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Ut Anima Sanetur

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He knew he was not the pretty little mech that he once was. He knew that no one would fall helm over pedes for him while he was like this. The fact was that the solvent pouring from the shower head was hotter than he was. Rodimus could not remember the last time he felt hot, or even warm. Every part of him has simply cooled, bright gold and red to ashened and faded black and blue. In a spiritual sense, he was a different shade. Physically, just the same ol’ Rodimus (with a lot extra adorning his chassis). The depression aged him. The weight had aged him. Being treated like a helpless frame by Mr. Perfect made him feel even older.

He missed the old days when he could flip onto his deck, and land in his seat. Now, if he wanted to even heave himself off his berth the showers seat, he needed air just to expel the uncomfortable heat. It was more than his frame could handle now. It wasn’t completely uncomfortable, right? He didn’t completely feel like every time he managed to leave his HAB that was being stared at, like he was being mocked. All hidden behind soft smiles or with sniggers as he turned his flabby backsides.

He didn’t feel bad! Of course not! The burn in his throat? That was nothing. That pain in his spark and stomach? That was normal! There was nothing to do besides deal with himself. The solvent ran cold, leaving him to fend for his own warmth again. Oh, the burning in his faded optics? Just ash. Ash from his dead friends. Ash from his scrapped ship—his second home. And ash from his first. It was normal, too. The sobs kept him warm as more of his fire poured down his face.

He was glad of one thing: no one would see him like this. He was already an embarrassment enough for straying so far from himself. What good came from a one-time Prime who broke the very relic that bestowed that title, and lied about not being able to open the next Matrix that fell into his servos while a former murder could. He may have been decent at deception, but if he could go back, he would have. But that wasn’t going to happen.

It couldn’t happen. This wasn’t his ship. His Amica was not his to call on—he had done that enough before and could never repay the debt that he owed Drift. And Clash—he didn’t mean what he’s said, Rodimus knew it deep down. He didn’t care about him. He doesn't miss Rodimus. Hell, Rodimus doesn’t miss Rodimus. Why would Mr. Perfect Captain/War Hero want anything to do with him? He didn’t. He only wanted to look like a hero, saving a poor, last mech hanging on to his last rope.

So he stayed there, knowing that even if he did not have a purpose anymore, Rodimus knew that he could at least stay here. The cold solvent froze him. He was trapped in the cold hell that he had created for himself—allowed himself to be trapped in. No one would dare care for a mech that had wrought so much destruction. A mecha that was not responsible enough to have kept his own crew in line.

His servos rubbed up and down his face, wiping away the still falling tears. What was his downfall besides himself? He pressed on his gut when it churned painfully, burning heat rose in his throat, making him hack and choke on his sobs. At least if he threw up, there’d be less of a mess for Thunderclash to have to deal with. Less time to deal with him. The last thing Rodimus would want is pitty from the mech that had been the one to give him a second chance when everyone else had finished their adventure. It was never really done for him. Rodimus only found out the truth that the Knights of Cybertron were not knights at all, just mecha with unrealized identities. He didn’t find anything.

Rodimus should have known better. He deserved this.


Thunderclash was not the best when it came to helping Rodimus or his fragile psyche. He knew of the torment that Rodimus had endured—knew that history behind it—and was ever willing to help but knowing just how was an issue.

He knew the amount of food that he brought the once trim speedster was more than even he could finish off. How Rodimus managed was a surprise, but Thunderclash really thought he was helping him. He really did. Sure, Clash did as asked, brought the food that was asked for, left Rodimus alone even when his thoughts conflicted with what Rodimus was telling him. He knew Rodimus needed more than just a couple boxes of takeout.

Even though he wasn’t as oblivious as he seemed, he knew Rodimus did not care for him, not as a mech. Not even a potential, considerable lover. Thunderclash still cared for him despite this, and he refused to endanger the fragile relationship that they barely had.

He would check on him anyway. It did not matter to him if Rodimus hated him—it hurt—Thunderclash would still devote time to be with Rodimus. His crush on the faded mech was still there, still just as strong as when he first met him, but he would still put it to the side. He thought that maybe one day, just one, that he could get through Rodimus’ thick helm that he didn’t have to be like every other speedster to be cared for. If Clash was known for anything, it was his way of making others remember their purpose. Remind Rodimus that he is more than just a cog in a decrepit machine.

The door was locked, nothing unusual. He fingered in the code and it slid along its rails with no complaint. However, Rodimus not being in the living area was unusual. Thunderclash moved through the room, stepping between piles of empty wrappers to an equally messy but Rodimus-less berthroom. He could only see the two empty boxes he dropped off earlier. It made no sense. Where had he gone? The broken noises from the washroom were enough to lead Clash. His own aged spark quickened. Had Rodimus been hurt? Falling on a slippery floor in his rack and was unconscious? Uncharacteristically driven by the anxious thought, he made a quick beeline toward the sounds.

What he saw was not something that sullied his spark. Never could he ever even imagine see the faded star—his sun—so broken.

Rodimus openly wept under the cold pour of the shower, oblivious to Thunderclash’s presence. All he knew was that he was not wanted by anyone. There were no adventures to go. There was no home to come back to. Why would now, him cold and damp in the shower change anything?

Thunderclash stepped in. Rodimus jumped with a hitch to his venting, even if the prodding field felt tender against his own. The cold that had taken a hold of his body boiled to a pitch. “What are you doing?” His voice warbled as he tried to sound more angry than embarrassed. “Door was locked for a reason,” he wiped his face with a vent clogging sniffle. Rodimus sunk into himself, fact was that Thunderclash had seen him like this. He couldn’t just hide from the warm red optics that held too much care toward a mech that doesn’t deserve it.

“I was checking on you—” Clash stopped at the harsh glow that abruptly came from Rodimus. “—You did not answer your comms.”

“Maybe I didn’t want’o,” he sounded hoarse, barely louder than the still pouring solvent. His plating rattled (for what plating he still wore), wrapping his thick arms around his bare chassis.

“Be that as it may,” the large servos grappled for the nearest towel and remained quiet for a minute as he turned off the faucet. He threw over the dry fabric over Rodimus’ shivering frame. The little vents he let rattle out where raspy. “I would prefer you to be alright.”

Rodimus did not try to mutter something in response, only letting himself go limp into the strong arms. Even if down inside, he was surprised that Thunder’s even tried to hoist him up, the wet, fat mess that he was. But Thunderclash couldn’t help himself with (even in this situation) fantasizing about the plush chassis that was against his. Right now, Rodimus needed something better than him merely thinking about his chassis. He needed something more tender than just to be imagined.

He let his helm fall. Thunderclash’s warmth seemingly chased away the cold that had taken over the sun. More tears slipped down Rodimus’ face, though silently now, was hidden by the yellow and blue chassis. Never would he want to be seen like this, but here he was being carried away, and it was too late to have otherwise. His exhaustion took over his lax frame and the sudden, yet calming warmth of Thunderclash’s field enveloped him. The way that he was held, how his spoiler was caressed, almost protectively. The field wrapped him in kindness, love, warmth allowed Rodimus to let go.

Thunderclash remained quiet, in silent recoil from the sporadic field that him in thick waves. If he hadn’t known that the painful lashes of the strong field were not toward him, the situation would have made hurt worse because it felt like rejection. The fear, hatred, pain was not toward him at all but it hit him like it was. It screamed internal and laid heavily on the surface of the faded golds and dim fire. Clash found himself holding Rodimus just that much tighter, because if he could maybe take some, even if it just a little, if it was that much less Rodimus had to endure alone, Clash would take it for him.

Out of the washroom and merely steps away from Rodimus’ stained berth. The tears had dwindled to quiet wheezes, sniffles. It was then he lifted the damp mass higher up his chassis, careful to make his way through the debris and even more careful to not jostle Rodimus. Stepping around a particularly large pile of wrappings (and Thunder’s could tell what it was from, the other days' sweets that Rodimus had asked for—some chocolate concoction). After properly swerving around the identifiable pile, Rodimus (almost clung to Thunderclash as he) was lowered down to the soft surface. Damp towel clinging to his shoulders.

Thunderclash almost considered leaving him, to give Rodimus his likely desired privacy. But! When a small, shy voice peeped “please, stay,” Clash had to stay. He had to.

“Where do you want me?” Clash asked with uncertainty, however knowing where he would want to be.

“Here,” came a small voice. “Hold me?” Rodimus should have never been able to sound so uncertain of himself. But these were two words that Thunder’s always wanted to hear from the former Captain, however never under these circumstances. This wasn’t the right time and he knew this was not something to rejoice over—Rodimus needed someone to care for him, not just want him.

 

And Thunderclash did, faced the mech that had already curled in on himself and joined him. Lifting the towel and dropping it to the floor, tugging the blanket over the still cold mech. It made his spark swell when Roddy closed his optics and relaxed into his pillows and blankets. Then Clash snuggled up to him, atop the covers but close enough that he could feel Rodimus’ soft, bulging tummy poke him through the blanket, feel his breath on his torso. Only after Roddy shifted toward Clash did he then relax his own (almost embarrassingly stiff) chassis. And with a tired, relieved sigh, Rodimus fall quickly into recharge on Clash’s chest plate.

It was here that Thunderclash of the Exitus vowed that he would never allow Rodimus to feel this way again. At any cost.

Chapter Text

Warm. A sensation he hadn’t felt in ages. But here he lay, curling into the tender feeling that he hoped would stay longer, even if he knew that it would not. Nothing this good lasted long around him. That’s why dreams only last through sleep and never to the waking, devoid of memory yet still baring the feeling etched into the fibers.

The shift on the blanket almost made him slip back to sleep, so the feeling would continue to sew itself to his subconscious. It was warm. A tender comfort that was rare enough now for the faded flame, there were no shortages on cold, restless nights. If only this could stay longer.

He refused to open his optics, for if he had, this feeling would surely leave like all others before. A low beat pounded in his adials, solid on his cheek. A pulse that kept him, calmed him, contented him to being lulled back to sleep. But again, it too would not last, that much he knew. All comfort eventually left him. Everyone left him, hadn’t they? Everyone found their own new adventures to go and explore.

Well, not quite everyone.

He scrunched up his face, cool air wafting across the tight features as the blanket slipped down. Dim light graced his face, showing a young glow to the mech. Something that Thunderclash had not had the privilege to have witnessed in the early days of the war and revolution. It was a shame he could only see this Rodimus, the one who looked so peaceful, after plucking up from the shower floor, from the solvent and tears. Hesitant digits caressed his face, barely enough to be called touch, light—

—but enough to have a set of lapis stare to the servos owner. Vision blurry, melding the bold (and optic-scalding) colors of Thunderclash’s chassis. He murmured something, however with a pillow against Rodimus’ lips, it hid what he may have said.

“Sorry,” Thunderclash had whispered, servo still on Rodimus’ cheek without hesitance. “I didn’t mean to wake you.”

Rodimus did not dignify with another mumble, somehow, Thunderclash though that the soft speedster had squished closer. Scarlet helm pressed to his bright chassis, little golden servos hidden under the blanket secured themselves to his bare chest.

“Is it alright that I stay?” Servo on Rodimus’ face, slipped down to his side, where the bulge of his stomach brushed the soft blanket. He hmmm’ed, surprised that Thunderclash was still there when he woke up. He scarcely thought that Thunders would have stayed as long as he had, in the back of Rodimus’ slowly booting processor was the thought that Thunders would have only stayed until he had first fallen asleep. His spark beat with an urgency to it, this hadn’t been a dream.

“I can go if you want me to,” Thunderclash continued with a hushed voice, bearing understanding in his tone. Rodimus sighed, pressing his nose ridge to the silver nape. I didn’t know he could smell like that, of fresh waxes and mild-sweet engex, Rodimus wordlessly thought as his frame melted further into warm chassis and soft comforter.

“Stay,” said a voice that sounded nothing like the one from the night before, so much more certain, but still so much more hesitant than it should have ever been from such a flame.

“Okay.” Thunderclash allowed his helm to rest on the pillows, too, tentatively pulling from Rodimus’ hip closer, just that if he chose to, he could move away. But he hadn’t. “Thank you.”

Rodimus had to reopen his optics. “What?”

“For not pushing me away.”

He stared now, watching the warmth in Thunderclash’s face grow enough to change his shade. What does he say now? Even Rodimus isn’t sure what he should say, or if he should say anything at all. Apparently, Thunderclash was just as sacrificial of his time and energy as rumors had depicted him—too kind for his own damn good.

“Can’t push everyone away.” Silence enough Rodimus could hear his spark beat in his adials. “Didn’t wanna be alone.” Again.

Thunderclash ogled him, and those optics felt too scrupulous on his chassis. Did he see the stains that had been etched into his face? Or the way his cheeks had bulged out further than Rodimus had them. Knots in his tank formed and felt heavy.

“You don’t have to feel that way. Alone,” he included, hoping that he could have Rodimus believe with even a sliver of his spark that Thunderclash was honest with him, that he could be someone Rodimus could call on. Without fear of malice, rejection, or discomfort, Thunderclash wanted him to be safe—to feel safe with him. “I hope you’ll come to truth me.”

Rodimus scoffed, “You haven’t poisoned my food yet.” He worked his way, with a grunt, to sit up, to look into those bright optics—never mind! Too much contact! Too much! Looking instead to the flame decals on his chest. Words almost came out easily, only his mouth only opened and silence came, making him close his lips and try again. “I trust you.”

“Rodimus—” He did not flinch away from the large servo that had overtaken his own. “—that wasn’t what I meant, not entirely.” His optics narrowed, suspicion clear in his field. Thunderclash was already used to lashing that he could serve from just a flick of his field alone, so much energy compacted into a few waves.

But the suspicion made him freeze. “What did you mean then?” Rodimus had to clear his throat with a hack. “You’re basically holding my hand now. You have… that look in your optics,” he gulped before continuing, shifting again minutely, but not away. “‘Cause of the signals are mixed.”

He held his glossa. Can’t just say something like a crush now. Could he? “Uh,” he had verbalized other sounds with that, since the cogs were a mess in his head and making too much smoke for him to think straight, it was the only saving grace he had for a moment. “Oh.”

“What?” Rodimus piped, sounding like he had once when he was on his own ship, still a captain in his voice.

Thunderclash fumbled with the golden digits for a moment, collecting the words he wanted to say and the ones that could say. He only hoped that his field was still tight to his frame, as to not completely envelop the small (by comparison) mech with emotions that may never be reciprocated. Thunderclash could only allow himself so much room for rejection, but he did not want to ruin what little he had with this flame.

“Uh—” even though prepared enough to know what to say, letting the words fall from his lips was far more complicated. “I want... mmm… yes, I want you to trust me as a friend.” Internally, he was being punched by his own psyche. He friendzoned himself with his crush. “And, with that, I want to be someone you can call on.” Psyche not punching as hard but his spark was trying to lodge itself in his throat and make him fumble on each word from the tremer that filled him. He had to bite his glossa before something a bit too much and a bit too soon came cascading down.

Rodimus, Roddy, looked like had seen a horror show, or that’s what Thunderclash quickly thought. And with a new budding grief, he said, “You don’t have to say anything—” pulling his servo away from the golden flame “—you don’t have to even consider my proposition.”

Then he reached for him. Rodimus reached out for him. And his look changed, it wasn’t the odd, and more frankly, baffled appearance, and kept Thunderclash there. “Hold on, you didn’t even give me a second to think!” He stated quite clearly, wrist tugging slightly on Thunderclash to remain there. Roddy didn’t want him to go. “I mean, the way you said things, it almost sounded like—well… like courting and—”

“I—” he barely interjected, but it was enough to stop Rodimus to listen for a moment. Then he continued.

“Did I assume wrong or what?” He waited for what felt like hours when it was only a mere few seconds. “I mean, what do you see in me? What is there to see?” He almost immediately touched his softened, and expanded chassis, the domed belly that had formed. “I know you are a good mech but I don’t know why you would even want this—” harshly grabbing his chassis and shaking “—even as a friend, something. That’s nothing good to look at.” He sneered down toward himself, face contorted with long lines highlighting the stains from before. “Just a fat, ugly—HMPH!”

Two large digits covered Rodimus’ mouth. “Because I know you have a good spark. Don’t demean yourself because you do not see your worth. Your worth to me will not amount to your looks or your weight.” He took away his digits. “I like you; your spirit, your presence, how you want to help others. I want you, alright? I want you to be alright. You are so much more than your looks, or what you do. You’re worthy of so much and I just want to show you,” he gulped, licked his lips, watching every move Rodimus made. He closed his optics, forcing out what he wouldn’t have been able to tell him with them open, and be able to see Rodimus’ reaction. “And show you how I care about you.”

Please. Let me show you how much.

Chapter Text

Was he being serious? He couldn’t be serious. This wasn’t real, couldn’t be. Venting had gone suddenly shallow, a new burn rose in his throat, incomprehensible tones forming but never completing their meaning. The burn in his optics clouded his vision enough. “You’re serious?” he croaked. “This isn’t some sick joke, right? Or is it?”

“Roddy—” Clash had used his nickname, ever, and he noticed from his spot on the berth “—I don’t know how to make you believe me.” The hurt in his voice made Rodimus’ spark pound against his casing with all the more force. “I won’t lie to you. I do like you.” And this is where Thunderclash regrets his choice of words because they were not strong enough to show his sun, this star wouldn’t yet see how Clash had seen him. And he lost hope when Roddy started to cry again.

“Like me?” He laughed, wiping his face with his arm. “I don’t get it,” blunt, but not as coarse as Roddy would have wanted to sound. Hell, this wasn’t something he wanted to deal with. “You’re Captain Perfect and have a whole fanclub that devote their time to you.” He gulped, catching his vents from the clogs that the coolant had made. “So, I guess what I mean is, like, why are you even bothering? Don’t think I will accept a pity date.”

“I have no pity for you. Sympathy, yes. I know what it feels like to be at my lowest. I know there are times when things are bleak but I never, ever, lost faith in you.”

Roddy scoffed, laying back down, staring at the ceiling. “Yeah, okay. You never lost faith, then why did you side with Getaway’s mutiny?” His field bristled, at the sudden reminder of what had happened on his old ship. How everything had been practically stripped away from his servos and he could do nothing to stop it. “Why would you do that?”

Thunderclash may have been a part of the mutiny but he wasn’t active until he realized what was wrong. And what was wrong was Getaway. He didn’t have much time to really think before his mouth started sputtering things. Things that didn’t help the situation.

“I don’t get you.” He didn’t turn his head, but something made Roddy grow quiet. “Why me?”

“Why not you?” Thunderclash blurted before anything in his mind could have been formed any coherent thoughts before. “You’re sweet, funny—”

“—Yeah! Funny to look at,” his interjection wasn’t as loud as he wanted it to be. But it was heard.

“Hey, I mean it.” Thunders grabbed Roddy’s shoulder, and those optics? Their blue is gorgeous. “I remember one time that you pulled dozens of curly straws together just to spell out ‘valve’.”

“You remember that?” His gaze remained fixed on the rubies staring down. “That was almost the beginning of the mission.”

Big mechs blush the biggest, and man, Clash is wearing a hot shade of pink. He scratches embarrassingly on the back of his neck. “Yeah. I thought it was hilarious. Or the one where you had some bots on one side and some on another and threw pies? I wish I could have joined it.”

“Why didn’t you, since you’re pining for the past?”

“Health. Maybe nervous.” The sapphire optics make him think again. “Got a lot nervous.”

“Why would you, Mr. Perfect, get nervous?” Roddy looked at him unsurprised, unamused.

Thunders responded almost with recoil. “I would not describe me as perfect. But—uh,” the word train left the station and Clash was left behind, trying to find what he was going to say. Why must his CPU be so fickle at such a time!. “I—uh, didn’t want to make tension. The last thing I wanted was for us to fight over something like unwarranted feelings. Or, I thought maybe you would say yes and give us a try and that scared me too.”

The soft mech scrunched up his face, torn between denial and confusion. Yet he still asked in a tender voice, “Why?” Mouths feeling dry, chassises heating from stress.

And for a moment, Rodimus saw Thunderclash bite his lip. The hesitation in his field was plain like ink to a page, but nigh impossible to decipher. He looked again into Rodimus’ pretty optics and found his footing. “I care about your opinion. I didn’t want to intrude on you when it wasn’t appropriate.”

Rodimus smirked, adjusting the blanket to better cover his rotund tummy. “And now is appropriate?” The dim glow of his frame seemed to have glistened, lighting a past that used to be filled with more sarcastic jokes. “I guess. I guess you’re serious,” voice quiet and somehow sounded resigned.

Somehow, Thunderclash’s first response to this was to backtrack. “If I’m overstepping, I can cease.” Yeah, Clash, great way to show your ages long crush that you’re serious. Nice job.

Roddy scrunched up his face, optics drawn tight. “Hey now, you can’t back down from that!” He shifted up, chubby spoilers bouncing up, blanket slipping down and Thunderclash’s optics did similar for a moment too long. “I mean, I guess if you’re the one who is second guessing, then that’s on you. But I won’t be played,” again.

“I’m not going to play you—” Thunderclash spoke suddenly, as if his words had barely gone through his helm. He reached for Rodimus’ bear servos. “You’re the last mech that I want to play.” Clash watched the spoilers flick up and fall to a relaxed angle, the emboldened gaze that could melt into his armour and Clash would thank him for it. It was now that for sure even if Thunders wanted to back out, he would probably never have a chance again.

But the flame did not outright reject Thunders, there was a chance. “Promise?” The look in those optics was unmistakable, a need for this actually be serious, to not just be some pretty thing to show to others. He needed the care that he would have shown to a certain mech, but deep down, he knows that the swordsmech would not want him as he is. And that fact that Clash does, what’s the worst that will happen?

Thunders stroked over the golden knuckles. The only hesitation was the glitch in his voice box. “I promise.” Clash won’t fail his courtship.