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Alternate University

Chapter Text

Usually, Wheeljack wouldn’t even hear the knock. The dorms were always noisy – someone was having a party here, someone else was fucking over there, or having a race in the stairs, or even running illegal experiments in the so-called secrecy of their own rooms. Wheeljack was as guilty of that last part as the rest of them, though he kept it to engineering and not chemistry. No sense in blowing up the place. For all its flaws, the noise, the smell, the chaos, he kind of liked it.

So actually hearing the knock took him by surprise. Noticing that it was almost three in the morning more so – he couldn’t understand how he’d been sitting still and tinkering for over five hours. It was just supposed to be a little bit, before bed.

Who the hell would knock on his door at three in the morning?

He left the door chain on as he opened the door. He liked the place, but it wasn’t always safe.

Outside stood a guy that looked vaguely familiar. He had an eager smile, bright blue eyes, light brown hair that curled around his ears slightly. Wheeljack knew he’d seen him around somewhere.

“Hi,” his visitor said, far too brightly for three in the morning. “I’m Bluestreak, I’m down the hall from you! You’re Wheeljack, right?”

“Yeah,” Wheeljack replied. No sense denying it, considering his name was on the door. At least he knew why the guy looked familiar now.

“Great! Well, I know we don’t know each other, but I’ve seen you around and you seem nice, so I’m taking a chance here and hoping you’re not a serial killer.” Bluestreak looked hopeful, smiling and biting his lower lip. “Can I sleep on your floor tonight?”

Wheeljack blinked. “Can you what now?”

“I know it’s weird,” Bluestreak hurried to say, “but Bumblebee – that’s my roommate – has company tonight and they just woke me up and I get along well with him, I really do, but not enough to live through that in the middle of the night. So I fled, and I’ve been wandering the hallways for an hour hoping they’d be done, only it seems they started over again instead. And I really need some sleep, I have a paper to write tomorrow, and I didn’t know what to do. That’s why I decided to knock on your door.” Bluestreak spoke fast, hardly stopping to take a breath. “I know it’s kind of unexpected, and you can say no, I just – can I sleep on your floor tonight?”

Wheeljack stared for a moment before sighing. This would come back and bite him somehow. “Yeah, okay. Sure. Come on in.” He closed the door enough to get the chain off, then stepped aside to let Bluestreak inside.

“Thank you! Really, thank you so much. You’re a life saver. Wow, is all this stuff yours? You an engineering major or something?”

“Yeah.” Wheeljack closed the door, and after a moment’s thought he reset the chain. Bluestreak didn’t really give out a serial killer vibe. Not that Wheeljack necessarily knew what a serial killer vibe felt like. But he was fairly sure it wasn’t bright eyes and a sweet smile and the cutest butt Wheeljack had seen since he transferred to the university.

He pulled his eyes away from Bluestreak’s body and grabbed a few quilts from the closet. “You can sleep in the chair, if you want. It’s comfy enough.”

“Thanks!” Bluestreak smiled at him, and Wheeljack’s heartbeat sped up.

This could be problematic. But he’d said yes, he couldn’t throw the guy out now, no matter how it messed with Wheeljack’s mind to have that smile aimed at him. Hopefully Bluestreak would fall asleep fast.

Chapter Text

Soundwave wasn’t used to the heat yet. Or the humidity that sometimes hit. And he certainly wasn’t used to the way the rain fell like a vertical wall of water, darkening the sky until it was difficult to see more than a few feet ahead. If he had been used to it, he’d have remembered to bring an umbrella. Or a wetsuit.

In his backpack, Ravage complained. He could barely hear her over the downpour, but he could feel her twisting around in the modified cat carrier. She wasn’t happy contained. But she’d be even less happy contained and wet. Which was why they were stuck under the awning, waiting out the weather.

“Comin’ through!” someone shouted, and Soundwave squinted at the person running full-speed between the slow-moving cars, leaping over the puddles and dodging the water splashing up from passing tires. “’Scuse me!” The figure slid to a stop next to Soundwave, taking shelter against the wall. Soundwave stepped aside slightly – this stranger was dripping.

Not that moving away helped. The person straightened and shook himself like a dog, thin dark braids spattering everything around him with water. The braids fell aside to reveal a handsome face, with brown eyes hidden behind visor-like glasses and an easy smile on pretty lips. Soundwave stared behind his own red-tinted shades.

“Man, what a deluge. Think there’s an Ark comin’ t’ get us?” The man turned towards Soundwave and grinned, holding out a hand. “Name’s Jazz. Sorry for intrudin’ on your little dry spot here, but I’m fairly sure I coulda drowned out in that.”

“Soundwave,” Soundwave replied, taking the wet hand and shaking it.

“Cool.” Jazz smiled. “You a student here too?”

Soundwave nodded. “Communications technology. You?”

“Music, m’ man,” Jazz replied, winking. Soundwave was surprised to see that his glasses weren’t clear, they were tinted blue, almost like pale sunglasses. “Music and instrument makin’. ‘S why I was runnin’, see, I couldn’t let my baby get wet.” He patted the carrier bag slung over one shoulder. “’S not ready yet, and this humidity’s killin’ it. I hope it clears up soon.”

“Rain lasted three hours yesterday,” Soundwave offered.

Jazz groaned. “Ugh, I know. I hope we’re not stuck here that long. I don’t have any money for a cab right now, and I’m not walkin’ home in this.”

From behind Soundwave’s back, Ravage let out a particularly loud yowl. Jazz blinked. “Whatcha got back there?”

“Ravage,” Soundwave replied, taking off his backpack and showed Jazz the cat carrier. “Does not like rain. Or cages.”

“Aw, cute.” Jazz held up a hand towards the carrier, chuckling when Ravage hissed at him. “Yeah, you an’ me both, kitty.” He leaned against the café window, rested one foot on the ledge beneath the glass. “Hey, you think they deliver pizza here? I’m starvin’.”

Soundwave shrugged. “Unsure. Can call them?”

Jazz grinned up at him. “Do that. I’ll go halfsies with ya.” He took out his own phone, texting rapidly before putting it away. “My friend Blaster says he can come get us, but he’s in the studio now, so he’s not gonna be here for another hour and a half at least.”

“Us?” Soundwave asked, confused. He hadn’t thought he was going anywhere.

“Yeah? You don’t live under this awnin’, do ya?” Jazz grinned up at him. “You’re too tall to fit under here unless you’re standin’ completely still.”

“Not too tall,” Soundwave insisted. He knew he towered over a lot of people, but he had friends who were even taller.  It wasn’t as unusual back home. “But, no. Not here. Got caught in the rain.”

Jazz nodded sagely. “Didn’t we all. Well, how ‘bout you call out for that pizza, and I’ll make sure we get you an’ the kitty home an’ dry after?”

Soundwave nodded. “Suitable.” He’d trade food for a ride home if it meant getting Ravage out of the rain. Plus, it wasn’t like Jazz was bad company. Maybe it would even be fun.

Chapter Text

Trailbreaker wasn’t paying attention to where he was going. There was no need – he was just headed from the history building to the science building, he’d walked that way enough that he could probably find the way with his eyes closed. Which was probably why he didn’t notice when the grinning and suggestive winks and somewhat lewd comments started. At one point he just lifted his head to find that the entire group he walked in was a mess of sauntering and posturing.

It took one glance ahead to realize what was going on.

“Look,” Smokescreen said, elbowing him in the side. “Look at them.”

New medical students. Fresh-faced, eager, in lab coats and protective glasses and bright, eager smiles.

“Fresh for the picking,” someone snickered behind him. Trailbreaker sighed in annoyance.

“I suppose there’s no way you won’t make a fool of yourself? Or me?” he asked Smokescreen, shrugging off the overly excitable hand trying to steer him towards the nearest group.

Smokescreen just grinned. “No way at all.” He sauntered over to a gaggle of giggling freshmen, already wearing his trademark smirk.

Trailbreaker sighed and moved to walk around them. He almost walked into the person suddenly standing in his way.

“Hi.” Blue eyes looked up at him from behind a pair of safety glasses. There was a smile back behind the medical mask somewhere, Trailbreaker was fairly sure. “Can I ask you a favor?”

“Um. Sure?” Trailbreaker felt flustered – he was never stopped for this kind of thing, it was always Smokey or Inferno or Skywarp or even Misfire. Of course, it could still be about any one of his friends. Maybe this guy was too shy to ask for their number himself.

“We’re supposed to take someone’s blood pressure for class. Could I try it on you?” He smiled again, the corner of his eyes crinkling.

Trailbreaker glanced at Smokescreen. His friend was surrounded by white lab coats. “Yeah, I guess. It doesn’t hurt, right?” he joked feebly, feeling the blush rising on his cheeks.

“Not if I do it right,” the kid joked back, and Trailbreaker chuckled. “I’m kidding. I’ll have to be really creative for this to hurt at all. It’s a bit uncomfortable, that’s all. I’m First Aid, by the way.”

“Trailbreaker. Nice to meet you.” He let himself be led over to a low stone wall, sitting down where First Aid directed.

“Likewise.” First Aid smiled at him again. “Give me your hand?”

Trailbreaker watched quietly as First Aid strapped the cuff around his arm. There was tightening pressure for a few moments, then First Aid took the cuff back off and wrote down the result on a form.

“Well within the normal range.” First Aid smiled up at him. “Do you mind if I write down your name and phone number? Sometimes the professor double-checks that we’ve actually talked to the people we say we have and not just made up a bunch of readings.”

“No problem.” Trailbreaker rattled off his phone number, watching as First Aid wrote it down meticulously and correctly next to his name. The form was nearly full of names and phone numbers already.

 “Thanks.” First Aid smiled again, and Trailbreaker smiled back on reflex. He had a feeling this guy would make a good doctor.

“No problem.” He glanced up at a slight yell and groaned. “I’ve got to go salvage my friend’s pride. Good luck on your assignment.”

First Aid giggled. “Likewise. Looks like you might need it.”

It took a few moments to sort out the mess Smokescreen had made of things this time and soothe the ruffled feathers of the freshmen he’d come on to too strongly, but eventually they were walking on towards the science building.

“I can’t believe it,” Smokescreen muttered. “All those people and I didn’t even get one phone number.” He shot a slightly frustrated look in Trailbreaker’s direction. “And I bet you didn’t even ask for one.”

Trailbreaker shrugged. “You’d be right. First Aid was professional. He did the measuring and filled out my contact information, that was all.”

Smokescreen stared at him for a moment before snickering. “First Aid, huh? And he wrote down your contact information?”

Trailbreaker eyed him warily. Smokescreen was gleeful, and that was never good. “Yeah? What of it?”

“Oh, nothing.” Smokescreen snickered again. “Only none of mine wrote down anything but my initials. He just asked for your phone number, man.”

Trailbreaker shook his head. “He had a full list of phone numbers. I’m sure that’s not how it is.”

Inside, though, he couldn’t help but hope. It would be nice if that had been what really happened.

Chapter Text

Streetwise blinked. Then he stepped back. “No thanks. Not my thing.”

“Oh, come on,” the other guy slurred. He tried again, and with rather poor coordination, to push the plastic glass of some unidentifiable strong-smelling liquid into Streetwise’s hands. “Don’t be such a wet rag.”

“Knock it off, Air Raid,” someone said. A hand appeared on the drunk guy’s – Air Raid’s - shoulder, pulling him away. “Go bother Slingshot or something.” The speaker stepped around Air Raid, giving him a gentle nudge towards the other room, and grinned towards Streetwise. “Sorry about him. I’d swear he knows better, but that would make me a liar. Hi, I’m Skydive. You’re Streetwise, right? Hot Spot said you’d be here.”

Streetwise took the offered hand, hoping his palms weren’t as sweaty as he feared they were. He hadn’t expected – well, Skydive.

Skydive was tall, easily half a head taller than Streetwise, with jet-black hair hanging down past his shoulders. There were faint waves in it, almost curls, and Streetwise ached to run his hands through it. Green eyes over a straight nose and a downright perfect mouth, a slim, strong build… Streetwise was doomed.

No wonder Hot Spot had insisted he come to this party. He must have known that there was someone here so much Streetwise’s type that it could almost be by design.

He opened his mouth, and for a moment nothing came out. That was embarrassing.

“Hi,” he managed to croak, closing his mouth and swallowing. “Streetwise. Yeah. I’m – that’s me.”

“Good! It’s good to meet you. I’m glad you could make it.” Skydive grinned and turned, pulling Streetwise by the hand to another room. “Hot Spot also said you don’t drink much. I don’t either, so I have some soda if you want?” He let go, and Streetwise felt the loss instantly. He barely caught the unopened bottle Skydive threw at him. “I’m afraid everyone else is… fairly wasted by now. You saw Air Raid.”

Streetwise nodded and followed as Skydive moved back towards the hallway. He couldn’t help staring at the way Skydive’s clothes fit, how the dark green shirt was tight over the shoulders, the jeans riding low just slightly. His mouth felt dry, and he rapidly opened the bottle and took a sip.

Skydive stopped in an open doorway, leaning against the jamb. “Behold the party.” He winked at Streetwise. “I guess when our teams celebrate, they really celebrate, huh?”

Streetwise looked past Skydive’s shoulder. He snorted a very undignified laugh, and felt his cheeks burn even hotter.

Skydive just laughed along with him though. “Yeah, they’re something, aren’t they? I’m sorry for Groove, I don’t know where he found that shirt. It might be Fireflight’s.”

Streetwise laughed. “We should take pictures.”

Skydive’s grin turned evil. “And post them in the hall.” He turned towards Streetwise and knocked their bottles together. “You know, I like the way you think. I’m glad you came.”

Green eyes looked into his own, and Streetwise melted. He had to lock his knees to stay upright. “Me too,” he managed. He couldn’t look away, and he knew he was staring like a moron, but he couldn’t stop.

A shout from inside the room interrupted what was turning into embarrassingly long eye contact. Skydive frowned. “They better not turn that into a fight.”

Streetwise turned to see Blades, hot-headed, proud Blades, shoving at a shorter, angry-looking dark-haired guy. Who shoved back with a growl, and got right into Blades’ face. “Like you could!”

“Like you could stop me,” Blades snarled, grasping the short guy’s arms.

“Slingshot,” Skydive warned, but the short guy didn’t listen. He just growled harder, leaned into Blades’ hold, and Streetwise was sure the first punch would be thrown any minute now.

“Easily,” Slingshot growled. He pulled loose, grabbed Blades by the back of the head, and pulled him down into a kiss.

Blades stiffened, then grinned and pulled Slingshot closer.

Skydive chuckled and turned back towards Streetwise. “Well, that’s one way to resolve tension.”

“I guess.” Streetwise could still feel himself blushing. He stared at Blades and Slingshot to avoid looking at Skydive. He didn’t want Skydive to see what was probably painfully obvious on his face.

He could feel Skydive looking at him, though. It was like heat against the side of his face.

“Hey,” Skydive said suddenly. “Want to ditch these guys and go play a board game? Ever played Spirit Island?”

Streetwise shook his head, and Skydive took his hand again with an excited smile. “Well, come on then. I bet it’s right up your alley.”

Streetwise let himself be tugged along. A game sounded fun, but he was kind of hoping it would take a little while to get to wherever they were playing. Then he could hold on to Skydive’s hand for that much longer.

He curled his fingers around Skydive’s, and let himself imagine.

Chapter Text

Prowl enjoyed the night. It was tranquil and peaceful with almost nobody around – none of the people shoving flyers in his face, no lines for the printers or help desks to push through, no noise from the coffee bar downstairs. At night, the library was quiet.

He moved slowly but efficiently, putting back the books he was done with and picking out the ones he needed next. There was no one there but him, so there was no need to rush. He walked among the shelves of law books and case files, comfortable and happy.

The loud shriek took him by surprise. He almost dropped the books he was carrying as he darted towards the sound.

Apparently, he wasn’t completely alone in the library. There was someone standing at one of the study desks in the central chamber. When Prowl came closer, he could see that the stranger had almost backed into the desk behind him and was staring at the shadows that surrounded the History shelves. He looked scared half out of his wits.

“Are you okay?” Prowl asked, putting his books down on a nearby desk.

The stranger spun around, one hand clapped to his chest. “Whoa! Oh my gods, you scared me half to death! A quarter anyway, I think I was halfway there already.”

Concerned, Prowl walked closer. He wasn’t used to sharing the library at night and didn’t really appreciate the interruption, but it was a public space. And whoever this was, he looked genuinely spooked.

“I’m sorry,” he said diplomatically, walking closer. “Are you okay, though? I heard you cry out.”

The stranger laughed nervously and shook his head. “Think I’ve been here too long. Tired eyes, you know? Thought I saw something, but I must have imagined it.”

Prowl leaned against the desk next to him. “Maybe you should take a break. It’s late.” He glanced down at the desk the stranger had been using. It was covered in notes and tables, all of them color-coded and neatly labelled, even though the handwriting was atrocious. “Running yourself ragged won’t get your paper done any faster.”

“No, I know.” The stranger smiled weakly. “But I can’t afford a poor grade on this one. I’ve been studying for hours and I can’t get it into my head, you know? Which is probably why I thought I saw a ghost.” He winced at his own words. “Should probably have taken a break sooner.”

“You thought you saw a ghost?” Prowl repeated, surprised. He didn’t know what to think about that.

The other man shrugged. “Too much coffee, too little sleep, too long cooped up in the library. Probably.” He nodded towards the stacks again. “I could’ve sworn someone was there, though. Pale, long hair, kind of… walkingthroughtheshelvesinsteadofaroundthem.” The last words came out in a rush, like he was embarrassed.

Prowl fought the urge to stare at him. There were no ghosts in the library. There were no ghosts, period.

Just to prove it to himself, he walked over to the indicated stacks to investigate.

He didn’t expect to find anything. So finding nothing made perfect sense, really. Everything was in order, not a book out of place.

Nothing out of place.

Which, given this was a student library, was weird.

Granted, it was kept in relative order. But never with every book equally far back on the shelf, to a fraction of an inch. Never with all the paper bookmarks stuck at the same height. And absolutely never in complete, perfect alphabetization. There was always at least one book placed wrong.

And wasn’t it very cold all of a sudden?

He turned around, went back to the stranger. “Nothing there now,” he reported, voice calmer than he honestly felt. “You’re probably overworking yourself. You should pack up, get some rest.”

The stranger nodded slowly. “Can’t really stay here now, anyway. Too jittery. Are you staying?”

Prowl made a split-second decision. He had planned to stay for at least another hour, but another glance at the stranger’s books and notes proved he was taking a course that Prowl had already completed. So he could probably help him out a little.

He could come back to the library tomorrow. Probably.

“No,” he replied. “I was on my way out anyway.” A blatant lie, but a harmless one. “I’ve taken this class. Want me to help you out a little?”

The stranger looked extremely grateful. “That would be awesome. Thank you.”

Prowl nodded. “It’s no problem. Just let me get my things.”

He didn’t hurry. He didn’t. He just… walked a little faster. The stranger was tired and it wouldn’t do to let him wait.

Yes. That was it.

Prowl grabbed his things and hurried back. Time to get out of there.

Chapter Text

Sunstreaker took a moment to breathe and collect himself. His sketchbook was held tight under one arm. A few seconds got him as calm as he thought he was going to get, so he pushed the door open and sauntered inside.

The room was empty.

No matter. It was early. He sat down in one of the plusher chairs to wait.

Ten minutes later, he sent off an annoyed message to Sideswipe. ‘There’s no one here. If you made this up I swear I’m going to flay you.’

Sideswipe answered instantly, even though he was probably neck deep in various new concoctions at the brewers’ club by now. ‘Didn’t. Patience, bro.’

Sunstreaker glared at the phone as if it had personally offended him. And waited some more.

Almost fifteen minutes after the thing was supposed to start, and still no one was here. How much patience was he supposed to have? It was patently obvious that this club thing had been canceled. Or he’d been set up. Either was equally possible.

Still, the chair was comfy. And there was an interesting art installation on the wall that caught the light just right…

He was about to open his sketchbook and find his pencils when the door burst open, startling him.

“Sorry I’m late!” The guy hurrying inside was about Sunstreaker’s age, and he looked frazzled. “I swear I got lost, and…” He stopped and looked around in confusion. “There’s no one here?”

Sunstreaker raised an eyebrow at him.

“Well, clearly you’re here,” the other guy amended. “But no one else?”

Sunstreaker shrugged. “Don’t know. Never talked to the ones in charge. My brother pushed me to come.” He tried to look disinterested. “Figure it was probably just a joke.”

“Not if I’m here too.” The other guy dropped into a chair opposite Sunstreaker. “And if that’s the case, both our brothers are morons.”

Sunstreaker’s lip twitched in a small smile. “Might be the case anyway.”

“Might.” The stranger grinned. “Skywarp can be a bit of an ass.” He held out a hand. “I’m Thundercracker.”

“Sunstreaker.” He shook the hand and nodded towards the sketchbook in Thundercracker’s other hand. “So what are you working on?”

Thundercracker blushed. It looked cute on him, and Sunstreaker firmly told himself off. No hitting on the cute strangers. He’d just make a fool out of himself if he tried.

“It’s… This is going to sound crazy ambitious, but it’s a screenplay. I know getting into that business is hard, and yeah, medical dramas are a dime a dozen, but that just means there’s always demand for it, don’t you think?” Thundercracker smiled widely, and Sunstreaker could only watch, dumbfounded. “It’s the first draft,” he continued, “and I’m still working out some kinks in the characterization, so there’s a way to go yet. And I’ve only got five episodes written out. But I’m getting there.” He looked proud and a little embarrassed at once, and Sunstreaker couldn’t stop looking at him. Both because Thundercracker really was ridiculously cute, and because…

“You’re a writer,” he said dumbly.

Thundercracker frowned, a minute tightening of his eyebrows. “Yeah? So what?”

“This – isn’t this an art club?” Sunstreaker asked, feeling more than a little embarrassed himself. “Sideswipe said it was an art club.” Of course Sideswipe had been messing with him. Of course. Sunstreaker had half expected it, even though this was a tad cruel for Sideswipe’s jokes. Maybe Sunstreaker had offended him somehow?

“Skywarp only said it was just my thing, he didn’t say what it was,” Thundercracker said slowly. He glanced at the sketchbook on Sunstreaker’s lap. “You’re an artist?”

“Yeah,” Sunstreaker mumbled. “I thought it was an art club. I should – I should go.”

“Why?” Thundercracker stared at him. “I don’t know what kind of club it is. For all we know, you could be right and I could be wrong. Besides,” he leaned forward, winking, “there’s only the two of us here anyway. So we can make this club into whatever we want, like a creative arts club or something, and if someone else shows up who doesn’t like it, we can throw them out. I mean. If you want.” He smiled, and there was a certain nervous quality about it that strangely enough helped Sunstreaker relax. At least a little.

“But I can’t help you with your screenplay, and you can’t help me with my sketches,” he felt compelled to point out. Not that he wanted Thundercracker to leave, not really. But he needed to get the facts straight, make sure there were no misunderstandings. Make sure Thundercracker wasn’t fooled into staying on the wrong pretenses. “That’s not constructive for you.”

Thundercracker kept smiling. “Well, maybe I need someone to run a sentence past or something. Or you need someone to tell you that things don’t look as crappy as you think. Or I need someone to tell me that things don’t sound as crappy as I think. Or we can lament together about the utter lack of creativity in popular art pieces.”

Sunstreaker snorted a laugh. “Yeah, I’m all for that last one.”

Thundercracker chuckled. “So what are you working on?”

Sunstreaker hesitated. This could go badly, and often did. But he opened the sketch book slowly, showing Thundercracker the first page. “It’s nothing special,” he mumbled. “I just. There’s a fountain.”

“On the oval in front of the administrations building,” Thundercracker agreed. “I recognize it. You know the kids?”

Sunstreaker shook his head, gaze moving to the lightly sketched little girl playing in the splashing water. “They just passed by.”

Thundercracker canted his head, eyes locked on the paper. “Would you mind if I wrote this?”

Sunstreaker stared before shaking his head hurriedly. “No. I mean, yeah, go ahead.”

“Awesome.” Without another word, Thundercracker opened his book and leaned back, pencil flying over the paper. After a moment, Sunstreaker copied him.

After all, the chairs were very comfortable. And the light was still good on that installation. And if he glanced over every now and then to watch Thundercracker absorbed in his writing, and if one page in his sketchbook slowly was covered in pencil lines in the shape of Thundercracker’s face…

Well. He just wouldn’t tell Sideswipe.

Chapter Text

Cliffjumper prided himself on being on time. By the looks of it, he was the only one.

Well, him and one more. There was another student waiting outside the auditorium. He looked aloof, like he was fine waiting there and nothing bothered him, but there was a small twitch in the little finger of the hand cradling the books, a certain flicker to his eyes. He wasn’t as calm as he looked. But when he noticed Cliffjumper looking, that chin rose a faction and he turned his face away.

Well, Cliffjumper could be friendly. Even to newbies who might have more arrogance than politeness.

“Hi.” He nodded toward the books the other guy carried. “Economy and logistics? With professor Magnus? I’m in that class too. Haven’t noticed you before.”

“Yes.” The grip tightened on the books. “I just transferred in.”

He had this accent. Smooth as silk, cultivated, elegant, matching the expensive cut of his clothes. Kind of snobbish. But at least he’d replied.

“Well. Welcome.” Cliffjumper offered a smile. “How’s it going so far?”

“Well enough.” The chin lowered a fraction. “Though it seems the professor’s running late.”

“Nah, Magnus is never late. Aren’t we early?” He checked his watch. “Damn, you’re right. He’s late. And there’s no one here but us.”

The other student pulled up his phone. “No e-mails from him.”

“I was sure he said the Orwell auditorium.” Cliffjumper frowned. “That’s what he wrote on the board last time, wasn’t it? That it had moved to the Orwell auditorium.”

There was an expressive sigh. “Sometimes I miss Harvard.”

Cliffjumper chuckled. “Figured you were Ivy League.”

“Not by choice.” He smiled slightly and held out a hand. “My name is Mirage.”

“I’m Cliffjumper.” He shook the hand, noticing the softness of the fingers. “So, I’m figuring we’re not where we’re supposed to be, and we don’t know where we are supposed to be, and by the time we find out where we should have been, it’ll be too late and class will be over.” He winked. “Want to be study partners? We can try figuring out today’s subject by ourselves?”

“That’s remarkably mature of you.” Mirage grinned back, suddenly looking a lot less like Ivy League and a lot more like someone Cliffjumper wouldn’t have minded picking up at a bar somewhere.

“Well, what can I say? I may look like a punk, but I’m a responsible one.” He bowed extravagantly – acting like a tad of a gentleman couldn’t hurt – and indicated for Mirage to lead the way. “Let’s find a good study room, shall we? I’m sure the best of them are already taken by now, but who knows? We may be lucky.”

“Lead the way.” Mirage nodded haughtily, playing every inch the nobleman. Cliffjumper grinned.

This could be fun.

Chapter Text

Trailbreaker would be the first to admit that he could get completely absorbed in what he was doing when he was studying. Sometimes to the point where he didn’t notice what was going on. He wasn’t as bad as Prowl, but Smokescreen had mocked him for it more than once. Prowl was exempt from the mocking for some reason. Maybe because he was just that good.

So suddenly lifting his head to realize he wasn’t alone in the room anymore wasn’t that surprising. Nor was finding out it had been more than three hours since he sat down.

The sound of swearing and desperate pleading was a bit unexpected, though.

“Come on, you stupid piece of – damn it! Work already! Come on, I’m sorry, just – I need you to – fuck!”

There was something faintly familiar about that voice. He was fairly sure he’d never heard it in such clear frustration, though.

“Hey,” he said, startling the other into turning and staring. “What’s wrong?”

“I – it’s – where you here all along?” The blonde shook his head. “Never mind. It’s the printer – the paper jammed and I took it out, but now it’s shooting error messages at me and I really need the print-outs, and I don’t have time to run and find another printer before class.” He sounded almost close to tears.

“Hey, it’s okay,” Trailbreaker soothed. “Let me take a look? This printer can be a bit fiddly.”

The student smiled and stepped aside. “Thank you. That would be awesome.”

Trailbreaker suddenly realized where he had that voice from. Last time the face had been covered by a surgical mask, but he was fairly sure it was the same person. “You’re First Aid, right? Medical student?” He didn’t really expect First Aid to remember. He’d just been one of many that day, no matter what Smokescreen liked to taunt him with. “You took my blood pressure a week back or so. Outside the medical building?”

First Aid smiled at him. “I’m surprised you recognized me without that mask, Trailbreaker.”

Trailbreaker stared at him. “You remember my name?”

“Yeah.” First Aid actually blushed slightly. “You were nice.”

“Heh. Thanks.” He managed to jimmy loose the stuck paper feeders and restarted the machine. “That should do it. We just got to give it a few minutes to initialize, it always has the need to think a bit extra when this happens.”

First Aid beamed. “That’s awesome! Thanks so much for helping me, I was completely stuck. I contemplated kicking it.”

Trailbreaker chuckled. “Yeah, don’t do that. That’s what Smokescreen did in the first place.” He winked. “Don’t tell anyone.”

“Promise.” First Aid giggled.

Trailbreaker rather liked the sound of First Aid giggling.

Damn it. Smokescreen was going to kick his ass if he messed this one up.

“Hey,” he said, gathering his courage. The worst First Aid could say was no, right? Well, not really – he could quite vividly imagine a lot worse things First Aid could say – but in theory. “Would you want to have coffee with me some time?” He could feel the blush rising on his cheeks. He was almost too nervous to look at First Aid.

“I’d like that.” First Aid sounded as shy as Trailbreaker felt. “I’m free after class today? Does that work?”

“I – yeah, absolutely!” Trailbreaker stared in surprise. Nowhere in his wildest predictions had he expected ‘yes’. “I’m just studying for the rest of the day. Why don’t I give you my number, and you can let me know when you’re free?”

First Aid’s blush intensified. “I kind of already have it. Unless you told me the wrong one.” He took out his phone and typed something out, and a moment later Trailbreaker’s phone vibrated against his thigh.

“You saved my phone number?” Smokescreen had been right. Wow.

First Aid smiled. “As I said. You’re nice.”

The printer chose that moment to spit out First Aid’s pages, and he gathered them up in a hurry. “I have to go to class. Call you later?”

“Yeah.” He raised a hand and waved as First Aid turned around, feeling like a doofus but still doing it. “See you then.”

Only when First Aid had left did he pull out his phone to look at the message. It wasn’t just ‘Hi it’s First Aid’ or something like that, like he had expected.

‘Glad I bumped into you. Been wanting to text you at least a dozen times. My brother was mocking me. Really looking forward to later. First Aid.’

Well, how about that.

Trailbreaker read the message over again before sitting down with his books. He’d need to get this essay done. Though he had the feeling it would be hard to concentrate for once – he kept envisioning bright blue eyes and a happy smile.

Smokescreen would have a fit.

Chapter Text

On the theories of physics was the largest, heaviest book on Starscream’s syllabus. It was the oldest one, the most comprehensive one, the one all the others simplified. It was also the priciest one. Which was why Starscream had decided to forego actually buying it. The library had it, right? He could just borrow it there.

Wrong.

Because On the theories of physics was also the largest, heaviest book in the physics department. The one so heavy that, rather than risk injuries to any poor soul who decided to take it off the shelf, they had placed it on a reading table. Chained to the surface. The only copy.

If Starscream wasn’t slightly grateful that he didn’t have to lug the massive thing around, he’d be more than a little furious with the library for this.

As it was, he was forced to share the book with the others in his class who hadn’t bothered buying it. It took some creative time management, but he finally found a slot where no one else seemed to be needing it. (Cutting Economics was frankly only a bonus, he figured. Magnus taught Economics, and Magnus was the most boring mech in existence.)

So imagine his surprise when his designated time slot suddenly found another student focused on the Theories. A big brute, a head taller than Starscream and twice as wide, looking at the chapter on aerodynamics with a notebook and a ready pencil.

“Excuse me,” Starscream said crisply. “Are you soon finished?”

“Just started,” the brute grunted. “You can wait your turn.”

“This is my turn,” Starscream shot back. “I’m cutting class to work with that book right now.”

“Not my problem.”

Starscream seethed. “Well, why do you need it anyway? I’ve never seen you in any of my physics classes.”

The guy turned towards him and smirked. “Maybe you weren’t paying attention, Starscream.”

Starscream couldn’t not stare. He was one hundred percent certain he’d never seen this guy in class. He wouldn’t have been able to focus on anyone else if he did.

Hell, he could see the guy’s pecs twitching from here.

“Well, hurry up,” he mumbled. “I have references to check.” He frowned, suddenly realizing. “How do you know my name?”

“You’re the prodigy. Of course I know your name.” His voice was low, rumbly, and Starscream admired the ripple of muscle across his back as he turned back to the book.

That just wouldn’t do. Granted, the guy had a great backside. But Starscream wanted – needed - him to focus on him, damnit, not on the book. Also, he needed the book for himself.

“You have me at a disadvantage, then,” he purred, stepping closer. “And I did notice you’re working on the chapter I wanted to look up. Mind if I look alongside you?”

He was treated to another one of those back-rippling turns and a raised eyebrow behind visor-like sunglasses. “I’m Grimlock. And I seriously doubt you’re here to read about aerodynamics.” He huffed a laugh. “You probably know this chapter by heart already.”

“Well, yes,” Starscream replied, stating an obvious fact. “That doesn’t mean I don’t need to double-check my references.” He stepped closer, into Grimlock’s shadow, and ducked under his arm to stand in front of him. Being bold had its uses. “Besides, you’re so big, you can just read over my shoulder.”

Grimlock chuckled, making every tiny hair on Starscream’s body stand up. He could feel Grimlock’s breath on his neck.

He had not thought this through.

To distract himself, he glanced down at Grimlock’s notebooks, trying to discern what he was working on. He was surprised to see the writing look familiar. “Hang on. You’re that TA whose notes everyone keeps copying, aren’t you?”

“Told you you weren’t paying attention.” Grimlock laughed as he leaned forward, both hands resting on the table and effortlessly caging Starscream. The noise did very interesting things to Starscream’s internals.

Well, this wouldn’t do.

He turned around, positioning himself perfectly between Grimlock’s arms. “That just confirms my suspicions that you do not need to read aerodynamics,” he purred, letting one hand rest on Grimlock’s chest. “So you might as well let me have the book.”

“Nice try.” Grimlock grinned. “Turn around, Starscream. I’ll read over your shoulder.” He made no effort to move away or shift his arms aside.

Starscream smiled as he complied. This could yet become interesting.

Chapter Text

Somehow, the last week before break was always intensely hectic. Everyone had a deadline, an essay or a project due or something. It was a horrible time for his computer to crash. At least Silverbolt had only had to wait for twenty minutes for a free spot in the computer labs this time.

The sound of fingers frantically typing and the occasional sigh and muttered swear surrounded him. It was almost calming, if he treated it as background noise. It had nothing to do with him.

He reached to insert his USB drive, only to find that someone else’s USB drive was already slotted into the computer.

It was a plain grey one, of the type they sold in the bookstore on campus. It had no nametag on it, nothing that would let Silverbolt track it back to its owner, and he felt a brief pang of sympathy for whoever had lost their work in the middle of a deadline period. He’d hand it over to the lost-and-found afterward.

He moved the mouse, and the computer hummed to life in front of him. With a window still open to show the folders stored on the USB drive.

Silverbolt leaned forward in interest. It looked like the mystery student had taken a bunch of the classes Silverbolt was taking now, and had moved on to more advanced stuff. He clicked on the most recent folder, Advanced Physics, and found a handful of files inside. The first one yielded a title page with the student’s name on it.

Skyfire. Well, he could work with that.

The students’ comm registry yielded only one result on that name, and Silverbolt took out his phone.

‘Hi. Is this Skyfire? I just found a USB drive in the computer lab in C building with a bunch of files on it, is it yours?’

The response came only a few seconds after he’d pushed send.

‘Oh, thank god. Yes, it is – if there are fourteen folders on it, the oldest one called ‘Fluid mechanics’ and the newest one called ‘Advanced physics’. I thought it was gone. Can we meet up somewhere?’

Silverbolt grinned. Looked like he’d saved someone’s day. ‘Absolutely. I’m still at the C lab, are you nearby?’

‘I’ll meet you at the coffee shop around the corner? You can’t miss me. I’m the tall one.’

Silverbolt pursed his lips a bit. He’d have to leave the computer, which meant waiting in line again, but maybe he could badger Skydive to let him use his computer. He really didn’t have much left to do. It would be worth it, especially since this Skyfire seemed to have taken a lot of the classes Silverbolt was planning to take. That was a contact worth having.

‘Sure :) Be right there.’

He packed his things back up and closed up Skyfire’s files, tucking the USB into his pocket, and headed back out.

Turning the corner of the building, he spotted who had to be Skyfire instantly. Either that, or there were more than one student at the coffee shop who were near seven feet tall. Silverbolt was fairly tall as well, a head taller than the rest of his team, but this guy had half a head on him at least.

“Skyfire?” He held up a hand and waved as the tall man turned around. “Hi. I’ve got your USB drive here.”

“You have no idea how grateful I am for that.” Skyfire smiled and held out a hand for Silverbolt to drop the drive into. “I’d have had to redo three assignments if you hadn’t found it. There’s a lesson to be learned from this about eggs and baskets, I guess.”

“No problem.” Silverbolt found himself returning the smile easily. Skyfire had a kind look about him. “I have to admit, I had ulterior motives. I looked at your folders to figure out who you are, and you’re taking a lot of the same classes I’m planning on. Figured it wouldn’t hurt to make contact.”

Skyfire chuckled. “Still appreciate it. And considering that, can I buy you a coffee or something? As thanks?”

Silverbolt never said no to coffee. Or pleasant company. “Sure, yeah. I can go for that.” He held out a hand. “I’m Silverbolt.”

“It’s nice to meet you.” Skyfire’s grip was warm and firm, his fingers longer than Silverbolt’s and just marginally thicker. He grinned. “Come on. My treat to whatever you want.”

“Awesome.” Silverbolt grinned. Looked like losing his computer time had been worth it.

Chapter Text

Cliffjumper grinned as he spotted the familiar back waiting by the end counter. He took a moment to admire the way the jeans hugged that ass before sauntering up.

“I thought I was the only one who liked the waffle station.” He didn’t bother with hello. He never did.

“Well, maybe you’ve convinced me.” Mirage raised his chin in what Cliffjumper now recognized as an act. “Though I have to admit, I can see why no one else likes it. The cleanliness here is appalling.”

Cliffjumper shrugged, eyeing the mess the waffle station tended to turn into. “Well, yeah. You gotta look pass that.” He reached out and grabbed the bowl of batter and a clean teaspoon. “Also, you gotta fix the batter. They never make it quite right.” He winked at Mirage. “Want to see the waffle master in action?”

“If it means tasting anything like the ones you brought last time? Absolutely.” Mirage stepped aside. “Blow me away.”

Cliffjumper grinned again and rubbed his hands together. “Alright. Stand back.”

He dipped the tip of the spoon into the batter, scooping up enough to get a taste. “Nope. Won’t do. Luckily, I can fix that.” He dug into his back, pulling out a small bowl and a zipped bag. “Now, any idiot can put cinnamon in waffle batter. Or cardamom. Nutmeg. Cocoa. Heck, even raisins or fruit, pureed if you’re a purist and jam if you’re lazy. Today,” he held up a small yellow bottle, “we’re making lemon waffles.”

He poured some of the batter into his own bowl and dribbled some of the lemon juice into it. “Now, we could have added coconut as well. But with how much sugar they’ve put in the batter today, coconut might push it a bit far.” He stirred it all together with a spoon. “Dark chocolate shavings instead of lemon could have worked too, to balance the sweetness. But we’ll save that for the topping.” He opened the double waffle iron, making sure it was greased up before depositing the perfect amount of batter in the center of each plate. He’d made enough for four waffles or so, which was decent. Maybe he’d make some more if Mirage wanted some.

He closed the iron and turned to Mirage. “Ta-da! Now we wait until it stops steaming.”

Mirage stared at him. “You’re pretty good at this.”

“I aim to impress.” Cliffjumper set out two plates and tidied up his baking gear, stacking them away in the bag. “Also, life’s too short to make bad waffles.”

Mirage laughed, loudly and freely, and Cliffjumper beamed up at him. Success.

“Well, I’m glad you’re sharing your wisdom.” Mirage nodded to the waffle iron. “Think they’re done?”

“Think so.” He opened the iron and plucked out the two waffles before pouring the rest of the batter on. One waffle went on each plate, and he picked them up and nudged Mirage towards the closest table. “Sit with me?”

“I couldn’t possibly say no to that.” Mirage sat down elegantly, smiling at him. “You’ve made me waffles.”

“Not done yet.” Cliffjumper put the plates down and opened his bag again. “The topping is important too.”

Each waffle got a stripe of whipped cream – “proper whipped cream is better, but this in-a-can stuff keeps longer” – alongside a dash of strawberry puree, because Cliffjumper was a purist. He topped the whole thing with dark chocolate shavings and folded the waffle, repeating the process until he had made a miniature waffle layer cake. Only then did he present Mirage with a clean knife and fork. “Enjoy.”

Mirage stared again, from Cliffjumper to the waffle cake and back. “Goodness.”

Cliffjumper chuckled. “You can eat it, you know. Here.” He picked up the knife and fork and cut into the waffle, making the slice small enough for Mirage to eat easily. It was a bit of a gamble, lifting the fork to Mirage’s mouth, but it paid off.

Mirage opened his mouth and took the slice of waffle. A small droplet of melted chocolate and cream stuck to the corner of his mouth. He looked delectable, and the moan he let out at the taste of Cliffjumper’s waffle creation made a shiver run down Cliffjumper’s back.

“Good?” he said quietly. Taking another chance, he touched his thumb to the corner of Mirage’s mouth, wiping away the cream.

Mirage looked up at him through half-closed eyes. “Divine. I’ve half a mind to keep you around to make waffles for me until I tire of them.”

Cliffjumper smiled, a proper smile this time. “I can vary waffles until you never tire of them.”

“Sounds amazing.” Mirage took the knife and fork, cutting another small slice. “Sit and eat with me?”

“Gladly.” Very gladly, actually. This seduction-by-waffles thing was going much better than Cliffjumper had thought. “Just got to get the other two waffles first, so they don’t burn.”

“Wait.” Mirage scooped up a part of the waffle with his fingers. Then he raised a hand to press it against Cliffjumper’s mouth.

Now it was Cliffjumper’s turn to stare. Mirage’s fingers were soft against his lips.

“You should have some too,” Mirage said, almost shyly, and how could Cliffjumper resist that? He opened his mouth, letting Mirage feed him, noticing how he rested his fingers against Cliffjumper’s lips for a bit longer than necessary. He felt rooted to the spot until Mirage pulled his hands away. He couldn’t even taste the waffle.

“There.” Mirage sounded happy. “Now go get the other waffles.”

“Yes, Mirage.” He felt almost shaky as he obeyed.

Next time, he’d definitely make strawberry waffles. With dark chocolate syrup or something. That would be good for handfeeding, too.

Chapter Text

Starscream, Grimlock thought, was gorgeous. Especially when he was concentrating on something. His pale, almost white hair would be tied back into a messy ponytail, there would be a faint frown on his face – eyebrows slightly scrunched, sharp eyes focused on the books in front of him, sometimes teeth biting down on his lower lip. And he’d be leaning forward, which showed off his back perfectly.

Grimlock would admit that he was slightly captivated. Starscream was slim, but he was all long lean muscle, which made him a lot stronger than he looked. He had a slight point to his ears, which made him look ethereal, and his fingers were long and dexterous and – well.

Yes. Grimlock was taken with Starscream.

Which could be problematic. Because Starscream was currently studying in the corner mezzanine of the library. The one with the screened windows. And the large table. The one that could easily fit a study group of eight. And Starscream, as usual, had covered the entire surface with books and notes and diagrams, leaving no room for anyone else. And even if there had been room anywhere else, Grimlock was drawn to this corner. To – well, to Starscream.

There was nothing for it, Grimlock supposed. Starscream was sneaky, he’d finagle his way around every telling-off (or screech at someone until they gave up), and somehow he’d utterly charmed the librarians as well. The only one willing to go head to head with the man (in all meanings of the phrase, if he got the chance) was Grimlock.

And, truthfully, he kind of enjoyed that.

Even if he knew he had to be more steadfast than he honestly felt he was capable of to get Starscream to move. If Star had known how far he could push Grimlock… Well, it was probably just as good that he didn’t.

“Starscream.” He used the rumbly voice, the one who almost always made Starscream shiver slightly. “You’re taking up all the space.”

The infuriating brat just grinned up at him. “Then you should have gotten here sooner.”

“Please.” Grimlock dropped his pack into one of the free chairs. “Like you haven’t been here since the crack of dawn.”

“Well, you know what they say about the early bird.” Starscream pushed one book aside and pulled another closer.

“That he’s an annoying menace?” Grimlock countered, relishing in the snorting giggle it resulted in. “Seriously, Star, make some room.”

“Or what?” Starscream purred, and damn if that sound didn’t do funny things to Grimlock’s internals.

Grimlock moved to stand behind him. “Or this,” he rumbled, putting both hands on Starscream’s hips and hoisting him off the ground. Starscream squeaked as he was bodily moved aside (and even that was adorable, crap, Grimlock was so far gone).

“That doesn’t get you any more table space,” Starscream grumbled, a pretty pout on his face that Grimlock tried hard not to let affect him.

He glanced over the material Starscream had spread over the table. As he’d suspected, most of it was only there for show.

“You finished this thermodynamics course months ago,” he commented, pushing one book aside. “And… fluid mechanics? Applied mathematics? Star, really. You could do these calculations in your sleep.” He purposefully dropped his voice into that lower register again as he turned back to Star. “Come on. Make some space for me.”

Starscream blustered for a moment before throwing his hands up in the air. “Fine. But just for you.” The disgruntled look morphed into a mischievous grin. “And you owe me a favor for this.”

“Oh, really? And what might the great Starscream want?” Grimlock purred, leaning in closer. He placed one hand on either side of Starscream’s hips, like he had the first time they’d met in the library. It had worked really well then, it could hopefully work just as well now. Sure enough, Starscream leaned back until he was almost sitting on the edge of the table and smirked up at Grimlock.

“I’m sure I can come up with something,” Starscream replied, stretching slightly to show off. Grimlock’s mouth went dry. “Considering I can’t really work off your notes anymore. So we should come to a different agreement.”

His fingers traveled up Grimlock’s chest (long, slender fingers, perfect for – well) to his chin. Starscream took hold of Grimlock’s jaw and tilted his head down.

“You know, you’re seriously tall,” he murmured. “Which means you will have to help me out a bit here.”

Grimlock quirked an eyebrow at him. He moved his hands back to Starscream’s hips, lifting him up until he was seated on top of the pile of physics books on the table.

“See, there’s the strength that I get all weak over,” Starscream breathed. “And now you’re just the perfect height.”

Starscream’s lips suddenly on his own shouldn’t exactly have been a surprise. They’d been dancing around each other for weeks. But it was a shock, one that traveled down Grimlock’s back and forced him to lock his knees to even keep standing. Starscream kissed really well (Grimlock forcefully suppressed the brief flash of jealousy that thought caused), and Grimlock was almost too flustered to return the favor.

But he caught on fast. When Starscream finally broke the kiss, he was panting, fingers tight on Grimlock’s shoulders.

“We can share the table,” he managed, and it was almost a whine. “For whatever you want.”

That was a dirtier mind than Grimlock had anticipated. Then again, this was Starscream. Nothing much should be surprising at this point. “I’m not having sex with you on top of a table in the library where all and sunder can walk past and see us.” He mouthed Starscream’s jaw, his neck, pushed the white shirt aside with his nose so he could get at the pale skin of Starscream’s shoulder.

“There’s no one here.” Starscream pulled himself closer. “But if you’re worried about an audience, there’s a secluded little nook back among the law texts that no one ever uses.”

Grimlock wasn’t an exhibitionist. But he didn’t really mind showing his body off, either. And besides, he figured Starscream was probably worth it. It wasn’t like Grimlock hadn’t fantasized about this, after all. “Lead the way.”

Chapter Text

Streetwise counted himself lucky he’d met Skydive.

Not just because Skydive was insanely gorgeous. And kind. And sweet. And tolerant, and gentle, and intelligent, and basically all the things that floated Streetwise’s boat. All those things were great. But to top it off, Skydive was a good study buddy. He was the type who could sit quietly opposite Streetwise at a table in the library and just study, without grumbling or talking to himself or complaining, or filling the table with more books than he could possibly use in a single session (yes, looking at you, First Aid). He let Streetwise study in peace, and was comfortable company.

Sometimes they looked up at the same time and smiled at each other.

Okay, so Streetwise was completely smitten. At least he’d gotten to the point where he managed to act almost normally around Skydive.

The library was usually quiet at this time of day. Most students prioritized sleep or breakfast or the odd class over studying early in the morning. Streetwise enjoyed it. One of the perks of not partying the evenings away was that he was actually productive in the mornings.

Skydive was as well. Another thing they had in common. Streetwise glanced at Skydive just as the other lifted his head, and they smiled at each other.

A low, drawn-out sound coming from deeper in the law stacks shattered the moment.

Skydive’s eyebrows climbed. “Was that…” He spoke quietly, almost a whisper, like speaking too loudly would make things too awkward.

The sound came again, and Streetwise found himself blushing. “That’s – um.”

“Someone moaning,” Skydive finished for him. He smiled, but there was a definite red tint to his cheeks. “Guess we’re not the only ones here early.”

The moan came again, shorter and sharper, and Streetwise would rather be anywhere else than here, even with Skydive present. It wasn’t that he minded people having sex – he lived in a dorm where he shared a kitchen with four other guys, one of whom was Blades for goodness’ sake, he overheard more than he bothered thinking about. He’d learned to sleep with earplugs a while back. But there was something about it being here, in public, with Skydive sitting right there across from him, that made Streetwise squirm in his seat.

And unfortunately for him, he was perfectly placed to see when one of the stacks a few rows back began trembling as it was jostled. In a deep, even rhythm.

The moaning intensified. And now there was another voice as well, a deep rumble that sounded almost dangerous.

Skydive giggled silently. The tips of his ears were red. “I guess they don’t need to study that hard.”

Streetwise wished he could giggle as well. But the situation was making him uncomfortable. And part of him – a fairly large part of him – was worried that Skydive would notice and call him a prude. It wouldn’t be the first time someone had, and Streetwise figured it may be somewhat deserved, but that didn’t mean he liked hearing it. Especially not from his crush.

The sounds intensified, building in a crescendo until the owner of the lighter voice keened loudly. The echoing groan had Streetwise hiding his face in his hands. He could feel how red he was.

“Think they’re done?” Skydive whispered.

Streetwise sincerely hoped so. But there was no reason he should be that lucky. And sure enough, a moment later the moans began again.

“First Aid always says males our age have short refractory periods,” he mumbled into his hands. “Guess that’s true.”

A hand took his, tugging it away from his face. “Come on. Let’s get out of here.”

Streetwise looked up in surprise. Somehow Skydive had packed down all their things without Streetwise noticing, and now he stood there with one hand holding Streetwise’s and both their bags in the other.

“Really?” He didn’t hesitate, though. If he never had to hear that moaning again that was fine by him. So he let Skydive pull him to his feet and lead him out of there.

Only when they were back outside in the morning sunlight did he notice they were still holding hands. His fingers twitched in surprise, but Skydive didn’t let go. So Streetwise decided to ignore it for now.

“I’m sorry about that,” he tried. He was still embarrassed, cheeks still flaming, but Skydive just smiled at him.

“Don’t worry. I could tell it was making you uncomfortable. Besides, listening to strangers banging in public spaces isn’t my favorite pastime either.” His fingers tightened on Streetwise’s for a moment. “There’s a coffee shop up here that makes the best donuts I’ve ever tasted. Want some?”

“Sure.” Streetwise offered a small smile. Maybe this study session could be salvaged after all. Far be it from him to protest if it somehow turned into a date. “I’d like that.”

Skydive grinned at him, and Streetwise melted. His fingers moved without his input, intertwining with Skydive’s.

Skydive didn’t pull his hand away.

Maybe things were good after all.

Chapter Text

Mirage lay quietly, watching the blood flow from his own arm and into the bag. It was almost soothing, especially combined with the moderate quiet of the inside of the donation van. And most especially compared to being in class.

He wasn’t feeling like attending that particular class today.

A familiar voice dragged him from his almost-meditation. Someone was chuckling, making light of something, thanking one of the nurses there. Reluctantly, Mirage looked away from the slowly filling bag of blood to see who was there.

Cliffjumper. Settling on the bed diagonally across from Mirage.

He was smiling easily at the nurse. Everything Cliffjumper did, he did easily. Smiling. Laughing. Making friends. Talking. All the things Mirage had trouble with.

Every other time they’d interacted, Cliffjumper had been the one to make the first move. Mirage wasn’t sure if he just hadn’t seen him now, or if he simply didn’t want to talk to him today. Either was possible – one probably more so than the other, but Mirage couldn’t seem to agree with himself which one that was.

In the end, he decided to take the chance. The worst Cliffjumper could do to him here would be to snub him, after all.

“Hi,” he said shyly.

Cliffjumper looked up, and a smile burst across his face. “Mirage! Didn’t see you there!” He turned to the nurse. “Hey, can I take the other bed? That’s my friend over there.”

Those words were enough to make Mirage relax again. And feel all warm inside.

“Of course.” The nurse smiled. “You get settled while I set up.”

Cliffjumper sat down on the bed closest to Mirage. “It’s good to see you. I’d expected you to be in class by now. The ideology of justice? With professor Tarn? I know I was supposed to be there.”

Mirage shuddered. “Yes. I… was supposed to be there.”

Cliffjumper lay down, giving the nurse his arm. He kept looking at Mirage. “Don’t agree with the guy, huh? Don’t blame you.”

“He makes me very uncomfortable,” Mirage admitted. “It’s not that he does anything. It’s the way he looks at me. Like he can see right through me and dig out my deepest darkest secrets with a word.”

“Plus, he keeps ogling your ass,” Cliffjumper supplied helpfully, grinning as the nurse snorted. Mirage just stared at him. “You haven’t noticed? He’s always staring at you.”

“Well, thanks.” Mirage shivered again. “Now I feel even more uncomfortable going to his class.”

“Then I’m glad you didn’t go.” Cliffjumper nodded at the nurse’s final instructions and kept still, bright blue eyes locked on Mirage. “The guy’s a creep. And for the record, I don’t think anyone else has the right to ogle your ass.”

There was something strange about that phrase. Mirage wasn’t quite sure how to reply.

Also, he couldn’t look away from Cliffjumper’s eyes. He felt like a deer in headlights.

Cliffjumper smiled at him. It wasn’t his usual cocky grin, the one that almost made him seem taller than Mirage instead of slightly shorter. Instead, it was a small, warm expression, one that drew Mirage in.

“I..” he began, not at all knowing what to say.

“I’d like to keep the prerogative of ogling your ass to myself,” Cliffjumper said softly. “If you agree to that.”

Mirage was glad he was already lying down. He felt lightheaded, much more than the blood leaking out of his arm could be responsible for.

“Prerogative is a big word,” he replied, which was the worst response known to mankind, God what was he doing, but Cliffjumper just kept smiling.

“Maybe you’re rubbing off on me.” He winked. “So what do you say? Want to blow off the rest of Tarn’s lecture as well, and go get lunch with me?”

“Yes,” Mirage said. He didn’t need to think about this one, or about smiling back. “Yes to all of it. Will you make me waffles?”

Cliffjumper burst out laughing. The nurse glanced at them from the front of the van. “Yeah, sure, babe. Absolutely. As many as you want for as long as you like.”

Mirage smiled wider, wider than he could remember smiling in a long time. “I may hold you to that.”

Cliffjumper didn’t stop smiling back at him. And it made everything right.

Chapter Text

Ratchet hated work collabs. Even at postgrad level, his partners were immature and unintelligent and more likely to fuck up everything than to actually contribute anything of worth to whatever project they were working on. So being told that his nice, moderately interesting, sure to be time-consuming skin graft project had turned into a collaboration with some new guy he’d never even met wasn’t exactly making him happy.

At least they’d gotten the good lab for this one. So hopefully the equipment wouldn’t break down on them mid-work.

His first impression of his new work partner was, admittedly, better than he’d feared. The room wasn’t in a mess already, for one. There wasn’t leftover pizza on top of the samples. The guy was even wearing proper safety equipment. And he was handling the electron microscope like he actually knew what he was doing.

Could it be that he’d actually been paired up with someone capable for once?

“Hi,” he said, putting his bag down on the closest chair. “You’re Perceptor?”

“Oh!” The assumed Perceptor straightened, a flustered smile on his face. “Yes, I am! You are Ratchet, I presume? I hope you don’t mind, I took the liberty of setting up the samples and test conditions for the first experiment. You may look it over if you wish.”

Ratchet nodded. Perceptor may be more capable than he was used to, but he still would double-check everything the other scientist did. And if Perceptor was any kind of decent at his job, he’d do the same to Ratchet’s work.

Surprisingly enough, it all seemed to be in order. And stayed that way, too. Perceptor was meticulous, thorough, clearly intelligent, and easy to work with on top. It was almost weird.

He’d never finished a day’s work alongside another on such a high note. The project was still in the early stages, but he had hopes that this one wouldn’t be all horrible.

“I’m very satisfied with today’s work,” Perceptor said brightly. “The results are promising. I must say, it is very pleasant to work with someone with skill and intelligence for once.”

Ratchet snorted a laugh. “Funny. I’ve been thinking the same thing.”

“This may be presumptuous of me, but I’m new here.” Perceptor pushed his spectacles higher up on his nose. “And I find myself in lack of any form of civilized company. Would you join me for dinner? And maybe suggest an adequate restaurant?”

Ratchet almost chuckled again. He’d never been called civilized company in his life. “Food would be good. There’s a great little place just across the park, they have the best pizza I’ve had to date. That sound okay?”

“Very good.” Perceptor took off his lab coat and picked up a messenger bag. “Shall we?”

 

Hanging out with Perceptor felt very natural. He really was very intelligent, and he didn’t back down easily, which made him an excellent conversation partner. Ratchet actually enjoyed himself through the walk, and the meal, and the drinks after. And yes, maybe there had been a few more drinks than he’d intended.

“You know,” Perceptor giggled, “if we get the cellular composition right, we could graft – heh – we could graft anything onto anybody!”

“Like lizard skin?” Ratchet smiled at the shorter scientist. Perceptor’s eyes were bright – when weren’t they – and his skin slightly flushed, and he eagerly gesticulated as he talked. He was adorable.

And Ratchet did not just think that.

“Yes! Reptilian dermis layers could add to the cellular reconstruction, letting the skin heal itself!” Perceptor giggled again, veering slightly of course and into Ratchet. He’d had a drink too many too. “Plus, the effect would be really cool!”

Ratchet had to laugh at that. “Okay. I think that’s a hint that it’s time to get the both of us back to our beds. We have more work to do tomorrow.”

Perceptor pouted, and Ratchet was in so much trouble. “You don’t like snakeskin?”

Ratchet bit down a number of inappropriate responses – ‘I’d love it on you’ and ‘I’d listen to you talk about snakeskin all night’ two of them – and just smiled. “I think we’re likely to make mistakes tomorrow if we don’t sleep well tonight.”

“Oh, alright.” Perceptor beamed up at him again. “I shall hail a cab, and we shall see each other at the lab tomorrow. Acceptable?”

“Acceptable.” Ratchet patted his shoulder. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“I look forward to it.” Ratchet waved as Perceptor got into the closest cab, and stood there until it was long gone.

He was in so much trouble.

Chapter Text

Staying up until 3AM really needed to stop being a habit. And it would, as soon as Wheeljack was done with this project. It would. Really.

At least it was somewhat working. For a given value of ‘working’. For now. It had taken all evening, but the welded connection was holding. Which was as good a reason as any to call it a night.

He’d managed to get to bed, crawl under the covers, and close his eyes before the beeping began.

It was faint, like it was coming from another room, but it was insistent. Continuous. The kind that burrowed into his brain stem and stayed there, echoing in his skull and driving him slowly mad.

With a groan, he rolled off the bed, threw a shirt on and left the room. Whoever had set his alarm to the middle of the night and then proceeded to not turn it off was about to be faced with a very angry, sleep-deprived engineer.

He followed the sound through the dim hallway, past closed doors and quiet rooms. It was coming from the communal kitchen, which was still brightly lit despite the hour. Even from the doorway he could see that the oven was on, and at the table, someone was sitting with his head in his arms. It was a fire hazard ready to happen, and Wheeljack sighed. Some people didn’t have the common sense gods gave frogs.

He turned off the oven first, taking out the tray of – had that been cookies at some point? – inside. They were a lot darker than they were supposed to be, but thankfully not quite charcoal yet. He dumped the tray on the stove top and tracked down the offending cell phone, swiping to turn the alarm off. Only then did he turn his attention to the sleeping form at the table.

He was slightly tempted to upend a glass of water over the kid’s head. But it would probably end in screaming and shouting and Wheeljack having to clean it up. So he settled for a gruff tone.

“Hey. Wake up.” When there was no response, he prodded the guy in the back of his head. “Guy. Wake up already.”

“Mwuh?” The kid raised his head, blinking blearily, and most of Wheeljack’s anger faded when he realized he knew this one. Also, it was clear he’d been crying. “Wheeljack? What are you doing here?”

“Your alarm woke me up.” He sat down, pushing the offending phone over. “Your cookies almost set off the fire alarm. You shouldn’t use kitchen appliances when you’re this tired, Bluestreak.”

“I know.” The sheepish smile was familiar, even marred as it was by the tear tracks on Bluestreak’s cheeks. “I’m sorry I woke you. I didn’t mean to disturb anyone, I just. I got some bad news and I hoped the cookies would cheer me up.” He glanced over at the mess on the counter. “Guess I screwed that up too.”

“Want to talk about it?” Wheeljack couldn’t very well go back to bed now. Not with that look on Bluestreak’s face.

Bluestreak sighed, resting his chin on his hands. “My uncle passed away. We were very close, I almost spent more time at his house than my own when I grew up. I knew he had cancer, I just…” He blinked rapidly. “I guess I just hoped he’d last long enough to see me graduate.”

“I’m so sorry.” Wheeljack reached out, touched Bluestreak’s arm. “That’s… I don’t know what to say. I’m so sorry for your loss.”

“Thanks.” Bluestreak blinked again before turning his head to look at Wheeljack. “I know we haven’t hung out or even seen each other that much since that night. But… Bumblebee’s away for the week, and I really don’t want to be alone right now.”

Wheeljack understood. He really did. He’d never liked to be alone in his own room after a loss either. “Sure. Let’s see if your cookies are salvageable, and we can go back to my room. I’m working on a project right now so I don’t have classes in the morning, you can sleep as long as you want.”

Bluestreak really did seem to be dead on his feet. He let Wheeljack make the decisions, moving when prompted, staying close if not. He shuffled behind Wheeljack back to his room, almost on his heels.

Just like last time, Wheeljack was sure this decision would come back to bite him. Though most likely in a different way. Having Bluestreak stay over hadn’t been bad, but it had had some unintended consequences. Wheeljack had thought about Bluestreak a lot more than necessary, for one. And then there were the few frankly embarrassing wet dreams.

Oh. And the bigger bed. That was new too. No point having wet dreams and attractions and still sleeping in a bed that could barely fit himself.

Wheeljack was glad of it now. Because it meant that he could sit Bluestreak down on the edge of the bed and hold him close as he finally broke down.

“I’m sorry,” Bluestreak forced out between quiet sobs. “I didn’t – mean to have a meltdown on you.”

“Shh,” Wheeljack murmured. “Never apologize for grieving. C’mon, lie down here. You can have the bed tonight.”

A hand grasped Wheeljack’s, squeezing tight. “Stay here with me? Please.”

“If you want.” Wheeljack lay down, letting Bluestreak arrange himself as he wanted. He ended up with Bluestreak’s head on his shoulder, his hand resting on Bluestreak’s back. “Sweet dreams, Blue.”

“Sweet dreams, ‘Jack. Thanks for letting me stay here tonight.”

“Sure.” Like he would turn Bluestreak away, especially when he was hurting like this. He stroked Bluestreak’s back slowly, resigning himself to a night of not much sleep. At least he wasn’t going anywhere in the morning.

Chapter Text

Rodimus was late. So, so late. And Magnus frowned heavily upon people who were late. Magnus frowned upon Rodimus anyway, but extra when he was late. He’d have to run if he was to have any chance of making it.

At least he could see the Trion building now, just on the other side of the quad. He should be able to maybe get there in time. If he hurried.

Ready.

Set.

Go.

His legs were fast, carrying him forward in long, ground-eating strides. He circled around the center of the quad, avoiding the food stalls and grass lawns where people were sitting and eating their lunch, instead darting along the edge of the paved path. He skirted around benches and over the low walls, keeping the pace fast but not too fast.

At least, until he became aware of someone in his peripheral vision. Someone who was running too, in the same direction he was. Keeping pace with him.

For fun, to see what happened, he sped up a bit. The other runner did the same, flashing him a wink.

Oh, you’re on.

Rodimus ran faster, leaping over or on top of obstacles and dodging around whoever was too slow to move out of his way. He took the stairs in front of the Trion building two at a time, throwing himself at the revolving door to make it move faster, grinning over his shoulder as the other runner came in just late enough to have to wait. Then he was inside, darting off again, dashing up the stairs. Halfway up the first flight of stairs the other guy exited the revolving door and started running up behind him.

This was fun.

The other guy was suddenly right behind him, but Rodimus threw himself around the turn first, racing up the second flight of stairs as fast as his legs could carry him. It was a rhythm, step-step-step-step-turn, step-step-step-step-turn, almost like a dance, and he heard the other guy breathing heavily but evenly as they raced.

Sooner than he’d anticipated there were no more stairs to run up, and he threw himself forward for the flat race down the hallway. At the end there was another door that led out to the roof terrace – it was supposed to be locked but it never was, so he didn’t slow down as he approached. The door gave as he almost crashed into it, and he raised his arms in triumph as he burst out into the sunlight.

“YES!” he hollered. “The Hot Rod wins again!”

“Only because I let you,” an amused voice said, and Rodimus turned to see who he’d been racing with.

The guy was about his height, shaggy hair a pale blonde and cheeks flushed from running. He was grinning broadly, and Rodimus grinned back and held out a hand. “Says you. Hi, I’m Rodimus.”

“Drift.” The guy’s handshake was firm, but not hard. Rodimus liked him. “It’s nice to meet you. That was fun, we should do it again.” Drift canted his head, looking curious. “Why were you running, anyway? Just to get here?”

“Why was I – oh! Oh, frag.” Rodimus laughed, facepalming hard. “I have a lecture. Economy with Ultra Magnus. I was supposed to stop on the third floor, not run all the way up here.” He glanced at his watch and winced. “Damn. He won’t be happy. Especially considering I’m in dire need of a shower suddenly.” Somehow Magnus’ ire didn’t seem that worrisome right this moment, though. Rodimus was too high on adrenaline from the race. “What about you? Did you run along just for the fun of it?”

Drift lifted one shoulder in a shrug. “Partly. I forgot my backpack in the lecture hall on the fourth floor, I was just coming back to get it.” He eyed Rodimus appraisingly. “You’re fast.”

“Track team,” Rodimus replied smugly. “What about you?”

“I did parkour for a while. Now I mainly do kendo.”

Rodimus whistled. “Sword fighting? Really? I’d heard there was a club, but I haven’t checked it out yet.”

“I have practice in a little while.” Drift quirked an eyebrow at him. “Want to come watch? We practice in the basement of the gym, you can probably shower first if we hurry.”

“Yeah, sure,” Rodimus agreed eagerly. “I have clean clothes in my locker there too. Race you there?”

Drift laughed. “As long as we can stop on the fourth floor so I can get my stuff.”

“Deal.” Rodimus grinned. “Warmup to the fourth floor, and then we run. And don’t go easy on me this time.”

“Wouldn’t dream about it. Hot Rod.” Drift turned and held the door open. “Ready?”

“Oh, you bet,” Rodimus said, and then he was off.

He could hear Drift laughing behind him.

Chapter Text

Silverbolt forcibly reminded himself that knocking his head against the brick wall was a counterproductive move. It would not finish his essay for him. It would not help him type any faster. And it definitely wouldn’t find him the sources he needed.

Smacking the desk, narrowly missing the keyboard, felt supremely gratifying even so.

“Gotten it out of your system yet?” Skydive’s voice was teasing. “Or do you need to knock some more sense into that poor faux wood?”

“You would be beating up the furniture too if you had to do this,” Silverbolt growled. Streetwise, normally a quiet, almost shy presence next to Skydive, giggled at him. “I’m serious. This stupid search engine couldn’t even find its own brand name if I typed it in. Best search algorithm available my ass. I know the sources I need are out there, I know they are, I just can’t find them.”

“You’re probably using the wrong search terms,” Fireflight piped in, ever so helpfully.

Silverbolt pushed away from the desk in disgust. “Fine. You try.”

It should have made him feel better, watching them all hunt for those damned elusive texts and consistently failing. Stumbling upon cheap, machine-translated fake pages. Blog posts with about as much sense as those kitten videos Slingshot liked. Tinfoil hat forums. Air Raid even managed to stumble upon a porn site, though how he got from ‘flammability spikes in chlorine trifluoride’ to porn Silverbolt would never know.

“You know, you have the perfect solution to this,” Skydive said finally, after half an hour of pointless searches.

“Change my major?” Silverbolt mumbled into his folded arms. He was resting against the desk, staring at the screen in faint annoyance.

Skydive laughed. “No. Call Skyfire. He’s done this class, he’ll know what you need to search for. And it gives you an excuse to call him, which I think you need if you’re ever going to get off your ass and do it.”

That brightened Silverbolt’s mood considerably. He hadn’t talked to the older student since that first day, mainly because he didn’t know what to say. He didn’t really have a reason for contacting Skyfire out of the blue. But he’d been wanting to anyway.

“That’s a good idea.” He ignored the snickers and poorly concealed grins. “Get out of here, won’t you? Give a man some room to concentrate.”

They kept laughing at him as they walked out. Silverbolt determinedly ignored them.

He didn’t call Skyfire, though. Who knew what he’d interrupt if he did. Instead, he texted.

Hi Skyfire, it’s Silverbolt – the guy who found your USB drive in the computer that day? I’m having a bit of trouble tracking down sources for one of my classes and wondered if you could help me. I know you already took this one. I’d appreciate it.

He was prepared to wait for a reply. Really, he was – just because he started waiting the moment he sent the text didn’t mean he didn’t know it could take time.

What he wasn’t prepared for was that Skyfire would call him back instantly.

“Hey,” Silverbolt managed, swallowing.

“Hi, Silverbolt.” Skyfire’s voice was warm. “Let me guess. It’s Brainstorm’s class.”

Silverbolt blinked. “How did you know?”

Skyfire chuckled, and Silverbolt shivered at the sound, doubly glad he’d evicted the others. “Because Brainstorm is like that. He loves setting impossible tasks. Want to meet for coffee, and we can talk about it?”

“Coffee sounds awesome,” Silverbolt agreed, probably quicker than he should have, but he had been thinking about the tall scientist a lot. “I’m really stuck. It’s good of you to help me.”

“Don’t worry about it.” Whoa, that voice went straight to Silverbolt’s insides. “I’m glad to help. So how’ve you been?”

Silverbolt smiled. He smiled, and talked, and laughed, and listened, and suddenly an hour had passed. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d spent this long on a phone call.

“I’m going to have to go now,” Skyfire said, sounding apologetic. “I have an assignment to finish. But I’m very glad you called.”

“Technically, you called,” Silverbolt pointed out. He’d been smiling for so long his cheeks actually hurt.

“True. Then I’m glad you texted. And I’m looking forward to seeing you tomorrow.”

“Me too. Good night, Skyfire.”

“Night, Silverbolt. Sweet dreams.”

The phone was hot when Silverbolt hung up.

Holy crap.

Chapter Text

Jazz whistled loudly, tapping the beat against his own thighs, skipping a step every now and then and putting his body through proper King of Pop moves, hat included. He shot a naughty grin and a wink at anyone who stared at him, counting each blush a success.

He owned this.

His style went right out of the window, though, when he turned the corner into the mailroom and came face to face with an irate, hissing black cat.

“Whoa!” A jump back turned into a spin, ending in him saluting against the brim of his hat and grinning. Never let it be said that Jazz lost his suave for long. “’Sup, kitty cat! Whatcha doin’ so high up in the air?”

A second glance revealed that the cat was in fact in a cat carrier, which again sat on the back of someone tall, dark-haired and probably handsome. He turned around quickly at Jazz’s words, revealing eyes half-hidden behind red-tinted shades and smooth, clean-shaven cheeks. And, yeah, handsome.

Also definitely familiar. The glasses, and the cat…

“I remember you!” Jazz beamed, rocking forward onto his toes to seem a bit less short in comparison to this giant. “Soundwave? From that day in the rain, with th’ pizza! What are you doin’ here?”

“Just moved here,” Soundwave replied, in that even, melodious tone that Jazz had never quite managed to forget. “Jazz, you live here?”

Jazz slide-stepped past him, smirking. “You know it. Welcome to th’ building!”

“Thank you.” Soundwave’s voice was soft. “It is… unfamiliar still.”

“I bet. What floor are you on? Second, like me? I know there was a vacancy there.” He peered back at the angry black cat on Soundwave’s back. “Didn’t know they allowed pets.”

“Ravage, registered therapy animal. Required special application.” Soundwave opened his mailbox, glanced inside and closed it again. “And yes. Second floor.”

No mail for Soundwave. That was kind of sad. Jazz tried not to make a big deal out of the handful of stuff in his own mailbox. “So, ya unpacked yet? Ya can’t have been here long.” He smiled up at Soundwave. “I have some time now, if you need a hand.”

Soundwave visibly hesitated. “You’re certain? There is… a lot. It took two days to move it all.”

“I offered, didn’t I? Wouldn’t have if I didn’t mean it.” He put his mail in his pocket without looking at it and threw out an arm. “Lead the way.”

Soundwave turned out to be in the room at the very end of the second floor hallway, the one that had been empty for weeks. It was still dusty, windows filthy and shut tight, cobwebs in the corner. Soundwave’s boxes were stacked on top of each other in the middle of the space. There were a lot fewer than Jazz had expected. It was clear that Soundwave had placed them on top of each other to be able to move around them and get to the bed and the desk – the only two surfaces that were moderately clean. Even the floor was covered in unidentifiable stains and marks underneath the dust.

It was far from ready for a person to live in. Or his cat.

“Can’t believe they didn’t clean before ya moved in.” Jazz wrinkled his nose. “This is nasty.”

“It will do.” Soundwave closed the door before taking off his backpack, lowering it gently to the floor. As soon as he opened it, Ravage darted out in a black blur, skidded across the dusty floor and knocked over two stacks of boxes. Their contents spilled across the floor – wires, USB drives, small cameras, even a tiny drone, mixing in with spilled pasta and boxes of cat food and a bottle of some form of sauce that smashed against the floor and covered everything in a mix of red goop and broken glass.

Soundwave stood staring at the mess for a moment. Then he sighed, shoulders drooping dejectedly.

And it suddenly occurred to Jazz that Soundwave didn’t even know where to begin. The pieces slotted together in his mind, like a puzzle – no mail in his mailbox, nothing unpacked, apparently having to move everything he owned himself since it had taken him two days to move a double handful of boxes. Not to mention standing under an awning in the rain because he couldn’t cover cab fare and didn’t have anyone to come pick him up.

Soundwave had nobody. And now he was stuck in a dirty room that just got much dirtier, looking lost and alone. It was enough to break Jazz’s heart a little.

“Don’t know where t’ start, do ya?” he said softly.

Soundwave shrugged again. His plush lower lip was caught between his teeth in a gesture that read as much as nerves as it did as sadness.

That wouldn’t do.

“Well, good thing I do.” Jazz clapped his hands together and smiled. “I’m gonna get some music, and some cleanin’ supplies, and we’ll get this place fixed up for ya. Okay?”

Soundwave’s returning smile blossomed slowly until it lit up his entire face. It was unfairly adorable. “Thank you, Jazz.”

“No problem, m’ man. ‘S what friends are for.” He grinned, spinning around to go back to his room while Soundwave was still staring at him, dumbstruck.

Jazz couldn’t not get involved. Soundwave now had a friend, whether he wanted to or not. Judging from what he knew of the guy so far, the former was much more likely than the latter.

The smile on Soundwave’s face when Jazz came back, arms laden with everything from bleach to Bad, was definitely worth it. Jazz didn’t mind spending the rest of the day up to his elbows in soap suds for that.

Chapter Text

Ratchet was brilliant. A genius, really. Fast-tracked through every class, getting his degree in less than half the normal time, doing his postgrad work at sought-after hospitals and cutting-edge experimental clinics. He was intelligent, damn it, and he was smart too.

And he was still stumped by a bluescreened laptop.

In his defense, he was studying medicine, not technology. He was still acutely embarrassed as he walked up to the student IT center, but he hid it behind his usual blustery demeanor, growling and snarking at anyone who tried to even look at him sideways.

It lasted until it was his turn to come up to the desk, and he came face to face with a very familiar pair of blue eyes.

“Ratchet! How nice to see you!” Perceptor beamed, and Ratchet couldn’t help but smile back, a familiar tingly feeling in his insides.

Damn it.

He’d been doing so well, too. He’d managed to stay professional while they finished their project, and had also managed to get away without giving Perceptor his contact information somehow. In the weeks since, he’d avoided anywhere they could have bumped into each other. He’d thought he was safe.

Of course, no one could have predicted that a genius like Perceptor would have been working at the student IT center.

“So what brings you?” Perceptor asked, voice still impossibly bright.

“This damn thing,” Ratchet groused, planting the offending laptop on the desk between them and almost hiding behind it. “I have all my stuff backed up, but I would love to not have to buy a new laptop right now.”

“Say no more.” Perceptor smiled as he turned his attention away from Ratchet – thank goodness – and to the computer in question. “I assume you’ve tried turning it off and back on?”

Ratchet answered all the usual IT questions with only half a mind on what he was saying. He was too distracted staring at Perceptor, thankfully without him noticing the attention.

Fuck, but he was gorgeous.

Slim eyebrows pulled down slightly over sharp grey eyes, barely concealed behind wire-frame glasses resting on a straight nose. He was pursing his lips and muttering to himself as long, slender fingers moved over the keyboard, working the tech magic that Ratchet just couldn’t get a hang of.

“I’m afraid I can’t fix this here,” Perceptor said finally, straightening and interrupting Ratchet’s staring. He looked almost embarrassed at the admission. “It’s giving me conflicting feedback. If it wasn’t you, I’d probably tell you to take it to a professional or get a new one.” His expression turned hopeful. “But since it is you… My shift here ends in half an hour. Would you be opposed to coming with me afterward, and I can see if I can manage to get it back up for you then? On my own time?”

Damn whatever powers had put Perceptor in Ratchet’s path today.

“I can’t,” Ratchet replied. He was both grateful and upset at that, which made no sense. “I have work in a little while. One of the interns came down with something, and I’m working double shifts for the rest of the week.”

“Oh.” Perceptor’s face fell slightly, and Ratchet wanted nothing more than to call of work and go anywhere with him. He wanted that smile back. “Well, I can still bring it with me and have a look. I have shifts here for the next few days, but I can tinker on this when I’m not here. And then, maybe I can call you when I know more?”

He looked so hopeful that Ratchet was tempted to say yes. But Perceptor was much too good and kind for him, much more than Ratchet could ever deserve. A clean break – another one – would be much better for both of them.

“It might be simpler if I just drop by here when I have the chance.” He managed to sound apologetic, and firmed his resolve against the disappointment that flitted across Perceptor’s fine features.

“I suppose that will work as well.” Perceptor packed the laptop into his messenger bag. “I… It was nice seeing you again.”

“You as well,” Ratchet replied, meaning it more than anything else he’d said so far that day. Wishing for more was for optimists. “I’ll come back in a couple of days, okay? And, hey,” he couldn’t resist reaching out and touching Perceptor’s arm, “I really appreciate the help.”

“Anytime.” Perceptor smiled, pressing back against the light touch. “I look forward to next time.”

Ratchet did too. And he pushed down on the feeling with everything he had.

It was still hard to walk away.

Chapter Text

Rodimus was very proud of his place on the track team. Drift could tell. It was apparent in the way he strutted after each training, the way he was always up for a race, the way he wore his team jacket with the flame-emblazoned ‘Hot Rod’ on the back.

Sure, it was a bit kitschy. Even Roddy agreed to that. But Rodimus loved it, and by extension, so did Drift.

So seeing his bright-eyed, eager speed demon slouching his way down the paced path, not looking up to meet anyone’s eyes and without any spring in his step, struck Drift as fundamentally wrong. And he couldn’t not attempt to fix it.

“Hey.” He bumped Roddy’s shoulder affectionately. “What’s up? You look down.”

The pun would normally have Rodimus snorting a laugh and calling him out on his lame wordplay. But not today. Today Rodimus just sighed, and Drift couldn’t help but lean closer.

“Just had the first shared practice with the football team,” Rodimus mumbled. “It didn’t really go very well.”

“Oh.” Drift pressed even closer, even went so far as to put his arm around Roddy’s shoulders. The way his friend leaned into it told him it was the right call. “Was it Overlord again?”

“Of course it was.” Rodimus rolled his eyes. “He’s such a pain. If I outrun him I’m chicken, if he outruns me I’m useless. I wouldn’t usually let it bother me, but today he was worse than usual. He didn’t shut up at all, and he got the others in on it as well.”

“What does coach say?” Drift refused to believe that Blurr would let anyone mistreat his runners like that.

“Helex punched him.” That had Drift gasping. “Got him a suspension, of course, and he won’t be given any more chances, but it also meant that Blurr had to go stop the bleeding. And it all got worse after that. We’re fast, but we’re not meant to take the kind of punishment they deal out on the field. Knock Out took a tumble like you wouldn’t believe. We were worried he’d broken his ankle, but it looks like just a sprain, thankfully.” He laughed then, a dry, humourless thing. “Of course, that’s when I lost my temper and tried to take them on single-handedly.” He pulled a bit at his red-flamed jacket. “Got taught a lesson for that, as you see.”

Drift hadn’t really noticed the tears and stains, not before Rodimus pointed them out. But now that he had, it was obvious that someone had gone nuts on Roddy’s pride and joy. It was covered in rips, tears, something that looked suspiciously like blood stains. Rodimus winced when Drift touched his side carefully, lifting his shirt away to reveal the bruised, scraped flesh beneath.

“Let’s get you home.” He kept the pity out of his voice, knowing Rodimus wouldn’t appreciate it, but he let the fury show plain and clear. “And then we’ll plot some revenge.”

That made Rodimus smile, thankfully. “You going to sic the kendo club on them? I didn’t think they had much respect for you either?”

“Oh, they think we’re a joke.” Drift grinned, making sure it looked a little feral. “But I bet even Overlord’s thick skull will bruise when it comes into contact with a practice sword. And they’re dumb enough to challenge us if we give them the chance.”

“I don’t want you to get in trouble either.” Rodimus looked like he really relished the idea of Overlord being thwacked over the head though.

“We won’t. We’re sneakier than that.” Drift winked. “Besides, I bet Sideswipe and Blades would be only to happy to help us bring Overlord down a notch.”

Rodimus smiled. It already seemed brighter, and Drift decided then and there that he’d never let Rodimus be mopey like this if he could help it. Rodimus should always be happy and bright and exuberant and laughing, and Drift would always be there to make that happen.

“Sounds good. Want to go back to your place and order Chinese?”

Impulsively, Drift planted a kiss on Rodimus’ cheek. “Let’s do that. And I’ll fix your jacket. One good thing about training with swords, it teaches you to deal with cut-up clothing.”

Rodimus’ smile sustained him all the way back to the dorms.

Chapter Text

Grimlock knew there was a part of Starscream that was more than a little batshit crazy. Like every creative scientist everywhere, some part of him had to see past limitations to the possibilities, to glance at rules and boxes and guidelines and immediately hit off on a tangent to find out what would happen if they were changed. It was expected, and honestly, it was part of his charm.

But this? This was completely insane.

“I want to go outside,” Starscream insisted. “We can’t see anything from here.”

“It’s a tornado warning, Star,” Grimlock repeated for the third time. He could feel his patience run thin. “We stay inside for those. Outside is dangerous.”

Starscream shot him a vicious look. “Don’t talk to me like I’m an ignorant child. Don’t you think I know that? But how do you expect us to learn anything from it if we’re stuck inside?”

“Said every dead stormchaser ever,” Grimlock replied, too fed up to be anything but blunt. “You won’t be safe out there, Star. This is dangerous enough.”

And really, he reflected, it wasn’t like they couldn’t see anything. The windows on the top floor of the science building were huge, almost floor to ceiling, and with the lights off inside they could see every detail of the churning sky outside.

Starscream finally subsided with poor grace, grumbling all the while. “With our luck, it won’t even touch down.”

Grimlock didn’t bother saying how he thought that would be a good thing.

Lightning flashed outside, briefly illuminating the room they were in in stark monochrome, and Starscream grinned. Another flash followed on the heels of the first before the thunder even reached them, and when it did…

“Tell me this turns you on as well,” Starscream purred, suddenly almost melting against Grimlock’s body. He was all heat and eager strength, arms wrapped around Grimlock’s neck and one leg thrown up around his hip. “Tell me I can have you in the thunderstorm.”

“Should have known there was more kink to be found in you.” Grimlock didn’t know if he should be exasperated or turned on, though putting his hands on Star’s hips to help support his weight tipped the needle in the latter direction. Especially when thunder rumbled again and Starscream shivered deliciously against him.

“Like you’re one to complain.” Starscream was already breathless, hips moving in small circles against Grimlock’s. “Tell me to stop.”

“You know I won’t.” Grimlock lifted Starscream clean off the floor, placing him on a conveniently high countertop. “I never say stop to you. Which is why we’re up here in the storm in the first place, like a pair of lunatics.”

“Like a pair of scientists,” Starscream corrected, giving Grimlock’s earlobe a sharp nip. “This is an important scientific experiment.”

Grimlock had to laugh at that. Starscream was so full of himself sometimes, and it was completely adorable. “What kind of scientific experiment do you think you can monitor while riding me?”

“The best kind.” Starscream’s grin was almost feral. “Though the conditions aren’t quite right yet.” He snuck one hand down between them to tug at Grimlock’s belt. “There are too many obstacles still in the way.”

“I suppose we’ll have to see about circumnavigating them, then,” Grimlock rumbled, nuzzling along Starscream’s cheek and shifting slightly to allow pale, clever fingers better access to his pants.

“Oh, I don’t think they’ll be a problem for long,” Starscream purred, teasing open the top button just as another bolt of lightning flashed across the sky.

 

In the end, no tornadoes appeared that evening. Though Grimlock doubted he would have noticed even if one tore through the floor they were on. Not with Starscream, all passion and grace that he was, arching against him, long hair sliding out of its braid. At some point they ended up on top of Grimlock’s jacket on the floor, and it was perfect.

“You’re perfect,” he murmured into Starscream’s hair, one hand moving leisurely on his bare back.

“Of course I am,” Starscream breathed. “And you are too, by the way.” He closed his eyes, soft breath tickling Grimlock’s chest. “Now hush. Nap time.”

“Yes, Star.” Nobody would be there till morning. And the storm was still raging outside – if he knew Starscream, and he did, they could be going again in a little while. He was perfectly happy acting as Star’s pillow until then.

The lightning flashed, showing Star’s eyes closed and his long eyelashes shading his cheeks. He was gorgeous.

Grimlock tightened his arms around him and closed his eyes. A nap sounded good.

Chapter Text

“That’s not schematics.” Bluestreak’s voice was soft in his ear.

“It’s not.” Wheeljack chuckled and hit the pause button. “I needed a break. What are you doing here?” He spun the desk chair around so he could look up at his friend. “I thought you were done for the semester.”

“I am.” Bluestreak shrugged. “And since I don’t have anywhere else to be, I figured I’d come make sure you’d eaten lunch. Of course I expected to find you hard at work, not binge-watching science fiction. Which I can understand, by the way, that series is awesome.”

“The schematics are as ready as I can make them,” Wheeljack admitted. “I’m waiting for someone to come back to me about them before I can take them to the next phase. But I really enjoyed the quiet in here, so I just stayed.”

Bluestreak’s expression closed off slightly. “Yeah, I get that. I’ll leave you to it then, okay? Text me if you want to get something to eat?”

Wheeljack could have kicked himself. Impulsively, he reached out and took Bluestreak’s hand. “Not what I meant. You’re a welcome interruption, honestly.”

Bluestreak glanced down at their hands. So did Wheeljack, for that matter – he hadn’t meant to take Bluestreak’s hand, not like that, but now he didn’t want to let go. And Bluestreak wasn’t letting go either.

“I can wait for that feedback at home just as well as here,” he offered tentatively. “And my TV’s bigger than this. Do you – would you want to get some lunch and then go back to the dorms and watch some more of this?”

Bluestreak visibly hesitated. It was almost upsetting to see – for someone so chipper, he didn’t have a lot of confidence, and Wheeljack knew he was afraid of being too clingy. “You sure?”

“I am.” He was suddenly very sure. So sure he even turned the computer off and disconnected his USB drive. “I figure we can head to this little bakery I found just off campus. They have the most amazing pies I ever tasted.”

That made Bluestreak smile again. “I’d like that.” His fingers tightened, almost involuntarily, on Wheeljack’s.

It took nothing to leave his hand in Bluestreak’s, turning it a little so their palms met and his thumb could draw tiny circles on the back of Bluestreak’s hand. Bluestreak startled slightly, but then this tiny little amazing smile grew, and Wheeljack was sold. Smitten.

Damn. He’d known he was fascinated by Bluestreak, but this was a lot more intense than he’d ever expected.

“Come on.” His voice was husky, even, and his hand felt clammy when he let go of Bluestreak’s. He stood up quickly and gathered his things, trying to hide the blush he could feel rising in his cheeks. But when he turned back to Bluestreak, that smile was still there, and Bluestreak reached out to take his hand again.

“Can I try something?” Bluestreak sounded hesitantly hopeful.

“I guess?” Wheeljack intertwined his fingers with Bluestreak’s and smiled. “Will I like it?”

“I hope so.” Bluestreak bit his lip, and leaned forward.

Holy epic everything.

The kiss was a barely-there touch of Bluestreak’s lips on his, but it was enough to steal Wheeljack’s breath away and make him tingly all over. He could only stare at Bluestreak as the other pulled away.

“Um.” Bluestreak looked a little embarrassed and a lot nervous. “Was that… okay?”

“More than,” Wheeljack replied truthfully. “That was amazing.” He lifted his free hand to Bluestreak’s cheek. It was soft to the touch, traces of stubble along his jaw. “Can I try something?”

“Definitely,” Bluestreak breathed, closing his eyes.

Bluestreak’s lips were soft, giving, moving easily under Wheeljack’s, and he barely even noticed that he’d stepped closer, that his fingers were buried in Bluestreak’s soft hair, that their bodies were pressed together. Bluestreak was perfect, kissed perfectly, mouth opening just slightly, tongue tasting Wheeljack’s, and it was amazing. When it finally ended, Bluestreak’s eyes were wide, cheeks flushed. Wheeljack could barely breathe.

“So that was… wow,” Bluestreak breathed, for once at a loss for words. They were still incredibly close, noses almost touching, and Wheeljack wanted nothing more than to kiss Bluestreak again.

So he did.

At this rate, they would never make it to lunch.

Chapter Text

Okay. Get your act together. You can do this.

Ignore how sweaty your hands are. You’re not shaking his hand, you’re just asking him out. No you’re not, you’re just offering him free food. That’s it. Now come on, you frickin’ coward, or he’ll have gotten his own food already.

Sunstreaker inhaled deeply, and set off to interrupt Thundercracker before he got to the cafeteria line. Of course, as if he wasn’t already nervous enough, fate saw it fit that he should just crash into the guy like a crazy person instead of just walking alongside.

Thundercracker didn’t seem angry that Sunstreaker almost knocked him on his ass, though. If anything he seemed happy, if that wide grin on his face was anything to judge by. “Sunstreaker! Hi! You getting lunch too?”

“Yeah,” Sunstreaker replied, because he could act like a normal human being, all evidence to the contrary. “Sorry for bumping into you.”

“Don’t worry about it. I never mind when we bump into each other.” Thundercracker winked, and Sunstreaker stared, only belatedly figuring out that he should have chuckled or something.

Man, I’m so weird. I should have laughed.

“So, hey, I wondered something,” he said – awkwardly, because that seemed to be the theme for the day. “Can I treat you to lunch? I have more money left to spend here than I can actually manage.”

Thundercracker apparently didn’t notice how Sunstreaker was floundering, because he just smiled. “Sure, I’d like that. Hey, how’s your project going?”

Sunstreaker managed to hide behind describing the challenges of getting his installation Just Right all the way through the line and picking up their food and even making those waffles Thundercracker was so fond of. He ran out of words about the time they sat down opposite each other at one of the small tables near the windows. And then he got completely tongue-tied.

You’re such a moron.

Thundercracker talked for both of them, thankfully. Sunstreaker just had to nod or shake his head or grunt and silently despair at the mess he was making of things. Thundercracker wouldn’t want to do this again, not with Sunstreaker being so weird.

He looked up from his food to see Thundercracker looking at him, a faint frown on his face. Sunstreaker swallowed and tensed even further, preparing himself for the inevitable.

“You don’t seem too happy to be here, Sun.” Thundercracker’s voice was soft. “Did you want to leave? You don’t have to keep me company for lunch if you don’t want.”

That wasn’t what Sunstreaker had expected. Thundercracker didn’t say he was a glitch or call him out on how stupid it was to sit there saying nothing or anything. He was just sitting there, looking at him, all gentle and kind and sweet and gorgeous like he’d been the entire semester.

You need to answer him, you dolt.

“Not that,” he managed, before pulling in the deepest breath he could manage and letting it back out slowly. “If anything, I’m waiting for you to tell me you want to leave.”

“What?” That frown deepened. “I’m enjoying myself. Why would I want to leave?”

Sunstreaker shrugged helplessly. “You’re here with me.”

Thundercracker’s face cleared, and suddenly Sunstreaker’s hands were caught in long, warm fingers. “That’s why I’m enjoying myself,” Thundercracker said gently. “I enjoy hanging out with you, Sunstreaker. I’d love to do so more.”

Sunstreaker bit down on the ‘Really?’ that wanted to escape, but only barely. Thundercracker’s hands were warm and distracting on his. “There’s a movie coming out,” he blurted. “Tomorrow.”

“I’d love to,” Thundercracker replied, somehow hearing the question behind the statement. “Want to go out with me later today? For dinner?”

Sunstreaker blinked. Was that – was that two dates? Did Thundercracker really want to hang out with him two days in a row?

“Don’t look so shocked.” Thundercracker’s tone turned teasing, his fingers tightening on Sunstreaker’s. “Wasn’t that what you were working up to?”

“Yeah,” Sunstreaker confessed, almost shyly. “But… Well. I didn’t think you’d actually want to.”

“I do,” Thundercracker said firmly, as if it was all decided. “A lot. And I’ll show you, once you’ve eaten your food.” He let go of one of Sunstreaker’s hands to pick up his fork again, but he kept hold of the other, twining their fingers together.

Sunstreaker stared.

And ate his food.

Slowly, he began smiling.

The next time he glanced up, Thundercracker was smiling back.

Chapter Text

Prowl had expected the crowds. He’d anticipated having to ford his way through the masses of people, to be jostled and pushed, to be forced to move along the edge of the oval rather than straight across it. That was how the last weeks before summer usually were – crowded library, crowded cafeteria, and crowded oval.

He hadn’t anticipated someone grabbing his arm, though.

“Hey, it’s my savior!”

Prowl stared at his kind-of assailant. He’d been ready to punch him, but the face was familiar, and the voice, and he also looked altogether too happy and excited to be an attacker.

“You know, I passed that class because of you!” The guy grinned. “And I haven’t seen any more ghosts either.”

Oh. That guy.

Prowl offered a smile. “I am glad to hear it. Both that you passed and that the supernatural has left you alone.” He tugged at his arm slightly, but his study buddy didn’t let go. “If you’ll excuse me, I have. Um. Somewhere to be.”

“No can do!” That smile was the brightest thing Prowl had seen yet today. “Because I owe you one, and there’s a bouncy castle just over there that’s completely awesome, and I’d love for you to come there with me! Please?” He didn’t wait for a reply, just pulled Prowl off towards the south end of the oval.

“But – seriously – I can’t – isn’t that for kids?”

The guy looked back at Prowl, smile turning slightly mischievous. “If it was, why would they put it up on a university campus?”

Prowl couldn’t really argue against that. And his repeated attempts to pull his arm out of the other student’s grip all failed.

Bouncy castle it was, apparently.

And the thing was massive. Bigger than Prowl had thought bouncy castles could be. There were small houses on it, and slides, and even a maze. It could barely even fit on the oval. It was insane.

“Awesome, right?” His assailant grinned. “Come on, take your shoes off.”

“My backpack,” Prowl began, knowing he’d run out of good excuses and was probably stuck on this freight train until further notice.

“Don’t worry about it.” His pack was snapped up and handed off to someone else. “Mind watching this for me, Smokey? I’m just taking my friend here into the castle.”

“Sure.” The new guy shrugged, giving them a tired grin. “I’m already watching Trailbreaker’s stuff. And First Aid’s. And Misfire’s. And apparently Streetwise’s and his new beau’s. What’s a few more? I’ll just take it out of what I owe you, how does that sound?”

“I’ll go for that!” Prowl’s assailant chirped. He took Prowl’s hand again. “Come on, let’s go inside!”

Prowl had never known someone who talked in quite that many exclamation marks.

The bouncy castle was crowded, but not intensely so. Still, Prowl had a hard time keeping his balance as he was jostled not only sideways, but up and down as well, and it was a relief when he was pulled into the maze.

His assailant finally turned to face him again, a big, eager grin on his face. “I’m Skywarp. What’s your name?”

“Prowl,” Prowl replied. He couldn’t quite believe they’d gotten this far without exchanging names.

“Prowl,” Skywarp repeated, voice suddenly impossibly soft. “I like it.”

Prowl wasn’t sure what to say to that. He was saved from having to come up with something when someone bounced into him from behind, costing him what precarious balance he had retained and sending him crashing into Skywarp. Somehow their legs got tangled, and Skywarp whooped and held on to Prowl as they both fell over.

“Oops! Sorry!” someone giggled.

“I’ll get you for that, First Aid!” Skywarp shouted back, clearly delighted. He looked up at Prowl. “Are you okay?”

Skywarp’s eyes were really pretty up close. Brown, but speckled with tiny flecks of gold and green, framed by long dark lashes. Like mottled shadow in a forest.

Crap, he was waxing poetic. That wasn’t good.

“I’m fine,” Prowl replied. Somehow he’d lost all his volume. And his arm strength – he couldn’t push off Skywarp, for all that he tried.

“Good.” Skywarp smiled. “Want to get off me?”

“Do you want me to get off you?” Prowl asked, to his instant embarrassment. Apparently his brain-to-mouth filter had been broken in the fall.

Skywarp blinked in surprise. Prowl prepared to push himself off, for real this time, but Skywarp’s arms were suddenly around his waist.

“Not really.” Skywarp’s voice was husky. “Kind of like you right where you are.”

“Oh.” Prowl bit his lip. “Then… I guess I’ll stay right here.”

He got kind of lost in Skywarp’s eyes at that point. It was hard to look away, and even harder to fight the gravitational pull that seemed to pull him closer… closer… closer…

Honestly, he should probably be grateful that someone jostled them again at that point and knocked him to the side, into one of the maze walls and off Skywarp.

Not that Skywarp let him go that easily. He kept looking, even as they were bouncing. Kept holding Prowl’s hand.

When Prowl’s calves were aching from the strain of unfamiliar movement and his sides hurt from laughing, Skywarp finally pulled him out of there. The guy called Smokey was sitting on a bench, surrounded by backpacks, and Skywarp pulled their packs out of the pile.

“Thanks for bouncing with me.” His smile was wide, happy, and Prowl couldn’t help but return it.

“Thanks for dragging me there. I had fun.” Prowl put on his backpack and turned to leave, only to have his arm snagged by Skywarp again.

“Nuh-uh. You’re not leaving that fast.” Skywarp’s voice was deep and enticing again. “I’m not letting you escape without giving me your phone number.”

Almost on autopilot, Prowl unlocked his phone and handed it over, watching as Skywarp put in his own number and hit ‘call’.

“Smooth, man,” Smokey commented from behind them.

Prowl accepted his phone back, glancing down at the new contact. Skywarp had saved the number under his name, followed by a red heart.

Bold.

“Can I take you out to dinner some time?” Skywarp asked. He sounded hopeful. “I still owe you for that tutoring session.”

“I suppose so,” Prowl replied. He knew there were supposed to be reasons to say no, but somehow his mind was completely blank.

“Awesome.” Skywarp’s grin was bright. “I’ll call you.”

Prowl nodded as he turned away. That bouncy castle must have messed with his sense of balance, because his knees were still weak. It would pass.

His phone was a hot weight in his pocket. He could feel Skywarp’s gaze on the back of his head.

Chapter Text

“I’m sorry, Ratchet. It’s been checked out.”

What?” If Ratchet could sound any more shocked, he probably would have. “But I reserved that weeks ago!”

“I know.” Orion at least sounded apologetic, fat load of good it did both of them. “It came in yesterday and was checked out again early this morning, before we had the chance to let you know.”

Ratchet took a deep breath. Shouting at Orion – though it was his fault – probably wouldn’t do any good. It certainly wouldn’t get him that report on cloning he’d been hoping for. “All right. Then do you have Shockwave’s Adaptations of graft technology and the effects on cellular regeneration?”

Orion pursed his lips as he looked up the article in the library’s computer systems. After a moment he looked up. “Unfortunately, that one was checked out this morning as well.”

Ratchet swore colorfully, drawing the stare of some of the other students in the library. He ignored them – there was no quiet rule at the front desk, and while he swore creatively, he didn’t swear loudly. They could stare all they wanted.

Orion just chuckled quietly. The benefit of having known Ratchet long enough to be desensitized to his language.

“What about Mesothulas’ Clones, grafts and regrowths – a study of the side-effects of modern replication technology?" It wasn’t the best work, but it was one he’d been meaning to go through for a while now.

“Sorry, Ratchet.” Orion shook his head. “That’s out as well.”

Ratchet fought the overwhelming impulse to slam his fist – or his head – against the desk. “Do you have anything for my specialty this semester at all?”

Orion looked for a bit longer this time, a faint frown on his forehead as he searched. Ratchet grew more and more annoyed as the minutes ticked by.

“You’re not going to like my answer,” Orion said finally.

“Nothing?” Ratchet couldn’t believe that. He didn’t know of anyone else who’d be interested in those articles – hell, some of them were so dry even Ratchet had to force himself to read them.

“I’m sorry, my friend,” Orion replied. “Looks like you have a competitor.”

Wait. “A competitor? You mean all those journals were checked out by a single person?”

Orion winced. “I’m not supposed to tell you that. But yes.”

Just one. And Orion owed him a favor. It was probably worth a shot, though he had to make it good. “I need those articles for my final thesis this semester.” He made his voice as earnest as he could. It helped that he was telling the truth. “My grade will suffer for it without those references, Orion. Is there any chance I could have his contact info? So I can call him up and we can at least share the journals?”

Orion looked very reluctant. It would be breaking a number of rules, even Ratchet knew that. But he also knew that Orion would always try to help his friends.

“I shouldn’t,” Orion said finally, glancing around. “But… Okay. Here.” He jotted down a series of numbers. “I’m just giving you his phone number, understand? Nothing else. And this is the only time.”

“I appreciate it.” Ratchet took the yellow note. “You may just have saved my project.”

Orion smiled. “Don’t mention it. Really. Don’t.”

Ratchet threw him a lazy salute and a grin, and walked out of the library.

Once around the corner of the building, he pulled out his phone and entered the number. It only rang twice before someone answered.

“Hello?” a male voice said.

“Hey kid, I don’t know who you are, but you checked out all my journals from the library.” Ratchet kept his voice to a quiet growl. “And I don’t appreciate that. Now, you can either return the ones I had reserved to the library so I can check them out, or we can meet up somewhere and you can hand them to me directly. Understand?”

“Who is this?” The voice was tinny, but kind of familiar.

“My name is Ratchet,” Ratchet bit out. “I’m the one who was next in line on the reservation list on several of the journals you checked out today. Now will you meet me and hand them back, or do I have to camp out at the library and wait for you?”

“I’ll meet you there shortly.”

The line went dead.

Ratchet bit down on several more choice curse words. Instead, he back inside to the coffee machine and got himself a cup of the grimmest sludge ever identified as such, meant to sustain students who hadn’t slept for three days and the staff that had to deal with them. Then he sat down on a bench with clear view of the entrance, and proceeded to stare down anyone who happened to walk inside.

Until Perceptor walked in.

It had been weeks since last time they interacted. Ratchet had managed to get away – again – without leaving any form of contact information, though he figured the only reason Perceptor hadn’t tracked him down anyway was because he was just too nice. But now there was no way around it – Ratchet had placed himself in plain sight on purpose, and Perceptor had already seen him. He was coming over, a look of apprehension on his face as he sat down next to Ratchet.

“Hello, Ratchet.” Perceptor smiled faintly. “I… have your journals.”

For a moment, Ratchet just stared at him, speechless. The words just didn’t make sense in his mind. “You what now?”

“I apologize for the deception.” Perceptor was studiously not meeting his eyes as he pulled up his messenger bag. “It seemed the only way, given that you were so very insistent on avoiding me. If you truly do not wish to spend time with me I will let you be, but I suspect that you were doing it mainly out of a misplaced sense of guilt or need to protect me from yourself. Which I wish you would let me determine the need for, by the way.” Perceptor’s eyes were sharp as he handed Ratchet a stack of journals. “It is wholly unnecessary. But now I can at least reach you.”

“Are you saying,” Ratchet began slowly, “that you staged this whole thing just so you could get my phone number?”

“Yes. I don’t believe simply asking you for it would have ever worked.” That faint smile was back on Perceptor’s face. “I hope you’ll forgive me the trickery.”

Ratchet didn’t know how to react. He was still shell-shocked that Perceptor – Perceptor – had pulled all this off, and just to get in touch with him. “Orion helped you with this, didn’t he.”

“He did,” Perceptor confirmed. “I mentioned you one afternoon, and we got to talking.” He reached out, slowly putting one warm hand on top of Ratchet’s. “He also told me how your ex treated you. I can understand why you’re acting the way you are, but believe me, what Pharma saw in you is the farthest thing from the truth. You are worth it, Ratchet.”

If he got any more flustered now, he might melt from it. “Orion’s got a big mouth,” he grumbled, grabbing the journals to try and distract Perceptor from his reaction.

Perceptor chuckled lightly. “I suppose that’s true. But his plan worked. And he told me this would work as well, which I hope he’s right about, because if he’s not, I will be highly embarrassed.”

“What would work?” Ratchet asked intelligently.

“This.” Perceptor took a deep breath. Then he leaned toward Ratchet.

The kiss was faint, a barely-there touch of his lips to Ratchet’s, just enough to register. Ratchet blinked rapidly as Perceptor pulled back, blushing slightly.

“I… suppose that might not have worked.”

“You can’t draw conclusions based on one experiment,” Ratchet managed, surprising himself with how hoarse his voice was.

Perceptor’s smile was brilliant. “That is of course completely true.” He leaned in again, and this time Ratchet met him halfway.

After an indeterminate amount of time, Perceptor pulled back just enough to break the kiss. “I’d say the results so far are promising,” he murmured, wide smile crinkling the corner of his eyes.

“We should repeat the experiment in a different location,” Ratchet replied, still not in control of his own voice. “I suggest we repeat it in a more secure space.”

“That sounds like an excellent idea,” Perceptor said, and kissed him again. This time it was brief, and when he pulled away Ratchet dazedly chased his lips. It took Perceptor taking his arm and tugging at it to get him to his feet.

“Come on. I know just the place.” He put a hand around Ratchet’s waist and pulled him close, and Ratchet was done for.

He figured he might owe Orion a gift basket after this.

Chapter Text

Silverbolt was nervous. Which made no sense at all. The door in front of him was plain, the same as every other door on this floor. And he should know, he’d knocked on all of them.

Granted, he’d knocked on the others to have an alibi to knock on this one. But still.

And he was there for a reason. He wasn’t just waiting in front of Skyfire’s door on impulse, like some boyfriend-that-wasn’t-yet that didn’t know the concept of personal boundaries. And yes, Skyfire hadn’t told him which room was his, but he had told him which building it was.

Silverbolt may have looked over the mailboxes downstairs to find out which room was Skyfire’s. Mainly because he didn’t want to surprise himself with suddenly standing face to face with Skyfire. But now he was having serious second thoughts about that – perhaps it would have been better to not give himself time to dread a specific room.

Legitimate reason, Silverbolt. You’re allowed to be here, supposed to even.

Besides, Skyfire might not even be home.

That thought was weirdly upsetting, enough so to have Silverbolt knocking on the door before he’d really decided to do so. The shout of “Just a moment!” from inside was calming and nerve-wracking at once.

He had time to take a firm hold of the box in his arms and swallow before the door was unlocked and opened. Skyfire’s polite expression morphed quickly into a wide smile. “Silverbolt! What brings you here?”

“Donations.” Silverbolt held up the box in his arms like a shield. “My team hosted the last campus gathering of the semester yesterday, and since Air Raid and Groove joined forces in the kitchen we ended up with three times the cookies we could actually eat. So I’m going door to door, unloading them.” He lifted the box even further. “Cookies?”

It looked like Skyfire’s face fell slightly at the explanation, though Silverbolt may have imagined that. His smile was as welcoming as ever as he stepped aside. “Would you like to come in?”

“Sure,” Silverbolt replied. He tried not to sound too eager.

Skyfire’s room was about as he had imagined it; tidy and clean and neat, an extra-large bed taking up most of one wall and two desks taking up the other. Silverbolt put the box of cookies down on the corner of one before turning around to see Skyfire close the door behind him.

The silence probably wasn’t half as awkward as Silverbolt felt it was. Skyfire seemed relaxed, one corner of his mouth quirked in a smile, so Silverbolt being here couldn’t be a complete disaster, even though they’d only spoken on the phone a handful of times and hadn’t really talked about meeting up again. Not in so many words.

Well. Not in those exact words. There had been many words. Many, many words. Talks that began after dinner and lasted well into the night, until Silverbolt was almost falling asleep with the phone in his hand and Skyfire had to repeat what he was saying over and over again before he got it. But they hadn’t talked about meeting up.

And now, despite having talked to Skyfire for hours and hours, Silverbolt didn’t know what to say.

“Cookies, huh?” Skyfire said, and Silverbolt was absurdly grateful that the silence was broken. Even if it meant he had to talk.

“Yeah, Air Raid found this recipe for fudge brownie cookies, and Groove had a recipe for lemon vanilla sponge cupcakes, and then they… sort of ended up having a bake-off, which resulted in absurd amounts of everything.” He picked up the box again, and offered it to Skyfire. “They’re really good, too.”

“I’ll have to try them. Come on.” Skyfire took Silverbolt’s hand and tugged him towards the neatly made bed, sitting down cross-legged on one end. “Sit down with me.”

“Um. Okay.” Silverbolt sat down gingerly and opened the box, offering Skyfire a cookie. He still couldn’t come up with something to say, not with Skyfire looking at him like that, long fingers breaking the cookie apart and eating it piece by piece.

“Mmmmm.” Skyfire closed his eyes as he put the last piece in his mouth. “This is dangerously good.”

Silverbolt shifted, looking away to hide his reaction to Skyfire’s almost-moan. “I’ll tell them you said that."

“Do that. I have to admit, though, I’m a bit disappointed.” Skyfire licked his fingers, getting rid of the traces of chocolate. Silverbolt couldn’t help staring, not even when Skyfire looked back at him and winked. "I’d kind of hoped you came to see me because you actually wanted to see me, not because you were just going door to door.”

That opened the floodgates. Silverbolt couldn’t find it in himself to shut up, even though he wanted to. "But I did. I mean, yeah, we had to go door to door and we had to get rid of the cookies before we had to throw them out, but I chose this building because I know you live here. I knocked on every door before I gathered up the courage to knock on yours. I mean, you haven’t actually told me where you live, or that I could come visit. I don’t want to intrude.” He closed his mouth suddenly, teeth clicking together.

Skyfire nodded slowly. “In that case, how about we make a deal?” He picked up another cookie and held it up to Silverbolt’s lips. Silverbolt opened his mouth almost on automatic. “You can come here any time you want. That would in fact be singularly awesome. I’d really like to see you here every day, to talk with you directly instead of – or as well as – over the phone. And I really hope you’re done going door to door for today, because there’s a movie I’ve been itching to show you and today seems like a good day for it.” His fingertips rested against Silverbolt’s closed lips, and Silverbolt did his best to chew the suddenly tasteless piece of cookie in his mouth. “What do you say? Stay here with me for a bit?”

Silverbolt didn’t trust his voice. So he simply nodded.

“Good.” That smile on Skyfire’s face warmed Silverbolt to the core. “Give me a moment, and I’ll set it up.”

 

Somehow, Silverbolt ended up sitting between Skyfire’s legs, his back against Skyfire’s chest and his head against his shoulder. Skyfire had one arm around Silverbolt’s chest, palm resting against his shoulder.

“I’ve been wanting to do this ever since I saw you walk up to that café with my USB drive in your hand,” Skyfire murmured, his breath tickling Silverbolt’s ear. “Did you know that?”

Silverbolt smiled. “I didn’t know that. But, still, same. Definitely.” He put one hand on top of Skyfire’s and squeezed. “Now shush. Watching move, here.”

When his phone chimed at him an hour later, he ignored it. And the hour after that. And the hour after that. It was almost midnight before he managed to untangle himself from Skyfire’s possessive arms and check his messages.

‘If you’re where I think you are – about fucking time, bro.’

‘I’m gonna assume you haven’t been kidnapped and have instead crashed into a certain hot guy’s bed. Call me tomorrow.’

‘Please tell me you’re safe. And don’t give me any details if you are.’

‘Silverbolt!!!!!!!!!!! OMG!!!!!!!’

“What’s so funny?” Skyfire murmured against Silverbolt’s back. His lips ghosted along Silverbolt’s shoulder, pressing tiny kisses into the bare skin.

“My team. They’re basically telling me not to come home.” He sent off a quick message to Skydive, letting him know where he was, before dropping the phone and turning back to Skyfire.

“Sounds good to me.” Those arms tightened around him again. “Stay until tomorrow?”

“Definitely.” Silverbolt let Skyfire tuck him close and pull the covers over them. “Not going anywhere.”

The answering chime heralding Skydive’s response was well and truly ignored by both of them.

Chapter Text

Soundwave tended to avoid the crowds. Especially at the end of spring semester, when everyone was giddy with nerves or anticipation or relief, or even a mix of the three. And with the main paths meandering across campus full of vendors and charity stalls and recruiters and stuff as well, it was beyond exhausting to move from one place to the other.

Some were safe to walk past, offering nothing more than a smile or maybe calling out a question as he walked past. Some were more bothersome, taking hold of arms or walking backward in front of him and trying to convince him. Some were downright horrible, not letting go of someone unless they were forced to.

Today he’d managed to run afoul of one of the worst ones.

“It’s an affront to our Lord!” the guy spat, getting right up in Soundwave’s face and glaring at him. “It’s unnatural! And they shall be punished as the Lord has spoken, with an eternity of fire and brimstone! Strips shall be torn from their backs and their flesh reamed by wild hounds! Burning rain shall fall upon them!”

“Must get going,” Soundwave tried, stepping sideways to get past the man. But it did no good, and now suddenly he was grasping Soundwave by the arms, shouting in his face.

“No! You cannot stand by in idleness! Not when the sinners are holding seats of power, when depravity runs rampant on campus!” The volume kept going up, and Soundwave tried harder to pull away. Not that it helped – the guy clearly had the muscle strength of the completely crazy. Other people seemed to notice this too, and no one tried to intervene.

“Let go,” Soundwave said, sharply enough to spook Ravage in her carrier. The loud mrrreeeOOW had the preacher’s eyes widening, and Soundwave fought harder to get himself loose before another tirade started, this time undoubtedly focused on Soundwave himself. The iron grip on his arms was unshakeable, though.

“Hey, back off of him! He ain’t interested.” The voice was familiar, unforgettable, and Soundwave untensed slightly.

Jazz burst onto the scene like one of the vengeful creatures the preacher had been going on about. He was almost snarling as he got right up in the preacher’s face, one hand on the guy’s neck. He wasn’t squeezing or even pushing, but the threat was clear. “Let go, Star Saber. Ya remember what happened last time I disabled ya this way.” His hand twisted, slowly, and Star Saber sneered. “Ain’t no fun t’ be stuck without functionin’ arms, is it?”

Soundwave could have moaned in relief when he was let go. Thankfully, he managed to keep that embarrassing response silent.

“He’s an abomination,” Star Saber snarled, eyes locked on Jazz. “You all are. You will all be punished!”

Jazz snarled right back, to Soundwave’s surprise. “We have different ideas of what’s bad, man. Now get, before I call campus security on ya. Ya know ya ain’t allowed t’ be here.”

Star Saber sneered at them again, but then he turned around and left.

Jazz grimaced at his retreating back. “That guy’s foul. You okay, Sounders?”

“Fine now,” Soundwave replied. “Thank you.”

“Sure.” Jazz smiled. “Gotta take care of my favorite neighbor.”

Soundwave blinked. “Favorite?”

“Ya doubt that?” Jazz’s smile softened, and he reached out and took Soundwave’s hand. “Always sellin’ yourself short. Don’t think ya see yourself very clearly at all.”

That made no sense. Neither did Jazz holding Soundwave’s hand, for that matter. Jazz had all the options in the world, he didn’t have to spend time with Soundwave.

Unless he wanted to.

Soundwave could feel the blush rising in his cheeks as his eyes widened.

“There ya go.” Jazz’s voice was soft, his fingers warm around Soundwave’s. “Ain’t no trickery, Sounders. Just me, wantin’ t’ spend time with you.”

An impatient mrreeow interrupted the moment, and Soundwave was instantly grateful. He needed to get himself back under control.

Jazz just giggled. “Yeah, and you, kittycat. Tired of bein’ cooped up in there, huh?” He twisted his hand around Soundwave’s, somehow lacing their fingers together. “Should we take her home? If that was where you were goin’?”

“Yes.” Soundwave managed to not stare down at their linked hands. “If… it’s no trouble.” Jazz had done so much for them already, he didn’t have to come along just to keep Soundwave safe from Star Saber.

“Never any trouble, man.” Jazz canted his head, looking up at Soundwave. “Hmm. Somethin’ tells me you’re still not gettin’ it, not completely. No worries, I’ll prove it t’ ya.” He grinned, lifting up their linked hand and pressing a kiss to Soundwave’s knuckles. “I got some music I wanted t’ play for ya, and a box of goodies my bro sent me. Wanna come share them?”

Was Jazz asking him on a date? A stay-at-home date? Did people do that?

“Yes,” Soundwave replied. Whatever was going on, he couldn’t say no to Jazz. He didn’t want to say no to Jazz. “That sounds nice.”

“Great! Awesome.” Jazz tugged at his hand. “Come on then. Let’s go home.”

Soundwave liked the sound of that. And he especially liked the way Jazz’s fingers were warm in his, how Jazz’s thumb kept stroking his hand.

It might not be something he could keep. Things rarely were. But he could at least enjoy it while it lasted. And who knew, maybe Jazz was different. The way Jazz kept glancing at him and smiling certainly made it seem so.

He tightened his grip on Jazz’s hand and let himself hope.

Chapter Text

“So I’ve asked everyone.” Skywarp’s voice was pleading, almost desperate. “And none of them were there or even remembered that we were supposed to cover that. You’re kind of my last chance. I know you’ve finished that class, but I’m hoping that you still have the notes.”

Prowl nodded. “You’re in luck. I never throw my notes away. But it was two years ago, he might have changed it.”

“I’ll take my chances.” Skywarp’s relief was audible. “A little info is better than no info at all. Can I come over and get them?”

Prowl blinked. They’d only met a couple of times after the Bouncy Castle Revelation, as Jazz had coined it – and he was still teasing Prowl about it, too – and neither of them had been to the other’s place. Prowl hadn’t been all too certain Skywarp was still interested, for all that he’d flirted when they were bouncing together.

Jazz had said it was flirting, anyway. And he should know.

Coming over to collect some study notes didn’t mean that Skywarp was interested, though. It just meant that he needed study notes.

“Of course,” Prowl replied, after a moment too long. “I’ll send you my address. I’ll be home studying for the rest of the day, just come by when it suits you.”

“Awesome. You’re a life-saver.”

Prowl smiled. “A grade-saver, maybe. I’ll see you later.”

“You will.” Then the line went dead.

Prowl looked at his phone for a moment before sighing and putting it down. He’d better find those notes.

 

Skywarp brought cake. That was unexpected.

“I figure I owe you,” he said with a wide grin. “So I stopped by and picked up raspberry fudge brownies. And then,” he pulled another box out of his messenger bag, “I ran into one of First Aid’s friends, he was handing out these. Lemon vanilla sponge cupcakes, apparently.”

Prowl looked down at the abundance of sugary baked goods. “Were you planning to help me eat some of them?”

“I kind of already ate a few on the way here.” Skywarp winked. “They’re really good.”

Oh. Apparently not, then.

Prowl turned back to his desk. “I found my old notebook for you,” he said, picking it up and handing it over. Skywarp had to put the cake tin down to accept it. “I’ve marked the relevant pages for you, but feel free to copy anything you think might be useful.”

“Thanks.” Skywarp flashed him another of those easy smiles as he opened the book. “I really do appreciate it.”

Prowl sat down on the desk chair, watching Skywarp read. He was frowning slightly, eyes darting across the page. Prowl bit his lip. “You don’t have to read it here, you know. You’re allowed to take it with you.”

Skywarp glanced up. “Oh. Am I disturbing you? You were studying.”

“It’s nothing urgent. I just didn’t want to detain you if you’d rather take it with you.” He shrugged awkwardly – it wasn’t something he did often, but Jazz had taken shrugging to its own form of communication, and it seemed to work for him, so it was probably worth a try.

After a moment, Skywarp chuckled. There was something almost self-deprecating in the sound. “We’re really bad at this, aren’t we?”

“At studying?” Prowl frowned.

“At this.” Skywarp gestured between them. “I keep waiting for you to give an indication one way or the other, and you keep fluctuating between looking at me like I’m candy you can’t have and giving me ways out and almost pushing me at them. Tell me the truth.” He put the book down and sat down on Prowl’s bed, leaving them almost face to face. “Do you want me to leave?”

The truth. Well. “No. I don’t. But… I can’t see why you’d want to stay. I’m not that interesting.”

Skywarp stared at him. After a moment, Prowl looked down. Only supreme control of his own reactions kept him from fidgeting under the weight of that look.

“Huh,” Skywarp said finally. “Well, just for that, we’re going to sit here on your bed and eat cake. I have some movies on my laptop if you want to watch, or we can play a game, or just talk. And in the spirit of truth and honesty…” He smiled, hooking one leg around Prowl’s desk chair and pulling him closer. “You fascinate me, and I’m very interested to get to know you better.”

“Why?” Prowl asked, dumbfounded. He immediately wished he could take it back, but of course he couldn’t. He couldn’t tear his gaze away from Skywarp, either.

“Why?” Skywarp tugged him even a little bit closer, until the side of the chair bumped against the bed. “Because you’re nice. And handsome. And when you laugh, you get this dimple in your cheek that is just the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. Because you help out strangers, and because your eyes are this amazing green that just reminds me of all the good things.”

Prowl knew he was blushing fiercely. He didn’t know what to say, or what to do. Thankfully, Skywarp made the choice for him.

“Come over here.” A warm hand closed on Prowl’s, pulling him up and onto the bed. Somehow he ended up settled at Skywarp’s side, one of his legs over Skywarp’s, their shoulders pressed together.

“There.” Skywarp smiled at him. “Make you a deal. We’ll be honest about what we want, and not assume to know what the other one wants. That sound good?”

“It sounds very good,” Prowl murmured. After a moment’s consideration, he let his head drop down to rest against Skywarp’s shoulder. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” There was faint pressure against Prowl’s hair. It took him a moment to realize that it was Skywarp’s lips. “For the record, you’re very wrong about yourself. And I intend to make sure you know that.” He picked up a cupcake and held it to Prowl’s lips. “Here, try one. They’re delicious."

Prowl opened his mouth almost automatically. He was surprised to realize that he’d be perfectly content to sit there the rest of the afternoon and let Skywarp feed him cake like this. Shyly, he found Skywarp’s other hand and intertwined their fingers.

Jazz would have a field day with this. For some reason, Prowl didn’t really care.

Skywarp squeezed his hand and fed him another piece.

Chapter Text

Sunstreaker absolutely hated being late. Not because he was afraid of missing anything. It had more to do with the way everyone would turn and stare at him when he walked in late. How the professor would call him out. He hated it.

Which was why he was hesitating outside the door, instead of walking inside like a normal person.

But waiting outside wouldn’t really do any good. Not when this was the last class before the final project deadline. He needed to go inside. Which meant he had to grab the door handle. And push it down.

The door was locked.

Just to be sure, he tried opening it again. It couldn’t be locked, they never locked the door during class. It was in breach of the fire code or something, and since this was a private building they were really strict about it.

The door was still locked.

Well, that wasn’t good.

“Hey, Sun! You’re late too? I swear, it takes forever to get here.” Thundercracker’s cheery, somewhat out of breath voice was a welcome distraction, and Sunstreaker was almost smiling when he turned toward him. Thundercracker beamed back, as happy to see Sunstreaker as he always was. Sunstreaker still couldn’t quite understand why, but he’d stopped worrying about it.

“Door’s locked,” he offered. “Can’t get inside.”

“Locked?” Thundercracker frowned. “Why?”

Sunstreaker had to laugh at that. Thundercracker was unfairly cute when he frowned. He was even cuter when he looked happily confused, which he always did when he managed to startle a laugh out of Sunstreaker. “How would I know? I only just got here.”

“Hah!” Thundercracker grinned. “Knew you were late too. Let’s find out if they’re there, shall we?”

Sunstreaker hadn’t wanted to knock. Thundercracker, of course, had no such qualms.

Knocking didn’t get the door open, though. Neither did kicking it. When shouting through the keyhole yielded no results either, Thundercracker finally gave up.

“Damn.” He ran a hand through his hair, messing it up slightly. Sunstreaker ached to mess it up more. “Guess they’re not there. Did you get an e-mail or something?”

“Nope.” Sunstreaker had checked. “But you know he doesn’t like me.”

Thundercracker chuckled. “Not true, sweet. He just doesn’t get you.”

Sweet. Sunstreaker would never get used to that.

“Well, guess we have some free time, then.” Thundercracker flashed him a smile. “What do you want to do?”

On the one hand, it sucked slag. They were all the way on the edge of campus, it would take an hour to walk back to where he was supposed to meet Sides for lunch later. There was nothing out on this side, it was all residential blocks and playgrounds and parking spaces.

On the other hand, he was all the way out here with Thundercracker. Alone. With several hours to go before he had to be anywhere. And if he remembered correctly, this building had a pretty cool roof space.

He reached out to take Thundercracker’s hand. “Want to go up top with me?”

 

The roof terrace was amazing. It was well kept and tidy, had shade sails and planters and bean bags and low benches, all further indicators that the university was really only renting rooms in the building. Nowhere the university actually owned was this nice.

Thundercracker glanced up at him again. They were seated opposite each other under a shade sail, curled up legs almost touching, and Sunstreaker was captivated. Thundercracker was apparently writing something, he had this focused look on his face that Sunstreaker had almost managed to put down on paper. Except now he kept glancing up.

“You keep looking at me like that, and I’m going to have to come over to see what you’re working on,” Thundercracker said, one corner of his mouth quirked in a smile.

“You keep looking that focused, and I’m going to have to ask you to read out loud to me,” Sunstreaker countered.

Thundercracker held out his notebook. “Trade? I’ll show you mine, you show me yours?”

That was kind of nerve-wracking. But Thundercracker had proven he could be trusted. Sunstreaker agreed before he could think about it too much and freak himself out. “Deal.” He patted the space next to him. “Come over here.”

Once Thundercracker had settled, Sunstreaker slid his sketchbook over and into his lap. He was more than a little nervous – even Sideswipe hadn’t seen some of this stuff, and a lot of it was really personal.

And quite a lot of it was inspired by the guy sitting next to him right now.

He couldn’t even focus on the notebook in his hand. Not when Thundercracker turned to the last page first.

“Sunstreaker, this is…” Thundercracker’s hand hovered over the sketch almost reverently.

“Yeah.”

Thundercracker turned back a page and came face to face with more drawings of himself. “Sun. Sweet. I don’t even know what to say.”

Sunstreaker bit his lip. He’d been – well, alright, not fairly confident, but somewhat confident that Thundercracker would like them. Now he had a hard time figuring out if Thundercracker was happy or not.

Thundercracker stopped at the third page. It was a full-page sketch Sunstreaker had drawn from memory a few weeks back. Thundercracker had been laughing at something, head thrown back and eyes crinkled shut, wide-necked t-shirt slipping off one shoulder. He’d been one of the more beautiful things Sunstreaker had ever seen, and it was clear in every line of the sketch.

“Open the notebook.” Thundercracker’s voice was soft. “Open it, Sun.”

Sunstreaker did.

At first, he couldn’t see whatever it was Thundercracker wanted him to see. There was writing, some kind of medical drama of the type Thundercracker was so fond of, but nothing that jumped out at him.

But then he noticed the small writing in the margins.

‘Sunstreaker’s fingers, so long and slim and so very talented. I could do nothing but watch them for the rest of my life and be happy.’

‘Finally found the right blue. It’s the sky just after the sun’s set, before the light’s faded all the way. I bet Sun knows the shade, but he’d freak if I asked him to describe his own eyes.’

‘I want to show Sunstreaker.’

‘Maybe Sunstreaker would like this.’

‘Sun’s mouth.’

‘Sunstreaker’s hair.’

‘Sunstreaker’

‘Sunstreaker’

‘Sunstreaker’

Sunstreaker blinked and finally looked up to meet Thundercracker’s eyes.

“See?” Thundercracker said softly. “I’m just as smitten with you.”

Carefully, Sunstreaker put the notebook down. He pulled his sketchbook out of Thundercracker’s lap and put that aside as well. Then he shifted until he was sitting in front of him, close enough to touch.

Close enough to let his eyes fall shut and rest his forehead against Thundercracker’s.

“I come with a bit of baggage,” he whispered. “And the most obnoxious twin brother you can imagine.”

Thundercracker ran his fingers through Sunstreaker’s hair. “I know you have baggage. I don’t care. And I’ll see your twin brother and raise you a brother and a cousin who’re both horrible.”

Sunstreaker opened his eyes and looked right into Thundercracker’s. “Sure you want me? There are a lot of better guys out there.”

“No, there aren’t,” Thundercracker breathed, and then his hand moved to the back of Sunstreaker’s head and pulled him forward until their lips met.

Sunstreaker’s world ended. And instantly began again, all at once, lighter and brighter and fiercer and happier and full of all the good things, and he never wanted to be anywhere else than right there in Thundercracker’s arms – and when had they moved to be around him, anyway? He hadn’t even noticed – where the world was perfect.

Of course, that was when his phone chimed.

“Someone wants you,” Thundercracker murmured, smiling against Sunstreaker’s lips.

“Someone can wait,” Sunstreaker replied, leaning forward.

He might owe Sideswipe an apology later. And he should definitely text him to let him know he wasn’t coming to lunch.

Later. For now, he was right where he wanted to be. And judging by Thundercracker’s dopey smile, he felt the same.