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The Foreign Exchange Officer

Chapter Text

I was a lieutenant on the bustling, mid-sized research starship EDCS Solomon, part of one of the security details. Essentially, it was my job to accompany science teams down to planets and hold a gun while they scraped alien lichen off of alien rocks. It’s actually way more interesting than I’m making it out to be, I promise. Sometimes the lichen decides to get up and walk away.

Currently, I was standing at one of the docking hatches, biting back my grin at being one of the crew members chosen to welcome our new security officer to the ship as part of an inter-species cultural exchange program the IC cooked up. But why was I trying not to grin like a madman, you ask? Simple: I had a “thing” for the security officer who had been sent our way.

It was harmless, really! My friends and bunkmates knew, and it was an easy joke to make, especially when it was me joking about myself. But I was open about it, and the ribbing was always good-natured. It didn’t get in the way of my work, and meeting him wasn’t something I ever considered would actually happen.

Except oops, it was happening.

Our newest run of ships had been designed with inter-species collaboration in mind, so when he ducked in through the 12-foot airlock leading to where his people’s shuttle was docked beside us, he was able to stand up straight once inside the receiving bay. I made a sound like a little girl in my throat and hoped that no one would notice.

The mech looked every bit as good in person as he did on the vids, and I was thankful. Freshly buffed green, black, white, yellow, and gray enamel glistened under the lights, and his left shoulder was painted in a diagonal of gold to signify his rank of office, complete with an esoteric symbol denoting his specialty. The look on his face was warm enough to melt chocolate without burning it.

Hound!

“Welcome to the Solomon, Lieutenant Commander,” the captain said, giving a nod and a grin at our new guest. The first officer extended her hand and the Autobot bent down to take it with a professional curtness.

“The pleasure is all mine,” he returned with a smile. He took the opportunity to glance about his surroundings, at the crisp whiteness of it, the Terran design, and the occasional flash of warm earth tones reminiscent, they said, of classic 1970’s style. The Autobot’s glowing blue optical sensors keenly darted my way as he took in the faces of myself and my small detail, and I stood up a little straighter at the brief attention.

“I understand that this is your first time on a Terran vessel?” Commander Willow asked, gesturing already for the door.

Hound laughed. “To be fair, it’s the first time I’ve been able to fit on one!”

The ranking officers chuckled genially, and they filed out to show him to his quarters. At which point I let out the breath I was holding to chuckle a bit myself.

One of my ensigns turned toward me and flashed a grin. “Five bucks says you make a drunken fool of yourself in the first week, Bowie.”

“How many times do I need to tell you,” I said over lunch the next day. “I think he’s cute and looks great in pictures. That’s it.

“Everybody knows you want in his proverbial pants,” Corporal Afra Nguyen giggled with a roll of her eyes. “I mean, I’d probably jump Captain Chromia’s bones if given the opportunity. And Marcus has a thing for Femaxians, so...”

To EDC types, the Autobot veterans who fought in their Great War were minor celebrities. Most of us could recognize dozens among their ranks, knew the highlights of their career, and where they settled in after signing the Treaty of Iacon almost a century ago. In fact, that centennial was the reason the exchange program existed. But Cybertronians were still an enigmatic people, and the EDC wanted to get to know what they were like in peacetime. It was the perfect opportunity for a little cultural intermingling.

I set my fork down and buried my face in my hands in a show of exhaustion. “I’m never going to live this down, am I?”

Lieutenant Marcus King snorted. “Nope.”

“Look.” I shoveled in another mouthful of cobb salad. “He’s here to work, and so am I. Hound’s got no idea who Lieutenant Bowie Orr of the EDCS Solomon is, and I’m perfectly happy with this arrangement.”

“Even the chief doc knows you like him.”

“You’re not going to let me forget about that either, are you?”

“Nope.”

“But broke my ankle! I was high on painkillers!”

“Yeah, I don’t go on and on about how my teenage crush is quote, too precious for this world, end quote, when I’m hopped up on azadrin.”

“At least I don’t get starry-eyed for the captain like every green ensign fresh out of the academy.”

A pause.

“Captain Cooper is hot, though,” Afra muttered.

I sighed and nodded. Marcus rolled his eyes.

Just then, I got a slap on the back from another corporal. “Good luck,” was all he said, with a shit-eating grin on his face.

“Fuck,” I hissed. “Does everyone on the whole damn ship know?”

“Pretty sure you told half of them yourself.”

I was beginning to see the writing on the walls and heat rose to my freckled face. It was time to change tactics. “Can we just… make sure that nobody tells him this? Please? I know it would take an unprofessional asshat to make it a topic of conversation, but for the love of god the last thing I want our chief security officer to hear through the grapevine is that some human nobody on this ship is madly in love with him.”

Nguyen howled with laughter. “Oh, you’re madly in love now!

“...I’m just going to shut up.”

Unfortunately for me, minding my own business wasn’t in the cards. The duty roster had me serving as Hound’s personal liaison the next day. I narrowed my eyes and was this close to demanding whose idea of a joke this was.

But Wednesday morning came, and at 0800 sharp, I found myself knocking on the door to his “XL” suite.

“Come in!” I heard him call from inside.

I’d rather not, I thought, but touched my foot to the baseboard sensor on the human-sized entrance and it slid open with a gentle sigh.

Hound popped out from the hallway across the room when I stepped in. “Good morning, lieutenant!” he called out to me before disappearing again. “If you’ll give me a moment, I’d like to finish washing up.”

I blinked, perplexed, and then heard water running from the head. With hands behind my back, I sidestepped around a four-foot-high coffee table littered with pads and data slugs, attempting to peer politely around the corner.

“Sir?”

A second later he emerged with a huge length of fluffy terrycloth draped around his neck and a smile across his face. “Is my washroom modeled after a standard Terran design? The sink, shower stall, waste extractor?”

I bit back a laugh. “You mean toilet, sir?”

The smile never left his face as he glanced back at the bathroom. “Toilet, right.” Then his eyes were on me. “Autobot ships aren’t fitted with water systems, you know. So this is a special treat for me.”

I smiled back at him, trying to appear both affable and bland at the same time. I swore to myself that I wasn’t going to get carried away. “I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself, lieutenant commander.”

“Please, that’s a mouthful. Just call me Hound.”

You’re a mouthful, my brain quipped of its own accord. Clearly it was trying help Ensign Vargas win that five bucks.

“So what’s your name, son?” The Autobot went on to give one last wipe-down of his face and shoulders before setting the “towel” to drape on the back of an appropriately-sized chair. Then he knelt down, which was in itself something that sent a tingle up my spine to watch from so close.

I swallowed again. “Uh, Lieutenant Orr, sir. Security officer, second class.”

He chuckled and I all but died. “Not your rank, lieutenant. I could have gotten that from the roster your Lieutenant Commander Stillwell left for me. What’s your name?”

I was blushing, I could feel it. Fuck, fuck, fuck. Looking away would have been a tell, so I met his mesmerizing blue gaze and held out a hand like the First Officer did. “Lieutenant Bowie Orr, sir.”

He took my clammy hand into his gigantic one, swallowing up my fair skin in those smooth, intricate plates of gunmetal that we called fingers. Both their underside and the palm of his hand had a kind of softer, padded layer that felt much more like skin, I noticed. Probably to assist with gripping objects, I reasoned. Or people, my brain shot back.

“That’s a nice name,” the mech said as he stood up, not taking his eyes off me. “Sounds familiar. Do I know you from somewhere?”

If I wasn’t blushing before, I definitely was now. Fuck. “No, no,” I said, almost cutting him off with my nervous laugh. “You’re probably thinking of, uh, Bowie Orson. He works at EDC headquarters, same age as me. We… we get each others’ mail sometimes.” Smooth! Real smooth. “Bowie was a popular name back in 2092.”

Hound laughed and gestured to the door, then, sensing that we should be on our way. “Well, should we get going, Lieutenant Orr?”

“After you, sir.”

That was definitely the smartest thing I said all morning, because as he showed himself out I got to get my first good look at him from behind. You both may be here to do a job, but nobody said you weren’t allowed to look at the eye candy!

The first 45 minutes of our tour involved such destinations as the mess and movie hall, game lounge, small arms lockers, and gym. Most of these facilities were designed for species of Terran size, except the game lounge, which sported 15-foot ceilings in some areas to permit larger guests. I also showed him to the separate “XL” lounge and mess for those species exceeding ten feet in height. He asked if he could “eat” in there even though his energon dispensers were kept in a storage bay.

Once we got underway it got easier to ignore my interest in him, but every once in a while he’d do something that would send my mind spiraling into the gutter. The way he rested his hand on his hip when he was thinking, or the look on his face when he was giving me his complete attention as I detailed the capabilities of this or that feature of the ship as we passed it.

“When are you due on the bridge?” I asked, strolling now at a more leisurely pace. He politely kept pace with me, taking very small, idling steps with those huge feet. I hoped that it was soon. There wasn’t much more of this I could take. I had spent all morning trying to avoid sneaking too many glances at him, making too many jokes, laughing too loud…

“1300,” he replied. I liked the way his voice seemed lighter than most others of his race, and less grim. “What else is there to see?”

I paused to think, keeping my eyes on the floor as he stopped as well, and stopped close. If I looked, his crotch would have been right on top of me.

“I, uh… I think you could fit into the arboretum? How tall are you?” I chanced to lift my gaze, as if I could guess.

It was mostly to get a look at the view.

It was a good view.

The way his thick legs tapered upwards into shapely, zinc-white thighs, on top of which was stacked a hulking set of hips, a powerful trunk, and far above my head was his own. And thrice the size of mine. I suppressed a a nervous giggle and chewed my bottom lip instead.

“Fourteen feet, eight inches?”

My eyes darted back to the hallway ahead of us, then. Because if I didn’t know better, I would have said his optics were lingering on me too. But I did. Clearly, I was projecting. “Oh-kay, you’ll fit then! Max height for it is fifteen even.”

“Great! Lead the way, Bo.”

I was about to take a step but stopped. “Bo?” I could feel my hands sweat.

“You don’t mind if I call you that, do ya?”

“No! No, no, not at all,” I stammered, laughing. “I just… didn’t think a few hours of… of casual liaisoning would, uh, mean dropping formalities.”

“If you didn’t gather already, Bowie, I’m not much of a formal kind of mech.”

I laughed awkwardly, then a thought occurred to me. What if… you just rolled with it? He wasn’t flirting, he was just being nice. That was one of the things I liked about him, after all. Lieutenant Commander Hound was notorious among the Autobot veterans for being fucking nice.

Or, apparently, “too precious for this world”.

“You know what,” I said, taking off down the hall again, “Me neither.”

I could hear him smile. “Glad we have something in common.”

The ship’s arboretum existed solely to combat “the grays”, as we colloquially called it. EDC researchers deigned it biophilia withdrawal syndrome: essentially, getting depression from being stuck on a spaceship for too long. Recently, though, it’s served a diplomatic purpose as well, by way of exposing non-Terrans to a curated variety of Earth’s flora.

“Wow!” I heard our green guest exclaim as soon as the XL doors shunted open.

Immediately we were greeted with a view of a grass lawn flanked with blooming dogwoods, delicate acers, densely pruned shrubs, and some very fragrant jasmine.

“High load detected,” the computer said, and a path unfolded itself through the grass as previously invisible panels lifted and flipped over, revealing metal so the landscaping wouldn’t be damaged by large, alien feet.

I took the first step, though kept to the grass. I preferred the way it felt under my feet. “We have a Japanese tea garden in another room, a hothouse for tropicals, and a dry room for the desert plants,” I explained. “All in all about 20,000 square feet.”

“These ceilings are a good thirty feet,” Hound noted, looking around. “Why do they limit guests to fifteen?”

“Protects the canopy from any unintentional pruning,” I chuckled. “Besides, have a listen.”

I stood quietly and held up my finger. Hound held still too, and it took a few moments, but the resident birds did start chirping again. I saw his face light up at that and it was so sweet my teeth fuckin hurt.

“Why couldn’t this have been my suite?” he laughed, then sighed. “Makes me want to go back to Earth.”

I sat down on a bench. “You miss it that much?”

“Having to go home after the war was like going back to 19th century London when you’d just spent thirty years in the English countryside.”

“Sounds like you suffer from the grays, too, sir.”

He did something with his optic that reminded me of a wink. “Nothing a little time with some flora and fauna can’t fix.”

An odd thing to say, but I continued to “roll with it”. “Unfortunately, the EDC never installed a petting zoo,” I chuckled, standing up again. “You’ll have to make do with finches.”

But Hound took one long, leisurely stride past me as he ventured into the next room. “Wasn’t talking about birds, Bowie.”

I felt the heat creep up my neck and pool in my belly. Blinking, I held my breath until the blood went back to where it was supposed to be, dammit, and with god as my witness…

Nice! He’s just being nice! In the span of about 2 seconds I convinced myself that the suggestion in his words was all in my head, that maybe I was too horny to be able to carry out this job, that maybe I could ask that I just be relieved of duty for the day.

I watched him stroll from behind, and it was gorgeous. The way his tight metal hips moved with each languid step, the way his backside, seemingly cluttered, shifted with elegant choreography like muscles and scapulae in time with the swaying of his thick, powerful arms. The way he pivoted to look down at me over his massively broad shoulders to ask if I was coming or not.

Er…

“Right behind you, sir! I mean Hound! I mean...”

With an hour to go, we briefly parted ways, agreeing to meet in the XL game room for lunch. I headed for the mess, scanned my thumb at one of the meal stations, and hit the button for a teriyaki chicken bowl. I watched as the prepared meal made its way down a conveyor and popped out a small door.

When I turned around, I realized that I was glad not to be eating in here; it was the lunch rush and there weren’t many empty seats.

As I was about to leave, though, I almost ran into Marcus, literally, and it was by nothing short of a miracle that my bowl didn’t end up on the floor.

“Jesus Christ,” I huffed. “Almost lost my damn lunch, King.”

The taller crewman just grinned, ignoring me. “Hey, so how’s the tour de hunk going?”

I cleared my throat for effect. “It’s going great, thank you very much.” Then I gestured with my free hand. “Imagine, the best of both worlds: hot bod as far as the eye can see, without any of the messiness of needing to bring it up.”

The straight man folded his arms, quite enjoying himself at my expense. But as I said, I was rolling with it. “Is he everything you could have dreamed of?”

I held up a finger. “And more, of course. It helps that he seems to have no idea what flirting is, though.”

Marcus slapped my shoulder. “The sugary ones usually don’t have a clue,” he chuckled, but his eyes were focused elsewhere in the room. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some flirting to do myself.”

I turned to watch him stroll over to a table on the far end of the mess, where a certain freshly-transferred Corporal Portia Soo sat alone. I left as soon as Marcus made his approach, not having the stomach to watch a train wreck today.

The game lounge was usually pretty sparse at this time of day, but there were a few folks in there enjoying themselves with a beer. I headed for the far end of the room, or at least the far end for me: human-sized tables arranged near a glass balustrade, beyond which the floor fell away to accommodate the larger guests. To our left, a bank of windows revealed the view: the Pleiades and the tight cluster of stars around them cast us in an unearthly bluish light as we cruised on towards the nearest nebula.

Hound was seated on the other side of the railing, taking in the stars. He was faced away from me, but sensed me approach and turned to smile. “I was thinking… how about a game of checkers?”

“Figured out the tables already?” I chuckled, sitting down.

The mech reached over the glass with one of his massive hands – no, really, it was huge! – and hit a small panel set into the table’s surface. A holographic game board fizzed to life and he proceeded to scroll through the holographic menu to select a game. The board set itself.

“Now let’s just see if I can move these pieces.”

I laughed, taking a bite of chicken. “I don’t think it’s happening, sir. Your fingers are way too thick and...” I let myself trail off before my descriptors got too colorful.

I watched as he delicately pinched a holographic checker between thumb and forefinger, then set it down again. He leveled his optics at me and gave a wink. “No such thing as ’too big’ if you’re careful, Bo.”

The squirm happened on its own, but at least the laugh came out genial enough. I fixed my eyes on the game board.

“Something wrong with your lip?”

I was chewing it. “No, no, I just… it’s just chapped. Here, let’s see who goes first.” I held up my fist. “You know, rock-paper-scissors?”

He nodded, remembering. “Right, an earth custom,” he held out his own big, gunmetal fist and I realized that he could probably punch a hole in the side of the ship.

“Well I wouldn’t quite call it a custom, but, ah…anyways. Rock, paper… scissors.” I left my fist, and he chose to splay his hand in all of its big, strong glory.

“Paper beats rock, right?” he said. He closed the remaining few inches and covered my hand in his as I looked on, eyes wide. It lingered for a second too long before he pulled away. It had been so warm.

“Y-yeah,” I said, clearing my throat. “Yeah, it does. Autobots first.”

“Your hands are cold,” he noted, moving his first piece.

I moved too. “They usually are. I’m usually cold. It’s a minor health condition, I usually have to wear an extra layer,” I went on, welcoming the distraction and opportunity to vent about this frustrating physical quirk of mine. “My body just sucks at regulating its temperature. When I’m hot, it’s just as uncomfortable. I get all pink, start wishing these uniforms were sleeveless...”

“You get all pink, huh?”

Well, I was pink now. “It’s… you know. When the blood gets all close to the, uh, skin, and… I dunno. Doc says its fine, I just need to work harder to regulate myself than most people.”

If there’d been anything there in Hound’s face before, then it wasn’t there now. He just smiled warmly at me, offered his condolences for my chronic vasospasm, and we continued our game while he sipped energon and I chowed down on rice and steamed veggies.

I think he let me win, though.

“If my chronometer is right, then I believe it’s time for me to head upstairs, and for you to head back to your post, lieutenant.”

We were gathered in the corridor outside the game room. I was both sad and relieved – sad that my time with him was over, and… relieved that it was over too. Crushes really were, in many ways, better experienced from afar. My heart had been pounding all damn day!

I checked my watch. “Just about. How about I escort you to the bridge?”

“I’d like that.”

In lieu of stairs or elevators or ladders, EDC ships were outfitted with zero-gravity transit tubes that snaked all through the ship. Once they figured out how to localize gravity within the confines of a starship, it was a no-brainer: turning off gravity in a tube saved energy, moving parts, and provided a little boost to morale since they were honestly so fun to use. And for moving larger species around, there was no better thing.

We walked for a minute or two to reach the nearest XL tube on this deck. Hound hit the panel and the door slid open, revealing a forcefield.

Hound gestured for me to go first. I leaped through the field and into weightlessness, landing expertly on the far wall to steady myself at a handhold. He followed, stepping through with a bit more caution, likely due to his size. There was enough room in here for two of his kind to pass each other and then some, but it was easy to lose control of yourself without gravity.

He had likely used one of these already since coming aboard, but he still looked around at the simple genius of it. Below us, the tube stretched away for half a dozen decks, and above us, another ten.

I led the way at a measured pace. “Hopefully I’ve done a decent enough job showing you around,” I said, looking back. He was closer than I was expecting, well within arm’s reach. I was acutely aware that he was getting the view now, of me in my white and orange uniform that had the oft-welcome tendency to show off crewmen’s rear ends nicely. (I was personally more fond of backs and shoulders, but the standard-issues sometimes did them a service too.)

“There’s a few more things I’d have liked to see, but who knows, might get another chance before I leave.”

“Oh? Like what?”

There was a pause uncharacteristic of him, then his voice changed. “Like… a little more forwardness from you.”

I gaped, then laughed as a sort of automatic defense mechanism as I stopped myself and turned down. “Forwardness? I-I don’t follow.” That heat was on the back of my neck again and it felt like a sunburn.

Hound floated further up beside me until we were a bit more eye level. He was within my arm’s reach now, and I could see every little seam of his face, every little movement of the concentric white rings in his bright blue eyes. I could even catch glimpses of the detail along his, what, teeth? And behind them, the sturdy gray mass of a tongue. A faint dimple even formed as he gave me the most handsome look of well-intentioned confusion I’d ever seen as he took me in. Really took me in. It looked like he was mapping every millimeter of my expression.

“You’re Lieutenant Bowie Orr,” he said, as though that were suddenly up for debate. “I was told you… you liked me.” He studied me for a moment more before laughing uncomfortably. I hadn’t said anything and that seemed to make him nervous. “...Or maybe I’ve just made a fourteen-foot fool of myself and broken at least three different EDC codes of conduct.”

I felt hot all over now, more of the embarrassment variety than anything else. I covered my face and laughed too, still not quite knowing what to say. “Who told you?”

“Uh… friend of mine, Bluestreak.”

I didn’t know him. “And who told Bluestreak?” I asked like an idiot.

Hound shrugged those massive shoulders.

“I’m gonna kill em,” I muttered. “I’m gonna fuckin’ kill em.”

“Just relax, would you? If you hadn’t noticed, I was actually very flattered.”

“Flattered?”

I had started drifting away from the wall and Hound used a finger to push me back. I think I yelped a little at the unexpected contact.

“I was dropping hints all morning, Bowie. Primus, and I thought I was coming on too strong!”

“I thought you were sugary and clueless!”

“You were flirting back.”

“Of course I was! I didn’t know you could see right through me!”

Hound rubbed at his chin and thought for a moment. “Would you rather move on and forget this ever happened?”

“No,” I blurted out before my brain had an opportunity to make me think about it. “I...” His optics darted back towards me, looking both surprised and expectant. “Not while I still have the world’s biggest crush on you.”

The big green Autobot got in a little closer, and I realized then that, shoulder to shoulder, he was wider than I could reach with my arms outstretched. There was a tingling in my belly. They were all like that if not bigger, I knew consciously, but this was special.

“Can I kiss you?” he asked, low and quiet. He was permitting himself, it seemed, to look me up and down now, optics lingering at my various parts.

“You can do more than that,” I said, nibbling on my lip again and reaching out with a finger to trail along one of the edges of his leafy green helm.

Hound chuckled, arms settling on either side of me to cage me in. “I hope you don’t tell that to every crush you’ve just met.”

“Just the green ones,” I winked.

He dove in then, brushing his lips against my cheek first. I felt his chest, lightly pinning me to the wall as his mouth found mine. I was going to die. Absolutely positively going to die. I placed my hands on his huge face as he pushed his smooth, metallic lips against me, then drew away.

I was almost disappointed at how short and cautious it was, but when I opened my eyes he was still inches away, surveying my face, and then I felt a hand slide behind my head and he went in again.

I focused on his lower lip, since I couldn’t really get to much more than that at a time. It was so strange! It was nothing like human skin, except when it was. He was too sleek and firm for me to bite down on, so I resorted to grazing my teeth against him. The Autobot’s tongue darted out to trace my lip, and I was surprised to find that it was wet – for some reason, it hadn’t occurred to me that the insides of their mouths would have moisture, but fuck me it did!

When he pulled away again, there was no such disappointment. Holy shit, my life was complete, I could die now, because I’d just gotten to kiss the guy. Twice.

Breathless and euphoric, I blinked one too many times while I got my bearings. “Man, you kiss every human you hear about through the grapevine?”

He winked at me. “Just the cute ones.” Then he took my hands and held them in one of his while he braced himself with a handhold. “They’re are still cold,” he said with a smile that could melt Arctic pack ice, but still not keep the blood in my hands, evidently.

“A minor perk,” I noted as I felt the pads along the inside of his palm warm up, “Is that I can touch hot things.” Not sure why I thought he’d find that impressive, or even at all endearing, but it was true. Back home, I had a tendency to forgo using utensils while cooking, preferring to do things like flip searing steaks with my bare fingers.

And the EDC wondered why I hardly had any fingerprints to speak of.

But still, I could tell by the look on his face that those words had sent his robot mind careening into the gutter. And yet still again, however, I was not, in a million years, anticipating what he was going to say next.

“If it’s not too forward of me,” he began, optics drifting down to my mouth and raking along my uniformed body before snapping back to look me in the eye, “I’m off at 2100 tonight after a dinner with the captain and first officer. Maybe you could meet me at my quarters and I can see about warming up those hands of yours?”

Incoming boner, all hands brace for impact.

I’m not sure why I was so useless. Maybe it was the nature of crushes. Maybe it’s that, when I looked down, my toes could barely reach his narrow, heavily-plated abdomen. Maybe it was his voice, which seemed to remind me of Earth’s kindest, most honest celebrities. Or maybe it didn’t really matter. While I hesitated to say yes, I sure as hell wasn’t going to say no!

“I...”

He waited for my answer with eager patience. I felt like an idiot, and I whined faintly in my throat as I attempted to calculate all possible permutations of fallout from whatever could ensue. I hadn’t thought this far ahead, in spite of all the lube I’d used up over the years imagining just this very scenario. It had the potential to be the romp of a lifetime… or, if he was bad, selfish, or had some hidden dealbreaker, it could be the worst letdown ever experienced by a member of the human race.

In the end, I decided to say fuck it. You only live once, dummy.

“Would… 2130 hours give you e-enough time to get ready?”

“More than enough,” he said, grinning with mischief. With that he snaked his fingers around my middle and maneuvered me to his broad, rugged shoulder. “Now hold on, I wanna see how fast I can launch myself up this tube...”

Well, no one could say that the lieutenant commander didn’t know how to indulge his inner child.

Chapter Text

“We’re heading to Marcus and Puck’s tonight to watch Redead Revengance 3. You off?”

Afra had caught me grabbing a drink from a machine in one of the small break rooms. I didn’t share a bunk with any of my closest friends on the ship, which is why I was hoping that I could manage to avoid them all until tomorrow.

“I, uh… I don’t do gory movies.” An ironic truth.

“It’s campy 2080’s horror, and the effects are super cheesy. You’d like it.”

I pretended to peruse the vending machine options some more. “Eh, not much of a movie guy. I got other stuff to do.” Another truth. Whew, I was on a roll!

The corporal rolled her eyes with such vigor that the g-forces created brought her head along with them. And made her groan. “’Kay, fine, have fun dusting your creepy love shrine to the new chief.”

“It’s a tasteful love shrine, Afra, and I’d thank you to remember that.” It had been several years since I’d learned to master the art of self-deprecating deflection.

“Your poor, poor bunkmate,” she laughed as she disappeared down the hallway.

But I called after her. “Well Chang’s a furry, so it’s poor Bo, actually!”

It was around 2124 when I got to Hound’s suite, all told. I wasn’t the sort of person who showed up to things early, preferring instead to be as exactly on time as possible. It was difficult to focus on much of anything else that evening, though. My nerve endings were as hot as an electric fence, and every time I sat down I couldn’t stop shaking my leg. Keeping the blood in my brain was a comedically herculean struggle.

“Fuck it,” I muttered under my breath, knocking at 2129. I could blame it on my clock running fast. My atomic clock. Sure.

“Come on in,” he said, and I disappeared into the human-sized door before anyone could see me.

The sight of him lounging along the sofa made me all but stop in my tracks to marvel at whatever divinity decided to engineer these fine specimens. He gently set down the datapad he had been studying, and beckoned me closer.

“Well don’t you look cute out of uniform, too,” he said with a grin as I stepped forward, face as hot as the first time he addressed me.

It wasn’t anything particularly special, but an old standby: black, tight-cut pants, boots, and a tastefully loose-fitting (read: oversized) tunic-style shirt made from the traditional textile weave of the planet M’ggesh. The ambassador’s aide had gotten mixed up between M’ggeshic and Terran clothing sizes and neglected to order mediums for the Solomon’s crew.

I smiled and pointed at the color blocking on his shoulder. “Doesn’t look like you can take yours off, though.”

“Oh, this old thing?” Hound glanced over at the gold paint. Then with a slight tilt of his head, I watched as it vanished before my eyes. I gasped, it somehow slipping my mind that the lieutenant commander was one of the sector’s pre-eminent experts in light-bending techniques, and as much a guru on the subject that the Autobots had in their whole army. Though you’d never know by looking at him.

“Scandalous,” I giggled.

He got that boyish look on his face again, and snapped his fingers. The green on him turned to red, suddenly. He snapped again, and it was black. Again, and it was plaid! I laughed, and it faded back to his normal green as he stood up. But with one last snap of those thick digits, the room itself disappeared, to be replaced by sand and stone and a blue sky full of puffy white clouds above my head. He’d transported us to Monument Valley.

The sand beneath my feet behaved like real sand. The clouds above moved like real clouds. The sun even hurt my eyes to look at.

“Wow,” was all that I could say.

“It’s not perfect,” he said, crouching beside me. He reached out to a seemingly empty space beside him and knocked – it was the coffee table, obscured by his illusion. “Still recycled air, too, and if you listen, no sound.”

I held still a moment, and nodded. I could still hear the ship.

Hound’s hand slid onto my lower back, experimentally rubbing me with a finger or two. It felt fucking nice, and I leaned into the touch. “I’ve been to here before,” I murmured lazily, placing my hand against the green bulk of his forearm. “If I picture it hard enough, I can smell the dry air, feel the hot breeze on my face, tune out the ship and remember the silence.”

“Nature lover too, huh?”

“A biophile through and through,” I laughed.

The giant mech lowered me onto my back in the sand, then, and I bit my lip excitedly. When I looked back to him, his eyes were almost ultramarine compared to their earlier cyan. Whoa. Was that like, robot eye dilation? Did I just turn him the fuck on?

“I’m quite the biophile myself, actually,” he said in a low voice, stooping far enough to kiss me on the cheek and run his thumb along my neck. I totally just turned him the fuck on, my brain told me. “Have a special appreciation for organic bodies. Especially ones as nice as yours.”

I arched my back at those words. His mouth was on my neck, and his hand was sliding up the front of my shirt, and it was him doing it, and he was huge and rugged and handsome…

“You have no idea how amazing this is,” I moaned, trying to grope the sides of his helm. “I can’t believe we’re… we’re doing this.”

He laughed against my belly. “Can’t believe I had a secret admirer this whole time. It, ah… can make a mech feel pretty good.”

“You can thank me for it by touching me with those big hands some more,” I said, and took off my shirt.

“Gladly,” he grunted, leaning in again to kiss me and rub at a nipple. “Mmh… can’t wait to taste your cute little --”

Of course this was going to happen, though.

Of course it was.

Hound’s sexy, rumbly words were interrupted by a voice over the comm system. “I’m sorry to interrupt lieutenant commander, but there’s been a theft of personal property reported just now. Please report to the security office.”

We paused, looking at each other, then broke away. He cursed under his “breath” in Cybertronian. “Is it that important, Corporal DeSousa?” I could still hear the lust in his voice.

“Ten grams of tetrafluocoxanine,” the lieutenant deadpanned. A potent party drug from Europa.

Hound and I looked at each other. “I’ll be there in five,” the mech said, and closed the comm.

Around us, the desert disappeared, revealing the blandly decorated XL suite, and the view of the colorful nebula outside. The mech crouched above looked at me as he tried to smile away the intense blueballs he was probably getting.

“Duty calls, I guess,” he ground out, chuckling.

I chuckled too, trying to hide my disappointment, and put my shirt back on. “Maybe it wasn’t meant to be.”

“Don’t you give up now, Lieutenant Orr,” he said, pointing a finger at me and giving me a surprisingly serious look. “And that’s an order.”

My face must’ve lit up at that because a smirk curled his lips.

“Oh, you like that stuff, do ya?”

I just nodded, starry-eyed.

“Alright then,” he said, voice low and rumbly again, as he leaned in to graze his huge teeth against my ear. “As your superior officer, I order you to return to your quarters for the time being. I want you getting some good sleep tonight, and I want you looking sharp for rounds tomorrow morning.”

I saluted. “Yes, sir!”

Hound laughed warmly, pinching my shoulder between his fingers to turn me around. “Now go on.” There was a pat on my ass – actually, it was a straight-up grope – and he pushed me towards the door. “You’re dismissed, lieutenant.”

If I was frustrated before, I wasn’t now as I zipped out the door and booked it down the hall before anyone I knew would see me.

Only thing left to do was rub one the fuck out.

Chapter Text

I slept decently well that night, and showed up to my post looking about as brushy-tailed as I could manage. I spent my morning organizing rounds for the ensigns, and taking careful inventory of the weapons lockers on decks 4 through 12. I only got through about three-quarters of them when I broke for lunch, and with no word from my lieutenant commander, I went to break bread in the usual place.

The chicken Cesar salad wasn’t quite as good as it usually was, but there was a fresh lemon wedge this time at least.

“We missed you last night,” Marcus said, plopping his tray down next to mine. “You would have loved Redead’s ending. Ain’t that right, Rafferty?”

Puck fuckin’ Rafferty took the seat on my other side, a guy so charming that it was easy to forget that he was also an asshole. There was nothing on his tray except a pair of protein shakes. “Def. The part where the zombie prince fucking explodes during his big Thriller dance number? Amazing. Shame they just don’t make movies like that anymore.” He elbowed me then. “Yeah, so, everyone was asking where you went,” he grunted. “Y’hit the weight room?”

“Nope.”

The two guys looked at each other, grinning. “Found some wellness in the tubes again?”

“Zero-g meditation is pretty great, you should try it.” I wiped my mouth with the napkin. “Maybe beef up some of that brain along with those biceps.”

Macrus laughed, but Puck was all sour grapes. “Yeah? So where’d you go, anyway?”

“Believe it or not, I was in my bunk.”

“He lies!” Marcus cried dramatically.

“Ask Chang if you want,” I shrugged. “I was there all night after 2145. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have ammo to count.”

“Alright, well, we’re doing some indie movie tonight. You in or what?”

“Afra’s pick?”

“Yeah, it’s The Darkness Within or something. About a chick in a coma.”

“Sure, but I’m, uh, on call for the next few days. Might have to leave early.”

Puck and Marcus exchanged looks. “On call? I don’t remember the old chief doing anything like that. Thought that was an essential personnel thing?”

“Yeah, not sure what the... procedure’s gonna be if I do get called, but I’m booked for it, so.”

Marcus King grin slowly widened. “Who’s doin’ the calling?”

“I, ah, not sure,” I lied, heading over to the bus bins to deposit my plate. “Anyways, gotta get back to it. I’ll see you tonight!”

We paused halfway through the movie to let some folks use the head. It was a pretty hilarious sight, a bunch of grown adults crammed into a 80 square-foot bunk room stunk up with the smell of buttered popcorn, Cheetos, and smuggled beer.

“Holy shit,” Puck said, staring at the paused screen. “I never want to fall into a coma.”

Afra gave him a look. “You know it’s easier to get you out of one nowadays, right?”

“Still. Hey King!” Puck shouted at the head. Marcus shouted back through the closed door. “If I fall into a coma, I want you to pull the plug on me!”

“I’m not gonna pull the fuckin’ plug on you, dumbass!”

“Afra?”

The woman just rolled her eyes.

“Chang?”

River Chang just snorted and took another gulp of beer.

“Aw man, I don’t want my life in Bowie’s hands.”

Just then the pager at my waist started to vibrate. Report for duty, was all it said. I cleared my throat and immediately fought down the blush that threatened to invade my every inch of skin. Standing up, I straightened my civilian clothes, and stepped around the body sitting on the floor as I made to excuse myself. “Honestly, I don’t want anything of yours in my hands until it’s been doused with bleach, Rafferty. Everyone else, I’ll catch you later.”

“Where do you think you’re going?” Afra asked, cocking a brow at me.

“Oh, I know where I’m going.”

Marcus grabbed the remote and explained through a mouthful of Cheetos that I was “on-call”.

“Yes,” I deadpanned. “Being on-call means you might sometimes get, how do you say, called. This would be one of those times.”

“Orr’s found a new calling,” Chang chuckled.

Afra snorted. “Or maybe it’s a booty call?”

“Speculate all you want, but I gotta report. See ya tomorrow, crew.”

I was so gone.

I stopped by my quarters on the way to Hound’s suite to touch up my hair, brush the popcorn bits from my teeth, and wash up downstairs real quick.

Because tonight was the night, I could feel it.

Then I realized that if my alibi was going to hold, I need to put on my uniform.

“Goddammit,” I grumbled, racing to switch wardrobes.

Another page arrived just as I stepped into a tube and hauled myself up a few decks.

Giving you 90 seconds, lieutenant.

I groaned, hurrying, trying not to overshoot his deck. Which I didn’t, thankfully, but in my lust-filled haste I exited the tube upside down. Gravity promptly took hold of me and sent me careening to floor in a tangle of pain. I cursed loudly.

“You alright?” asked an ensign passing by.

I flashed a thumbs up. “Don’t mind me,” I wheezed, picking myself off the carpet. “As you were.”

I was panting by the time I reached Hound’s suite. I kicked the panel along the bottom of the human door with a sense of urgency – two different senses, actually: I was rushing as both an EDC officer and a hopelessly horny young guy. It slid open.

There he was, lounging on the couch again, studying his datapads. Big, big, big, I thought, biting my lip. I was a bit of a… connoisseur when it came to size differences between partners, but I never thought I’d get to do anything with anyone that different! I couldn’t explain it, but his solid frame somehow managed to flex, to shift with his movements, his expressions. I hungrily followed the green of his leg up to the swell of a –

“Jeez, Bowie, what happened to you? Your cheek’s all red.”

My other cheek turned red too. “Oh, I uh… got into a fight with the floor on my way out of the tube is all.”

Hound beckoned me closer. “Floors’ll usually win.” He smiled, leaning down with his upturned palm. “Now c’mon, let’s try this again, Bo.”

“Lieutenant,” I corrected with a cheeky smile, stepping up to get into his hand but hesitating briefly as I considered what I was about to do and realizing that I, a human, was about to embark on a ride in Lieutenant Commander Hound’s palm, which was a good 18” wide from thumb to heel with fingers just as long. I had spent so many waking hours thinking about what that hand could do to me, and now I was Doing The Thing. With heart pounding, I got into it, expecting for him to take me up to the couch.

Or, as it happened, his lap. I gave a squeak that I hoped he hadn’t heard.

“Right.” His thighs, already parted, were spread a little more and he adjusted his hips. Oh god, what a sight to be-fuckin’-hold. “Now, I hope that you don’t always take your time like that when being ordered to your station, lieutenant.”

“Sorry sir, I’ve just never been “on-call” before. Give me a few tries and I’ll be able to muster faster than you can say, uh...”

“Drills.”

“Drills?”

He assumed an air of authority that I think suited him well, but knew he could sustain for only a short while. “I think the only solution to your tardiness, officer, is for me to keep you on-call.”

I sat down cross-legged between his thighs and gazed up at the strong, massive trunk before me. I was almost too horny to even look the poor Autobot in the eye. “There are just some things that are better learned the hard way,” I said, biting my lip.

Hound paused for the briefest moment, as if caught by surprise. I saw his optics darken. “Well, uh, officer… I’ve got something you might like to learn about the hard way.”

I was human, but still I could see my vision fill with static around the edges. Part of me still couldn’t believe we were doing this!

“Part of me still can’t believe we’re doing this.”

I had blurted it out in confession, while letting my fingers play along his pale thigh. Not wanting to get too close to anything especially sensitive yet. When I looked up, I saw a warm if lustful expression, and I felt his fingers wrap around me to lift me to his face. “Honestly? Me neither. But I’ve been excited to meet you for weeks now, and hot slag we have some chemistry.”

I leaned in and he met me the rest of the way, holding me to his blocky chest with one hand and kneading the back of my skull with the fingers of his other as he kissed me full on the mouth.

“Bowie,” he rumbled as he stared at my mouth between kisses, “Can I ask you a personal question?”

“Yeah?”

“Do you like it gentle, or –“

I heard the comm beeping. I heard the fucking comm beeping,

“Hate to bug you, chief, but you’re needed in decon. Remember the Yrrelian merchants we brought on board? Well, they had a stowaway, and their stowaway… has a stowaway.”

I watched as Hound’s optics narrowed, shoulders slumped, and balls get even bluer. He shifted his hips around to relieve some of the tension, even as his robotic brain was trying to piece together what in the hell his clerk was saying. “What? You’re going to have to start from the beginning, corporal.Then he looked back to me, frustration straining his handsome face. “Actually, belay that. I’m a bit busy right now. Can it wait?”

“I-I don’t think so, sir.” We could hear some faint commotion in the background. “The doc wants to get him hooked up to a blood filter ASAP but the stowaway – er, I mean, the stowaway’s stowaway’s host – is demanding legal counsel first and –”

He met my gaze, and I wanted to laugh. Hound looked like he wanted to duke it out with a punching bag.

“Is this a parasite we’re talking about, here?”

“A pile of sentient nanites, actually. And they have a criminal record.”

Hound rubbed at his face and sighed. “I’ll be there as soon as I can,” the mech muttered, cutting the channel.

“I guess I’ll have to take another rain-check, big guy,” I offered, tracing along a seam in his thigh.

Hound was busy shaking his head and groaning, then chuckling, then falling silent as my fingers found their way to the black of his hip plates and the permanent swell there.

“It’s hot to the touch,” I remarked with surprise, and above me he let out the most beautiful rumble of pleasure. The sound slid down my spine.

“Yeah,” he said with a strained chuckle. “Tell me about it.”

I winked up at him. “Too bad you didn’t get to warm my hands up too.”

“You are just going to need to warm them up good for me and tell me all about it later.”

There was a zing down into my already swollen junk and I wasn’t quite sure if I was ready to explode or give up entirely. I whined in my throat and jumped the five feet to the floor between his huge armored feet.

“Should I wait for you to come back?”

“Nah. I could be down there for a few hours.”

He stood up and strode past me with one swing of his giant legs, making a sound that bore an uncanny resemblance to clearing his throat. Hound surveyed his shoulder and the gold block appeared again. I sensed an air of defeat settle into the room, and it was contagious.

“You... alright?”

Hound grinned, chuckling. “Honestly, It’s takin’ everything I got not to push you to the floor and forget all about paying a visit to decon.”

Core explosion in 3, 2, 1…

“A-and it’s taking everything I got to, uh… uh...” I was officially not in witty-banter-land anymore. In fact, I suddenly found my visa revoked.

The smirk on the Autobot’s face right then was enough to bring me to my knees. Which, apparently, was exactly the effect he was going for.

“And you thought I was sugary and clueless.”

I laughed, almost dizzy from the blood draining from my brain.

“Alright, off you go, lieutenant. I’ll see you bright and early tomorrow.”

“Bright and early?”

“Better check that duty roster, officer!”

I was about to dash out, but paused just inside the door as I remembered something. “Oh, and lieutenant commander? I like it rough.”

I’ll never forget the way his optics turned a shade short of deep Prussian blue and how the chinks in his armor let my retort catch him by a most delicious surprise. Then I was gone.