Fortunately, the chaotic ship-wide battle with Overlord had been relatively short, and taken very few causalities. Ratchet was quick to recover from his fight to help Ambulon, First Aid, and even Hoist tend to the injured. It was a busy flurry, people constantly coming in and out of the medbay; no time for them to rest, as the slabs would be needed for the next patient. Ratchet and First Aid focused on those requiring emergency medical aid, while Ambulon and Hoist took care of those with lesser injuries. The medical drone pitched in, opting to repair any minor, superficial wounds such as dents and dings, cuts and scrapes.
Those (mostly) uninjured and intact were quick to deliver patients and bodies. Fortress Maximus hauled in Tripodeca, but the moment Ambulon got his hands on him, he shook his head. The Autobot was dead. Fortress Maximus was quiet for a moment before the doctor slowly took the corpse and placed it with the second casualty in the farthest corner of the medbay. As he pulled the tarp over Tripodeca, Ambulon heard a loud curse from Ratchet and the melancholic hum of a spark going flatline - another joining the ranks of the dead.
It was nearly two hours before traffic died down, many of the recuperated returning to their hab-suites to recover until they were needed. A few patients stayed overnight, most of which were catatonic but would survive. Ultra Magnus was the only one left in critical condition with Ratchet at his side, constantly at work keeping his patient alive, or at the very least, stable. He ordered Ambulon and First Aid on a break for a few hours but to remain on stand-by. First Aid was too exhausted to argue, and Ambulon just nodded obediently and silently left the medbay.
As Ambulon headed to his quarters, he stopped to check in on the crew members on his deck who he treated. He felt like a warden back on Delphi again. Everyone was physically okay, but it was obvious by the heavy, thick gloom in the air, every single person on board was grieving. For friends they lost, for the friends who lost friends, and for themselves. Rung would have his work cut out for him the next couple months, Ambulon was sure.
However, as Ambulon approached his door, he continued onward, passing by. Moving down the next corridor, then another; he stopped once more at a crewmate's request in regards to one of his wounds. Ambulon checked him over, assured him the pain was natural and healthy, and then sent him back to his room.
It'd been only a few hours since Overlord's attack, and yet it felt like days.
Finally, Ambulon arrived at his destination. He stood before the door nearly three times his size. Hesitant. Wondering if he should just go back to his room. He raised a hand for the door's control panel, his fingers hovering there a few seconds. Ambulon pressed down the top button, said, "I'm coming in." Let it go, and waited. Thirty seconds and nothing. No response of any sort. That wasn't necessarily a bad thing, but... Ambulon punched in the emergency medical override, and the door slid open.
Light from the hallway cut through the darkness. Ambulon stepped inside, stopped. Yellow optics glowed as he scanned the room. Nothing - empty. He frowned but wasted no time in leaving, door shutting behind him. For another minute the medic stood there in the hall, contemplating. He looked down one end of the corridor - to his room - then the other.
Ambulon turned half-way, paused, then continued onward.
It was one of Fortress Maximus's new haunts.
No one came down here, not much, at least. It was cold and uninviting, and the place where Red Alert's body - and head - had been recovered. As such, it was mostly avoided now, considered "bad mojo", as Swerve put it. Max didn't believe in such nonsense - he knew the definition of bad mojo and this was not it - and so when he needed to be alone (that was to say, not in his room, which felt too cramped and confining and much like the prison cell he had called home for some weeks), he came down here to...
He wasn't quite sure what. Not necessarily think. Not necessarily feel. To exist, perhaps. Because simply existing was about all Fortress Maximus could do these days.
The distant humming of the ship's engines and machinery was muffled by the slow, but echoing footfalls approaching him. Maximus did not look up, remaining seated, staring into the sea of oil below. He knew who it was - could read that EM field even at this distance. Fatigued, upset, irritated, concerned. Mostly concerned.
And Max did not like it.
Ambulon approached Maximus cautiously and slowly. He, too, was aware the Autobot knew who he was. He wouldn't lash out, but it was still better to play it safe. So Ambulon took nearly a minute and a half to close a distance of ten, fifteen feet of space between the two before he stood at Max's side, still a comfortable four feet away.
It was pointless and stupid to ask how Max was feeling. There was nothing and yet so much to say. However, Ambulon knew, right now, it best to just remain silent. Which was fine by him; he was never the talkative or very emotive kind. It had been a long day and both of them were tired, but not enough to sleep. Both of them wanted to be alone, but not lonely.
Ambulon quietly took a seat beside Maximus. He let his legs dangle over the edge; so small compared to the larger Autobot's. He looked to Maximus, stared a moment, but the mech's gaze remained on the oil below, face solemn, frown lax. Ambulon turned his head away and placed both hands in his lap, inhaled, and looked to the ceiling.
For about twenty minutes, the two Autobots sat there, side by side. Not a single word exchanged, barely moving.
At the small stirring, quick and minute, Ambulon raised his head; he gathered to his feet. At that moment, Fortress Maximus stood too; they remained quiet, never meeting each others gaze, as they left the oil reservoir.
Ambulon followed from behind, keeping his eyes on Maximus's back. When they reached the larger Autobot's room, he followed him inside. Neither turned on the light, the room going completely black once the door was closed. They could see fine enough, two pairs of eyes dim in the darkness.
Ambulon waited until Fortress had seated on his bed before moving over; the medical scanner flipped over one eye, and he quietly went to assessing the larger Autobot. First Aid had taken care of him in the medbay while Ambulon was busy with another patient, but he still wanted to double-check. His scanner picked out the recent repairs, everything normal, while his hands smoothed carefully over the cuts and welded wounds in a physical examination.
A minute later, Ambulon stepped back; hands at his side, scanner winking closed. Maximus's actuators seemed to groan as he laid down, stretched out on his back. His optics remained online, staring up at the ceiling.
Ambulon frowned. He turned to leave, got in one step, before a hand large enough to wrap around his waist suddenly took him by the arm. He stopped, looked back; Maximus released him, placed his hand back on his chest. It was a question, not a demand.
Ambulon glanced back at the door.
Fortress Maximus lifted an arm, letting the medic crawl onto the slab beside him. With so little room, Ambulon was forced to lay mostly on top of the massive Autobot. Maximus didn't mind, however; the pulse of his spark was a dull rhythm in Ambulon's audiol. Maximus could even feel his, though it was tiny and fluttered. Large fingers spread over top the medic's back, rested there. They laid there for a while, but did not sleep.
The silence was comfortable, but they knew what lie outside this room.
For one minute frozen in time, in a very long time, Maximus was happy. As his fist first collided with Overlord's face. For one whole immortalized moment, he felt justice, validation, riding the high of his adrenaline and anger. For one whole minute, revenge was sweet, so very, very sweet, and he had never felt as happy in his life as he did right then and there.
It lasted only a minute, and when it was all over with, Maximus felt empty. What should have been closure was just numbness; what should have been relief was just more anger. He could kill Overlord a thousand times over, but he would never fill that void inside him. He would never be rid of the trauma and tragedy. The torture would not come undone, and his friends and all those he failed to protect would not return from the dead.
All Maximus could do was accept it. To be thankful for what little closure he had managed to find aboard this ship, though it had come at a cost. It hadn't been easy, and the healing process was overwhelming and painful. War was Hell and though he thought he crawled out of the pit and taken down the bastard the who put him there, he still felt he had a lot more digging to do. One foot still in the grave.
Fighting Overlord, watching him suffer and crumble at his hands, did nothing to alleviate Fortress Maximus's pain, no matter how much he wished it would.
Life is not so simple.
But, it didn't have to always be so complicated.
Be thankful for what you have. Maximus looked to his side. The warmth of someone beside him. Very real, very tangible. Leaving itself open and vulnerable to him, because it trusted him. And, even better, it did not fear him.
Ambulon, half-asleep, stirred at the fingers suddenly, gently stroking his back. Slowly coaxing him from sleep. His optics powered to a dim yellow; he lifted himself up on Maximus's chest. The hand stopped him from rising completely, guiding him closer. Ambulon turned his head, suddenly face to face with the larger Autobot. Maximus's optics shuttered, one finger tracing down the medic's backstrut before closing the space between their faces.
The kiss was delicate and soft. A little weary. Ambulon took a moment to reciprocate; he placed one hand against Maximus's collar, kissed his top lip, then the bottom. It wasn't easy given the differences in their size and built, but neither complained. Maximus brushed his lips to his, caressed the top of his helm. Ambulon hummed, his chassis vibrating against Maximus's chest; the larger Autobot's engine revved kindly in return.
Ambulon kissed one corner of Maximus's mouth before drawing back. "Are you sure you want to do this?" he asked, quietly.
Maximus studied the medic's face. Though he wasn't sure he'd ever be completely okay or ever truly happy again, he was sure of this much. "Yeah," he said, running his finger up Ambulon's back.
Ambulon hesitated. He wasn't entirely convinced. But then Maximus was nuzzling him again, and his EM field was so warm and inviting. It was genuine, and so long as Maximus was prepared and willing, Ambulon would be as well.
Ambulon sat back, crawling off the bed and heading over to the single storage closet. He returned a minute later with the proper tools, wiggling on top of the larger Autobot's chest.
Each of them went to opening the panels along their hips, thighs, two on each neck, one on each wrist. Unfurled cables next to the sockets. Ambulon hooked adapters to both his and Maximus's cables; without them, there was no proper way to interface, with cords and sockets either being too little or too big.
Ah, but the wonders of being a species that relied on adapting to changes.
One by one, the Autobots plugged themselves in. Ambulon shuddered as two cables slipped into the sockets on his hips; Maximus's chest rose in a deep inhale as two adapted cords screwed into the jacks on his neck. With each new connection, their bodies shivered, heat moving in waves along their dermal plates, beneath armor. Their frames were suddenly immensely sensitive, vulnerable, and even the slightest touch brought on a surge of energy. Their sparks pushed against their chambers, glowing brighter and brighter.
Ambulon's arms shook as he stretched out along the larger Autobot's chest. Energy poured through the cables, looping between their bodies. Collecting in their sparks, each new pulse sending out another rush. He pulled himself forward, until they were face to face again; his white fingers dug into the choked rims of the sockets on Maximus's neck, receiving small electric tingles.
Ambulon slowly started to roll his body against Maximus's. Their EM fields tangled and wrapped around one another. Ambulon was trapped in a full embrace by the larger 'bot's field, cocooning him in energy. Though by the way Maximus was groaning, he had quite an affect on him as well. Maximus placed a hand on Ambulon's back again, stroking, helping him to grind. Beneath all that armor, the medic could still feel Maximus's spark energy as it poured forward, reaching for its partner.
Then, before Ambulon knew it, the hand was cupping his bottom, and he quickly grabbed onto powerful neck cables as Maximus sat up. He carefully laid the medic out on the berth, leaned over him, applying only a small portion of his massive weight. He buried his nose into the crook of Ambulon's neck, tweaking a cable, receiving a hiccup of energy. He drew his face down, nuzzling against Ambulon's chest, kissing his thin midsection.
Ambulon swallowed, wrapping his shaky arms around Maximus's head. Air and heat cycled from his vents as the larger Autobot continued kissing every inch of his smaller body. He pressed the edge of his tongue against one thigh, nipping at a cable; Ambulon gasped and arched into the mouth. Fortress Maximus pressed the edge of his tongue against his groin, let it trail up and up to the writhing, moaning Autobot's throat.
Ambulon's hand raised, groped before grabbing onto an antenna. He stroked along its outer edges, working fingers into the groove. They dropped down to deftly pet the side of his helm, brushing digits below Maximus's optic, down his cheek, reaching his throat-- Maximus groaned into the medic's body at the tug and stroke to one of the neck cables. The vibrations had Ambulon wiggling, riding up.
Maximus lifted his head, gently kissing those smaller lips. Ambulon continued tweaking the cables between them until larger fingers grabbed each of his sides. Thumbs working massages and circles along his hips and thighs, pushing against those cords, sending out more surges of energy. Electricity bounced between their bodies, intertwining with their fields, leaving behind little pops of static. Ambulon withdrew, bumping and nudging his chevron to Maximus's forehead. A silent order, and the larger Autobot slowly rolled onto his side.
Arms almost twice the size of Ambulon's body poured around the medic, pulling him flush against Maximus's chest. Ambulon kissed him again, stroking neck and tire tread seams. Maximus continued purring into the smaller Autobot's body, letting him ride the vibrations. The little spark fluttered harder, now, and Ambulon's chest was warmer than the rest of him.
Ambulon could feel his spark swell with exhaustion, soon to release in one final overload. "I--I--" He clung onto Maximus, optics squeezing closed.
Maximus hummed and kissed the top of his head. He held onto the medic when he finally climaxed, sending one final, powerful wave of energy into his body. Maximus curled forward, wincing, feeling his larger body absorb the overload. It triggered his own spark to teeter over the edge, and his fingers carefully plucked cables between his and Ambulon's body. His overload could not be shared with the smaller mech, but...
Ambulon, exhausted, reached up and took Maximus's face. Kissed him on the nose, the top lip, the bottom, then both. Held onto him just as tight as Maximus finally pushed himself to overload. It poured off his frame in waves and the medic wriggled, his spark jumping at the aftershock. He kept his lips to Maximus's forehead as the larger Autobot grit his teeth, growling through release. With one last huff, he sunk back against the berth, vents kicking in, pushing coolant through his hot, rattling chassis.
Ambulon cuddled back into the hand still cupping his back. He let his hand drift down Maximus's face, fall on his chest, over his beating, thrumming spark. Ambulon leaned forward, placed a kiss above his fingers. Maximus rumbled, bowing his head to kiss the top of the medic's helm.
For a while, they laid there, quiet save the recuperating hums of their systems.
The silence was comfortable, but they knew what lie outside this room. But, that was okay. They were coping.