You’ll just come across as needy

So what? It was in the agreement that they would interface when they wanted to and had time. He had the time and he wanted to interface. It wasn’t like he was craving to see that big… mech, anymore than usual. Although, considering ‘usual’ had been never at one point, this could be considered more than usual.

Rodimus shook his head vigorously. He steeled himself then left a comm. ping for Thunderclash.

The next few kliks went by so slowly that Rodimus thought he was going to turn to a pile of rust before he responded. He double checked to make sure he had sent it to the right bot. That would be the last thing he needed.

Finally a response came, :I will be there soon.:

As much a relief flooded him, so too did a sudden nervousness. It still felt too soon to be doing this again. Seeing Thunderclash at the bar though, with all those other mechs around him, hanging on his every word and just enjoying being near him. But Thunderclash hadn’t been really paying attention to them, that much was clear by the way his attention was so quickly stolen by the red speedster. Maybe if Rodimus had waved back then he wouldn’t seem so unapproachable to his crew. Or maybe they would just gossip about him behind his back like usual. Perhaps this wasn’t too soon after all, since now he definitely needed to de-stress.

Rodimus sighed and began pacing again, his anxiety rising, until he heard his door ping for entry.

He opened it to see Thunderclash, looking a little flustered. Feeling more than a little paranoid he peeked his head out to make sure no one had followed him before yanking the large mech inside and shutting the door. Rodimus took in the sight of the large mech standing before him. His brassy face was darker on his cheeks in an apparent blush, he fidgeted a little but stood tall. An overwhelming urge to kiss him suddenly struck Rodimus but he immediately shut that thought down. That was much too personal.

But was it really? You’re already interfacing with him.

“Rodimus, from your message I presumed you wanted to…?”

Shaken from his thoughts, Rodimus grabbed Thunderclash’s wrist. “Yes.” He said and led him into his berthroom.

Last time he had ridden Thunderclash, ultimately it was satisfying but it hadn’t sated his craving. He wanted that feeling he had during his heat, being pounded into the berth from behind and feeling the full weight of Thunderclash on top of him. So when they got to his berth he pulled Thunderclash onto all fours on top of him. The large mech held himself above Rodimus so as not to crush him. There was no way around it and Rodimus didn’t mince his words.

“I want you to frag me from behind like you did during my heat.” Thunderclash blanched for a moment. “Got something to say about that ‘Clash?”

“No, I just…” The larger mech looked away for a moment, “Would it be alright if I used my mouth to help prepare you? It will make the preparation faster.”

Rodimus blinked a little in surprise, it wasn’t often that mechs would proposition such a thing. Normally Rodimus would have had to ask.

“Y-Yeah, sure.” He cleared his intake. “That’s fine Thunders.” In such close proximity, Rodimus could feel the heat from the larger mech’s engines. His fans had already activated, which inflated Rodimus’ pride a little.

“If there is anything you want me to stop doing, just say so.” Thunderclash said as he began to descend down his frame. Rodimus wasn’t quite sure what he meant until the brightly colored mech laid a kiss on his abdomen. He froze and felt his fans activate, whether from embarrassment or arousal he couldn’t tell.

Kissing wasn’t something Rodimus had ever wanted from the larger mech. It just seemed too… sweet for what they were doing. But as Thunderclash continued to pepper kisses across his lower chassis he decided that maybe he could let that go, at least in this instance. Thunderclash massaged the cables in his hip joints and spread his thighs further apart to fit between them. Rodimus felt him place a single kiss against his modesty panel before a hot glossa ran up it instead, the red mech inhaling sharply at the sensation. Ruby optics looked up at him with a feeling in them that Rodimus didn’t want to name. Dark fingers came to rub against the seams of his panel, causing Rodimus to exvent more small gasps and to bite his derma.

Rodimus’ panel transformed away and those fingers found themselves rubbing the slick folds of his valve, already well lubricated. Thunderclash’s optics remained trained on Rodimus’ own as he opened his mouth and slid his glossa upwards against his entrance. Rodimus would have looked away in embarrassment if it weren’t for the fact that it was probably the hottest thing he’d ever seen.

Thunderclash alternated lapping at his folds and sucking on his anterior node without any pattern. That strong glossa swepting around the rim of his entrance, stimulating the ring of nodes on the outer edge before pushing in and probing at the nodes located just inside. All the while Thunderclash barely broke optic contact with Rodimus, only looking away to glance at his valve occasionally. He had to admit it, Thunderclash was very good with his glossa.

Thunderclash also was moaning quietly against his entrance as he sucked and licked his valve like it was the sweetest thing he had ever tasted. Rodimus felt large fingers begin to pump in and out of his valve. Two briefly before quickly becoming three. Maybe it was a testament to how revved up Rodimus was or maybe it had to do with how soon it had been since their last interface, who could say, but he could soon feel an overload coiling low in his tanks. Rodimus’ hips moved against Thunderclash’s face as he felt the mechs mouth close over his anterior node and suck hard, never breaking optic contact.

Despite his efforts to last longer, the overload crept over Rodimus. He let out a stifled keen while he threw his head back as the large mech suckled aggressively at his node. His eyes blared white and he felt himself go limp and strutless against the berth. As Rodimus came down from his overload the colored mech lapped and kissed gently against his overstimulated node. He became aware that at some point his hand had grabbed at Thunderclash’s helm and was gripping one of his flares quite hard. He released his grip and massaged it.

“Sorry Thunders.” He vented. “Kinda lost it a little there.”

A shine entered those ruby optics. “No need to apologize Rodimus, I’m quite alright.” Rodimus bit back a whimper as that glossa returned to his valve with a slick squelch. A fourth digit joined the others and Rodimus could feel his charge building again very quickly as he was stretched thoroughly. Thunderclash sat up to look at Rodimus.

“I believe your valve is ready if you want to turn over.” Still a little light headed from his previous overload and at a loss for words at the sight of Thunderclash wiping his lubricants from his face; Rodimus only nodded and rolled onto his stomach before raising himself onto his elbows and knees.

He heard the telltale noise of Thunderclash’s spike pressurizing and then the gentle press of the tip to his entrance. Large hands took hold of his hips and he bit his lip as he felt Thunderclash slide in, it was easier than their last couplings, with Thunderclash being able to rock his hips to ease his spike in. Rodimus was aware of his shallow pants as he was pressed into. He felt so full as Thunderclash finally hilted himself, their pelvic armor flush together. He spread his legs a little wider and arched his back, leaning down to rest himself against the berthpadding. Thunderclash leaned over him, resting an arm to the side of him.

“Are you okay?” Thunderclash’s voice came from just above his audial and Rodimus felt a flare of excitement when the other mech’s voice came out strained and full of static.

“Too much talking Thunders, just get to the good part.” Rodimus didn’t even try to hide the static in his own voice, hoping it would make the other mech act quicker. He heard a throaty chuckle in his audial before a hand appeared on his hip and the larger mech began to move.

Ever cautious, Thunderclash thrusted slowly at first, adjusting his angle as he went. Rodimus allowed himself to emit soft cries when he felt the bigger mech hit just the right spots. He could feel the weight of the larger mech pressing him into the berth with every thrust, the heat from his large partner’s engines surrounding him with an intoxicating warmth. The pace quickened and he could hear Thunderclash above him, stifling his moans. That wouldn’t do, Rodimus wanted to know how badly Thunderclash was suffering.

“Afraid to let me know you like my valve Thunders? C’mon I wanna hear you.” Thunderclash inhaled sharply as Rodimus flexed his valve purposefully. A loud moan sounded above him, causing Rodimus to feel bolder than ever and he decided he was going to use every weapon at his disposal to undo Thunderclash. Rodimus was succeeding, the now louder grunts and groans from above him were testament to that.

The hand on his hip moved up his abdomen and lifted him and he suddenly found himself pressed to the chest of Thunderclash. Rodimus could hear the large mech panting right next to his audial and he felt himself whimper despite himself. Cocksure as ever Rodimus continued to spur Thuderclash on.

“C-come on Thunderss, ah! Do it like you mean it.”

Thunderclash’s pace faltered for a moment as he adjusted his angle, when he resumed Rodimus was suddenly seeing stars and crying out as he felt new nodes being assaulted with talented accuracy. Both of them collapsed under the pace and Rodimus was pinned by Thunderclash’s broad chest as his valve was thoroughly pounded. He forced himself to vent as he gripped the berth padding and bit his lips.

The overload crashed over him and he let out another cry as his eyes blared white with charge. Thunderclash still continued to thrust until his overload forced him to stop. Hot transfluid coated the speedsters valve and he felt a good portion filling his gestation chamber as well. Recharge was calling to him but he forced himself to stay awake as he felt Thunderclash carefully lift himself off and out of him.

“Rodimus…? Are you alright?” The larger mech’s voice was still strained and venting hard.

“Never better Thunders.” Rodimus rolled onto his back, surprised to find the mech still hovering over him. He held that ruby gaze for a moment, noting how dim his optics were. He couldn’t force him to leave when he was so visibly tired. That other urge he had suddenly hit him again but he quickly shut it down by pushing the other mech over to lay on his back with an audible ‘oof!’

“You look tired ‘Clash, just sleep it off here.”

“Are you sure, Rodimus?”

“Yeah, it’s no problem.”

“Thank you.”

Rodimus turned his helm to look at the brightly colored mech to see his eyes closed, probably already in recharge. Gently, Rodimus turned on his side and curled against the large mech’s arm before drifting off himself.

Chapter Text

“Make sure they aren’t too unruly.  I don’t want to be chased out of this port like the last time.” Ultra Magnus said.

“Don’t you worry sir, I’m confident they will all be on their best behavior.” Thunderclash beamed.

“You do bring out the best in most bots, Thunderclash.” Ultra Magnus patted the other mech’s shoulder. “Keep them in line.”

The transport closed and Thunderclash turned to look at the mechs going down for shore leave. Perceptor and Brainstorm wanted to test… something on the outskirts of the town. Thunderclash would have to personally watch those two to make sure nothing went wrong. He trusted Perceptor but Brainstorm was more than a wild card. Nautica and Lotty were also there so if he was occupied he could count on them to intervene if he had to.

The mini bots, Tailgate, Rewind, and Swerve were having a “Minis Night Out.” Something Swerve had come up with to get his friends away from their significant others it seemed. Cyclonus had been opposed to the idea, ever the hovering conjunx, but had allowed it when Whirl said he would keep his optic on them. Thunderclash would also have to keep an optic on Whirl.

Other than that there was Drift and Ratchet, along with First Aid. They were supposed to be getting medical supplies but Drift wanted to tag along. And, naturally, so did Rodimus. Thunderclash hadn’t originally wanted to go down for leave but upon hearing that a certain speedster would be attending he approached Ultra Magnus with the offer to watch over them.

He wanted an opportunity to spend time with Rodimus. Their agreement had been going on for a little less than two weeks now but he felt no closer to the red speedster than when they began. Thunderclash supposed he shouldn’t have been surprised, their agreement didn’t require them to be friends. Rodimus was kinder when they were together at least. They’d had their third tryst a few cycles ago, and the speedster had let him sleep in his berth beside him again. He always made up some excuse why he did it but Thunderclash knew Rodimus had a big spark underneath all that plating. He just had a hard time showing it.

Thunderclash sighed, feeling a little selfish for wanting the red mech to open up to him, Rodimus had plenty of friends for that. What could Thunderclash offer the speedster that he didn’t already have…

Thunderclash shook his thoughts from his helm. He needed his processor to be present here and now. He stole a glance at Rodimus who was sitting at the front of the transport. The speedster was talking to Drift, his leg bouncing with unreleased energy. A day on shore leave would no doubt be good for him. Thunderclash quickly looked away when Drift’s gaze caught his. He took the empty seat beside Velocity and kept his gaze down.

“You all right Thunderclash?” Velocity nudged him from his thoughts.

“Oh yes, I was just thinking about a poem that Ultra Magnus had given to me. I’m still pondering the implications of it.”

“Well what’s it about?” Nautica piped. She peered from around Lotty’s shoulder.

“Well…” Thunderclash pondered for a moment. “The poem is about someone who plays with fire. They love the feeling of it, it’s beauty and it’s dangers. They don’t realize that the fire is destroying them while they desperately try to tame it.”

“It sounds like a metaphor for love.” Lotty smiled.

“I know but why do bots, all life really, let love destroy them? To what end does it bring?” Thunderclash, caught up in his own analogy, felt his feelings flare into his EM field. Velocity gave him a knowing look.

“It’s one of life’s great mysteries I think.” She gave him a sad smile and he smiled in return sheepishly.

Once the transport landed planet-side and opened it’s doors Thunderclash had his work cut out for him. The minis and Whirl disappeared into the crowded streets and although he had a list of bars he could locate them at he was still nervous. He hung back, however, to help Perceptor and Brainstorm unload their experiment.

“Tell me again, what is this supposed to do?” Thunderclash looked at the oddly shaped turret device that Brainstorm was rolling off the transport. It looked like a face with it’s mouth opened wide, abject horror was clearly being expressed.

“It makes a super sonic wave that can be set to different spark frequencies so that we can read life signs of biomechanics through normally impenetrable terrain.” Perceptor said, adjusting his reticle. “Brainstorm is responsible for much of the design choices.”

“We made a gun that screams!” Brainstorm said happily.

“Right.” Thunderclash grimaced at the face of the gun. “And you’re going to test it on… what?”

“We’ve prepared several tests using materials well known to block other scanning devices, we intend to have a volunteer stand behind them and we will see if we can get a reading. I will admit, there are some things in this experiment that my… partner has left entirely too much up to chance.” Perceptor crossed his arms.

“Chance-schmance, learn to live a little my friend.” Brainstorm had loaded things onto a cart and was riding it towards the opposite direction of the town. Perceptor sighed and followed his lab partner. Thunderclash looked at Nautica and Velocity.

“Don’t worry we’ll keep an optic on them and let you know before they set it off.” Nautica gave him a wink and indicated over Thunderclash’s shoulder. He glanced where she was pointing to see Rodimus and Drift making their way into town. He looked back at her and Velocity to find they both had knowing smiles on their faces. He cleared his throat.

“Comm. me before they set it off.”

“Gotcha Thunders, now go get your mech.” Velocity gave him finger guns and clicked her glossa at him.

Feeling slightly awkward but warmed by his friend’s consideration, Thunderclash set off after Rodimus and Drift. He approached cautiously where Rodimus and Drift were stopped at a vendor.

“Rodimus, Drift, do you two mind if I tag along?” They both turned, Drift with a look of what seemed like feigned surprise. Hard to sneak up on an ex-assassin Thunderclash supposed. But Rodimus looked objectively mortified.

“Of course Thunders!” Drift beamed at him. “Actually I was thinking of catching up with Ratchet, keep Roddy company yeah? I’m sure you two have a lot to talk about.”

Drift!” Thunderclash heard Rodimus hiss at his amica but Drift was already retreating into the rest of the crowd. Thunderclash blinked after where the white speedster had disappeared.

What had he meant by…?

Thunderclash looked to Rodimus, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to intrude.”

“Too late for that Blunders.” Rodimus turned to walk away but stopped when Thunderclash didn’t move. “You coming or not ‘Clash?”

“Oh! Yes.” Thunderclash quickly stepped in line as he followed Rodimus through the streets. He seemed to know where he was going so Thunderclash simply followed him. Eventually they came to a plaza and Rodimus stopped and turned to him.

“So what are you even doing here Thunders? Did Ultra Magnus ask you to babysit the captain on his day off?” Rodimus was outwardly calm but Thunderclash could see the fire in his eyes. He knew he would have to extinguish those flames quickly, unless he wanted to get burned.

“Not at all Rodimus, I asked to be here.”

“Why?” Rodimus scrutinized him, “Is it because you think I’m incapable of watching a few bots on shore leave.”

“No, no. Not at all Rodimus, I only,” Thunderclash exvented, “I only wished to spend a little time… with you.”

Rodimus raised an optic ridge.

“Didn’t think you were the ‘adventurous’ type Thunders.”

Thunderclash felt his face heat up. “I-I didn’t mean it like- I only meant…” Thunderclash was stopped short by the look on Rodimus’ face. He was smiling at him, his blue optics twinkling with laughter. It left Thunderclash stupified.

“I’m teasing you Thunders.” The smile faded. “But our agreement was to keep things professional.”

Thunderclash swallowed thickly, “I understand that, I just wanted a chance to get to know you better. As friends?”

Rodimus gave him a dubious look and Thuderclash could feel his spark sinking by the second. He tried to keep it from his face and field as Rodimus mulled over his words.

“Listen, I’ll give it a try but don’t expect a miracle.” Rodimus cocked his hip to the side. “Oh and try not to make me look bad.”

Thunderclash felt his spark soar. “Wouldn’t dream of it captain.”

~    ~    ~    ~

Stupid Thunderclash. Why did the mech have to be so damn… nice.

Rodimus really wanted to go back to hating him. Simpler times when he didn’t have to spend his day off trying to avoid his friends while trying to make friends with Blundercrash of all mechs. But here he was, doing just that.

Without a clear goal in mind, Rodimus moved from place to place, trying his best to be attentive to his resident eyesore. Thunderclash small talked him at first, first about weather, then about fuel. Rodimus was about to tear his own audials off if he thought for one second the mech was going to talk about tire pressure, but before that Thunderclash suddenly stopped. He turned to find the mech watching a screen, Rodimus scooted close to look and was slightly surprised. It was a recording of a Camien play.

“Didn’t know you liked dramas Thunderclash.”

“Oh yes, Camiens have a very particular style that is easily recognized too. I saw a few of them in person and read many of the screenplays that Nautica kept from her academy days.” Rodimus could dare say he saw the other mechs optics sparkle when he looked at him. It was… cute.

Ugh.

Rodimus wondered briefly if Thunderclash would be opposed to watching Earth movies. Rodimus knew a lot that would probably interest him if he liked Camien plays. He could feel his processor going on tangents of different genres of films. Blast his hyper fixation with Earth cinema. No doubt if he told Thunderclash any of this the mech would probably want to watch them with Rodimus. Which he couldn’t have because if he did it could very easily turn into a movie date.

“I do want to apologize again for intruding on your time with your amica.”

“Eh, it’s not your fault. He uses any excuse to go make lovey-dovey eyes at Ratchet.” Rodimus rolled his eyes.

“Was there anything in particular you had planned on doing together?”

“Not really, he mentioned he knew a great bar called Hexa-D or something.” Rodimus chewed his lip in thought. “He did say we could go out for a race on the outskirts if we had time.”

“We could still do those things if you’d like.” Thunderclash’s hopeful tone was not lost on Rodimus but he couldn’t help but laugh a little.

“No offense ‘Clash but you’re not exactly built for speed.”

“Then what are you worried about.” Thunderclash said, a smirk crossed those brassy lips and Rodimus chuckled darkly.

“Oh, it’s on now.”

Chapter Text

“Put that down.” Ratchet plucked a round glass object from Drift’s hands only for the speedster to pick up another glass object instead.

“Oh come on Ratchet, we’re here to see the sights!” Drift held this one an arms length away from the medic to keep him from snatching it.

You are, First Aid and I are here on business.” Ratchet huffed. “Unless you want me to be patching you up with low-grade and scrap metal.”

“I’ll pass.” Drift said, putting down the object he had picked up in favor of taking Ratchet’s hand and dragging him to yet another knick-knack stall.

“Why aren’t you hanging out with your amica. He enjoys all this galactic garbage more than I do.”

Drift gasped in mock distress, “You call something like this, garbage?” He held a small object that twirled between his fingers. Ratchet blinked his optics at him but a smile was forming on his lips, Drift laughed.

“Don’t think I didn’t notice you dodge my question.”

“Roddy’s busy.” Drift said while rifling through more junk at the stall.

“Doing what exactly? He seemed pretty excited to be spending time with his amica. I thought you were worried you were pushing him away?”

Drift looked at him, “Oh I’m pushing him alright, but more towards than away.”

“What in the name of Primus is that supposed to mean.”

Drift shot him a look.

“I can use the name all I want, now give me a straight answer.”

“Roddy needed a little bonding time with Thunderclash.” Drift shrugged. Ratchet physically winced.

“That doesn’t sound like fun for either of them, why would you do that?”

“You’d be surprised by how much they have in common, Ratty, they just need to see it.” Drift stooped to pick something up off the ground.

“It’s not the commonalities I’m concerned with. Rodimus hates him.”

“I wouldn’t be too sure of that.” Ratchet stepped in from of the white speedster and put his hands on his hips.

“Why?” Ratchet was asking but Drift was sure the medic had already connected the dots. Drift put his finger up to his lips in a ‘shoosh’ gesture.

“You know why.”

“Drift, I don’t want you to get your hopes up. Just because two mech share a heat doesn’t make them compatible.”

“I know… but I think it would be good for them to at least try.” Drift pulled Ratchet close. “Is it wrong that I want my amica to have the same things I have?”

Ratchet raised an optic ridge at him. “No, so long as you mean Thunderclash and not me.” The medic bumped their nasal ridges together.

“So that threesome isn’t going to happen?” Drift chuckled when Ratchet pursed his lips and narrowed his eyes. Planting a soft kiss on the other mech’s lips, Drift lifted a small item up to Ratchet. It looked like some kind of pudgy Earth dog but when squeezed it squished nearly flat and then reinflated. “I’m getting this one.”

Ratchet waited for Drift to pay for his new toy before finally pulling them in the direction they were supposed to be going. Drift didn’t resist as he held onto the medics hand. They met up with First Aid and paid for their medical supplies before carting them off to the transport. As they were loading it up First Aid approached them.

“Lotty said Brainstorm and Perceptor are about to fire up their experiment, should we go watch?”

“They’ll be fine,” Drift waved it off. “It’s Perceptor we’re talking about, whats the worse that could go wrong?

As if on cue, a crash sounded from outside as well as the high pitched whine of a projectile just before another boom went off. Ratchet and First Aid immediately leapt into action, leaving Drift to stare in their wake.

“Forgot to factor in the Brainstorm I guess.” Drift sighed before following.

~    ~    ~    ~

Thunderclash knew for a fact that he didn’t stand a chance against Rodimus in a race. Once they got to the outskirts the speedster had driven circles around him, almost literally. But that wasn’t to say Thunderclash didn’t have fun. He found sandy and bumpy terrain that would slow the speedster down and give his own frame more of an advantage. It didn’t help by much though, and Thunderclash was a venting mess sitting on a rock when it was all over.

“Still need convincing Thunders?” Rodimus said, also out of breath and standing hunched over himself.

“No sir.” He said chuckling, “That last lap was good enough for me.”

Rodimus was beaming as he straightened himself up, the light of the sun on the horizon framing his silhouette in golden light. Thunderclash felt peace wash over him at the sight.

“Why do you still look smug?” Rodimus raised an optic ridge at him.

“Uh, just feels good to be outside for once. Space lost its wonder a while ago.”

“Getting too old for adventures Thunders? Admitting defeat?” Rodimus smirked at him but it had a gentleness he hadn’t seen before.

“Not a chance.” Thunderclash returned the smile. “Space might get boring but the planets never do.”

“Yeah I hear that,” Rodimus turned away to look at the setting sun. “Neither do the people.”

Thunderclash could feel his spark humming in his audials. A notification popped on his hud, nearly startling him out of his seat. He opened the comm. ping from Velocity, his optics still on the red speedster. He sighed a little as it’s contents reminded him of his responsibilities. He cleared his throat to get the Rodimus’ attention.

“Sorry to interrupt but I was just informed that Perceptor and Brainstorm’s experiment is ready to be tested. I should join them to make sure there are no complications.”

Rodimus turned around to look at Thundeclash but his expression wasn’t quite what he was expecting. He had a smile on his face as he approached Thunderclash. A smile that didn’t meet his optics.

~    ~    ~    ~

A devious idea crossed Rodimus’ processor as he stepped closer to where Thunderclash sat. The other mech clearly needed to relax in order to enjoy his shore leave. Not to mention if Brainstorm did blow something up, Thunderclash might actually get knocked down a peg or two, a black mark on the otherwise perfect record of the Greatest Autobot Who Ever Lived. He stooped between a now befuddled Thunderclash’s legs. One of the speedster’s hands pressed against the larger mech’s modesty panel and rubbed around his spike housing.

“Rodimus! We can’t, th-there isn’t enough time-”

“We don’t have to if you don’t want to but,” Rodimus looked at him though half-lidded optics and licked his derma playfully. “You’ve been so careful in taking care of me during our sessions that I thought maybe I could return the favor.”

Rodimus greatly enjoyed the way the other mech’s optics widened and flared with charge. Flustering the other mech was criminally fun.

“I-I,” Thunderclash stammered for words, clearly enjoying what Rodimus was doing and trying so hard to resist caving. “I really should be watching the others. Th-There could be trouble.”

“Oh c’mon ‘Clash,” Rodimus pressed his helm against Thunderclash’s abdomen, his mouth inches to the side of where he stroked his spike housing. “We won’t be missed.”

To further punctuate his statement, Rodimus ran his glossa up Thunderclash’s spike housing. The colored mech invented sharply and his hands balled into fists. Rodimus ran his glossa against the metal of his modesty panel again, his optics flicking up to catch Thunderclash’s as he did so. The panel slid away and the spike pressurized before the speedster.

Rodimus suddenly remembered what he was contending with as the large spike twitched in front of his gaze. He wasn’t about to back down from the challenge of course. He’d made bigger bots overload before and that was when he had still been Hot Rod. He stroked the thick spike, keeping his optics on the other mech as he did so. He watched the blush darken considerably across Thunderclash’s faceplate, his venting becoming uneven as he bit his derma.

The speedster took the tip of his glossa and ran lightly it along the underside of the spike from base to tip, before swirling it over the sensitive slit and tasting the prefluid gathering there. Thunderclash shuttered his optics briefly and Rodimus could swear he heard a whimper. He repeated the actions few more times with the flat of his glossa. He closed his lips around the tip before bobbing gently down on the whole head, hallowing his cheeks and using his hands to stroke what his mouth couldn’t. Thunderclash’s whimpers were louder now but still restrained. Determined to have the colorful mech a whimpering mess before this was over he pulled off of the thick member, sucking gently as he went.

“Does that feel good?” Rodimus said, still stroking the spike with his hands, “Tell me Thunders, does my mouth feel good?”

Before Thunderclash could muster a response through his venting, Rodimus was already taking the tip back into his mouth. He sucked and swirled his tongue over the head, humming around it as he went. All the while keeping his optics trained on Thunderclash’s face.

Thunderclash moaned, “Yes!” A delayed response to Rodimus’ question. The red mech hummed in affirmation as he bobbed up and down.

He pulled back to just the tip and licked the slit once more before putting his lips just against the head and saying, “I’m not sure if I quite understood.”

He lapped up the underside of the spike meanwhile Rodimus’ fingers found there way into the sensitive wiring located between the colorful mech’s pelvis and leg joints. Thunderclash moaned loudly.

“Yes— yes! I-It feels good.” Thunderclash whimpered out, his voice laden with static.

“I’m not sure it does.” Rodimus smirked, rubbing the length against his cheek. “You’re being pretty quiet.”

“R-Rodimus.” Thunderclash whimpered, his ruby optics were bright with charge and lust seeped out of his field. Rodimus chuckled.

The speedster placed his glossa against the side of Thunderclash’s spike and ran it up to the head again. He stroked quicker with his hands and tapped the tip to his glossa before closing his mouth around the tip and slowly descending down the shaft. He took as much as he could before swallowing around the intruding length. Thundeclash tensed up, gasping and groaning loudly as his overload took him.

“Rodimus!” A large hand suddenly cupped the side of his helm and Rodimus felt gentle fingers caressing his helm flares.

He pulled back and sucked on the head of Thunderclash’s spike, milking all the transfluid he could and swallowing it down. When he was certain he had gotten it all he released the spike with a wet pop. An aftershock suddenly washed over Thunderclash and his spike spurted a final shot of transfluid directly onto Rodimus’ nose. The larger mech gasped and unsubspaced a cloth which he quickly leaned forward to clean the speedster’s face.

“I’m so sorry.” Thunderclash wiped all the remnants from his face gently, the colored mech’s other hand cupping the side of his helm ran a thumb across his cheek. He felt it again, that fluttering in his chest as his spark urged him forward.

Kiss him.

A boom and a deep rumble in the ground interrupted that train of thought as both of them snapped their heads to look to where the sound came from.

“Uh oh.” Both of them said.

Chapter Text

Following Brainstorm’s catastrophic failure of an experiment, in which his new gun had become a stray missile and sailed straight into the town’s plaza, all the bots on shore leave were comm.’d and quickly told to get their afts back to the Lost Light by Megatron. Ultra Magnus had words for the two scientists. After he was done with them and dismissed them to wait for further punishment he turned to Thunderclash and Rodimus.

“How did this happen.” Ultra Magnus looked between the two of them.

“I am so sorry Ultra Magnus, sir-”

“It was my fault Mags.” Rodimus interrupted. He wasn’t sure why he did it. He had wanted Thunderclash to take the blame. “I told Thunders I would watch them and I got distracted.”

Ultra Magnus sighed, “You should know better by now, Rodimus. Cybertronian scientists experimenting with hazardous materials on any inhabited planet should be monitored by a commanding officer.”

The red mech simply shrugged. “I was having fun and figured everyone else was too. I didn’t think anything bad could happen.”

“Luckily, no one was hurt. But property damages are going to put us back some shanix.” Ultra Magnus produced a data pad from under his arm. “And you are going to write up the reports.”

Rodimus grimaced but took the data pad and gave a salute to Magnus before he walked away.

“You didn’t have to do that, it was every bit my fault.” Rodimus looked at Thunderclash who was regarding him with a frown.

“Eh, it’s no big deal,” Rodimus scratched the back of his helm, “Ultra Magnus expects this kind of negligence from me.” The colorful mech’s frown deepened.

“You shouldn’t have to take all of that blame. I will set the matter straight to Ultra Magnus and I insist you allow me to write up the reports in your stead.” Rodimus blanched, was he trying to out ‘noble’ him?

“ ‘Clash I got it, really. You don’t have to worry about it.” Rodimus tucked the data pad under his arm almost possessively. “I can write a few reports it won’t kill me.”

“You don’t deserve to be punished since you did nothing wrong.”

“Whoa, whoa, hey! I was partially to blame.” But the colorful mech didn’t back down.

“You were there on your shore leave, I volunteered to watch the scientists and make sure everyone else’s leave went smoothly.”

“I’m still the commanding officer and I shouldn’t have—” Rodimus pursed his derma around what he was going to say next. “Why can’t you just let it go?”

“Rodimus, I—”

“Why do you feel the need to be so— YOU! All the time!” Rodimus fumed, suddenly remembering distaste the mech in front of him made him feel. “You don’t need to be the bigger mech all the time ‘Clash, you can let some of us normal bots do the work too.”

“I was just trying to—”

“Yeah well, don’t. Okay.” Rodimus seethed and turned away from the mech indignantly, “I don’t need your help.”

 

~    ~    ~    ~

Thunderclash had blown it.

It had been a cycle and a half since the shore leave debacle and the red mech was avoiding him like cyber plague. Whenever Thunderclash caught the other mech’s optics the speedster simply turned away from him. It hurt. He and Rodimus were finally getting along and he had somehow insulted the other mech. To keep his mind off of it, Thunderclash headed down to apologize to Perceptor for not being present for the experiment.

“Don’t worry about it sir, there were some… calibration issues that lead to it’s failure, likely you would have been unable to stop it even if you had been there.” Perceptor said, adjusting his reticle. A known tick Thunderclash had pinpointed when the scientist was trying to hold himself back from saying too much.

“If it’s something you didn’t catch, Perceptor, you are probably right.” Brainstorm appeared  from the doorway to their shared lab, the jet looking pleased with himself as ever.

“Failures come and go, we know what the problem was, now we fix it.” The jet chimed.

Perceptor pivoted to face Brainstorm. “Indeed.”

Perceptor’s tone held some exasperation which Thunderclash attributed to the other mech’s attitude. But Thunderclash also didn’t understand why Brainstorm could still be so pleased with himself after almost blowing up a building with what wasn’t even supposed to be a combat device.

“I shall leave you to it I suppose.” Thunderclash said as he turned to leave.

He walked down to the medbay where Velocity was helping organize and take stock of the new supplies. He figured he owed her an apology as well for not being there like he said he would. He entered the medbay just as Swerve was exiting.

“I’m telling you Lotty, there’s a mark!” The mini was pointing into the back of his intake as he spoke.

“And I, as a medical professional am telling you there isn’t one. Just trust me Swerve.”

“But Whirl said—”

“If you believe Whirl over me then this friendship is over.” Lotty said, raising an optic ridge at Swerve. The minibot opened his mouth to gripe some more but shut it when Lotty placed a finger over his derma.

“Enough, if it still concerns you then I’ll check again but I need to get back to work.”

The minibot sighed but turned to leave, spotting Thunderclash. “Well look what the turbofox dragged in. Did Whirl buy you a shot of questionable origin too?”

“No, Swerve, I just came to have a word with Lotty.”

“Me too but she’s too busy for friends right now apparently.” The mini put his hands on his hips.

“Oh I’m never too busy for Thunderclash.” Lotty said smirking. Swerve put a hand on his chest plate, looking affronted.

“And this is why I have trust issues.” The mini said dramatically storming away with his hands on his hips. Velocity laughed as she watched him go.

“See you later Swerve!” She called after him, turning to Thunderclash. “So what did you need?”

“I just wanted to apologize for my behavior while we were planet-side. I had said I was going to be present to make sure the experiment went smoothly and I was not. For that, I apologize.”

Lotty inclined her head to the side. “You don’t have to apologize Thunderclash, I don’t remember you promising me anything. If I recall correctly, you were pursuing an… ‘interest’ of yours.”

“Yes… Well.” Thunderclash scratched the side of his helm and sheepishly looked at the floor.

“I take it that it didn’t go well?” She looked at him sympathetically.

“Not, not exactly, no…” Thunderclash hesitated. Would talking to Lotty be a breach in their agreement? He didn’t want Rodimus any more angry with him than he already was. Thunderclash looked at Velocity, however, and determined that as far as she knew Thunderclash was only pursuing Rodimus as a friend if anything. She wouldn’t assume anything or tell anyone, that just wasn’t like Lotty.

“I messed up, Lotty… And I’m not quite sure how.” He fidgeted. “I thought I was doing the right thing but Rodimus didn’t exactly take it that way.”

“What happened?” She said taking his arm and gently pulling him to a more private part of the medbay.

“Rodimus took the blame for my mistake, Ultra Magnus seemed so disappointed in him. I tried to get him to agree to let me take the blame instead, and to write up the damage reports, but he got angry with me. I’m not sure why, Lotty. I just… I just want to understand.”

Velocity put a hand up and rested her chin on it. “I can’t say for certain but I think Rodimus didn’t like that you were trying to take something from him.”

Thunderclash blinked in confusion. “I was just trying to make things easier on him.”

“And therein lies the issue I think,” Velocity explained, “Rodimus doesn’t like pity, to be looked down on, and he especially doesn’t like taking the easy road.” Thunderclash considered that for a moment. Rodimus always prided himself on his ability to take whatever was thrown at him, to even extreme lengths at times.

“Rodimus probably didn’t like that you were pitying him, even if that isn’t what you intended. That’s what it felt like to him.” Velocity looked him in the optic. “So I think your apology might be a little misplaced. Well intended of course, but misplaced.”

Thunderclash smiled at her. “Thank you, Lotty. I will take your words to spark and apologize to Rodimus.”

“Oh hey,” Velocity caught him as he turned to leave, “Be careful will you? Rodimus is… an intense mech. I don’t want you getting hurt.”

“I appreciate your concern, Lotty, but Rodimus would never intentionally hurt me.”

Chapter Text

Rodimus felt foolish.

As he sat writing up the damage reports, a task that only aggravated him more as it went on, he kept thinking back to Thunderclash. He had felt so insulted in the moment and had shouted at the colorful mech. But now he was not only regretting his words but also the actions he’d taken before the incident had even occurred. Trying to get the mech in trouble, racing him far into the outskirts and away from the outpost. He regretted letting Drift just walk away and leaving him with the colorful mech in the first place. It was foolish of him.

Foolish for taking that eyesore’s bait and racing with him. Foolish for sucking his spike like some kind of pleasurebot. And even more foolish for thinking that Thunderclash could be anything more than what he was; annoyingly perfect. He should have felt some kind of vindication for telling the mech off but he didn’t. He should have been able to just put it to the back of his mind but he couldn’t.

Because deep in the back of his processor he knew that Thunderclash had just been trying to be kind, part of this ‘annoyingly perfect’ personality. Rodimus knew he had been in the wrong but he didn’t know how to approach the other mech to apologize. He avoided him, at first out of anger then out of awkwardness. He thought maybe about sending him a short comm. with his apology but that didn’t seem right. He wanted to talk to the mech one on one but he was almost sure if he comm.’d Thunderclash to meet him at his hab that the other mech would surely say no, thinking he was just trying to interface with him again.

Rodimus put his light pen down again for perhaps the hundredth time since he started and put his hands up to his face to stifle a groan.

“Bad time?”

Rodimus looked at the door where Drift stood looking in. “I thought you were supposed to be on the bridge.” Rodimus asked.

“That’s some way to greet your amica.” Drift entered and sat across from Rodimus. “Magnus just relieved me, I thought I would come see how the reports were coming along.”

“There not so much coming as they are going.” Rodimus slumped onto his face. “Going to be the death of me.”

Drift gave an airy chuckle, “Also I’ve been meaning to ask how things went with you-know-who.” Rodimus remained silent, hoping his amica would take a hint and drop the subject.

“That bad?” The question hung in the air. Other than the blow up that Rodimus had at the end of the day, everything with Thunderclash had gone far better than expected. He dare say he even liked the Thunderclash he hung out with on shore leave. The mech had his annoying quirks but he didn’t deserve the venom Rodimus had thrown his way. Rodimus sighed openly.

“I yelled at him.”

“Oh,” Drift’s hand appeared at the back of his helm. “Sorry, I didn’t think things would go that badly or I wouldn’t have left. I just thought maybe you two could talk things out.”

“It’s not like that,” Rodimus sat up and looked at him, “Hanging out with him was fine, I guess. But the moment we were back on board I felt like he was trying to be a better captain than me.”

Drift blinked at him, looking surprised. “What happened?”

Rodimus sighed again. “I took the blame for him being too late to stop the experiment. But freaking Blundercrash decided he wanted to be the bigger mech and it just… got under my plating. So I yelled at him. Told him off.”

Rodimus stood from his desk, feeling his energy mounting in frustration.

“I just felt so… small. I hate that feeling. This ship has too many captains on board and one of them barely even listens to me. At least “perfect autobot” Thunderclash keeps his mouth shut most of the time, but I can’t tell if that’s because he respects Megatron or me.” Rodimus looked at the wall and let his shoulders slump.

“I just… I just want to do my part and try to be a good captain.”

There was a shift behind Rodimus and then a sudden warmth around his waist as he felt Drift embrace him.

“You are a good captain, Roddy. You make mistakes but you always have the best interest in mind for our crew and just about anyone who crosses our path. You don’t need to put so much pressure on yourself, or Thunderclash for that matter.”

Rodimus turned to his amica, who loosened his grip but didn’t release him from his hug.

“What do you mean?”

“Thunderclash makes mistakes too.” Rodimus snorted, crossing his arms. “I’m serious Roddy. I feel like a lot of people forget he’s just another mech. And he’s a mech that has faith in you, he wants to see our mission succeed.”

“A mission he stole…” Rodimus mumbled but he could feel his frustration ebbing.

“It’s our mission, as in, all of ours.”

Rodimus sighed. “You’re right, Drift.”

Drift kissed his cheeks and Rodimus leaned on his amica. They stood there for a few moments, letting the tension release.

“Now, tell me. Do you still think Thunderclash deserved to be yelled at?”

“A part of me still doesn’t really want to apologize. The petty part.” Rodimus sighed.

“Am I sensing some regret?”

Another sigh, more aggravated this time, “Yes, I realize I shouldn’t have yelled but I don’t know how to take it back.”

“Just apologize, just tell him what you just told me. He’ll understand.”

“I guess I’ll have to find a way to get that mech alone then.”

“Why alone?” Drift asked.

“I don’t want half the ship knowing our business. When bots don’t have a lot to do they tend to gossip.”

“Hm, why not comm. him then, ask him to meet you?” Rodimus hesitated, he hadn’t told Drift about their agreement. That part made everything much more complicated.

“Uh, too formal.” He said as an excuse, which wasn’t a very good one but Drift didn’t linger on it.

“How about his hab?”

Rodimus thought for a moment. “That would be tricky since I don’t know when he’s in his hab or not.” He didn’t say aloud but he really didn’t want to be seen standing around Thunderclash’s door.

“Thunderclash is a mech of habit. He usually goes to Swerve’s and then to his hab after the end of his shifts.” Drift paused, Rodimus figured he was probably checking his chronometer, “I’ll bet he’s headed there now.”

“You’re sure?”

“Positive.”

Rodimus looked back to the reports on his desk with a frown. “Think Magnus will mind if I take a break?”

“Probably but has that ever stopped you before?”

~    ~    ~    ~

{Earlier}

Drift stretched his arms above his head, yawning. Rodimus hadn’t been in the greatest of moods since coming back from shore leave. The added paperwork probably had something to do with it but Drift wanted to see if he could cheer up is amica. He was headed towards Roddy’s office when he spotted Thunderclash. The mech looked stricken, like he was arguing with himself. Drift hadn’t found out what had happened, if anything had happened, between them. He approached Thunderclash quietly, letting his presence be known only when Thunderclash was close enough he couldn’t make a quick escape.

“Drift!” He started, “H-How was the bridge?”

“Fine,” Drift noted the blush on Thunderclash’s faceplate, “Were you on your way to see Rodimus too?”

“No—no, I mean, yes. Yes I was but I think he’s busy so I better not bother him right now.” It was strange seeing the normally collected mech squirming in front of him. It was comical actually, the way the other mech kept glancing around and fidgeting. Drift could see just how smitten the poor mech was, how his amica didn’t see it was a complete mystery.

“Thunderclash.” Drift stopped the mech in this tracks as he turned to leave. “Are you alright?”

The large mech hesitated before sighing a little, “I made a mistake, Drift.”

“What do you mean?”

“I made Rodimus think I was trying to take pity on him, I just didn’t want him to take all the blame for the shore leave incident.” The colorful mech sighed, “Now he’s angry with me. I want to apologize but I’m scared he’s still angry and won’t want to talk to me.”

Drift gave the mech a sympathetic look, Rodimus could hold a grudge for awhile so he didn’t blame the mech for his trepidation.

“Tell you what, I’ll go in and test the waters and if he seems like he’s in a better mood I’ll send him down to see you in your hab. And if not I’ll send you a comm. Sound good?” Thunderclash brightened a little.

“Thank you Drift, I would appreciate that.”

“My pleasure Thunders.”

Chapter Text

:Rodimus is headed your way.:

Thunderclash sat awkwardly on the berth in his hab. Then he stood and walked to the door. Then back again. He went to sit down but only got halfway there before he stood again and walked fully around the berth to make sure he hadn’t missed a spot when cleaning. He walked back to the door.

Drift’s comm. may have been expected but it had done nothing to ease his anxiety about seeing Rodimus in his hab. It was humble in comparison to the large captain’s quarters but he didn’t mind that. What he minded was that his last encounters with Rodimus in a berthroom had been charged with a very different energy. He worried that might make his apology seem insincere.

He sat down and looked at his hands, scrutinizing them to try and ease his mind. It didn’t help. On the edge of his finger he caught sight of barely visible golden yellow paint. Which prompted the thought of when and how he had acquired it. Stroking a yellow helm flare.

Thunderclash almost started out of his plating when the door pinged for entry. He thudded to the floor of his hab, landing on his feet but making a loud clanging noise as he made his way too the door.

“You alright in there Thunders?” Rodimus’ voice came from the other side of the door.

“Yes!” He stopped at the door to even his venting before opening it to find Rodimus standing there. Just seeing him drew his thoughts from him and he just stared out at the red mech.

“Hey, uh, can I come in?” Rodimus motioned beyond him, into the hab.

“Oh, yes! Come in.” Thunderclash stood to the side to let the speedster by, he could almost hear his spark pulsing in his chest and he hoped Rodimus couldn’t.

The door closed and Thunderclash looked at Rodimus’ back as the mech examined his room. He was glad he had cleaned up after all.

“Isn’t this kinda small for a mech your size?” Thunderclash looked around his room. He had always found it more than adequate. Bigger accommodations had all been taken up before he joined the Lost Light, a couple mechs had offered their rooms but he didn’t want anyone to move out of their space for his sake. So he had opted for a smaller room, the berth was big enough which was all he cared about.

“I don’t need a lot of space, I learned to keep things minimized over my years of space travel.”

“Uh huh…” Rodimus put a hand on the berth as he turned to Thunderclash, his blue optics piercing him. The colorful mech finally remembered what he had asked the mech here for.

“Rodimus—”

“I’m so—”

Both of them began but stopped as the other spoke. Thunderclash chuckled nervously as the red mech gave him an inquisitive look.

“Sorry Thunders, you go first.”

“I—” Thunderclash cleared his intake, “I just wanted to apologize for my behavior about the shore leave incident. You clearly had it handled and I should have respected that. I’m sorry captain.”

Rodimus blinked at him. Thinking that maybe he had misspoke again Thunderclash continued.

“I didn’t mean to come across as patronizing and I overstepped my boundaries—”

“Thunders, Thunders! You don’t have to be sorry. I actually uh,” Rodimus leaned against the berth and scratched the back of his helm. “I forgive you."

Relief flooded Thunderclash. It felt as if he was releasing a breath he didn’t know he was holding.

“You were just being you. Taking responsibility and all that. I’m sorry.” Rodimus put out his hand, “We good?”

Thunderclash didn’t hesitate to take it in both his hands, “Of course, Rodimus.”

Rodimus smiled at him then and Thunderclash felt himself return it ten fold. A silence settle over them. It turned a little awkward when he realized he was still holding the speedsters hand captive with his own. He released it along with a slight chuckle.

“So…” He started.

“So?” Rodimus asked.

Panicking a little, Thunderclash said the first thing that popped into his processor.

“Would you like to accompany me to Swerve’s for a drink?” Realizing too late the implications of his question, the brightly colored mech felt his face become even brighter with his now conspicuous blush. A familiar feeling of wanting the Lost Light to open beneath him returned.

“Weren’t you just there?”

“What?”

“What.” Rodimus looked around as if he had been caught doing something he shouldn’t. “Uh, actually Thunders I have to get back to my paperwork. Ultra Magnus will read me the riot act if he finds out it’s not done yet. And lemme tell you it’s about 45 pages of text with a slideshow presentation that goes with it.”

“Oh,” His spark fell a little. He should have expected that answer but it didn’t hurt any less. “Some other time then?”

“Yeah. Maybe.” Rodimus walked to the door and opened it. He pivoted back to Thunderclash. “Uh, see you later. Thunders.”

Thunderclash gave a little wave which made him feel ridiculous after the red mech left. He sighed. At least he could say his relationship with Rodimus was improving. He suddenly felt silly about how nervous he’d been to approach the other mech. Rodimus was such a kind mech, of course he wasn't angry. Thunderclash smiled to himself, looking down at his hand. He saw the little golden yellow flecks of paint. He should probably clean those off just in case someone asks about how he got them.

~    ~    ~    ~

Rodimus felt a little better. It was as if a weight was lifted from his shoulders, but only just. His spirits were dampened by the still looming pile of paperwork awaiting him at his desk. At least he could finally focus on something other than Thunderclash now that they were past their altercation. He could probably even get most of it done before Ultra Magnus comm.’d him to do his shift on the bridge.

Except his processor was now on a different train of thought involving Thunderclash. It had been a while since they had a proper interface… Rodimus tried to shake the thought from his head before it started to go anywhere else. He still had a shift to do, and Thunderclash was also on an opposing schedule now so that would make things even more difficult since the mech wanted adequate time to torture Rodimus with his very talented mouth…

Rodimus physically shook his helm, hard enough it stopped him in his tracks.

“Having a hard time, Prime?”

Rodimus jumped, not realizing someone else had been in the hall he was currently walking through.

“Getaway, what are you doing here?”

“I could ask you the same thing.” Getaway leaned on the wall in front of Rodimus, effectively blocking his path. “Something on your processor?”

“No, sorry Getaway I’m busy so if you’ll excuse me.” Rodimus slipped past the other mech.

“Of course, Prime. Want me to tell Thunderclash you said hello?”

Rodimus stopped walking and felt himself stiffen. He turned to look at Getaway but the mech was walking down the hall again, his back to Rodimus. Confusion washed over Rodimus, then worry.

What had he meant by that?

Rodimus now had new nagging thoughts in his processor.

Chapter Text

Rodimus spent his time on the bridge mulling over Getaway’s cryptic statement.

He sat at the helm, his leg bouncing and a scowl affixed on his face. He’d managed to get his paperwork done just under the wire as Ultra Magnus comm.’d him. He’d furiously scribbled as a way to keep himself occupied from his thoughts. It had worked but only just barely. He kept it contained in the first half of his shift, throwing himself into his role as captain. Boredom overwhelmed him however and with no other things to distract him, his processor was running wild.

Did Getaway know about him and Thunderclash? How would he have found out? Was he an eavesdropper? Did someone else tell him? That would mean other people also know. Maybe he was just guessing why Rodimus had been down there. Maybe the mech had just meant that he was going to go see Thunderclash and he was subtly jabbing Rodimus because he knew he hated the other mech. Well he had

Around and around, his processor spun. Rodimus was so distracted he didn’t realized someone was speaking just behind him. A hand settled on his shoulder and he jumped out of his seat and whirled around to see who the culprit was.

“Megs! What is it, what do you need?” The silver mech arched his optic ridge at him.

“I’m here to relieve you from your shift.”

“Oh.” Rodimus became vaguely aware of Ultra Magnus just behind Megatron. He was conversing with none other than Thunderclash who was probably just starting his own shift on the bridge. A thought occurred to Rodimus then. Had Thunderclash blabbed?

“Right, here you go Megs.”

The silver mech rolled his eyes at the nickname. Rodimus ignored the mech’s attempts to chastise him about his decorum and made his way to the two taller mechs. Like a mech on a mission he grabbed the brightly colored mech by the arm and started dragging him.

“Hey Mags I need to borrow Thunders for a minute, ‘kay, thanks.” Rodimus said, Thunderclash didn’t resist and Rodimus could hear him tell Magnus he would only be a moment. Rodimus pulled him into the meeting room and shut the door after checking the halls quickly.

“Rodimus is something wrong?”

“Did you tell someone?” Rodimus fixed him with a stare. He could feel stress and anxiety crawling up his struts.

“Tell someone… about our agreement you mean?”

“Yes.”

“No, of course not.” Thunderclash looked worried, “Rodimus I give you my word, I promise I didn’t say anything to anyone.”

The concern washed through the larger mech’s field and Rodimus could feel how genuine the mech’s words were. Rodimus felt a little ashamed. He had just had an already awkward encounter with the same mech earlier this cycle. Of course Thunderclash wouldn’t run his mouth. Despite what Rodimus thought of him, Thunderclash wasn’t as bumbling and dumb as he might look. The speedster put his hands on his face and took a deep invent.

“Why are you asking?”

“It’s nothing ‘Clash, just paranoid I guess.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah I’m sure.”

The concern in the larger mech’s field faded but didn’t disappear. Rodimus looked up as Thunderclash suddenly closed the space between them. He could practically feel the heat and rumble from the colorful mech’s engines. Thunderclash loomed over him but his body language remained unthreatening and open. He didn’t reach for Rodimus with his giant hands. Rodimus could hardly say he would have been opposed if the big mech had pulled him into a hug, pressed to that giant chest with that tacky insignia emblazoned over it. A strange well of desire hit him hard.

Had the mech always been this damn big? He thought as if he had suddenly forgotten.

His red optics remained soft as he spoke, “Rodimus if there is something wrong… Just know that you can come to me to talk about it.”

“Uh, huh…” Rodimus felt himself swallow and his spark pulsed in his audials. “Yeah, I-I will. Thanks ‘Clash.” Rodimus resisted an urge to reach out to the mech in front of him.

“I should return to the bridge or Ultra Magnus will not be pleased.” Thunderclash gave him a soft smile. “If you still have that feeling when I’m off shift… you can always call on me.”

“A-Actually Thunders,” Rodimus couldn’t stop the words that tumbled from his derma, “ Would you like to come to my hab after your shift ends, for uh… a session?”

That familiar creeping blush appeared on Thunderclash’s faceplate. “That would be in the middle of your recharge cycle, are you sure?”

“Yeah.” Why did Rodimus suddenly feel breathless. “Yeah I’m sure.”

~    ~    ~    ~

{Earlier}

“Oh! Getaway I wasn’t expecting you.”

“Yeah, Mirage said you borrowed something? He sent me to retrieve it.”

Thunderclash held up a digit, “Ah, yes I know just the thing. Please be sure to thank him for me.”

“You should do it in person and drop by Visages. Maybe have a drink with me and Atomizer?” Getaway leaned on the door frame as Thunderclash searched for the particular data pad that Mirage had lent him.

“I’m not much of a cocktail person myself, but I could probably do so after my next shift.”

“You deserve a little break every now and then Thunders.”

“‘Thunderclash', please.” Thunderclash kept as cheery a demeanor as he could but he honestly only ever let a handful of mechs call him that, and Getaway wasn’t one of them. He found the data pad and, with an ‘aha!’, Thunderclash went back to the door to hand it to Getaway.

“Say, you didn’t happen to see Rodimus down this way did you?” Thunderclash blinked, taken aback.

“Um, no. Did you?” Getaway narrowed his optics at Thunderclash, making the larger mech hold his breath.

“Yeah I did, he was acting like a weirdo. Shaking his head left and right as he walked.” Concern immediately gripped Thunderclash’s spark. He shook it off, trying not to look phased.

“I’m sure he just has a lot on his processor right now. Being captain and all.”

“Tch.” Getaway scoffed a little which did little to lighten Thunderclash’s mood.

“Something wrong, Getaway?”

“Nah, just thinking if he wasn’t so weird I might actually be into him.” Thunderclash was glad for Getaway’s face mask otherwise he might have knocked the denta out of the smug smile he knew the mech was sporting. “He’s got a nice frame y’know.”

“I—… I don’t think it’s appropriate to talk about a superior officer in such a way.” Thunderclash grit his denta together and tried to will the mech to leave with the awkwardness of the situation. Getaway didn’t seem to get it though.

“Oh c’mon Thunders—Thunderclash, ‘scuse me, you can’t honestly say you’ve never had naughty thoughts about him. It’s hard to resist, half the ship would be inclined to agree with me.”

Half the ship would do better to mind their own business.

Thunderclash swallowed his anger, remembering to keep calm. “Getaway, this topic is making me feel uncomfortable, I would like to ask that you leave and we never speak of this again.”

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to overstep. Just thought some mech to mech talk might do you some good. I won’t bring it up again.” Getaway looked at him innocently before turning to leave. “Later, Thunders.”

~    ~    ~    ~

{Visages}

“Honestly when you first told me I thought you were joking.” Getaway thumped into his seat, chuckling.

“Do I look like a joker to you.”

“No, no, just the thought of Rodimus actually caving to that mech’s lovestruck antics is hilarious. You should have seen Thunders face when I started talking about Rodimus’ frame. If I didn’t hold back my comment on his aft I swear he was going to punch me.”

“Hilarious…”

“What, you don’t think it’s funny?”

“I could care less about the interfacing habits of other mechs.”

“Says the little snoop who found out about them.”

“It would have happened sooner or later. Me or someone else.”

“True. I thought they seemed more chummy lately, grossly chummy considering Rodimus tried to celebrate that mech’s untimely demise just a few months back. I wonder what brought it on.”

“That I don’t know.”

“Don’t know? Or won’t tell.”

“…”

“Your silence speaks volumes.”

“I already regret telling you what I have. If you want more information go somewhere else.”

Getaway shrugged, “I don’t need more information. I’m content to hold this over the prime’s head until the end of this little adventure.”

“And then what.”

“Oh, I’m gonna tell everyone of course.”

Chapter Text

Rodimus left the bridge and went to Swerve’s to fuel. He felt a little excited at the thought of his next meeting with Thunderclash. He tried not to show it too much but his mood had definitely lifted. Ultra Magnus even noticed.

“I’m glad to see you’re feeling better Rodimus.”

“Huh?”  Rodimus looked at the big mech as they walked.

“Your spirits seemed down as of late, I worried that I may have been the cause.” His SIC looked dreadfully serious as he spoke. “I hope I have not been too harsh on you.”

“No way Mags, I know you’re just looking out for me. I get it.” Rodimus beamed at the blue mech. “Besides, I know I can be a handful.”

Ultra Magnus had the faintest smile on his face as he quipped, “Indeed.”

They stopped in front of Swerve’s and Rodimus pointed inside. “You coming in for a drink?”

“Oh no, I prefer to fuel in the privacy of my habsuite.” Ultra Magnus cleared his intake. “But thank you, Rodimus. I will see you for our officers meeting before our next shift.”

“Shoot, that’s tomorrow isn’t it?” Rodimus feigned shock.

“Yes it is, please try to be early this time.” And with that Ultra Magnus strode away, leaving a smirking Rodimus in his wake. He turned and walked into the bar, happy to see his amica sitting in a booth already.

“Heeyy gorgeous, you alone in this bar?” He said cheekily as he sat down.

“You’re in a good mood, I take it your talk went well?”

“Yup,” Rodimus relaxed into the booth as Swerve brought him his usual. He put the energon to his lips right away, feeling parched.

“So you apologized?” Rodimus suddenly felt his spark sink. He hadn’t technically… Drift caught on to his silence. “Well?”

“Actually, he sort of apologized to me. In the moment I guess I just… didn’t.” Rodimus could feel the disappointment in his amica’s field.

“Oh Roddy, what and I gonna do with you.”

“Isn’t the important part that we’re past it? That we buried the hatchet?”

“You did what with Ratchet?” Drift raise his optic ridge, teasing.

“You know what I mean, Drift. We’re not fighting anymore.”

“How you bring peace is just as important as the peace itself Roddy.” Drift’s expression softened. “Remember what you said, how you felt, don’t you think he deserved an apology?”

Rodimus sighed, “You’re right. I promise I’ll apologize the next time I see him.”

Drift reached over and took his hand. “The ‘next’ time? Is there a specific time in your mind?”

Sometimes it bothered Rodimus how well his amica could read him like glyphs on a screen. He wasn’t sure how to respond to that question. He wasn’t sure how Drift would react to hearing about his and Thunderclash’s agreement. Drift clearly thought something was going on though and Rodimus didn’t want to lie to his amica. Not finding a reasonable answer other than a misdirection, Rodimus settled for a small fib.

“Y-You know, when I see him around. I do see him daily.” The smirk on Drifts face spoke volumes of how much he believed him. It wasn’t much.

“Fine then don’t tell your amica about your new boyfriend.”

“Roddy has a boyfriend?!”

Rodimus jumped, panic building in his spark as just then Tailgate and Cyclonus had been walking by and the minibot had overheard Drift’s statement. The white and blue mini rushed their table, his blue optic visor bright with interest. Cyclonus didn’t approach, he simply watched the mini from where he stood.

“Whoa, whoa, Tailgate. Drift was just joking!” Rodimus said, trying to diffuse the situation and looking at Drift helplessly. Drift leaned back casually and Rodimus kicked him under the table.

“Hey— I mean, yeah Tailgate I was just ribbing Roddy. Besides, we all know his aft belongs to me.” Drift said nonchalantly. Tailgate was still hanging on the side of the table though, looking between the two of them.

“So you guys are really—” Tailgate was suddenly picked up by Cyclonus who had moved in quite suddenly and without any noise. Tailgate squeaked, “Cyclonus!”

“Let’s leave them to their business Tailgate.” and the purple jet took his conjunx to their usual spot at the bar. Rodimus felt a rush of relief, inwardly thankful that Cyclonus could read an awkward situation better than Tailgate. Rodimus kicked Drift under the table again.

“Stop doing that!”

“You see what I mean?”

“What?”

“We can’t talk about anything on this ship without everyone knowing about it. I won’t be surprised if either Tailgate or Swerve just casually mention this around the ship.” Rodimus groaned.

Every bot will start asking him who he’s dating and then— His spark skipped. Thunderclash might get the wrong impression. They are not dating! But if people did figure out what they were doing he didn’t know what he thought was worse, everyone knowing he was in a casual interfacing relationship with the tacky painted mech or dating the tacky painted mech. Rodimus slumped forward because he knew which one sounded worse. Everyone would at least praise him on catching the Greatest Autobot Who Ever Lived.

“Hey, it’s not the end of the world, no need to be melodromatic.” He felt Drift scoot around until he sat next to Rodimus, wrapping an arm over his shoulders.

“I know Drift. I’m just…” Scared, mortified, an earth deer caught in headlights? His processor stalled over his statement and he remained silent.

“Hey, how about we get out of here, go to your hab, watch a movie?” Drift poked the side of his helm. He turned a smile on his amica.

“Okay.”

They finished their fuel and went to his hab, settling on the couch in his living space. Rodimus picked the movie and nestled against Drift as the movie went on. Drift massaged between his plating, working out the tension in his struts with careful fingers. Before long the two speedsters were lying on the couch curled against each other. Rodimus could feel himself dozing off as the movie ended.

“You’re falling into recharge Roddy.” Drift whispered.

“Mnh.” Was all Rodimus replied.

“We should move to your berth or one of us is going to end up on the floor I think.” Rodimus remembered then. Thunderclash was coming after his shift was over. Suddenly Rodimus was bolt upright, checking his chronometer.

“Hey what is it? What’s wrong?” Drift sat up as well, reaching for Rodimus.

“I-I just remembered that we have an officer’s meeting tomorrow. I didn’t prepare my report.” Rodimus fibbed. Drift looked at him skeptically.

“I’m guessing it can’t wait until after we’ve recharged?”

“Sorry Drift I really should get that report done. I’m on thin ice with Magnus right now… Sorry.”

“Don’t be.” Drift placed his hands on the sides of Rodimus’ face and kissed him. “But you owe me a nap together. It’s been a long time since had some peace like this.”

“You got it.” Rodimus smiled at his amica as he stood to leave. “And Drift?”

“Hm?”

“Thanks.”

~    ~    ~    ~

“What was that all about?” Swerve asked as Cyclonus placed Tailgate on a stool at the bar and sat beside him.

“I was just asking if Rodimus was dating someone, Drift said that he was, and then he said he wasn’t. Then he said Rodddy was his. I wanted to ask if that meant he and Rodimus were together because I thought him and Ratchet—”

“Rodimus and Drift are amica endura, Tailgate. It isn’t the same thing.” Cyclonus stopped the minibot short.

“But I see them kissing all the time! What’s the difference?” Tailgate looked between Swerve and Cyclonus.

“Don’t look at me, I’ve never had one.” Swerve put his hands up.

“I have.” Cyclonus said simply. “They’re a complicated type of relationship. Maybe even more so than conjunx.”

“How so?”

“Well they’re different for everyone Tailgate.”

“I mean that’s the pitch we always hear,” Swerve chimed in, “No one can ever give a straight answer about it.”

“That’s because there isn’t one. An amica is a bond that is intimate and committed. You’d give your life for theirs if you had to. For some there is also a type of passion associated with an amica bond. But it isn’t the same as with a conjunx.” Cyclonus explained slowly.

“If I had to compare my old amica to Tailgate, there would be obvious differences.”

“Like what?” Tailgate leaned on him. Cyclonus took the back of his finger and ran it along the side of Tailgate’s faceplate, making the minibot giggle.

“Scourge and I were never as intimate as you and I little one. We were affectionate, but we never kissed one another. Our bond made us closer as fighters as well as friends. We laughed and hugged, we’d share nights under the stars. I never desired any more than that from him. Nor him from me.” Tailgate looked at Cyclonus with wonder in his optic visor.

Swerve, looking uncomfortable at the affectionate bots, cleared his intake. “Sure but why was your bond different than Rodimus’ and Drift’s ?”

Cyclonus looked at the red minibot, thinking over his answer, “The amica bond fills a need that was created in our sparks from ignition. What I needed from Scourge was different from what Rodimus and Drift need from each other.”

Both minibots let out a simultaneous, “Ohhh…”

“So… the sparks are kind of like… puzzle pieces? And the bond is how they fit each other?” Tailgate piped.

“I suppose so.”

“Wow, I wonder if I’ll ever have an amica?” Tailgate looked at Swerve, “How about you Swerve, think there’s someone out there who could be your amica?”

Swerve chuckled, “Naw, I don’t even have a roommate.” Swerve let out a laugh but it sounded sad.

“I think you’ll find your amica one day.” Tailgate said. “I’m sure of it.”

Chapter Text

As the end of his shift neared, Thunderclash couldn’t help but let his thoughts wander to the gorgeous speedster that awaited him. He hoped the mech had gotten a little recharge beforehand. Thunderclash still didn’t like the thought of waking the prime during his rest hours but Rodimus had insisted it was okay. He made his way through the Lost Light, making sure to avoid any occupied hallways on his way to the captain’s habsuite. When he got to the door he wondered if he should comm. Rodimus or ping for entry. Would the mech be awake and waiting for him?

:Rodimus, are you awake?: Thunderclash waited for a reply, looking behind him and up the halls to make sure no one saw him loitering.

:Yeah, ‘Clash. You here?: The reply came almost immediately, much to his surprise.

:Yes, I’m outside your hab.:

The door opened then, revealing the red speedster looking tired. It made Thunderclash’s spark ache. Before he could recommend doing this later, Rodimus pulled him inside by taking his hand. This being their fourth time, things repeated themselves almost routinely. Rodimus taking the initiative and Thunderclash being pulled along by the lovely red mech. Perhaps it was because the speedster was tired but his actions were much gentler and slow as he guided him to the berth room. Rodimus pulled himself onto the berth and motioned for Thunderclash to follow. Thunderclash noted that the prime had already prepared the berth for them.

“Did you get much recharge before I arrived?” Thunderclash asked as he crawled into the berth. He started with light touches to the sides of the speedster’s legs, something he knew he enjoyed.

“Yeah.” Thunderclash found that answer unconvincing and stared into the other mech’s optics with a little disbelief. Rodimus seemed to cave under his gaze. “A little, I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep so I waited.”

“You should be recharging now. You’re tired.” Thunderclash almost moved away from Rodimus when the mech suddenly pushed him over on his back and straddled his waist.

“Not tired enough,” Rodimus smirked at him, “I could use some wearing out.”

Thunderclash realized his fans had clicked on after their change in position, not surprising when he had a lap full of fiery mech now. Rodimus still looked weary though, which didn’t put Thunderclash at ease. A thought occurred to Thunderclash then.

“We could just,” Thunderclash lifted and pulled Rodimus forward until the speedster’s thighs were around his head and his modesty panel hovered over the larger mech’s mouth. “Do this.”

Rodimus squirmed a little, “You won’t get yours though.”

“As I recall, the last time we did this it was a similar situation.” Thunderclash noted how the red mech’s venting made his chassis rise and fall rhythmically. He wrapped his arms around to let his hands glide up shapely thighs before ghosting their way back down using only his fingertips. He reveled in the way the speedster shuddered at his touch. 

“And if I’m still up for more?” Rodimus arched an optic ridge. 

“I will be happy to oblige.” Inwardly, Thunderclash took it as a challenge. The red mech needed more recharge and he would get a lot more if Thunderclash could satisfy him without using his spike. With that thought in mind, the colorful mech slid his hands up to grip red hips and planted a wet kiss over the panel in front of him. It transformed away and Thunderclash was treated to the sight of a very well lubricated valve. The lips were puffy and his anterior node was already swollen. Almost as if…

“You’ve been self-servicing?” Thunderclash gaped slightly. Rodimus looked embarrassed.

“I thought it would help things go quicker…” The red mech shifted. “I wanted to be read—yyy!”

Thunderclash buried his face in the speedster’s gorgeous valve, spurred by an intense need for the mech, lapping away and sucking on his node gently. He used his hands to subtly encourage the red mech to gyrate his hips. Rodimus moaned, a golden hand coming down to grip at Thunderclash’s helm. The other was planted on Thunderclash’s forearm and gripping hard to his plating. 

Thunderclash moaned to himself at the taste of the other mech, licking at the lubricant slick valve with eagerness. The aroma and taste was intoxicating, Thunderclash let his glossa slip inside the valve entrance before pulling up to prod at the anterior node with new vigor. He wrapped his lips around it and sucked, feeling Rodimus grind down on his face. Thunderclash brought his hands down to grab Rodimus’ thighs so that the bot didn’t accidentally crush his helm as he overloaded.

A rush of lubricant coated Thunderclash’s face, which he lapped up greedily before continuing to ravage the speedster’s valve. Rodimus made a noise that Thunderclash had never heard before. Somewhere between a squeak and a sigh, as a second overload followed the first with surprising swiftness. Rodimus folded over, both hands coming to grip the berth padding as he pressed himself down on Thunderclash’s face. This overload was more muted than the last and Thunderclash slowly slid his glossa between wet folds to stroke at the swollen node, hoping to ease any discomfort. 

The mech above him was venting hard, “That was great, ‘Clash, but… I still want your spike.”  

A little disappointed but rather than argue, Thunderclash moved quickly, after all it wasn’t like he was unaffected. Despite what he said earlier he could feel his spike straining uncomfortably against his panel. He flipped them, placing Rodimus on his back, shutting him down when the smaller mech protested.

“I know it isn’t your preference but you’re too tired to hold yourself up. Just let me do the work.” 

“Fine.” Rodimus pouted but his field betrayed his content to just lay back.

Thunderclash positioned himself between the speedsters legs and stroked at his valve folds, lubricating his fingers before sliding two in. He was already well relaxed, part due to his overloads and undoubtedly from his self-servicing from earlier. Thunderclash felt his blush grow while thinking of the beautiful speedster touching himself to the thought of him.

“You have that goofy look on your face ‘Clash.” Rodimus’ static-laden voice reached him through his thoughts. Piercing blue optics gazed at him from where the speedster lay. 

“Just admiring your work,” Thunderclash said, inserting a third finger to further his point, “You did a good job of loosening yourself.” A blush spread over Rodimus’ face and the red mech put on a half-sparked scowl.

“Anything to help you get on with it.” Rodimus prodded but Thunderclash simply chuckled.

“My first and only priority is to make sure you feel good, Rodimus.” The colorful mech pushed his fingers in deep and stroked a cluster of nodes with his fingers, causing the speedster to bite back a loud moan. “Going slow assures I do just that.”

Rodimus’ optics flared slightly as Thunderclash continued slow pumps of his fingers, grazing nodes with his fingertips as he went. The red mech chewed his derma and squirmed when Thunderclash brushed his thumb over his anterior node.

“Are— Are you sure you don’t just enjoy watching me wiggle around on your fingers.” Rodimus’ question caused Thunderclash to still for a nano-klik and look at the other mech, heat radiating from his blush. A smirk appeared on the speedster’s face.

“You do, don’t you?”

Thunderclash felt his breath hitch in his intake as he tried to formulate a response.

“You’re very beautiful.” Rodimus looked taken aback by the admission. Thunderclash tried to continue casually, while stretching the other mech’s valve. “Any mech would be lucky to be in my position. I consider it a privilege."

They lapsed into a strangely comfortable silence as Thunderclash continued his ministrations, adding a fourth digit. Rodimus moaned as the intruding fingers leisurely moved in and out. The red mech shuttered his optics and Thunderclash felt his valve cycle gently onto his fingers, nearing overload but not quite tipping over. Rodimus tensed and let out a light groan of exasperation.

“Nnng, Thunders if you don’t act soon I won’t be able to take much more.” Rodimus vented out.

Feeling satisfied with the state of the speedster’s valve, Thunderclash released his straining spike, groaning as the cool air hit the sensitive mesh. Rodimus reached down and wrapped a hand around his spike and stroked it as he guided it to his entrance. Thunderclash gathered up the speedsters legs and put them around his waist as he gently pushed inside. The colorful mech moaned at the molten heat of the slick valve, he’d almost forgotten just how hot the other mech ran and it lit up his sensor net like he was burning.

He felt Rodimus tighten suddenly and he stopped immediately to let the smaller mech adjust. The colorful mech reached around to stroke Rodimus’ spinal struts, relaxing the tension from the speedster’s tight frame. The red mech squeezed his waist with his thighs to signal he could continue and Thunderclash pressed in. When he finally hilted himself, he leaned forward and rested on one arm and held onto Rodimus’ hip with the other. The speedster made an approving noise and his hands came up to play with the sensitive wiring between the plating on the larger mech’s chassis. The position still felt a little awkward.

“Hold onto my neck?” Thunderclash asked gently as he slipped his hand to the small of the red mech’s back. Rodimus said nothing but slipped his arms up to Thunderclash’s neck, laying a trail of teasing touches as they went. Rodimus moved his hips gently against his, a signal that he was ready.

Thunderclash kept his pace slow, their frames rocked together as the prime simply held on to him. His hand wandered from lower back to the bright spoiler and stroked the sensitive metal with the lightest of touches he could manage. Charge crackled from his hands to the thin metal spoiler and Rodimus arched beneath him, keening loudly in his audial. The speedster’s valve fluttered and squeezed his spike and Thunderclash leaned forward as he lost himself a little in the pleasure. He focused on thrusting into that pliant valve and bit his derma to ground himself again. At some point he had shuttered his optics.

He opened them and Thunderclash’s breath caught in his vents when he caught the prime staring at up at him. The prime’s blue optics were bright with charge and his mouth was parted to let his gasps escape. Thunderclash felt he could have stared into the speedster’s optics forever and never grow tired of their light. Rodimus’ nose bumped his and the colorful mech wondered when he had gotten so close to his face. Thunderclash’s spark skipped as blue optics shuttered close and he felt lips on his own. Rodimus’ lips. It was light but enough to barely be called a kiss. He felt those lips move more than he heard his designation pass through them.

“Thunderclash.”

He felt his overload wash over him, embarrassingly early. He thrust through it, desperately keeping his spike pressurized. Rodimus let out a gasp, optics widening, certainly feeling the sticky transfluid coating his valve.

“Oooh,” Rodimus moaned, “Primus.

Thunderclash felt new arousal in his lines as the speedster angled his hips upward and locked his legs around him. Those legs pulled him deeper into the red mech’s valve and Thunderclash could feel his spike hitting the ceiling node with each thrust. He could feel Rodimus trembling underneath him and he returned to stroking that dancing spoiler as he tipped him over the edge finally. The prime cried out.

“D-Don’t stop,” Rodimus said breathlessly in his audial, “Please, please, don’t stop."

“Rodimus,” Thunderclash gasped, it was still strange hearing the little prime beg. A part of him wanted nothing more but to hear that forever and another wanted to stop at nothing to give him everything he wanted.

“Anything for you.” He whispered to Rodimus. The prime moaned, moving his hips with Thunderclash’s thrusts. His arms wrapped tighter around Thunderclash and pulled him down, the smaller mech burying his face in his neck cables. The colorful mech embraced him with both arms as he rutted gently into the speedster’s valve. Thunderclash reached his final overload as he gripped red plating and yellow spoiler. Through his haze he could hear Rodimus whimper his name as yet another, smaller overload racked the little prime’s frame.

Thunderclash shifted his weight off the speedster, becoming aware he was smothering the smaller mech as the sound of their cooling fans and their venting filled the room. He held himself upright and pulled his softening spike from Rodimus’ valve, their mingled fluids spilling out between them. The speedster’s hold on his neck loosened. Thunderclash realized the mech was swiftly falling into recharge as his arms slipped down to rest beside his helm.  

He manually closed Rodimus’ panel and went about cleaning their mess from their plating and the berth. He left the room briefly and went to the private washracks, returning with a damp cloth to clean the speedster. He looked at the red mech’s recharging form and smiled to himself. He reached over to grab a pillow and gently lifted the other mech’s helm to slide it beneath.

“Thunders…?” Dim blue optics looked up at him.

“It’s alright, Rodimus. I’m here. Get some recharge.”

“Thunders… I’m sorry.” Thunderclash was bewildered, what did the prime need to apologize for?

“What do you mean Rodimus?”

“I yelled at you. About the shore leave thing…” The speedster’s sleepy replies halted for a yawn, “I shouldn’t have. I’m…sorry.” The speedster’s optics shuttered again.

Thunderclash looked down at Rodimus, his spark swelling with so much adoration for the little prime he felt it might burst. He wanted to steal a kiss from the speedster but he thought about the small one they shared just now. He wasn’t even sure who had initiated it, or if it hadn’t been just an accident. Rodimus had never shared an interest in kissing him before. So he thought better of kissing the prime as he slept. A kiss from Rodimus when he was awake and reciprocating was a much better thought.

He laid down beside the prime, staring at the ceiling of the hab for a time. He found he couldn’t sleep. He prayed Rodimus wouldn’t mind if he left as he got up from the berth, hoping to return to his hab to do some of his own paperwork for tomorrow. The speedster needed to recharge anyway, and Thunderclash didn’t want to accidentally wake him. The colorful mech made sure to drape the covers over Rodimus before he left. 

As silently as he could, he crept from the berthroom and out to the living space. He looked back at the door to the berthroom one last time before stepping into the hall. He shut the door, hoping that Rodimus wouldn’t hear it as it closed, before turning to go to his hab. 

And running straight into Drift.

Chapter Text

Thunderclash wished he were back in a coma. Anything to not be right here, right now, as Drift stared at him. The TIC of the ship looked shocked to say the least but after several nano-kliks of simply staring Thunderclash was growing nervous. He was afraid to even vent much less move before the white speedster did. The colorful mech felt his spark plummet further as Drift’s expression morphed into amusement and the speedster started to laugh.

“Drift… This isn’t what you think—” Thunderclash started but Drift put a hand up to stop him.

“Let’s not have this conversation out in the open. Follow me Thunders.” Thunderclash did as he was told, following the other mech to the quarters designated for the officers of the ship, the TIC’s habsuite. He hesitated when Drift motioned him inside.

“Don’t worry Thunders, if I wanted to kill you I wouldn’t do it in my own hab.” Drift’s tone was light and teasing.

Still not at ease, Thunderclash entered the habsuite. It was of similar shape to the captain’s quarters, though a bit smaller. It looked mostly unused which Thunderclash could venture a guess that Drift spent a lot of time in Ratchet’s hab instead of his own. The colorful mech turned to face the speedster as the door closed and he heard the lock click. Silence befell them again and Drift leaned against the door, blocking his exit.

“So.” The white speedster smirked. “I’m guessing Rodimus took your apology very well.” he gestured to Thunderclash with his hand.

Thunderclash became conscious of the fact that he must have looked very disheveled. He had gotten a lot of the paint transfers that he could see but he hadn’t had an opportunity to really look.

“Start talking Thunders. How did you go from an argument with my amica nearly a cycle ago to engaging in… rigorous berthroom activities.” Drift crossed his arms and raised his optic bridge, his helm finials twitching. Thunderclash swallowed a lump in his intake.

“W-Well you see…” He hoped and prayed that Rodimus would forgive him as he sighed, “Rodimus and I have actually been doing this for a few weeks now.

Drift’s amusement faltered and Thunderclash feared the speedster was angry.

“How long?” Drifts tone was flat.

“Not long after we shared his heat. I’m sure Rodimus told you…”

“Yeah, I’ve known about the heat for awhile.” Drift uncrossed his arms and put his hands on his hips. Drift paced away from the door, his back to Thunderclash. “I even suspected that there was something going on but…”

“I’m sorry Drift.” Thunderclash wanted to comfort the mech as he was obviously upset.

“It’s not your fault Thunders. I’m not mad at you. I just can’t believe he didn’t tell me about this.”

“H-He didn’t want anyone to know. It was part of our agreement.” Drift spun in place and looked at him with an unreadable expression.

“What agreement?” It was more of a demand than a question. Thunderclash swallowed again and explained the terms they had set up, leaving out his own stipulations as they seemed irrelevant to the conversation. At first Drift’s distress seemed to peak, but as quickly as it came it relaxed from his frame. The speedster turned and fixed Thunderclash with a hard stare.

~    ~    ~    ~

“What are your intentions towards Rodimus?” Drift thought he knew the answer, he wanted to hear the mech admit it though.

Straight and to the point, Drifts words might have been a dagger for the way Thunderclash looked at him. As if he wasn’t looking at the TIC of the ship but rather the ex-decepticon assassin. The ex-decepticon whose amica was the object of his affections. The brightly colored mech blinked the fear from his optics and looked Drift head on.

“I’ve seen the way you look at him.” Drift continued as if there had been no pause. “So I’m just curious; why? What are you getting out of this, what are you looking to gain?”

A brief flash of fear returned but the mech took a step forward, “I’m not looking for anything. I just want to be closer to him, maybe— maybe be his friend.”

“No offense Thunders but this situation, not to mention the way you look at him on a daily basis, doesn’t read as ‘friend,’” Drift tried his best to keep his words gentle. He didn’t believe Thunderclash was a mech who would take advantage of Rodimus, in fact it seemed to be the reverse in this situation. Drift didn’t want to jump to conclusions about that either. It confused the speedster as to why the mech would accept such an offer in the first place. He wanted to know why. The larger mech looked down at the floor and away from Drift’s gaze.

“Do you love him?” Thunderclash balked at him, red optics wide. Drift put up his hand, “You don’t have to answer that if you don’t want to.” The colorful mech sighed.

“I… have strong feelings for him. I would,” Thunderclash pawed at the side of his helm awkwardly, “I would do anything for him.”

“What is it you like about him, if I may ask? Other than he’s hotter than the sun, that goes without saying.”

Thunderclash looked back up at Drift with a timid smile spreading over his face, “He’s… He’s generous and kind, and not to mention brilliant. He’s full of so much energy and life and bots just flock to him. He… would do anything for his friends and his crew. I especially lo-love that he never gives up. Even when everyone else does.” Thunderclash took a deep invent, a warm blush sitting on the high points of his cheeks. “I think he’s wonderful.”

“So why not tell him how you feel?” Drift said crossing his arms. “Keeping up with this facade… It’s only going to hurt someone.”

“I-I know, but I don’t think— Rodimus would never… think of me…” Thunderclash winced. “Not the same way I do… him.”

Drift felt sorry for the mech in front of him then. He knew what it was like to pine for a mech you thought didn’t want to have anything to do with you. Or, at least, that’s what Drift had thought Ratchet had  felt about him . The medic had been even better at hiding his affections than Rodimus, it took a lot before the medic even came close to saying how he felt. In the end it had still been Drift who closed the space. Rodimus did like Thunderclash, that had become clear, but the extent of the feeling was still unknown even to Drift. It would be up to Thunderclash to find out how far it went.

Drift stepped forward and placed a hand on the larger mech’s shoulder. “Maybe, maybe not. You can’t be sure unless you try, right?”

Thunderclash looked surprised but a soft smile bloomed on his face. It disappeared almost as quickly as it came. “I gave Rodimus my word that I wouldn’t tell anyone about… us.”

“I discovered you on my own, I’ll be discreet so he won’t know you and I had this discussion. I know how Roddy can get about things.” Drift smiled at the bigger mech. “For what it’s worth, I’m rooting for you Thunders.”

“Thank you Drift.” The white speedster guided him to the door, opening it and allowing the mech to pass the threshold.

“Oh and by the way,” Drift fixed him with a look that would have made lesser bots run to their carriers, “If you do hurt my amica, in any way, you’ll never see me coming.”

The threat wasn’t lost on Thunderclash but, to give him credit, he didn’t flinch away from Drift as he had earlier. The mech set his lips to a determined line and inclined his head to him.

“I completely understand. I promise to be respectful to him no matter what.” With that, the larger mech left Drift to his thoughts.

His anger at being left in the dark by his amica had gone but was replaced with a nagging curiosity. Rodimus had been so adamant that he and Thunderclash were barely even friends after his heat even though he obviously was attracted to the larger mech now. He resisted seeing or even being near the mech where others could see them. In Drift’s opinion this was a recipe for disaster but he needed to get Rodimus’ side of the story.

At least with the officer’s meeting tomorrow he could corner him afterwards. And, a thought came to Drift, maybe he could do a little experiment.

Chapter Text

Rodimus yawned as he walked side by side with Drift to the officers meeting.

“Didn’t get enough recharge Roddy?” Drift smiled at him strangely.

“Yeah I was uh, up late doing the last of that report.” Thankfully Rodimus had actually prepared something to show for his efforts in the meeting so Drift wouldn’t find out about his fib.

“I’m sure you were.”

They entered the meeting room, right on time as Ultra Magnus cleared his throat to begin the meeting. By then the meeting room had been filled with the mechs who had bridge duty and any heads of departments. Perceptor and Brainstorm had claim on two different departments, science and munition, so both scientists were present. Ratchet was there as acting CMO and First Aid as CMO-in-training. Blaster was present as chief communications officer and Nautica as chief quantum mechanic.

At the head of the table sat Megatron in one of the captain’s seats, Rodimus had insisted two be placed side by side at the head of the table. Ultra Magnus stood behind his own seat to Megatron’s immediate right. Across from Ultra Magnus, next to Nautica but also the two empty seats, sat Thunderclash. Him and his first officer, Paddox, were formally invited to sit in on the officer’s meetings because of their time on the Vis Vitalis together. Initially Rodimus had pouted about it, Ultra Magnus said that they could bring invaluable insight to their mission and the red mech had rolled over since he had no actual reason to keep them out.

Now, Rodimus had an entirely new reason to not want the colorful mech there. Vivid replays of their last encounter played in his head. He remembered waking up and furiously going over his frame to get rid of paint transfers. There had been a lot more this time. His inner thighs, his spoiler, his chest plate, even his helm, just to name a few. He’d been surprised when he awoke to find Thunderclash was not in his berth, and maybe just a little disappointed. It did make sense however, since they both needed to be at this meeting. The colorful mech had probably had to go to his hab to prepare so Rodimus could hardly fault the mech.

Rodimus made his way to the head of the table and took his seat beside Megatron. Drift followed but before he sat he turned unexpectedly to Thunderclash.

“Excuse me Thunderclash but do you mind moving one over? I need to discuss something with Nautica.” Rodimus’ optics bulged at Drift but the white speedster didn’t turn to look at him. Rodimus noted that Thunderclash hesitated before giving a smile.

“Of course.” The colorful mech replied. Rodimus caught Thunderclash’s optic and, not knowing what to do, Rodimus turned away in a little huff. He heard the shuffling of chairs as the larger mech settled down next to him. Rodimus could practically feel the warmth from Thunderclash and he knew that goofy mech probably was blushing.

He wanted to shoot daggers with his optics at Drift for the rest of the meeting but every time he so much as turned his head to his left all he could see was Thunderclash. So he pouted instead, listening to the meeting with all of his attention he could muster. He definitely was not thinking about how Thunderclash had been between his legs only hours ago. How, in the heat of the moment, Rodimus had kissed Thunderclash. He’d pulled back just barely but their lips had touched all the same. Nor was he thinking about how that had caused the larger mech to overload and spill copious amounts of transfluid into him.

No he definitely was not thinking about that at all.

Rodimus started bouncing his leg, not even halfway into the meeting. Ultra Magnus hadn’t even ended his opening statement. It was a long meeting to say the least.

His own report was over fairly quickly, thankfully, and so he sat just trying to soak in the other reports. Rodimus looked down at the table and felt his fingers scrape a little at the surface. He wished he had something to occupy his hands. In his peripheral he could see Thunderclash’s hands neatly folded and resting on the table. How could the mech remain so remarkably still? He was probably taking in all the reports without any issues either, he could probably repeat them verbatim if you asked. Like any good captain. Rodimus felt someone tap his shoulder.

“Hm, what?” He looked around to see optics on him. Perceptor, who had been presenting his report, cleared his intake.

“I was just asking if you had any questions Rodimus. Do I need to clarify anything?”

“No, no Perceptor you can continue.”

“Well I was just finishing actually.” Perceptor sat down and Rodimus felt incredibly foolish for not listening again.

The remainder of the reports he made sure to try and have at least one question to ask the reporting mechs. He didn’t always succeed but he tried at least. At the end of the meeting Rodimus, feeling extremely wound up for no reason he could find, darted to the door and excused himself to Magnus before the other bot could protest or hand him more paperwork. He heard his designation as his SIC called for him from the meeting room.

By then Rodimus was all but running down the halls. He transformed and made his way to the lower levels where there were unoccupied rooms so he wouldn’t disturb anyone with the roar of his engines. A few laps in the halls was just what he needed. The speed, the movement, after sitting for so long was magic on his struts. He weaved through the empty halls like it was his own racetrack.

Before long he became aware of another engine sound approaching and he felt a familiar EM field approach him. He transformed and stopped, spinning around and putting his hands on his hips.

“Feel like racing?” He asked as Drift transformed from his alt in front of him.

“Roddy I need to talk to you about something.” Drift’s tone didn’t sound light or teasing. He sounded serious.

“You’ll have to catch me first.” Rodimus transformed and sped off, not wanting whatever his amica had in mind to talk about.

“Roddy!” Drift pursued him down the halls, weaving this way and that. Drift was a better fighter by far but Rodimus was a better racer. He dictated the pace and when Drift got close to him he would turn down a different hall. He hit a particular corner extremely hard and felt himself hit a wall with his rear wheel. He spun out but as he tried to recover Drift transformed and grabbed his spoiler to hold him back.

“Roddy I got you, now talk to me.” Drift released his spoiler and Rodimus transformed back to root mode.

“Okay okay, what do you want?” Rodimus crossed his arms.

“I want to talk about your relationship with Thunderclash."

“Drift you’re starting to sound like a broken record, I’ve told you. There is nothing to talk about.”

“Care to tell me the real reason you’re so tired today?” It was Drift who crossed his arms this time and he gave Rodimus a knowing look. The red speedster’s spark fell at that look.

What do you…?

“I saw him leaving your hab last night, he had red paint in places it normally isn't.” Drift smirked and Rodimus felt embarrassment hit him harder than that wall did.

“Why did you lie to me?” Drift’s expression saddened. “Do you not trust me?”

“No! No, that’s not it, Drift I trust you with my life.”

“Then why keep this from me?”

Rodimus sighed. “Because I’m… well. Ashamed I guess.”

“Ashamed about what?” Drift said, sounding exasperated. “It’s been weeks since you told me about your heat and we’ve already established I’m not opposed to you two dating.”

“Drift…” Rodimus couldn’t find the words. He felt conflicted. He wanted to tell his amica but he  didn’t want to admit that his relationship with the mech wasn’t what his amica thought.

“I’m just interfacing with him.” Rodimus couldn’t look Drift in his optics as he spoke, “We started awhile back but I have no intentions on furthering our relationship or making it public.”

An uncomfortable silence settle between the speedsters. Rodimus finally looked up to his amica’s optics and expected to see surprise or disgust in them. But he saw only sadness.

“Why not?”

“The crew would never get over me fragging a crewmate. Not to mention it’s Thunderclash we’re talking about. His weird little fans would probably hound me about him, for better or worse. I don’t need that in my life right now.”

“Does Thunderclash know you don’t want to have anything to do with him?” Drift asked.

“In a way, yeah. We agreed to be professional outside of… the berthroom.”

“But are you sure that this is all Thunderclash wants?”

Rodimus snorted. Why would he want more than that? Rodimus wasn’t exactly desired for his brains and especially not his temperament. Thunderclash was already getting the thing most bots wanted from him. Rodimus didn’t have much more he could offer, unless the mech wanted to watch cheesy Earth movies with him.

“Thunderclash already has everything he needs. He’s a respected hero and an inspirational leader. If he’s looking for a conjunx he can bark up literally any other mech on this ship. They’re guaranteed to be nicer to him than me.”

“Rodimus, do you really think the only reason he interfaces with you is because he finds you physically attractive?” Drift sounded incredulous.

“Drift don’t play dumb. I was horrible to him up until my heat. Most of the time I still am kind of horrible to him. And I don’t feel bad about it.”

“Liar. You felt terrible when you shouted at him and you told me yourself you wanted to make amends.”

“I also told you I was petty. I didn’t apologize to him now did I?” Rodimus said even though he remembered his mumbled apology from their previous encounter. He certainly turned into a real sap after an interface.

“Rodimus, I don’t think this is even about Thunders. You just don’t want to admit you like him, maybe even love him.” Rodimus let out a squawk very un-captain-like.

“I do not lo—” The red speedster fumed and growled, “Thunderclash and I are just interfacing, that’s it. He gets to go on being Mr. Perfect Autobot, and I get to go back to commanding this ship with the little respect I still have from my crew.”

“Rodimus, what you lack in respect from the crew you make up for with how much they like you.  Sure they gossip because they have nothing better to do but they’re your friends, they don’t mean anything by it. Most of them would still defend you to the bitter end. I’d actually stake a claim that all of them would.”

“Even Ravage?”

“I can’t speak for the cat, but you get my point.” Drift came forward and cupped Rodimus’ face. “You don’t need to be afraid of the crew. Or for feeling… whatever you feel for Thunderclash.”

“Drift, I—” Rodimus swore to himself as a lump rose in his throat and he felt the beginnings of tears in his optics.  He took a moment to gather himself, clearing his intake and blinking the lubricant from his optics. He took Drift’s hands in his own and away from his face, before continuing .

“Even if I did have feelings for him, and him for me, there’s no way we would work out. I’ve spent too long standing in his shadow, despising him. I could never be with Thunderclash.”

Drift’s expression became pained, “I know you can handle yourself but I am going to ask you to reconsider this thing you have going on with him. It could end badly. If you do still want to interface with him I won’t stop you but I do ask that you at least try to give him a chance. He might surprise you.”

Rodimus felt himself sigh for perhaps the millionth time since this whole Thunderclash problem began. “I’ll think about it… and… I guess I’ll try.”

Drift’s face brightened considerably. “Thank you Roddy,” Drift’s face darkened, “Also if he hurts you just tell me and I’ll kill him. You know I will.”

Rodimus chuckled at his amica. He felt fatigue settle over him, emotionally and physically drained from the events that cycle, he leaned onto his amica’s shoulder.

“Care for that nap?” Rodimus said into Drift’s shoulder plating.

“Heh, sure.”

~    ~    ~    ~

“Hm, all these conflicted feelings are beginning to sound too dramatic for even me.” Getaway said to himself. “But this conversation might come in handy.”

He replayed a portion of what he overheard, “I’ve spent too long standing in his shadow, despising him. I could never be with Thunderclash.”

“Poor Thunderclash,” Getaway clicked his tongue, “Doesn’t even realize he’s being led on. Someone should probably tell him.”

Chapter Text

Tap tap tap.

Rodimus bounced his fingers along his jaw. It had been a couple cycles since he had his spark to spark with Drift. The other speedster was worried that his agreement with Thunders could end badly. Rodimus knew it could when he first thought of the idea. He didn’t think it would get this bad this fast, however, he had thought he would have a few months before one of them inevitably broke it off. He didn’t think he’d care so much about how delicate the situation got. He didn’t think he’d get attached or care whether or not Thunders did either. Especially he didn’t think he’d care about Thunders—

Thunderclash.

He corrected himself in his processor. Even with the all time he had spent thinking about the situation, and what Drift had recommended, he still hadn’t really decided whether he wanted to break it off with Thunderclash yet. Or whether he wanted to see if…

Rodimus shook his head, physically shaking the strange thoughts that plagued him.

“Rodimus, are you alright?” Megatron said. His current bridge partner stared at Rodimus, puzzled.

“Yeah I’m fine Megs, just getting a cramp in my neck cables.” Rodimus massaged his neck to further his point. Megatron pursed his lips.

“Maybe if you had better posture your struts would be in better shape.”

“What’s wrong with the way I sit?” Megatron looked at him as if he’d grown three heads and one of them was organic. Rodimus was draped horizontally across the captain’s chair, legs crossed and sticking out at an odd angle. One arm was on the chair’s arm rest and the other draped across his abdomen. He knew he looked absurd but he just liked poking fun at Megatron.

The silver mech sighed and walked back to the window. He usually spent his bridge hours gazing out at the stars when Rodimus was on deck. Mostly because Rodimus only showed up early on shifts with Megatron so he made sure he got the captain’s chair. Ultra Magnus still praised him for it though, saying he was glad he had some form of work ethic.

His shift was nearing it’s end though, and he needed to make his choice soon because he knew Drift would be asking questions the moment he saw him next.

But are you sure that this is all Thunderclash wants?

Drifts words echoed in his processor. Rodimus had made his own intentions clear that he didn’t want a relationship, that he was only looking for a good ‘face for stress relief. Thunders had agreed so he never asked even himself if the colorful mech would want more. In the end Rodimus had concluded that, realistically, the larger mech was already getting everything Rodimus had to offer. Asking him felt like it would only confirm what Rodimus already suspected.

When he thought about it, interfacing with Thunders— Thunderclash— felt really good. Really, really good. And the thought of hanging out with him… still kind of made Rodimus’ tanks churn but not entirely in a bad way. If things went bad though they could really go bad. Rodimus himself had never had a vindictive ex but he’d heard stories about Prowl’s and it was enough to make any bot think twice about courting. Prowl didn’t have to live on a ship in close proximity with them either. And Thunderclash wouldn’t be his only problem if they ended broken up, the numerous fans and adoring mechs that stuck their noses in his business all the time would undoubtedly be cross with him.

Ending their short lived ‘relationship,’ if you could even call it that, and just continuing on as friends seemed the easiest route.

He had to appease Drift though and at least try to speak to Thunders about their agreement, if for nothing else than at least to see if the larger mech was happy with his side of the deal. He wasn’t sure if Thunderclash was busy at the moment so he left a comm. ping.

:Hey can you stop by my hab before your next shift? I just want to talk.: Adding the last part so that Thunders wouldn’t get the wrong idea. Though if he wasn’t too worn out from his sparring with Drift maybe he would ask for more.

With his comm. sent to Thunderclash, Rodimus made his way to the training rooms, Drift had finally set aside some time to spar with him again. It felt like it had been weeks since he got a chance to lay the mech into the floor. Well, at least try to. Rodimus walked quickly.

“In a hurry Prime?”

Rodimus all but skidded to a halt at that voice. Getaway came walking up from an adjacent hallway.Something about the mech unsettled Rodimus, especially after their last encounter.

“A captain’s always busy Getaway.” Rodimus kept his tone light as he tried to walk away. Getaway sidestepped in front of him, yet again blocking his path. “Excuse me, I need to get by.”

“Actually I had something I wanted to discuss with you.” Getaway leaned casually on the wall nearest him and put his hand on his hip. “If the captain wouldn’t mind, I would prefer to discuss this in private.”

Rodimus crossed his arms. “What is it Getaway, I don’t have time for this.”

“Oh but I think you do.” Rodimus brushed past Getaway, beyond fed up by now.

“You have time to go around sleeping with your crew, then you have time for little discussion with me.”

Rodimus locked up. Anger and fear gripped him. He turned sharply to look at Getaway. The mech hadn’t walked away like last time. He was still standing casually where Rodimus had brushed past him. Getaway gave him a knowing look before beckoning him to follow. Rodimus stood stock-still, the shock keeping him in place for a moment before he willed himself to follow.

The mech led him to a secluded habsuite. “Do you mind? I don’t have the key.” Getaway said innocently. Rodimus grumbled as he punched in his captain’s override key. The door opened and Getaway slipped inside. Rodimus followed begrudgingly.

Once inside Rodimus shut the door and looked at Getaway who had taken a seat in a chair across the room. He was almost glad there wasn’t another chair in the room for Getaway to offer him. He’d likely try and pitch it at the other mech’s head.

“Who told you.”

“So you don’t deny it?” Rodimus twitched. He hadn’t considered denial. Mostly because he had assumed Getaway already knew from their last encounter.

“Who told you.” Rodimus repeated.

“Why did someone have to tell me?” Getaway leaned back in his chair.

“So you’re an eavesdropper?”

“I never said that either. I have a source but they would rather remain anonymous. I’m sure you understand wanting a little privacy.”

“Is this why you brought me here, just to wave this knowledge in front of my face?”

Getaway smirked behind his face plate, “No, I’m actually quite curious. Why Thunderclash of all mechs? You hate him. Or you did, I should say.”

“I still do.”

“Still what?”

“I still hate Thunderclash.” Rodimus ground out, letting his anger seethe from him. None of which was associated in any way to the colorful mech at all. Only to the mech in front of him.

“Oooh, hate-fragging a crewmate. Not exactly a work-friendly relationship to have is it?” Rodimus wanted to wipe that smug grin he knew the other mech was wearing off his ugly face. But he knew that getting angry was only playing into Getaway’s hands so far. He had to calm down before he said something stupid, assuming he hadn’t already.

“What do you want.”

“Whoa, hey, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”

“You wouldn’t be bringing this up to me if you didn’t want something.” Rodimus snapped. Getaway chuckled darkly.

“And people call you dumb.” Getaway stood, approaching Rodimus and stopping just in front of him. “To be honest I don’t know what I want. So let’s just say you owe me a few favors if I should need to call on them.”

“A few?” Rodimus growled.

“Well unless you like being known as the captain who frags someone he hates. Perhaps the impressionable and honorable hero Thunderclash was just a victim of your interface drive, hm? Tell me, does the big guy eat out of the palm of your hand?”

“Watch it Getaway.” Rodimus could feel himself trembling with anger.

“I’m not asking for much Rodimus.” Getaway moved closer to Rodimus, the other mech was only a little taller than him but this close he still had to incline his head to retain optic contact. “It will only be a few things here and there. A small price to pay for my silence really.”

Rodimus ground his denta together and closed his optics as frustration washed over him. He could realistically have Getaway thrown in the brig for this. Blackmailing the captain was mutinous at best of times. But, despite how slimy Rodimus found him, Getaway was well liked by other bots. They would ask questions, want to know why he was locked up. Some might not even believe that he would blackmail Rodimus. They’d ask for Getaway’s side of the story and Getaway could spin his little tale about him fragging Thunderclash. Regardless of the fact that the story would confirm his guilt, it would still put Rodimus in the crosshairs of the crew. Locking up Getaway, taking advantage of Thunders. Not to mention what Thunderclash would think of him… Rodimus couldn’t win.

“Fine.” Rodimus relented at last. “Whatever you need. Within reason of course.”

“Of course, I’m not unreasonable, Rodimus.”

~    ~    ~    ~

Thunderclash sat on the medical berth with his hands folded calmly in his lap. He secretly hated the medbay. He’d spent so much of the last few years on a ship that was essentially his own private medical facility. So much so that the sterile smell, the mediberths, the noises, the monitors and equipment, all of it made his tanks churn. He still needed check-ups every few weeks though, just to make sure he wasn’t regressing.

He counted himself lucky that he had some of the best medics in the universe aboard this ship to look after him at least. Velocity had been his primary caretaker aboard the Vis Vitalis but today she was busy so Ratchet had taken up the task instead. Ever the busy bee.

“You’re still doing well.” Ratchet mumbled. “Not making progress to be exact, but you haven’t gotten worse.” The medic looked over his test results and then eyed him.

“Have you recently done any strenuous activity? Anything that raises your spark rate above normal.”

“Yes, I have a daily workout that Velocity said would help keep my spark in good condition.” Thunderclash had a feeling that wasn’t the answer Ratchet was looking for but hesitated before adding, “I’ve also started interfacing with a partner.”

“About how often do you interface?” Ratchet asked, very professionally but Thunderclash could still feel embarrassment in his own lines even though he knew that the medic didn’t care. And he didn’t even know it was Rodimus.

“Every few cycles.” Thunderclash blushed when he realized how that must sound. He and Rodimus were interfacing a lot more frequently than he had anticipated.

“I want to try putting you on a new medication but I want you to ease into your physical activity. Keep up the workout Velocity prescribed but do you think you and your partner can take a break for a week or two to adjust to your medicine?” The medic raised a brow ridge at him.

“Yes, I’m sure they won’t mind.” Inwardly Thunderclash’s spark fell a little. Rodimus only ever asked to see him for interfacing. It would mean a week or two of not being able to be close to the prime.

“Alright, take these with your fuel. Oh, and don’t have any engex with them, wait a few hours before and after. And I’ll see you in a couple weeks to check on things.”

“Yes, thank you Ratchet.” Thunderclash took the medicine from the medic and left the medbay, trying not to look as uncomfortable as he felt.

He sighed as he walked back to his hab. He had decided to try and tell Rodimus how he felt but he figured he would ease into it. Maybe it was better this way. Now maybe his offers to spend time with the little prime would seem more genuine without the possibility of it leading to an interface.  He was still scared of the rejection that could be in store for him.  He could still remember the sting when Rodimus reminded him of their agreement during shore leave.

…Our agreement was to keep things professional.

Thunderclash felt another sigh leave his intake, this one more bitter than the last. Even that outing had ended poorly. Perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to be doing this, pursuing Rodimus. The red mech had his reasons for wanting him at an arms length so perhaps he shouldn’t push it. But if he didn’t try then he felt like he was disregarding Drift’s warning. And the white speedster had a point. Someone was going to get hurt from this. He’d seen first hand how delicate the situation could become if he wasn’t careful.

A comm. ping interrupted Thunderclash’s thoughts. It had been sent awhile ago from Rodimus, Thunderclash had turned his notifications off during his check-up so he wouldn’t get distracted.

:Hey can you stop by my hab before your next shift? I just want to talk.:

Thunderclash didn’t know whether to be scared or relieved that the prime didn’t want to interface. He’d only been in a couple previous relationships, neither of which had been like this, but when a partner wanted to “talk” it usually wasn’t a good thing. Thunderclash did need to talk to the prime himself, however, so it may have been a blessing in disguise. He still was on the fence about pursuing the speedster romantically but at the very least he could tell Rodimus about his medical issue.

With that in mind he made his way to the captain’s hab.

Chapter Text

Rodimus sulked in his room after his encounter with Getaway. He ended up canceling his plans with Drift, said he wasn’t feeling well. Drift offered to come by his hab but Rodimus wanted to be alone and asked him not to. He didn’t have much explanation for that. He’d come up with something before the next time he saw him. For now Rodimus just sat on the floor of his hab, watching a movie he had seen a million times.

His door pinged for entry. Rodimus paused his movie, confused.

“Who is it?” he called from where he sat on the floor, not wanting to get up.

“Rodimus? You asked to see me?” Thunderclash. Rodimus had completely forgotten that he’d asked the mech to stop by. In hindsight, he should have been more specific about when the mech should arrive. He didn’t feel like having their talk anymore but felt that turning the mech away when he’d already made his way here was a little cruel.

He unlocked his door and called out, “The door is unlocked just come in.”

He heard Thunderclash enter but Rodimus didn’t want to look at the other mech. The conversation with Getaway was still ringing in his helm. The footsteps sounded apprehensive, like the mech wasn’t sure if he should come near Rodimus.

“May I sit?” Thunderclash asked as he approached. Rodimus nodded and was surprised when the mech didn’t sit on the couch but rather on the floor beside him, just out of arms reach.

“Rodimus, is there something wrong?” Rodimus hesitated. Thunderclash had asked him to call on the larger mech if he had a bad feeling so it was no wonder the mech thought he might be in for trouble.

“No, ‘Clash, I’ve just been doing a lot of thinking lately.”

“Oh, what about?” Rodimus finally looked over at the mech. If he was nervous it didn’t show but there was clear concern in his red optics.

“About you— well, about us,” Rodimus put emphasis and gestured between them, “I just wanted to make sure you’re still okay with this.” Rodimus scrutinized the larger mech as he shifted in his seat.

“I am.”

Rodimus felt his spark twinge. Just as he had thought, this really was all Thunders would want from him. He had only wanted this from the other mech as well when they started, so why did it make him feel so sad.

“Why wouldn’t I be?” Thunderclash asked. He shrugged at the larger mech.

“Well you’ve never really called on me the way I do with you. It was beginning to feel a little one-sided.” Even though he had said it as a cover for his real intent, Rodimus realized there was some truth in that statement. Thunderclash was always at his call, never the other way around.

“You’re busy with your duties so I just figured it would be easiest to fit to your schedule.” Thunderclash said as if it was the simplest thing in the world.

“Well… If you want to ever, if you get the feeling, you can call on me the same way. Remember, I want us to be equals in this.”

Thunderclash gave him one of his best smiles, “Equals, of course. I won’t forget, Rodimus.”

Silence cast over them. Rodimus scooted closer to where the other mech sat, practically touching him. “Sooo, do you have a little time for a session?” He tried to ask as casually as possible.

“Actually Rodimus, I was going to ask that we refrain for now. I was just prescribed a new medication. They told me interfacing might put too much strain on my spark while I am adjusting.”

“Oh.” Rodimus tried not to look disappointed but it didn’t work.

“I’m sorry Rodimus.” Thunderclash looked at him, obviously crestfallen.

“No, no, it’s fine Thunders, really, I understand.” Rodimus quickly tried to assure him. “I’m not upset.” It worked a little and some of Thunderclash’s smile returned.

“Believe me when I say I want to, but Ratchet wants to make sure my medicine works before I raise my spark rate too much.”

Curious, Rodimus leaned and put his hand over Thunderclash’s insignia and autobrand, right over where his spark would lay beneath. A healthy spark hummed and pulsed in a pattern. Rodimus was no medic but he’d had his own issues with his spark casing to recognize strain. The feeling under his palm was faster than it should be and where there should have been a strong pulse there was two weak ones. He’d forgotten how sick this mech had been not too long ago. Even as far as almost dying.

“Does it hurt?” Rodimus looked at Thunderclash’s face, soft ruby optics stared back at him.

“No, most of the time I can’t even tell it’s different.”

Rodimus removed his hand and placed in his lap. He felt awkwardness creeping over him but he couldn’t bring himself to ask the other mech to leave. He didn’t want him to. If he did then he’d go back to thinking about all the stupid things Getaway might have in mind for his favors.

“Well…”

“If my presence makes you uncomfortable, I can leave.” Thunderclash moved to stand but Rodimus caught his arm.

“You don’t have to, we could just… Well I was just watching an Earth movie and blowing off steam. You could just… sit and watch with me?” Rodimus could feel his blush heating up his face more and more. Asking Thunderclash to watch an Earth movie just seemed ridiculous as he said it. This mech liked Camien plays, he was sophisticated and highbrow. He wasn’t going to enjoy the drivel that Rodimus did. But the brightly colored mech only smiled at him.

“I’d like that, Rodimus.”

“Y-You would?”

“Sure, I have never sampled Earth cinema, however, so I apologize if I get lost.”

“O-Okay then, I’ll just start this one over. I’ve seen it a bunch, it’s one of my favorites.”

“What is it called?”

“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. It’s about a guy who fakes being sick to have one last day off before his graduation. Graduation is kind of like a rite of passage into maturity for humans.” Rodimus hoped he didn’t sound crazy as he explained the synopsis. “Calling in sick to school when you’re not is kind of a big deal for them so they’re trying not to be found out.”

“Sounds exciting.” Thunderclash’s smile was near blinding now and Rodimus had to turn away to avoid staring.

“Alright let’s watch then.” Rodimus tried not to feel nervous as he started the movie over.

Rodimus felt awkward only the first fifteen minutes. Thunderclash was absorbed into the film easily, much to his surprise. He only asked the occasional question when confused, like why the main character was talking to the audience, other than that they sat in silence as the film played. Rodimus hadn’t realized how close he was to the other mech until he could feel the rumble of Thunderclash’s laugh. Rodimus liked that feeling a lot more than he would care to admit.

“So did you like it?” Rodimus asked as the movie came to a close. He turned the movie’s sound down but let the credits play.

“Yes, it was most enjoyable, thank you for sharing with me.” Thunderclash had that goofy look on his face again. The one Rodimus didn’t like to think to much about. It appeared more and more frequently. Looking at the mech now he could see sweetness in his eyes, like Rodimus was…precious, valuable, important… The look scared him a little. Rodimus looked down his legs and felt his venting grow shallow.

Thunderclash’s hand came to rest on his own where it was placed on the floor. Rodimus looked at it and then up to the colorful mech again. The bigger mech retracted the hand looking sheepish.

“Rodimus, I—”

In a bold move, Rodimus got to his knees so that he could lean over the larger mech, placing his hands on Thunderclash’s shoulders. Thunderclash pivoted his body to face him, red optics wide and staring. Rodimus put his face close to the other mech, hoping Thunderclash would close the gap. At first the colorful mech didn’t move, apparently shocked by Rodimus’ quick movements. Rodimus leaned his face forward until their noses brushed.

Then Thunderclash was kissing him. A little awkward and timid but sweet. Rodimus had never had a kiss like it before. Not one so earnest. Rodimus slipped his glossa out to deepen the kiss. Thunderclash responded immediately, the colorful mech’s hands coming up to hold him against his chest. Rodimus moaned into the kiss, wrapping his arms around to the back of Thunderclash’s neck. One of Thunders hands slipped up his back to that sensitive spot between his struts, Rodimus felt dizzy from the sensation. He wanted to throw his leg over Thunderclash’s lap. He wanted—

Rodimus pushed away but regretted it immediately when he saw the look on Thunderclash’s face.

“Sorry, I just… If we kept going I don’t think I would be able to hold back.” Rodimus noted that Thunderclash’s hands had removed themselves when he pushed away.

“Oh, r-right. I’m sorry I forgot as well. Uh,” The brightly colored mech looked down at his pedes. “My shift will be starting soon. I better go.”

Rodimus nodded and they both stood from the floor. He walked him to the door and as it opened for Thunderclash to leave Rodimus called him back.

“H-Hey Thunders?”

“Yes Rodimus?” The mech looked at him expectantly.

Rodimus wanted to tell him so many things, that he wished he wasn’t so scared and things could be different. What came out instead was:

“Ha-Have a good shift.”

Thunderclash did brighten at his words, “Thank you, Rodimus.” And with that, he left.

Rodimus inwardly cursed himself for being a coward.

~    ~    ~    ~

Thunderclash felt like a coward. He had been about to tell Rodimus how he had felt just before the speedster suddenly kissed him. In the moment it had charred every thought from his processor and left him breathless. The speedster had pulled back so abruptly when he remembered that Thunderclash couldn’t interface with him. After that, Thunderclash had neither the processor nor the will to try. He doubted he would get another chance like that until his interim was over.

He drug his pedes through the corridor, aware of how he must look; moody and downtrodden. He didn’t care. He wanted to be alone. While walking he was reminded just how not alone he was.

“Thunderclash, you look upset is something wrong?”

“Hey Thunders! What’s wrong?”

“Need some help turning that frown upside down?”

Try as he might to put on his best smile and reassure the bots that he was fine, several of them insisted that he join them for drinks. He doubted engex would help his mood but he found he couldn’t say no. One drink wouldn’t hurt.

He got to the bar by the time he remembered his new medicine. He had yet to take it and he couldn’t drink with it. He told the bots as such and they did far more grumbling for him than he thought was necessary.

“Who does Ratchet think he is, telling you to not drink.”

“Well he is the chief medical officer, and it’s not all the tim—” Thunderclash tried to chime in.

“We’ll drink in your honor tonight!”

“Thunderclash has been through worse, we’ll toast his good health!”

“That sounds nice you guys—” Thunderclash tried again.

“Swerve! Thunders needs a mid-grade to take his medicine with! It’s on me Thunders.”

“You don’t really need to—”

“Can you tell us again, Thunders? How you got the wound?”

On and on the night went like that. Thunderclash regaled the mechs with a story he’d told too many times to count. And then another. And another. At the end of the night two bots were nice enough to walk with him back to his hab, despite him implicitly saying he could get there on his own, they had insisted. Not wanting to be rude, Thunderclash simply let them walk and talk beside him.

When he finally got to shut his habsuite door and take a deep invent, a wash of tiredness hit his frame. He got onto his berth and lay there, wishing he could stop reliving the same memories over and over. Wishing so hard to make new ones. Happier ones.

Ones with Rodimus.

He let his mind wander to the beautiful speedster, taking solace in the time he had spent with him. He realized that he was still living in the past though, the good memories where things were simple. Try as he might to push it away, the thought of the future nagged at his processor, and it was uncertain and complicated. He had never shied away from a battle. He had fought countless foes, nearly died a couple times, and still nothing scared him more than the future that was in front of him.

Thunderclash put his fingers up to his lips, remembering the kiss Rodimus gave him. He thought at first the prime was going to say something but then had kissed him instead. Well, Thunderclash blushed a little at remembering that he had actually kissed the speedster. Rodimus had gotten close with the obvious intent but had clearly left room for Thunderclash to pull away. As if he could have. Once their noses brushed nothing could have stopped him save for the Knights of Cyberton themselves, and even they would have been hard-pressed to try.

The memory became a little blurred after that and then Rodimus was pushing him away. Thunderclash couldn’t interface with him so Rodimus had stopped. Thunderclash couldn’t give him what he wanted right now.

Nothing made his wounded spark hurt more than that.

Chapter Text

Drift eyed his target.

Sitting alone at a desk with no one else around. All gone to berth like sensible mechs. The perfect prey. He stealthily made his way until he was a few feet from his quarry. They stood. And that’s when he pounced. He grabbed them from behind, data pads flying from his the other mech’s arms as he pulled them into the supply closet nearby.

“DRIFT!”

“Gotcha, Ratty.” Drift smirked the medic spun to face him.

“You almost gave me a spark attack! You should know better than to sneak up on a mech like that!”

“I do, except when said mech is being naughty and working late again.” Drift said, locking the door to the closet and leaning in close to his medic. Taking his hips in his hands, Drift pulled Ratchet to him.

“Drift, I’m very busy.” Ratchet looked at him, his voice was even and reprimanding but Drift could feel the excitement in his field.

“You can take a break.” Drift leaned in and kissed his cheek, then his jaw, making his way to the medic’s neck cables.

“This is inappropriate, Drift!” He hissed. Drift chuckled and bit down softly on his neck. Ratchet gasped and Drift felt a hand on his helm now.

“Would rather be in a berth too, but you’re the one working late.” Drift chuckled. Ratchet snorted but his other hand was now in Drift’s waist before slipping down to his aft.

“Mn, Ratchet~ I want you so bad.” Drift purposefully moaned into the medic’s audial and felt him shudder. “I want your spike… I want you inside me—”

Ratchet quickly captured him in a kiss to keep him quiet. Ratchet’s hand slipped down to his leg and hiked it up over his hip until their modesty panels touched. Drift ground against him as Ratchet deepened their kiss. Drift let his panel transform away and moaned when his valve came in contact with Ratchet’s hot plating. It wasn’t long before the medic’s spike pressurized between them, rubbing against Drift’s hot valve.

Deft fingers found a particular spot in his plating to make Drift arch his back, then the medic was slipping inside his valve with a single push. Drift’s cry was muffled as Ratchet caught his mouth in a searing kiss, the medic thrusting fervently into him.

Drift chuckled a little before kicking off the ground with his other leg and completely wrapping himself around Ratchet’s hips. The medic staggered but managed to catch him with both hands on his legs. Drift loved it when Ratchet held him like this, it was always surprising and incredibly arousing to see the medic display his strength.

“Drift! I could have dropped you.” Ratchet chided.

“But you never do.” Drift moved his hips against Ratchet’s thrusts and pulled him into another kiss, biting and sucking on his lips.

Ratchet made a noise that was almost like a growl as he adjusted to holding the speedster in his arms and thrusted a steady pace into his welcoming valve. Drift parted from Ratchet’s mouth in favor of licking the side of his audial and muttering filthy expletives against it.

“Oh! Ratchet! Right there- right there! Primus you feel so good, so hard and perfect—oh!” Drift could feel Ratchet’s bucking hips against his own as the medic aimed for his ceiling nodes, going slow but hard as he did.

“Harder, Ratchet! Harder!” Drift was almost yelling now.

“Shhh, please Drift, someone will hear you!” Drift smiled lazily as he kissed the side of Ratchet’s helm.

“Maybe I want them to. I want them to hear you fuck me.” Drift whispered right against Ratchet’s audial before letting out a soft moan. “Harderrr…” Drift drawled.

Ratchet stumbled forward until he had the speedster pressed against the door, no longer seeming to care if any one heard as he braced them against it. With his new leverage, Ratchet could grab Drift’s hip and angle him just how he wanted and he was now hitting new clusters of nodes with every thrust. Drift could only hold on.

“Ah—Ah! AH!” Drift couldn’t even use his words anymore, his thoughts made incoherent from pleasure as Ratchet pressed on.

“Pl-Pl-Please, oh!” Drift nipped at the medic’s lips and Ratchet responded in kind by giving him another kiss and wasting no time dipping his glossa into the speedster’s open mouth to quiet him. Drift didn’t last long after that, overloading almost quietly with a half bitten whimper and moan. Upon feeling calipers squeezing down on his spike, Ratchet only lasted a little longer. One, two, three thrusts and he was overloading right along with Drift.

Out of breath and venting against each other, Drift started chuckling, Ratchet eyed him.

“And bots say walk-ins take too long.” It was a terrible joke but Ratchet couldn’t help but chuckle along with Drift.

Their arrays separated and Ratchet placed Drift down on the floor again but he continued to kiss the speedster against the door.

“I love you.” Drift said after they parted finally.

“I love you too, brat.” Ratchet squeezed Drift against him.

“Thank you for indulging me in this fantasy,” Drift chuckled, “I honestly didn’t think you’d say yes.”

“Happy anniversary.” Ratchet smiled.

“Happy anniversary.” Drift leaned up to kiss his medic again.

There was a rumble and the dim lighting of the closet went out. The always present whirring of the ships engines suddenly cut and Drift and Ratchet were left gazing into each other’s shocked expressions in the dark of the closet.

“Well that can’t be good.”

Chapter Text

Standing in Swerve’s bar, Rodimus was trying to look as inconspicuous as possible, despite having a flaming red and yellow paintjob. He knew it had been only a matter of time before Getaway called in a favor but he didn’t think it would be something like this. It had been a few cycles since their first talk and the other mech had cornered him after a shift yet again and politely asked him to steal some of Swerve’s triple filtered high-grade.

“The good stuff he keeps for himself, not the diluted slag he serves.” Getaway insisted.

“Swerve doesn’t let just anyone see where his stash is, there’s no way I can get you that.” Rodimus lied, not really wanting to steal from one of his good friends.

“Well you either get it to me at Visages tonight or there are a few choice words I’m going to have with some chatty bots. The choice is yours.”

Rodimus sighed, aggravated. At least this request hadn’t been creepy or anything, honestly Getaway had a gross vibe about him that made Rodimus’ protoform itch. As long as the favors were just things like bottles of high-grade he could deal with it.

The bar was empty currently, save for himself and two bots in a booth in the corner. Skids and Nautica. He’d seen them on his way in but they hadn’t even noticed him. Hopefully they hadn’t. With Swerve being nowhere to be seen it was now or never. He hopped over the counter and quickly made work of rifling through the various sub-space cabinets. None of the bottles, however, looked like what Getaway described. If there was one thing he knew about Swerve, though, is that he was clever but predictable.

Rodimus peeked over the bar to make sure no one was aware of what he was doing. He palmed at the vents located in the corner behind the bar. The vents all had a current passing through them except one.

Gotcha.

He made quick work of the fastenings and reached in for the engex. As soon as he had the bottle he subspaced it, re-fastening the vents and popping over the counter just before more bots began to enter. Including Swerve himself.

“Heyyy, Rodders! Need a pick-me-up?”

“Uh,” Rodimus scrambled for thought, “Nah Swerve I’m just ducking out here to avoid paperwork from Magnus.”

“Aw that stinks, how about one drink, on the house.”

“Heh, no thanks Swerve, I’ve seen the size of your ‘on the house’ drinks. I’ll come in later when this place is booming to have a drink.” Rodimus made his way to the door, trying to not feel guilt creeping into his spark.

“Hey Rodimus I heard Perceptor was looking for you, wanted to okay some stuff about his next experiment.” Nautica was leaning out of her shared booth now. “When he started coming into my department and attaching things I kind of got nervous.”

“Yeah, yeah, I’ll go see him soon and talk to him about it.” Rodimus replied hurriedly as he made his exit. Rodimus immediately made his way to Visages. He tapped a bot on the shoulder and asked them if Getaway was inside.

“I think so, need to speak to him captain?”

“Yes, think you run in and get him. I don’t think Swerve would forgive me if I set a single toe-pede inside.” Really, Rodimus didn’t want Getaway to force him to sit with him in there or something. He still might but Rodimus thought it would be less tempting if he waited outside.

The bot went inside and Rodimus stood and waited ‘patiently’, tapping his pede and trying not to burn holes into the floor with his searing gaze. The bot didn’t return but Getaway appeared a few minutes later. Rodimus quickly took the bottle out and offered it to the mech, hoping to get this out of the way as fast as possible.

“Here you go.” He said trying to keep his tone friendly.

“Why thank you Rodimus, it’s a lovely gift.” The mech said quite loudly.

Rodimus cringed and was about to retort when Getaway grabbed his arm that held the bottle and pulled it, hard. He took and involuntary step forward and Getaway was now right in his face, all but leering at him.

“Thank you… Prime.” Was all he said before releasing Rodimus and taking the bottle. Leaving the speedster to gape at him from where he stood.

“What an aft.” Rodimus murmured under his breath, massaging the plating on his arm. He turned to leave and as he did he caught the retreating sight of a familiar color scheme. Thunderclash was walking down an adjacent hall, away from Visages. Rodimus wondered if he had seen the exchange. Would he know that the bottle belonged to Swerve? A little anxiety rose in Rodimus’ chest but he did his best to ignore it and went to prepare for his next shift.

~    ~    ~    ~

Rodimus gave a gift to Getaway?

Thunderclash wouldn’t have believed it if he hadn’t seen and heard it himself. He didn’t want to read too much into things but it couldn’t have been a coincidence that Getaway had been talking about Rodimus with him only a week prior. Thunderclash tried to keep calm, he didn’t know the situation. It could have been any kind of gift and not necessarily a courting one. Rodimus had said that he also didn’t want to date publicly.

He doesn’t want to date you publicly. He corrected himself. Their agreement wasn’t about anyone else, and he’d heard in situations like this that bots would pursue others while keeping with their berth partners. He just had to remind himself that Rodimus had already made himself clear. He wanted to interface with him. That was it. Thunderclash should just be happy that the speedster could tolerate him more now, in fact one might even consider them friends. Thunderclash could live with that.

Couldn’t he?

Or maybe he should stop being a coward and ask Rodimus if he could court him. Tell the speedster how he felt and leave nothing hidden. That seemed like the best idea, even if things ended between them because of it. At least then he would know that the speedster didn’t feel the same way for him.

Thunderclash felt resolve wash over him. He would try after his shift with Rodimus. He’d ask if Rodimus would have a drink with him or maybe he would ask if he could sit with him and talk at Swerve’s. Then he would tell him. No matter what.

Thunderclash entered the bridge with his jaw set firm and his processor on his goal. Rodimus hadn’t arrived yet, as per usual, so he tried to make himself busy so he wouldn’t get distracted. Not long had he been there when Ultra Magnus pulled him aside.

“Thunderclash, I was hoping to have a brief word with you.” Ultra Magnus began. “I trust you remember what the science team had brought up at the officer’s meeting?”

“Yes, Ultra Magnus, I do. Are you concerned?” Thunderclash remembered hearing that Brainstorm was the one who made the plans and he himself was worried.

“More than a little bit, yes. I’m not sure if our captain has really soaked in the information so if you wouldn’t mind bringing up the possible consequences to him I would greatly appreciate that.”

“No problem Ultra Magnus, I will discuss it with him as soon as our shift begins.”

“Perhaps afterwards? I wouldn’t want to worry any of the crew members on deck so I ask that this be discussed privately.” Ultra Magnus looked around to the surrounding crew to emphasize his point.

Thunderclash noticed then that they were receiving side-optic glances from quite a few of the bots. The colorful mech briefly wondered if maybe he had grown immune to the attention because he hadn’t noticed until just then. When Ultra Magnus turned his head the bots quickly went back to whatever they were doing to avoid his gaze.

“Understood, sir. I will be as discreet as possible.” And with that Ultra Magnus departed the bridge. Just in time for Rodimus to stroll in, in fact. Thunderclash’s processor jumped back to the scene with Getaway. He had pulled Rodimus so close together when accepting that gift it had almost looked like… Thunderclash mentally batted that thought from his processor. He had to remain on task, he would have plenty of time to think about it later.

As the shift wore on, however, the thoughts still plagued him. What if Getaway was putting the moves on Rodimus. Thunderclash already knew that Getaway found him attractive, what if that conversation had been a subtle hint about his intentions. So wound up in his thoughts, Thunderclash nearly forgot he was on the bridge. He bumped into Rodimus nearly twice to look at the same thing and that definitely didn’t help ease his processor.

“You okay Thunders?” Rodimus asked. “You seem… Distracted?” Rodimus looked confused.

“Uh yeah, I just have something on my processor, captain.”

Rodimus gave him a dubious look, “Well shift will be over soon, just keep it together Thunders.”

“Yes, captain.”

Thunderclash couldn’t help the smile that came over his face as he returned to his work. He was glad to see the speedster wasn’t avoiding talking to him anymore. It certainly made working together much easier.

When the shift finally came to a close, Thunderclash made a beeline after Rodimus to catch up to him. He felt his tanks do a flip as he reached a hand out to tap the speedster’s shoulder. He decided against the tap and instead cleared his intake to alert the red mech to his presence.

“Oh, Thunderclash, did you need something?” Rodimus continued walking but slowed his pace a little.

“Yes, actually, but would you mind if we talk in Swerve’s,” Thunderclash paused to read his face, checking to see if Rodimus showed any discomfort, “We could have a drink together or… something.”

Rodimus stopped walking and Thunderclash felt his tanks flip again in fear. Rodimus had an unreadable expression on his face and the colorful mech feared he would say no.

“Ultra Magnus said he wanted me to discuss the possible complications that might arise from Perceptor’s latest experiment.” He quickly added, hoping to dispel the speedster’s fears at least somewhat. Rodimus finally shrugged.

“Sure thing Thunders.”

Thunderclash let out a vent he didn’t know he was holding.

Chapter Text

“Alright come on Thunders, keep up.” Rodimus had already started walking away and Thunderclash shambled a bit to catch up to him. They made their way to the bar in relative silence, though the occasional bot tried to catch Thunderclash’s attention. He waved them off politely and tried to keep pace with Rodimus. It was almost like the mech was trying to lose him, luckily Thunderclash had long strides.

When they reached the bar, which was fairly crowded at this time, Rodimus made his way to a booth already occupied by Drift. The TIC seemed surprised when he spotted Thunderclash trailing along behind his amica. A knowing look crossed the white speedster’s face and Thunderclash could feel his faceplate heat up. He suppressed the urge to fidget under Drift’s gaze.

“Hey Drift, Thunders is going to join us for a little.” Rodimus said approaching the table. Drift raised a brow ridge at his amica.

“Well I wouldn’t want to intrude.” Drift smiled and looked between the two of them.

“You won’t be, me and Thunders are just going to talk shop, something about Perceptor I think.” Rodimus said, going to take the seat by his amica. Drift stopped him by scooting out of the booth and standing.

“Sounds like ‘captain’ stuff to me.” Drift said with a sly grin and side stepping away. Thunderclash could see disappointment blooming across Rodimus’ face and Thunderclash hastily tried to get Drift to stay, despite knowing his other conversation with Rodimus should be between just the two of them.

“As third in command you are welcome to join our conversation.” Thunderclash explained.

“Nah, I think I’m good, besides, Roddy has trouble focusing. Wouldn’t want to distract him.” Drift aimed a wink at Thunderclash, “I’ll go find Ratchet, he’s bound to be here soon, he promised me he’d finish his work on time tonight.” It occurred to Thunderclash then that Drift was trying to give them some time alone.

Drift departed with a pat to Rodimus’ shoulder as he walked away. The red mech had another unreadable expression on his face as he sat down into the booth, gesturing for Thunderclash to sit as well. Thunderclash felt a new wash of anxiety hit him as seats himself and gazes across at the speedster. Rodimus still looked upset that his amica had left him and Thunderclash tried not to read into it too much. The colorful mech had a new worry plaguing him; the possible rejection he knew he could face. So he was determined to take his time and try to savor this moment, despite how it might end.

“Well, what is it Thunders? I haven’t got all night.” Rodimus scratched at the table, something Thunderclash saw the speedster do when he didn’t know what to do with his hands. He stopped himself from reaching to take his hand, afraid of how it might be interpreted. The last thing he wanted to do was come across as confrontational. He decided to just take it slow.

“How about we get some fuel first? Conversation might be easier once we’ve fueled.” Thunderclash looked to the bar where Swerve was busy showing off his new magic trick to a small crowd of bots, some of which didn’t seem all too impressed. Rodimus followed his gaze.

“That idea might be a bust since Swerve is otherwise occupied.” The speedster looked to be losing his patience and Thunderclash stood from his seat quickly.

“Not a problem I’ll just go and get it for us, what would you like?”

Rodimus jumped a little when Thunderclash stood up and raised his brow ridge at him.

“Uh, just ask Swerve for my usual I guess.”

“Got it, I’ll be right back.” Thunderclash marched away and tried to even his venting, his anxiety had reached a new level and he was finding it hard to breathe. Why was this so hard? When he was around Rodimus usually he could keep his head and be casual, and when they interfaced he had no qualms about their intimacy at all. Why was this situation affecting him so much?

Thunderclash reached the bar and tapped Swerve on the arm.

“Ah, Thunders! So sorry, did you need something?” The minibot put away his cards and the crowd dispersed a little.

“Yes, a mid-grade for me and Rodimus’ usual.”

Swerve quirked his head at him, “Sitting with Rodimus this evening, that’s unusual.” He pointed out.

“Discussing some work related items.” Thunderclash clarified. Though that excuse made his heart sink when he used it. He wished he could just say he was there to enjoy his company, because really he was, but that wasn’t allowed. Not yet at least. He tried to keep his hopes up as Swerve made Rodimus’ drink.

“Okie dokie boss, one mid-grade and one triple filtered special with extra bits.” Swerve passed him the fuel, one regular cube and one disastrously orange and pink concoction that smelled both sweet and spicy. Swerve added a plastic umbrella for effect.

“Thank you Swerve, but it on my tab will you?” Swerve’s visor flickered with amusement.

“You got it boss.”

Thunderclash turned to make his way back to the table. Halfway there he froze. Getaway was at their table. Leaning in on Rodimus. From this angle Thunderclash couldn’t see the speedster’s face, but he could see Getaway’s proffered hand. By the time Thunderclash realized what was happening Rodimus had taken that hand and was being guided to the dance floor. He felt his venting hitch and an uncomfortable feeling pulled at his spark as he watched Getaway pull Rodimus to dance with him.

Thunderclash didn’t want to watch what happened next so he made his way back to the empty table and sat down with the drinks. He sipped his own and tried to keep his demeanor as cheery as possible. Slowly his attention was pulled back to the dance floor and the gorgeous speedster he knew occupied it.

The music was slower than usual and Getaway looked to be making the most of it, holding Rodimus close to him with one hand on his waist and the other on his lower back. Thunderclash swallowed a painful lump in his throat at the sight. He felt an odd, cold tingle in his hands and a sinking in his spark. He willed himself to look away and he drank his fuel in gulps instead of sips. He turned back again. Just in time to see Rodimus plant a kiss on Getaway’s cheek.

Thunderclash felt that cold wash over him again and he stood quickly from the table. Before he could really tell what was happening, he was out of the bar and walking quickly to his hab, all will and resolve crumbled in his spark.

~    ~    ~    ~

“What.” Rodimus stared, completely baffled by the hand being offered to him.

“I need a favor, my dance partner canceled on me.” Getaway had an awful gleam in his eye. The bot leaned in closer and whispered, “Not to mention I figured I would save you from your date with a bot you hate.”

Disgust welled up in Rodimus’ spark but he accepted the hand begrudgingly. Getaway took them to the center of the floor and proceeded to pull Rodimus far too close for comfort, the masked mech’s hands settling lower on his waist than he liked. Any lower and Getaway wouldn’t have to worry about a dance partner because he would have no knees to dance on. They danced to a slow song, Getaway was a decent dancer so Rodimus tried to just focus on that as they moved. As the song ended Getaway pressed in close and Rodimus felt his tanks churn as the other mech whispered in his audial.

“How about a kiss goodnight?” Rodimus wanted to punch the mech in the face. His anger rose but he pushed it down quickly to avoid making a scene. He complied and placed the lightest of pecks on the side of his faceplate.

“Now that wasn’t so hard was it?” Getaway separated from him and slipped into the crowd from whence he had appeared. Scowling and all too happy to be rid of the creep, Rodimus went back to his booth. He found it empty with a half finished mid-grade and his usual drink just sitting there, though he did see Swerve added an embarrassing umbrella this time. He looked around, scanning the crowed for his colorful companion to find the mech was just gone. He spied Drift at the entrance with Ratchet and he picked up his drink and went over to him.

“Hey Drift have you seen Thunders?”

“No,” Drift blinked at him, “He’s not with you?”

“He got our drinks and then he just disappeared.”

“I think I saw him leave right as I got here, he didn’t look good.” Nightbeat came over to chime in, “Maybe his new medicine is making him sick.” The blue and yellow mech gave a sidelong glance at Ratchet.

“Hm, I should ask him about it.” Ratchet looked like he was about to turn and leave when Drift caught him with a scathing look. “What?”

“You’re off duty. If it was serious Thunderclash would head to the medbay where other medics can care for him.” Drift insisted.

Worry crept up on Rodimus. He inwardly hoped the brightly colored mech was okay. He had been acting odd the entire time they were there, actually he had been acting odd since their time on the bridge. Rodimus and his friends sat back in their booth and talked for a while but he couldn’t shake the feeling gnawing at his spark. He excused himself for a moment and went out to where it was quiet before sending a comm. ping to Thunderclash.

:Hey you disappeared, are you okay?: He waited awhile, concern mounting with every klik that passed.

:Sorry captain, I wasn’t feeling well and decided to go lie down. I should have let you know.: Rodimus sighed a little in relief.

:Is it serious? Should I let Ratchet know?:

:No, I am fine captain.: Rodimus almost wanted to ask if he could come by and see him, assess for himself if the mech was really fine but he quickly pushed that thought away. Thunderclash could take care of himself.

:Alright, see you later then, I guess. I hope you feel better Thunders.:

:Thank you, Rodimus.:

With his processor only partially at ease, Rodimus went back into Swerve’s.

Chapter Text

Cycles went by. Bridge shifts went uneventful. Thunderclash found himself spending his meals in his hab and pushing himself into his reading and paperwork. Rodimus and him only interacted if they had a shift, but he could barely manage a mumbled ‘Yes, captain’ or ‘No, captain.’ Rodimus once asked him if he was feeling okay and Thunderclash only had enough spirit to give him a smile and tell him he was fine.

He wished it were the truth. He wished he could be honest. Since that time in the bar he had been anything but fine. His spark was twisted up and he couldn’t find words to try and explain it. Not that he had anyone he could talk to about it. His agreement with Rodimus, if anything, crippled him by disabling him from speaking to anyone about it. So he stewed in silence, hoping that the feelings would ebb.

Every time he shuttered his optics he saw it though. Getaway’s hands on Rodimus, their faces close together when Rodimus kissed him. Thunderclash tried to reason with himself over it. First he tried to fool himself into thinking that maybe they were just very close, closer than he had initially realized. All evidence pointed to the contrary however and Thunderclash found himself instead becoming angry.

Angry at Getaway for his lecherous scheming, which Thunderclash could hardly fault him for when, like he’d said, Rodimus was a very handsome mech. And single as far as anyone else knew. His processor almost couldn’t fault him for being bolder than him and making the moves he couldn’t. Then he grew angry at Rodimus, for dancing with the mech and leaving Thunderclash at the empty table. That anger lasted much shorter than anything because he knew he reasonably couldn’t blame Rodimus. The speedster didn’t deserve his anger for simply dancing with someone else. The kiss was also no more than just a chaste peck. Hardly anything in comparison to what he and Rodimus had done together.

Lastly, Thunderclash became angry at himself. It was his own fault that Rodimus didn’t understand his intentions, he had never made it clear that he meant for them to be on a date or anything. He hadn’t had the brass to just tell Rodimus how he felt. Tell him he wanted them to be exclusive. That he wanted to be able to take his hand when he fidgeted or kiss him where he didn’t have to worry if anyone would see.

Above all he wanted to tell Rodimus that he loved him. That he had for some time. He admired his tenacity and wit, and that he truly meant it when he said he would do anything for him.

For all these feelings that ran in his lines, Thunderclash found it extremely difficult to feel anything towards the real world he lived in now. He felt shaken, like he had been pulled out of his chassis and stuffed back in the wrong way. It was exhausting.

It wasn’t long until someone caught on to his melancholy. Though it wasn’t who he had been expecting.

“You sighed twenty-three times in total while we were on the bridge.” Megatron said offhandedly just after they departed, leaving the bridge to Ultra Magnus. It wasn’t a question or an accusation, just an observation, but it was enough to suddenly ground Thunderclash in the present. He hadn’t realized he had been sighing at all.

“I apologize Megatron, I hope it wasn’t a distraction.” The silver mech turned to him then, stopping his strides to look him in the face.

“If there is something wrong, Thunderclash, avoidance isn’t going to make it better.”

The brightly colored mech sighed.

“Twenty-four.” Thunderclash caught the barest glint of teasing in the other mech’s red optics.

“Why the sudden interest, Megatron?” Thunderclash didn’t entirely trust the silver mech. He didn’t know how or why the ex-warlord would even be interested in what was bothering him unless it could further his agenda somehow. Megatron simply shrugged at him.

“You’re a friend of Minimus, and as prudent as he is… he can be obtuse when it comes to emotions. He likely has noticed your distress as I have but is too unsure of what to say to broach the subject.”

“And you’re, what, doing that for him?” Thunderclash couldn’t help but be incredulous. The silver mech shrugged again.

“I’m not saying you should open up to me of all mechs but I am saying you should talk to someone. Minimus wouldn’t want you to keep struggling like this.” The ex-warlord had a strange sincerity in his optics and Thunderclash felt himself soften under his stare and let out a breath.

“Twenty-five.”

Thunderclash shot him a half-sparked glare.

“You’re right, Megatron, thank you,” He chewed the inside of his cheek thoughtfully, “Actually I could use an outside opinion on this… situation. Could we talk in private?”

Megatron looked genuinely surprised. As if he hadn’t considered that Thunderclash would actually want to talk with him. And, to be frank, Thunderclash felt the same way. An awkward silence settled over the two bots. Megatron cleared his intake.

“Sure, Thunderclash, we can talk in my office if you’d like.” Thunderclash nodded.

They walked in silence to Megatron’s office. Unable to get Rodimus to share the actual captains office with him, Megatron had resorted to sharing one with Ultra Magnus. The ex-enforcer kept things tidy enough for the two of them that it hadn’t been out of the question but most were surprised at how easily the two bots had gotten along.

Megatron shut the door and offered him a seat at the desk.

“I would prefer to stand I think.” Thunderclash said, pushing as much false confidence into his voice as he could.

“Suit yourself,” Megatron said, seating himself behind his desk, “So what is on the processor of the Greatest Autobot Who Ever Lived?”

Thunderclash cringed a little at the nickname, “Well you see,” he paused, chewing the inside of his cheek again. Was he really going to talk to Megatron about this? Was he crazy? This could be humiliating. Actually, strike that, this was beyond humiliating. But he feasibly couldn’t see himself keeping this in any longer. He had to talk to someone or he might just explode. Megatron might be a lot of things but he wasn’t a gossip so he could at least trust the mech not to run to the nearest bot and spill his secrets.

“There is… someone. Someone I care about,” He paused but Megatron’s expression didn’t change, the silver mech leaned forward onto the desk, “I-I am in a relationship with them. But it’s not a real relationship.” He continued, swallowing thickly.

“I want it to be a real relationship though, but I get the feeling he doesn’t feel the same about me. A-And there may be… there may be someone else in his life. I saw him with… another mech.”

Megatron pursed his lips in thought, optics looking down for a moment before looking back up at him.

“May I ask as to the nature of this ‘relationship.’” Megatron held his gaze firm and Thunderclash felt the embarrassment creeping up his faceplates.

“We have a—um, a casual interfacing relationship.” Megatron still didn’t even flinch, only making a small ‘hm’ noise.

“Do you want my advice?” The silver mech said finally. Thunderclash didn’t really know if he did but Megatron didn’t wait for him to reply.

“Dump him.”

Thunderclash spluttered a little but once again Megatron cut him off by raising a hand.

“Let me finish,” Megatron fixed him with a firm stare, “Clearly whomever this mech is, he doesn’t care about your feelings or else he would never have put you in this position in the first place. Now I do not know about you but I think pining for a mech as callous as to date someone else while sharing an intimate relationship with another is a waste of time.”

Thunderclash felt anger flicker to life in his spark. He clenched and unclenched his hand to ease it. Megatron took note of the motion with his optics, looking down to his fist and then back up to Thunderclash’s optics.

“I sense you disagree.”

“I do,” Thunderclash felt his anger leaving a bitter taste on his glossa, “But I do see what you mean.” Megatron’s opinion may be awful to hear but Thunderclash couldn’t deny his logic. Rodimus had, at nearly every turn, shown that he cared very little for Thunderclash’s feelings. Save for a few instances that he could think of. The two that stood out were when the speedster had apologized to him and when asking if he had been okay with their relationship. Thunderclash realized now that he should have said no back then to that question. It might have saved him some spark-break.

“What does this mech mean to you?” Megatron’s tone was soft and inquiring.

“I thought I… I thought I loved him.” Thunderclash thought he did, truthfully, but now that he was putting things in perspective everything looked different. “I thought he was… like the stars in the cosmos. Always constant and beautiful, something to long for and strive to reach.”

“And like a star, when held he only burns you.” Megatron said. Thunderclash blanched a little, looking at Megatron’s steady glare. “Have you ever thought that maybe stars are only meant to be appreciated from afar?”

Thunderclash sighed.

“Do you love him, or the idea of him you have created?”

“I don’t know. I—I know we don’t know each other very well, which is why I wanted to try to take things further,” Thunderclash explained, “But I’m not sure if I should even try now. I could just end up running him off for good. I could just stop our relationship and, like you said, just be his friend from afar. But I feel a part of me would always regret not trying.”

Megatron considered him for a moment, his big hand coming up to hold his chin in thought.

“Look, that’s my advice. Use your own discretion going forward but remember that ultimately your own happiness is in your hands. If you think that taking it further is what you want to do then run with it. You know the stakes.”

Thunderclash nodded, “Thank you, for your advice and for listening.” He turned to leave but stopped at the door quickly.

“Oh and please don’t mention this to anyone.” He said, almost pleading.

“Don’t worry, I’m not popular enough to gossip about anyone.” Megatron leaned back in his chair with a smile. Thunderclash wasn’t sure if it was comforting or not but it wasn’t malicious at least.

“Thank you.”

As Thunderclash walked back to his hab he already felt better, not good per se but definitely lighter. With his mood lifted he found his chipper demeanor returning. Even though he knew it would still be difficult at least now he could pick up the pieces of his broken resolve.

Chapter Text

Rodimus felt like something was missing.

He sat in a booth in Swerve’s on his off time, the place was basically empty and Rodimus had the whole booth to himself. Cycles were blurring together, it had been at least a week since Thunderclash had ran out on him at Swerve’s and they had talked very little since then. He dare say he missed spending time with the mech. He had been nervous that night, and he hoped it didn’t show as much as he thought it did. He had also been a little disappointed it was interrupted by Thunderclash not feeling well. Not to mention Getaway, the creep.

Rodimus lay down across the seat of the booth, letting out an exasperated sigh. He wanted to try to hang out with Thunderclash again, make good on his promise to give the mech more of a shot but he also didn’t want to get into something super serious. Thunderclash didn’t seem like a mech to half-ass anything though and Rodimus wasn’t sure if he was ready for a full blown courtship.

Rodimus looked back at that night. He may have inadvertently been a little cold to Thunders while trying to maintain his air of casualness. He hoped the big mech understood why he did it. Actually… Rodimus didn’t even know why he did it. Why did he always push the mech away. He supposed he was scared but there were a lot more layers to it than that. He could see that Thunders had a thing for him now, which was scary in itself, but Rodimus was mostly afraid that he wouldn’t live up to the mech’s expectations. He wasn’t good at gift giving, he spaced out a lot when people talked to him, and he was unintentionally self-involved a lot of the time.

Who would want to court a mech like me?

Rodimus heard shuffling as someone got into the booth with him, laying on the other side, their optics meeting his under the table.

“Thinking hard under here?” Tailgate’s bright visor gleamed at him.

“Maybe.”

“Don’t think too hard, you might hurt yourself.”

Rodimus shot the minibot an amused look.

“Like I’ve never heard that one before.”

“No one ever said I had fresh material to work with. I am like the oldest bot on this ship.” Tailgate said matter-of-factly.

“You don’t act like it.”

“When you get to be as old as me kid, you’ll understand.” Tailgate said doing his best impersonation of a geriatric mech. Rodimus chuckled.

“Hey can I ask you something, Rodimus?” Tailgate’s tone changed, seeming unsure all of a sudden.

“Yeah Tailgate, what’s up?”

“Are you dating Getaway?”

Rodimus shot up so fast he clipped his spoiler on the edge of the table and the panic he had suddenly felt was briefly forgotten as he hissed in pain. Tailgate shot up as well, visor bright with concern.

“A-Are you alright?” He said leaning over the table at him.

“Yeah, Tailgate I’m fine. Why would you ask that?” Rodimus growled, a little meaner than he had meant to.

“I was just curious!” Tailgate put his hands up defensively, “I saw the two of you… dancing the other night. Bu-But I’d never seen the two of you dance before and I haven’t seen you dance since so I-I just thought… I was worried.”

Rodimus sighed, reaching to rub the pain form his spoiler a little. He’d forgotten about the brief thing the minibot had with Getaway. Tailgate hadn’t even realized that he had been going on dates with the mech and once Getaway made his intentions clear the minibot had let him down gently, or at least that had been the gossip around the ship. He’d never actually talked to the mini about it.

“Getaway is… Really nice most of the time but I’m not sure if he’s a—uh, one bot kind of mech.” Tailgate fidgeted under Rodimus’s gaze. “He was sure fun to be around but you can’t really get a word in edgewise.”

“I’m not dating him Tailgate, it was just one dance.” He tried to give the minibot his most reassuring smile. “You don’t have to worry.”

Tailgate visibly relaxed and the minibot gave a small trembling sigh of relief. The mini reached to scratch the side of his helm, “I don’t mean to be in your business Rodimus, I was just… curious.”

Rodimus nodded, “Is anyone else besides you ‘curious’ about this?”

“Well I mean more than half the bar saw you guys dance. It looked pretty uh… intimate.” Tailgate chucked nervously. “I’m probably not the only one who thought that.”

Rodimus groaned and slid his palm over his face, he rounded on Tailgate, “Well you be sure to tell any nosy afts that ask that—“

Rodimus suddenly stopped.

More than half the bar saw you guys dance.

“Tell them… what?” Tailgate looked at him quizzically. “Roddy are you ok?”

“I’m an idiot.”

“You want me to tell them that?”

“Sorry Tailgate I have to go.” Rodimus stood quickly and tried to calmly make his way through the halls despite almost sprinting.

How could he have been such a moron? Thunderclash disappeared right after he got up to dance with Getaway. He hadn’t been sick or under the affects of bad medicine. The bot probably thought Rodimus was ditching him for Getaway. And Rodimus had let the colorful mech think for nearly a week that he was into that slime-ball. He had to rectify this situation immediately.

He was at Thunderclash’s hab before he knew it and he pinged for entry. Right as he did though, he realized he hadn’t a clue as to what he was going to say to the mech. Before he could even compose his thoughts the door opened and a confused Thunderclash looked down at him.

“Rodimus?

“Hey Thunders, you got a minute to talk?” Rodimus tried to sound casual but not too casual. Mostly he just sounded rushed. He tried to smile but he was sure that it looked fake.

“Uhh, yeah, come in.” Thunderclash’s optics stayed trained on him as he walked into the hab. Rodimus tried to calm down and think of what to say but all that keep coming up was ‘I’m not dating Getaway. I’m not dating Getaway.’ Rodimus didn’t exactly want to lead with that.

“So, how have you been?” Dumb question Rodimus. He inwardly chastised himself.

“Pretty well. How about you?” Thunderclash looked almost as uncomfortable as he felt. As if he was expecting Rodimus to do something… unexpected.

“Uh, good. Yeah, just good.” Rodimus swallowed, “Well actually, I was thinking about the uh— the other night at Swerve’s. You disappeared.”

Thunderclash looked surprised and then guilty. “Yes, I did, I’m sorry again. I didn’t mean to leave like that.”

“I-I know. And I think I know why you left…” Their optics met and Rodimus thought he saw fear in them. “I just wanted to tell you—”

There wasn’t a chance for Rodimus to continue as a deafening silence took over. The normal whirr of loud quantum engines that they had all grown used to suddenly disappeared with a final low whine. The lights flickered out and they were left in the mingled purple hue of their combined optic glow to see.

“Oh what the frag?!” Rodimus looked around as if maybe he’d hit the lights on accident.

“I suspect that was Perceptor and Brainstorm’s latest experiment.” Thunderclash sighed.

“What!” Rodimus’ optics bulged. “Why wasn’t I informed this was going to happen?”

Thunderclash blinked comically, his optics flashing in the near darkness of the hab.

“We all were? At the last officer’s meeting, remember? This was one of the main concerns Ultra Magnus had about the experiment. The science team said that it was such a small probability that we shouldn’t be worried.”

Rodimus swore loudly, “No, that was like the one part that I missed!”

“Oh.” Thunderclash looked guilty all of a sudden. “That was part of what I was supposed to talk to you about that night.”

Now it was Rodimus’ turn to blink in confusion. He’d totally forgotten that Thunderclash was supposed to talk to him about the experiment as well. In their complete befuddlement both of them seemingly mucked this up. In the sheer absurdity of it all, Rodimus couldn’t help it, he laughed. At first a chuckled and then he was holding his sides and leaning on the big mech for support.

“R-Rodimus? Are you… okay?”

“I c-c-can’t b-believe,” Rodimus said between stifled laughter, “We both forgot that little detail.” Rodimus could see a smile form on Thunderclash’s face which only made his laughter return tenfold. Tears formed in the corners of his optics as he felt more than heard Thunderclash laugh along with him.

“So, you aren’t angry?”

“Angry?” Rodimus said, incredulously, “How could I blame you for that, I’m the one who didn’t listen in the first place.”

Thunderclash gave him a sheepish smile. “I should have remembered to tell you though.”

“Eh, what’s done is done. How long until the lights come back?”

“Perceptor said that his calculations would be between twelve minutes—”

“That’s doable.”

“And twelve hours.”

Rodimus shook his head, not quite sure if he had heard that correctly, “Twelve hours?”

“Yes, and I do believe that during which he can restore partial function to the doors so that we don’t get trapped in our habs.”

Twelve hours.”

“Yes.”

“As in half a cycle.”

“I do believe that is the maximum amount of time calculated, I’m sure he and Brainstorm will have the power back in no time.”

As if on cue both of them heard a system-wide announcement ping in their helms.

#BZZT#“Good news and bad news. Good news is that the experiment is a success. Yay, we are all very excited,” Brainstorm’s enthusiastic voice rang in their audials. “Bad news, Percy can’t get the doors to work. We’ll keep you updated.” #BLPT#

Rodimus and Thunderclash looked at each other with the same concerned expression.

Chapter Text

Thunderclash realized just after the announcement cut that he and Rodimus were practically embracing. During the speedster’s brief laughing fit he had leaned on the larger mech and he hadn’t let go, and neither had Thunderclash. He held the red mech by the elbows and was leaned over to gaze down at the little prime. He could feel his spark pulsing in his chest with the prime this close.

Dump him.

Megatron’s words rang in his helm like a warning. Thunderclash remembered the conversation he’d had with the silver mech then. That the speedster clearly didn’t care about him. He pulled away from Rodimus, releasing the other mech. 

“You ok?” Rodimus looked at him steadily with bright blue optics. Thunderclash could feel himself wither under that gaze and so did Megatron’s words.

“I just,” Thunderclash felt confused about his feelings. He could feel himself fighting, half of him still wanting to tell Rodimus his feelings and the other half telling him to spare himself the spark-break and just end what they have already. So, naturally, he did neither. 

“I want to check the door and see if I can get it open without breaking it.” He turned from the speedster and did just that. Conscious of Rodimus hovering behind him as he did.

He tried to open the manual entry panel but with the electricity out it was stuck shut. Clearly there had been some oversight in the making of this ship. He unsubspaced some tools and tried to open it that way. After awhile he heard Rodimus sigh behind him and the red mech moved and plopped himself up on the berth. When Thunderclash finally got the door panel open he was unhappy to see that on this side of the door there wasn’t a manual override, only a reset toggle in case the door was stuck. Lot of good that would do without power. He shut the panel with an aggravated sigh and stood up. 

“No way to open the door from this side without forcing it. Personally I don’t want to have to have it fixed so…” He turned to look at Rodimus on the berth.

“I guess we have to just sit and wait it out.” The red mech looked tense, he swung his leg back and forth and Thunderclash recognized it as pent up energy. Rodimus probably didn’t like the thought of being stuck in here for twelve hours. Especially not with Thunderclash.

“I’m sorry.” The colorful mech found himself saying as he sat beside Rodimus.

“Hm? Why are you sorry? I told you it was my fault for not listening. We’re not going to have another argument about blame again, I can tell you that right now.” Rodimus huffed.

“No, I mean… I’m sorry you have to be stuck in here. With me.” Rodimus went uncharacteristically still and Thunderclash tried not to look at him, fearing what he might see. Until a gentle, golden hand rested on his forearm.

“Hey,” Rodimus started, Thunderclash finally looked at the speedster, blue optics pierced him.

“I’m not upset about being stuck in here. Sure it’s not ideal, it being small and cramped… and tiny… But the last reason why I wouldn’t want to be stuck in here is you.”

“Do you really mean that?” Thunderclash couldn’t help but feel a little doubtful.

“Yeah,” Rodimus turned his body to be better situated to look at him, “I mean sure, in the past we didn’t get along so well, my fault. And we haven’t exactly had a lot of time to hang out, well, other than the obvious, processor-blowing ‘facing sessions we have. But what little we have I actually enjoyed.”

“Even the shore leave?”

“Well… Yeah, okay, even the shore leave.”

Thunderclash looked down, suddenly feeling embarrassed, albeit much better than before. He smiled, “That’s nice to know.” 

Rodimus’ hand released his arm and he leaned back as silence crept over them. The red mech tapped at the berth padding with his fingers, one leg still hung off and it swayed back and forth with mild vigor. Despite his reassurances, it was clear Rodimus was still off put by the situation. Being trapped in a small confined space could do that to any speed frame though so Thunderclash could hardly blame him. 

“Sooooo,” Rodimus began, “You have any good ways to pass the time?” The little prime tilted his head at him. 

“Oh, uh, well I don’t have anything quite like Earth cinema but I do have a few documentaries that Rewind lent me.” 

“Not really a documentary kind of guy but anything to help pass the time instead of silence.”

“R-Right, here let me fetch them.”

Thunderclash stood and retrieved the data pad from his one of his drawers and handed it to Rodimus.

“Don’t you want to watch too?”

Thunderclash looked at the data pad and arched his optic bridge in confusion at the little prime.

“I would but the screen is fairly small, I don’t think we can both view it comfortably.”

“Oh come on ‘Clash, where’s your imagination?” Rodimus patted the head of the berth where it met the wall. “Sit and get comfy big guy.”

Thunderclash blinked again but did as he was told, leaning against the wall with his pillows at his back. Once he was settled Rodimus handed him the data pad. And then proceeded to seat himself between Thunderclash’s thighs. The colorful mech had to dismiss a notification for his cooling fans to start up when the speedster’s warm frame leaned back against him. Rodimus reached up and pulled Thunderclash’s arm that held the data pad until it rested on his knee, in perfect view of the two of them.

“Can you see, Thunders?” Rodimus looked back at him with a grin.

“Yes, I can, Rodimus. Thank you.” Thunderclash smiled back warmly.

Rodimus made himself comfortable, lounging against him. Thunderclash couldn’t help but feel the warmth that the speedster’s frame exuded. Between the two of them the heat in the room was quickly rising since the ship’s ventilation systems were down as well. The air had a musky quality to it that fogged up the processor. It was no surprise that no more than 30 kliks into the documentary, Thunderclash could hear light snoring coming from the little prime. He smiled in adoration, and tried to remain as still as possible so as not to disturb him.

The documentary came to a close and with no new announcement about the doors or power, Thunderclash decided to try and pick another. Rodimus stirred a little in his lap. At first, Thunderclash thought nothing of it, a brisk twitch of his spoiler and a light noise. Concern hit him when he heard a whimper. He could feel shallow vents coming from the red mech now and he knew Rodimus might have entered some kind of bad dream.

“Rodimus?” Thunderclash reached to gently wake the speedster, cautious to not touch him more than necessary. He’d seen bots coming out of a bad defrag tear the heads and hands off their wakers, literally, especially ones that had traumatic experiences from the war.

Luckily, at his touch, the speedster didn’t awaken violently. He jolted a little and leaned forward away from Thunderclash. Recognizing his need for space, Thunderclash pulled away and removed as much of their contact as he could so he could let the prime come back to himself.

“Whew, sorry ‘bout that, Thunders,” Rodimus turned with a loud yawn and a grin that looked forced. “I guess I fell asleep.”

“It’s alright Rodimus.” Thunderclash did his best to give him a reassuring smile to hide his worry. If the prime didn’t want to talk about it he wasn’t going to force him.

“Any new developments since I’ve been out? Well besides the power, I see that’s still not working.”

“Unfortunately, no,” Thunderclash tried not to sound too excited, he liked having all this time to themselves. He remembered something just then.

“Rodimus, before the power went out,” He paused, uncertain if he should ask, “You were about to say… something?”

“Oh,” Thunderclash looked on as the speedster clammed up a little. It was strange seeing Rodimus acting shy.

“Yeah I was saying that—uh, that night in Swerve’s when you disappeared… Did you happen to see me dance with Getaway?" 

It was Thunderclash’s turn to clam up now, feeling embarrassed that the red mech had noticed. He stumbled for words.

“Y-Yes I did, but,” Thunderclash thought about coming up with an excuse but that just made him feel bad. He couldn’t bring himself to look at the speedster but he had to tell the truth.

“I thought you would rather be with him than with me.” He said with a sigh. “I didn’t think you wanted to spend time with me.”

The colorful mech saw Rodimus reach out and place a hand on his where it rested on his leg. Thunderclash brought his optics up, finally, and the speedster’s blue optics were soft.

“Which is why I came by, Thunders,” Rodimus took a moment to clear his intake and turn himself to face Thunderclash, “I didn’t try and ditch you that night. Getaway kind of just sprung that dance on me and… I just didn’t have the spark to tell him no.”

“Oh.”

“A-And,” Rodimus continued hurriedly, “I’m not against spending time with you… I know our agreement was that we would remain professional but I don’t see why we can’t… be together… every now and then?”

Thunderclash felt like a weight was lifted off of him. It was such a relief that Rodimus felt that way. It was hard to keep his elation from his field as he felt a smile cross his face.

“Rodimus I—”

#BZZT#

“Percy is a miracle worker again!” Brainstorm’s voice sounded in their helms making them both cringe at his volume, “Hey, I can do this just fi—” The jet was suddenly cut off followed by Perceptor’s more soothing drone.

“I’m about to restore power to the doors, the system-wide adjustments will take a little longer but I should be able to restore full power in approximately 48 kliks.”

“He added an extra 20 kliks to account for his long-winded explanations.”

#BLPT#

The system ping cut after that and Thunderclash and Rodimus were left to stare at one another once again though this time with relief instead. Moment’s later there was a tell tale whirr of electricity and a click as the door activated again. 

“I guess we won’t be stuck in here for 12 hours after all.” Thunderclash said softly.

“Thankfully,” Rodimus breathed a sigh through his vents, “I need to get out and stretch my legs already.”

“It won’t be long now.”

“Actually,” The speedster’s gaze turned sultry as he leaned into Thunderclash, “If it wasn’t for your medicine thing, I would be pretty excited to be stuck in here for twelve hours with you.”

Thunderclash suddenly felt very hot at that notion and he felt a blush creep over his face. Rodimus gave him a smile that made his spark skip. In that moment, one side of his internal struggle won by a landslide as he brought an arm around the speedster, pulling him closer. The red mech made a noise that he undoubtably would deny to his grave was a squeak but Thunderclash paid no mind as he dipped down to the speedster’s face. He stopped just short of the other mech’s lips, checking to see if Rodimus was okay with what he was doing.

Rodimus closed the distance between them eagerly, nearly smashing their faces together. Thunderclash brought a hand up to cradle Rodimus’ helm and hold him steady. The speedster deepened the kiss and Thunderclash couldn’t contain a moan and a rumble from his engines. The other mech’s arms wound around his neck and he could feel a chuckle escape the prime’s lips.

Of all the things he had done with Rodimus, kissing him was by far his favorite. His soft lip-plates, the sweet taste of him when their glossa met. He could hold the speedster close and feel every breath he took and every sound he made. He could almost feel the other mech’s spark pulsing just outside of his own chestplates. A dangerous feeling. Having their sparks so close together, Thunderclash aching to bond with him.

A feeling like ice water washed over Thunderclash. Rodimus would never—

“Is something wrong?” The speedster broke him from his thoughts. He realized he’d suddenly stopped kissing the little prime. Rodimus placed a hand on his chest.

“Your spark isn’t bothering you is it? We probably shouldn’t be doing this yet should we?”

The concern in Rodimus’ voice felt like a balm, soothing away the feeling that had suddenly hit him. He tightened his grip on the speedster.

“I’m fine Rodimus, but… I was just thinking that we should probably wait to interface still,” Thunderclash hoped Rodimus wouldn’t push him away, “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be,” The red mech bit his lip, “Is it okay if I keep kissing you or is that too much still?”

Thunderclash felt his spark soar. “Not at all, please continue.”

Rodimus gently caught his mouth with his. Thunderclash let himself get lost in that kiss, forgetting whatever worries that drifted in his processor. Right now he had Rodimus and that was enough.

Chapter Text

After making out for a considerable amount of time, to be honest Rodimus wasn’t keeping track, the enamored mechs parted and escaped the miserably cramped habsuite to seek out the scientists for further updates. It had been at least an hour since their last update and had been silent since, which wasn’t a very good sign since the full power still had not returned.

Rodimus was going to have a serious talk with Thunderclash about upgrading to something bigger. He didn’t know how the big mech could live like that. Rodimus was about to bring it up to the mech walking beside him when the entire ship jolted to the right, effectively slamming the two mechs into the wall. A loud groan of bending and scraping metal could be heard above them. A breach alarm began to sound, alerting the crew to the possibility of portions of the ship  being exposed to open space.

“That sounded bad.”

“No duh, Thunders.” Rodimus huffed. Someone better not be destroying his ship! He stood and hurried down the halls with the colorful mech still hot on his heels. A comm. channel popped on his hud. He answered it aloud to alert Thunderclash to the call.

“Go for Rodimus.”

:Rodimus, did you hear that?: It was Drift sounding out of breath.

“Kind of hard not to, Drift.”

:Where are you at, me and Ratchet are heading up to see if anyone got hurt.:

“We’re headed to the lab to see what’s taking Perceptor and Brainstorm so damn long.” Rodimus lengthened his strides.

:Who is with you?: Rodimus hesitated before answering via the comm. instead of aloud.

:Thunderclash.:

:Oh really?: Drift sounded like a dog with a bone and Rodimus knew what the white speedster was thinking. It didn’t help that he was partially correct.

“We’ll talk about it later Drift. When you and Ratchet are finished, head to the lab.” Rodimus answered aloud again.

:You got it, Drift out.:

Approaching the lab it was clear that several bots had already gotten there to ask what was going on. A small crowd had formed outside the open door and voices could be heard arguing inside. The group parted for Rodimus and Thunderclash upon seeing them. Rodimus cringed at several voices that he heard from the crowd as he entered the lab.

“Oh thank Primus, Thunderclash is here.”

“Thunderclash can fix this.”

Rodimus tried to ignore the anger welling up inside him and instead approached Perceptor and Megatron, who were in the middle of arguing.

“How could you not have known about this possibility?” Megatron asked cooly.

“In Percy’s defense the nebula moves so accurately knowing it’s location and knowing that the engines would jump us to it is a bit of a stretch.” Brainstorm piped.

“He is right, though. I should have calculated this eventuality.” Perceptor looked sullen, seemingly disappointed in himself.

“You can’t calculate every possibility Percy! Even I’m not that good. Sometimes you just have to—”

“To what? Jump? Take a leap of faith? That’s not what science is supposed to be about!” Ultra Magnus’ voice silenced the jet. “We’re through discussing how it happened, how do we fix this?”

“I second that.” Rodimus said, garnering everyone’s attention to his presence at last. Perceptor sighed.

“I’m still running the calculations for the engines. They appear to be running, they’re looping energy in a way that diverts power from the rest of the ship. Once I can get the power to stop looping we can get out of here but in order to make a successful jump we will need to be in one piece.” Perceptor went over to his computer, which had been outfitted with a backup generator, and pulled up a layout of the ship.

“We have taken damage to the upper levels, one through four on the starboard side from a large meteor from the nebula. The longer we are near the nebula, the greater the risk of further damage. I suggest getting the power back online and pushing off of the nebula to make repairs.”

“Why am I sensing a ‘but’ in there somewhere.” Rodimus could practically see it in the microscope's optics.

“The strange energy field that surrounds the nebula messes with the quantum engines, it’s how we ended up with the power loop in the first place.” The scientist turned back to the schematic. “If we were to make an accidental quantum jump as we had before it could tear the ship to pieces.”

“Okay so we fix the damage as quick as possible then escape the nebula.” Megatron said simply.

“If only it were that simple.” Brainstorm came to stand beside his lab partner. “I’ll save you the Percy explanation; the nebula is dangerous and blazing hot. We would need at least 98.9% hull integrity restored to make a safe leap.”

At the mention of that, Rodimus immediately sent a comm. ping to Drift.

:Drift stay away from the breach if you can, we’re in some kind of dangerous nebula.:

:Understood.: Rodimus felt relieved when his amica responded immediately.

“I also still need to make sure my calculations are 100% safe.” Perceptor crossed his arms.

“I might be of some help with that.” From behind Rodimus, Thunderclash chimed in at last. “My math might be a little rusty but I’m familiar with quantum engines thanks to Nautica.”

“Excellent, we have already received comms from Nautica and Skids down in the engine room. You’ll assist Percy from here.” Brainstorm said coming over to grab Thunderclash and sidle him up to the console.

“Now all we need are some volunteers to test my heatwave gear.” Brainstorm said cheerily. “Without it you’ll probably melt out there if a blast from the nebula hits you head on!”

At those words, many of the mech gathered by the door began to disperse.

“Guys we need to get this done fast, the more hands we have the faster it will get done.” Rodimus said turning to the bots. There were a few murmurs of agreement but Rodimus knew they weren’t really with him. Rodimus scrunched up his face and with every ounce of his conviction he turned to Brainstorm.

“Suit me up too Brainstorm.”

“Rodimus you can’t—” Ultra Magnus began but the speedster cut him off.

“Yes I can. I can hold a welder or a riveter no problem and with my high tolerance for heat I’m the obvious choice to lead the crew outside.” Rodimus put on a grin to help ease Ultra Magnus’ processor.

The blue mech seemed at a loss for words and he looked to Megatron for help. The silver mech only shrugged. “It would seem my co-captain has made up his mind.”

“I’m with you Rodimus.” Chromedome said, stepping into the lab. After him several more bots volunteered.

"Let’s get this done.”

~    ~    ~    ~

After nearly an hour of prep work, with most of the bots on the ship running around with their tasks. The science crew were finally starting on the engines and the outside crew were suited up to brave the nebula. Ratchet and the other medics confirmed 3 missing bots in the head count and 9 in the medbay for injuries from the breach. A fairly low count considering previous disasters but Rodimus was determined to keep it from getting any higher.

Brainstorm outfitted them with thick suits made of a similar material to the ship’s outer hull but modified to be lighter and more flexible, it was thickest at the sensitive joint locations which hindered movement a little but it was workable. It did slow productivity however, and Rodimus couldn’t help but grow nervous the longer the crew was outside. He had Brainstorm monitoring for any new activity within the nebula and to warn them of any incoming meteors or heat waves.

As Rodimus was finishing another plate he looked up and into the swirling silver and blue light of the nebula. He stared for a moment before realizing that among the debris he could see the definite outline of a bot. He tapped Chromedome’s shoulder and pointed at them.

“You see that too right?” He said to him.

“Primus, do you think they’re still alive?” Chromedome gasped.

“Only one way to find out,” Rodimus shut off his magnet boots, “Toss me out there.”

“Rodimus! No, you have no way to get back!” Chromedome held onto his arm firmly.

“Neither do they but they’re out there melting right now, I could at least help them until rescue can reach us.”

Chromedome looked back and forth between the bot and Rodimus. Rodimus didn’t like indecisiveness.

“That request just became an order now toss me.” Chromedome groaned loudly in exasperation before swinging Rodimus around and launching him in the direction of the bot.

Rodimus grabbed hold of them. Their optics were dark and Rodimus had to remove his glove to feel his plating for a spark beat. It was there, very weak, and the bot was clearly overheating. Rodimus opened a comm. channel to Ratchet.

“Ratchet we’ve got an injured bot out here, he’s been exposed to the nebula for quite some time but he’s still alive.”

:Injury team is standing by, how soon can you get him to me?:

“There might be some complications with that.” Rodimus chuckled. Looking down at the over heating bot Rodimus wasn’t sure if he would make it if he had to wait much longer to escape the heat. The heat wasn’t too bad on his own systems, he’d handled much worse, so Rodimus began piecing over his suit to the other mech.

:What do you mean by ‘complications.’:

“He was pretty far out so I had Chromedome toss me to him. I just wanted to see if he was okay.” Rodimus finished suiting up the bot, feeling strangely exposed.

:And you’re stuck aren’t you.:

“You know me so well Ratchet.”

:A lot of good it does getting yourself stuck with him. You should have comm.’d me immediately so that we could coordinate a rescue.:

“Hey at least I can keep him from overheating further. I just gave him my suit.” Rodimus heard the medic splutter.

:Rodimus! If the nebula gets any hotter you can’t handle it without the suit!:

“Well I guess you better hurry then. I’m gonna kick this guy towards Chromedome, there’s enough debris behind me that I won’t go any further. I might even be able to make it back on my own.”

:Be careful.: Rodimus was surprised when he felt his spark ache a little from the medic’s tone. He’d heard of an effect that came from multiple bondmates that could result in residual feelings for the two bots that weren’t in a bond. This was the first time he had felt it though. A seeming regret at putting strain on the other bot that he had never felt before and a want to physically reassure him. It lasted only seconds before it was gone. It was intense enough to shake Rodimus to his core, however and he sat there stunned and holding onto the bot in his arms.

“Rodimus!” Chromedome called from the ship. “The welding is finally finished!, the riveters are going to finish up now but Mirage says he found another bot!” 

Rodimus bodily shook himself out of his stupor.

“Okay! Here,” Rodimus kicked the bot in his arms down to Chromedome, “Catch!”

Rodimus bumped into a heavy piece of debris behind him and held onto it as he watched the bot sail into Chromedome’s arms. He could see from here that they already had gotten the second bot and were pulling the injured bots back to the safety of the ship. Two of three of the missing bots, still alive. A pretty good turnout all things considered. Rodimus couldn’t help but look around, hopeful.

“Ratchet, who was the last missing bot?” Rodimus said through his open channel to the medic.

:Sunstreaker.:

Rodimus winced at the recognizing the name. He looked around the empty space, the debris field and the nebula that lay beyond. He could feel himself beginning to actually overheat now and he knew that any longer out here would become very dangerous very fast. But still he looked, hopping from chunk to chunk of debris in his search. He didn’t want to leave a friend behind. He had all but given up his search when he saw it. An arm sticking out of a crumpled piece of the hull.

Rodimus kicked himself over to it. It was no wonder he couldn’t see him. Sunstreaker was badly impaled onto jagged metal of the ship’s hull and it was bent so that it nearly covered the bot from every angle.

“Ratchet I’ve got him!”

:Rodimus heads up, a pulse just came from the nebula, you have about 38 seconds before the heat wave gets to your crew. I'll ping a countdown to you and them.: Brainstorm’s ping popped up on his hud.

Don’t panic.

“Chromedome, get everyone inside! A heat wave is gonna hit!” Rodimus called out to the ship.

:What condition is he in?: Ratchet’s voice came suddenly.

“He looks bad, I think I have a pulse but he’s stuck on a piece of the ship, do I move him?”

:If you can help it, no.:

Rodimus looked into the nebula which seemed to be brightening to a stark white. A heat wave is coming, he’ll either bleed out or melt. One was a possibility, the other was for sure.

“I have to move him,” Rodimus said as he began to pry the sharp and twisted metal apart so as to get a better grip, “The heat will kill us both if I don’t, Brainstorm said a heat wave is gonna hit.

:25 seconds.:

“I am so sorry about this.” Rodimus said to Sunstreaker as he yanked the mech off the debris. A groan game from the mech as he did, Rodimus had no time to be relieved he was alive as he now had to get them to safety.

“Rodimus!” Chromedome called out from the top of the Lost Light. The mnemosurgeon waved his arms from the hatch where the crew was crawling back into the ship.

:20 seconds.:

Rodimus didn’t even have time to try and patch the now profusely bleeding Sunstreaker as he positioned himself to kick off the debris. He angled himself towards the ship but his momentum  wasn’t fast enough. He was only two thirds of the way to the ship when Brainstorm’s countdown ping came again.

:15 seconds.:

Rodimus had to think fast. He closed the open channel with Ratchet.

“Chromedome I’m gonna throw him to you, you get him inside and shut that hatch before the countdown ends no matter what.”

“Rodimus—”

“That’s an order!”

:10 seconds.:

Rodimus planted his boots onto the hull and turned on the magnets, winding up to throw Sunstreaker as hard as possible. The mech sailed quickly across the hull and Rodimus tried to follow as fast has he could.

:5 seconds.:

Chromedome had ahold of Sunstreaker and was pulling him inside.

:4:

Rodimus could already feel the heat on his back as he went as fast as he could towards the hatch.

“Close it!” Rodimus shouted. An overheating notification popped on his hud.

:3:

“You can make it!”

:2:

Rodimus was still several meters away, he disengaged his boots and in a moment of desperation he kicked off as hard as he could in a dive towards the hatch. Bright light washed over everything, painting everything in black and white.

:1:

The hatch closed.

Chapter Text

Thunderclash worked quietly beside Perceptor on his calculations.

Worry gnawed at his processor. He had to keep reminding himself that Rodimus could handle this. The fact that the mech had been so confident and had put himself at risk beside his fellow crew members to help repair the ship impressed Thunderclash. However, that didn’t mean Thunderclash liked the thought of him out in the nebula one bit. Who could expect any less of the speedster, though? If there was any bot that thought he wasn’t a good captain or that he didn’t care, Thunderclash imagined this would probably erase those thoughts from their processors.

Perceptor completed another set of calculations which he pushed over to Thunderclash to double-check. Thunderclash in return sent the ones in front of him back to Perceptor to triple-check. The microscope was taking no chances this time around. Though something bothered Thunderclash about this situation. Perceptor was rarely, if ever, wrong about things. Especially physics and science. Thunderclash had his suspicions about what it was but he wasn’t sure if now was the appropriate time to ask the scientist. 

As they neared the end of the calculations and Perceptor could finally say with 100% certainty that they could get the power back and make a safe leap away from the nebula, Thunderclash found he couldn’t contain himself anymore. The scientist sent the final instructions to Nautica and Brainstorm down in the engine room and Thunderclash cleared his intake.

“I have been meaning to ask you, Perceptor, how did this happen?” Thunderclash asked gently. 

“I failed to calculate the nearby space manifestations while working out possible quantum leap incidents. Only 3 of my initial sample size had actually ended up with a quantum leap occurring so I had assumed it was—”

“No I mean… You never make mistakes. Sorry if that is too much of a general statement, but you have never been the kind of person to skip going the extra mile. Just now as we worked you seemed more like yourself than you have in weeks. What happened?” Thunderclash could see embarrassment in the scientist’s optics as he pursed his lips and looked at the floor. 

Perceptor let out a sigh. One of many that Thunderclash had noticed and his inkling about what was going on seemed to be gaining favor. 

“I-It’s… stupid really.” Perceptor leaned his hips on the console, crossing his arms. 

“I’m sure it’s not.” The microscope eyed the colorful mech.

“I was trying to impress Brainstorm.”

Thunderclash tried to hide his smile but he didn’t do a very good job of it and the scientist turned away from him, his plating ruffling in irritation. 

“I told you it was stupid.”

“No, no! It’s really not, Perceptor!” Thunderclash patted the mech on the shoulder gently. “It sounds really sweet but, how in the Pit were you trying to impress him.”

“I limited the amount of tests I would run in an effort to maximize my productivity… We are having a uh… competition of sorts.”

Thunderclash faltered at the notion. “How would that impress him?” 

Perceptor sighed. “I don’t know, I was running out of options. I… asked Brainstorm out. He said no.” 

“Oh.”

“He said that I was only interested in him because he invented a time machine.” Perceptor sounded bitter.

“Were you?” The microscope rounded on him, looking scandalized.

“How could you ask me that? Do you think my feelings are so shallow?”

“S-Sorry, it’s just. You never showed much interest in him beforehand.” Thunderclash replied, sheepish, “I heard you mostly just yelled at him to stay out of your lab so—I mean, it’s easy to see where he might be coming from.” 

Perceptor groaned and put a hand up to cover his face. “You’re right. I know you’re right. Which is why I was trying to impress him in the first place. Before I asked him out he had always been interested in me in some way. Whether for my experiments or what have you, at least then he had been interested. Now I just try and use joint projects as an excuse to be near him. Primus listen to me.” 

Perceptor turned and gripped the console of his computer hard, causing the metal to creak.

“I should just take the hint shouldn’t I?” Perceptor looked back over his shoulder at Thunderclash. “If he doesn’t want me then I shouldn’t push what we have right?

The colorful mech frowned at the question. Thunderclash posed himself a similar question nearly every time he was with Rodimus. He himself wasn’t sure of the answer. He couldn’t say for sure what Perceptor should do. Thunderclash reached out to comfort the scientist again.

“If your spark tells you to press on then maybe you should. But if he says no you need to respect his boundaries. You might end up ruining your relationship if you don’t.” Thunderclash gave him a soft smile. “Brainstorm might just be nervous about entering a relationship. If I recall correctly, Brainstorm created the time machine to save somebot he loved correct?”

Perceptor nodded. 

“Obviously Brainstorm loved them a great deal as to bend reality to save them. He may even still be mourning their loss even to this day.” Thunderclash paused, “The actions reflect the intensity of the mech. Are you prepared for that kind of devotion, should he return your feelings?”

Perceptor’s optics widened. “I guess I hadn’t thought of it that way.”

“I say reflect more on it first, then go with what your spark tells you.” The microscope gave a little smile. 

“Thank you, Thunderclash.”

A comm. channel notification popped up on both of their helms. 

:Domey says that the hull repairs are complete!: Brainstorm’s voice rang when the two of them answered.

“Excellent, you have the calculations, my estimate is that we will need fourteen minutes to fully reroute the power back to the essential systems in order to make a jump. Do yours differ Brainstorm?: The microscope asked, his professional tone returning.

:Pretty much the same here— Uh oh, we have movement in the nebula—Hold on I need to comm. Rodimus’ crew.: The channel cut, leaving Perceptor and Thunderclash in silence.

Cold dread gripped Thunderclash. For what ever reason, Thunderclash’s spark began to race. Like it was trying to tell him something was wrong.

:Brainstorm what’s going on?: Thunderclash demanded in a comm. ping. There was a pause.

:Heat wave incoming. I had to warn the crew. Thirty seconds and counting. Most of the crew are already inside.: Brainstorm’s reply came back in choppy sentences, as if he were occupied by something else, which did nothing to help Thunderclash’s racing spark.

Already Thunderclash found himself racing out of the lab and towards the upper decks. He was slow, there was not enough time for him to get up to where the crew had been working.

:Where is Rodimus?: Thunderclash didn’t care if Brainstorm got nosy with him later, he needed to know.

:Domey said he went to save Sunstreaker. The two of them are almost inside.: Thunderclash could feel his spark pounding in his audials as he rushed faster than ever. As he was climbing to get into the service deck used to access out outside of the ship, he felt the whole ship shake and moan under stress. The wave must have hit. Thunderclash vaulted himself up the rest of the way.

Thunderclash rounded the hall and almost right into the medics who were assessing the injured. Two mechs laying side by side in the cramped hallway, both tinged grey and steaming from the heat. Velocity and First Aid were assisting Ratchet in stabilizing them and preparing them to be transported to the medbay. Drift was standing beside his conjunx, just opposite from Thunderclash, keeping a watchful eye.

Then Drift noticed him.

“What is it Thunders?” He said, the medics looked up at him. Thunderclash locked eyes with Drift. The white speedster could read the fear in his field and his optics well enough to know why he was there.

“We got another one!” A voice called from down the hall. Two of the hull crew carried over a very injured Sunstreaker to Ratchet, energon leaking down his whole left side.

Drift grabbed one of them. “Where is Rodimus?”

“I-I don’t know, Chromedome was holding the hatch for him last time I checked.”

Drift sped off down the hall, Thunderclash following suit. They found the access hall crowded with the remaining crew of the hull repair. All of them silent. Chromedome was still hanging onto the hatch door. He turned to look at the officers, utter disbelief in his field.

“He didn’t make it.”

Chapter Text

Thunderclash looked around at the rest of the bots. All of them had the same look on their faces. Disbelief. As if they couldn’t believe what just happened. Drift stormed through them to grab at Chromedome.

“What do you mean he ‘didn’t make it’?!” Drift cried, shaking the mnemosurgeon.

“I-I tried,” Chromedome said weakly, “I tried to keep it open for him. It was so hot h-he—he shut it on me.”

Thunderclash took a step forward and could see that the arm that had been still holding onto the hatch wasn’t like that by choice. The glove had actually welded to the handle from the heat.

Disbelief still gripped Thunderclash. Rodimus couldn’t be… He just couldn’t. Looking around the whole crew seemed as stunned as he was, wide opticed and unmoving. He tried to open a comm. channel to the speedster, to no avail. Panicking, he opened a comm. channel to Perceptor and Brainstorm.

:Has the heat wave passed?:

:It looks like it— I know what you’re thinking Thunderclash and don’t go out there. You don’t have a suit and I doubt any of the crew have one big enough for you.: Brainstorm said,  probably knowing well enough what he was thinking.

:I’m not leaving him out there.: Thunderclash argued.

:Let the one of the crew handle it for now. We’ll have the power back on in only a few minutes, then we’ll check for a spark signature.: Brainstorm's voice implored.

“Someone give me your suit I’m going out there for him!” Drift cried, he grabbed the nearest mech and started taking pieces of his suit.

It would take too long, if Rodimus was hurt he needed help now. Thunderclash felt dread beginning to curl around his spark. Damn it all, he didn’t care if he melted. He needed to get out there and look for him. Thunderclash took two steps towards Chromedome, intent on opening the hatch and going out to get him even if it meant killing himself to do it.

Two loud knocks sounded just outside the hatch. Stunned, every mech just looked at one another.

“Open it for Primus’ sake!” Drift grabbed the handle and he nearly wrenched Chromedome’s arm off as he opened it. Thunderclash stared in hopeful disbelief. Sure enough, with a blast of heat from the open space, Rodimus all but fell in through the open hatch and into his amica’s arms. Thunderclash had to hastily wipe tears from the corners of his optics as he took in the sight.

Rodimus was a soot grey and blackened in some places. His normal colors hidden by scorch marks but a bit of the yellow and red still shown through. His bio lights were still bright though, a good sign. And he was conscious, another good sign. Drift held him so close Thunderclash was scared he was hurting him. He reared back to fix Rodimus with a firm gaze.

“Don’t scare me like that.”

Rodimus coughed a laugh. “Sorry.” He grinned at his amica which enticed the white speedster into squeezing the life from him again. At closer inspection Rodimus looked far worse for wear. He had lost a layer of paint on his back, one of his vents was melted shut but also cracked, and his helm flares were melted into a drooping position. And that was just what Thunderclash could see.

“Out of my way, medic coming through.” Thunderclash had barely enough time to get out of Ratchet’s way as he came down the cramped hall, still covered in Sunstreaker’s energon.

“Stupid brat,” He mumbled angrily, uncharacteristically emotional for the medic, “I told him to be careful.”

He knelt across from his conjunx and prodded him. “Come on now, you’re smothering him.” Drift reluctantly released Rodimus to the care of Ratchet, letting the medic plug into his medical port. Thunderclash stood there as the medic checked him over, long after the rest of the crew had left, save for a couple that helped Chromedome get his hand unstuck from the handle. A few minutes later the power came back online and a collective sigh of relief came from every bot.

“Did you lose consciousness at all?” Ratchet checked his optics.

“Uh, maybe, I’m not sure. It got really bright. After I shut the hatch I closed my optics, so it was dark for awhile.” Rodimus said, his voice was hoarse and full of static as if his vocalizer had been stressed. He also had a sluggish quality to the way he moved that suggested he may have melted wiring.

“I’m fine Rat—ow!”

“You are not fine. You very well could have died, do you know that? Hm?” Ratchet prodded him in the side where a particularly nasty burn was, inspiring another pained expletive.

“You’re lucky your energon didn’t boil. You have multiple blown fuses, a vent line here has ruptured. And I’m quite sure— yup, you’ve used up all your coolant reserves.” Ratchet looked away from his readout to unsubspace a cube of coolant which Rodimus took eagerly.

“Hey it worked didn’t it?” Rodimus said after he finished the cube.

“What did?” Thunderclash chimed in, the three looked at him, as if just realizing he was standing there.

“He expended his coolant out of his vents, the same way he does after he uses his outlier ability. It rapidly cools the system, but it’s not meant to be used in tandem with his ability, only afterwards to cool him off. Slowly.” The medic chided, “The contrasting temperatures causes cracks in plating,” Ratchet poked him in the side again, “And vent blow outs. Not to mention a whole slew of other internal damages.”

“It was either that or get melted.” Rodimus shrugged. Thunderclash couldn’t help but appreciate how the speedster seemed to take all of this in stride. He had saved 3 lives, possibly four by shutting the hatch on Chromedome, and managed to survive a blast of heat that would have melted any other mech. Thunderclash was beyond impressed, even though the speedster had scared him far more than he would have liked.

Even Ratchet didn’t seem as angry as he was trying to come across. It was clear that he was just glad Rodimus was alive.

“Alright, enough of this, let’s get his aft down to the medbay. Thunderclash, if you would please carry our captain, the medical staff unfortunately are too busy to bring a stretcher up.”

Thunderclash didn’t hesitate, not even when Rodimus started to protest.

“I can walk on my own!” But the speedster only crossed his arms as Thunderclash picked him up gently. He was still very warm and had a knocking noise in his engine, probably from a malfunctioning cooling system devoid of coolant. His glossy finish had been burned and singed in large planes on his back, leaving paint peeling and flaking in places. He knew Rodimus wasn’t going to be happy when he saw that.

They all walked down to the medbay in relative silence, the speedster keeping his arms crossed the whole time. Once there Drift and Thunderclash saw to helping the speedster get settled in to a private room, a captain’s privilege. Drift took the seat next to Rodimus and held onto his hand like he was afraid he would disappear. Thunderclash honestly wished he could do the same.

“Really guys, you don’t have to fuss. In the morning I’ll be all good—ow!” Ratchet smacked the top of his head with a datapad.

“You will not step a single pede outside this berth until I say so. You’re going to need at least four surgeries to fix everything you’ve broken. Only minor surgeries, he’ll be a thorn in everyone’s side again in no time,” Ratchet said to Drift, noticing his pained expression, “But until I’ve completed those surgeries you are to stay put.”

Rodimus pouted, leaning back against the medical berth, his blue optics twinkling with emotion at the medics words. Thunderclash watched a strange exchange between the two as the medic pulled the speedster into a tight hug. Thunderclash looked down for a moment, feeling like he was intruding on their space. They separated quickly and Ratchet looked to be wiping his optics.

“Damn kid.” The medic murmured before turning to leave and inspect his other patients.

“You really scared him.” Drift said after the medic was gone. “Not only him I should say.” Drift looked at Thunderclash who blushed. With the situation having calmed down he supposed he should be more distant from the speedster, as per their agreement. But being in the company of Drift, Thunderclash felt there was no reason to hide.

“I’ve always done stupid stuff like this. Remember the spark-eater?” Rodimus huffed.

“Boy do I,” Drift said squeezing his hand, “It’s almost like you’re a magnet for these kinds of things.”

“He just has a big spark.” Both speedsters turned looks on Thunderclash and he continued as his blush deepened, “He would rather see himself hurt over someone else, so he tries to save everyone.”

Drift smiled at him, “I think you’re giving him too much credit, I don’t think he thinks that far ahead.” Rodimus took a swing at his amica, which Drift dodged without effort. The red speedster tried to hide a wince but Thunderclash could see the movement had hurt him.

“I’ll be right back,” Drift said, already rising from his chair next to Rodimus, “I think Roddy needs some more coolant.”

Drift subtly shot him a wink as he passed by and Thunderclash could see he was once again giving him a chance to talk to the speedster one-on-one. The colorful mech briefly wondered what he had done to inspire such loyalty from the other speedster. He slowly approached the berth.

“Gonna tell me off about being stupid like the rest of them, ‘Clash?” Rodimus gave him a sardonic smile.

“No, I think you’ve had enough of that,” Thunderclash didn’t sit in the chair, instead choosing to stand beside him, “I will say that I thought what you did was very brave. You saved lives out there.”

Rodimus’ smile turned a little more genuine as he pawed the side of his helm, “I was only doing what I thought was right.”

Thunderclash sat on the edge of the berth, catching his hand away from his face gently. He held that hand, slowly returning to it’s original shade of golden yellow, to his lips with a light kiss. Rodimus’ expression softened at him and Thunderclash felt emboldened enough to lean in on the speedster.

“Don’t,” Thunderclash stopped just short of his lips, searching blue optics.

“We shouldn’t. Not here.” His voice was a whisper as he glanced at the door. Thunderclash felt sad that the red mech still thought they had to hide. It was like a sharp pain in his spark, a reminder that what they had wasn’t real.

“Sorry, I just wanted— I almost lost you.” Rodimus looked back at him at the admission, a look of surprise on his face.

The colorful mech feared that maybe he had said too much when Rodimus closed the space between them, giving him a wonderful but chaste kiss. It didn’t last nearly long enough and Thunderclash found himself following the speedster’s lips when he pulled away.

“Later,” Rodimus said, stopping him, “When I’m all healed up. You, me. A movie, anything but another documentary. My hab. What do you say?”

Thunderclash couldn’t help but smile despite his aching spark.

“Sounds perfect.”

Chapter Text

Thunderclash left shortly after Rodimus had kissed him.

He’d mumbled a goodbye, his brassy face covered in blush, his big dopey red optics full of an unreadable amount of emotion; adoration, relief and something else. And as soon as he was gone Rodimus had to heave a sigh of relief that nearly bowed him over. He had put on his normal strong front but now that he was alone he let the shakes come and he scrunched up his face, feeling the pain from his blown out and cracked vents. He could almost hear the metal grinding on metal as he moved. The sound made him a little sick and he felt his tanks churn sourly. Panic that he had carefully suppressed suddenly came to the surface. The worse part was he didn’t know what had scared him more.

Almost dying.

Or how he had very seriously misjudged how much Thunderclash was into him.

He let out a few shuddering intakes.

“Thunders leave already?” Drift came in with three cubes of coolant and a couple mid-grade in his arms. “Darn I was hoping you two would spill your guts together. I guess I’ll just have to settle for you.”

Drift sat in his chair and handed Rodimus the coolant cubes.

“Ratty said to drink all three of those if you can.”

Ignoring Drift’s prior statement, Rodimus opened one cube and downed it quickly. It was lowering his temperature for sure but his tanks protested the thought of two more cubes. He sipped the second one slowly instead.

“Well?” Drift leaned onto the berth.

“Well what?”

“Am I going to have to pry it out of you?” Drift narrowed his eyes. “You. Thunderclash. Are you or aren’t you?”

Rodimus felt his tanks do a flip and he covered his mouth as he gagged a little, putting his cube of coolant on the berth side table before he spilled it all over.

“Whoa, not the reaction I thought I would get.” Drift said sidling out of the ‘splash-zone.’

“It’s not that. My tanks don’t feel so good and…” Rodimus sank further into the berth. “I’m kind of still unsure about Thunders.”

Drift sighed. “If you aren’t sure about him then maybe you should stop this.”

“Drift it’s not that simple.” Rodimus groaned hard enough he winced from another one of his vents scraping under his plating. “You should see how he looks at me. I can’t believe I didn’t see it before.”

“What, that he’s completely taken with you? I’m pretty sure I could have told you that, oh wait, I think I did.” Drift chuckled.

“I didn’t think it was that deep. I thought he thought I was hot! Everyone thinks I’m hot! I didn’t think it would go from just hot fragging to all these feelings so quickly.” Rodimus hung his helm in his hands and stared at his slightly blackened palms.

“Are you hesitating because you’re scared of hurting him?”

Rodimus didn’t look at Drift. He knew that was part of it. He didn’t want to hurt the big mech by just callously breaking it off. Nor did he want to go any further and realize that his deep seated hatred of the mech had never disappeared and it had just been for the interfacing all along. He wished he could just live in their ambiguous middle-ground that they had created, where whether they were or weren't didn't matter. All that mattered was that it felt good and they both liked it. He knew that was a fantasy he couldn't entertain, however, he doubted Thunderclash would pine in silence forever. He didn’t answer Drift, just simply nodded in response to his question.

“Well, at least you can say you care that much.” Drift’s hands took his own away from his face. “Take your time to figure things out, but don’t lead him on. You’ll hurt him for sure if you do.”

Rodimus winced, this time not from his bodily pain. “How do I do that?”

“We you can start by not interfacing with him.” Rodimus gawked at him and Drift laughed. “I’m serious Roddy, talk to him instead. Try and spend time with him to figure your feelings out. Just, you know, casually.”

Rodimus huffed and crossed his arms, “You make it sound so easy.”

“That’s because it is, you on the other hand seemed determined to make it otherwise.”

Rodimus pursed his lips and narrowed his eyes at his amica. He had to hand it to Drift though, he was usually right. Rodimus’ libido on the other hand was weeping. He and Thunderclash hadn’t had one of their trysts in awhile and he was starting to feel the craving again. It didn’t help that now he couldn’t get enough of the other mech’s lips. Rodimus almost didn’t want to think about how he got to be such a good kisser.

“I do still want to know what you were doing with him when the power was out.” Drift said, a devious look on his face. “Being naughty?”

“I wish.” Rodimus said with no shame. “I accidentally got stuck in his hab so we made out a little.”

“Only a little?”

“Okay maybe a lot. I didn’t know he was such a good kisser. It kind of never came up… before now.”

Drift’s optics saddened, “Oh Roddy.”

“I guess I shouldn’t be surprised considering other things he can do this his mouth.” Rodimus smirked at the other speedster’s spluttering reaction. Drift gave a most half-sparked shove to his side

“Roddy!”

“Rodimus Prime!”

Both speedster’s jumped as Ultra Magnus entered the room, bellowing, followed closely behind by Megatron. Rodimus flinched and swore as a jolt of pain shot through his side.

“Yeah guys, don’t knock. Not like I’m injured or anything.”

Ultra Magnus faltered for half a step, taking in the sight of Rodimus on the berth, but cleared his intake.

“I apologize captain, I just thought you would want to be briefed on our current status,” Magnus approached the berth, much more slowly this time. “And, well, I was going to tell you how foolish you were for removing your suit but I think your injuries are doing a good job of that.”

“No kidding.” Rodimus said, leaning back against the pillows and wincing. Although he played it down as much as he could. No sense in being seen as weak, especially not in front of Megatron.

“You removing your suit may have very well saved Slo-Mo’s life.” The silver mech said.

“Was that his name? How is he doing?”

“He’ll live,” Ratchet entered the room, looking exhausted. “He’s in recovery now, so is Sunstreaker. He got lucky that the pieces of the hull wrapped around him staved off most of the heat. The other two bots weren’t so lucky. Unfortunately the heat has had some permanent damages to their soft wiring. Even if we replace it all, they will likely experience glitches for the rest of their functioning.”

Rodimus frowned. Drift reached over and patted his shoulder in a comforting gesture.

“Hey, they’re alive thanks to you. Don’t look so down, it could be a lot worse.”

“We have also made a successful quantum leap away from the nebula and can continue repairs on the ship unobstructed.” Megatron said stepping forward. “A lot of our supplies are running low now so we will need to up our next resupply stop. Magnus has made a few suggestions on planets we can stop at. The closest is a planet with raw materials we can mine, but this would mean having to put the ship down for possibly several days, but would ultimately be cheaper.”

“Money isn’t really an issue.” Drift chimed in.

“I know, but it is an option.” Megatron grunted, “Or we could wait until we reach the next inhabited planet with our desired materials in ten cycles. There are closer options that may or may not have what we need but we won’t know until we reach them.”

“Sounds like either way, we’re probably going to spend a lot of time fixing this.” Rodimus sighed.

“I leave the choice up to you, Rodimus. The crew will likely trust your judgement more than mine.” Megatron put his hands on his hips. Rodimus could feel all the optics in the room on him.

“Can I have a little while to think about it?”

“You have until tomorrow, by then the crew will be done reinforcing the hull and repairing the damages with what materials we have left.” Megatron said turning to leave but being stopped by a very angry medic.

“You can have your answer after I’ve repaired him and he’s feeling better. No sooner than that. Do I make myself clear.” The Hatchet was in full effect and the whole room felt it. Megatron could say no to him no more than he could stop the cosmos from turning.

“Yes, Ratchet.” To give credit where it’s due, Megaton didn’t shy away from the medic, instead politely clearing his intake and waiting for the medic to move. Which Ratchet did, albeit staring at Megatron with a look that could kill as the silver mech took his leave.

“You didn’t have to be so mean to him Ratchet.” Rodimus said gently. He didn’t like having to defend Megatron but Ratchet was bordering on over-bearing conjunx territory. And they weren’t even bonded! The medic only had to look at him for Rodimus to feel it again, the fear and uncertainty in his EM field despite the strong will that was reflected in his blue optics, and the overwhelming need to comfort the medic.

“Ratchet has every right as Chief Medical Officer to demand you be on berthrest.” Ultra Magnus said. “I’m sure his intention was not to be cruel, only strict.”

“Exactly,” Ratchet said as he approached the foot of the berth. “Now I’m sorry to say visiting time is up. First Aid and I are going to prep him for surgery. Better to start now rather than later, we won’t know the full damage until we get a good look inside unfortunately.”

Drift gripped Rodimus’ hand tightly, bringing his awareness back to the fact that Drift hadn’t let go. Rodimus turned to him, connecting optics. He leaned into Drift and touched his fore helm to the other speedster’s.

“I’ll be fine, you go and get some recharge okay?” Rodimus whispered.

Drift looked like he wanted to protest but instead he tilted his head to give Rodimus a kiss. One for his lips and then another for each cheek. All the while squeezing his hand. Rodimus could feel the fear from Drift’s end of the bond, still raw and frantic, with each kiss. The red speedster did his best to project as much soothing emotion to him as he could before they separated and Drift stood to leave.

“I love you, Roddy.” He said with a smile.

“I know,” Rodimus chuckled, he didn’t need to ask him why he said it. Drift probably felt that he had almost not been able to say it ever again. “I love you too, Drift.”

Drift hugged Ratchet and gave his conjunx several kisses as well before leaving. Rodimus only noticed now that Ultra Magnus was staring fixedly at his own hands. Probably made highly uncomfortable by the displays of affection. Rodimus couldn’t help but smile at him, the poor bot really needed to loosen up a bit. Though the speedster was definitely not the bot to tell him that.

Ultra Magnus cleared out very quickly after that, leaving Rodimus alone with the medic. He was quickly hooked up to lines feeding him coolant and drugs which fogged his processor. He reached out at some point and took the medics hand.

“Hey Ratch?”

“Hm?” The medic replied absently, filing out his chart.

“I am sorry I worried you. I didn’t mean to.” Rodimus’ words came out slow. The medic looked at him with a tired sigh.

“I know you didn’t Rodimus. I was feeling a lot of Drift’s stress too. That’s why I reacted that way.”

“And ‘cause you’d miss me if I was gone.” Rodimus was slurring his words now as the drugs took further hold of him. Rodimus opened his arms to the medic. Ratchet smiled and rolled his optics but leaned down to give the speedster a hug. Just as he drifted into his medically induced recharge, Rodimus felt Ratchet plant a kiss on the side of his helm.

Chapter Text

“Excuse me?” Rodimus asked, appalled.

“Just thought maybe you could pull a few strings for a friend.” Getaway was leaning onto his medical berth.

The mech had snuck in, undoubtably considering Ratchet wasn’t even letting Ultra Magnus near him after his surgeries, and had asked him for yet another favor. This time he wanted Rodimus to set aside for only him and his friends to go down for shore leave on their next stop. Shore leave was usually signed up for, sometimes in advanced but mostly it was first come first serve. Getaway wanted essentially a private party for him and his groupies.

“The next stops are all going to be for repairs and resupplying, I can’t just okay a group of mechs who don’t know what they’re doing for that. Nor am I supposed to be giving special time off while everyone else is working hard repairing the ship.” Rodimus reasoned.

“Oh I’m sure it’s not that hard, after all they have you doing it most of the time.”

Rodimus bit back a nasty response to that and instead turned to look down at his berth covers in a huff. He then got an idea. He bit his cheek hard to keep himself from smirking.

“Fine, if you and your friends think you can handle it.”

“I assure you we can.” With that, the masked mech slunk back out the way he came.

~    ~    ~    ~

“Are you sure about this list?” Megatron skimmed his data pad. “They don’t seem like the type for a job like this. Though most of you autobots don’t really have the alt-modes for it I guess.”

“They signed up personally, I’m sure they’ve got it.” Rodimus smirked. Cycles later he was finally repaired enough that he could get Ratchet off his aft and get back to being a captain. He was feeling better than ever and this latest development was just icing on the cake.

Rodimus sort of let Megatron talk him into mining their own materials on the closer planet of VFPIVF-1 as opposed to looking for their materials at marked up galactic prices. It really didn’t take as much convincing considering Rodimus had already had every intention of doing so anyway.

He asked for it. Rodimus chuckled to himself.

“I guess I’ll just have to take your word.” Megatron said walking away.

Feeling pleased with himself, Rodimus made his way back to his hab. Despite feeling much better, Ratchet had insisted he stay away from work for the time being. Not that he was going to complain much about that, but it meant no bridge duty and without that he found himself bored a little out of his processor. He wasn’t allowed to drink, do work, spar, or even transform until he was given the all clear.

So he was mostly reduced to rewatching movies and listening to music, occasionally walking the hallways too. He really wanted to race around in the lower decks like he was used to doing but he didn’t dare defy Ratchet’s orders, the medic might just offline him. Not to mention the thought of reopening cracks and stressing his welds was not a nice one, not when he had only just been able to start fueling regularly again. He had cracked a vent close to his fuel tank and it had pressed against it in a most unpleasant way which had resulted in nearly 3 cycles of nausea.

Rodimus had been halfway to his hab when his thought process reminded him that he still hadn’t invited Thunderclash for their ‘date,’ but also not ‘date.’ He wanted to try sticking to Drift's advice, so he wanted to just do something casual in his hab where they could talk uninterrupted. He knew interfacing was well out of the question while he was recovering so it gave him an extra incentive to invite him now while he couldn’t try and jump him, Primus knew he wanted to by now. It was aggravating how he could get revved up so easily, sometimes he just had to hear the big mech speak a certain way and that was it.

Rodimus played around with the idea of inviting the mech for a minute before deciding to send him a comm. ping.

:Would you like to come to my hab and watch a movie or something?:

He felt weird immediately afterwards. Like he was sure that the mech probably had better things to do than to hang out with him. He tried to reason the feeling away, after all it wasn’t like any of their previous engagements had been short lived and Thunders had found time for him then. That thought process only lead to another that worried that Thunderclash wouldn’t want to be with him if they couldn’t interface, which couldn’t be further from the truth, Rodimus was sure of it.

He didn’t understand where all of this insecurity was coming from. Rodimus supposed it had been awhile since he had last cared this much about a relationship. Of all the mechs he could have chosen though—

:Yes, I would like that. When should I arrive?:

Rodimus ignored that his spark rate rose a little when he got the reply and sent his own immediately.

:An hour sound good to you?:

:Sounds perfect.:

There was that word again.

Perfect.

What an incredibly high standard to meet. Rodimus hoped the big mech didn’t have high hopes for the entertainment. Rodimus had heard of artsy films made on earth but he himself had never seen one. If it didn’t have action or comedy he was typically not interested, save for the occasional romance movie. He wondered briefly what genres Thunders would like. Maybe he should show him The Thing. That movie had made Rodimus very unnerved for like a month. Not scared, per se, but he didn’t recharge well that’s for sure. Organic gore was just so… visceral.

Rodimus stopped mid-step and firmly decided that, despite how hilarious Thunders reaction might be, horror movies were definitely out of the question.

~    ~    ~    ~

Thunderclash stood outside of the captain’s hab for probably a minute or two too long.

Nervous wasn’t even the half of it. This was probably the first time they were intentionally going to spend time together without the promise of it leading to something else. The thought of which both excited and terrified the colorful mech to an extreme. He wanted this to go well—no, he needed this to go well, and he wanted it to be the first of many for them. He had to try and remind himself to be realistic, they would probably sit in silence for most of the movie and then when it was over Thunderclash would leave. Somewhere in there he hoped to kiss the speedster at least once but he would have to play that carefully. Rodimus was still recovering after all.

Thunderclash finally calmed himself enough to ping for entry. The door opened a moment later and Rodimus peeked his head out to look up and down the halls yet again. Thunderclash wish the action stung less the more the red mech did it but it never seemed to. Rodimus waved him inside and he entered as he was trying to find his words. He should greet him shouldn’t he?

“How have you been?” Thunderclash said at last.

“A lot better, bored out of my processor. The Hatchet has me off work for the next four cycles though. Never thought I’d miss it.” The speedster leaned on the back of the couch. He looked much better. His colors were brightening more everyday, though perhaps still a little dull if you cared enough to notice.

“What’s that?” Rodimus indicated to something he holding. Thunderclash felt his faceplate heat up as he clutched the data slug gently.

“I thought that maybe you would like to, you don’t have to if you don’t want to—obviously, but I  brought a Camien play that Lotty had leant me. I thought you might enjoy this one.” Thunderclash fidgeted with the data slug, optics trying to read the speedster’s expression. Rodimus gave him a half-smile.

“I won’t lie I’m not sure I can follow the lingo.”

“It’s very easy to follow once you know the context, I assure you, but if you would rather watch something else I completely understand.” Thunderclash could see the hesitation in his blue optics but Rodimus just shrugged.

“Sure, why not. I’ve watched all of my movies like a million times. Something new won’t kill me.” Rodimus stepped forwards, palm upright, “Sit down, I’ll set it up real fast.”

Thunderclash tried to contain his excitement, handing the data slug to Rodimus. Thunderclash sat himself on the end of the couch, feeling a little self-conscious of his size. Rodimus came to sit beside him, leaning fully back against the couch, stretching gently as he did so. The colorful mech accidentally let his optics wander his frame, taking in the subtle curves of his chest plate and the slope of his arched back. He forced himself to look away, feeling a little embarrassed even though he knew he shouldn’t. He could feel the heat in his frame rising just from being in close proximity to the red mech.

It took a klik for Thunderclash to realize he was speaking to him. He looked up suddenly to Rodimus giving him an expectant look.

“I’m sorry could you repeat that, my processor was… elsewhere.” He could feel himself blushing but there wasn’t anything he could do about it now.

“Context? What’s this thing about? You signed up to translate for me so settle in.” Rodimus scooted closer and gave him a playful shove.

“Right, yes of course.” Thunderclash gave him a quick synopsis of the story which was about a mech who was sick of their life and decides to leave and find fortune elsewhere, eventually picking up a ragtag family of mechs along the way. It was an adventure that had reminded Thunderclash of the Lost Light in a few ways. Throughout the play Thunderclash had to break down some of the strange jargon the Camiens tended to use from ancient Cybertronian and there were some scenes that Rodimus had to rewind to understand. Overall, Rodimus seemed to be enjoying himself, despite not understanding it at times.

The play ended with the heroes of the tale deciding that the best fortune they had found was each other, a sappy ending that Thunderclash personally loved, and they all decided to find a home for all of them to live. After it was over, the colorful mech looked to Rodimus, anxiously awaiting his approval.

“Did you like it?” Thunderclash asked.

“It was surprisingly good.” Rodimus gave a little shrug. “I don’t think I could watch another one without you though.”

“Oh?”

“I just get lost kind of easily, the way they talk is… kind of extra.” Rodimus chuckled.

Thunderclash smiled, “I understand what you mean. I think that is why I enjoy them so much. It was unlike anything that was normally made during the war and I found it to be refreshing.”

“Huh.” Rodimus had the beginnings of a smile on his face.

“What is it?”

“Funny, that’s kind of why I got into Earth movies. Ratchet calls it my escape, a way to forget all the madness we went through.” Rodimus’ gaze looked over to his collection stacked haphazardly in the corner by the video screen. “He says I over indulge though, that it’s not good for me.” The speedster sighed heavily.

“Rodimus…” Thunderclash couldn’t help but feel for him. He reached up and put a hand on his shoulder. “We all need an escape sometimes. It isn’t something to be ashamed of. I think it’s wonderful that you encourage so much down time on this ship for things like movie nights.”

“You do?” Rodimus turned to him, disbelief written on his face. “I thought you agreed with Magnus that the bots on this ship are all getting too complacent.”

“Well, yes, I guess I did.” Thunderclash regretted his words as Rodimus’ frown deepened, “But only in terms of their own diligence to their jobs, that isn’t on you so much as them.” He tried to back pedal.

“But I’m the captain! I’m supposed to be setting an example. Look at me, I’m just sitting around all day.” Rodimus flung his hands in the air emphatically, annoyance clear in his field.

“My point was,” Thunderclash said, trying to sound reasonable, “These bots needed to be reminded that they are no longer at war. Sure they should still do their jobs well but they don’t have to be constantly vigilant anymore. We aren’t being pursued by anyone with the intent to kill us and we aren’t hiding anymore. A lot of bots have forgotten how to live any other kind of life… I know I did. A-And I think it’s important that you are teaching us how to live again.”

Rodimus stared at him.

“Rodimus?” Thunderclash feared he had said something wrong.

“I uh… I never thought of it like that. I gave everyone a lot of down time mostly for selfish purposes. I figured if I had a lot then the crew should too.” Rodimus put his hand up to paw at his helm again, a nervous tick. He would scratch at his paint job and squeeze his helm flares like he was trying to open up his own head at times. Thunderclash gently took his hand from his helm.

“You often do the right things without realizing it.” Thunderclash said, unable to keep the sheer adoration from his optics and meaning every word as he spoke them. His spark pounded in his chest, holding Rodimus’ hand in his own. “You see your crew as your equal, deserving what you get and often more at times. You’re a good mech Rodimus.”

“And I thought Drift was the flatterer.” Rodimus let out an airy chuckle. “You’re wrong though, all the good things I’ve ever done have always been on accident.”

“I don’t believe that.”

“Suit yourself.” Rodimus turned his body away from him and Thunderclash sighed lightly, wishing the little prime believed in himself more.

“Did you really mean that? What you said… about me teaching you about living again?” Rodimus turned to look at him.

“Very much so. I have spent a lot of my recent life trapped aboard a vessel keeping me alive, and before that I was always living from battle to battle. There was never time to make plans for anything. I became stuck in a rut of sorts, I didn’t know what to do with myself when the war was over.” Thunderclash said wistfully. “It was hard to imagine surviving the next encounter let alone imagining being able to sit down at a bar with friends and just be able to talk. So I adopted the next mission that came to me without much second thought.”

“You never mentioned this before.” Rodimus said, a curious look on his face.

“Most people never ask about this part. The “glory of the battlefield” is mostly what I get asked about. Some of them ask if I was ever scared.”

“Were you?”

“I have always said no.”

Rodimus looked a little dejected.

“But,” Thunderclash leaned forward and whispered, “I’ll tell you that I don’t think there was ever a battle or fight when I wasn’t scared.”

Rodimus smiled a little crookedly. “Why not tell your fans that? Scared they won’t worship you anymore?”

“No, but some bots need something that gives them hope. I don’t want to take that away from them. I try and be as real with them as possible, don’t get me wrong, but I’m afraid if they saw me as cowardly as I am they would lose their faith that everything will be alright. That they can get through it.”

“How do you know it won’t have the opposite effect?” Rodimus nudged him with his knee gently as he scooted closer. “People relate better to those who are afraid. They can see themselves in them.”

Thunderclash considered that for a moment, a smile curling his lips. “You’re right, they probably would. I guess I need to change my stories.”

“Happy to help.” Rodimus was still smiling at him, it was bordering on a little bit of a smirk but still genuine. “And, if it makes you feel any better, I don’t think you’re cowardly.”

Thunderclash remembered he was holding the speedster’s hand and he gave it a gentle squeeze. “That means a lot coming from you.”

The next thing he knew Rodimus was pulling him in for a kiss, which he eagerly reciprocated. He kept his hands to himself, not wanting to hurt the speedster or rev him up by accident when neither of them should be doing anything more than this. He kept ahold of his hand though, his thumb doing small circles in his golden palm.

“Do you have time… To watch another movie with me, I mean?” Rodimus said, pulling away from the kiss, “Unless you’re busy or something.”

“I have no other plans until my next shift, I would very much like to watch another movie with you.” Thunderclash couldn’t have wipe the smile off his own face to save his life, “You pick this time.”

He watched Rodimus stood and went over to his collection. He knew right now was the perfect opportunity to tell the speedster how he felt about him. He knew that if he didn’t he would just regret it later but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. He just wanted to enjoy this time he had with Rodimus and forget that there were any complicated feelings. To forget that the speedster would never have done this with him before they became intimate, and that likely this would stop after their agreement was over.

“Any preference on genre?” Rodimus looked over his shoulder at him.

“Uh, not really. I trust your judgement.”

“Hmmmm…” Rodimus flicked through the assortment once again. “I haven’t watched this one in awhile.” He said as he set up the new movie.

“What is it?” Thunderclash asked as the speedster sat beside him, close enough that they were touching.

“It’s called Fandango. It’s another ‘80s flick. It’s kind of like the play you showed me, these 5 guys go on a road trip adventure to have some kind of last hurrah before they end up going off to war. Okay it’s not that similar but it’s pretty good, I’ve seen it like 10 times.”

Thunderclash chuckled at the way Rodimus talked so enthusiastically, “I’m sure it’s wonderful. It will be your turn to assist me when I get lost, however.”

“No problem.” Rodimus started the movie, beaming brightly.

As the movie progressed Thunderclash tried to relax a bit more, leaning back gently. Rodimus seemed to have no problem getting comfortable as he sat close enough that their legs touched and he leaned gently against him. In a bold move, Thunderclash wrapped his arm around the speedster’s shoulders, gently tucking him against the side of his chassis. The red mech didn’t protest, actually before long he was resting his helm against Thunderclash’s chest plate. They stayed like that as they watched, the colorful mech tried to keep his questions to a minimum to avoid disturbing the movie.

The story seemed bittersweet and ended with the friends going separate ways. Thunderclash couldn’t help but see why Rodimus connected to this story in particular. It was about friendship and growing up in uncertain circumstances.

As the movie faded to black, Thunderclash looked down at Rodimus to find the speedster curled against his side. He was awfully still which was worrisome, but a light snore alerted the colorful mech that he had simply fallen into recharge. Thunderclash didn’t want to wake him but this position wasn’t good for his welds, he was sure of it. So after shutting off the video screen , Thunderclash gingerly scooped the speedster into his arms. He stirred a little but it wasn’t until he was laid down on the berth that he woke.

“Mnhhh…” Rodimus made a disgruntled noise, opening one optic at him.

“Sorry, I just figured this would be more comfortable for you.” Thunderclash began to pull away when Rodimus caught him by his collar plating. It wasn’t a hard grip, he could have easily brushed it aside, what kept him rooted to the spot was the speedster’s next words.

“Stay with me.” He grumbled.

Taken aback, Thunderclash stared down at him, “I’m sorry?”

“I’m cold. Keep me warm?”

It wasn’t a demand but Thunderclash felt like he couldn’t say no. He peeled away the covers and slid in beside Rodimus, the speedster coming to curl gently against him, half atop his chest, one hand still clutching at Thunderclash’s collar plating. Moments later he was recharging once more, his vents deepening and evening out. A protectiveness came over Thunderclash as he wrapped an arm around the speedster, laying it against his back and stroking gently. Rodimus never let anyone see this side of him, even before now he had never been so vulnerable with the colorful mech. It nearly melted his spark with happiness and made it so much easier to forget that it wouldn’t last.

Good things never do.

Chapter Text

So much for not leading him on.

Rodimus thought as sat awake in his berth.

Thunderclash had left for his shift over an hour ago. Rodimus had felt sad to see him go, the big mech was an excellent pillow. Moreover, the speedster had almost forgotten how nice it was to wake up with someone in his berth. He was getting more and more used to it nowadays.

No reason it can’t stay that way.

Rodimus cursed his indecision. He still felt like he wasn’t ready for this. He wasn’t ready to emotionally open himself up to the other mech. It just didn’t feel right. It felt like at any moment… He would be gone. He had no reason to stay here. Just because of Rodimus? Unlikely. Thunderclash could probably be anywhere in the universe if he wanted to. The only reason he was on this ship was because they just so happened to have the same mission. Eventually that mission would be over, for better or worse, and what then?

Thunderclash might look at him like he’s the stars in the sky for now but how long would that last? How long before he realized just how not perfect he was? That he was just making it up as he went along. How long would it take for Thunderclash to move on to bigger and grander things?

So Rodimus sat in his berth, remembering the warmth of the other mech and trying to ease his processor back into recharge. He was not any closer to it when his door pinged. Rodimus ignored it. He didn’t want to get up and lose the warmth under his covers. The act proved futile as the door pinged incessantly and he was forced to get up to answer it.

He opened it and started as he stared into the loathsome gaze of none other than Getaway. The mech was covered helm to pede in dust and soot, mud caked over his lower half and upper extremities. In short, he was dirty and he was pissed.

And Rodimus had to bite the inside of his cheek to keep himself from laughing, he bit so hard he could taste energon. Still it didn’t help, he could feel a painful smirk smeared all over his face.

“Getaway, nice to— Hey!” The masked mech shoved past him and into his hab, tracking dirt as he went. “I mean sure, come on in, why don’t you take a seat? Make yourself comfortable.” Rodimus said sarcastically, brushing muck from his armor that had transferred to him.

“You did this on purpose.” The mech whirled on him, an accusing finger pointed directly in his face.

“What do you mean? I’ve been on berth rest, Megatron’s been running the show—”

“Oh drop the slag, you knew he was going to be digging and you signed us up for the dirty work!” Getaway bristled. He stalked closer to Rodimus and the speedster held his ground as he came close enough he could smell dirt and feel the other mech’s heavy vents against his own plating. There was a crazy look in his optics and Rodimus knew he had to diffuse this situation and fast, before things got out of hand.

“Hey, hey, look, I’m sorry. I honestly didn’t know what he was going to be having you do. I thought going down to the planet would be fun. I’d give anything to be able to race around on an open planet.” He said, slyly omitting the fact that he had vied for the mining trip.

“Of course you would.” Getaway straightened up and puffed his plating , flinging dust and mud off his armor. “You like this kind of organic filth.”

“You got me, what can I say. Mud is fun.” Rodimus shrugged. He wanted to tell the mech to loosen up and take the iron rod out of his aft but he had a feeling that would not be taken well so he kept quiet.

“I’m warning you now, Hot Rod.”

“It’s Rodim—”

“You heard me,” Getaway stepped right into his space, eyes narrowing, his faceplate nearly touching Rodimus’ nose as he neared him, “You frag up one more time and you’ll be sorry.”

Getaway shoved past him, shoulder checking him as he did, and stormed out of the hab.

Rodimus pinched the bridge of his nose, exhaling a deep vent and taking in the state of his floor. He had some cleaning up to do.

~    ~    ~    ~

Rodimus spent the better part of two hours cleaning up dirt from his floor. It only took a long time because he kept getting distracted. Ultra Magnus send him comms about the status of the mining operation and current repairs. The blue mech had at first been ordered by Ratchet to leave him out but Rodimus had insisted on being kept in the loop. He wasn’t about to give full reign over to Megatron. Not now, not ever.

Ratchet sent him a comm. asking him to come down to the medbay for another examination and Drift sent one asking to meet at Swerve’s for drinks after his shift. His shift with Thunderclash. Rodimus checked his chronometer. Still another 4 or so hours until then and he was getting antsy again. Oh how he wished he could transform for just five minutes and let out some of his energy. If he didn’t soon he might just explode.

He decided that he might as well get his examination out of the way. Ratchet might even okay him for engex or transforming if not for work.

When he arrived the medbay was almost completely empty, save for the 3 bots that had suffered more serious injuries from the nebula fiasco. Rodimus approached the mechs as he caught sight of something strange. One mech had a cube of energon raised up to his mouth but it was empty and the contents were clearly spilled down his front. He appeared to be moving… slowly.

“Don’t get too close.” Rodimus turned to look at Sunstreaker who was in the berth opposite the mech.

“Slo-mo’s outlier ability keeps glitching, if you touch him you’ll be stuck in slow motion for five minutes.” Sunstreaker said.

“What happened with the energon?” Rodimus said indicating to the liquid spilled down the mech.

“I think because it wasn’t in direct contact with him it wasn’t affected. He’s always complaining that his ability sucks. Now he has even more of a reason to complain.”

“Can they fix it?” Rodimus asked looking back at the poor bot.

“Dunno, First Aid tried and he got trapped in the slo-mo several times before calling it quits.”

Rodimus sighed and turned from the bot with a heavy feeling in his spark. If he had paid more attention as a captain he might have prevented this…

“When are they letting you out?” Rodimus asked Sunstreaker.

“Tomorrow, probably.” The yellow mech leaned back into his berth. “They better at least. I’m getting bored.”

Rodimus let out a chuckle. “You and me both, I’ve been put on leave until I’m healed. I guess I’m just lucky I can walk around.” Rodimus shot a look back at Slo-Mo, who was still holding an empty cube to his lips, just as Ratchet walked out of his office.

“Finally, do I need to check your internal communications too? Or were you just too lazy to send a ping my way?” Ratchet said crossing his arms at him.

“Sorry Ratch, I came as soon as I read your message though, does that count for something?” Rodimus said trying to halt the medic’s temper before it got off the ground.

“You wish kid.” Ratchet said indicating towards the examination room.

Rodimus played up his pout and slumped his shoulders as he trudged towards the room. He turned before he entered to shoot Sunstreaker a cheeky grin and a thumbs-up, earning a snort from the yellow mech. Rodimus hopped up on the examination berth and kicked his feet. Ratchet followed in shortly after and closed the door.

“Have you been following my instructions?” Ratchet asked, pulling out a data pad and a light pen.

“To the letter, doc.”

“Any pain? New or old?”

“Nah, I’m feeling pretty good.” Rodimus flexed his arms up to show him. “See, never better.”

“I’ll be the judge of that, give me your arm.” Ratchet pulled out his diagnostic cable and plugged in to Rodimus’ proffered arm.

“Take a slow, deep invent through your side vents and hold it.”

Rodimus did so, feeling nervous that his breath shook a little as it came in.

“Alright exvent.”

Rodimus released his breath, feeling suddenly very conscious of the rest of his venting. They repeated the process with all of his vent systems before Ratchet was satisfied and moved on to his coolant levels and his energon pressure.

“Looks good, I’m not getting any alerts.” Ratchet grumbled a little.

“Don’t sound so enthusiastic Ratchet, you might get my hopes up.”

“Sorry, it’s just that other mechs would still be healing from the damage your internals took.” Ratchet unplugged his diagnostic cable and turned to make a few notes on his data pad.

“Sometimes I forget you’re a Prime.”

Rodimus blanched. “What does that have to do with anything?”

“Your healing has definitely remained above average despite the matrix being destroyed. I guess whatever boost it gives to primes is permanent. It’s just in your energon now.”

Rodimus realized he was about to ask something foolish. What he had meant was why Ratchet felt the need to remind himself Rodimus was a Prime. It sounded much more egotistical the more he thought about it. Saying of course I’m a Prime just seemed a step too far. Rodimus couldn’t help but feel a little insulted even though he knew Ratchet hadn’t meant it that way.

“Either way, you’re ahead of schedule. Sorry to say you’ll back on duty by this time next cycle.”

He knew Ratchet was joking but that still stung a little. He tried to shake it off with a wry smile.

“Can’t stand the thought of me at the helm again?”

“On the contrary, I’d far prefer you to Megatron. The slagger still makes me twitchy.” Ratchet turned and scribbled one last note. “I’ll notify Ultra Magnus to put you back on shifts again.”

A thought popped into Rodimus’ helm and he suddenly couldn’t shake it. It was probably better to ask now than to limp in here with an embarrassing injury later.

“So I’m all good for transforming?”

“Yup.” The medic didn’t look up.

“Drinking?”

“Just don’t overdo it.”

“Even…” Rodimus chewed his derma, “Interfacing?”

That got Ratchet’s attention, much to his embarrassment, though the medic didn’t show any visible surprise or confusion. He simply fixed Rodimus with an almost too knowing look. It made Rodimus laugh nervously.

“Just making sure I have all the bases covered.”

“Uh huh. Well yes you are in good enough shape for that too. As long as your partner isn’t rough with you.” Ratchet said, completely professional but Rodimus felt increasingly uncomfortable under that gaze.

“Partner? Who said anything about a partner? I was just—”

“Covering your bases.”

“Yup… Well I really should go, I need to look over my reports about the repairs…Uh—Me and Drift are going to be getting drinks when his shift is over, care to join?” Rodimus started towards the door, Ratchet keeping optics on him as he went.

“I’ll see if I can. I’m pretty busy still.”

“R-Right. Okay see you later Ratchet!”

~    ~    ~    ~

Ratchet watched as Rodimus nearly ran out of the medbay.

He found it amusing. After what Drift had said about them sharing Rodimus’ heat, Ratchet had still been doubtful that the two of them would ever work. But he’d had suspicions about them ever since Thunderclash’s check up. There were very few bots with an interface drive that high and Ratchet was dating one of them.

Rodimus’ reaction subtly confirmed his suspicions. Of course he would never say anything, patient confidentiality and all, but it warmed his spark that the red speedster was giving Thunderclash a chance. Primus new both mechs deserved a little romance for once in their functioning.

He just hoped that Rodimus’ feelings were sincere. The mech could be so selfish at times. He doubted Thunderclash could recover from a spark break like that. Ratchet had heard from the bot himself many months ago about his secret feelings for Rodimus. The medic had plainly told him, so as to keep him level-headed, that Rodimus didn’t like him. He didn’t tell the mech he knew why, the why would have made the statement even more painful than it had been.

Thunderclash had taken in stride, saying he knew that Rodimus didn’t like him. It wasn’t like Rodimus had kept it a secret back then. He had very plainly spelled it out with every action towards the colorful mech.

So while this new development was a happy one, it still made Ratchet a little nervous for his friend.

Chapter Text

Thunderclash walked beside Drift nervously. The white speedster had invited him to have a drink at Swerve’s, hinting that a certain other speedster would also be present.

After their last encounter had ended on such, dare he say cozy terms, Thunderclash had a hope in his spark that was hard to quash. He and Rodimus were getting closer, the speedster was much more relaxed with him than ever before. He probably couldn’t reach across to him and hold his hand yet, or kiss him in public, but it was a start. If things went well at Swerve’s it may just give him the confidence to finally take the leap and tell the speedster his feelings.

Just as the two of them approached the bar, they noticed something was off. Shouting could be heard inside. The next thing they knew, a very familiar red alt-mode was speeding off and away from Swerve’s. A crowd of bots murmuring to themselves in his wake.

Thunderclash started after the speedster but was stopped by a hand on his arm. It was Drift, a concerned look on his face.

“He’ll be down on the lowest levels.” Drift said quietly giving him a nod before going into the bar itself.

Thunderclash set off, hoping to find out what had happened.

~    ~    ~    ~

Rodimus decided to test his clean bill of health by racing through the lower levels for nearly two hours. It felt so good to let out all his energy in one go and when he finally transformed back into root mode he was pretty exhausted. He stretched himself, feeling little pings of soreness in his chassis, but otherwise he felt better than ever. A low fuel warning popped on his hud and he decided to head to Swerve’s a little bit early, Drift’s shift would be over soon enough anyway.

On his way he passed by a group of mechs huddled in a group around a data pad. When they saw him they all immediately dispersed, much to his surprise. Rodimus suddenly had a nagging feeling in the back of his processor and he quickened his steps.

When he arrived there was a similar situation gathered in front of Swerve’s, the bots yet again dispersing but not going far, they lingered around the entrance as Rodimus entered. The feeling of optics on him sent his tanks churning. Around the bar itself, Velocity, Nautica, Skids, Rung, Cyclonus, Tailgate, and even Swerve himself were all looking down at a data pad in front of them. Rodimus cleared his intake.

“Something going on?” Rodimus’ felt his spark stop when all of them turned and fixed him with looks of shock, disappointment and even anger. Especially on Swerve’s end.

“You have something you’d like to say to Swerve?” Velocity put her hands on her hips.

“Uh—I’m not sure what you mean?”

Swerve stood up on the bar and faced the data pad to him.

“She’s talking about this!” Swerve cried, hurt apparent in his voice.

Rodimus felt his spark plummet to his pedes. On the data pad was security camera footage of Swerve’s and a very recognizable red mech was taking a bottle of engex out of Swerve’s hiding place and sub-spacing it. The clip replayed over and over, it was fast enough that hit took barely two vents to play again. Rodimus looked up at Swerve who looked as if he was going to cry.

“Why’d you do it Roddy?” Swerve was definitely crying now.

“You could have just about anything on this ship if you asked, why steal his engex? Especially since he’s one of your friends?” Nautica glowered at him.

“Swerve already gives you free drinks for being the captain!” Tailgate piped in.

“You knew what that engex meant to Swerve and you still took it?” Said someone else.

“How could you do this Rodimus!” Said another.

“Rodimus!”

Rodimus couldn’t focus on any one voice anymore. He felt like someone had just put him out the airlock. An icy vacuum surrounded him and all the noises were muffled and incoherent. But still the questions circled in his processor. Why did he do it? He did it to keep a secret. He couldn’t say that, they would want to know what secret and why it was so important—it would cause more questions than answer them. He didn’t take it because he needed it he did it because—

“Because I wanted to.” The group fell silent at his words. He tried to push past his horror and fill himself with his usual cavalier. “I did it because I wanted to take it.”

Rodimus had to bite his glossa when Swerve gaped at him.

“I’m so—”

“Get out.”

“Excuse me?”

“I said get out of my bar you self-entitled slagger!” Swerve shouted before clamping a hand over his mouth.

The bar fell completely silent. Rodimus could feel all of the optics in the room trained on him. Anger and humiliation welled up and threatened to burst.

“Excuse me?” He asked with more venom, “I am the captain of this ship! I will not be told to—”

“So is slagging Megatron but you wouldn’t see me kissing his aft if he stole from me!” Swerve shouted, stamping his foot on the bar countertop.

“It was one bottle of engex!” Rodimus roared back.

“It’s the indecency of it! What did you even do with it? Probably got drunk in your room and just had your own little party—well you know what, you can just drink in your room from now on because you’re banned!” Swerve was shaking from helm to pede. Even his voice shook and Rodimus could feel the hurt that emanated off of him. It didn’t help that Rodimus had lost his temper.

Rodimus looked around at all the staring bots and flared his plating in agitation. He turned and fled the bar, transforming just outside and peeling away as fast as he could down the hallways. He didn’t go to his hab. He went down. Down to the place where no one would look for him. He went as fast as he could take it, never once stopping as he wound through the corridors at breakneck pace. His engines roaring with pain and his cooling systems were desperately trying to tell him to stop and cool off.

It wasn’t until exhaustion hit him that he stopped. He transformed back to root mode but couldn’t stay still. He walked and walked and walked until he just couldn’t anymore. He leaned against a wall and slid down it, his aft hitting the floor with a hard thud. Then it was quiet.

Rodimus finally let what happened sink in.

He had yelled at Swerve, unjustly seeing as Rodimus was actually the offending party. What was worse was it seemed like the entire ship knew. They had all seen the footage of him stealing the bottle, it was unmistakably him in the video. But how had they gotten that footage? Security footage was confidential and only reviewed if necessary and by the parties involved. It hadn’t been obtained by legitimate means or Ultra Magnus would have sat them down to talk it out instead of them blowing it out in the bar.

Rodimus swallowed thickly. He knew exactly who was responsible for this. Getaway had said he’d be sorry. If this was a fraction of what that damn mech could do…

Rodimus shuttered his optics and squeezed them tightly. He may have lost a friend today, or several, who knows what would happen if Getaway decided to actually ruin him. The worst part was that he couldn’t even properly apologize to make this right again. Swerve deserved to know the real reason he stole the engex. Who knew if the mini would even believe him after this.

Rodimus sniffled and he realized he had tears running down his face. He wiped them quickly when he heard the sound of someone approaching. He wasn’t sure who it was, or even if he wanted to be found, so he remained quiet.

It wasn’t Drift, that was for sure, the mech approaching sounded far too heavy of frame to be him. Not to mention Drift would have been sitting beside him before he even heard it and this mech probably couldn’t be stealthy to save their function.

“Rodimus…?” The mech called quietly, Rodimus recognized the voice immediately. He curled inwards even more, not wanting to be seen like this by the colorful mech.

“Rodimus?” Thunderclash called again. “Are you alright?”

This was it. This was why he hadn’t wanted to tell Thunderclash his feelings. Inevitably he would just disappoint him. The way he disappointed everyone. Rodimus couldn’t take that.

He remained quiet as the mech called for him. He remained quiet as he heard the mech draw near. And still he remained quiet as the mech’s pedesteps faded away. He let out a vent he had been holding. He leaned back and shuttered his optics in relief. He sat there while, venting slowly and trying to calm down. When he had had enough of that he decided it was best for him to go back to his hab, he was getting seriously low on fuel now.

He thought the mech was gone for good but as Rodimus struggled to get back to his pedes he heard Thunderclash coming back down the corridor again. He was persistent that was for sure and Rodimus didn’t see an escape besides maybe ducking into an abandoned room. But the colorful mech would hear the door open and close, no doubt about it. So Rodimus steeled himself to face the mech.

“Thunders?” Rodimus hated that his voice broke a little. He heard the mech before he saw him, loud pedesteps preceding Thunderclash as he rounded a corner, relief plastered over his brassy face.

“Rodimus! There you are, I was worried, I saw you when you left Swerve’s. I wanted to see if everything was alright?” Thunderclash reached for him and Rodimus shied away from his touch a little.

“I’m fine, I just wanted some alone time. How did you find me?”

“Oh uh— Drift said you would be down here,” Thunderclash pulled away, “Do you want me to leave?”

Rodimus felt a twinge in his spark. He didn’t want him to leave. In fact the mech’s presence was uplifting. He was already feeling better just being near him, comforted by his field. But Thunderclash clearly didn’t know what was going on or else he wouldn’t be treating Rodimus like this. Likely he’d be scolding him the way Magnus would. Indecision gripped him, stopping any words he may have had. His body still responded however, and it made up his processor for him by stepping towards the bigger mech and wrapping his arms around his chassis. The mech’s strong arms encircled him slowly.

“Rodimus, what’s wrong?”

He didn’t want to say. Didn’t want to ruin this moment.

“Rodimus please talk to me.”

That tone meant he couldn’t ignore it any longer. So with a shuddering sigh the pulled away from the hug, the colorful mech releasing him as he did. He couldn’t look at Thunderclash as he started talking.

“I did something terrible.” Rodimus vented deeply, “I stole a bottle of engex from Swerve’s. Not just any bottle. His private stash. I… I can’t tell you why I did it. I don’t know why I did it. I guess someone found out about it and leaked the security footage of me taking it.

“When I got to the bar everyone had already seen it. Swerve kicked me out, said I was banned.” Rodimus finally looked up at Thunderclash and saw just what he had feared. Disappointment.

“But... Swerve is your friend?” Thunderclash asked, sounding confused.

“Like I said, I don’t know why I did it.” Rodimus crossed his arms and glared at Thunderclash’s autobrand as opposed to looking the mech in the optics. That was his story and he was sticking to it. The last thing he needed was Thunderclash finding out about Getaway too.

“But you realize now you acted in error?” Thunderclash still sounded confused, likely he wasn’t buying his story. Rodimus didn’t even buy his story but it was all he had.

“Yeah, I just… I just want to try and make it up to him somehow, to try and make amends. He sounded really angry though. I don’t think I’d ever seen Swerve shout like that at anyone. He’s usually such a kind bot.”

Thunderclash’s hands settled on his shoulders, the weight of them felt slightly crushing despite their gentleness. Rodimus looked up at him again and was surprised to see the mech’s expression had changed, though it was still marred by some sadness.

“Give him awhile to cool off. Once you apologize I’m sure he’ll lift your ban.”

“How can you be so sure? It sounded like he hated me.”

“Friends don’t stop being friends from bumps in the road. They stop because the bots decide it’s over. If you apologize, sincerely,” Thunderclash’s optics hardened at the word, a subtle indication that he didn’t believe his story, “I’m sure he will forgive you.”

Rodimus sighed, “I hope you’re right.”

~    ~    ~    ~

After their talk Thunderclash had walked him up to the upper levels near his hab before turning to leave. Rodimus had been sad to see him go but he knew the mech still had work to do, he couldn’t spend all his time with Rodimus, not when he had paperwork to get to Magnus. That could turn into a life or death situation if he wasn’t careful, only Rodimus got away with not handing in reports on time.

Rodimus walked the rest of the way to his hab alone. He stopped short as he reached the captain’s quarters. Getaway was standing there, leaning on his door, freshly cleaned and smirking.

“What do you want.” Rodimus gritted out at the other mech.

“You get the message?”

“Loud and clear.” Rodimus seethed.

“Just making sure.” Getaway patted his shoulder roughly as he passed him.

Rodimus entered his habsuite with a sigh and a splitting helmache.

Chapter Text

“What are you afraid of?” Rodimus pinned the bigger mech with his optics, holding him in place. 

“Come again?”

“Your fears. What is it that scares the big and mighty Thunderclash?” Rodimus tried to ask the question casually, as if he wasn’t burning to hear the answer. “Last time we talked you called yourself cowardly. What do you ‘cower’ from?”

Rodimus watched as the big mech considered his words. He rubbed his hands together lightly, as if fascinated by the texture of his own hands. His red optics narrowed and his brow furrowed.

Rodimus had invited the mech to his hab a couple cycles after the incident at Swerve’s. In those cycles nearly every bot on the ship avoided making optic contact with him. Word had spread quickly about the argument and about the footage and thievery. He occasionally heard whispers about himself. Some calling him a kind of kleptomaniac, others had even less kinder things to say. He hadn’t talked to any of the bots from the bar since it had happened either. He guessed that was for the best since Ratchet and Drift had plenty to say on the subject.

When Rodimus talked to Drift, he’d had a similar reaction to Thunderclash’s, only the other speedster had more brass to pester him about what was going on. It didn’t help that he brought Ratchet into the mess as well. This led to Rodimus partially avoiding his amica. It hurt his spark to do it, he was feeling the stress on his bond and he sorely needed a distraction. Thunderclash served as that distraction currently. They sat in his hab, shooting the breeze and talking about nothing important.

“Uncertainty.” The mech finally responded.

“I was hoping for maybe something with a lot of legs, not an abstract concept.” Rodimus mused. “Why that?”

The big mech shrugged, “Uncertainty can stop a life even while it’s still alive or functioning. It always comes with a high price for one reason or another.” 

Rodimus nodded, he could respect that answer. Thunderclash used to command bots on the battlefield. If there was one thing Rodimus knew well, it was that a single moment of hesitation could get you killed. You or the lives of those under your command.

“What about you?” Thunderclash asked. “What is your biggest fear?” 

“I sometimes worry that the xenomorph is real.”

Thunderclash let out a snort and a brief chuckle, having only recently learned about the xenomorph from one of their previous conversations about Earth cinema involving aliens.

“I guess I meant more of your real concerns or fears. Something that is more present in your life currently?” Thunderclash clarified.

“What if I said I wasn’t afraid of anything?”

“I wouldn’t believe it.”

“Not even a little? I mean I’ve ridden meteors into decepticon bases, faced spark-eaters head on— Pretty fearless stuff in my opinion.” Rodimus said, not really wanting to give a straight answer.

“Fearless? Or foolhardy?”

Rodimus punched his arm lightly. “Ok so I’m reckless, still you gotta admit it takes a lot of spark to do things like that.”

“It doesn’t make you fearless.” 

Rodimus could tell Thunders wasn’t buying it from his expression but the speedster just wanted to drag out the conversation. He put his hand up to his chin in thought. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to tell the big mech—wasn’t even sure if he could since what he was scared of seemed even more abstract than ‘uncertainty.’ At least that held physical consequences, it could be quantified.

“I don’t know how to say it.” Rodimus said at last. “It’s not always there.”

“When is it there?”

Rodimus hesitated for a second before saying, “I used to get it around Optimus.”

Thunderclash remained silent, looking at him with big, red optics.

“I don’t know if you would call it fear, it just felt… Bad.” Rodimus tried to explain but his words were failing him, “I don’t know, maybe that’s not it.”

“Why were you afraid of Optimus?”

“I wasn’t! I just,” Rodimus scrunched his face as he tried to come up with the words, “It was like… Like looking at something really far away. It’s far away and you don’t want it to be. You want to be there already. I can’t explain it right.”

Rodimus huffed, leaning back against his couch with his arms crossed. This was probably the last thing he ever expected to be talking about with Thunderclash, and he had brought it up too. The colorful mech leaned over him, being careful not to touch him, almost like he was afraid to.

“Is it Optimus who is far away from you? Is he what you want to be closer to?” The mech said gently.

“I guess so.” 

“But when you see him, you get this… bad feeling. Like even if he’s standing right next to you, he is very far away?”

“Yeah.”

“Hm.” 

“What,” Rodimus glared at him, “What’s so ‘hmmmm,’ hm?” He said a little rudely.

“Sorry I didn’t mean to offend. I was just thinking that you compare yourself too much to him.”

Rodimus gaped at him, his mouth opening and closing around a retort. He had clearly explained himself wrong. That’s not what he was afraid of. He was afraid of—of…

“You fear you won’t live up to him.”

Rodimus furrowed his brow ridge and looked down at his crossed legs.

“I’m sorry, I’m making presumptions aren’t I?” Thunderclash said, hurriedly. “Please forgive me I didn’t mean to be rude.”

“You weren’t,” Rodimus said, his energy suddenly feeling sapped from him as he spoke, “We’re just having a discussion ‘Clash, you didn’t offend me.”

An uncomfortable silence came over the room. Thunderclash still sat forward, slightly leaning towards Rodimus. The mech had something on the tip of his glossa, Rodimus could see it in his optics. He had a pretty good idea what it was going to be about.

“Rodimus.” 

Here it comes.

“Have you tried to apologize to Swerve yet?” 

Boom.

“No, not yet. Still basking in the humiliation.” Rodimus leaned his head back and stared at the ceiling of his hab.

“Things will only get better if you apologize.” 

“You sound like Drift.”

“Your amica is a wise mech.”

“Don’t let him hear you say that, I’ll never hear the end of it.” Rodimus groaned. “And yeah, I know things won’t get better but I haven’t even seen Swerve since then. He’s avoiding me. Everyone is.” 

Rodimus looked at Thunderclash, the mech’s face unreadable.

“If you don’t mind me asking, why hasn’t Ultra Magnus done something about this? You did steal from another mech, I would think even the captain wouldn’t be completely above the law in this situation.” Thunderclash said slowly.

“Swerve hasn’t written up a formal complaint. You bet your aft that Ultra Magnus gave me an audial full about it.” Rodimus searched the mech’s face, irritation in the back of his processor.

“Why are you here?” Rodimus asked with an edge to his voice.

“You invited me.” Thunderclash said simply.

“No, I mean, while I appreciate you coming to talk with me, it doesn’t explain why you’re being so nice about this.” Rodimus continue to search his face. Now he looked conflicted, as if maybe he was finally thinking about who he was sitting with.

“How should I be acting?”

“You should be angry with me!” Rodimus could feel his patience explode. “You should be telling me off for being an awful friend! Telling me how disappointed you are, because believe me, I know you are!”

Rodimus was sitting upright now, nearly in Thunderclash’s face.

“Would it help?” Thunderclash said, his voice clearly straining to keep calm. “If I did any of those things? Would it help you feel better about what you did? Would it solve this situation?” 

The anger dissipated, leaving regret in it’s place.

“No… I guess not.” Rodimus brought a hand up to the side of his helm and squeezed his audial flare. Thunderclash surprised him with his gentleness as he took his hand away from the sensitive appendage.

“I want to help you, Rodimus. I’m not against you. You recognize you did something wrong and you want to make it right. And despite the fact that you won’t tell me why you did it,” Thunderclash gave his hand a gentle squeeze. “I still want to help.”

Rodimus sighed.

“You’re annoyingly honorable. Has anyone ever told you that?” He said with a teasing tone.

Thunderclash chuckled, a sound which in this proximity was far more arousing than it needed to be.

“You would be the first.”

The silence came again, a little more comfortable this time. Thunderclash still held his hand. Rodimus jumped when Thunderclash moved suddenly with a gruff sigh, playing it off by sitting forward.

“What’s wrong?”

“I need to go. My shift is going to start soon.”

“Okay.” Rodimus didn’t move and neither did Thunderclash.

“May I…” The colorful mech sat at the edge of his seat but turned to face Rodimus, “May I request something—well, a couple somethings?”

Rodimus quirked a brow ridge, “I guess that depends on the request ‘Clash.”

He cleared his intake before continuing, “Well first, that you seek out Swerve to apologize. I fear the minibot may be under the same impressions as you and won’t face this problem because of his anxieties.” 

Rodimus pouted but he could concede to that. “Fine. Anything else?”

A blush spread across the edges of Thunderclash’s brassy faceplate. “W-Well I was wondering if perhaps… If it wouldn’t be too much to ask… For a kiss before I leave?”

Rodimus couldn’t stop the shock from hitting his faceplates. It was just unusual to be asked that way and he almost made the mistake of laughing out loud. Thunderclash was already retreating from him just from his expression alone.

“S-Sorry, I didn’t—” 

Rodimus grabbed the stammering mech before he could go any further and pulled him into a fierce kiss. He kept pulling until the mech was off balance and had to brace himself on the back of the couch to avoid falling entirely on top of Rodimus. Thunderclash let out a rumbling moan that shook the speedster all the way to his interface array and he cursed inwardly that the mech already said he had to go. He released the mech and pulled away from the kiss slowly, looking up into dim red optics.

“You don’t have to ask for things like that.” Rodimus said bringing his hand up to stroke Thunderclash’s strong jawline.

“I just wanted to make sure.” Thunderclash leaned back in, placing soft kisses against his lips. Rodimus shuddered with want and he mourned having to push the colorful mech away.

“If you keep revving me up like that, you’re going to be late.” He said slightly out of breath. He almost laughed again when he could see conflict in the big mech’s optics. He was actually thinking about it.

“You’re right.” Thunderclash pulled away, “I also haven’t been to get a check-up yet either. I’m still supposed to be abstaining.” 

“Good to know I wasn’t the only one thinking that’s where we were headed.” Rodimus smirked when Thunderclash’s blush deepened even further. Primus he was adorable. 

“I better go.” Thunderclash and Rodimus both stood and walked to the door. The colorful mech lingered for a moment before turning to him, “Remember my first request, please talk to Swerve.”

Rodimus gave him a curt nod and with that, Thunderclash left.

Rodimus put his fingers up to his lips, tasting bittersweet thoughts of keeping Thunderclash. So much could be resolved if he actually just told the mech how he felt and that he wanted to take things further. He could get that glitch Getaway off of his back. He could properly apologize to Swerve and stop avoiding his amica. 

But now more than ever bots would second guess their relationship. Even if Rodimus righted his wrong, he still stole from a friend and just about every mech on the Lost Light saw the proof. His reputation was tarnished. Plenty of bots would ask what a mech as great as Thunderclash was doing with him. No matter how many bots he saved, after putting them in jeopardy in the first place, he just couldn’t amount to the mech he wanted to be. He was stagnating, he’d hit his peak years ago and now he was just in denial about how far he was sinking. So he just had to ask himself…

Was it worth it to bring Thunderclash down with him?

Chapter Text

Finding Swerve wasn’t actually all that difficult.

The bot really only went two places on the ship; his bar and his hab. The tricky part was that he had bots on the look out for Rodimus so that he could make a quick escape and avoid him. The speedster had just barely seen the minibot slip away on more than one occasion and disappear into the bowels of the ship. He could only run so far however, and Rodimus had access to every place on the ship. He hated to do it, he really did, but Swerve was just going to keep ducking him otherwise.

Rodimus input his code into Swerve’s door to override the lock and slipped inside. The mini had been standing just inside the door and turned around with an aghast expression on his face. He jumped nearly twice his height and ran around the berth.

“W-What are you doing here!” The minibot said from his safe corner behind the berth. Not wanting to spook him further, Rodimus stayed by the door. They eyed each other from the two corners of the room, Swerve’s visor only just visible and glaring at him over the berth slab.

“Did you come here to steal from me again?”

“Swer—”

“No, actually I don’t want to hear it. Just go, I’m very busy right now a-and—and…” Swerve hopped up on the bed and turned his back to Rodimus before going completely silent, quite the feat for the resident motor-mouth of the Lost Light. Rodimus waited a few kliks before he tried again.

“Swerve, would you please just listen to what I have to say?”

The minibot remained with his back turned to him, ignoring him. Rodimus let out a frustrated growl.

“Okay look, listen or not I guess it doesn’t matter. I did something terrible, I wronged you. I won’t make any excuses for it, because there isn’t a good enough one in this universe or the next to justify doing what I did to a friend.” Rodimus took a breath and released it with a shuddering sigh.

“I’m sorry Swerve. You can keep me banned from the bar. You can stay mad at me. I just want you to know how sorry I am and that if you ever need something from me I promise you only need to ask for it. At the very least, I owe you that much.”

There was a pregnant pause as Rodimus waited for Swerve to say anything, to give any indication he had been heard. Rodimus thought maybe the minibot’s stubbornness had actually won out and was about to leave when he heard a quiet sob come from the mini.

“Swerve?”

“I ju-just don’t get it.” The minibot croaked as he turned finally to look at him. Lubricant streaked down his face in fat tears. “I just want to understand.” His voice breaking over the end of his sentence.

Rodimus wavered before deciding he didn’t care how Swerve reacted. He stepped up to the berth and wound his arms around the mini in a tight hug. Swerve didn’t get very many hugs, he squeaked and went stiff in the speedster’s arms. He didn’t push Rodimus away though, he merely continued to hiccup as he tried to stem his crying.

“Just tell me R-Roddy, why did you take it?” Swerve managed at last.

“I wish I could tell you, trust me,” Rodimus found himself saying into the top of Swerve’s head. “I really do. But I can’t.”

“Why not?”

Rodimus sighed and pulled back to look Swerve in his visor.

“It’s for a pretty selfish reason. I promise that I’ll be able to tell you one day but I can’t right now.”

“Can you at least tell me what you did with it? I’ll lift your ban if you just tell me that.” Rodimus could see Swerve’s incurable curiosity was now piqued. He could be as bad as Nightbeat at times.

“I gave it to someone. Satisfied?”

“I guess.” Swerve sniveled the last of his tears away. “Was it really so important?”

It had been at the time.

“Yes. Listen, I’d like to make it up to you. Anything you want, a hundred bottles like it? Want to be captain for a day? Word of warning, Megatron will not get out of the captain's chair if you let him sit in it.”

Swerve let out an airy chuckle, “I’ll pass on that. But uh… having a favor I can call in wouldn’t be so terrible.”

“What ever you need or want, you got it. Or—well, I’ll try my best to get it, I’m not magic.”

Swerve looked at his pedes on the berth.

“I guess you’re unbanned again… Oh, uh— d-don’t go to the bar until I take down the banned signs.” Swerve said with a nervous grin and laugh.

“You put up signs?” Rodimus blinked rapidly, feeling a little affronted.

“Only two or three… reaaaally big ones… That we may or may not have been using as dart boards.”

Rodimus pinched the bridge of his nose. He couldn’t even be mad really, not when he himself was known to be the same amount of petty.

“Alright well, I’ll probably be avoiding the place for awhile anyway. At least until I feel less humiliated.”

“You kind of deserved it.” Swerve said quietly.

“… Yeah I kind of did.” Rodimus said, lifting his tone to a more cheerful one. “Are we good?”

“Yeah, for now.”

Rodimus pulled the minibot back in for another hug before leaving the habsuite. He was lucky Swerve couldn’t hold a grudge in a bucket, otherwise this might not have turned out so well.

With that out of the way, Rodimus headed to the bridge for his shift. He tried to turn his audials off and ignore the whispers as he passed. Even if he had apologized to Swerve it didn’t mean that the rest of the crew would forgive him any time soon. If only there was some way to make it up to them… Or at least get them to forget about it for awhile. If they had new gossip or activity then they would likely stop talking about him. But what?

When Rodimus got to the bridge Ultra Magnus was there waiting for him with a pile of reports.

“Ugh, certainly didn’t miss having all this paperwork.” Rodimus said, accepting the stack with a grimace.

“Most of it is reading material—”

“Even worse.” Rodimus couldn’t help but interject.

“We need to plan a few resupply stops. We’re running low on a few choice minerals, and I think the crew has had enough of mining for awhile.” Ultra Magnus continued as if he hadn’t been interrupted.

“Megs give them a hard time?”

“I think a lot of them didn’t like being under his direct command. I had to write up several citations for back-talking, and a few for malicious comments made about him behind his back.” Ultra Magnus sighed.

“Hm. Sounds like we all could use a break.” Rodimus said, thinking hard. As if he could see the gears turning in his head, Ultra Magnus eyed him suspiciously.

“How about out next stop we give the crew a good long shore leave? Rest a few days, then renew our quest with new vigor?” Rodimus said with a wide grin, “It’ll be just what everyone needs! Set down on a friendly planet and stretch our legs for a bit, what do you say?”

“Are you doing this for the crew? Or so that you can get back in the crew’s good graces?” Ultra Magnus asked.

“Well, uh… A little bit of both?” Rodimus shrugged. “I do think they deserve a rest. And if they happen to like me more afterwards, I mean, that’s a bonus right?”

Rodimus felt that if Ultra Magnus had a disrespectful gear in his chassis, he would have rolled his optics at him. That wasn’t Ultra Magnus’ style though. Instead he simply sighed and made a note on the data pad in his hand.

“I will make the necessary preparations.” He said before turning away. Rodimus did a silent cheer as he took his plethora of data pads to his office.

Things were starting to look better already.

Chapter Text

Nightbeat was just minding his own business when he was accosted by Swerve.

He’d been walking to his hab when the mini had grabbed him and proceeded to drag him into his hab, shushing him as he tried to protest.

“Swerve!”

“Shush!” Swerve pressed his ear to the closed door of the hab and listened for about two seconds before turning to Nightbeat with a wild look in his eyes.

“I need you to investigate something for me.”

Nightbeat arched an eyebrow. “I don’t exactly work for free Swerve.”

“Not even for a friend? No? How about to solve a mystery right here on the Lost Light?”

“Swerve I already know where this is going and it’s not that great a mystery. It was a bottle of booze, it got drank.” Nightbeat crossed his arms, “Or do you think that Rodimus traded it for the location to the Knights of Cybertron?”

“No, sadly, nothing that fantastic—But! But, you see you thought just like I did—that Rodimus drank it. Right?” Swerve put his hands in the air emphatically, holding up a single digit. “When in fact he told me he gave it to someone.”

“Oh, and you want to know who?” Nightbeat was bored with this investigation already.

“Yes because whoever it is… I think they’re blackmailing Rodimus.” Swerve said, looking around the room as if someone might jump out at him.

“Blackmail?”

“Yes.”

“The captain?”

“Yes.”

“What moron would to that?” Nightbeat snorted, he couldn’t believe what he was hearing. In fact, without hard evidence, he wouldn’t. No one on the Lost Light would be stupid enough to blackmail Rodimus, not when he was friends with some of the most dangerous mechs on this ship. Not to mention being a god damn Prime for Primus’ sake.

“I don’t know but when Rodimus came to apologize he said that he couldn’t tell me why he took the bottle. Not wouldn’t, Nightbeat, couldn’t. Like maybe he was being… threatened, I don’t know.”

“Or maybe the real reason he took it was even more humiliating and he wanted to spare himself further embarrassment.” Nightbeat offered, it wouldn’t be the first time Rodimus was only thinking of himself.

“Nightbeat I’m positive something is going on, I can just feel it! That bottle was a plot device!”

“A what?” Nightbeat quirked his head at him, the mini was almost raving now.

“Oh never mind. Would you just please look into it? Just like, subtly? I’ll clear your tab at the bar.” The mini said with an enticing lilt to his voice.

Nightbeat sighed. “Fine, I’ll do it. I expect free drinks while the investigation is ongoing too.”

Swerve looked offended, “B-Bu-But—Triple filtered energon isn’t cheap y’know!”

“I do know, actually. That’s my deal. Take it or leave it.”

The mini huffed and puffed out his cheeks in an annoyed pout.

“Fine.” Swerve said with a grimace.

They shook on it to seal the deal.

~    ~    ~    ~

Rodimus hummed to himself while setting up his hab.

They had set down on a planet for their extended shore leave only hours ago. Many of the Lost Lighters had already disembarked and were living it up. Rodimus had decided to stay on the ship the first day, partially to be a good captain and also because he knew Getaway was a part of the day one group. Honestly the speedster had already had enough of the masked mech for the next millennia. He didn’t need to accidentally bump into him and get asked for another ‘favor.’

Ultra Magnus and Megatron went down to supervise, though Megatron had protested heavily at first. Magnus had somehow talked him into it. Rodimus would have to ask him how when they got back.

For now, Rodimus was setting up for a movie night with Drift. It had been some time since he and his amica had some quality alone time. And after his stint at avoiding him, Rodimus was now feeling a pain in his bond that needed mending. It had been some time since they renewed their bond, they were probably due for a merge. Rodimus was scared to do it, fearing that he wouldn’t be able to keep Getaway a secret from his amica.

In the merge they shared thoughts and stresses and couldn’t keep secrets from each other. They didn’t always see everything, it had been a long time before Rodimus caught wind of Drift’s harbored feelings for Ratchet in the merge. Since Getaway was almost the sole perpetrator of his stress however, it would almost undoubtably appear. He had invited Drift there so that they could reconnect and relieve the stress on their bond at the very least but if the other speedster asked to merge he wouldn’t be able to bring himself to say no.

With that in mind he tried to keep himself calm and push away thoughts of Getaway. About what could happen if Drift found out. He’d get mad, no doubt, he might even go after him. And when the two were locked up for fighting, the truth about Rodimus’ relationship with Thunderclash would come out. If that didn’t happen… If Drift killed Getaway, one of the most popular bots on the ship despite his polarizing attitude, they could be facing a ship wide mutiny. That unpleasant thought alone caused Rodimus to curl inwards with fear.

The door pinged him for entry.

“Drift, you know the code, just come in.” Rodimus said loudly. Sure enough the door opened to admit the white speedster.

“That’s some greeting.” Drift grumbled. Rodimus could sense Drift wasn’t entirely in a good mood and he rushed over to hug him.

“Sorry. I know I’ve been a bad amica.” Rodimus said into Drift’s shoulder. “Let me make it up to you? You relax, I’ll get us some fuel.” Rodimus said indicating to the couch before going over to his dispenser.

Drift flopped on the couch unceremoniously and without his usual grace.

“Is something wrong?” Rodimus asked from the other side of the room, eyeing Drift warily.

“No, well… It’s not you. I got in a little fight with Ratchet again.” Drift fiddled with his great sword which lay in his lap. “Nothing big but I’m just moody from the strain in our bond. Rodimus felt guilty all over again, he couldn’t imagine how Drift must be feeling with stress on two fronts. He came over and handed the other speedster his cube before sitting down.

“I’m so sorry, Drift,” Rodimus said, leaning against is amica. Drift leaned on him in return.

“Don’t be, it happens.” They sat for awhile and sipped their cubes. They talked about little things. Work mostly. It wasn’t until they finished their fuel that Drift started asking the harder questions.

“Why won’t you tell me why you stole that bottle? I know you’re not a thief.” Drift said, dispersing his cube and turning to face Rodimus fully. “Of all bots, you know you can trust me.”

“It’s not so much a trust thing, Drift, I know I can trust you. I’m just,” Rodimus looked at his hands and flexed his digits, “I’m scared of what will happen.”

“Why?” Drift took his hands so that they couldn’t distract his optics anymore, forcing him to look back up, “Please Roddy?”

Rodimus looked into the imposing optics of his amica and found himself folding inwards.

“You have to promise me first,” Rodimus said reluctantly, “Promise me you won’t freak out, that you’ll listen to what I have to say— all of it, before you do anything rash.”

“I don’t lose my head that easily.” Drift said giving his hands a gentle squeeze in reassurance. Rodimus chuckled nervously.

“Just humor me, do you promise?”

“I promise.”

Rodimus started out with why he stole the bottle. That it had been a favor for Getaway. Which led to him telling Drift, as gently as he could manage, that Getaway was blackmailing him to keep his relationship with Thunderclash a secret. Drift was nearly off of the couch before Rodimus caught him by the arm.

“I’ll kill him!” Drift nearly shouted, trying to wrestle from his grasp.

“I know you will, That’s why I had you promise, now I’m not done so please just listen!” Rodimus said as he calmed the white speedster.

“You should have had him locked up!” Drift rounded on him. “What he’s doing is mutinous!”

“I know, but he would have just let my secret out anyway if I did. At the time I didn’t know how bad it would get. I didn’t know he was going to ask me to steal or that he would get me in trouble like this. Drift, we need to be smart about this. Getaway has a lot of friends on this ship, pissing him off could hurt us, all of us— the officers, the crew, more than anything.” Rodimus explained but Drift was shaking his head vehemently.

“No, he’s not going to get away with this!” An ironic smirk crossed Rodimus’ face and Drift realized what he had just said and they both froze.

“Well, I mean,” Rodimus stifled a laugh, “That is what he’s known for.”

Drift looked to be stifling a chuckle, “Rodimus this is serious,” He said but Rodimus could hear the laughter in his voice and he couldn’t help but start laughing himself. Before long the two were in such a strange giggle fit and they couldn’t stop.

“It’s not—it’s not that funny!” Drift said, trying to stop himself.

“I know it’s not—I can’t—help it!” Rodimus collapsed backwards on the couch.

It took at least two full kliks for them to finally recompose themselves.

“He’s a fucking prick.” Rodimus said, staring at the ceiling.

“So why let him—” Drift stopped himself before he said those words again, “—control you?”

“Because I don’t want him to tell people I was using Thunderclash to get off.”

“Weren’t you?”

Rodimus started, he sat up to look at his amica. His retort died on his glossa when he saw the look on his face. Drift was staring at him, an intense look, a questioning look. He wanted to know if Rodimus had made up his mind yet.

“I guess I was…” Rodimus admitted, “But I’m not anymore. Thunderclash is… important to me— in a way that I never thought possible. I thought he was a bumbling idiot who could do no wrong and was only here to make me look bad.

“But he’s proven to me that he’s a lot more than just what everyone says he is.” Rodimus could see Drift hanging on his every word, hope so bright in his optics it was almost comical. “I guess what I’m saying is, I want to be with Thunderclash. Not just casual interfacing, actually be with him.”

“Roddy, that’s wonderful!”

“Don’t celebrate just yet. I’m still really nervous about doing it.” Rodimus sighed.

“Why? You already know he’s way into you.” Drift said, “Just tell him you want to court him. You’ll probably make his whole stellar cycle just with that one sentence.”

“I’m more nervous about what comes after that, you realize I’ve never been in a full-fledged courtship, I’ve told you about all my past relationships.” Rodimus said slowly. “I don’t know what to do. What if only weeks from now he decides that I’m not as great as he thought I was? What if he decides—” Rodimus couldn’t continue that sentence, a glitch stole his vocalizer from him and he tried to clear it.

The next thing Rodimus knew, Drift was gathering him into his arms, planting kiss after kiss on his helm. The contact felt so nice, to be surrounded by his amica’s field and to feel his warm spark being so close to his own.

“Can we merge?” Rodimus found himself asking, his hand cupped over Drift’s chest plates, right above his spark.

“Of course,” Drift said, pressing his forehelm to Rodimus’ and planting a kiss on his lips. “I’d love to.”

Their chest plates slid away to reveal the bright light of their sparks. They pulsed in anticipation, Rodimus could feel Drift’s spark as it danced out of reach of his own. They pressed close together as the energy surrounding their sparks physically reached out to one another, entwining and embracing. Then there was only the merge. Pain, love, relief, stress, it was all laid bare between them.

They were no longer two—they were one. They shared everything. Drift felt Rodimus ’ fears surrounding Getaway, the fear that the mech would ruin his reputation, his relationships with his friends, and possibly cost him his ship; and offered him solace in return. Drift promised to always be there for him, no matter what. Rodimus could feel the pain from Drift’s fight with Ratchet, the long hours they were apart and the fear that the medic would leave him, and offered comfort. Rodimus insisted that Ratchet loved Drift with all his spark and promised that this too shall pass. This went on until their sparks reached an equilibrium state, where they both felt a calm settle over them. A tranquility unlike any they had ever known until they had known each other.

They found themselves laying in each other’s arms when it was over. Rodimus held Drift closer to him, grounding himself back to reality with the weight of the other speedster. They didn’t say anything for awhile after that. They didn’t have to.

It had all been said in the merge.

Chapter Text

Thunderclash looked over his shoulder as he usually did when making his way to Rodimus’ habsuite.

The speedster had called him to come ‘hang out and watch another one of your incredibly-difficult-to-understand plays’ as Rodimus had put it. Most of the crew of the Lost Light were planet-side, partying pretty hard from what he heard from Lotty. Swerve had even convinced Rung to go bar-hopping. He hoped the therapist had a good time, he could be so incredibly uptight at times. And that was coming from Thunderclash, who never liked to admonish good boundaries.

A thought stopped Thunderclash midway down the hall from the captain’s habsuite. When was he going to stop kidding himself. All the hanging out with Rodimus, hoping beyond all hope that the speedster would fall in love with him, it was pathetic.

He didn’t want to stop though. Not when it meant that, even if only briefly, Rodimus was his. He could hold him close, kiss his lips, and close his own optics and pretend that this would last. That he could have this forever. Thunderclash shook the thoughts from his helm and proceeded up to the door to the captain’s hab. He could worry about this later when Rodimus wasn’t waiting on him. 

He pinged for entry and was surprised when the door opened only moment’s later and he was pulled inside. It was actually a nice change from Rodimus’ paranoidly peering down the halls. The speedster nearly shoved him down onto the couch, taking the data slug from him and setting up the video screen quickly before all but springing into the spot beside him. Rodimus was moving so fast it was nearly giving him whiplash. He looked to be smiling and content as he settled in beside him.

“You’re in a good mood.” He observed aloud. Rodimus turned a full grin at him, making his spark stop for a moment under its intensity. 

“Drift and I renewed our bond, it’s hard not to feel good afterwards.” 

“Oh?” Thunderclash felt a little jealous. He wished the speedster was happy to see him instead.  He pushed the nagging feeling away,  “That’s nice.” 

“Yeah,” Rodimus said dreamily, “Alright now what’s this one about.” 

They watched the play together, Rodimus being mildly entertained the entire time. Thunderclash couldn’t help but notice how touchy the speedster was being. Holding onto his arm, leaning against him as they watched. At one point Rodimus kicked up his legs and rested his helm on Thunderclash’s thigh plating. He didn’t fall asleep as Thunderclash thought he might.  

At the end of the recording, Rodimus sat up, stretching his arms up and popping a few of his struts back into place. 

“That was a good one. A little less confusing than the last one.” 

“Really?” 

“Well, alright, equally as confusing,” Rodimus looked at him sheepishly, “I’m not exactly well-read. I’m not very smart either.”

“Rodimus, that’s not true.” Thunderclash couldn’t believe the mech could even say that about himself. “You’re brilliant, you don’t have to understand Camien plays to know that.” Thunderclash said with conviction.

“Heh, thanks. I’m no Perceptor or Brainstorm though, and I don’t mind that. Let those two nerds play with their magic science all they want.” Rodimus said waving off the notion. Thunderclash chuckled, knowing full well that if Perceptor had heard the speedster he would probably have yelled at him.

Thunderclash looked at Rodimus with fond optics. The speedster had grown so comfortable with him, even to the point of accepting his praise. He reached out a hand and placed it on the speedster’s upper back, rubbing gently. Rodimus smiled and leaned into the touch. A couple weeks ago he probably would not have done such a thing so readily. Thunderclash let his hand trail down the length of Rodimus’ back, feeling the speedster shudder gently. He ran his hand back up almost absent-mindedly. Rodimus’ spoiler flicked, a clear sign he was enjoying the touch. Thunderclash had missed being able to touch him, too afraid of it leading somewhere it shouldn’t, he didn’t have to anymore. 

“So, I have been to see Ratchet recently and he said my spark is within healthy parameters to—” 

Rodimus was suddenly slinging a leg over his lap and he had the speedster pressed against him in an instant. The red mech grabbed at his collar plating and leaned in close to Thunderclash’s face and captured him in a kiss. Stunned, the larger mech took a moment to reciprocate, his hands gently coming to rest on Rodimus’ waist and hips. The yellow spoiler on the speedster’s back was high and vibrating gently in excitement. Rodimus pulled away from the kiss.

“I may have jumped the gun a little, that was an invitation to frag right?” Rodimus’ nose bumped against Thunderclash’s and half-shuttered blue optics looked down into red ones. 

“Very much so.” Thunderclash’s reply came out half as a vent and filled with static already. He was a little embarrassed how charged up he had gotten so quickly. He made note to be careful or he might finish too early. 

Rodimus grinned at him, a full genuine smile, “Good.” Before Thunderclash could properly enjoy the smile the red mech was kissing him again, insistently. Rodimus was grinding against his pelvic plating already, charge building between them.

Thunderclash massaged back struts and pressed digits in between plates he knew would drive the speedster wild. He was reminded of just how lucky he was to be in this position. The beautiful speedster’s lithe and curvy frame shuddered under his touch and the colorful mech couldn’t help but bring a hand around to slide against the speedster’s abdominal plating.  

Smooth and covered in flickering biolights, the colorful mech marveled the way his hands fit around the other mech’s waist. Wrapping his digits around to fit into the curve of his back, Thunderclash pressed his fingers into the interlocking struts again. Thunderclash’s other hand drifted up to the spoiler that flicked and vibrated and moved with every kiss and press of his digits. Charge from the colorful mech’s hands zipped to the thin metal and Rodimus pulled away from the kiss to gasp and turn to look at the offending hand.

“T-Too much?” Thunderclash hadn’t even touched the spoiler yet but the charge between them was high enough that it was almost burning, jumping from his fingers in little arcs. 

“No, I just,” Rodimus squirmed and angled to move the spoiler gently into Thunderclash’s hand, “I wasn’t expecting it.” 

Thunderclash cupped the smooth metal with new reverence. Rodimus leaned fully against his chest as Thunderclash stroked the metal gently, the speedster’s mouth parted and optics shuttered. The colorful mech turned his attention fully to the spoiler, alternating between sliding the sensitive metal between his thumb and forefinger and tracing a single digit along the edge. Rodimus leaned further into Thunderclash’s neck, his wet mouth finding neck cables and began planting soft kisses and sucking lightly. The sensation was nearly too much for Thunderclash and he almost made the mistake of gripping the spoiler tighter.

“Sho-Should we— ah!— m-move to the berth?” Thunderclash was losing his processor power the longer Rodimus was sucking and now biting at his neck cables. The speedster let out a quiet whine of disapproval. 

“To far away, I want you now.” A golden hand was pressing against his spike housing and Thunderclash didn’t have the will to keep it closed under the touch. His spike pressurized between them and Rodimus angled his hips to slide against it. Without him realizing it, the speedster’s panel had slid away and slick valve folds kissed the underside of his spike, eliciting a moan from the colorful mech.

Needing to regain control of the situation, Thunderclash moved them, placing Rodimus on his back on the couch and separating their burning arrays. Rodimus groaned, almost a whimper, at the loss of contact but didn’t protest further than that. Thunderclash placed two fingers on wet valve mesh before hesitating. 

“May I use my mouth?” He asked before being jerked down into a biting kiss, Rodimus seemingly making up for lost time having not kissed him in interface before.

“Do you even need to ask?” Rodimus said when they parted, panting a little.

“I suppose I don’t, but I like to.” Thunderclash smiled at him. Rodimus pressed a finger to Thunderclash’s bottom lip and the colorful mech caught the digit with his mouth, sucking lightly. Rodimus’ optics flared with charge at the sight. 

“Could you,” Rodimus paused, “Could you suck my spike instead?” Thunderclash released the finger slowly.

“Anything for you.” Thunderclash felt a little pride swell in him when Rodimus’ engine growled at his words.

He made his way down Rodimus’ frame, dispersing gentle kisses against his plating. He continued to stroke two fingers against supple valve lips, occasionally brushing his anterior node. Rodimus’ spike pressurized from it’s housing, it was flashy, with red and yellow flames, and well modded. Thunderclash felt his own valve clench a little at the sight. He wondered if Rodimus would ever be opposed to spiking him at some point.

Getting back to his task, Thunderclash glanced up at Rodimus, taking in his expression. Anticipation emanated from his field and Thunderclash kept his optics trained on his as he licked the head of his spike. He didn’t have a well practiced technique that Rodimus had used on him, but he listened to the noises the other mech made and watched his expression to see his reactions.

Thunderclash closed his lips around the head and slid slowly down and back up, pressing his glossa against the underside of the spike as he did. He sucked and swallowed gently as he took Rodimus’ length all the way to the base, the red mech moaning and grasping at his helm as he did.

All the while, Thunderclash massaged his valve folds and stretched his entrance gently. His valve calipers clenched on his fingers, pulling his digits in deeper. He gently pressed his thumb down on Rodimus’ anterior node.

“Thunders—AH!” Rodimus bucked his hips upward, Thunderclash let him thrust gently into his mouth, keeping tension in his cheeks tight around the spike. Thunderclash spared no time adding his third finger and pumping them slowly in time with Rodimus’s thrusts. Rodimus came undone after that, spilling transfluid down his intake. Thunderclash swallowed it and lapped up the rest of the fluid that dribbled out of the sensitive head.

Enamored with the soft sighs coming from the speedster, Thunderclash continued to lick and kiss his array, dipping to pay more attention to his valve. Sliding his glossa slowly down between plush folds, he moaned at the taste. Sweeter and more intoxicating than the best engex he had ever tasted, he sucked and licked and devoured as much as he could. All the while he could hear the speedster biting his moans and could feel him squirming under his touch.

“Thunder—Thunderclash, I—ah!” Blue optics begged him in ways that the speedster’s voice could not. He wasn’t about to do a poor or hasty job, however, since the thought of hurting the little prime was abhorrent. Thunderclash returned to Rodimus’ repressurizing spike, planting wet kisses along the underside. Thunderclash traced the rim of the red mech’s stretched valve with his fourth digit, savoring the way he shuddered. He carefully inserted the digit and massaged his swollen anterior node. He slowed his ministrations, keeping Rodimus on the edge of bliss while he completed his preparation. 

Satisfied with the stretch of his valve, Thunderclash came back up to Rodimus’ mouth. He caught him in a smoldering kiss, the speedster’s glossa sliding against his. Rodimus bit his lip and sucked on it briefly as Thunderclash lined his spike up to Rodimus’ receptive valve. He hiked the speedster’s legs up around his waist, nearly folding him in half. He pushed into that slick heat very carefully, feeling each caliper stretch to accommodate him. Rodimus moaned encouragement into their kiss. Thunderclash gently rocked his hips, inching his way inside. The speedster’s valve oozed lubricant around him, calipers pulling him deeper with every shallow thrust. 

As Thunderclash finally sheathed himself fully, Rodimus parted from him to throw his head back and moan. Thunderclash chased that sound and pressed deeper, grinding their hips together, eliciting further erotic sounds from the other mech. The colorful mech vented heavily, holding onto his control with an iron grip but wishing he could rut into Rodimus with abandon. Primus, it had been far too long since they had done this.

The sight of the speedster splayed out before him left him breathless. His gorgeous frame squirmed beneath him, impaled by his spike and shuddering at his touch. He stroked a hand from his well rounded thigh to his hips and around to his spoiler. Rodimus moaned at the touch, his hips rolling against Thunderclash’s suddenly, making the colorful mech bite his lip and shutter his optics at the sensation. The speedster’s calipers clenched around his girth, squeezing and milking him. Thunderclash couldn’t hold back any longer, he began to thrust as words tumbled from his mouth. 

“Primus, you’re gorgeous.” Thunderclash said right next to the speedster’s audial. Rodimus gasped. 

He nuzzled against the side of Rodimus’ helm, feeling one of the speedster’s hands fingering his transformation seams along the side of his chassis. Rodimus' other hand came up and held his helm, gripping his dark helm flares. Thunderclash stroked along the edge of the yellow spoiler as it twitched in his grasp. The colorful mech kissed his way back to the speedster’s lips, murmuring praise last he went. 

“So beautiful, so wonderful.” 

“ ‘Clash, please!” Rodimus exclaimed, holding onto Thunderclash tighter than ever as charge pulsed between them. 

“I’m so lucky. So lucky to—” Rodimus caught his lips but couldn’t silence the praise that still tumbled from them. 

“You’re incredible Rodimus, you feel so good.” Rodimus whined and gasped as Thunderclash quickened his pace, changing his angle to hit new nodes. Thunderclash found he couldn’t barely think straight as he spoke. Every emotion he felt, he let tumble from his derma, encouraged by Rodimus’ obvious reactions to praise. He felt him stiffen, his hands and his legs squeezing Thunderclash all over as he overloaded. 

Thunderclash didn’t last long after that, not with the speedster’s valve cycling down on him and all but begging for his transfluid. He went still at the thought of Rodimus filled to the brim with his fluids, crying out for more and more. His overload hit him hard and he buried himself as deep as he could go as it did. He could hear Rodimus panting in his audial, the shallow vents blowing gently across the plating of his cheek.

They stayed still for awhile, basking in their afterglow. Thunderclash found himself planting chaste kisses on Rodimus’ shoulder. Thunderclash moved to pull out but Rodimus stopped him.

“We’re gonna make a mess of my couch if you pull out now.”

Thunderclash blinked, “What do you suggest we do?”

Rodimus smiled lazily as he stroked Thunderclash’s helm flare.

“I have private wash racks. You could carry me.”

Thunderclash smiled, “You better hold on then.”

He adjusted one arm around the mech’s back and pulled him close to his chest, the other finding purchase on Rodimus’ aft. When the speedster had secured his arms around him, Thunderclash hefted himself to his pedes. He stumbled back to where he knew the wash racks were, Rodimus not doing him any favors by trying to kiss him senseless.

He barely made it into the wash racks and turned on the spray when he felt Rodimus moving against him, rolling his hips on his spike which had hardened again. He hoped his spark really was in good condition, Rodimus was certainly going to give him a run for his shanix.

“Think you can fill me up, Thunderclash?” Rodimus whispered into him, his dentae scraping against the metal of his audial. “Think you have it in you?”

Thunderclash shuddered. The thought of doing such a thing having already crossed his mind, hearing Rodimus ask for it was like someone had pulled wires in his processor. He couldn’t answer with any more than a grunt and the quickening thrusts of his spike in and out of Rodimus’ well relaxed valve. He didn’t thrust hard however, still too afraid of hurting the speedster. He would have to work harder for another overload for Rodimus, he was already dangerously close now and he wasn’t sure he could do another if he came early. He had an idea. Rodimus protested as he pulled out and Thunderclash bent to kiss him.

“If you want more, I need you need to turn around for me.” He said against the speedster’s lips.

Seeing where this was going, Rodimus was nearly all too happy to be coaxed into putting his legs down to support himself. He turned and spread his legs to present his puffy valve. Thunderclash massaged him and hugged the speedster close to his chest as he slid back inside. He laid sweet kisses against back of Rodimus’ neck.

“It doesn’t hurt right?” He asked gently. He hoped Rodimus wasn’t too oversensitive from his previous overload. The red mech shook his head.

“It feels good.” He said, quiet but insistent.

Thunderclash felt more confident when the speedster moaned as he hit his ceiling node with soft thrusts. He stopped briefly as he lifted one of the speedster’s legs to allow better access to  a deep set of nodes and began again in earnest. He slipped a hand down his abdomen, feeling a subtle shift underneath the plating as he thrust deeply into Rodimus, finding the still bared spike and giving it a few slow pumps. Rodimus was bracing himself as best as he could against the wash rack wall, his fingers biting into the surface. Thunderclash caught the speedster’s sultry gaze looking back at him over his shoulder and he groaned loudly at the sight.

“You’re so beautiful.” He couldn’t help but say right against Rodimus’ audial. 

“Still singing that tune?” The red mech laughed. Thunderclash had to bite his lip to keep himself from saying something else entirely. Instead he nuzzled into the back of Rodimus’ neck and continued to shower him in praise and kisses.

“Beautiful, amazing.” Kiss.

“You feel so incredible.” Kiss. Rodimus shuddered, his spoiler fluttered between them and Thunderclash angled to plant wet kisses across it’s flat planes, Rodimus mewled at the sensation.

“Thunderclash,” Rodimus whined, his voice sounding strained and almost tired. “Please, I want you to fill me up.”

Thunderclash groaned, Rodimus seemingly timed his words with a squeeze of his valve to get a rise from him. He couldn’t help but thrust a little faster, a little harder, aiming for his topmost nodes with accuracy now. He let his hand slide from the speedster’s spike to his neglected anterior node and massaged it with slow, languid strokes. Rodimus was crying out now, his words lost in his pleasure, and Thunderclash smiled to himself in triumph. He drew out Rodimus’ overload, letting himself tumble over only when he was satisfied. Then he did indeed 'fill Rodimus up' with copious amounts of transfluid, abstaining from interfacing had apparently left him with a lot of reserves.

He was exhausted by the end of it all, holding both himself and Rodimus up by bracing an arm on the wall. He moved with as much care as he could when he pulled out and released Rodimus’ captured leg. The speedster’s legs wavered under him as he leaned against the wall and turned to face Thunderclash. Seeing as he could barely move, the colorful mech took it upon himself to clean Rodimus, gently polishing away paint transfers and cleaning off residual fluids. Thunderclash quickly cleaned himself off then, taking care to make sure Rodimus wasn’t going to fall over, before picking up the speedster to exit the wash racks.

When they were both dry he laid Rodimus down into his berth, delicately maneuvering him under the covers.

“You’re too good to me.”

Thunderclash looked up at Rodimus’ words. The speedster was gazing at him sleepily, but had an odd sadness in his optics. It almost looked like guilt.

“You deserve to be treated no less.” Thunderclash said, placing a gentle kiss on Rodimus’ helm.

A little smile appeared on the red mech’s lips as his optics shuttered, “Stay with me.” He mumbled, his golden hand patting the berth beside him. “You must be tired too.”

“I am, but I have a job to do, while everyone’s away someone has to keep up security.”

“Ng, remind me to fire whoever gave you that job.”

Thunderclash chuckled, “You can’t fire yourself.”

“Watch me.” Rodimus said, his smile spreading wider over his face.

“I’ll be fine, we will have time later when I’m off shift for my shore leave.” Thunderclash reassured him.

“Come see me right after your shift ends?” Rodimus opened his optics to look at him. “Please?”

“Anything for you.”

Chapter Text

Rodimus woke with start.

He had half expected someone else to be next to him but found himself alone. There had been someone else hadn’t there? Where did they go?

The panic subsided as he took in his surroundings. A familiar dark hab and a berth that was much to big for himself. That’s right, he was on his ship, not a warring planet. He was sleeping in his berth with too many pillows, not the streets of Nyon. Rodimus sighed and slumped back down onto his berth, arms splayed to the sides.

He had been dreaming, defragging memories from the back of his processor, and it hadn’t been entirely pleasant. It didn’t start off bad, most of them never do, but his walk through the streets of Cybertron had quickly changed to being huddled with a group of bots. They were faceless but familiar, as if he knew their names at one point but had lost them to the ravages of time on his processor. Bots who had counted on him, who had asked for his protection. Now he didn’t even know who they had been. A cold sensation ran down his spine, he tried to think of happier things instead.

He thought of his bond renewal with Drift, how the other speedster had managed to soothe his feelings over Getaway and Thunderclash. It had been like he could see through his amica's eyes, he could finally grasp what he had failed to for so long; falling in love wasn't the end of the world. He smiled now at the thought of Thunderclash. He had originally invited the mech over as a way to possibly tell the mech how he was feeling but he got nervous, then they got a little too busy for him to really get around to it. He felt much more confident in his decision though. He did feel guilty still, Thunderclash was so… sweet. So caring. Too caring even, for a mech like him who didn’t deserve it, who had taken advantage of him by not acknowledging his feelings.

Rodimus sat up on the berth, remembering the other mech’s words to him.

You deserve to be treated no less.

Was that true? Did the big mech really believe that. Much more, did he himself believe it? Rodimus supposed, if he was going to give them a fair chance together, he should trust what Thunderclash said about him. Trust that Thunderclash wasn’t mocking or lying to him. That the big mech was being genuine just because he simply had a big spark.

A big spark and a tacky paint job. The speedster smiled to himself.

A big spark Rodimus was in love with.

With that, he promised to himself that no matter what, he was going to tell Thunderclash he wanted to court him. No matter what.

~    ~    ~    ~

Rodimus decided to escape his room for awhile and headed down to Swerve’s. No one would be there, but he wanted to check to make sure Swerve had actually taken down the banned posters like he said he would. He did, but there was a very clear outline where each poster had been, lined with darts they had neglected to take out of the wall. If Rodimus found out who had participated in… He didn’t want to finish that thought.

Afterwards he decided to go up to the bridge and take in the view. The planet they were on was mostly city, a robotic haven really, but their landing pad was high enough that he could see the horizon.

He wondered briefly where Thunderclash was at this very moment. He hoped the big mech wasn’t too tired from their interfacing, Rodimus sure had been. He felt an eagerness to see the colorful mech again. He half wanted to just comm. him and blab everything, but that didn’t seem quite right, he should be doing it in person right? That seems like the proper thing to do. And that was what courting was supposed to be all about, doing the proper thing or some nonsense like that. It wouldn't be long before he saw him again anyway and, after all this, Thunderclash deserved at least that much from Rodimus.

Despite the late hour, the city showed signs it was brimming with life. He stared out the windows on the bridge, watching the glimmering lights of the city as they played across the sky. Neon lights of pink and blue and green painted the buildings in a wash of acidic colors that flickered with advertisements. Other ships came and went with a muffled roar of nearby space engines. And in the distance Rodimus could see the the outlines of bots and organics alike, taking respite on this little speck of a planet in the far reaches of galactic life.

“Evening, Hot Rod.”

Son of a glitch.

Rodimus turned to look at the masked mech who was leaning on the doorway that led out of the bridge. He seemed casual enough but Rodimus knew by now that his appearance alone was a threat.

“Is there something I can help you with, Getaway.” Rodimus kept his tone even and light, he was in a good mood and he wasn’t about to let Getaway spoil it that easily.

“Just need another favor,” Getaway said, pushing off of the doorway to come stand in front of Rodimus, “No screw ups this time of course, though if you could screw up something this simple you’re even dumber than people give you credit.”

Rodimus seethed beneath the surface but kept his composure, “Okay. What is it?”

“I need us to leave tonight.”

Rodimus blinked his optics rapidly, “What, I must have heard you wrong, did you say you wanted us to leave tonight?”

“Yes, something has come up and I’ll need us to stop at this planet,” Getaway produced data slug from his subspace, “Time is of the essence so we will need to leave shortly.”

“Getaway that isn’t fair for the other half of the crew that was promised their leave, I know a lot of them already made plans.” Rodimus tried to reason but Getaway was just smiling at him.

“That sounds like a you problem, not a me problem.” Getaway turned to leave.

Rodimus thought for half a second before he said with absolute firmness, “No.”

Getaway stopped dead in his tracks and turned a scathing look at Rodimus.

“Come again?”

“I said no. The only thing you had over me was that I was sleeping with a crew member. You planned to spin lies about me hating him and how our relationship was toxic, but you don’t have that anymore.” Rodimus could feel fire in his lines, as Getaway narrowed his optics at him.

“I’m about to make our relationship official, and then you’ll have nothing. So excuse me Getaway, but we will not be leaving tonight. Whatever your business is on this planet,” Rodimus shoved the data slug back into the other mechs chest, “That sounds like a you problem.”

Without another word, Rodimus left the mech to gape after him. A feeling of triumph washed over him and he was positively giddy. Why hadn’t he just done that a long time ago? It would have saved him so much trouble.

Everything was turning out far better than he had expected. He just had one more peg to fall into place and things would be perfect.

~    ~    ~    ~

Thunderclash was nearly finished with his last security update for his shift.

He walked the length of the cargo hold, over a mile long stretch of containment units filled with various materials. Energon, metals and additives for fuel, medical supplies, the occasional container of a viscous liquid that no one wanted to ask Brainstorm where he got, and of course weapons and ammunition for the crew. For just in case purposes of course. Thunderclash checked the container logs to make sure there hadn’t been any recent tampering and that the units weren’t off by weight.

Overall, a pretty uneventful shift, and slow going too. Thunderclash supposed it was due to the promise of seeing Rodimus once his shift was over. The thought of being able to lay down with the speedster and just sleep curled up in his warmth was enough to make Thunderclash count the nano-kliks to the very moment he could head back.

Thunderclash stilled, spying movement out of the corner of his optic. He moved cautiously onwards, gauging distance between him and the movement he saw.

“Who goes there?” He called. “Identify yourself.”

The movement came again and a familiar mech came out of the darkness of the hold.

Chapter Text

“Getaway,” Thunderclash relaxed a little, but only a little, “What are you doing down here? The cargo hold is restricted access, do any of the officers know you’re here?”

“Let’s just say that one of them owed me a favor and let me use their access code,” Getaway came closer and placed a hand on Thunderclash’s arm. “Actually I’m here to see you.”

“Me?” Thunderclash said, confused.

“Yes you, my brightly colored friend.”  Getaway started to pull him along at a casual pace, “Let’s walk and talk, shall we?”

“Uh, I suppose… Isn’t there a better time and place for this?” Thunderclash asked warily.

“No, no, here and now is perfect. No one around to overhear or misconstrue things, you surely know how much the crew loves to gossip.” Getaway chuckled lightheartedly.

Thunderclash still felt suspicious but his reasoning sounded valid enough, “What did you want to talk about?”

“About a certain captain of ours, and your thinly veiled feelings for him of course.”

“What are you talking about?” Thunderclash  tried not to give anything away but his  spark sank a little. He’d been so obvious?

“Well, big guy, it’s pretty easy to tell you’re helm over pedes for him.” Getaway said, sounding almost wistful, “Hey I don’t blame you for falling for a mech that interfaces with you all the time, that’s a hard one to resist.”

Thunderclash halted, shrugging off Getaway’s arm as he did so.

“How do you know about that?” Thunderclash narrowed his optics at the mech.

“Well I had only suspicions at first.” Getaway put his hands on his hips, “Until Rodimus told me himself.”

Thunderclash blanched, “He… He told you that.”

“Yup, he sounded to me like he was gloating.” Getaway's tone was concerned.

Thunderclash’s brow furrowed, that didn’t sound like Rodimus. He had always been so private about them, secretive really. Why would he tell…

“Why would he tell you about us?”

Getaway sighed deeply, “Because he feels like he’s finally defeated you.”

Thunderclash felt even more confused, “What do you mean?”

Getaway sighed again, “Look, Thunders, this isn’t easy to say. Rodimus felt guilty this entire time he’s been fragging you. Not because he knew about your feelings, because he didn’t like that it was you who was getting him off.”

Thunderclash went still, his optics looking to the floor. Rodimus had seemed guilty when he last saw him. And he knew Rodimus had never liked him before they started interfacing. As much as he could feel the back of his processor protesting what he was hearing, he settled to hear the rest of what Getaway had left to say.

“But now that he has you wrapped around his little finger, he realizes just how advantageous his position is.”

“What do you mean by ‘advantageous’?” Thunderclash was still having a hard time visualizing Rodimus saying any of this.

“Well that’s my word not really his, he more of put it as a way to keep you in line. He sees that he has power over you now and he’s not about to give that up.”

“Rodimus isn’t like that,” Thunderclash growled, having heard enough of this, “You’re lying.”

“Easy, Thunders, I’m your friend in this. I know you’re new to this, most of the crew was well aware of Rodimus’ duplicitous nature before we got here, but guys like us have to look after each other.” Getaway held up his hands in a sort of placating gesture that did nothing to calm Thunderclash at all.

“What do you mean, ‘duplicitous?’ Rodimus has been nothing short of honest with his crew.” Thunderclash said indignantly.

“Has he? What about the Overlord incident? Hm? He not only brought a psycho murderer on board and didn’t tell anyone, he also laid the blame on his best friend and amica rather than take it for himself.”

Thunderclash flinched, stammering for words, but Getaway wasn’t finished.

“He didn’t even go after his own best friend afterwards either, it took the medic to do that. And let’s not forget about the time Brainstorm had been a decepticon spy and then the scientist poisoned a handful of the crew, he kept that from us didn’t he?”

“He was trying to not cause a panic, or get Brainstorm killed. He had every right not to—”

“Alright, alright but that doesn’t change the fact that he’d sell out his own friend just so he wouldn’t look bad. And let’s not forget what he did to Swerve, an innocent minibot, his friend. Do you think he wouldn’t extend the same courtesy to you?”

“What are you trying to say?”

“I’m saying, and I mean this as a friend, he is never going to feel the same way for you. He only wants to frag you, he’d sell you out in a spark-beat if he had to.” Getaway said slowly with almost pain in his voice.

Thunderclash narrowed his optics at the other mech, his jaw clenched. “Why should I believe anything you have to say?”

“You don’t have to,” Getaway said sounding sympathetic, “Take it from Rodimus himself.” The mech produced a small device which he clicked and sound began to play.

“Does Thunderclash know you don’t want anything to do with him?” Drift’s voice came out, staticky, as if he was very far away and the audio had been bumped.

“I’ve spent too long standing in his shadow, despising him. I could never be with Thunderclash.” Rodimus’s voice followed in the same manner. Thunderclash felt his tanks lurch. It was undoubtably the speedster’s voice no matter how far away he was. The conviction in that statement hurt most of all.

“Do you see now? You’re just a reminder of what he isn’t. He isn’t a good leader, or a good captain, everyone knows it. But you are, Thunders, and he’s jealous of that. His jealously will be the only thing he can think about when he’s around you.”

“You don’t know… You don’t know what you’re talking about.” Thunderclash started weakly at first but he brought every ounce of his own conviction forward, “That recording you have is clearly taken out of context, and could be months old. I’m no stranger to how Rodimus felt about me before this but he’s changed.”

“How about this one then?”

“—Thunderclash and I are just interfacing, that’s it.” Rodimus’ voice came out in the same manner, this time it was clear that it had not been from some time ago. Thunderclash could feel his face beginning to fall and he opened his mouth to speak but not before Getaway interrupted.

“I don't want to hurt you, Thunders, but it's for your own good that you hear these.”

“I still hate Thunderclash.” Rodimus’ voice sounded much clearer, almost as if he had been speaking directly into the recording device. Thunderclash felt his face fall completely from it’s firm line to a frown. A cold started in his fingers ran up his arms and he clenched his fists to chase it away.

“How do I know you haven’t altered that recording?” Thunderclash growled. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing, or didn’t want to… No, he couldn’t. Rodimus and him had shared a lot with each other over the past few weeks. He couldn’t possibly hate him still. Could he?

“I could show you the whole data stream if you’d like. Archival memory is hard to fake.” Getaway produced a data slug. Thunderclash stared at it and then at Getaway. The mech's expression rubbed him the wrong way and r age boiled up inside Thunderclash.

“You realize that recording an officer without their permission is illegal and I can have you locked in the brig for this.” He spat, staring the mech down but Getaway was still only smiling at him, optics sympathetic— pitying even.

“Thunders, come on. I was only trying to help. Besides,” Getaway put the data slug in his hand and closed his fingers around it, “If you tell anyone about this then word will get out about you two. Do you think Rodimus would ever forgive you for outing his dirty little secret?”

Thunderclash withered, closing his optics. One thing was certain, the speedster still didn’t want anyone to know about them. He thought of Thunderclash as a secret first and anything else second. And yet, The colorful mech still hated the thought of the speedster’s disappointment. He didn’t want the red mech to hate him, this entire endeavor had been for just the opposite. Thunderclash felt his anger crumble into sheer sadness.

He pushed the data slug back at Getaway, “I don’t want this.”

“I understand that I guess, too painful,” Getaway shrugged taking it back, “I do want to warn you about one more thing, Thunders.”

Thunderclash looked at the masked mech, what else could he possibly have to say that would wound him.

“Rodimus thinks he has you in his subspace now, to play with at his leisure. He will undoubtably do anything to keep it that way. He’ll say anything, do anything, to keep you coming back to him.” Getaway’s tone turned from light to deeply serious as he spoke. “Don’t let him control you.” He didn’t say anything else after that, the masked mech turned and walked away from him.

Thunderclash went about the rest of his shift in silence, trying not to digest what he had heard until it was over. Fear gripped his spark as the time ticked down to when he would have to face Rodimus again.

How was he going to?

How could he even look at Rodimus knowing the mech thought so little of him. Thunderclash ducked into an empty storage room as he felt the first stray tears fall from his optics. Pain wracked his spark. A pain he felt all the way from the tips of his digits to the back of his helm and down his entire chassis. His knees were weak and he let them fold under him. He curled in on himself, becoming as small as he could make his large form as he tried to hold in the despair while his processor caught up with what his body had already realized.

Rodimus didn’t love him, he hated him. He used Thunderclash, and he was ashamed that it was Thunderclash he was using. He didn’t want the crew to know only because it was Thunderclash. Rodimus just wanted to keep him in a bubble where he could pretend things were different. Where he could play with him. Then, when he was finished, he could just pretend it never happened.

Thunderclash held a trembling hand over his mouth to stifle a sob. He felt all the love in his spark attacking him, tumbling and scraping around inside him. It screamed and screamed and screamed. Not Rodimus. Rodimus wouldn’t do that. Rodimus is kind. Rodimus is caring. Rodimus isn’t a monster. You’re wrong! You don’t know what you’re talking about! Thunderclash gripped his chest as if he could tear it open and rip out the pain. His fingers scraped across the surface hard, peeling away at the paint of his insignia.

For a while, Thunderclash could only sit there and wallow in his woes. He felt himself shake down to his core and let the pain run it’s course. When his venting evened out, and the last of his tears fell, he finally stood up. A resolve like none he had ever felt before sat like a rock in his chest.

This needed to end.

Chapter Text

Thunderclash stood outside of the captain’s habsuite. He had been there awhile, unsure of if he could even proceed. With a heavy weight in his spark, he had slowly taken in what Getaway told him. What he had avoided seeing from the beginning.

Rodimus would never love him. He would never look at Thunderclash as anything more than somebot he interfaced with and then resented. Now as Thunderclash prepared to see him, he felt disbelief, fear, anger, and longing, all burning inside of him.  He needed to end their agreement, even if it meant he would never get to hold the speedster again, even if it meant he never got to kiss his lips or taste him on his glossa ever again.  All of that meant nothing if Rodimus didn’t really want the same things, if he was just using him. He had to end this. If not for himself then for Rodimus. Let the speedster move on from this unhealthy mock of a relationship they had.

Thunderclash pinged for entry.

~    ~    ~    ~

A strange excitement bubbled inside Rodimus.

With having finally dealt with Getaway, he was delighted with his new sense of freedom. Now the only thing left to do was to get Thunderclash on the same page as him. He could probably leave out all the blackmail stuff for now but he needed to tell the mech he was sorry for keeping him on the back burner for so long. Now he was ready, now he felt like he could be with the colorful mech and not be afraid. Because he finally realized that his fears were unfounded, he was afraid of things that probably wouldn’t come to pass, and if they did they wouldn’t be the end of the world. He would just have to rise to the occasion when they came up, and he had faced far more scary things in his functioning than relationship problems.

That didn’t mean he wasn’t nervous though. He was so nervous that he even cleaned his hab, setting aside his many knick knacks and Earth treasures and trying to tidy the place up as much as possible. His processor wandered from thought to thought at near light speed.

He wondered if he should lead with asking Thunderclash on a date, a real date, and then asking to court him later at wherever their date ended up. The thought felt embarrassing but Thunderclash would probably love that and Rodimus could handle anything if it meant making the other mech blush the way he did. Or he could ask the mech if he could court him here and then make out with him where everyone could see, nearly the same effect except he would probably embarrass Thunderclash just as much as himself. He could almost see the look on the colorful mech's face and his big dopey red optics. That thought alone made Rodimus chuckle.

He checked his chronometer. Thunderclash should be here any moment now right? Rodimus sat on the couch and tried to calm his whirling emotions. He waited.

And waited.

Every few kliks, he would check his chronometer. Slight annoyance crept up on him. Thunderclash was irritably on time for everything. Why now of all times does he choose to drag his pedes. Annoyance gave way to worry when he remembered Thunderclash had been on security duty. What if something had happened? There would have been an alarm right? He would have tried to comm. Rodimus at the very least. Right?

Rodimus checked his chronometer again.

He was about to comm. the colorful mech when the door finally pinged for entry. Rodimus was at the door in seconds, wasting no time with words before opening the door and pulling the colorful mech inside. He pulled the mech into a quick, albeit one-sided, kiss as the door shut behind him.

“What took you so long?” Rodimus said impatiently, perhaps more meaner than he’d meant it but that didn’t give much explanation for the forlorn look on the other mech’s face. “Hey, what’s wrong?”

“Rodimus we need to talk.” The other mech’s voice was quiet and serious.

The speedster felt his spark sink. Thunderclash hadn’t met his optics since he had pulled away.

“Okay. What’s up?” Rodimus said slowly.

As if his words were a drawn blaster to his helm, Thunderclash backed away from him. His optics just barely coming up to look at him but still not meeting his gaze head on.

“I have been doing some thinking… and I determined that this relationship is unhealthy, not to mention inappropriate. An officer and a captain need to have mutual respect for one another and what we are doing would create feelings that would supersede that.” Thunderclash didn’t stumble on his words. They sounded practiced, like he had obviously put some thought behind them. “I want to stop.”

Rodimus felt like time had come to a halt. The speedster felt so blind-sided, so caught off guard with this sudden request, he was speechless. Words failed him but his processor didn’t. He went over everything he had done. Every second they had spent together in the past few days up until now. Trying desperately to find out when things had gone so wrong. When he had made the mistake that led to this point. Everything had been perfect. Thunderclash had been happy. Hadn’t he? Or had he realized something that Rodimus hadn’t?

Rodimus tried to vent evenly, his head spinning in circles. Thunderclash had already laid out his reasoning. This was inappropriate. They shouldn’t be together. He didn’t want to create feelings for Rodimus. Did that mean Rodimus had gotten it wrong? Had he seen something that wasn’t really there?

Rodimus wanted to lash out, a strange possessiveness taking over him. It wasn’t fair! He wanted Thunderclash. He wanted to never wake up again without him. Wanted to kiss him when he went to recharge and watch his plays and get bored and just talk to the mech about nothing and everything. The anger and the possessiveness died as quickly as it came.

Thunderclash still refused to meet his optics. He stood there, waiting for Rodimus to answer him, as if his statement alone wasn’t enough. It was as if he was begging Rodimus for them to stop. His frame was incredibly tense, as if he were expecting Rodimus’ anger. Expecting him to lash out and do something terrible. So, for the sake of both of them, Rodimus suppressed it. He pushed the emotions as far away as he could.

There was a score across the insignia on Thunderclash’s chest, a mark where fingers had scratched across the surface. Rodimus reached out a tentative hand to touch but Thunderclash backed away before he even came close to him. He knew then that the mech had meant every word he’d said, and that Rodimus had to let him go.

“Then it’s done. It’s over.” Rodimus found himself saying. His tone professional if anything, but devoid of feeling.

The silence was overwhelming, as if neither dared to break it. Finally, Thunderclash pivoted his body to the door and opened it.

“I’m sorry, Rodimus.” The mech said softly.

“Don’t be, like you said, it wasn't healthy for us.” Rodimus had no conviction behind those words, they fell from his lips like iron weights. He hoped the other mech would notice. That Thunderclash would just look at him.

He didn’t. Thunderclash left with not another word.

Rodimus stared at the door for a long while. He turned and went over to his couch, sinking onto it and curling to place his helm in his hands. He found he couldn’t feel them. Couldn’t feel the grip he had on his helm flares as he squeezed them. Couldn’t feel his pedes on the ground, or the feeling of the couch under his own aft. He wasn’t feeling anything really.

Just empty.

~    ~    ~    ~

Thunderclash sat in his own hab and let himself cry out the pain. His intake hurt from stifling his sobs to the best of his ability and his jaw ached from grinding his dentae together. What hurt most of all was telling the speedster he didn’t want to continue with their agreement.

His own cold words still rang in his helm. If he hadn’t taken the time to rehearse them he likely would not have been able to get them out. What their relationship had grown into was so very difficult for him to discard. The interfacing would have been easy enough, even the kissing and the movie hang outs, but what he would miss most of all was being able to talk with Rodimus. To talk about movies, planets, adventures of the past, and plans for the future. He would give anything just to have that again. And that’s why, whether he had wanted to admit it or not, Rodimus had held all the power over him. Just like Getaway had said. Because he would have given anything for just that, but Rodimus would have given nothing in return.

Unlike what Getaway had told him however, Rodimus didn’t fight to keep him. He had just… let him go. He didn’t know if that notion gave him relief or pain. Relief, that he didn’t have to pull out more of his rehearsed lines to get out of their agreement. Pain, that the speedster didn’t care enough to fight for him. His spark just went around in confusing circles while his processor tried to reason it away.

He remembered their agreement. Rodimus had said that they only need to say they wanted to stop and it would be over. He supposed that if anything, Rodimus was true to his word.

Chapter Text

 

Nightbeat dragged his feet on his ‘investigation’. He had plenty of excuses for doing so of course.

First there was the shore leave, when everyone was living it up like it was the last night of their lives. Even Nightbeat himself had gotten in a little over his head and thinking back on it could put a blush on his face plate in embarrassment. The karaoke bar was something he would never forget. And it wasn’t because Swerve chose the worst song from his Earth repertoire to butcher.

Then he found himself running into trouble getting Brainstorm or Perceptor to help him track the origin of the video files. After the two days of shore leave the two of them had locked themselves in their rooms, not talking to anyone. Chromedome had even threatened to breakdown Brainstorm’s door, not a threat to be taken lightly when you considered what he did to Rewind’s door. But the scientist had dared him to do it, which may have well been him saying outright that he had boobytrapped it. In the end, they were left to their own devices. They would just have to sort things out for themselves.

So would Nightbeat it seemed. He sat at the desk in Rung’s office and tried again to follow the data trail that had been left. It was annoyingly bouncing him through different hab frequencies and whenever he thought he had the pattern down it changed. He growled as he had to start over from the beginning yet again and he had to resist putting his fist through the screen.

“Are you okay?” Rung said from where he sat, gluing a piece to his model ship of the Lost Light. “What is it you’re working on anyway?”

“Oh nothing, just a project for Swerve.” He deflected, his temper immediately subsiding as he remembered his company.

“You know I can tell when you’re lying.” Rung said, not even bothering to look up at him. “You’re tricky because you use half-truths but not impossible to read.”

Nightbeat got up from his seat and went over to the therapist. He watched him work for a few minutes, small hands nimbly detailing his model spaceship.

“You should know better than to lie to a mech who deciphers others for a living.” Rung turned to look at him with a gentle smile on his lips.

“You know me too well.” Nightbeat cupped Rung’s cheek in his hand, to which the therapist wave him off.

“Well enough that I know you’re still dodging my question,” Rung took the hand from his cheek and stood to prod a finger at his chest plates, “Now tell me why you needed my computer when you have your own in your hab.”

Nightbeat sighed, clearly getting through this investigation without telling anyone was going to be impossible. Rung was trustworthy though, he held probably a billion secrets in that processor of his. One more wouldn’t hurt.

“I needed a computer that wasn’t part of the security network. Something that can’t be hacked into or traced. I wanted to use Brainstorm’s but…”

“A lover’s spat.” Rung finished.

“Yeah, that.” Nightbeat became vaguely aware of a particular memory prodding at his processor. A memory about the mech in front of him. He cleared his intake.

“Anyway, it really is a project for Swerve, he’s having me investigate his missing bottle of engex.” Nightbeat casually leaned away from Rung. “And I figured my best lead was tracing who leaked the footage.”

“Did you ask Blaster about it?”

“I did but he said that he couldn’t recall anyone having access to the security system other than himself for the past few weeks.” Nightbeat shook his head, “Not even any of the officers have asked for footage. It’s been pretty quiet, all things considered.”

Rung put hand behind his back and one up to his bottom lip in thought.

“Swerve is also convinced, and here’s the crazy part, that Rodimus may have stolen the bottle by someone else’s influence.”

“A dare?” Rung inquired.

“That would make more sense, but no, he thinks more like blackmail.”

Rung scoffed, “What idiot would blackmail the captain of this ship?”

“That’s what I said!” Nightbeat said, feeling vindicated, “Rodimus has a lot of dangerous friends, not to mention he’s pretty chummy with ex-cons.”

“I wouldn’t worry too much about the ex-cons so much as Ratchet.” Rung squirmed a little.

“Oh? Why’s that?” Nightbeat inclined his head to him.

“Drift would take them apart swiftly enough, sure. But Ratchet could put them back together. And not necessarily in the right order.” Rung said, an eyebrow lifting in emphasis.

“Yeah that sounds… way worse.” Nighbeat didn’t want to imagine it. He’d heard about things Pharma had done, a medic without honor was dangerous. “I guess we should consider ourselves lucky he would never break his oaths, right?”

“I’m sure he’d find a work around if he really wanted to.” Rung shrugged. “But, back to the task at hand, Swerve wants you to find out who put Rodimus up to it?”

“Yeah, he also mentioned that Rodimus gave the bottle to someone.”

“Hm, have you tried to go over the footage from the day he stole it, maybe find the exchange on the video feeds?”

“I tried but Blaster said everything from that day was deleted, he put in a complaint to Ultra Magnus who in turn went to Brainstorm to track down who did it or restore the video feed if possible.”

“Which leads us back to our current problem.” Rung’s brows furrowed.

“Pretty much. I’m mostly interested in this case just to see who it was that covered their tracks so well.” Nightbeat said, returning to the desk computer.

“Hm. Have you tried asking Nautica or Skids? I know it’s not their field but they might know enough to help, and Skids could probably pick up the skill in an afternoon.” Rung offered.

“I might try that, you have Skids’ personal comm. line right? Could you ask him to come down here?”

“Sure thing, just give me a moment.”

Rung stepped off to the side to make his call and Nightbeat turned back to staring at the video sequence he had minimized. It played on a loop so someone had to have altered it, maybe even sped it up. The one bot he knew that could edit footage so seamlessly was Rewind but the mini had been just as shocked as everyone else about the video. Not to mention this hardly seemed like something he would do. The archivist would have just reported it surely.

“Skids said he’d be down in a bit.” Rung said coming over to stand beside him.

“What did you tell him?”

“That I was having computer issues and I was hoping he’d help.”

“Good, I don’t like to think we’re in the middle of a conspiracy or anything but my inner Red Alert doesn’t like the way this is looking.” Nightbeat looked at Rung who was standing so close to him. He reached out a touch to the therapist’s arm. Rung moved away from him.

“Do you have any guesses as to who may have done this?” Rung asked nonchalantly but Nightbeat couldn’t take it anymore.

“Why do you keep doing that?” He asked.

“Doing what?” Rung didn’t look at him.

“That, pulling away from me. Keeping me at a distance and not acknowledging what happened.”

Rung took off his glasses with a sigh and looked at him with a pained look.

“Because we can’t, Nightbeat. You’re one of my patients, it’s highly inappropriate and a misuse of power on my end. It should never have happened.” Rung’s words sounded just as pained and Nightbeat just shook his head.

“I don’t want a therapist, I want you.” Nightbeat gently took Rung by the shoulders. “You can simply put me out of your care, I never really used your services anyway.”

“It doesn’t work like that, I could be barred from my practice—” Rung squirmed in his grasp and Nightbeat let go so that Rung could step away from him.

“But we would be together. Is that not worth it?” Nightbeat felt his intake hitch as he watched Rung’s expression. He stared back at him, his optics full of emotion.

“Please Nightbeat, it isn’t because I don’t want to. The people on this ship need me… If I can’t work,” Rung staggered for words, “Then what good am I?”

Nightbeat swept the smaller bot into his arms and held him tightly.

“You’re worth more than you could ever know.” He said against the top of his head before panting a kiss gently on his forehelm. Rung nuzzled against him, sniffling back tears.

“I’m sorry Nightbeat.” Rung’s voice was a whisper and Nightbeat knew he meant it. He released the therapist from his embrace and held him at an arms length. If this was Rung’s decision, he would have to get over himself. He wiped a tear from Rung’s cheek and smiled.

“I guess we’ll always have the one night, right?” He said, trying to lighten up the mood. Rung smiled at him at least, wiping back his tears.

The door opened then and Skids entered about half a step before stopping short.

“Whoa, sorry, am I interrupting?” The theoretician began to back up.

“No, no, Skids, please come in,” Rung said moving to pull Skids the rest of the way inside, when the door closed he resumed, “Nightbeat actually wanted to ask if you could help him with something.”

Nightbeat cleared his intake.

“Right, so Swerve has me doing a little investigation into his missing booze problem.” Nightbeat indicated to the looping footage on the computer. “And I thought my best lead would be to track down whoever leaked the security footage.”

“So you wanted me to… what?” Skids looked between the two of them.

“Well we were hoping you could help us find out where it came from, I’ve tried nearly a thousand times but the sequence of rooms it bounces the signal around keeps changing to hide it’s origins.” Nightbeat pulled up his work and showed him how he was trying to trace the source.

“Can I ask why you guys need to know who leaked it?” Skids said after awhile of watching him work.

Rung and Nightbeat looked at each other. Trusting Rung was one thing but he didn’t know Skids very well and he could turn this private investigation into a very public one.

“I think we should tell him.” Rung said, clearly seeing the apprehension on Nightbeat’s face.

Nightbeat took a breath and released it as he turned, “Swerve is under the impression that someone made Rodimus steal the bottle.” He watched Skids’ reaction first, gauging it. Skids only narrowed his optics, he didn’t react with shock or disbelief, which didn’t put Nighbeat at ease.

“So you want me to help you find the origin because you think they might have something to do with it?” Skids asked, his voice even and quiet. Nightbeat narrowed his optics behind his visor.

“Yes.” He replied simply, “But you already know who it was, don’t you?” Nightbeat’s accusation garnered a better reaction. Skids looked down and shifted slightly in discomfort, crossing his arms. And a guilty look on his face.

Rung was looking between them in shock. “Skids is that true?”

“Yes, it is,” Skids looked Nightbeat straight in the optic then. “It was me. I leaked the footage.”

Chapter Text

0800

Thunderclash had tried his best to keep his composure in the cycles after the shore leave.

Luckily he was off bridge duty for couple of them. He worked security in the lower decks and was able to walk around without much interaction from others. It gave him a good amount of time to clear his head and convince himself that he had done the right thing despite how terrible he felt. He dreaded when he would finally have to go back to bridge duty.

His next shift was going to be with Rodimus. He hadn’t seen the speedster at all in the cycles leading up to it. In the back of his processor he felt the gnawing anguish telling him to go make sure Rodimus was okay. However, his more rational thoughts said it made sense for him to start avoiding Thunderclash again and to remain away. He told himself again and again that Rodimus would be fine, that the red mech wasn’t in the same type of pain as him, if any at all. Trying to tell himself that the speedster never really cared only did to hurt himself more than anything, so he stopped doing it.

Thunderclash clenched and unclenched his fists, trying to chase away his chills as he approached the bridge for the start of his first shift back. He took a deep breath as the doors opened and he crossed the threshold. He glanced around tentatively and his optics found, to his surprise, Megatron was in the captain’s chair. He looked over his shoulder in confusion, that maybe he had his schedule wrong. He checked his chronometer and determined that no, he wasn’t wrong. This was his shift.

And Rodimus wasn’t there.

He knew he shouldn’t ask. The answer, regardless of what it was, would do him no good to ease his processor. Still he walked towards Megatron, the question ready on his glossa.

“Rodimus apparently pulled some of his welds.” Megatron didn’t even look up from his data pad. “If that’s what you were wondering, Thunderclash.”

“Is he alright?” Feigning polite interest, Thunderclash prayed that it hadn’t been him that had done it, his stomach lurched at the once happy memories that assaulted his processor. They had gone a little overboard.

“He’s fine, he’s crabby. Ratchet is with him now to check out the damages, he said Rodimus needs a little more berth rest.” Megatron gave him a sidelong glance, “If you’re worried you can go see him once your shift is over.”

“That won’t be necessary, sir.” Thunderclash turned away from the ex-warlord’s intense gaze.

His spark bounced between different emotions. He was relieved that it was unlikely he himself who caused Rodimus’ stressed welds otherwise Ratchet would have seen to him earlier than today. He couldn’t forgive himself if the last thing he had done to Rodimus was physically injure him. He still felt guilt in his spark however, guilt because he was angry. Angry that Rodimus had probably went out on his shore leave and partied with his friends. Heedless of any pain that Thunderclash had been feeling.  He didn’t want to feel that way, he didn’t like thinking that Rodimus was so disregardful of him.

At the same time, it wasn’t like the speedster owed him anything, certainly not any tears. They had both consented to the terms of their agreement and the termination, it was Thunderclash’s fault he had grown too attached. Too hopeful of something he knew from the start was unlikely to happen.

He was just going to have to accept that Rodimus wasn’t affected by their split like he had been.

~    ~    ~    ~

0700

Rodimus didn’t get out of berth for two whole cycles.

He missed his shore leave entirely,  the time had come and gone without him even noticing.  Drift didn’t come knocking at his hab until the second cycle. Rodimus didn’t have an excuse for missing the beginning of his first shift, he simply said he wasn’t feeling well and politely asked Drift to cover for him. By the time his next shift rolled around, he still hadn’t gotten up, not even to fuel. This time Drift wasn’t buying his act of nonchalance.

“Let me in there right now.” Drift said from outside his berth room door. The white speedster knew the code for his hab but Rodimus had kept the code for his berth room separate for just-in-case circumstances. This wasn’t exactly what he envisioned those circumstances being.

“No.”

“Rodimus Prime, I swear on the Unmaker, I will knock down this door—”

“I don’t feel well.”

“Then I’ll take you to the medbay.”

“No.”

He heard an exasperated sigh from the other side of the door.

“Fine if you don’t want to see me, I am at least going to tell Ratchet you aren’t well.” Drift’s pedesteps stomped away from the door and Rodimus sighed a little in relief.

In truth, he didn’t want to see his amica because he didn’t want him to know about what had transpired with Thunderclash. He hadn’t sorted out any of what he had felt or what he should be feeling at least. He was still oddly numb to everything. When he tried to think about Thunderclash he gave up before he could really interpret his feelings. His processor reasoned that it didn’t really matter what he felt anyway. Thunderclash was gone, he’d let him go.

Why did I let him go?

A knock came from his berth room door some time later. Rodimus didn’t answer. The door opened, and Rodimus bolted upwards with a start.

“You don’t look very ill to me.” Ratchet said from the doorway, his arms crossed. Thankfully he didn’t have Drift with him and Rodimus relaxed a little back into the berth.

“How did you get in here?” Rodimus eyed him warily.

“Medical override.” Ratchet said simply, he shut the door behind him and came to sit beside Rodimus on the berth. “Now give me your arm.”

Rodimus did so and he sat there in silence and watched Ratchet go over his diagnostic, knowing that the medic wouldn’t find anything. He tried to mentally prepare himself for what came next. The questions, the accusations, the probing statements that the medic was fond of using. Drift could read him easily enough, but Ratchet had an entirely different strategy, one that came from years of dealing with ill-mannered patients.

“You’ve stressed a couple welds, but only enough to feel soreness, nothing serious,” Ratchet gave him a look, “Or that requires berth rest for 2 cycles with no fuel.”

“Looks like I’m fine then, you’re not needed.” Rodimus tried to move away but Ratchet held his arm firmly in his grasp.

“You’re not fine. What’s gotten into you? I’ve never known you to skip your fuel.” Ratchet’s brow furrowed.

“You don’t know me very well then.” Rodimus grumbled, hoping to push him away with his poor mood alone. It didn’t work as expected.

“What is that supposed to mean?” Ratchet hissed, “I may not be your amica but I do care about you.”

“It’s not about that.” Rodimus said, exasperated suddenly by the conversation and trying to back pedal.

“Then what is it about? What internal struggle are you having today? What reasons does the great Rodimus Prime have to pout about this time?” Ratchet seethed.

Something broke then and Rodimus laughed, not because he was amused, or because he was happy. He laughed because it was the only sound that he could make. His vocalizer refused to make words and he frustratedly tried to stifle the laughing. Ratchet suddenly pulled him into a crushing embrace, which was odd enough, but he was still laughing against the medic’s chest.

No. It wasn’t laughter. Rodimus was sobbing. He felt suddenly overwhelmed. Lubricant was running down his face now. The emotions he had failed to reason out slowly made themselves known. Fear, anger, despair, regret, they all reared their ugly faces at him. He held onto Ratchet like he was the only thing holding him to reality. The medic was his lifeline— a tether to keep him from drowning. So he held on for safety, fearing if he let go he would never resurface. He took comfort in the fact that Ratchet held him equally as hard.

When the sobs finally died down and he was left shaking with the after shocks, he finally found his voice again.

“I’m sorry.” He croaked, “I’m so sorry.”

“Why are you sorry?” Ratchet said gently in his audial.

Rodimus stalled, “I don’t know.”

Ratchet sighed, Rodimus could feel his hands rubbing soothing circles on his back. “I’ll let the bridge know you need a little berth rest, but I’m not leaving here until you tell me what’s wrong.”

Rodimus nodded and continued to hold onto Ratchet, loosening his grip only slightly. After a few moments the medic returned his attention to him, pulling back to look him in the face.

“Now tell me what is wrong.” Ratchet didn’t threaten him, which was a little surprising in it’s own right, but his tone left nothing to the imagination. He was going to get an answer out of Rodimus, one way or another.

“It’s a long story.” Rodimus said tiredly.

“Start at the beginning if it’s easier.”

Rodimus suddenly became afraid. Ratchet would likely have an even worse reaction than Drift did about his agreement with Thunderclash. They were friends, long-time buddies from way back. He felt himself shrink inside with an even worse sense of regret. Ratchet wasn’t going to leave without an answer, so Rodimus took a deep breath and swallowed down his fears.

“I did something very stupid.” Was where he started.

Chapter Text

0730

Rodimus took his time.

He explained how he had tried to wait out his heat when he deemed no one on the ship able to help him, not even Drift. How when he couldn’t take it anymore he asked Thunderclash of all mech’s because he knew he at least had a code of honor that would keep him from blabbing to other bots. Ratchet remained solemn and nodded occasionally to show that he was listening. Rodimus left out how he had turned his sensors down to a dangerously low setting, he didn’t need the medic mad at him for that too.

He took a deep invent before he explained how he felt depraved afterwards, and how he had gone to Drift for advice. Rodimus also elaborated that in hindsight, Drift’s advice was probably not how he had interpreted it. Rodimus noticed when he explained his agreement with Thunderclash, Ratchet’s jaw hardened and his optics narrowed.

Rodimus left out any details that were too intimate but he described the events that transpired after that. How he and Thunderclash had very quickly gone from simply just interfacing partners to something more and how Rodimus had thought Thunderclash would want a courtship instead.

“I got scared.” Rodimus admitted like he was admitting defeat. “I didn’t know what I wanted so I just continued on like I didn’t know any better.”

“You led him on.” Ratchet’s tone was dark and dripping with disappointment.

“I did,” Rodimus sighed, “When I finally made up my mind and decided I wanted to court him, it was already too late. He’d decided that he didn’t want to be in our agreement anymore.”

Rodimus took a shuddering breath before continuing, “I know it might seem unreasonable but I want him back. I want a chance to do it over again—to do it right this time.”

The two of them were quiet for a few moments. Ratchet appeared to still be taking it all in and Rodimus waited for chastising that was surely to follow. He expected to be admonished for his lack of judgment or reprimanded for his cruelty. What he got instead was a deafening silence as Ratchet stared at something far away. After some time, Rodimus began to grow unsure if the medic was going to say anything. He was still just sitting there, staring at something across the room so as not to look at the speedster.

“Ratch?” Rodimus said finally, unable to take the silence anymore.

“What did he say,” Ratchet said, still not looking at him, “When he broke it off, what did he say?”

“He said he didn’t want to create feelings for me. That our relationship was inappropriate. That it was unhealthy for us.” Rodimus said, he’d repeated the reasons over and over in his head to know them by spark now. “I’m not even sure if he had feelings for me in the first place.”

“He did. Whether or not he does now, I couldn’t tell you.” Ratchet’s words made Rodimus’ spark hit the bottom of his gut. The medic finally looked back at him.

“Thunderclash is a lot more delicate than he let’s on. It’s easy to look at his large frame and presence and think he’s some kind of monolith that couldn’t be brought down by mortal means. A lot of bots see him that way.” Ratchet’s optics stared into Rodimus’ own, as if looking for something, “I know you did, which is why you hated him so much, you were jealous of the presence he held.”

Rodimus didn’t say anything. He knew the medic was right of course, he had hated that Thunderclash easily accomplished things he had fought for, fought for and still lost in the end. To the point that the brightly colored mech had inspired a hatred that ran as deep as his insecurities, one that he never thought he would be able to overcome .

“Do you know what Thunderclash was known for before the war?” Ratchet asked.

“Uh,” The question took Rodimus off guard, he thought back as far as he could and the only thing he could find was, “He went to your academy right? That’s how he helped you pass your exams.”

Ratchet chuckled, “Yes but do you know what his major was? I’ll give you a hint; it wasn’t medical.”

Rodimus blinked, “Uh… Philosophy? That seems like him.”

“No.” Ratchet chuckled again, “He was undeclared.”

Rodimus blinked again in confusion. “He was what?”

Ratchet had a twinkle in his optic as he explained.

“Thunderclash was incredibly smart and got into the academy easily. His problem was he never knew what field he wanted to be in. He didn’t have the alt mode for any of the sciences, and his hands weren’t forged medic hands, which was a requirement in those days. He was probably going to end up an officer in some militia. But Thunderclash didn’t want to give up his academy days. He spent nearly twice as much time as any other student there and had no plans to declare his major in all that time. He spent a lot of time in the library, reading books and helping other students, like me, pass their exams.” Ratchet wore a wistful smile, “Even long after I had gone on to my practice, Thunderclash was still there, absorbing information. It would be a few years before the academy finally kicked him out.”

“They kicked him out?” Rodimus was stunned, “How come I never knew about this?”

“Well mostly because he doesn’t like to talk about it, and because there was confusion about a bot with a similar name that joined up with the Decepticons. Many people don’t associate that story with the bot that came to be known as The Greatest Autobot of All Time.” Ratchet’s smile faded slightly, his optics twinged with sadness. “He’s come a long way from that bright optic’d student who just wanted to know everything and avoid becoming a soldier. In the end, the universe had it’s own plans for him.”

Rodimus looked down at the berth covers, guilt weighing heavily on him, “Why are you telling me this?”

“Because Thunderclash is still very much that same bot, he’s always learning, always helping people. Even when it get’s him into trouble.” Ratchet reached out and arm and held Rodimus’ shoulder in his grasp, “There are some things that never change about him, like I said I cannot say for sure but I feel like his feelings for you is one of those things.”

“B-But—What he said—?”

“Thunderclash is a trained public speaker, he can even make himself believe half the stuff he spins, that’s how he has gotten this far as a leader. He does what he thinks is best, he may have thought he was looking out for the two of you by breaking things off.”

Rodimus swayed a little and held onto Ratchet’s arm for support, “So you’re saying…?”

“Give it a few cycles, let emotions calm down, then talk to him. If you don’t want to spill your guts to him you don’t have to, if you just ask him about his feelings I’m sure he will be forward with you.” Ratchet said with a smile.

“You really think so?” Rodimus couldn’t help but feel hopeful for the first time in cycles.

“I’m not going to make any promises but the Thunderclash that I know can’t stand to lie when asked a direct question.” Ratchet released his arm and unsubspaced cube of fuel, “Now drink this and get over yourself, dummy.”

~    ~    ~    ~

1200

Rodimus found that he couldn’t sit still anymore.

Ratchet told Rodimus that if he needed anything else he shouldn’t hesitate to call on him or Drift, to which the red speedster agreed. After that, the medic had made him drink 2 cubes of medical grade fuel—yuck— and he had left the speedster alone with his thoughts. With not much to do but mope, Rodimus decided to sneak around the ship a little. He had seen the last two cycles in berth, and he couldn’t possibly continue to do so without going crazy.

He walked down empty corridors and made sure to stay out of sight from any wandering bots. He was approaching Swerve’s and, knowing it would be empty at this hour, he slipped inside with the hopes of finding Swerve there. If the mini was in a good mood maybe he would let him have a drink in one the booths in peace.

Sadly when he entered the lights were dim and the place was pretty much empty. All save for a small white and blue minibot that Rodimus recognized, sitting in one of the booths.

“Tailgate?” Rodimus approached the mini. “What are you doing here?”

“I could ask you the same thing, Mr. Sticky-Fingers.” Tailgate quirked his head at him and Rodimus shrank back visibly.

“S-Sorry, I know Swerve already forgave you and all,” Tailgate said quickly, “I meant it more as a joke… Not funny I guess.” The mini sighed, an all to familiar sounding sigh and Rodimus sat across from him.

“It was kind of funny,” Rodimus said with a smile, hoping to lift the minibot’s mood a bit, “And I did deserve every bit of what I got. Though, if you ask me, the posters had been a tad much.” Rodimus threw a thumb over his shoulder to where the outline of his banned poster had been.

Tailgate giggled, his visor flickering in amusement, “I got you in both optics. Cyclonus was very proud.”

“Where is he anyway? Aren’t you two attached at the hip?” Rodimus looked around, wondering if maybe he had missed the purple mech when he came in. He heard Tailgate sigh again.

“He’s hiding from me right now.” Tailgate sighed.

“Hiding? Why?”

“We had a fight. Not a big one but Cyclonus likes to storm off. I came here thinking I would find him.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be, he’ll come around. He always does.”

Rodimus looked at the mini who had such serene hope in his optics. How was he so calm about this?

“Was there ever a time when you thought you might lose him?” Rodimus asked quietly.

Tailgate looked at him, startled, “No! Never!” He shook his head vehemently but stopped short and slumped his shoulders.

“Well, there was one time. But it was before we became conjunx endura… Cyclonus was sending me all these mixed signals and I thought that maybe he wasn’t really interested in me. I decided to leave him alone since he didn’t really act like he wanted to even hang out with me.”

Rodimus tried to remember a time when the two weren’t together. In only a few short months, Tailgate had become Cyclonus’ only friend aboard the Lost Light. Then after the mini almost died and Cyclonus saved him they hung out almost exclusively. Or so he thought. He probably hadn’t even been paying attention at the time they were ‘broken up’.

“I guess I have Getaway to thank, in a weird way.”

Rodimus went stiff, “What?”

“It took me realizing that I didn’t want anyone else besides Cyclonus for me to finally push past that last barrier. And if Getaway hadn’t been trying to date me I probably never would have realized that.” The mini chuckled nervously.

Rodimus only half paid attention to the mini’s words. It was like something in his processor slid into place.

Getaway.

It had to be. If what Ratchet said was true then Thunderclash must have been given a reason to break things off with him. There was no other explanation as to why Thunderclash had so suddenly decided he didn’t want to be a part of their agreement anymore. If the masked mech had shown him any of the recording that he had held over Rodimus’ head…

A cold chill ran down his struts when he remembered the look on Thunderclash’s face. Then he remembered the mark on his chest and he could almost see where Thunderclash’s own fingers had dug into the paint. That also explains why he was late and why he wouldn’t even look at Rodimus. He was in so much pain and he didn’t want him to see it.

Anger like none he had ever felt before suddenly rose from his gut into his chest. He squeezed his optics shut and ground his denta together, unable to even move as the energon rushed to his head.

Getaway caused this. Getaway hurt Thunderclash.

And it was going to be the last thing he ever did.

Chapter Text

1200

You leaked the footage?” Nightbeat asked Skids, slightly stunned, he’ll admit he didn’t really see that one coming. “You stole it to slander Rodimus?”

“Okay, now hold on. I didn’t steal it, I didn’t do it for that reason, and I don’t know what happened to the bottle after he took it,” Skids said holding up his hands, “Let’s just back up a little.”

"I’m all audials,” Nightbeat said, hardly controlling the snark in his tone, “Do enlighten us.”

“It wasn’t exactly my proudest moment.” Skids paused, searching for words, “I wasn’t in a great state of mind, I was kind of drunk…” He looked at Rung sheepishly, the therapist’s optics softening a little in sadness.

“I was just really mad when I saw it! Swerve isn’t the kind of guy who speaks up when he has a problem so I knew even if he knew the bottle was missing he just wouldn’t bother saying anything.” Skids took a shuddering invent, “So I did it without thinking, even though I really should have.”

Skids looked at the floor and scratched the back of his helm, “You see I got it from Getaway.”

“You say that like that means something.” Rung said.

“Well, Getaway has never really liked Rodimus. He’s always talking bad about him. I try not to listen to him, he can be so pessimistic sometimes.” Skids’ sighed. “I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t think about where I was getting it from until after I had sent it out.”

“Did he say where he got the recording from?” Nightbeat asked. Skids shook his head.

“He just said he’d happened upon it. Getaway has always had these habits of being in the right place at the right time to get information. It’s a little unnerving sometimes…” Skids trailed off.

“Do you think Getaway is capable of blackmail?” Nightbeat inquired further.

“Capable? He would have the means if that’s what you’re asking. He could get dirt on anyone. He’s surprisingly easy to talk to and charming as all hell, add in his uncanny ability to be there when you don’t want him to be, and all this other attributes that made him a great spy… Yeah I’d say so,” Skids crossed his arms, “I have a hard time believing he would though. He can be mean but he’s not conniving.”

“Are you sure about that?” Nightbeat put his hands on his hips, “Because, right now, he’s looking like our strongest suspect. Provided you’re telling the truth about your own involvement.”

Skids let out an aggravated sigh, “What would he even have on Rodimus to blackmail him with? They don’t really hang out—ever— so I have a hard time believing he overheard something on accident. He would have had to be tailing him like it was his job, and Getaway has never done anything like that, nor has he shown any indication of being even remotely interested in Rodimus. The two might as well be living on different planets, not the same ship!”

Nightbeat put his hand to his chin in thought. Skids was right. Rodimus and Getaway never really socialized, save for one dance that happened about a week back. After that though, nothing. No conversations or meetups, they barely shared similar friends in their social groups. Rodimus primarily hung out at Swerve’s and Getaway at Visages. Trying to sort things in his head wasn’t working so Nightbeat tried thinking aloud instead.

“They’re never around each other… Don’t have a lot of similar friends… Getaway hates Rodimus… Rodimus, as far as we know, was indifferent to Getaway… Why would Getaway want to blackmail him?” Nightbeat looked at Rung who shrugged.

“I mean he is the captain, you can get anything you want if you did.” Skids answered.

“But you run the risk of him telling Ultra Magnus, getting locked in the brig— or worse, kicked off the ship.” Rung said.

“Which means whatever it is is either one of two things. It’s dangerous or it’s humiliating.” Nightbeat narrowed his optics. “I’m going to give Rodimus the benefit of the doubt and assume it’s not dangerous. Which means it’s probably something incredibly humiliating for him. Which means it would have had to be something that was mentioned in passing or overheard…

“And if Getaway and him never interacted much before now… Let’s say that dance they had that had everyone gossiping about them happened after the blackmail, that would mean that Getaway likely never would have had a chance to hear such a thing.” Nightbeat shook his head in disappointment.

“What does that mean?” Rung asked.

“It means we have another bot out there who is involved in this. Likely somebot who initially told Getaway without realizing what it would mean for Rodimus.” Nightbeat sighed, “Which also means we’re essentially back at square one. We don’t have anything concrete to pin blackmail on Getaway, him giving Skids the footage also means nothing if we don’t know how he got it in the first place. He might just say someone else gave it to him and put up enough reasonable doubt to shake any blame.”

“So what are we gonna do?” Skids said, surprising Nightbeat a little.

“We?” He quirked his brow at the theoretician.

“You guys look like you could use some help.” Skids put his hands on his hips, “And I feel responsible for the video leak so I may as well try and make up for it.”

“Three can be kind of a crowd.” Nightbeat said a little uneasy. They would be far more noticeable as a group. “Swerve wanted me to do this discreetly.”

“Well if Swerve has complaints later, he can bring it up to me.” Skids said with a smirk.

“Or!” Rung said enthusiastically, “We can split up and see what we can learn.”

“The only problem with that is I’m pretty sure there’s only one place for us to scope out; Visages. It’s the place Getaway hangs out the most so if he heard some juicy gossip he wasn’t supposed to, it was likely there.” Nightbeat didn’t want to admit that he didn’t want Rung to come along. He was a little scared that something bad was going to happen and he’d rather his friend stay clear of it.

“I go see Getaway there the most so I could just go and come back if I find anything.” Skids offered.

“Or I could go? People tend not to notice me.” Rung said.

“I don’t like the thought of either of you going alone,” Nightbeat said with a sigh, “We’ll go together, discreet or not, having back up is important.”

“Expecting trouble?” Skids asked.

“Luck favors the prepared.” Nightbeat said simply. “Alright, here’s what we’re gonna do.”

~    ~    ~    ~

1100

“How did you even manage to do this?”

Drift watched in amusement as Ratchet examined Swerve’s now stump of a hand. Apparently the mini had severed 2 of his fingers in a bet with Whirl. One of which Whirl refused to give back until Swerve started crying.

“Velocity can you deal with this, I just can’t right now.” Ratchet said with a sigh, pinching the bridge of his nose.

“Of course Ratchet.” Velocity said, stifling her laugh as Swerve wiggled his amputated digits at her, and took the mini to reattach his fingers.

Drift approached now as he watched Ratchet slump into a chair. He wound his arms around the medic’s shoulders from behind and planted a kiss on his helm. To which Drift was treated to a gruff ‘hm’ and a sigh.

“So how did it go with Rodimus earlier? Is he really sick?” Drift asked quietly, he moved his hands to Ratchet’s shoulder joints and he began to massage his fingers in slowly, “Or is he having one of those days?”

“A little bit of both, though nothing serious.” Ratchet relaxed into Drift’s touch, “Last time I checked, being lovesick never killed anyone.”

“Lovesick? What do you mean?” Drift stalled a bit with his ministrations and Ratchet groaned a little.

“It’s nothing, give it a few days, he’ll be fine.”

“Ratchet, what did he tell you?” Drift asked, deathly serious now. He had a feeling he knew what was going on, Rodimus rarely ever shut down like this, he was a fighter through and through. There was only a few things Rodimus felt like he couldn't handle, and one of them had to do a big brightly colored mech. But Drift wasn’t going to jump to anything before he got confirmation.

“Nothing he would want repeated out loud.” Ratchet huffed stubbornly.

“This is my amica we’re talking about, he’d be fine with me knowing.” Drift swiveled Ratchet’s chair to look at him, the medic crossing his arms now.

“Some how I don’t think that’s the case.” Ratchet grumbled.

“Ratchet.” Drift said with a warning tone, “Tell me what happened.”

Ratchet groaned loudly, “They split up a little while ago, I don’t think I need to say anymore than that.”

“What?” Drift stooped to look Ratchet right in the optic, “He’s been in that room for at least a cycle!”

“Two to three from my diagnostic actually.” Ratchet mumbled.

“Was he okay? He didn’t hurt himself right?”

“Apart from skipping a little fuel, which I made sure to shove down his intake before I left, no. He was fine, like I said, just lovesick.” Ratchet’s tone was reassuring but Drift would not be reassured. He could feel the energon in his lines heating up as he gripped the chair tightly with both hands.

“Did—Did he cry?” He asked, wincing.

“I don’t think—”

“Did he?” Drift insisted.

“Yes,” Ratchet’s optics softened, “He cried it out and I held him.”

Drift straightened up and the medic caught him quickly by the hand.

“Don’t. I know what you’re thinking and just don’t Drift. You’ll only make things worse.” Ratchet pleaded.

“Don’t worry, I’m not going to hurt him,” Drift gently pulled away and began walking out of the medbay, “Much.”

“I heard that!” Ratchet’s voice cried out in warning. “If I have to repair either one of you, you’ll be sorry!”

Unfortunately, Drift had other ideas. Thunderclash had hurt his amica. Judging by the way he was acting it must have been pretty bad. Clearly the bigger mech needed to be reminded of Drift's promise to protect Rodimus and his promise to deliver retribution should the colorful mech hurt him.

“What kind of amica would I be if I didn’t follow through on my promises?” Drift said under his breath.

Chapter Text

 

1130

Thunderclash went about his work drearily.

Several other members of the crew on the bridge asked him what was wrong but he waved them off, saying he was just tired. Which wasn’t far from the truth, recharge had been hard for him. He’d lay awake and argue with himself or try to suppress memories. He kept having to remind himself that it wouldn’t last forever. Eventually the pain would be gone and he could get back to his normal life.

Could he though? Even his normal life had been filled with pining for Rodimus. Imagining what it would be like to hold the speedster’s hand, kiss his lips, hold him close. Now he didn’t have to imagine. The memories were all there, he only had to think of Rodimus and they would appear. The way he tasted was still on his glossa. His smooth, glossy red finish under his finger tips. His warm chassis, warmer than any other he’d ever felt, left cold spaces where it had been pressed to him. Thunderclash could try and suppress the memories all he wanted but the sensations went beyond his processor. They were marks left on his very spark.

“Thunderclash.” Megatron’s voice came quietly over his shoulder. When Thunderclash turned, the silver mech indicated to follow him to the side of the room. He did so, noting hushed whispers of the crew around him. They were worried for him, he could see sympathy in their optics. Did he really look that bad?

“What is it, sir?” Thunderclash said once they were away from the rest of the crew.

“Why don’t you take a break, go get some fuel.” Megatron said softly. He must really look bad if Megatron was interfering. Thunderclash sighed.

“I’m fine, sir. I can continue.” He said somberly.

“I’m sure you could but I don’t think you should. Just go get some fuel and take a walk. When you come back you can carry on.” Megatron said firmly, clearly giving Thunderclash no choice in the matter.

“Yes, sir.” Thunderclash said with a little edge to his voice. He didn’t like being rude but he also didn’t like being treated like he was some insubordinate cadet.

Thunderclash made his way out of the bridge and started down towards Swerve’s so he could get some fuel. He was halfway there when he suddenly found himself being thrown to the floor with a loud thunk. He couldn’t help but think that this was just what he needed; to be kicked literally while he was down. He stood up quickly, rounding on his attacker, to find his face coming in contact with an incoming kick. He stumbled back, holding his cheek, anger and indignation flaring to life in his spark.

He swung wildly at his attacker, bringing the side of his arm down in front of him as if to squash their smaller frame. His arm hit the floor with a loud clang but missed the mech entirely as they dodged backwards and out of the way. He finally had a chance to get a good look at his attacker and was taken aback.

“Drift?” He said, straightening up. Drift had yet to drop his fighting stance and Thunderclash instinctively kept a defensive position.

“I told you.” Drift put his hands on his sword hilts, “You’d never see me coming.”

“What are you talking abou—” Thunderclash backed up as the first swing of the sword aimed for his helm. “Drift!”

The speedster was still coming at him. Not at his usual speed, he swiped at him almost slowly. Though any faster and the colorful mech wouldn’t be able to dodge his attacks, especially not in these cramped hallways. It took a moment before Thunderclash realized he was being backed into a corner and before he could maneuver out of it, Drift had a sword pinned to either side of him in the wall. Keeping him in place.

“You’re lucky Ratchet said I can’t hurt you.” Drift growled.

“W-What is going on?” Thunderclash struggled against the blades which bit into him if he moved, causing him to have to be still.

“Actually, he just said he didn’t want to have to repair you.” Drift smirked and crossed his arms.

“What is going on? Why are you doing this?” Thunderclash glared down at the white speedster.

“Are you really that dense, Thunders? Been to see Rodimus lately? How was he when you saw him?”

Realization dawned on Thunderclash. He remembered their conversation from weeks ago now, and the white speedster’s promise to come after him if he hurt Rodimus. Drift had been to see Rodimus, clearly, and if Drift was coming after him that must mean Rodimus…

“Is he angry with me?” Thunderclash said, his voice shaking.

Drift blinked at him, “Angry? If he was angry he might have told me how he was feeling. If he was angry he would have called me instead of lying in his hab for two cycles!” Drift said, nearly shouting.

Thunderclash felt his processor blank and his spark hit the floor, “He what?” His voice was barely above a whisper.

Drift quirked a brow ridge at him, “You really are that dense.” He hissed under his breath.

Thunderclash struggled again against the swords managing to loosen them and pull them from the wall. The white speedster took a step back but didn’t reach for the swords as Thunderclash picked them up. His blue optics narrowed at Thunderclash, as if gauging him, looking for something.

“Can we start this conversation over, what is going on?” Thunderclash kept hold of the swords, a little afraid of things escalating again.

“I could ask you the same thing, Thunderclash.” Drift spat his name like it pained him to say, “Ratchet told me you ended things with Roddy.”

Again, Thunderclash was taken aback. Why would Ratchet know that? Unless Rodimus told him. But Rodimus didn’t want anyone knowing about them. None of it made sense the more Thunderclash thought about it, all he could think was that this was some kind of horrible vengeance tactic that the speedster was using to hurt him. Again his processor fought with him. Rodimus wouldn’t do something like that. But then again… Recent events made it evident that Thunderclash didn’t know the speedster at all.

“I—I ended our agreement. As per the terms Rodimus and I laid out, we could end things at any time—I thought you wanted me to stop things before they went too far?” Thunderclash hoped that the speedster could see where he was coming from, this animosity felt unjustified considering Thunderclash had only done was what he was told.

“Well you blew that one real good,” Drift crossed his arms, “If I recall correctly, I told you to take a chance with Rodimus, to find out if he had feelings for you, you bolt-brain.”

“I came to the conclusion that Rodimus would never feel that way about me—” Thunderclash choked on his words. Memories of his conversation with Getaway sprang up and the pain he had felt returned. The words burned his spark and he felt his tanks churn. He could still hear them, each recording in perfect clarity in his processor. Each word eating away at him.

I still hate Thunderclash.

Why was Drift doing this to him? Couldn’t he see he was in pain? Why couldn’t he just leave him to his sorrows? Why did he have to bring it all back. His mistake in thinking that he could get Rodimus of all mechs to love him…

“What in the name of Primus gave you that idea?”

“He said it himself!” Thunderclash shouted, surprising himself with his sheer intensity and the sound nearly shaking the halls. Drift’s face fell. Thunderclash was breathing in ragged vents like he was out of breath now, the pain in his spark threatening to overwhelm him as the words repeated themselves in his processor.

I still hate Thunderclash.

Thunderclash and I are just interfacing, that’s it.

I’ve spent too long standing in his shadow, despising him. I could never be with Thunderclash.

Does Thunderclash know you don’t want anything to do with him?

A jarring sensation struck him as he remembered that part of the recording was actually Drift himself speaking to Rodimus.

“And you knew,” Thunderclash felt his anger focus to a fine point on the speedster in front of him, “You knew from the very beginning how he felt and you let him lead me on.”

Drift’s face was stunned, the look in his optics was one of shock, “That’s not—”

“I don’t want to hear what you have to say. I don’t want any of your righteous indignation—” He walked towards the speedster, throwing the swords he held to the side.

“Wait!”

“I just want you to leave me alone!” Thunderclash pushed past him and stormed down the hall, his mind only focused on leaving and not the cries from Drift at his back. He let the anger drown everything out as he walked back to the bridge to resume his duties.

He wasn’t about to let anyone tell him what he could and could not do. He’d had enough of it. So when Megatron opened his mouth to say something to him he simply strode past him and ignored the silver mech. The anger billowed off him in waves and the rest of the crew became quiet under it’s weight.

When the anger had subsided however, Thunderclash was left feeling even more tired than he had been before. He couldn’t fight it when the nagging concern he had shoved aside came back. Drift had said Rodimus had spent two cycles in his hab… He partially regretted not hearing Drift out about that part before he lost his temper.

He reasoned with himself as much as he could, after all, Ratchet had been to see him. If anything was wrong the medic would take care of him. Drift was just being protective and had probably come to make Thunderclash feel bad, not some malice his processor had imagined from Rodimus. But he wasn't about to let the white speedster manipulate him. Rodimus would be fine, their split was for the best. 

But despite his best efforts, a part of Thunderclash didn’t believe the things he reasoned out. There were just too many things that didn't add up. He wished more than anything that he could forget about it all. Just so that he wouldn't have to think about it anymore.

Chapter Text

1255

Barely any time had past at all before Thunderclash was kicking himself internally.

Try as he might, Thunderclash couldn’t keep himself from thinking about what had happened. Deep down he was completely conscious that Drift had been trying to tell him something about Rodimus and that he should have listened to him. If he had then he probably wouldn’t be so confused as to what was going on. But part of him still revolted against that idea. Drift had known that Rodimus was just stringing him along. He’d conversed with the other speedster about it and had made Thunderclash feel like a fool.

Thunderclash didn’t know the whole conversation though, that very well may not have been what it was at all. He didn’t have the whole side of the story and thanks to his blundering he probably never would. He cursed himself for losing his temper so fast, it was very unlike his usual self and he felt ashamed by it. He let what very well could be an imagined slight get the better of him and now he was paying the price with his guilt.

He replayed the earlier part of his conversation in his head more than the latter part. It was what confused Thunderclash the most. Drift had seemed so angry because Thunderclash had supposedly hurt Rodimus. That didn’t add up in Thunderclash’s head with everything else. Until now at least, he had no reason to think that their split had affected the speedster in the slightest. But if Drift was there then that must mean Rodimus had in fact been affected after all, right?

Thunderclash thought it was anger, anger that Thunderclash had just suddenly ended their relationship, but Drift was wiser than that. He wouldn’t let Rodimus’ anger affect him. No, the only thing that would make Drift come for him was if Rodimus was wounded by what he had said. Fresh guilt hit Thunderclash with that thought. The last thing he had wanted was to hurt Rodimus. But he had been callous with his words hadn’t he? Calling their relationship unhealthy. It was as if he was saying being with Rodimus was unhealthy. That probably wasn’t the best thing to say to a mech like Rodimus who often undervalued himself already.

Thunderclash cringed, he avoided looking at Rodimus’ face when he told him he wanted to stop, he didn’t even have a reaction to his words from the speedster. He didn’t even think at the time what kind of damage he would leave behind. Drift’s words rang in his helm again.

Well you blew that one real good.

What had Drift meant by that? He thought he was stopping things before they went too far. That would imply he was sparing Rodimus from something too. When in fact he had just been trying to spare himself the pain. He had done it for selfish reasons. When he had been talking to Drift that’s what he said though. He said that he wanted stop before they went too far and Drift said he’d blown it.

Did he mean that they had already gone too far? That would mean…

“That would mean…” Thunderclash found himself saying aloud, stunned by the conclusion he was reaching.

Rodimus did have feelings for him.

It took only moments from that thought for Thunderclash to experience the worst emotional whiplash he had ever had. Initial joy filled him and was ripped away and replaced by abject horror at what he had done. It hurt even worse because everything made more sense now. It was as if it all slid into place before him.

That night, Rodimus had been so happy to see him, pulling him in close, kissing him right away. Rodimus wasn’t being manipulative, he was genuinely happy to see him. And then Thunderclash had just pushed him away. He listened to what Thunderclash said and instead of lashing out or asking him why, he accepted it. Because he accepted that Thunderclash didn’t want to be with him anymore.

Drift’s rage now made more sense as well. Because if what Drift claimed was true, and Rodimus had spent two cycles in his hab, then Rodimus likely hadn’t gone out since Thunderclash put an end to their agreement. Thunderclash’s spark ached at the thought of Rodimus, a social and energetic mech by nature, not even having the energy to leave his hab. And who knew how long it took for anyone to realize it. Ratchet had only been to see him this very morning.

The worry came back tenfold and he wished more than anything that he could leave the bridge to go see Rodimus. He had to know if the speedster was alright. He needed to apologize to him. Above all he needed to know, did the speedster really have feelings for him? Did he just toss aside the one thing he had wanted, the one person he cared about, so thoughtlessly? He turned on his heel and nearly barreled into Megatron who looked at him curiously.

“Sir, I need to— to go…” Thunderclash couldn’t find his voice but Megatron seemed to understand.

“Rejoin us when you’re feeling better.” The silver mech said.

Needing no further encouragement, Thunderclash left the bridge at a brisk pace. In the back of his helm he barely registered that Megatron had winked at him. He didn’t have time to unpack that in his processor right now. At the moment his thoughts were preoccupied with desperation to get to Rodimus. He had half a mind to transform in order to get there faster, rules against alt-modes in the hallways be damned.

However, his alt-mode was barely faster and he didn’t want to risk getting stopped by Ultra Magnus. So he kicked up his pace instead, nearly sprinting down the hallways. When he arrived at the door to the captain’s habsuite he had neither the patience nor thought to ping for entry, instead choosing to bang right on the door instead.

“Rodimus? Are you there?” He shouted, feeling his desperation mounting. No answer came and he let out a shuddering breath and leaned against the door, “I’m sorry.” He said quietly.

The door opened quite suddenly and he flailed a little to keep himself from falling forward and into the mech who had opened it. A mech Thunderclash had not been expecting.

“Funny seeing you here.” Drift crossed his arms. “Thought you wanted to be left alone.”

“I—I…” Thunderclash didn’t have the words for Drift, he was off balance in more ways than one, “Is Rodimus here? I need to speak with him.”

“No, sorry. It looks like he snuck out.” Drift said stiffly.

Thunderclash could feel his frustration mounting but he vented deeply, not wanting a repeat show of what happened earlier. They stood there awkwardly for a moment before he finally regained his composure enough to speak.

“I’m sorry I yelled at you, Drift. The past few cycles have been hard on me— that doesn’t excuse my actions, I know, but it is why I lashed out.” Thunderclash took a deep vent. “I didn’t mean for things to end up this way.”

“Yeah well,” Drift relaxed slightly, “I guess I’m sorry too. I didn’t even talk to Rodimus before I came after you, I jumped to conclusions. That’s why I was here actually, I was hoping Rodimus would fill in the blanks but it looks like he isn’t here.”

“Oh,” Thunderclash felt a little relief, “So you’re not just keeping me away from your amica?”

“Nope, looks like Rodimus decided to get out of his hab. Can’t say I blame him, being cooped up isn’t good for speed-frames.” Drift rolled his shoulders a bit, clearly not liking the thought of it. Just when he assumed his guilt couldn’t get any worse, Drift’s words reminded him just how badly he had accidentally hurt the speedster.

“Do you know where he might be? I need to talk to him.”

“What’s the hurry, like an hour ago you didn’t want to have anything to do with him.” Drift’s words stung.

“I know,” Thunderclash chewed the inside of his cheek in thought, “I didn’t think… I thought he didn’t have feelings for me.”

“You told me he said himself he didn’t. Now you’re not sure?” Drift asked, “What changed?”

He didn’t exactly… I thought about what you said, and things didn’t add up the more I thought about it. The night that I told him I wanted to stop out arrangement, things didn’t go the way I expected…” Thunderclash trailed off, not sure if Drift really wanted to be hearing this.

“How so?” The speedster leaned on the doorframe casually.

Thunderclash swallowed down a lump in his intake before continuing, “Well, for one, I thought he would be more angry with me. It was a bit out of the blue and I had already promised to spend time with him that night. But instead he just… said it was over. He barely said anything at all.”

“He may have been anticipating it more than you think.” Drift said quietly, “Rodimus never thought you would stay with him very long anyway. He probably didn’t think it would be this soon.”

Thunderclash took a shuddering breath, “So you two had discussed this before?”

“Yes, but it’s not what you think—well it’s kind of what you think— Rodimus hasn’t had a lot of long lasting relationships, and he didn’t think things were going to get serious between you two. I was just trying to warn him because… well I can kind of tell you’ve got more than a soft spot in your armor for him.” Drift explained, poking Thunderclash’s insignia, where the paint was still chipped away.

That made a lot more sense now that Thunderclash really thought about it. Rodimus has always been a bot who confided more in his amica than anyone else. The conversation, just as Thunderclash had expected, had been taken entirely out of context. He groaned a bit in aggravation.

“I really have been a bolt-brain.” He sighed.

“You said it,” Drift chuckled, “Why did you think I would let Rodimus play with your feelings like that? I know I’m an ex-decepticon, but that’s low, even for me.”

“I—I was told some things that, in hindsight don’t make sense, but were obviously meant to upset me. Someone told me that Rodimus was just using me and he showed me a recording of a conversation you two had as proof.” Thunderclash sighed but jumped when Drift suddenly grabbed hold of him with both arms, his optics now frantic.

“Who! Who was it?” Drift asked, the panic in his field suddenly making Thunderclash on edge as well.

“It—It was Getaway,” Thunderclash could feel his spark sinking along with Drift’s expression, “Getaway showed it to me.”

“And you believed that slagger? I thought you were smart! ‘Clash, Getaway has been—”

#Attention All Officers; Bar Brawl Taking Place; Location: Visages#

A ship-wide ping halted the speedster’s words. Thunderclash felt his spark plummet to his pedes, as he and Drift sat stupefied for a whole second before the white speedster was bolting down the hallway. And he hoped, beyond all hope as he tried to keep up with Drift, that it wasn’t Rodimus.

Chapter Text

1250

Visages was dark.

The atmosphere was meant to be relaxing, but it just ended up making Nightbeat uneasy. Skids was making a round at the bar, talking to individuals about Rodimus and the stolen bottle, hopefully being subtle. Meanwhile Rung and Nightbeat sat at their own table, sipping their drinks and watching, trying to see if any of the mechs became unnerved by the questioning. So far none of them had. It was a particularly heavy day for Visages, it was actually quite packed for it being so early in the cycle. About 30 bots were sitting around, most of them drinking, and some of them already drunk.

“Wonder why people like this place so much.” Nightbeat inquired, to no one in particular.

“They probably just like the mood. The lighting is easy on the optics, and the drinks are pretty good.” Rung said, taking a sip from his curly straw. Nightbeat could feel his optics watching the motion and he turned himself away to keep from staring.

He had to remind himself not to get distracted, or to act on his impulses. He may want to take Rung’s hand make a move on him. But if the therapist didn’t want him to then it wasn’t appropriate. He didn’t want to make Rung feel like he couldn’t be around him just because of his feelings. He could handle them not being together so long as it meant they could still be around each other, as long as they still had their friendship.

As he tried to focus his optics on something other than Rung’s lips, Nightbeat spotted an opportunity. Sitting in an isolated spot, nearly out of view from the rest of the lounge, was Ravage. The ex-decepticon infiltrator and spy. If anyone had a habit of gathering knowledge, wanted or unwanted, it would be him.

He tapped Rung on the shoulder, “Hey, get Skids and meet me in the back.”

With that, Nightbeat stood up and made his way to where Ravage was lounging atop a table. His comfortable appearance made it to be believed that the table was probably set aside just for him. He approached as casually as possible. His approach didn’t go unnoticed however and Ravage locked optics with Nightbeat.

“If you’re looking for a quirky side-kick, the answer is still no.” The cat grumbled, though there was still a humorous glint to his optics.

“I may have found an alternate.” Nightbeat said, crossing his arms.

“Or two chumps.” Ravage chuckled, inclining his head to Rung and Skids as they approached.

“I heard that.” Rung put his hands on his hips, looking clearly offended.

“So what brings you to my corner of Visages.” Ravage said, laying his head down on his paws. “I know it’s not for company, you’ve already got three of you and my personality doesn’t mesh well with you autobots even at the best of times.”

“We just wanted to ask you a few questions that’s all.” Nightbeat smiled. Ravage quirked a cynical expression his way.

“Something tells me it's more than just that.” Ravage twitched his tail, “What is this about? Some new mystery for Nightbeat to solve? Getting bored, are we?”

“It’s not like that, I’m doing it for a friend. See, Swerve wants to know what happened to his missing bottle of engex.” Nightbeat watched Ravage’s expression, looking for a sign or tell. Unfortunately, the ex-decepticon was unfazed, his body language remained surprisingly nonplussed.

“That’s all? Seems like a downgrade for you, Nightbeat.”

“Not the point, do you know anything or see anything?”

Ravage sighed, “We all saw the footage, Rodimus took it.”

“Yes but we don’t know what happened to it.” Rung piped up.

“He drank it. It’s engex, what else would he do with it?” Ravage lifted his head and fixed them with a look, “Actually don’t answer that.”

“We have reason to believe that Rodimus gave the bottle to someone. And that,” Nightbeat looked out across the bar to see if anyone was listening before leaning in close to whisper, “The person he gave it to may have put him up to it.”

Ravage’s tail twitched again, a gesture that didn’t go unnoticed by Nightbeat, who looked closely into Ravage’s optics. The ex-decepticon looked to be pondering that information, as if maybe he was associating it to something else he knew. Then his optics locked with Nightbeat’s. They stared at each other for a hard moment, each clearly calculating what the other was thinking.

Nightbeat got closer to Ravage, his voice becoming a whisper once more, “Do you know something?”

Ravage snorted out his vents in a humorless laugh, “I know a lot but I’m not telling you anything.”

“Why not?”

“Because I don’t have to,” Ravage twitched his tail, “Or how about this, I don’t want to.”

“Okay,” Nighbeat breathed, “One last question.”

Ravage growled but didn’t protest, he simply shut his optics again.

“What does Getaway have on you.” Nightbeat inquired. It was a shot in the dark but his hunch payed off as Ravage opened his optics and turned his head towards him.

“I think we should discuss this elsewhere,” Ravage said after a moment of pointedly staring at Nightbeat, as if maybe he wasn’t sure if he trusted him, “Follow me.”

They exited Visages together, following their beastmode companion.

~    ~    ~    ~

1300

“Rodimus where are you going!” Tailgate piped from behind him.

The little mini had been following him since he left Swerve’s. Clearly concerned for Rodimus but the red mech wasn’t paying attention. There was only one thing on his mind.

“Getaway.” Rodimus said aloud. More to himself than anything but it just so happened to answer Tailgate’s question as well.

“Getaway? Why? What’s going on!”

Rodimus entered Visages, the minibot still hot on his heels. He searched with his optics in the low light of the cocktail lounge. When he didn’t immediately find who he was looking for he reached over the bar and grabbed Mirage by the shoulder.

“Rodimus? What can I—”

“Where is Getaway.” Rodimus demanded.

“He-He has a private booth in the back—Hey! Wait! You can’t go in there! It defeats the purpose of a ‘private’ booth!”

Rodimus was already stalking back to the ‘private booths.’ Which were just glorified regular booths with curtains hung around them for privacy. He ripped away the curtain of the only closed booth he saw and finally found his target. Bluestreak and Atomizer on one side of him and Riptide on the other, Getaway looked up at him. First surprised then, much to Rodimus’ annoyance, amusement.

“What is it Rodimus? For what reason does our fine captain find his way to this little lounge of ours?” Rodimus heard snickering from the bots around him but he cared little for talk. He reached down and yanked Getaway out of his seat and across the table. Immediately the bots around him stood up and backed away.

“What’s wrong Rodimus? Use your words, Ultra Magnus might scold you if you don’t.” Getaway purred, his tone haughty.

“You know what you did.” Rodimus spat, finding his voice at last, “Did you think that I wouldn’t find out it was you?”

“Actually I was kind of counting on it. How else was I going to get a chance to rub it in your face?” Getaway whispered so that only Rodimus could hear.

“Rodimus what are you doing, you can’t just come in and attack my patrons!” Mirage said somewhere over his shoulder.

“What is this all about?”

“Why are they fighting?”

“What’s goin’ on?”

Rodimus could hear a cacophony of voices around him, he turned his head to look as a small crowd began to gather. He became aware now of all the optics staring at him. The drunk patrons of the bar began to chatter loudly, offsetting the usual atmosphere. Music no longer played and any chance that their altercation would go amiss was swiftly shrinking the longer Rodimus stood there with Getaway pulled across the table. The other mech wasn’t even trying to move away from Rodimus. His grip on Getaway loosened slightly, allowing the other mech to straighten a little.

“Go on, Hot Rod. Tell them,” Getaway said loudly, startling Rodimus, “Tell them what I did, tell them what I know, I’m sure they’ll get as big a kick out of it as I did.”

Rodimus ground his dentae together but released Getaway completely. Shame and helplessness burned his insides. Even now, having already lost so much, Rodimus was still afraid of Getaway. Afraid of what his peers would think if they knew just how low their captain had sunk. He started to turn away, to slink away from this scene he had started but couldn’t finish.

“Nothing? Nothing at all?” Getaway laughed, “Very fitting, since that’s a good summary for just about everything you’ve done as a captain so f—”

The first blow landed straight across Getaway’s jaw, Rodimus didn’t even have time to think before he did it. It just happened. The next thing he knew he was yanking Getaway out of the booth altogether and throwing him to the floor. He threw another punch and then another, aiming for the mech’s pointed audial flares.

All the air was forced from Rodimus’ vents as Getaway kicked him in the chest, staggering him back and away from him. The masked mech was on his feet instantly after that and coming at Rodimus with a ferocity he hadn’t anticipated. He tried to put his arms up to block but a fist landed a hit square to his jaw, clattering his dentae together. He recovered just quick enough to see another blow coming towards his face.

It was a feint, just as he blocked it Getaway hit him in the abdomen, yet again knocking more air from his vents. Rodimus’ helm rang as another blow landed to his helm. Another fist came from his right. He ducked it this time, uppercutting Getaway’s chin with his own blow. It knocked the masked mech back a few spaces and gave Rodimus a chance to try to regain his footing. The surrounding crowd drunkenly cheered for both of them, seemingly on neither side of the fight, only looking for a good brawl.

In the moment Rodimus took in the crowd, Getaway was advancing, he clocked Rodimus in the side of his helm, hard enough to crumple his helm flare and crush an audial. Groans erupted from the bar patrons but Rodimus kept standing.

“Give it up Roddy, you’re not even a good fighter. Just lucky enough to get by.” Getaway jeered at him.

Rodimus trembled with anger, and unfortunately fatigue. His helm was spinning and the damage to his audial was making it hard to stand up straight. One more good knock to the head and he could be finished. The worse part was that the fight had left in him was quickly disappearing. He had thought he had come down there to beat up the mech that ruined his relationship with Thunderclash and not to mention with a few of his friends. He thought it would help.

But the truth was that Getaway may have told the other mechs terrible things but it was really Rodimus who was to blame. Rodimus had let the masked mech manipulate him and it had ultimately led to others, Swerve and Thunderclash specifically, being in the crossfire. Rodimus had stupidly told Getaway his plans to tell Thunderclash his feelings and then had proceeded to rip that away from him. Rodimus could only blame himself for what had happened. So as Getaway approached once more, swinging at him, Rodimus didn’t fight back. He blocked blows aimed at his face and just let the other mech hit him.

“Is that all you’ve got!” Getaway shouted at him over the din of the bar which was now cheering Getaway on.

Rodimus was driven backwards as Getaway pummeled him, sharp blows hitting his forearms  and catching him in the sides and in his abdomen occasionally. He heard more than felt the crack of one of his external biolights on his side breaking on impact from a nasty blow. Getaway grabbed his arms and pulled them away from his face, sneering right into his optics.

“Some Prime you turned out to be.” He hissed.

From somewhere deep inside, Rodimus had enough energy for at least one retort, “Still a better one than you’d ever be.”

Getaway looked positively furious and Rodimus only smiled at him, his fight returning upon seeing Getaway unbalanced for a moment. The protracted ‘oo’ing and ‘oh’ing of the crowd didn’t help the masked mech's temper either. He renewed his assault on Rodimus with new fervor. Rodimus tried to keep up with him as he blocked and he rejoined the fight with his own new resolve, to give him a beating worthy of a Prime.

Right, left, knee to the gut, elbow to the helm, they traded blows. Rodimus hit him particularly hard in the side, underneath his arm, causing him to wince. He took the advantage to knock him off his feet, only to have the masked mech kick out and do the same to him. Now Getaway was above him, straddling his waist. A hard blow landed on his nose and Rodimus was seeing stars. He could taste energon running down his face. Getaway hit him twice more before suddenly his weight was gone from his midsection and he saw him crumpling to the floor away from him. Rodimus could feel small hands under his arms pulling him away from the fight.

“—ddy? Rodimus?” Tailgate’s voice sounded in his audial, concern and maybe tears coming from the emotional minibot. Rodimus was made aware that there were a lot of irate and drunken mechs booing and calling out at Tailgate for breaking up the fight. Rodimus too felt anger and some resentment at needing help in a fight.

“Out of my way you slagging waste disposal drone, the captain knew what he was asking for now let’s finish this.” Getaway’s harsh voice sounded as he stood from the floor.

“No way.” The mini stood in front of Rodimus. “You want him then you have to go through me, all of you!” Tailgate put his fists up.

A new surge of energy compelled Rodimus to get back up, less the little mini get ripped to shreds over him. He grabbed the minibot and pushed him away as he staggered to his feet. Tailgate refused to be budged though and turned to hold him back.

“No! Rodimus please just wait for the officers—”

“Yeah, Roddy. Wait for Ultra Magnus and Megatron, the real captains of this ship, to come save your sorry aft.”

Rodimus didn’t need the taunt, he was already barreling toward Getaway, bypassing Tailgate entirely. He slammed into his chest and they collided with the wall. Rodimus got a good grip on the mech’s collar plating and drew back to punch him. It landed square across his jaw but the masked mech retaliated by kicking Rodimus in his knee joint. He nearly collapsed but he held his grip on Getaway firmly, denting the metal of his collar plating with his fingers.

Off balance, though, he was easily overpowered. Getaway heaved him against the wall, hitting his spoiler at an awkward angle and nearly snapping it from it's joint. Rodimus head-butted the mech in retaliation, stunning the mech long enough for Rodimus to push him away and renew his assault with his fists. It was his turn to crush the other mech’s audial, having worn down the metal enough for it to crumple under his next blow. He heard the system wide announcement calling the officers to come break up them up, which only made him more frantic to get every last hit in that he could.

“Rodimus stop! Please!” He heard Tailgate’s cries from the crowd and he momentarily looked to make sure the mini was okay. It was a bad choice.

Getaway sucker punched him in his damaged audial, he dropped his guard completely as the pain sent feedback looping through his whole chassis, causing him to grit his dentae and hold his helm in pain. The masked mech used the opening to pin Rodimus to the wall, the length of his forearm crushing against his neck cables. Rodimus vented through the side vents on his chest, only to feel Getaway land a well placed punch to them. He spluttered, energon flinging from his intake and hitting Getaway’s mask, smearing an awful pink smirk across it.

The crowd seemed to fade away as the other mech pressed harder on his neck. He expected the mech to say something. A taunt or a jibe. But he was deathly silent, the look in his optics was one of manic aggression. Getaway struck his side again and again, still not saying anything, still not relenting. His internal welds may have needed more healing after all, as he heard them crunch under the repeated blows.

“Getaway, stop!”

“C’mon, mech. It’s over!”

“Let him go Getaway!”

Roodimus realized now that the crowd hadn’t faded. They had briefly gone silent, probably in as much shock as Rodimus. They probably knew by now, maybe even before Rodimus did. He wasn’t going to stop. Getaway was going to kill him. Several mechs came forward now, with the intention of grabbing the masked mech off of him. Tailgate got there first and pulled the single minded mech off Rodimus enough for the speedster to escape the hold.

That was when Getaway pulled the gun.

Chapter Text

It all happened so fast from that point.

Getaway raised the gun, aiming for Rodimus. Tailgate grabbed his arm and forced it down at their feet. The crowd cried out and scrambled to get out of the way as the gun went off, the shot hitting the wall. Getaway shrugged the mini off him and Tailgate fell backwards, crawling away from them as quickly as he could.

Rodimus lurched for Getaway’s arm, twisting his hand to try and get him to drop the gun but the masked mech wrenched them this way and that, throwing them off balance and keeping hold of it. Rodimus could only do his best to keep it aimed low.

The gun went off again, the shot echoing around the room.

Rodimus swung them into the wall and managed to crush the barrel of the gun before sneaking in his own sucker punch directly to the underside of Getaway’s jaw. The masked mech finally fell to the floor with a thunk.

Rodimus wavered, the world was spinning worse and worse and he could feel his optics shuttering, his helm still ringing from the many blows to his jaw and audial. Even though the masked mech wasn’t choking him or hitting him in the sides anymore, Rodimus was finding it hard to vent. His core temperature was heating up from lack of air flow to his engines now, and his processor was feeling the effects of the heat. He was dizzy from his audial, dizzy from the heat, and he throbbed all over. Rodimus swayed where he stood for a moment before looking around to assess the situation, to see if anyone was hurt.

Tailgate was coming towards him and so was—

A blinding light bloomed across his optics and a numbness crept down from the crown of his helm, causing Rodimus to go limp. He felt a fuzziness overwhelm his senses, static filled his audials. He could vaguely hear voices but he couldn’t make out who was speaking.

Forget

“What’s going on?”

Forget

“Where am I?”

Forget

“How did I get here?”

Forget

“Who are you?”

Forget

~    ~    ~    ~

Thunderclash was exhausted.

Since the incident in Visages he had been trying to keep himself busy, and unable to think about the 20 bots down in the medbay. The bots were all suffering from memory loss, some worse than others. It had been a full cycle since the incident happened and the officers had barely managed to piece everything together. The strange gun that Getaway had pulled out was damaged in the fight, when he pulled the trigger it exploded a large concussive blast that hit himself, and many others in the bar. Including Rodimus, who according to the video footage, had been the intended target.

Perceptor had gone over the footage of from the scene and concluded that those closest to the blast were suffering the most severe side effects. The only odd one out had been Riptide, who curiously had been unaffected, despite his close proximity. Bluestreak and Atomizer had been on the edge of the blast and were already regaining some of their memories. First Aid hoped this meant the effects were only temporary.

But the 3 closest to the blast had little to no changes to their condition. Getaway, Tailgate, and Rodimus were comatose. Their processors held little to no activity. They functioned, but in Getaway and Rodimus’ cases, only just barely. First Aid said that it was as if their bodies had forgotten how to function. After some diagnostic patches, they were much more stable, but their thought processes had yet to reboot.

Drift had been beside himself with grief and worry, he still sat beside Rodimus this very moment. Thunderclash had covered his shift, and Rodimus’, back to back. He kept himself moving, in complete defiance of his exhaustion. The rest of the crew was still in the dark about what had transpired and he aimed to keep it that way. He stifled any rumors or gossip. He told other bots not to worry, that it would all be sorted out and everything would be fine.

It did little to help. The Lost Light was a relatively small space and word traveled fast. Which also meant that there were inaccurate versions of the events going around. Some said Rodimus was drunk and started the fight with Getaway over a spilled drink. Others claimed that Rodimus had been secretly dating Getaway and that the masked mech had been unfaithful. The closest version to the truth he had heard was that Getaway had slighted Rodimus, and the speedster had been there for vengeance. There were a lot of people trying to guess as to why, and none of them even came close.

Thunderclash knew why he had been there.

So he kept himself busy, trying not to think about the 20 mechs down in the medbay.

“Thunderclash?”

He turned at the mention of his name to see Velocity standing in the doorframe to the bridge. She smiled at him, a sad smile, and waved him over to her. He excused himself to Ultra Magnus before following her into the hall.

“What is it? Did something happen?” He said anxiously, “Did he— Did someone wake up?”

Velocity shook her head, “No, nothing happened. We’ve had no changes so far.”

Thunderclash sighed, a little in relief but mostly because he was tired, “Then, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to work.”

“Thunders I didn’t come here to apprise you of their condition, I came to relieve you from duty.” Velocity said, stepping between him and the bridge.

“What?” He said, angry at her, “Why?”

“You’re unwell—”

“No I am not.” He snapped. “Now step aside.”

“Ultra Magnus has already cleared me to have you removed from the bridge.” Velocity said, crossing her arms.

Thunderclash fumed, “You have no right to do that, we’re short-staffed enough as it is! Without me then Ultra Magnus and Megatron will have no one to hand the bridge off to, they’ll be working double shifts in a row with no rest! They need me—”

“Thunderclash!”

Thunderclash stopped his tirade to look at Velocity, surprised by her outburst, her optics piercing him with their light.

“You need to slow down, you’ve done enough.” She said, “You need to rest.”

Something about that statement felt inherently wrong. Thunderclash was needed, he had to help. Even when it wasn’t what he wanted to do. Even when he felt overwhelmed, he had to help in what ever way that he could. He felt himself stall as he stared at her, trying to decide if he should brush her off and tell her that he was fine even though he wasn’t.

He couldn’t be farther from fine, Rodimus was laying in one of those berths and he couldn’t do anything about it. He felt helpless. Helpless to assist the one mech that mattered to him more than anything else. When he didn’t know what to do he just defaulted to doing everything else that he could do. Without that, all he could do was sit, uselessly, and wallow in his fear. And he just couldn’t do that. Thunderclash was never afraid of anything, according to everyone else, he knew what to do no matter what the stakes.

Oh how he wished that was really true. He wished that Velocity’s words hadn’t shaken him so badly, and that he wasn’t on the verge of breaking down. But here he was, one hand over his face, the other gripped into a fist as he tried to keep himself from trembling. He felt Velocity pull him into a hug, resting his helm on her shoulder.

“I’m so scared, Lotty.” He admitted softly.

“I know. So am I."

Thunderclash couldn’t help but remember Rodimus’ words to him about his fear.

People relate better to those who are afraid. They can see themselves in them.

Lotty was just as afraid as he was. They were her patients, and her friends, and she was doing everything in her power to help them. Yet, here she was, making sure Thunderclash was okay. Giving him a shoulder to cry on. And he was definitely crying now, he could feel the trails of hot tears on his face.

“But you need to rest now, when was the last time you recharged?” She said softly, her voice barely above a whisper now.

“I can’t.” Thunderclash shook from helm to pedes. “I can’t recharge, not when everything is so uncertain. Not when I don’t know if he’s going to be okay.”

“You need to. You can’t hurt yourself to make him feel better.”

“I know,” Thunderclash swallowed hard against his tears, “I know. But I don’t know what else to do. If I stop doing things—If I stand still…”

He couldn’t bring himself to say it. His worse fears had been realized before his very optics in that bar.

Drift had gotten there first. He walked into a room filled with mechs that didn’t know where they were or why they were on a spaceship. Mass confusion assaulted him from all sides as the other half of the bots tried to snap their friends out of it. His own second had been one of those who were affected and asked him why they weren’t on the Vis Vitalis.

Then he heard a strangled cry from the other side of the bar. He ran through the crowd and came upon Drift holding Rodimus, the red speedster limp in his arms. His blue optics were open, pale and listless instead of their usual blue. He was banged up, the side of his helm crumpled and energon running down his face. Drift was crying out, trying to get a response from Rodimus that would never come. He had felt his spark breaking all over as he watched the white speedster beg and plead with his amica’s all but lifeless form. Drift didn't stop crying even when Ratchet came to help nor when they took Rodimus down to the medbay and stabilized him. He didn't stop crying until he had no energy left to cry and he fell asleep, gripping Rodimus hand to his face.

Thunderclash had to watch the scene all over again when Cyclonus came to find Tailgate in the same way. After that, Thunderclash had stayed clear of the place. Even with it floors below him, he could still hear the sobs.

“Rest will help. It won’t make it go away but it will make it better. I promise.”

Thunderclash let out a shuddering sigh but relented to her. She walked him down to his habsuite, making sure he did as he was told he guessed. Before leaving she asked if he would like to be administered a recharge aid which he accepted. He didn’t trust himself to actually recharge once she left.

He drifted off. Chemically induced or not, it felt good to finally rest. He just hoped that when he woke that things would be better.

Or, at least, not worse.

~    ~    ~     ~

Thunderclash opened his optics to a purple sky. He was laying in something soft. He sat forward looking around. He was in an organic meadow. The golden grasses hugged to his shape and went on for miles and miles of rolling hills. To his left the sky brightened to orange and yellow hues where the sun was setting. He’d seen thousands like it on countless worlds but never had a sunset failed to impress him with it’s beauty.

He looked at the tall grass surrounding him. He had walked through grass on organic planets before but never had the chance to experience laying in it. He brushed his hand through the grasses. It felt like nothing. Disappointed, Thunderclash stood up.

He became aware of soft music playing around him. He knew it to be an old Cybertronian melody. He hadn’t heard it probably since his academy days and he had long forgotten the name of it. He turned around, looking for the source of the music, and began walking down a path that appeared under his pedes. Occasionally he heard the soft clink of his steps on the soft path intermittently broken by the sound of metal scraping over metal. He didn’t have time to identify the sound before he saw him.

Sitting at the crest of a hill, a music box playing softly beside him, sat Rodimus. The speedster looked to him and waved him over. Thunderclash felt suddenly heavier and he had to crawl to get up the hill and sit beside him. It took time but all the while Rodimus sat, waiting patiently. When he finally sat beside the speedster he felt better. He tried to look Rodimus over, to make sure he was fine, but it was as if his optics became blurred the harder he looked.

“Rodimus, I’m glad you’re okay.” He said, his voice sounding strange to himself.

“Why wouldn’t I be?” The speedster smiled.

“Because…” Thunderclash suddenly couldn’t remember the source of his worry, “I don’t know.”

“Well you know me, I’m reckless.” Rodimus chuckled. He turned to look back at the sunset and Thunderclash followed his gaze. They sat that way for a long while watching the perpetual sunset that never sank any lower than just cresting the horizon.

“You’re not real are you?” Thunderclash said at last.

“What makes you think that?”

“This place… and the way you’re acting.”

“What’s wrong with how I’m acting?” ‘Rodimus’ looked back at him, feigned offense written on his non-features.

“You’re acting like how I always envisioned Rodimus before I got to know him. It’s not that you’re a complete lie, but you’re not a whole truth either.” Thunderclash looked closer at Rodimus again, his audial now crushed and his blue eyes not as bright.

“Does it hurt?” Rodimus asked gently.

“Does what hurt?” Thunderclash replied, a little confused why he was being asked that. Rodimus raised a hand to his chest and Thunderclash followed it with his optics.

Thunderclash’s chest was caved in, gnarled metal sticking straight into his spark chamber. His old war wound. When he shifted he felt and heard the scraping of his chest plates and a slew of energon leaked down onto the grass beneath him. He looked back at Rodimus. The speedster was covered in scrapes and he had energon leaking his from his nose now.

“Does it hurt?” Rodimus repeated again.

“No.” He lied.

Rodimus looked away, back to the sun which had set at some point while they were talking, painting the sky in deep blue and indigo. Thunderclash shifted over and wound an arm around the speedster, pulling him in and holding him close to his side. The speedster was cold. Thunderclash was feeling heavier than ever, as if he was being slowly crushed.

He wanted to stay this way. To have Rodimus next to him just like they had been. Why had they stopped again? He couldn’t say. His optics slipped close and refused to open, he groped for the speedster who should have been next to him but found the space empty.

The last thing he heard as the dream faded was Rodimus’ voice.

“Liar.”

~    ~    ~    ~

When Thunderclash finally woke, he found an unopened message from Velocity on his HUD, the dream forgotten entirely.

“You are hereby placed on sick leave, your duties are being handled by Paddox, who was given the all clear as of yestercycle. Please rest.”

Thunderclash grumbled a bit. He was hoping to at least resume some of his normal activities to keep himself preoccupied. He must have been a real mess if Velocity was going to all the trouble to make sure he rested up. He made a mental note to do something nice for her once this was all over. Give her a gift or something, she deserved it after all the slag he gave her about relieving him from duty. He sighed. For a moment he forgot about everything that happened.

But only for a moment.

He stood up and left his habsuite, feeling a fire in his lines that itched to move and get out of the cramped space he was in. He didn’t have a destination in mind, he just roamed the halls until he felt like stopping. A feeling that never came. He roamed aimlessly, wandering in any direction his pedes chose. If he had known just where they would take him he might have put more thought into his destination.

He stood in front of the captain’s quarters, staring at the door. Fond memories surrounding the hab eluded him. The only one he could recall was when Rodimus had pulled him inside with a kiss. No trace of fear to be found, no paranoia about possible onlookers. Just an insistent sign of affection hastily shared between them. It was over too soon, then Thunderclash had to go and ruin it. Thunderclash let out a big sigh and banged his helm against the door with a thunk.

“You look how I feel.” Thunderclash jumped a little and turned to see Drift walking towards him. The white speedster had large, dark dents underneath his dim optics and his walk was stiff, uncomfortable looking. His usual sleek paint job had also not faired well the past few cycles, it was scuffed in a few places and had lost its usual luster.

“Like slag then.” Thunderclash said jokingly, trying to at least keep the mood light. An awkward silence came over them as Drift stopped a few paces away.

“I thought you’d still be with Rodimus.” He said quietly.

“They kicked me out. Ratchet said I needed to stretch my legs and fuel. I couldn’t fuel so I figured a walk would be better.” Drift leaned against the wall of the hab, crossing his arms.

“What about you? You haven’t been to see him in awhile.”

Thunderclash grimaced a little, “I didn’t want to disturb you. I figured my place was helping keep the ship in order.”

“You’re not going to do much just staring at a habsuite door.”

“I took one too many shifts. Lotty relieved me from duty, said I was only hurting myself.” Thunderclash watched Drift’s optics as they studied the floor intently.

“I wish I could do more than just sit around.” Drift spat angrily, “I wish that slagging mech, Getaway, hadn’t gone and blown himself up too. At least then I would have someone to beat the life out of.” Drift’s plating flared up angrily.

“No you wouldn’t, you wouldn’t harm a defenseless mech.” Thunderclash chided, “Not when you’ve made so much progress. You’re wiser than that.”

Drift looked at him, his face not amused, he snarled, “Do you think he would extend the same courtesy to me? He didn’t to Rodimus. You saw the footage. He tried to shoot him when his back was turned."

“And look where it got him. Getaway is paying the price for his sins right now.” Thunderclash closed his optics, he didn't want to think about what he'd like to do to the mech. He had already gone over it in his head and decided that revenge wouldn't bring Rodimus back, “It’s unfortunate that Tailgate and Rodimus must also share that price.”

“That’s one way of putting it.” Drift grumbled, “They don’t deserve this. Not Tailgate, not Rodimus…”

“How are the other bots?” Thunderclash asked, changing the subject.

“Most of them have remembered enough to be let go. Only about 5 are still having trouble remembering anything from the past dozen or so years.”

“Dozen?” Thunderclash said, incredulously.

“Yeah,” Drift shifted his weight from one foot to the other, “They still think we’re at war.”

Thunderclash couldn’t imagine going back to the feeling of being stuck in a war that lasted for millions of years. Even if they regained their memories like everyone else, they would likely have to grow out of their old war habits and traumas all over again. The colorful mech shuddered at the thought.

Drift put his hand to his audial and was suddenly bolt upright on his feet.

“I’ll be right there!” Drift looked at him and Thunderclash could feel his spark pounding in his chest, hope filling him up.

“Tailgate is awake.”

Chapter Text

Thunderclash heard shouting coming from the medbay as he and Drift approached.

They had rushed down as soon as they heard Tailgate had woken up, hoping for some answers. Or at least to hear that Rodimus might make a recovery as well. Thunderclash was cautious with his hope. Tailgate might be awake but that didn’t mean he had his memories, or that he was completely cured. As he and Drift entered the medbay, the shouting increased in volume and it was clear now that it was Ratchet and First Aid arguing.

“You could have killed them both!” Ratchet shouted.

“I didn’t do anything!” First Aid shouted back.

“Cut the slag, I know Cyclonus didn’t come up with this idea on his own.”

Thunderclash cleared his intake, “What’s going on?”

The two medics were still staring each other down as Ratchet replied, “First Aid decided to experiment. His little hypothesis could have killed both of them—”

“But it didn’t—”

“You don’t take risks like that with another bot’s life! What if something had gone wrong? You could have not only offlined Tailgate but Cyclonus as well!” Ratchet said, flinging an arm in the direction of the minibot’s berth where an all too pleased with himself Cyclonus sat, holding his sleeping conjunx to his chest. The minibot must have been incredibly tired if he was already asleep again, and sleeping through a shouting match no less.

“Please,” Thunderclash said looking between the two, his confusion hopefully evident to the two, “Just explain what happened.

“Is Tailgate okay? Does this mean Rodimus will wake up too?” Drift asked, his optics big.

“If my hypothesis was correct then—” Began First Aid.

“No! Absolutely not! You are not doing it again!” Ratchet stepped between First Aid and Drift at that, “Over my graying corpse you will!”

“Ratchet this could be the only way to wake him up and restore his memories!” First Aid huffed.

“Would someone please explain to me what happened?!” Drift shouted.

“I concur,” Came the voice of Ultra Magnus as he walked into the medbay, Megatron following behind him, “What is going on?” He turned to First Aid.

“I—uh,” First Aid faltered for a moment, looking to Ratchet. The medic crossed his arms but  didn’t make a move to interrupt again so the other medic continued, “I had a thought while tending to Tailgate—Cyclonus actually gave me the idea while telling me that he and Tailgate hadn’t merged in awhile. I thought about how when one merges they leave a sort of… impression of memories on their bondmate’s spark.”

Thunderclash suddenly could see where the medic was going with this. He had only ever merged once in his functioning, but he recalled seeing into their past for a brief moment. But, try as he might, he could never recall what those memories had been. It seemed like an extremely desperate move and Thunderclash could understand Ratchet’s anger with the younger medic. Untested procedures took months of approval and testing in order to be deemed safe. And something as wild as this probably would never have been approved, there were too many variables and unseen factors.

“I hypothesized that if the two sparks were to merge again, the spark would communicate that old impression back to the processor and would reboot the memories, much like a data backup.” First aid put his hands up, “I didn’t tell Cyclonus to merge with him, I merely told him that was a possibility.”

“Which was unethical—you don’t leave medical decisions like that in the hands of a patient’s bondmate!” Ratchet cried out, “Cyclonus was overwhelmed, he wasn’t thinking clearly!”

“I would disagree.” Cyclonus snarked from his corner of the room.

“No, Ratchet is right, you shouldn’t have left Cyclonus alone with that information.” Ultra Magnus agreed. The purple jet huffed again but didn’t say anything further.

“But it worked! Tailgate has nearly a full recall! Right up to the point where he and Cyclonus last merged!” First aid exclaimed, “And he’s even beginning to remember things past that! Which means the effects of the explosion are reversible!”

“Ratty please!”

Thunderclash turned to look at Drift now who was trying to push past Ratchet, intent on getting to the room which Rodimus occupied. It clicked into place then. A bondmate had to be the one to merge with them, someone who had merged with them before. Which left Drift as the logical choice to help Rodimus.

“No!” Ratchet held Drift firmly, “Do you know how risky this is? Rodimus wasn’t even stable when he was brought in, if his spark takes a dive so will yours!”

“I can’t just do nothing, he’s my amica!” Drift cried.

“And I’m your conjunx!” Ratchet shook Drift by his arms, tears evident in his optics, “I couldn’t stand to lose you both.”

Thunderclash looked away, once again feeling helpless. He looked at Ultra Magnus, who appeared to be just as uncertain as everyone else. It was clear that everyone wanted to help Rodimus, but it was hard not to weigh the possibility of losing Drift along with him. If Thunderclash was in Drift’s position he knew he would want to try, regardless of the risk. It would be worth it in his optics, just to try. Even if it meant he could be killed in the process. Drift wasn’t him though, he had more than just Rodimus to worry about. Ratchet was undoubtably feeling the stress from his bond and if Drift did end up dying… Likely there would end up being three lives lost.

Thunderclash put his hand to his chin. There had to be another way. What he wouldn’t give to have been able to merge with Rodimus before this. He couldn’t help but think that if he had just told him his feelings, regardless of the speedster reciprocating them, none of this would have happened. He felt guiltier than ever.

“Is there no one else who could possibly help Rodimus? Would simply sharing memories be enough?” Thunderclash found himself asking. He looked to First Aid, trying to not get his hopes up but if he or someone else could help Rodimus instead…

“I don’t know. My hypothesis was based off of memories that are shared between sparks, it would be an awful long shot to guess if the processor would communicate shared memories in a merge.” First Aid tapped his chin in thought. “It isn’t out of the realm of possibility. It could explain why Tailgate was able to recall more recent memories, he was seeing them through Cyclonus’ optics instead.”

“What if merging with someone who has never merged with him before just overwrites his own memories about himself.” Drift said defensively, “No, no one else can do this. It has to be me. I want it to be me.” He looked to Ratchet, who was still gripping both of his arms to keep him in place.

It wounded Thunderclash to be tossed aside but he could see Drift’s point. If his memories of Rodimus replaced his own then the Rodimus that everyone knew could cease to exist. There was no other option to take in this situation of unknowns. They would either have to wait to see if time healed him, or let Drift merge with him.

“Permission to merge with my amica.” Drift said, looking to Megatron. As of right now the silver mech was the only mech with the authority to outrank Ratchet. The medic cast a look between the two as Megatron thought silently for a moment.

“Ultimately, this is Drift’s choice.” The silver mech said at last, “This is unknown territory. The fact that it worked once before leads us to believe it can be replicated. And as his bondmate, he is technically allowed to make medical decisions concerning his health and medical procedures. No one else besides Drift can make this decision.”

Ratchet gaped, his mouth hanging open slightly. He looked helplessly between them, “Please don’t do this, Drift. Please.”

Drift pulled Ratchet into a tight embrace. The whole room was quiet as the two held each other. Drift’s words of reassurance where soft and muffled as he spoke them directly into Ratchet’s audial. Thunderclash felt like he was witnessing a goodbye, one that held uncertainty of ever returning. He had seen many like it and each one did nothing to ease the pain of the next.

Thunderclash closed his optics in a silent prayer. Praying that when everything was all said and done, Drift and Rodimus would be alright.

~    ~    ~    ~

Drift wasn’t scared.

Okay, maybe he was a little scared.

That wasn’t going to stop him. It wouldn’t have stopped Rodimus if their positions were reversed. He would have done it without hesitating. Which made Drift feel slightly ashamed because he was hesitating. After the decision had been made and everything was set up for any eventuality—absolutely any eventuality—Drift stood in the empty room beside his amica and felt his spark ache in his chest. He watched Ratchet as he recorded their preliminary vitals.

He knew he was causing Ratchet pain, and he hated himself for it, but he couldn’t stand by while Rodimus was sitting in this berth. He could feel his bond pulling him apart though, his need to save his amica pulling him in one direction and the desire to stop distressing his conjunx pulling him in the other. He didn’t want to cause Ratchet undeserved stress but the thought of losing Rodimus if he didn’t act weighed heavily upon him. He had an opportunity to help his amica, an opportunity that no one else had. He had to take the risk or he feared he would end up regretting it.

“I’m not doing this to hurt you.” He said, fearing that if he didn’t say it then the medic would never know, “That’s the last thing I would ever want to do.”

“I know.” Ratchet stared at him, “I know what Rodimus means to you. I just hate that I’m so… powerless do anything else but watch.”

Drift chuckled dryly, “You are anything but powerless Ratchet, the only reason I’m not more afraid to do this is because you’re here.” Ratchet gave him a smile. A sad one, but a smile nonetheless and Drift could celebrate that. He pulled Ratchet into a tight hug.

“If you feel either yourself or him beginning to weaken, let go. You hear me? Let go.” Ratchet said into his shoulder plating. Drift could hear the tears in Ratchet’s voice, ones that he refused to shed and he could only nod his agreement to the medic’s words. Fearing that if he spoke, it would betray how afraid he actually was. They parted and Drift sat himself on the berth beside Rodimus. He felt the medic’s gentle touch on his arm.

“I love you.” Ratchet said.

“I love you too,” Drift responded, “Now shall we?”

Ratchet let out a long sigh, “I hope this works, for both of your sake.” he said tiredly.

“It will, don’t worry, we’ll all go get a drink after this is all over.” Drift said with a smile. Ratchet’s smiled deepened a little and his optics softened as he leaned in to place a chaste kiss on Drift’s lips.

Ratchet pulled away and gave him a curt nod before leaning over to manually open Rodimus’ chest plate. The pale blue light pulsed sporadically where it resided in the red speedster’s chest. Visible scars littered his spark casing, a reminder of the deadly shot that Rodimus had only managed to survive through the power of the Matrix. Drift had come to find comfort in the light of his amica’s spark and longing filled him the moment the light touched him.

Drift wound his arms around his amica, lifting him gently to rest against his own chest before he parted his chest plates. There was a pause where Drift looked to his side and saw Ratchet’s somber face. And for that instant he was afraid. Afraid of never waking up with his amica’s arms wrapped around him. Never get to enjoy the feel of going fast in his alt-mode again. Never get to laugh with his friends again. And, most frightening of all, never coming back to his sparkmate.

Then the moment was over, and all of it was lost in the merge.

~    ~    ~    ~

Drift was confused.

Like he had walked into a room and forgotten why he was there.

Why had he come here? He was looking for something right? What was it? It was important. Or… He had thought it was at least.

Retrace your steps. That should help. Only he didn’t remember how he got here. Where was here? It all looked familiar but none of it made sense. He couldn’t tell where one thing began and the other ended. It was all jumbled and bright. Too bright. He saw a light over his helm briefly. But whatever that light reminded him of disappeared like a shadow in the night. Now it was dark and he was stumbling. Where was he going? He was moving but towards what? He wanted to stop moving. He was tired and wanted to lay down and rest his optics. He didn’t have optics though. He could see but he wasn’t using his optics. He could tell because not once since he got here had he blinked.

He tried to physically shake himself but found that he was weightless and that the endeavor was ultimately dissatisfying. He had to focus. He had to remember. Remember.

Find one thing to hold onto.

Something to hold onto. Like a chain to hold you down or a hand to keep you grounded. A hand that held yours and you knew wouldn’t let go. Who did he know with hands like that? The light over his helm flashed again and this time he latched onto it. The memory hit him like a crushing wave, assaulting him with sudden clarity. He was staring up into blue optics of a medic. A young medic, younger than how he knew him to be. Why did he know him as older?

Ratchet… That’s Ratchet. My sparkmate. This is when we first met.

The memory of Ratchet’s dead end workshop faded. And from there the rest of everything slid into place. It was like watching time reverse on a melting candle as his thoughts reformed into coherency. He remembered the words that saved him.

Find one thing to hold onto. The processor will be confused but the spark knows better. Use your spark to guide you or else you might become just as lost as he is.

Cyclonus told him that. Just before he went to merge with Rodimus.

Rodimus, that’s right, that’s why he was here! That’s who he was looking for. They were merged. Now Drift panicked because in all the time he had spent here, not once did he feel Rodimus with him. But he also hadn’t known to look for him. He brought forth all his memories of his amica, hoping to find him among them. His panic turned into dread as he still only felt his own side of the bond, and he started shifting through the memories quickly.

He went to the memory of their last merge, letting the sensation wash over him again and then he was holding Rodimus. He savored the feeling of the memory, the warmth of their mingled sparks and the bliss that came afterwards, arms wrapped around one another and their legs tangled together. He tried to hold onto the memory for as long as he could but it slipped away from him. He repeated the process with every strong memory pertaining to Rodimus, one by one, looking for any trace of the other speedster.

Then, for a split second, he saw something unusual. If he had rushed he might have missed it, but there was a memory somewhere in his own that didn’t belong to him. It was a burning city. Nyon. There was no doubt about it, this was a Rodimus memory.

Drift still couldn’t feel him on the other end of the bond. He sank into the memory. Then he felt it. Rodimus’ memory suddenly hit him with fear and shame. Even as the memory faded, the feeling remained and Drift could recognize his amica’s spark once again. They had seen this memory in their merge many times, as it was one of the things that would forever haunt Rodimus, and Drift knew exactly the emotions to convey to calm him.

It was feeling more like a normal merge now but Drift didn’t want to leave before he was sure that Rodimus was okay. He had never purposefully sought out memories in a merge, it seemed too invasive even for the act of merging itself. But he had to be sure that Rodimus remembered.

He didn’t get to choose the next memory. The moment he reached for them, the floodgate opened. It was overwhelming, once again he wasn’t sure what anything really was or if it was real. Things looked familiar but he couldn’t name anything, couldn’t even stop the flow of information as it was being pressed into him. He felt himself hitting the floor, a floor he recognized as Visages, and he saw Tailgate slumped over just in front of him.

Then Drift was being pulled into the current of memories again. He couldn’t even brace himself as the next one hit him. This time he was looking at a hatch door, it was blazing hot and there were alerts blaring all over his HUD. A bright light enclosed his vision and he was thrown from the memory. He wanted to make it stop but he didn’t know how.

A strange pain weighed down on Drift and it took a moment for him to realize he was in another memory. He looked up at none other than Thunderclash. The big mech wasn’t looking at him. He felt confused and hurt and angry. Then the colorful mech walked out of the door and the memory ended. The pain didn’t though. If anything it got worse.  Drift realized now that Rodimus was seeing what he was seeing. He was remembering everything.

Everything. His whole life as opposed to just a few bad moments, and Drift felt himself beginning to become lost in the amount of sheer noise that was now coming from Rodimus. Cyclonus hadn't mentioned anything about this part. Tailgate had technically only been alive for a few years at this point. So what Cyclonus had experienced probably paled in comparison to Rodimus’ four million years of functioning.

The fear returned as Drift came to the conclusion that if he couldn’t calm Rodimus down then he would probably lose himself in this merge. What little he could get through with his bond seemed to be ignored. Drift tried his voice instead.

“Rodimus!” He had meant to shout but his voice came out the same as if he had spoken it, “Roddy, please, I know you’re hurting but you need to calm down.”

Another memory assaulted him, this time it was back to back, the memory of being shot through the spark by Megatron that left Drift reeling. He almost didn’t recognize it when it changed to being stood beside Optimus Prime, a sense of cold dread and disbelief overwhelming him.

“No one is going to hurt you! I’m here, Drift is here!” Drift exclaimed just in time to be hurtled through several memories at once, seeing himself for the first time in them. He saw when they first met, he saw memories of the Wreckers. Then he saw their amica ceremony, privately done once the war was over. Then came the memory of buying the Lost Light, and Drift subsequently being kicked off. He felt Rodimus’ shame return then.

“It’s okay. I’ve forgiven you! Remember that?” Drift pulled at his own memories as if to show him and for the first time since the ordeal started, there was a peaceful moment.In his own memory, he could feel Rodimus’ sincerity in his apology, hear it in his words and see it in his optics and his aura. The memory faded pleasantly and Drift could finally keep himself from spinning into another one.

“I know you’re confused, I was too. You got hit pretty hard. You’re okay now. The memories will come back.” Drift could feel the bond evening out as equilibrium was finally being reached.

“I have to go now but I will be there when you wake up.” Drift said and felt  an upsurge  in Rodimus’ stress.

“I will always be there Rodimus.” He said quickly, “Always.”

Chapter Text

Rodimus felt like someone had pulled his brain out and rolled it in sand.

His thoughts had a strange sensation to them. They were coarse and staticky. It was like he had drank his weight in engex on an empty tank and then tried to chew on live wires. He tried to get his optics to open but they wouldn’t respond to his commands. Almost like he wasn’t allowed control of his own functions.

Come to think of it, his entire body also hurt. He had aches in places he didn’t even know he had. It reminded him of… well a bunch of times he had been been beaten to a pulp. The instance that came to mind was when he and Springer had gotten very drunk and decided to wrestle. Which hadn’t gone well for him since he had been about a quarter of the triple-changer’s size at best. Kup had to break them up but not before Springer had almost bent him entirely the wrong way. Springer had apologized profusely the next day, but Rodimus had just taken it in stride, after all, he had been the one who had started it. Rodimus wondered what he started this time that had him aching from helm to pede.

He tried to move any part of him again and was able to twitch his digits a little. A small success but he was getting impatient. He managed a groan from his intake, though it was riddled with static and he could barely recognize it as coming from himself. His intake burned a little as his vocalizer heated up, it was clearly having a hard time responding to his commands as well. What in the pit happened to him?

“I think he’s coming around.”

The voice was loud and he let out another groan that was nearly all static. At least he had control of one part of his body. He tried to ask a question but the same static came out, jumbling his words.

“Easy, Rodimus, don’t stress yourself. I don’t want to have to sedate you.” A second voice said. He felt relieved when he recognized this voice as Ratchet. Ever cool and collected Ratchet. At least he was in good hands, he could trust Ratchet with his life.

“He’s heating up.” Yet more relief hit him as the first voice sounded again and he recognized it now as Drift. The other speedster’s voice was right in his audial, as if he was pressed right to him.

“I’m running another diagnostic. He might need another patch to get his systems back on track.” Ratchet said, above him now.

Rodimus had so many questions. Why was he being looked after? How did he end up like this? Why couldn’t he move? All he could manage though was another static filled groan.

Sensation other than pain was coming back to him now and he could feel arms wrapped around him. He felt really warm, it was almost intoxicating. He wanted to go back to recharging, since clearly he wasn’t going to get any answers to his questions. But the pain and the general uncomfortableness were making it impossible to slip back into recharge. He settled for trying to curl closer to Drift, taking comfort in his amica’s EM field and closeness.

The last time they had been this close was… When they merged in his habsuite. How long ago was that? What had happened between then and now? It was all so fuzzy and full of static, and for some reason thinking about it made him sad.

Rodimus felt a sharp jolt and his whole chassis felt suddenly looser. The plating on his body shifted of it’s own accord, setting back into place as his self diagnostic coding returned to normal. He could finally open his optics and this time when he groaned at the bright light that assaulted his vision, it was his voice instead of static.

“Rodimus? How do you feel?” His optics settled on Drift’s face, inches away from his own.

“Bad.” He said in a hushed tone before turning to look at where Ratchet was. His optics bulged as he took in not only Ratchet’s face, but at least a dozen other faces, most of which were peering in through the open door to catch a glimpse of him. The only four bots in the room, other than himself and Drift, were Ratchet, First Aid, and Ultra Magnus. He spotted Megatron and Thunderclash’s faces at the top of the doorframe. He suddenly felt very embarrassed to be cuddled so close to Drift with so many other bots watching him but he couldn’t have moved away from Drift if he wanted to. Which he didn’t want to, he was quite comfortable, but he cleared his intake.

“Soooo, what’s going on?”

“You don’t remember?” Drift sounded disappointed.

“Uh, is there something I should be remembering?” Rodimus couldn’t help but look over to where Thunderclash was looking into the room. As much as the big mech looked relieved he also looked a bit sad.

“What was the last thing you remember?” First Aid said, coming to stand beside the foot of the berth with a data pad in hand.

“I think it was… Merging with Drift?” First Aid took note of that, “It gets kind of fuzzy after that… I think I watched a… Movie or something?”

He was starting to get a picture now. He could see the film but it wasn’t something he usually watched. Maybe it was something that Thunderclash had picked… Yeah, he remembered now. He had watched another play with him before… Rodimus suddenly felt very hot and he clamped his jaw shut over that last thought, making sure he hadn’t accidentally been speaking aloud.

“I-I don’t remember anything after that.” He lied.

“Alright, let’s let him rest.” Ratchet said before pivoting to the many faces in the doorway, “Out, all of you, lets give him some space.”

The medic all but pushed nearly everyone out and had the door shut but he left Drift where he was. Probably because Drift was gripping to him like a sparkling. Trying to remove him would likely not have been a good idea. Rodimus poked him to get his attention.

“I’m glad your awake.” Drift smiled at him.

“Yeah, about that. Why isn’t anyone telling me what happened?” Rodimus asked. Drift opened his mouth to reply but Ratchet cut him off.

“We’re trying to see if your memories come back naturally. They did for Tailgate and we’re hoping that it’ll be less jarring than if we told you what happened.”

“But how did I forget in the first place?” Rodimus whined a little. He didn’t like being kept in the dark, “And why do I feel like someone tried to land the Lost Light on me?”

“Give it time Roddy, you’ll remember.” Drift insisted.

Rodimus sighed, aggravated, “Fine.” He suddenly felt exhausted and he leaned his helm to rest oh his amica. “Let me recharge then.”

~     ~     ~     ~

Rodimus woke up only hours later.

The intention of letting him remember on his own and not jarring him was a nice thought. But in actuality, the memories had clicked rather excruciatingly. The fog faded from his memory banks and he recalled a particular scene. His excitement of finally going to tell Thunderclash how he felt. He was going to give himself a chance to find out if they could last, if what they had could be real. Then he remembered the way Thunderclash had ended things. He didn’t even want to look at Rodimus. The shock of it woke Rodimus from recharge and he stared into the chest of his amica. He tried to make himself comfortable again, so as to fall back into recharge but he was trembling all over. He could feel cold tears on his cheeks and he shifted to quickly wipe them away. His distress hadn’t gone unnoticed either as Drift’s field descended around him.

“Is something wrong?” Drift whispered gently.

Rodimus kept his optics down, “Just a memory.” His voice sounded harsh and he cleared his intake.

“Tell me, please?” Drift asked.

Rodimus was still remembering and he was quite sure he hadn’t told Drift about that happening. He recalled the cycles he spent in his hab. No he definitely hadn’t told him… But he decided now was as good a time as any and they were alone.

“Remember how I was going to tell Thunders I wanted to court him?”

“Yeah.”

“Well I never got the chance,” Rodimus took a shaky invent as he continued, “He ended things before I could. He told me that what we were doing was inappropriate and unhealthy… And that he didn’t want to create feelings for me.”

Drift was silent and Rodimus let those words sink back in.

“Did I have it wrong Drift? I thought—even you thought— that he liked me for more than just interfacing.” Rodimus voice wavered as he fought to keep his composure. He swallowed and chuckled dryly, “Guess not, eh?” He joked.

“Oh Roddy,” Rodimus looked up, startled, to find Drift was crying.

“Whoa, hey! Why are you crying?” Rodimus quickly reached a hand put to his amica’s face and wiping at the tears with his thumb.

“Because you don’t deserve that. You deserve so much more, I wish I could tell you.”

“Hey it’s all good, these things happen, right? What’s that earth-saying? Plenty of shrimp on the barbie? No, that’s not right…” Rodimus tapped his chin, “You know what I mean though. I’ll get over it. He’s not the first one and he probably won’t be the last.”

Drift smiled at him, “Before you make up your mind about that, let the rest of your memories come back, okay?”

Rodimus raised a brow ridge, “Sound more menacing why don’t you. Do I at least get a hint?”

“Ratty says he doesn’t want me to give you hints.”

“Well he’s not here now is he?”

“Actually.” Rodimus nearly jumped out of his plating and he craned his neck to look over at the medic who was lounging in the chair next to him, data pad in hand and a light pen in the other.

“How long have you been there?!” Rodimus hissed, slightly embarrassed.

“The entire time.”

“So you heard all of that?” Rodimus wanted to just explode right then and there. Then he remembered… “Wait a minute. I… Already told you all of that.”

Ratchet nodded, “No harm, no foul.”

“Why are you just sitting there like that?”

It was Ratchet’s turn to quirk his brow, “You’re my patient, and that’s my conjunx you’re snuggling with. Someone has to look after the two of you. Besides,” Ratchet looked back down at his data pad, “I have work to get done.”

“He has a hard time recharging when I’m not with him.” Drift whispered loudly.

Rodimus snorted, “Well then, Ratchet should probably join us up here.”

“Absolutely not.”

“C’mon Ratty,” Rodimus said, emphasizing Drift’s pet name, “That chair looks uncomfortable. And I’m sure Drift has already asked.”

Drift nodded, matter-of-factly.

Ratchet grumbled, “Maybe. When I’m done.”

“Which means he’s going to try to find every data pad he can get his hands on.” Drift sighed.

Another wave of exhaustion hit Rodimus and he curled into Drift, “Well, if he does get tired, the offer still stands.” He yawned before slipping back into recharge, praying that the next memories would be far less painful.

~     ~     ~     ~

No such luck.

His final recall jolted him from the berth, causing every ache and pain to be exacerbated by the movement. Pain he now remembered came from a bar fight between himself and Getaway. His venting was shallow as he took in his surroundings.

Drift was gone from his mediberth, and Ratchet as well. They must have finally gone out to refuel or something, he decided. It frustrated him because as far as he knew that was the point where his memories stopped entirely. Now he was just left with his unanswered questions. What hit him that caused the memory wipe? How did he get his memories back? What happened to Getaway? What happened with Tailgate?

Rodimus was about to leap from his berth out of sheer frustration and go seeking his answers when the door to the room opened and in walked Thunderclash. The colorful mech looked surprised and stood there for a moment before giving him a well practiced smile.

“Ah, you’re awake. Are you feeling better?”

“Sort of.” He wasn’t sure what else to say. This was the first conversation he’d had with the mech since their agreement ended. He had so much to say to this mech. So why could he not feel his glossa anymore? His jaw felt welded shut and he could only watch as Thunderclash stood there awkwardly.

“Uh, right. Should I get a medic? I just wanted to make sure you’re alright.”

“I remember.” Rodimus finally got out. Thunderclash stopped short, his face falling.

“Y-You remember?”

Rodimus nodded, not breaking eye contact with the big mech. Thunderclash looked afraid. Downright frightened actually, which gave Rodimus a moment of pause. Why was he scared of Rodimus? He wasn’t scared of him… Uncertainty, Thunderclash was uncertain. The big mech looked from him and then to the floor.

“Should I go?”

Rodimus hesitated. He wanted to speak with Thunderclash. He needed to clear the air. So he shook his head. He indicated to the seat next to him.

“We should talk.”

Thunderclash’s red optics went a little wide and he stepped into the room. He took the seat next to Rodimus and looked to be about to say something. Rodimus just looked at him expectantly. First Aid burst through the door a moment too soon, followed by Ultra Magnus and Megatron then Drift and Ratchet. Both of them jumped at the sudden onslaught of mechs entering the room.

“Well, Rodimus, what have you remembered so far? I’m sure you have questions too.” First Aid said, all business, taking out a light pen and data pad.

He sighed a little. His talk with Thunderclash would have to wait.

“I remember everything I think. The last thing I remember was turning to look at Tailgate, then getting hit by something from behind.” He looked at Drift, who seated himself into a chair on the opposite side from Thunderclash, “What was it? And how did it cause me to lose my memory?”

“That would be what Atomizer referred to as a ‘nudge gun’,” Ultra Magnus said, “When he was in better shape to tell us what happened he told us about a special type of weaponry that Getaway had. A type of gun that could effect thoughts. It apparently was damaged in your fight and the resulting charge from the misfire wiped your, Tailgate’s, and Getaway’s memories, along with a good portion of the bar. Well not really wiped, more of gave you the idea of forgetting everything.”

“Did they all end up like me?” He grimaced.

“No, only the bots closest to the blast were rendered comatose from it.” Ultra Magnus stated.

Rodimus felt his optics bulge at the word ‘comatose’, “How long was I out?”

“About a week.”

“A week?” Rodimus slumped backwards.

“All things considered, it could have been worse.” Drift said from his side.

“That’s a week of my functioning I’ll never get back.” Rodimus groaned.

“You keep getting into bar fights and getting caught in super heated space and you won’t have much of a functioning to worry about.” Ratchet chided from his corner of the cramped room.

“I wasn’t trying to get myself killed.” Rodimus insisted.

“Well you sure have an odd way of attracting deathly situations, kid.” Ratchet raised an optic ridge at him. He felt Drift take his hand and he looked at him.

“You keep this up and I’ll have you magnetized to your captain’s chair so I can keep an eye on you.” Drift threatened jokingly, the visual causing him to laugh.

“You’d have to catch me first.” He joked back, “So how did I get my memories back?” Rodimus asked, looking to Ratchet.

“First Aid had a hunch that paid off.” Ratchet side-optic’d the young medic, “His methods of testing were a bit dangerous but he hypothesized that a bondmate held a back up of sorts for memories. He let Cyclonus in on his little idea and the jet took a leap of faith and merged with Tailgate. When it worked for him… we tried it on you.”

Rodimus looked at Drift who was just smiling softly, “I couldn’t just leave my amica in that state. If he ever did wake up, he’d kick my aft… Or he’d try to.”

“Thank you… All of you.” Rodimus looked around the room now, at all the faces peering in at him. He even caught sight of a few poking their helms in at the door. They looked concerned, curious, and all at once relieved when they saw he was alright.They all cared, they all had been worried about his well being. He was getting very good at stressing out his friends with his selfish antics. He did a lot of stupid things in the past but none had been as selfish as this one.

“I guess I need to make it up to you guys huh?” He chuckled airily.

“I just have one question,” Megatron said over Drift’s shoulder, “What in the pit happened between you two that caused this?”

Rodimus looked at his berth covers, suddenly self-conscious. He knew Megatron was asking about Getaway but a part of him immediately thought of Thunderclash. The big mech shifted uneasily in his seat and Rodimus had a feeling he felt the same way.

“I might be able to shed some light on that actually.” Came a voice from the door. It was Nightbeat, “Let me just get a few friends to help explain.”

Chapter Text

Rodimus’ room was crowded.

Megatron, Ultra Magnus, Rung, Skids, Nightbeat, Drift, Ratchet, and Thunderclash were all huddled around Rodimus’ berth. Thunderclash and Drift on either side of Rodimus. It felt strange having the colorful mech so close to him again, not strange bad, but certainly strange. They still needed to talk things out before the feeling would go away. At least, he hoped it would, regardless of the outcome. Thunderclash might hear him out and decide that it would still be healthier for them to not have anything to do with each other after this. Rodimus hoped he could accept that.

Drift had taken up a seat beside him as opposed to on the berth and was holding onto his hand with a vice-grip. Twice in two weeks he was nearly killed, probably close to beating a record or something. Though he had lost track of his near death experiences a long time ago, a four million year war will do that to you. Still, the grip might have been bordering on painful but there was something about it that was comforting. Grounding, even. Having spent so much time stuck up in his own processor lately, it was nice to have some physical contact in this moment.

It also kept him from fidgeting.

“Are all these bots really necessary?” Ratchet huffed from behind Drift, “Rodimus is still recovering, and this isn’t going to make it any better.”

“It’ll only take a few minutes Ratchet, and it’ll explain everything.” Nightbeat assured, “You see Rodimus was being blackmailed by Getaway and I have a few key witnesses that can prove it.

“But first,” Nightbeat looked at Rodimus, “Is there something you would like to tell the room or shall I?”

It didn’t take a genius to figure out what Nightbeat was implying. In order to tell the rest of the story he was going to have to divulge the secret he had been keeping this entire time. He felt embarrassed but if anyone was going to say it, he would rather it be said by himself after all this time. That being said, Rodimus could feel his tanks lurch deep in his gut. This would be the first time he was going to air everything out. He couldn’t believe that it had to come to this, but he had lost the right to any privacy the moment he stepped into that bar and punched Getaway. In that moment he had involved the whole crew in this drama and he had to see it through. He squeezed Drift’s hand, feeling slightly better when his amica squeezed back, and took a deep vent.

“I had a casual interfacing relationship with Thunderclash, Getaway found out and threatened to expose me unless I did a few… favors here and there.” Rodimus tried to keep his voice steady. He kept his optics purposefully forward and away from Thunderclash. He was scared of what he might see on the big mech’s face.

The reaction around the room wasn’t as scandalized as he thought it would be. Though some of them, Megatron in particular, had all too knowing optics for his liking. He just hoped they didn’t ask why he felt the need to keep it a secret. He couldn’t bear to have to explain his reasonings in front of Thunderclash right now. Not with all these bots around him, making him feel judged.

“Right,” Nightbeat came in to save him from the awkward silence, “And here’s my proof of the blackmail, you see Swerve asked me to discover what had happened to his missing bottle of engex. We know that Rodimus took it, obviously, and I’ll get to that in a minute. Now Rodimus, is it correct to assume it was stolen under duress?”

“Uh?” Rodimus blanked a little at the question.

“Did Getaway ask you to steal it? As one of his ‘favors’?” Nightbeat asked again.

“Yes.” He replied simply.

“I knew it!” Came Swerve’s voice from outside the door. Clearly there were mechs outside listening in and a certain barkeep was one of them. Megatron banged on the door and shuffling and groaning could be heard from outside.

“Now my, and Swerve’s, instincts said that Rodimus couldn’t possibly have done this, it’s too out of character. So I began my investigation under the assumption that Rodimus had been forced to take the bottle. So who would do that? I asked myself. I figured the easiest answer might come from the person who leaked the video footage, maybe they wanted Rodimus to get caught.”

“Can you get on with it, Nightbeat.” Megatron said rolling his optics.

“Don’t rush me, that actually led me to a bunch of dead ends, long story short; with the assistance of Rung, I found out Skids here was the one who leaked the footage. Go on Skids, tell them where you got the footage.” Nightbeat said, looking far too pleased.

“Getaway—”

“Getaway!” Nightbeat said with great enthusiasm, cutting off Skids, “After finding the ‘who’, led us to asking ourselves ‘why?’ and ‘how’. Now many people all say that Getaway clearly does not like Rodimus, further interviews have even called his dialogue with fellow crew mates ‘mutinous’. Many thought he was just kidding, but apparently not so much. But the how still bothered us. How did he even get something on Rodimus in the first place. How indeed.” Nightbeat said, dramatically turning to his crowd of onlookers.

Then Ravage hopped up on the end of Rodimus’ berth.

“Ravage here has something he’d like to say.” Nightbeat said, crossing his arms, a smile across his face. He was really enjoying this way too much.

“I was the one who told Getaway about Rodimus’ relationship with Thunderclash, which ultimately ended up with the captain being blackmailed.” Ravage grumbled out.

“You did?!” Rodimus exclaimed, taken aback, “I didn’t take you as one for gossip.”

“He normally isn’t.” Megatron said from the end of the berth, looking more than a bit displeased, and maybe even a little… embarrassed?

“That’s not all, is it Ravage?” Nightbeat said with a smile so wide across his face it was making Rodimus’ cheeks hurt just looking at him.

“I was very drunk one night, and Getaway is surprisingly easy to talk to.” Ravage explained further, in a monotonous tone, “I only made things worse when I told him that I wasn’t some kind of pervert, I accidentally told him that I had been spying for Megatron.”

Excuse me?!” Rodimus exclaimed again, his optics finding and burning a hole through Megatron’s chassis. For a moment, Megatron looked ashamed. Only a moment though, as he cleared his intake.

“You’re unpredictable at the best of times, so I told Ravage to keep an optic on you when you were acting odd.” Megatron shrugged, “When you disappeared for three cycles without a word, that was more than enough reason for him to go poking around.”

“Again, excuse me?” Rodimus seethed, “What happened to privacy? Does no one believe in it anymore?” He looked around the room, his optics accusing everyone as they went. He faltered when they settled on Thunderclash who was looking down at his hands, a frown pulling at the corners of his mouth. Rodimus looked back at Ravage.

“So you told Getaway about my heat?” Rodimus said and Ravage winced.

“No, actually that part I only told Megatron.” Ravage’s head drooped a little, “When you started acting odd again I swung by your hab one day and heard some… things I won’t repeat here. That’s what I told Getaway.”

Rodimus let himself sink into his own hands in embarrassment. Here he was, surrounded by his friends and co-workers, talking about his interfacing habits. If he hadn’t been such a fool maybe he could have semi-proudly admitted to all of this without another thought. But he and Thunderclash weren’t even together anymore. So all of this just made him feel ashamed instead.

“What about Rung, does he have anything colorful to add?” Rodimus said weakly.

“I’m just here as a witness I suppose, I helped only a little.” Rung chimed in quietly.

“He was instrumental in my investigation into this matter, when I hit a roadblock he was there to help me out, and I suspect Rung still has quite the role to play in finding out who else was under Getaway’s thumb.” The wink that Nightbeat shot Rung didn’t go amiss by anyone in the room and the therapist smiled shyly back.

“We still have the matter of what to do with Getaway to discuss.” Ultra Magnus said at last. He’d been quiet, almost uncharacteristically quiet, throughout the the conversation thus far.

“He’s still comatose from the blast from the nudge gun.” Said Ratchet.

“Is there anyway to get him out of it? He doesn’t have any bondmates, how are we going to reverse it’s effects?” Rung asked gently.

“I say we leave him that way. He’s caused enough trouble.” Ravage grumbled.

“That’s completely immoral,” Ratchet growled, “We are not leaving him like that, we’re going to try everything we can to help him. Then we’ll lock him up in the brig like he deserves.”

“Well with new data added to my research I think I may have a solution.” First Aid quipped, “What Atomizer told us about the nudge gun has made me rethink the way the merge cured Rodimus and Tailgate. If the merge holds the back up then logically they wouldn’t remember anything past their last merge, but clearly that’s not the case. Perhaps maybe the merge works more like a data patch, it reminds the rest of the system how to function.”

“So you’re saying, what?” Megatron asked.

“I’m saying that maybe we don’t need a bondmate. Maybe… Maybe a close friend would be enough.” First Aid tapped his light pen to his mouth, “If I’m wrong though…”

“A merge isn’t like a data patch though,” Ratchet stepped forward, “A data patch is non-invasive, we read lines of code to find faults and give new ones to replace the old and outdated. A merge shares with another mech. It’s very personal and most don’t like the idea of having another mech bonded to them and Getaway can’t even consent to it.”

“Which is why it should be a close friend, not just somebot he’s been hanging around with.” First Aid stated, “If it brings him back I don’t think he’d mind, and the first merge can fade if not taken care of—”

“Once again, you are operating outside moral boundaries here, Aid,” Ratchet’s tone darkened, “Your ideas might have worked this time but what about the next? Or the one after that? What happens when you make a mistake you can’t take back?”

“That’s not fair—”

Enough, talk about this later.” Ultra Magnus said, his voice authoritative.

Rodimus had gotten lost in the dialogue that he forgot he should still be acting like a captain. First Aid walked calmly from the room, no he definitely didn’t storm, but it was clear from his body language that he wanted to. He felt bad for the medic, he had great ideas but they tended to be on the risky side at times. He knew very well how it felt to be doubted at every turn.

“That was a bit harsh, Ratch.” Rodimus said once First Aid was gone.

“He needs it. He’s got the right stuff he just needs some guidance every now and then.” Ratchet huffed a little.

There was a pause as the atmosphere in the room shifted. Skids, Rung and Nightbeat quietly excused themselves. Ravage had disappeared the moment the attention was off of him, leaving only the officers standing around Rodimus’ berth.

“Well, with this out of the way, I think I’ll leave Rodimus to rest.” Megatron said, turning on his heel. Ultra Magnus followed suit, offering Rodimus his best wishes and all but ordering him to rest. When they were gone and only Ratchet, Drift and Thunderclash were left, Rodimus turned to his amica.

“It’s my fault.” Rodimus felt optics shift to him and Drift was shaking his helm.

“Roddy you can’t blame yourself.” Drift said, taking his hand in both of his, “It was a series of unfortunate events, no one could have predicted something like this would happen.”

“No, but I could have prevented it…” He stared straight at his amica then, painfully aware of Thunderclash sitting on his other side. He took a deep vent and whispered, “I’d like to have a word alone… with Thunderclash.”

Drift nodded but yet again not wanting to let go of Rodimus. He pulled the white speedster into a hug and whispered a hushed promise to see him in a little bit. Drift kissed him on both cheeks and nodded in silent agreement before finally leaving the room with Ratchet and shutting the door. The room was still after that. Rodimus became hyper aware of every noise he made as he shifted his body to face Thunderclash. The brightly colored mech looked up at him now, his optics cautious. Rodimus suddenly wasn’t sure what to say. He knew he had to say something though.

“After what Getaway must have told you… I’m surprised you’re even here.”

Thunderclash looked hurt by his words, “Do you think me to be so callous?”

Rodimus felt the guilt hit him over the head then. Less than 20 words in and he was already making a mess of things.

“What about things that I said?” Rodimus asked, Thunderclash remained silent his optics looking away from Rodimus, “I know that Getaway had some recordings of me saying some… Horrible things.”

Silence blanketed the room as neither mech could hold the others optic. How was he going to get through this? He had hurt the mech so badly. He had said terrible things to Getaway to try and deflect his feelings and hide behind a false hatred. None of which had even worked. He couldn’t let the hurt fester any longer, he had to apologize. He had to.

“Thunderclash—”

“Rodimus—”

They both chuckled nervously, looking directly at each other now.

“Once again we’re both at a loss for words.” Thunderclash chuckled.

“I guess we are.” Rodimus smiled wistfully, remembering a conversation they had during his heat, when he had first asked the mech for his help. It seemed so long ago, he had been a very different mech when it had happened. His feelings had changed drastically over such a short time. Rodimus looked at the mech across from him and gathered what was left of his scattered thoughts and determination.

“Thunderclash, when I asked you for help during my heat it wasn’t because I liked you. I hated you. But I knew I could trust you.” Rodimus took a quick breath, “Now I know that sounds terrible… Actually it kind of is terrible, but you showed me that I could trust you with more than just a stressful situation. I could count on you as a real friend… But I didn’t treat you like one…”

“I just wanted to say that I’m sorry,” Rodimus began again, “I started our relationship for shallow reasons. I wasn’t thinking about your feelings when I did it.”

“Rodimus—”

“Please, just let me finish,” Rodimus said, stopping whatever interjection that Thunderclash may have had, “I want to be honest with you, after all this I think I owe you that. I realize now that I didn’t hate you. I hated that I was jealous of you, because in my mind… You’re everything I wanted to be but never could. I felt that if people knew we were together— that they would judge me next to you… So I kept it a secret.”

“And I realize now that keeping our relationship hidden was a mistake. I got so wrapped up in keeping it a secret that, not only did I end up hurting your feelings, I left us both open to being manipulated by Getaway.” Rodimus took a breath.

Thunderclash’s optics looked down to his hands in his lap, he nodded solemnly.

“Not everything Getaway told you was true, but the recordings you heard were real, just taken out of context.” Rodimus paused to stare at Thunderclash’s insignia, the chipped paint a reminder to keep going.

“I’m sorry you had to hear those things. Things I said in anger, when I was wrongly trying to justify my actions…” He trailed off for a moment, “I was convinced that us—you and me— together, wasn’t a possibility. I didn’t realize you cared for me so much beyond—well, beyond what we had.”

He paused again, trying to read the expression in Thunderclash’s optics and failing. The brightly colored mech had gone very still.

“And then I made my biggest mistake; pretending I didn’t know how you felt.” Rodimus took a shallow vent, “I was scared. I know that doesn’t justify what I did but I just… I didn’t know how to feel about you.”

Rodimus chewed the inside of his cheek as the room grew quiet. Every word he had said, despite it being the truth, only sounded like excuses to his audials. Thunderclash wouldn’t believe him, he didn’t even believe himself. He looked away, not daring to look at Thunderclash, fearing what he would see on his face now. The silence was crushing, the weight of it reminding Rodimus of his faults the longer the colorful mech didn’t say anything.

“You knew,” Rodimus jumped at the sound of Thunderclash’s voice when he finally spoke, “You knew that I…?”

Rodimus nodded, still not looking, “It took me awhile. I’m… kind of dense.” He chuckled airily, hoping to lighten the conversation again. He couldn’t tell if it had worked or not. Thunderclash sat beside him like a rock, cold and still, Rodimus felt guilt twist his spark again.

“I am so, so sorry—” A lump choked Rodimus’ intake and he had to stop himself to keep his tears back.

“I don’t want to make any excuses for what I did.” Rodimus continued once he had his voice back, “I just want you to know how sorry I am so we—so we can move past this… And maybe one day you’ll forgive me?”

Rodimus still couldn’t bring himself to look at Thunderclash. If he didn’t know any better he’d say that the mech had left when he wasn’t looking. He was still quiet, still not moving, and Rodimus thought he might go crazy in the silence that stretched between them.

“Please say something.” He pleaded quietly.

“How long did you know?”

Rodimus winced, not expecting the question but not surprised either, “Since the nebula incident.”

“Why didn’t you stop?”

Rodimus wasn’t sure if he understood what the question was about, “What do you mean?” he asked.

“Why didn’t you stop our agreement after finding out I had feelings for you?”

He wanted to say that Drift had been the cause, the white speedster had encouraged him to give Thunderclash a chance initially. But at that point it really had been the opposite. Drift had wanted him to stop. His reasoning had been entirely in his own self interest, not thinking about the effect it would have on Thunderclash at all.

“I didn’t want to.” Rodimus confessed, “I liked being with you.”

“Just for the interfacing.”

That last statement pierced him more like an accusation. But it wasn’t true, at that point they weren’t even interfacing. He had just liked spending time with the big mech.

“No,” Rodimus vented gently, “It wasn’t like that. I just wanted you. I was being selfish.” Like always, he added to himself. He nearly jumped out of his plating when he felt Thunderclash take his hand, the large mech’s hand encompassing his own. Rodimus looked over to Thunderclash finally.

“Rodimus of Nyon—Rodimus Prime, I say this now because I should have told you every cycle since we met.” Thunderclash was holding his gaze with an unbridled intensity and Rodimus could swear he could hear his spark in his own audials.

“I love you.”

Rodimus felt himself gasp, the air completely stolen from his vents, as if he had just been kicked in the chest again. Rodimus stared at the big mech in disbelief. His mouth hung open, words stolen from his processor, he was stammering to get something coherent out.

“Wh-What?” It almost felt like a cruel joke. Like Thunderclash was messing with him. That the mech was going to take it all back in just a few moments. Tears welled up in his optics at the thought, “D-Don’t say things like that.” He deflected.

“I meant every word.” Thunderclash said leaning toward him, his red optics bright with sincerity. Rodimus stared back at him and his processor continued to stall, not knowing what to do with this information and he just kept searching the other mech’s optics. As if maybe he would find an answer there.

“Well if you had told me that since the day we met, I probably would have been even meaner to you.” Rodimus said weakly, defaulting to hiding behind a thin veil of snark.

“Do you feel the same way?” Thunderclash ignored his previous statement, not taking Rodimus’ bait to change the subject.

Rodimus felt light headed again. This time not from his processor getting pounded into paste. Part of him screamed for him to deny everything. That it would only hurt later if he confessed. The other part of him reminded him that Thunderclash, throughout the entire time he had known him, and especially once he got to know the mech more intimately, had never wanted to hurt him. He always went out of his way to make him feel safe and comfortable. He had said it himself already; if there was one thing he could take away from their relationship, it was that he could trust Thunderclash.

“Yes.” He said, his voice still weak. He didn’t like the way the word had left his intake so he said it again, this time with more conviction. “Yes, I do.”

The joy that bloomed across Thunderclash’s face made his spark stop and he had to remind himself to vent or he might just overheat. Thunderclash squeezed his hand and reached out with his other one, resting it on Rodimus’ cheek. A large thumb wiped away a tear he forgot he had shed.

“H-How?” Rodimus croaked, “How can you feel that way about me when all I did was hurt you?”

Thunderclash’s face saddened, “I have had a lot of time to think about this. I knew before coming here that I was going to tell you that. I have wanted to say those exact words for so long. And if I had just done it sooner…” Thunderclash was shaking his head, “You didn’t hurt me, Rodimus. You could never hurt me.”

Rodimus still didn’t understand. He did everything wrong. If this mech knew what was good for him then he should be running far, far away. Rodimus wanted to be selfish and just take it and run. But he couldn’t, he had to be sure.

“Thunderclash, you realize that I led you along right? That I lied to you.”

The big mech shook his head gently, “You didn’t tell me things, but you never lied to me. I went into our relationship knowing exactly where we stood with each other. Though, I admit I did want more, but I never made that known to you. By your definition then, I lied to you.”

Thunderclash paused to lift Rodimus’ hand to his lips, “We both acted like fools, you are not entirely guilty of that. I knew the consequences of my actions. I, too, acted selfishly. For nearly the same reasons as you… Holding onto something I was convinced that I couldn’t have.”

Rodimus couldn’t take his optics off the colorful mech, taking in his tired expression, the dents under his eyes and the softness of his smile. Thunderclash used his knuckle to wipe the tear off his other cheek.

“I have already forgiven you, because I know that deep down you’re a kind mech with so much good in him. And I would proudly stand by your side, even if you decided that we don’t belong together. So I’ll tell you again, Rodimus Prime. I love you.”

Once again, Rodimus didn’t know what to do or to say. He went with his instincts and did exactly what he had wished he could do for so long.

He pulled Thunderclash into a kiss.

Rodimus had nearly forgotten what it was like. Thunderclash’s warm presence bearing down on him. His lips, soft and gentle on his own, parted just a little as Rodimus slid his out glossa to taste his. Rodimus reached for him, almost unseating himself from his berth in the process and Thunderclash had to gently hold him back.

“You should be resting.” Thunderclash said, breaking the kiss.

“I don’t need rest, I’m fine, never better.” Rodimus tried to flex but cramped up a little, halfway into the pose, and had to settle for a weak and slightly crumple flex that wasn’t fooling anyone, “Okay, that actually hurt a little.”

Thunderclash quickly reached an arm around his back and his magic fingers found just the right seam under his spoiler to make him relax. He purposefully leaned forward and onto Thunderclash’s arm, humming a little in delight.

“Better?” The big mech asked, his face coming closer again. Rodimus wasn’t even going to answer him, as he aimed to reclaim his mouth in a kiss.

However, the door opening had other ideas. Rodimus and Thunderclash didn’t even have time to part as in walked Drift and Ratchet. Drift looked happy as ever, but Ratchet may have been trying to learn to kill with his optics.

“Visiting hours are over now. Rodimus needs to rest.”

“Uh, yes Ratchet, of course.” Thunderclash retracted his arm but Rodimus grabbed ahold of his hand.

Things between them were going to be different now. He was done hiding, he was no longer keeping a secret, so he grabbed the mech by the collar plating and pulled him down for one last kiss before whispering in his audial.

“When I get out of here; you, me, Swerve’s, on a date? How does that sound.” Rodimus didn’t need the mech to answer verbally, he could practically feel the heat emanating from his blush.

“I would love that.” Thunderclash whispered back before parting.

Rodimus watched him go with a smile. Thunderclash, optics looking back a Rodimus every now and then, nearly walked into Ratchet and jumped out of his plating before turning quickly to slip out the door. Even when he was gone, Rodimus couldn’t stop smiling. That didn’t mean he wasn’t scared anymore, he was terrified. But he knew now that at least he could handle it. Because now he wasn’t in it alone.

Chapter Text

“Are you nervous?”

“Nervous? Me? No. Why would I be nervous?”

Thunderclash tried not to sigh.

After a few days in the medbay and a couple mandatory rest days, by order of Ratchet, Rodimus had finally made good on his word to take Thunderclash on a date to Swerve’s. But when he came by the speedster’s hab to walk with him, he had been less enthusiastic than he had been in the medbay. Thunderclash had taken note of Rodimus’ posture. He was wringing his hands a little and when they sat down on his couch for a moment he began bouncing his leg.

Thunderclash tried not to take it to spark. Rodimus hadn’t dated in a very long time, from what he had heard, and it was probably intimidating already to be with a mech he had such strange history with. Not to mention the chatter about the bar fight and their secret ‘romance’ hadn’t died down yet. All the officers had sworn to keep everything hush-hush. So, naturally, the whole ship now knew about their secret relationship.

“If you’re not ready then we can always just stay in.” Thunderclash said putting an arm around the speedster, “We can watch more Earth cinema and just refuel here.”

“No, Thunders, I want to go on this date. I owe it to you.” Rodimus looked at him with earnest optics, “I’m just afraid of how the crew is going to react to me. I’ve been behaving… less than captain-ly lately. The whole thing with Getaway just really showed how I’m not cut out for this, if I’m going to be getting in bar brawls with my crew members.”

“Well, if I’m being honest, I doubt any of the crew would have responded differently in your place. Save for Ultra Magnus, but he’s a breed apart from most mechs.” Thunderclash said gently, “Getaway wasn’t behaving like a respectable crew member either. I know if I was in your same place, I would have punched him hard enough to squash his helm too.”

Rodimus smiled at that and Thunderclash felt his own lips tug upwards at the sight.

“I still promised you a date.” Rodimus said, sounding guilty.

Thunderclash shook his helm, “And I have faith that you’ll follow through on that, when you’re feeling better about the situation.”

“It’s probably going to be while before that happens.” Rodimus said, sighing.

Thunderclash thought for a moment, “Perhaps, apologizing to the crew will help you feel better? Maybe it will take a little of the tension off?”

Rodimus gave him a dubious look and he shrugged, “It’s just a suggestion. For now, maybe we can start slowly? We could have a little date just right here.”

The speedster finally relaxed into his half embrace, “Alright, alright, you’ve convinced me. So what are we going to do on this date?”

“How about a dance?”

Rodimus quirked his brow at him, “I didn’t know you danced.”

Thunderclash smiled, “Of course I dance. It’s nothing like how you dance, I’ll admit, but I know a few styles.”

“Okay. Let’s see what you’ve got then.” Rodimus said, getting to his pedes, “Just a warning, you’re looking at the Lost Light’s Best Dancer. Awarded by Swerve.” Rodimus boasted.

“So I’ve heard.” Thunderclash stood and went to the media console to select some music, “And if I recall correctly, you won that title at my pre-wake turned celebration party.”

Thunderclash noticed Rodimus pull at his collar plating, “Oh yeah… Right.” He sounded embarrassed.

“Rodimus?”

“I’m sorry about that, by the way, for all the mean jabs I took at you.” Rodimus sighed, “How come you put up with it?”

Thunderclash considered him for a moment, “I always figured you had reasons to dislike me… Reasons that were yours, and yours alone, and if you ever wanted to make them known then you would.” There was also a part of Thunderclash that had been too afraid to ask why, afraid that he couldn’t handle the truth.

“How could you… how did you continue to have feelings for me despite all that?” Thunderclash could almost hear his self doubt mounting and he turned look the speedster in the optics.

“I admired you for your temperament. For your ability to do whatever was needed of you. I loved you first and foremost for you being you. And that just so happened to have a fiery personality attached.” Thunderclash grinned, “I always found you oddly charming. You burn with a passion that is hard for others to resist. It wasn’t that I liked you being mean to me, but I admired your fealty and regard for those around you. I just… had hope that one day that would extend to me.”

Rodimus stared at him for a moment, “I don’t… I don’t know what I did to deserve that kind of faith from you. It doesn’t seem possible—you really are annoyingly honorable.” Rodimus said, his voice light-hearted and Thunderclash knew to take it as a compliment.

He continued to smile to himself as he turned back to his music selection, “So I’ve heard.” He chuckled deeply. A slow song came on and Thunderclash turned back to extend his hand to Rodimus.

“You’re going to slow dance me? How cheesy of you.” Rodimus said, but he approached Thunderclash eagerly, taking his hand.

The steps weren’t hard to follow and Thunderclash was a good lead, he knew Rodimus could have followed it in his sleep. However, Thunderclash had a surprise for Rodimus when the song’s tempo picked up a little, and he found himself caught off guard as Thunderclash spun him into a dip that nearly went to the floor. Rodimus turned a little red and giggled at the sensation. Thunderclash straightened them up with a slightly smug smile that the speedster noticed and he looked to be biting back a snarky remark. Thunderclash couldn’t have that.

“Did I scare you?” He said a little darkly.

The fire in Rodimus’ optics sparked to life, “You wish, Thunders. I was just thinking about how I can use that strength of yours later.”

Standing up straight again, the two didn’t part. They were still flush together, with Rodimus’ arms around his neck, standing on his toe pedes in order to be face to face with him. He savored the moment, just gazing into blue optics and feeling the smile on his face. He hadn’t seen Rodimus smile this much, probably ever. Not proper smiles anyways, plenty of smirks, but these smiles met his optics.

Thunderclash leaned down to touch forehelms with Rodimus, “You’re beautiful.”

Rodimus scoffed a little, “I’ve heard that before.”

“Because you truly are.” Thunderclash made sure to lean in close to Rodimus, leaving the smallest of gaps between their lips as he spoke, “And I’m not just talking about your beautiful finish, or your lovely shape,” Thunderclash ran a hand from his waist down to his hip and squeezed for emphasis before running it up to cover his chest, “I also mean your spark, your soul. You’re beautiful in every aspect, in every application of the word.”

Rodimus’ optics shut and his face contorted slightly in thinly veiled pleasure, “ ‘Clash, you’re going to just feed my ego with talk like that.”

“Like what?” Thunderclash asked, playing dumb, “Like me telling you how much I love you—mmf!”

Thunderclash was silenced by Rodimus’ lips as they crushed his. He leaned further into the kiss, holding Rodimus as close to him as possible, and he felt an immense joy flood his systems. Weeks ago he would have been lucky if Rodimus even smiled in his direction. It still felt too good to be true, to be standing here, openly admitting his innermost feelings. Even more unbelievable still, was that Rodimus wasn’t shoving him away. Everything about the speedster reciprocated his feelings, from his body language, to the way his EM field meshed with his. The only way Rodimus hadn’t said it was out loud, but Thunderclash knew he would have to be patient for that. It would happen when Rodimus was ready.

Rodimus suddenly pulled away from their kiss, “I—I can’t fragging believe this…” Rodimus cursed, his voice harsh as he settled back onto his footing and away from Thunderclash.

“Is something wrong?” Thunderclash looked him over, frantically, he wasn’t sure what caused the outburst and he feared he had accidentally done something wrong.

“Sorry— it’s not you, I got a notification from Ratchet. Something happened down in the medbay with Getaway.”

~    ~    ~    ~

Rodimus couldn’t believe it.

Even unconscious and handcuffed to a berth, Getaway was still keeping Thunderclash and Rodimus apart.

Things were just starting to get interesting too. He griped inwardly.

After receiving the message, Rodimus headed down to the medbay, telling Thunderclash that he would be back soon. He still wanted to go on that date as long as he had the time and he hoped this wouldn’t take up all of that time. He had plans for that big colorful mech in his habsuite, that’s for sure.

Upon entering the medbay, Rodimus immediately noticed the tension in the air. Velocity and Hoist stood off to the side, looking wary. He looked over to where Getaway had been confined to a room. The door was open and inside he could see Ratchet and First Aid with both with their arms crossed, bickering, unsurprisingly. They were much more quiet about it this time. As Rodimus entered the room though, he caught sight of the culprit who had torn him away from his date.

Skids sat at the end of the medberth, cuffed and looking defiant. Rodimus sighed at the sight.

“Ratch,” Rodimus said, garnering the medic’s attention finally, “Wanna fill me in on what happened here?”

“Sure, not that it isn’t obvious,” Ratchet shot a scathing look at First Aid who just huffed. He turned back to Rodimus with a puff of air from his vents, “Skids here, broke into the medbay and initiated a spark merge with Getaway.”

“I just wanted to help.” Skids said from where he sat on the berth. Ratchet rounded on him immediately.

“First of all, you did this without any of the medical staff knowing. Second of all, Getaway was in no condition to consent to this merge, which makes this assault!” Ratchet was trembling with anger, “And you could have gotten yourself killed for this treacherous bag of bolts!”

“He’s my friend Ratchet,” Skids said calmly, “I couldn’t sit by and do nothing. I’m the only bot here who knew him well enough to do this— or at least long enough.”

Skids looked to Rodimus, “I know he’s done and said a lot of bad things lately, I couldn’t believe half of the things I heard, but he’s a good mech. He just… Needed to be reminded of that.”

Rodimus could practically hear Ratchet rolling his optics as he turned away to grumble in the corner. The medic then proceeded to take Rodimus by the arm and escorted him from the room. Once they were out of earshot from the other mechs Ratchet let out one of the longest sighs he’d ever heard from him. It was almost worrying.

“So, how’s the patient.” Rodimus asked looking back at the room. From here he could see just the edge of there berth and could just make out where Skids was sitting, holding Getaway’s hand. It made his spark ache a little.

Before all of this happened, Rodimus wouldn’t have had a reason to despise Getaway. Despite all that has happened, he couldn’t help but feel bad for him. It was Getaway’s own machinations that got him into this, it was almost poetic justice to see him laying in that berth, but Ratchet had been right when he said it would be immoral to just leave him that way. He may have been a treacherous, mutinous, snake of a bot, but he had friends. And, whether Rodimus liked it or not, he had become a part of this family here on the Lost Light.

“His vitals are improving. His cognitive functions are already normalizing,” Ratchet said after he finished sighing, “He’ll probably wake within the next cycle or two.”

“That fast? Didn’t I take like, nearly 5?” Rodimus asked, a little surprised.

“He’s not as old as you.” Ratchet said simply, “Not as many memories to wade through I bet.”

“Ouch. Words are harsh Ratchet.”

“Someone should remind you of your age more often, maybe then you’d stop acting like a sparkling.”

Rodimus laughed, “Fat chance, old mech.” He ran his hand over his audial, massaging it gently, trying to ease some of his own tension.

“So what are we going to do about this?” Ratchet asked quietly.

“Pft— I don’t know. He was just trying to help his friend…”

“But he did it by essentially assaulting a patient, and he did it without permission!” Ratchet hissed.

“Would you have let him do it if he had asked?” Rodimus stared blankly at one of the medbay walls.

“Of course not.” Ratchet snorted, “A medic would never condone such a thing. Even First Aid thought twice about it.”

“Then you agree, he had no choice but to act alone in order to help him.”

“Rodimus you can’t be serious—”

“You said it yourself, Getaway’s condition is improving. Skids only acted with his friend’s best interest in mind.” Rodimus stared back at Ratchet now, “We didn’t exactly lock Cyclonus up for doing the same thing, now did we?”

“It’s not the same—The spark merge is something that should be consented to and Getaway couldn’t give that.” Ratchet’s optics burned into his.

Rodimus took a pause to stare at the floor for a moment, “Then we wait and see.”

“What?”

“If Getaway wakes up and wants to press assault charges then we will lock Skids up, hold a trial, the whole thing, but ultimately I think it’s Getaway’s choice to make.”

“So he just gets to walk away from this with no repercussions whatsoever?” Ratchet seethed.

“How about this, Skids takes up extra security duty in the lower levels, for as long as you’d like, under the supervision of Paddox, and if you want you can ban him from the medbay, save for medical emergencies.” Rodimus looked back at the medic with hope in his optics. Ratchet only grumbled a little so he couldn’t help but feel a little victorious.

“Alright, fine. I won’t ban him, that’ll just give him a reason to put off his check-ups.” Ratchet relented, “He’s going to be on that security duty for a long… long time, I hope you realize that.”

“Duly noted, I’ll inform Magnus, you can have Drift un-cuff him, those are Drift’s cuffs right? Nevermind, don’t answer that, I don’t want to know.” Rodimus said, smirking when Ratchet’s face turned a little pink with energon.

“Don’t be absurd, Rodimus.” Ratchet huffed before walking back to the room where Skids was. Rodimus couldn’t help but notice him unsubspace the key to the cuffs, and that just made his smirk widen. He was going to have to ask Drift when he bought him those.

A moment later, Skids emerged from the room, First Aid patting him on the back before shutting the door. He turned to Rodimus, approaching slowly.

“So that’s it? You’re just letting me go?” Skids asked once he grew close enough.

“You’re going to be punished for going behind Ratchet’s back, but it’ll be up to Getaway, when he wakes up, on whether or not we punish you for assault.” Rodimus explained. Skids had a slightly awed expression on his face.

“Thank you Rodimus.”

“Don’t thank me just yet. I left Ratchet in charge of deciding how long you’ll be doing security detail.” Rodimus chuckled, “It could be awhile.”

Skids shook his head, “I knew I was going to be punished the moment I went in there, I was prepared for it. I couldn’t leave him like that… I just hope he isn’t angry with me when he wakes up.”

“I don’t know how he could be mad at the bot who saved his life.”

“Getaway has always been very shy with his spark, so I don’t know. He might be.” Skids looked slightly crestfallen, “But thank you, for everything Rodimus. I know it must be hard for you, considering what he did.”

“Well I haven’t exactly forgiven him.” Rodimus said.

“He also hasn’t apologized yet.” Skids smiled, “Forgiveness usually follows the apology’s lead, not the other way around.”

That made Rodimus pause, “I guess you’re right…” He trailed off in thought, “Thank you Skids.” He said finally, turning to leave.

“For what?” Skids asked, confused.

“For reminding me of something I have to do.”

Chapter Text

Rodimus comm’d Ultra Magnus as he made his way up to the communications office.

He kept his message about Skids short and sweet, primarily detailing the punishment that Ratchet had agreed to. Magnus in turn returned the favor with a succinct “Yes, captain.” Which honestly took Rodimus a bit off guard, he had expected at least a little bit of unsolicited advice from the former Enforcer of the Tyrest Accord. Magnus simply responded to his incredulousness with “You’ve done a lot of growing up lately, I trust your judgement in this affair.”

Growing up, huh?

That’s not exactly how he thought of it but he definitely felt a change. For the exact reason in which he was acting on this sudden impulse, he hoped it was for the better. Because there were mechs aboard this ship who trusted him, mechs who had died or been injured on this little quest of theirs. Many of them had shed energon to keep the quest alive. Some had even dug through mud and mire, and under Megatron’s guide, to mine materials for the ship. So Rodimus wanted his crew to know that he appreciated them, for putting up with his slag if nothing else.

He stood outside his destination for a moment, with just the slightest of hesitation, before pinging for entry. Communications Officer Blaster opened the door, looking a little surprised to see Rodimus in this part of the ship.

“Hey, Rodimus, you need something?”

“Yeah Blaster, I just want to make an announcement to the crew, it’ll only take a minute. May I come in?”

Blaster’s optics bulged a little, “Yeah, yeah of course, come on in.” Blaster stepped aside to allow Rodimus entry to the office.

The office was a bit of a mess. Data pads were stacked haphazardly in corners of the room and there were a few empty cubes at his desk. He wondered if Blaster was feeling overworked. Since Red Alert had left for Luna-1, the communications officer had take up his job monitoring the security footage. There were plenty of other bots who had also picked up the security jobs but the state of this room was a bit worrisome as to how well Blaster was handling his workload.

“Hey are you doing alright in here?” Rodimus said, turning to ask Blaster directly.

“Oh, uh—yeah, why do you ask?” Blaster said, looking surprised.

“I’m not one to comment but it’s a bit of a mess in here.” Rodimus chuckled, “You’re not feeling overworked are you? With two jobs I’m sure it can get kind of… draining.”

Blaster blinked at him, “Uh… Yeah, it can kind of be that way but I’m used to it. It’s not soul crushing or anything, I enjoy making the morning announcements and reading off news from Cybertron, sometimes keeping track of the footage gets difficult—I’m sorry again about what happened with the Swerve incident, I honestly don’t remember giving anyone access to this room!” Blaster said, fidgeting.

“Don’t worry about it, I was never angry with you.” Rodimus waved off the notion, “I’m sure Getaway’s scheming had something to do with it.”

“R-Right… Anyway, I’m good here, thanks for asking though.” Blaster smiled.

“Well if you need any extra help bring it up to me or Ultra Magnus and we can see about getting more bots on the security footage duty.” Rodimus said, turning to sit at the desk were the audio equipment was set up.

“Make sure it’s broadcasting to the whole ship yeah?” Rodimus said as he settled himself in. Blaster nodded and began priming system for his announcement.

“Ready to go when you are.” Blaster gave him a thumbs-up.

Rodimus felt his venting hitch as he sat forward in his chair. He had thought about what he was going to say as he walked up here so he only hesitated for a moment before pressing the button for the microphone.

“Hey there Lost Lighters, this is your Captain speaking. The handsome one.” He said with a chuckle, “I’m here with an announcement.” Rodimus paused to clear his intake.

“I know the events of late have given us all a lot to talk about. Some of my most recent… blunders—as well as my personal life, have been made very public. And I wanted to take this time to apologize for that. As a captain I should be striving to be a leader you all can look up to instead of being a distraction.”

“It has also come to my attention however, that the quality of my captaincy has been in question for some time now and I just want to say that I understand you. Truly, you all deserve a lot better, as you have shown to be the most reliable and dependable crew a captain could ask for. And the recent events make me feel as if I have failed you as a captain.” He took a breath.

“But I’ve had mechs a lot wiser than me tell me… That we are the sum of all our parts. If we just look at the bad parts of us then we miss the entire picture. Even if the bad outweighs the good, our purpose isn’t to stay that way and resign ourselves to being bad. It is our duty as sentient beings to better ourselves, always.”

"From henceforth I promise to be better for you all, I vow to be a much better captain — and a much better bot altogether,  going forward.” Rodimus closed his optics, “But, if you are all still deeply dissatisfied with my leadership, and feel like you cannot follow me further on this quest, then I’ll step down as captain. And I invite you all to cast votes for a new captain in my place.”

Rodimus let out a vent he had been holding, feeling lighter, “Oh but the next captain should know, there’s nothing I can do about Megatron, you’re stuck with that old rust bucket as your co-captain. Optimus Prime’s orders and all. He’s not too bad once you get working with him but he has this huge ego… I digress.” Rodimus chuckled, “Thanks for listening, Lost Lighters, Rodimus out.” Cutting the comm. at last, Rodimus looked back at Blaster, the communications officer was regarding him with a shocked expression.

“What?” He said, standing from his chair.

“Nothing, sir,” Blaster said straightening himself up, “I just—It’s nice sentiment and all but aren’t you worried you’ll actually be replaced?”

“That’s sort of the point, the crew needs a leader that they are willing to follow. If that isn’t me then I shouldn’t be captain.” Rodimus said solemnly, he reached out and patted Blaster’s shoulder, “Thanks for helping me out, see you around.”

With that, Rodimus took his leave, sauntering down the halls. He felt so much lighter than he had before. Sure he was concerned about someone else captaining his ship but he would deal with it. He dealt with Megatron of all bots, he could deal with just about anyone else. The crew needed to come first in this instance as many of the bots had been, albeit jokingly, talking about getting rid of him and Megatron. But jokes only go so far until someone acts on it. The last thing Rodimus needed was a mutiny.

With all of that out of the way, it was time to get on with his date.

Rodimus quickly went back to his habsuite, it wasn’t too far from the communications office. He opened the door without prelude and stepped inside.

“Now, where were we?” Rodimus announced to the room. He stopped short when he realized the hab was empty, “Thunders?” He called, looking around.

When he received no response from the back of his hab he sighed. He didn’t think he would take so long, maybe Thunderclash decided to go back to his own hab? Rodimus went to sit on his couch when he spied a data pad sitting face up at him. Scrawled with a light pen, in very attractive handwriting, were the words: ‘Come to Swerve’s’

Rodimus felt his optics widen, nervousness coming back to him. This was certainly one way to make sure he held up his end of the bargain. Rodimus wasn’t one to back down from a challenge however, and this was definitely feeling like a call out.

Rodimus steeled himself before standing and leaving his hab. He didn’t give himself an opportunity to think too hard as he made his way to the bar. He simply followed his feet as they led him, one after the other. He tried to still his racing spark which was trying to keep up with the darting thoughts in his processor that would pop up and be pushed aside just as quickly as they came.

Would mechs laugh at him? Would Thunderclash’s little fan club be judging him as they sat together? Would other bots admonish Thunders for his decision to be with Rodimus after all that has happened? How was the crew going to react to his latest announcement?

Rodimus physically shook his helm to loosen the invasive thoughts. Whatever was going to happen would likely not be as bad as his nerves were making it out to be. It was funny really, how he was more nervous now than he could ever remember being, save for maybe when he had actually been shot through the spark. As Rodimus approached the bar he thought for sure he would hear the usual clamor of the patrons and the music playing but instead it was eerily quiet. When he could see the entrance he spied a large crowd spilling into the hall, every bot looking inside. And a voice made it’s way to his audials.

Rodimus could hardly believe it as he joined the crowd and now recognized Thunderclash speaking. The bots around him, recognizing him, parted to let him through as he listened. He was stunned by what he was hearing and he stopped in the middle of the room when Thunderclash’s optics trained on him. The colorful mech was standing at the bar, a cube in hand, addressing the crowd as if this was an every day thing for him.

“Rodimus hasn’t always been a good leader, he will be the first to admit to that, but he has always been a great friend. He’s compassionate and loyal, and would do anything for any crew member aboard this ship. All of us started this quest together, and together you all have built a home here on the Lost Light, a family. I don’t know about any of you, but after the war ended, I had lost sight of what to do with myself, but this place, this family, gave me a new sense of self. A new purpose with this crew.” Thunderclash indicated to the bots around him, earning mutters of approval.

“Rodimus has only ever strived for the best for this crew, to keep you all safe. And when he puts his mind to something he accomplishes it. He may stumble but he always gets back up, and he improves with every experience. Could all of you say the same about yourself? Or anyone else in the crew? Each and every one of you all have a role to play on this mission, and on this ship. In that regard, Rodimus is no different from you. The only exception being that Rodimus is the one that deals with Megatron on a cycle-to-cycle basis.” His deep chuckled elicited a laugh from the crowd.

“And that tenacity, that spark that he has, is why Rodimus Prime has my vote for Captain of the Lost Light.” With that, Thunderclash raised his cube to him with a blinding smile.

The crowd applauded and broke out in a chatter of positivity. Rodimus, feeling extraordinarily embarrassed and embarrassingly turned on, narrowed his optics at the brightly colored mech and stalked forward, thumping his pedes loudly on the floor. The big mech didn’t shrink back, he had a slightly smug smile all over that brassy faceplate of his and Rodimus was hellbent on wiping it clean off. He stopped just in front of the mech and crossed his arms. The whole bar grew quiet, intently watching the two.

“I’m not sure if you’re qualified to give your vote, Blundercrash, since you’re obviously biased.” Rodimus said before grabbing him swiftly by the collar plating and pulling him in for a kiss. His leap before looking attitude may have been a blessing because nothing could have prepared Rodimus for the cheers that erupted from the bar. He released Thunderclash, his faceplate feeling very hot as many of the mechs began shouting their encouragement.

“You have my vote too Rodimus!”

“We couldn’t ask for a better captain!”

“We’d never replace you Rodimus!”

“You guys are just saying that because you’re drunk!” Rodimus shouted back to the crowd, half-joking.

“Maybe!”

“I’m not drunk, you’re drunk!”

Rodimus laughed and turned to Thunderclash, whose face bore a deep blush and was settled into a crooked smile. The crowd was beginning to go back to their drinks and the music resumed so Rodimus leaned in to the big mech.

“You didn’t have to do this for me.” Rodimus said so only the big mech could hear him.

“I only spoke the truth, I didn’t want to leave it to chance that other bots would remember how incredible you actually are.” Thunderclash said, taking one of Rodimus’ hands in his.

“Wow you—you’re honestly too much,” He laughed, giving the colorful mech’s hand a squeeze, “Shall we find a booth?”

“Absolutely.” Thunderclash said, standing.

They found an empty booth in the corner of the bar. Rodimus sat down first and Thunderclash seated himself across from him.

For a brief moment, Rodimus became self conscious of bots around him laughing but he looked at Thunderclash and the feeling melted away. The big mech was fiddling with his cup between his hands, a blush was coloring the edges of his cheeks still and a small smile adorned his lips. It was hard to believe that there was ever a time he felt hatred for this mech. How could he despise a mech who cared so openly? Feeling bold, Rodimus stood and very gently pushed Thunderclash over so that he could be seated right next to him. He then took Thunderclash’s arm and lifted it around him, scooting closer until their hips touched. Leaned in and pressed close to Thunderclash’s side, Rodimus felt an incredible sense of peace. The colorful mech turned his head stared at him, looking surprised by his actions.

“What?” Rodimus laughed. “Can’t a mech enjoy being close to his boyfriend?”

For a second Rodimus was scared he might have broken him. His blush darkened considerably and his vocalizer audibly clicked as it tried to reset. Rodimus bit his lip as he tried to keep himself from laughing. Thunderclash’s arm tightened around him then.

“O-Of course not! I—I just—” Thunderclash said, clearly unable to find his words.

“Not so eloquent now huh?” Rodimus smirked. Thunderclash continued to stammer.

Rodimus took pity on him and gently pulled him down to plant a kiss on his lips, effectively silencing the colorful mech. When Thunderclash had pulled away he only pulled back just enough to look him in the optics. Rodimus decided then that he hadn’t had enough and pulled him back, deepening the kiss with a flick of his glossa. They were definitely getting looks now, whistles and catcalls came in their direction and Rodimus smiled around the kiss. What was supposed to be a chaste kiss quickly turned into one that was very much not that, as Rodimus placed a hand on the side of Thunderclash’s face to hold him close.

“Now look who’s the sappy one.”

The two split apart in surprise, “Drift!” Rodimus said, chuckling nervously at his amica. The white speedster was grinning unabashedly at them.

“Don’t mind me, I was just coming to check on you, after your surprise announcement I half expected you to be moping in your room or something. Glad to see that’s not the case.” Drift said, crossing his arms.

“Yeah, well, we’re uh… Kind of on a date.” Rodimus said, scratching the side of his helm awkwardly.

“Say no more, I’ll leave you two alone.” Drift said, backing away. But he did give Thunderclash a slightly pointed and knowing look as he left.

Rodimus turned his helm to look back at Thunderclash, who was nervously watching Drift go before turning his helm back to Rodimus to regard him with barely concealed adoration. He felt his spark skip in his chest. A slight nagging feeling tugging at him.

“Can I voice a concern of mine?” Rodimus said quietly.

Thunderclash blinked, worry entering those big ruby optics, “What is it my prime?”

“I—uh… I won’t lie, I love the attention you give me, I guess that’s obvious by now but,” Rodimus took a vent to slow his words, “I’m scared one day that the look in your optics will change… that you’ll realize that you don’t have any reason to…to…” Rodimus trailed off.

“To? What? To love you?” Thunderclash said, his voice filled with disbelief, “Rodimus, the entire time I’ve known you, I have only found more to love. As time grows on I expect, so will my love for you."

Rodimus felt his vents catch a little, “How can you be so sure?” He whispered.

“Nothing is guaranteed, but I would like to find out if I am right with you by my side.” Thunderclash brought his free hand to stroke lightly along the helm flare that led to his audial, “Would that be alright with you, my prime?”

Rodimus swallowed a lump in his intake, “You won’t hear any complaints from me.” He said, slightly breathless.

After a moment of staring, Rodimus cleared his intake and asked, “So why don’t we get to know each other better, like we’re supposed to, how about you tell me more about your life before the war?”

~    ~    ~    ~

“Do you remember what you did?”

Rodimus stood at the foot of the medberth, staring pointedly at the mech who was sitting on it.

Getaway had woken up about a cycle and a half ago. Ratchet had kept visitors away while the mech was still recovering. Rodimus was the first to see him now that he was awake. Even Skids hadn’t been allowed in to visit him, not since the incident involving the spark merge.

“…A little.” Getaway grumbled, “It’s fuzzy. And…”

Rodimus waited for a moment before, “And?” He asked.

Getaway cringed before looking back up at him, “I-It’s funny. After all I went through, I don’t really remember why I did it.”

Rodimus narrowed his optics at him. Ratchet and First Aid had spoken to him previously on the possibility that because he and Skids had no previous bond, his memories would be patchwork at best. That being said, Rodimus was still very suspicious of the masked mech. He had gotten to most of the crew through sheer cleverness and scheming alone. Who knew how far this mech was willing to go.

Rodimus sighed.

“But you do remember that you blackmailed not only myself but several other members of the crew. And was using this for personal gain and to spread mutinous ideas about myself and Megatron?”

Getaway nodded.

“And you realize that these things come with serious consequences right? That I could ask for your removal from the Lost Light and jail time on Cybertron for your actions.”

Again, Getaway just nodded.

“Alright then, since you understand, that also means you understand how merciful I’m being by offering you a chance to stay aboard. You’ll be on clean up duty for the rest of your time here, you will only be allowed in either of the bars to refuel for an hour each cycle, and you’ll be monitored for the rest of the mission. Do these sound like agreeable terms or should I tell Magnus to turn this ship around?”

Getaway looked up at him, surprised, “Why? Why keep me aboard when you clearly don’t trust me? You especially, considering everything…”

“Because I’m a mech that believes in second chances. Someone told me that you’re a good mech, and that you only need to be reminded of that, so I’m giving you a chance to prove that and earn your place among us again. And… I think our family has suffered enough losses for awhile. I’m willing to start over if you are,” Rodimus stepped around the berth, extending his hand to the masked mech, “What do you say?”

There was a pause and Rodimus wasn’t sure if Getaway was going to take it or not. He stared at him, seemingly calculating something in that twisted processor of his. Rodimus felt a strange sense of relief when the masked mech’s features relaxed and his hand took his own. They released after a moment and Getaway let his hand fall limply to the berth covers.

Getaway slumped back into his berth, his optics downcast, “Very well. I’ll take your deal.”

“But make no mistake, if you foul this up, you make one wrong move, it’ll be all over for you. I won’t even bring you back to Cybertron. I’ll just leave you behind.”

“Got it.” Getaway said gruffly, sounding a little defeated.

Rodimus relaxed a little, “Alright, with that out of the way, I do have to ask you whether or not you want to press charges against Skids. In order to bring you out of your coma, he initiated a spark merge with you. Since you could not give your consent at the time, there are grounds to press charges—Magnus’ words, not mine. So…” Rodimus felt fidgety, and he wrung his hands a little.

“I’m surprised you even care about that.”

“The laws are meant to protect all of us, not just people in positions of power.” Rodimus said almost mechanically. He had heard Magnus say the same thing over and over again many a time. There was a pause as silence filled the room and Rodimus tried to wait for an answer as patiently as possible.

Getaway put a hand over his chest, “The first merge has a good chance to fade doesn’t it?”

Rodimus could barely hear the question and he was slightly taken aback by it, “Well, yes—I think. That’s what I’ve always heard anyway.”

Rodimus watched as Getaway fiddled with the cuffs that held him to the berth. Getaway was clearly considering it very hard. Either that or he was messing with Rodimus on purpose. It was hard to tell. But the masked mech had no traces of amusement written on what little of his face could be seen. His optics were hard and staring at his own hands.

“I think,” Getaway said at last, “I want to talk to Skids about it first before I decide.”

“Are you sure? I’m not even sure if that’s technically allowed.”

“I want to talk to him first.” Getaway said, his tone harsher this time.

“Okay, okay, I’ll see what I can do about that.” Rodimus relented, turning to leave.

“Rodimus.”

He stopped cold as Getaway said his name and pivoted his body slowly to look at the masked mech. His optics were conflicted as he looked into Rodimus’.

“Thank you… And… I’m sorry.”

Rodimus couldn’t help the shock that was plainly pasted across his face. Getaway looked away, clearly embarrassed. He almost wanted to tease the mech but he thought better of it. They didn’t need anymore animosity between them.

“You’re welcome.” Rodimus said, “And, maybe one day, I’ll forgive you.”

“I can live with that.” Getaway said, crossing his arms.

Rodimus couldn’t help but smile a little as he left. All things considered, that could have gone a lot worse.

~    ~    ~    ~

“Do you think I’m being foolish?” Rodimus asked Thunderclash.

He was lazing on his couch, his legs dangling over the armrest and his head resting on the thigh of his colorful companion. The big mech had been reading him more of the poetry he borrowed from Ultra Magnus. Rodimus’ thoughts had trailed off about halfway through the first poem, thinking back on his latest decisions. He couldn’t help but feel that putting his faith in Getaway would be viewed as a weakness on his part. That the crew might see him as too soft or even inconsistent. After all, he had been even harsher on his own amica for a mistake that hadn’t even been his fault.

“What do you mean?” Thunderclash said, setting aside his data pad to give him his full attention.

Rodimus sat up, swinging his pedes back to the floor so that he could look Thunderclash in the optics, “I mean the whole Getaway thing, do you think I was too… How would Ultra Magnus put it… Lenient? I think that’s the word.”

“I don’t believe so. I think it’s very mature of you to offer him a chance to make things right and earn his place aboard this ship again.” Thunderclash put a hand on his back, “Not every problem is solved with cruel punishment. Sometimes the best solution is to be kind.”

“But, I was exactly the opposite when I dealt with Drift all that time ago… Doesn’t it look bad?”

Thunderclash shook his head, “It just shows that you have changed. You’re a different mech now than you where then.”

“I guess you’re right.” Rodimus said but he slumped forward and rested his chin on his hand. The hand on Rodimus’ back drifted to just below his spoiler and sank talented fingers into the sensitive seams there. It took only moments for his entire frame to suddenly relax into that touch. He hadn’t realized how tense he had gotten.

“You’re very good with your hands.” He said dumbly as he arched into the touch.

“Thank you.” Came Thunderclash’s deep voice, suddenly very close to him as the big mech leaned over to place gentle kisses on his spoiler.

Rodimus felt his vents fly open as the colorful mech’s wet glossa laved over the thin metal and he had to stifle a very loud moan. It had been some time since they had been this intimate. They had silently agreed that they would briefly abstain from interfacing while they were settling into their new relationship. It had been a little hard for Rodimus since he had such a high interface drive but he had endured. But now, with Thunderclash’s hands and mouth on him, he was definitely having a hard time resisting. And, judging by the way he was acting, so was Thunderclash.

“I admit, I’ve missed touching you like this,” Thunderclash’s voice was husky and low as he spoke, “Would you do me the honor of interfacing with me?”

Rodimus turned a wicked smile on the big mech and moved to wrap his arms around him to pull him into a kiss. He had been hoping that tonight would be the night they decided to become intimate again. He was also relieved he didn’t have to worry about asking the big mech if tonight was appropriate. He just had to worry about the other question he wanted to ask. So he pulled back from the big mech’s lips to shyly look him in the optics.

“Actually, I was thinking tonight that I would spike you instead.” Rodimus said as suavely as he could manage. There was an instantaneous blush on Thunderclash’s face and the big mech smiled that gorgeous smile of his.

“Really? You would like to?” Thunderclash said, kind of bashfully.

“Yeah! If you’re okay with it of course?”

“I would love that—um…” Thunderclash recoiled a bit.

“What? What is it?” Rodimus let his enthusiasm fall slightly, he sensed a ‘but’ coming, “If you don’t want to, I’m totally fine with that!” He said, trying to reassure the bigger mech that he didn’t have to.

“No, I want to, really… It has just been a while since I’ve used my valve.” Thunderclash admitted, staring at his hands.

“That’s all? Wait, how long is a ‘while’?” Rodimus tilted his helm, “Like a few stellar cycles? More?”

“Try a few hundred… Thousand.”

Rodimus couldn’t help the expression on his face as he gaped at the mech in front of him. His optics bulged at the absurdity. They had been at war for a few million years, sure, but just about everyone he knew had gotten in the occasional interface with either array. Even most of the spike mechs he knew had used their valves at least once in a while. Rodimus took in a vent.

“That is a very long while.” He stated the obvious, not sure what else to say. He chewed the inside of his cheek and caught Thunderclash looking crestfallen. That wouldn’t do.

“Hey, it’s not a bad thing, it just strikes me as odd. I feel strange for asking this but, is there a particular reason you didn't use your valve for so long?” Rodimus asked gently.

Thunderclash shook his helm, “Not really, my partners just… expected me to spike them. Even my bigger partners.”

“Huh, I guess being well endowed isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.” Rodimus joked, elbowing Thunders gently in the side. The colorful mech chuckled, which was a win in Rodimus’ book. Then Rodimus blinked and for half a second he realized that he had been doing the exact same thing to Thunderclash that his other partners had been.

“I’m sorry I took so long to ask you this,” He sighed, “I guess I was being selfish again.”

Rodimus absolutely did not squeak as Thunderclash picked him up and held him in a crushing embrace, talented fingers slipping against ticklish seams where his armor flexed his shoulder plating. He gasped and fought against the hold.

“Hey! What gives?” Rodimus said between giggles.

“You keep putting yourself down for no reason and I’m tired of it.” Thunderclash beamed down at him, “You were not being selfish by not thinking about my every need.”

The big mech relented his assault on Rodimus’ ticklish seams and simply held him closer to his face now, “I am glad you asked me though.”

Rodimus gently tucked his fingers into his collar plating and pulled the big mech down for a kiss. He licked his way past Thunderclash’s soft lips, hearing the big mech moan gently as he did.

“Mh, Thunders, if you’re up to try, I would love to spike you now.” Rodimus said with a final kiss to the corner of the big mech’s lips.

“I would love to, my prime.” Thunderclash said, releasing Rodimus so that they both could stand from the couch. Rodimus took his hand and led him gently to the berth room. Once there, Thunderclash stalled for half a klik.

“Where did you get all these?” He asked in reference to the mountain of pillows that made up the head of his berth now. Rodimus’ berth had initially only had about three before but Rodimus had made a special request for this occasion. He may or may not have had this planned for some time.

“Don’t worry about it, now lay back and let me do all the work.” Rodimus said, guiding him to recline gently against the pillows.

“That hardly seems fair.” Thunderclash said as he tried to get comfortable.

“Tonight’s not about fairness, tonight’s about you.” Rodimus said, crawling between his legs and up to place a kiss on Thunderclash’s lips.

The big mech wrapped his arms around him, crushing him against his broad chest. Rodimus relaxed into the embrace, allowing his hands to roam the colorful mech’s chassis at will. His fingers teased the side of Thunderclash’s chest, just under his headlights, bringing forth a rumble from his engines. His other hand trailed down to palm at his panel. Rodimus arched suddenly, gasping as a large hand stroked his spoiler. Thunderclash chuckled deeply and Rodimus couldn’t help but glare at him.

“I couldn’t resist.” Thunderclash said guiltily.

“Don’t worry, I’ll get you back for it.” Rodimus said with a smirk.

He pulled away from the big mech, planting wet kisses on Thunderclash’s neck cables before trailing downwards slowly.  He kissed across his chest, right above his freshly repainted insignia, then down to his waist. He licked the grooves of flexible armor and moved further down until he was kissing his pelvic plating. Before long he was finally fully between Thunderclash’s thighs. He looked up at the big mech who was very red in the face. His fans were already whirring on a high setting which gave Rodimus an intense amount of satisfaction. He hadn’t even gotten to the good part yet.

Rodimus spread the big mech’s legs even further apart, pressing them down to expose the abductor joints of his legs. Rodimus then proceeded to suck on the sensitive metal that he exposed, nibbling gently on the metal rods. He could hear Thunderclash gasping above him and when he looked the colorful mech had a hand over his mouth.

“Ah, ah, none of that. I want to hear you.” Rodimus scolded, “Or am I going to have to tie you down?” Even though he didn’t say anything, the rev of the big mech’s engines told him that he liked that idea. Rodimus made a mental note of that for later.

Thunderclash removed his hand to grip the pillows around him, his optics half-lidded and his teeth were biting into his bottom lip. Rodimus smiled before, while keeping direct eye contact, he licked his glossa right up his valve panel. It retracted with a snap, exposing plush valve folds and a throbbing exterior node. Rodimus wet his lips at the sight.

He bent forward to place a kiss on that gleaming red node where it was nestled in teal and yellow valve folds, before giving a few test strokes with his glossa. Thunderclash’s reaction was immediate, as sharp gasps came from above Rodimus’ helm. That was enough encouragement for him to start eating out the big mech in full earnest, pressing his face against his array with single-minded determination. He licked and sucked on the bright and glowing node before sliding his glossa into his entrance, probing the flexibility of the mesh. He used his hands to gently separate the valve folds as he languidly stroked his glossa back up to the node to swirl it around the gleaming bead.

Thunderclash appeared to enjoy that, as he bucked his hips gently into the sensation. Rodimus repeated the action, forwards and backwards before changing tack to suck directly on the node itself. All the while he gently slipped his fingers inside that sopping wet entrance and began to lightly scissor and stretch. He was tight, evident of it’s lack of use over the years, but the mesh responded well to being relaxed by his fingers. Thunderclash was making a lot of noise now, panting and crying out.

“Rod—Rodimus! I—I—I’m very—I’m close!” Thunderclash was still bucking gently, obviously trying very hard not to clamp his legs around the speedster’s helm.

Rodimus hummed into his work, “Let it come, I wanna taste you when you overload.”

He punctuated his statement by nuzzling against his valve, opening his mouth and letting his glossa sink slowly into the heat of his entrance next to his fingers. He could feel the inner calipers start to cycle down and he pressed into them and pumped his fingers in and out before drawing up one last time to suck on the little ruby node. Thunderclash overloaded with a cry of Rodimus’ designation, a flood of lubricant pouring from his valve. Rodimus lapped at it hungrily, pressing his glossa flat against his array to draw the overload out. When Thunderclash’s chassis relaxed into bliss, and his venting became more even, Rodimus pulled back to his knees.

Rodimus gazed down at his work, taking in the colorful mech that was lounging against plush pillows, so deliciously debauched and venting hard. Rodimus unsubspaced a cloth to clean his face, which he promptly tossed aside as he crawled on top of his lover. He placed gentle kisses on his helm before claiming his lips in a passionate kiss. Their glossa entangled and slid against one another, lost in the taste and feel for a few moments longer. Rodimus was the one to pull away.

“Do you still want to continue?” He said, still dispersing the occasional kiss on the side of Thunderclash’s mouth but allowing the colorful mech some room to answer. He wanted to ask just in case, he knew Thunders didn’t have as high of an interface drive and he might have been too tired after that overload for another.

“Oh yes, please!” Thunderclash said insistently, “You’re doing wonderfully, I don’t want it to stop.”

Rodimus stroked Thunderclash’s thighs and he nuzzled against him, “I was hoping you would say that.”

Rodimus released his spike, feeling it pressurize right up against the swollen folds of Thunderclash’s valve. He heard a whine from from Thunderclash and his arms twitched from their position at his sides, gripping the pillows so tightly there were the beginnings of tears in them.

“You can hold onto me if you’d like,” Rodimus said against Thunders audial, “If it makes you more comfortable.

Thunderclash responded by gently wrapping his hands behind his back, underneath his spoiler, and interlacing his fingers . Rodimus placed one hand on Thunderclash’s chest to hold himself up, while the other lined up his spike with his valve entrance. He pushed inside slowly, feeling each caliper as they stretched to accommodate him. The big mech was extremely warm on the inside, warm and tightly gripping his spike, drawing him further inside. He moaned as he hilted himself, pressing against plush valve folds with his spike housing.

“Oh, Primus, ‘Clash… You feel so good,” Rodimus gave a few shallow test thrusts, “We should do this more often.”

Thunderclash whimpered but smiled, “I would be more than happy to—oooh!”

Rodimus struck up a pace, not hard or fast, just gentle and smooth and deep. He pulled out almost completely every time before sinking back in. His hips moved with an unhurried rhythm, not quite chasing his overload just yet. He simply enjoyed the quiet sighs that came from his partner, they way he clenched down on his spike with the motion of his thrusts. He felt drunk on the charge that zipped between their frames.

Rodimus tilted his head up to lazily kiss Thunderclash. His optics shuttered close and he quickened his pace. He could hear the colorful mech’s cooling fans roaring at full capacity, and he could feel his lips move as they gasped his name. Then a moment of confusion took Rodimus by surprise as he heard the tell-tale sign of a transformation. He opened his optics to a bright light shining below him. He stilled his movements and reared back to look at the source of the illumination.

Rodimus stared down in utter shock at the glittering luster of Thunderclash’s spark, it’s magenta corona filling the room around them. A part of him couldn’t believe he was seeing this mech in his most vulnerable state and another part of him was immediately honored to be so trusted by him. He felt like he was going to melt under the beautiful brilliance of his bared spark.

“I—I’m sorry, I—I didn’t mean to—to…”

Rodimus looked up at Thunderclash, the big mech looked devastated and he felt shame in his field, his arms had dropped from holding the speedster in favor of trying to hide his face.

“I know it—it’s too soon,” Thunderclash looked to be on the verge of tears and Rodimus quickly took his helm in both his hands to pull him into a reassuring kiss, then planting a hand just adjacent to his spark chamber to stroke gently on the parted plates, hoping it would encourage the mech to keep them open.

“We’ve both lived through some pretty tough times, all things considered, so nothing is too soon when you don’t know what’s coming next.” Rodimus said, gazing into Thunderclash’s bright ruby optics.

With that, Rodimus parted his own chest plates, “Thunderclash, if you’ll have me, I would love to share my spark with you.”

Thunderclash looked at him in utter disbelief, “Really? You would?”

“Yes you big oaf, I love you after all.” Rodimus beamed down at him, taking his hands in his own.

Thunderclash glowed brighter than his own spark in that moment. He babbled a little incoherently as tears fell from the sides of his optics and Rodimus wiped them away quickly, taking care to keep their sparks separate until the big mech was ready.

“I love you so much Rodimus—I never thought—Being here with you is the most—I am truly honored—“ Thunderclash began and ended his thoughts quickly as he held onto Rodimus.

“I know, I’m sorry it took me so long.” Rodimus said quietly, “I love you too.”

Rodimus leaned forward until their sparks were nearly touching, tendrils of light reaching for each other as he drew nearer. He made sure to punctuate his movements, keeping watch for any sign of apprehension or discomfort from Thunderclash. The big mech’s field interwove with his own, readying for the merge with the exchange of base emotions. Love, adoration, relief, disbelief, mixed with the smallest amount of nervousness, it was hard to tell what emotion came from who in that moment.

When Thunderclash began pulling him closer, Rodimus caved completely, laying his spark casing directly atop of Thunderclash’s. Rodimus picked his movements back up, thrusting once again into the heat of Thunderclash’s valve. The merge heightened the experience, feeling both the pull and push of his actions.

It was all a blur from there. This time he felt himself chasing his overload, and Thunderclash’s along with him. He didn’t remember initiating the kiss, but suddenly there were lips on his and he could taste his lover. Then he was crying out as he felt valve calipers squeezing his spike, milking him in overload. His own overload was ripped from him, causing him to still as he emptied his transfluid tank.

The bliss had an echo to it. Reverberating through their merge sparks. Rodimus held on tightly to Thunderclash, feeling his spark meshing with an unfamiliar spark for the first time. Every experience they had shared was reinforced and every memory they had together was imprinted. Rodimus could feel the years of pining and devotion this mech had held for him and Rodimus hoped his meager revelation was enough to make up for how he had unintentionally hurt him. Thunderclash’s presence chased away his doubts and fears just as quickly as they came, soothing him into a peaceful state. He was here now, and nothing was going to separate them after this. Rodimus tried to do the same for his big love, giving him all the affection and love he could muster through the bond. Promising to hold onto him for the rest of his functioning. Their fields became perfectly in sync and the bond was finalized, reaching equilibrium and bringing them back to their frames.

It was a long time before either of them moved from their position, Rodimus was holding onto Thunderclash’s helm, their faces only centimeters apart and their forehelms touching. Thunderclash’s arms had wound around his middle, holding him close in a crushing embrace once more. At some point their interface arrays had separated and closed, leaving only a trail of their mingled fluids as a reminder of their previous activity. The room was quiet, save for their cooling fans that tried in vain to stem the heat coming from them.

Finally Rodimus opened his optics. He was momentarily blinded from the light that still emanated between them and he squinted to look down where they were still joined, a ring of light pulsing around their sparks in a figure 8 pattern. He stared in awe at the light, he had heard that such rings were only visible on sparks that achieved a near perfect merge. He felt remorse at pulling away and watching the ring dissipate as their chest plates closed over their respective sparks. He looked into the optics of his new bondmate now, feeling a smile tugging at his lips.

Thunderclash had that sparkle in his optic as he beamed brightly at him, “My love, my little prime, thank you so much.”

“You don’t need to thank me, I wanted to bond to you, I wanted to share my spark.” Rodimus said, smushing Thunderclash’s cheeks, “You don’t need to thank me for something I wanted.”

Rodimus was melting under those red optics though, as Thunderclash’s smile and the happiness in his field was infectious. Exhaustion washed over them both as they rolled to lay on their sides, entangled in the mountain of pillows. Thunderclash kissed him sleepily, not having enough energy to give him much more than chaste pecks to his lips and face. Rodimus didn’t care, he relaxed in his lovers embrace and just reciprocated the kisses as they came.

Then a thought occurred to Rodimus. Something that hadn’t occurred to him in some time.

“Hey, by the way, Drift definitely knows we bonded.”

“What!” Thunderclash exclaimed, reeling back, his optics bulging.

“I didn’t know what it was at the time, but I felt it when Drift bonded to Ratchet the first time, even across the vastness of space. So when they came back I knew like immediately what was going on between them.”

Thunderclash was blushing so hard Rodimus was worried he might pass out. The big mech also had a twinge of fear in his field and Rodimus laughed a little.

“Don’t worry, I won’t let him hurt you. You’re mine now.”

~    ~    ~    ~

Thunderclash was still awake even after Rodimus had long drifted into recharge. His little prime huddled close to his chest. He felt the occasional puff of air over his plating as the speedster vented deeply. He enjoyed the sensation. It was nice having a little tactile reminder that this was real. Rodimus and him were bonded, his little prime had made love to him in every way imaginable, and it was an experience he wasn’t soon going to forget.

As he sat there with his recharging love in his arms, he wondered what would lay ahead for them. Their journey was far from over, they still had a long way to go. But he supposed that it didn’t matter too much as long as they were together, no matter how far it took them from home.

Together, they could take things as far as they wanted.