Things Poppy Never Knew.

Friendly warning - these are mature-rated stories.

All communication takes place in Cybertronian, translated into English and using English colloquialisms where appropriate.
     ::...:: - internal communication.
     'grinned', 'frowned' etc - indicates slight changes in the transformers' electromagnetic fields to express emotion.

Stronghold/Upbeat scenes. Because you asked for it. And because I love writing these two.


Takes place at the end of Consular part 6 - Disquiet


Takes place after the meeting in Consular part 9 - Revelations

Welcome Home

Takes place after Poppy, 'Beat and Cable arrive back at the Consulate in Renewal part 10 - Home Again

Back again

Takes place when Poppy and co return from Diego Garcia in New World part 6 - Fragments

Calming Blue

Takes place part way through Structures, part 10 of New World. Please read that chapter first.


::Nearly there::
     'Beat nodded and hung on tightly to Stronghold as the Defender near-carried him through the transformer wing, heading for the wash rooms at the far end, in too much pain to worry about the mud they were both tracking along the slate floor.
     He'd never been shot before. Never even been shot at. And to be hit by Highdive's armour-piercing rounds... Stronghold glanced at him as he 'whimpered', distress flickering through his field.
     ::You're in shock. Hold on just a little longer::
     'Beat kept his optics fixed on the doors at the end of the corridor. It wasn't much further...
     Stronghold headed for the innermost of the rooms, the one that had been specially designed for larger 'bots, or for more than one at a time. There was a seat there, for the injured - Vault had tried to allow for every eventuality - and the MGC collapsed onto it as Stronghold lowered him carefully then crouched down in front of him, peering at the damaged thigh assembly, which was still sluggishly leaking energon, then at the crippled doorwing.
     ::I think it would be best to be clean first. That way I can see what's what::
     'Beat nodded, flinching as his doorwing jarred against the wall. The Defender eyed it critically.
     ::How sensitive is your sensor array?::
     ::Not as much as a warrior's, but sensitive enough. Ironhide insisted I be aware of everything going on around me, and Ratchet brought the mods and revisions online several days before I left Diego Garcia:: He winced ::I'm still learning to use them::
     Stronghold hmmed an affirmative. On Cybertron, Praxian doorwingers' arrays were attuned to the collection of information pertaining to their work, but that had - unfortunately - easily translated into the hyper-awareness required of the warrior clades. In his opinion it made the 'wings something of a liability, but his opinion was beside the point. He pulled a small subsidiary showerhead from its clip and began to carefully wash 'Beat's 'wing, using just warm water for now. Solvent would cause more pain, and he wanted to see the full extent of the damage first.
     As the mud and dried energon began to clear from the metal plating, 'Spin slipped into the room, a medikit in his servos. Stronghold nodded and gestured to the alcove set into the wall. As 'Spin slid the small case into the space he glanced at 'Beat then the Defender.
     ::Am I needed?::
     Stronghold spared him a quick look.
     ::Possibly not. I'll know more shortly, but my initial assessment is that the shots were clean and didn't damage anything vital. His self-repair has already kicked in. However, if you could keep yourself in readiness just in case...::
     'Spin patted 'Beat's shoulder, then Stronghold's.
     ::Of course. Comm me if you need me::
     'Beat managed a small 'smile'.
     ::Thank you::
     'Spin inclined his head. ::Let me know what you need::
     As he slipped back out of the room Stronghold laid down the showerhead and eyed his friend.
     ::This is going to hurt. I'll be quick::
     And 'Beat bit back a staticky howl of pain as the Defender grabbed the doorwing and with powerful twist-yanks forced it back into shape.

::All right?:: Stronghold was behind him, supporting him as realigned sensors settled back into their normal resting states. 'Beat, his frame shaky and optics flickering with pain, glanced back and 'nodded'. The Defender rested surprisingly gentle servos under the plating on his colleague's shoulders, kneading the worryingly-tense underlying cables and lines gently. ::Sorry. There's no easy way to do that, but the quicker the better::
     'Beat's helm rolled back against the Defender's frame, optics closing. ::And that feels good::
     Stronghold 'chuckled'. ::Little trick I picked up from watching Graham. It's supposed to soothe and relax::
     ::Well, it distracts your processor from focussing on the pain, I'll give it that::
     ::Let's take a look at that leg::
     Stronghold reached for the showerhead again, playing the water over the ragged hole, frowning at the entry wound while his digits carefully checked the back of 'Beat's thigh. ::Hm. Went straight through and the nanites are already at work, but I think this will need patching::
     'Beat twitched, and Stronghold frowned up at him. ::Am I causing pain?::
     ::No... Just... a little sensitive there::
     The Defender paused, then slowly 'smiled'. ::Ah. I see::
     His touch gentled, stroking under the teal plating, and 'Beat shuddered, internal fans kicking in as his core temperature started to rise. Stronghold gazed up, surprised.
     ::A little... overwrought?::
     'Beat 'scowled'. ::I've been shot. It's a new experience for me. Not one I particularly want repeated. It's also been a very long time since I had any... um... physical intimacy with anyone::
     Stronghold laid down the showerhead and placed both hands on 'Beat's kneejoints.
     ::I'm sorry. I did not mean to tease::
     'Beat glared at him.
     ::You weren't::
     Stronghold held his gaze for a moment. ::Do you want me to continue?::
     ::I think it would be for the best::
     ::And how far do you want to take this?::
     ::You have a mate? Of any kind?::
     ::No. And I know you do not::
     'Beat huffed his frustration. ::And we can't upset the humans::
     ::And they can't come in here::
     'Beat gazed at the Defender crouched between his legs for a long moment, then reached a servo to cup Stronghold's face.
     ::So, therapeutic, medically-sanctioned mutual overload to ease the stress of first combat and injury, then?::
     Stronghold 'grinned', a deep throbbing chuckle emanating from somewhere very deep within.
     ::To quote the humans - I love it when you talk dirty...::

Although it wasn't expressly forbidden, it was generally tacitly agreed that humans shouldn't be apprised of all the different ways in which transformers... connected. Their hosts were, obviously, familiar with speech, and more or less understood internal comms, even though they perceived it as some sort of radio communication. A few of them knew about their guests' physical sensitivities and their ability to feel pain and pleasure - although even they hadn't taken into account what that sensitivity might imply. But almost none of them fully realised that communication was the foundation of transformer existence.
     Some of the fanfic Poppy had read came close - in fact, the transformers themselves had started calling the more intimate communication 'interfacing', since it described the activity rather well. A hardline connection - dual cables to surface ports to share information/emotions/desires - was the easiest and least obtrusive. Sharing energy fields was more intimate, but the fallout could be dangerous to the organics, so remained strictly private. Simultaneously sharing fields and physical contact was also not to be made public. But the second most intimate method of all involved something that, to humans, would look like the sex they engaged in for both pleasure and procreation.
     No one had been able to establish why autonomous robotic organisms should require interfacing apparatus, although it was generally considered fair that each transformer had both penetrative and receptive equipment - the humans had dubbed them spike and valve, respectively, in their stories, and the terms had stuck. That the act of interfacing in this most intimate manner was intensely pleasurable could not be denied: it relieved stress, eased tension, and the information exchanged in this way was... profound. The only act more overwhelming was sparkmerging, or sparkmerging while interfacing physically, something that was rarely done these days. To share sparks left both parties vulnerable, which was not desired during a war...
     Since 'Beat was the injured party, Stronghold assumed the active role, the panel at his groin folding back out of the way and his spike pressurising as he seated himself crosslegged on the floor of the wash room. 'Beat watched him appreciatively, admitting silently - in his overcharged state - that the Defender was attractive, intelligent, his field redolent of contained power, consideration, and, oddly, affection, although that may be due to the influence of his human. 'Beat consciously slid back his own interface panel, valve self-lubricating as he carefully lowered himself onto the Defender...
     Mmmmmmmm.... Ridge for ridge and sensor node for sensor node, spike slid smoothly into valve, 'Beat's systems hitching higher as he settled lower. Stronghold half-shuttered his optics, focusing on the sensation of the smaller 'bot seating himself in his lap and on his spike, their fields meshing as their internal sensornets pulled in tight...
     Then, with a twist-click, the output jack at the tip of the spike slotted into the port at the top of the valve and 'Beat shuddered as energy pulsed through him in cascading waves...
     Stronghold is good at this flitted briefly across his processor as the strength of the pulses grew slowly, rippling along his sensors, visibly sparking along plating, winding tension tighter in a way his systems interpreted as intense pleasure. Swept up in sensation and approaching overload, he barely felt Stronghold's servos slip under the plating at his shoulders, strong thin digits spread and stroking sensitive cabling - then twisting and lightly pinching a cluster of nodes at the base of his neck strut...
     'Beat froze, every cable and line quivering with tension as pleasure screamed through him, then collapsed against the Defender, shaking as the charge slowly dissipated. Stronghold stroked his helm, supporting him as every system settled into its passive state, all stress eased, all tension relieved.
     ::I think the humans call this 'puddle of goo'::
     'Beat managed to 'chuckle'. ::It does vaguely resemble one of Steamy's cream custard desserts. Metaphorically speakling::
     Stronghold nuzzled his face. ::How do you feel?::
     ::... wonderful...::
     'Beat's 'voice' was fuzzy, the stress of the day and his overload leaving him exhausted but now content. Stronghold depressurised his spike, easing gently out of the MGC's valve, closing his own panel and manually securing 'Beat's; there was nothing to clean up, physical interfacing had no need for the exchange of anything more than a little lubrication to prevent damage. Interfacing itself exchanged pure energy - although Stronghold sometimes wondered if the release of what the stories called transfluid might add anything to the experience...
     ::Let's finish cleaning up and have 'Spin patch those wounds, then you can have some energon and relax for the rest of the day::
     ::Wonderful idea::
     They stayed sitting as the Defender operated the showers, using a mild solvent and gently but efficiently cleaning the rest of the grime from them both. Then he hauled himself and the smaller 'bot upright, comming 'Spin as he supported 'Beat for the drying fans before helping him from the room. Just outside he paused and eyed the MGC pensively.
     ::Like to do that again sometime?::
     'Beat 'grinned', field flaring momentarily with lust and affection.
     ::Mm. Very much::
     Stronghold nodded, his own field briefly meshing with his friend's.
     ::I'll see what I can arrange...::


© JAT 11.02.12


'Beat regarded his friend worriedly. Stronghold had been pacing, his field held defensively tight, since the meeting had ended and the rest of the transformers and humans had left the rec room.
     ::Are you all right?::
     The Defender halted, helm lowered, then gazed at the MGC.
     ::I am... concerned. That the rest of the space bridge pillars are missing is disastrous. We must assume that the Decepticons have possession of them. If they also capture Sentinel, their threat becomes almost insurmountable::
     'Beat laid a servo on his shoulder. To his startlement and dismay the Defender was trembling. Stronghold tensed, then rubbed at his own neck struts.
     ::They become everyone's problem. We may be called to fight:: He touched 'Beat's Autobot brand. ::You included::
     'Beat nodded. ::I accepted the possibility when I accepted the brand. I accept the responsibility. I assume that I would be called on to protect what we have here, given I am not a warrior, but if things turn out otherwise... well, so be it::
     Stronghold's engine snarled as he grasped 'Beat's shoulders. ::You are not a warrior! You are an academic, a historian, a precious resource for all Cybertronians! We cannot lose you. You should never have to be involved in this!::
     ::It was my choice, Stronghold. This is my home now. I am happy here. I have friends, family, something to fight for. I'll protect it as best I can::
     The Defender leaned forwards until his forehelm was touching 'Beat's, optics shuttered.
     ::You shame me::
     ::I... no. That was never my intent::
     ::I know. And I will protect you::
     'Beat's fans hitched for a second. ::You'll be needed elsewhere::
     Stronghold's helm came up, optics bright. ::I wear no brand. I lend my services to NEST, to Graham, but I remain a neutral::
     The Defender 'hushed' him. ::My choice, Upbeat::
     ::... I am honoured::
     But Stronghold was still trembling faintly, altogether too tense.
     ::Let me take care of you?::
     The Defender eyed him for a moment, then vented a sigh.
     ::I would like that::

'Beat's room was... Stronghold gazed around it, unsure of what he was looking at. Large posters with swirls of brilliant colour adorned the walls: he felt that he should find it discordant, but somehow it wasn't. Some of them were oddly soothing, in fact. The berth was large and looked very comfortable, a padded cover in shades of the deepest, richest blues and greens hiding most of it, with large soft cushions strewn on the surface.
     ::This is... nice...::
     A flare of amusement from the MGC.
     ::Poppy thinks I'm too... 'retro'. But the colours, the sounds, the whole ambience of this decade in earth's history - it's a delight:: He 'smiled' at the Defender. ::The 'swinging sixties'. Cybertron had nothing like it - could never have anything like it. It was a beautiful stage of their civilisation, tolerant, colourful, happy, at least for the neutrals. Alas, it didn't last long::
     Stronghold's field dimmed a little. ::Nothing good ever does::
     'Beat regarded him sadly. So far the Defender had proved himself to be intensely private, almost defensively so, and even if it hadn't been bad manners 'Beat was not prepared to pry. Stronghold would talk when he was good and ready. In the meantime...
     He reached for the Defender's servo and tugged gently. Stronghold allowed himself to be pulled onto the berth as 'Beat gestured at a small music player sitting on the desk. Sound immediately filled the room, quiet but cheerful.

                "Well the East coast girls are hip
                I really dig those styles they wear
                And the Southern girls with the way they talk
                They knock me out when I'm down there..."

     Stronghold 'smiled'. ::Graham likes this song too::
     'Beat chuckled. ::It is a good one:: He knelt behind the Defender, servos resting against his shoulders - then activated his electromagnets, stroking lightly down Stronghold's frame.
     The Defender arched backwards, field startled.
     ::... what..?.::
     ::Relax:: 'Beat set the magnets to roll gently up and down the spectrum and in cascading pulses, then slowly and carefully worked over the back of the Defender's body.
     Five minutes later Stronghold groaned and shifted so he was lying face down, limbs sprawled and shivering in pleasure. 'Grinning', 'Beat moved to straddle his hip assembly and moved his servos to the Defender's sides, smoothing over heavy armour and taut hydraulic cabling, aware with a small thrill of pleasure when his friend finally, slowly relaxed, tension easing as the MGC moved his servos across the broad expanse of back, rhythmic pulses alternately tensing and loosening the cables beneath.
     ::... that is... so good...::
     'Beat leaned forwards to nuzzle at the back of Stronghold's neck. ::What would you like?::
     Dimmed optic brightened as Stronghold turned his helm as far as he could and 'smiled' at the MGC.
     ::Anything you care to do, my friend::
     ::I assume you prefer valve::
     Stronghold held still for a moment, then bodily squirmed and twisted until he was on his back. 'Beat automatically noted that it had taken the Defender no effort at all to shift him...
     ::An interesting assumption. But inaccurate. I like both equally::
     And 'Beat felt the interface panel below him slide apart with a click, spike still retracted but valve cycling open gently, welcomingly. Ignoring it for the moment, he ran his servos slowly over Stronghold's frame, over his chest and abdominal plating, and the Defender gasped and pressed up into the strong localised fields.
     ::That's... more?::
     'Beat shifted back until he was kneeling between Stronghold's legs, then teased a digit, field pulsing gently, from the top of the Defender's pelvic assembly slowly down to circle over and around the valve entrance, not yet touching except with his field, ending up at the sensitive node between valve and spike.
     Stronghold cried out and grabbed his wrist with both servos, holding 'Beat still as his entire frame throbbed in overload, static sparking along both their plating. It took a good minute and a half before the Defender was coherent again, and staring up at 'Beat with wide, disbelieving optics.
     ::What... how did you do that?::
     'Beat glanced down at his servos and 'grinned'.
     ::Dunno. Must try it again though::
     Stronghold's 'laugh' was part amusement, part satisfaction, and part quivering arousal.
     ::Oh, any time you'd like to practise...:: He reached up to stroke a servo over 'Beat's face. ::But perhaps not right away. Your turn. Spike me now?::
     It had been a very, very long time for 'Beat, but sliding slowly into the sleek slick fused metal-silicon of this valve, feeling sensor nodes ignite on both valve and spike, matching ridges snapping into place... He 'moaned' and bowed forwards, resting his helm against the quivering Defender's thorax.
     And then output clicked into input and both were lost, caught up in a crackling, sparking, lightning surge of overload cascading through their systems and shorting out the music player half way through Lazy Sunday Afternoon...

'Beat came back online to find himself curled half around and half on top of Stronghold, who was rubbing his back in long slow sweeps of his servo. The Defender nuzzled his helm.
     'Beat 'sighed' and stretched a little, settling back contentedly and easing his spike out of Stronghold's valve. The Defender stroked it as the MGC depressurised and retracted - a little reluctantly, it must be said - and clicked closed his interface panel. Stronghold held himself open a little longer as 'Beat pressed a digit almost lovingly to the Defender's valve, stroking gently inside then covering the aperture with his palm as it cycled closed, the panel sliding slowly, regretfully back into place as Stronghold 'sighed'.
     ::Thank you::
     'Beat shivered faintly and tickled a magnetic pulse over the Defender's chest. ::Any time::
     Stronghold's deep deep 'chuckle' made him shudder with arousal.
     ::Half an hour?::
     ::Fifteen minutes. Want to swap places?::
     Stronghold eyed him for a moment, then shook his head.
     ::I rather like your spike. We'll trade next time::
     'Beat 'grinned' widely and teased the Defender's throat cabling, earning himself a shiver.
     ::Suits me just fine...::

© JAT 18.2.12

Welcome home.

The humans separated, Poppy to the human wing, while the two officers made their way to the kitchen. Stronghold glanced at 'Beat.
     ::Oh yes please. I feel as though I'll never get the sand out of my bearings...::
     They followed 'Spin along the corridor, the smaller transformer 'grinning' at them as they entered the double room. "Enjoy yourthelveth!"
     'Beat waved after him as the door closed and locked, then turned to the Defender. ::I think we can probably manage to do that...::
     Stronghold laid a strong, supple servo on his friend's shoulder armour. ::Without a doubt. I am glad you are back safely. I have missed you::
     'Beat rested his forehelm against the Defender's throat.
     ::Missed you too:: He 'chuckled' ::Missed your help in the shower as well!::
     ::No-one to assist you on the island?::
     ::I didn't want to bother Ratchet or Wheeljack, and Jolt is... his field is uncomfortable at best. Painful at times, to me anyway. And the Prime was out of the question, of course::
     ::I'm sure the Prime would have helped::
     ::No doubt, but our difference in size would have made it awkward for him. The solvents did an OK job, but there are sand grains caught in joints where I didn't know I had joints!::
     Stronghold nodded and tapped their cleansing preference code into the control panel: seconds later a hot solvent-water mix cascaded over them both.
     'Beat 'sighed' and slumped against the larger transformer. ::Oh, that feels good...::
     Stronghold pushed him back a little and moved behind him, long digits gently easing under his plating to tease grit and sand from his cabling and hydraulics. 'Beat relaxed his armour, allowing easier access, and Stronghold alternated cleaning with massaging the MGC's internal structures. By the time the Defender was satisfied all the debris was removed from 'Beat's dorsal interior, the MGC was ready to melt, staying upright only by locking his leg and spine struts. Stronghold 'grinned' as he moved to face him.
     ::How's your front?::
     'Beat eyed his friend. ::Well, I could reach most of it. But a thorough cleaning would be welcome::
     Stronghold held his gaze as gentle servos delved below loosened plating, along his arms, under his body armour, hip and pelvic assembly... 'Beat 'whimpered', and Stronghold 'stroked' his field.
     ::No overload either?::
     ::Goes without saying...::
     ::We'd better do something about that. Here, or in your berth?::
     ::Why not both?::
     'Grinning', Stronghold opened his panel, released his spike and seated himself on the floor, gazing up welcomingly as 'Beat eased himself down into the Defender's lap, valve irising open. Stronghold slid easily into 'Beat, holding him lightly, both shuddering as the connection was made, streaming into each others' consciousness, trading data - to be processed later - then Stronghold began to pulse, gradually increasing the strength of the cascading energies until both tensed as overload took them into a spiralling surge of tight, reverberating pleasure.

::... mmmmm...::
     Stronghold 'chuckled', holding 'Beat against him, optics half-dimmed as they slowly recovered. ::Better?::
     ::Oh yes. You?::
     ::Of course:: The Defender nuzzled 'Beat's helm. ::But let's move, shall we? The berth is more comfortable::
     ::In a minute...::
     Though it was ten minutes before they finally managed to pull themselves upright and switch on the drying fans.

Lying supine on the berth, Stronghold reached up to lay a servo against 'Beat's cheekplate, digits stroking the smooth metal as the MGC sprawled on his side.
     ::So, Starscr... Starstream has hatchlings. I didn't know that was possible::
     ::None of us did::
     ::And they are definitely his?::
     ::Ratchet thinks so. They vary in age, which adds weight to the belief:: He 'sighed' and nuzzled the servo against his face. ::But it also means that Starscream must have been made to spawn almost constantly after leaving earth that first time::
     ::Do you think he'd have done so willingly?::
     ::From what I've heard - no::
     ::The Fallen was a Prime - one of the original thirteen. Imagine all that power... Starscream wouldn't have been given a choice::
     ::So he made the best of it?::
     ::It was in his nature to look out for himself, from what I've learned::
     ::I almost feel sorry for him...::
     ::... me too...::
     They were silent for a moment, pondering the ramifications of a life of near-constant abuse at the servos and wills of the powerful. Stronghold 'sighed'.
     ::You can understand why the Prime insists on everyone being given all the opportunities they possibly can::
     ::Yeah:: 'Beat leaned down to nuzzle the Defender's neck. ::He's... we're so lucky to have him::
     Stronghold 'nodded', idly stroking and tweaking the cabling under 'Beat's hip armour. ::I wonder where they got the energon from though?::
     'Beat wriggled, trying not to let himself be distracted. ::I don't know. I don't even know how hatchlings get their protoforms or how they end up in their pods. I assume the material for the protoforms came from 'Cons terminated in the crash or otherwise offlined, but the energon for the pods... there wouldn't have been enough in the ship. And the sunlight was too dim to be of much use out there::
     ::We may never know. Unless Starstream can remember, which seems unlikely from your data::
     ::I know, and that's frustrating. Means the historical record can't be complete::
     ::That's not so unusual::
     ::Except when I have the primary source there, in a nest on Diego Garcia...:: 'Beat gave up fighting arousal and stroked firmly over Stronghold's interface panel, opening his own and pressurising his spike. ::I'll discuss it with Sparkspinner later, hopefully he'll be able to give me more data. For now, I think I'd rather concentrate on you::
     ::Mm. And just think - we'll be here for a month. Mind if I bunk with you?::
     ::I'd be offended if you thought of going anywhere else! Will you tell Graham?::
     ::That I'm recharging in the transformer wing?::
     ::That you're... interfacing with me::
     Stronghold shuddered as 'Beat's spike slid smoothly into his valve, his optics flickering. ::I... think ... he already... suspects...::
     ::Will that be a problem?::
     ::I won't let it be::
     Then there was silence - except for the sparking of charge along two sets of metal armour, the sound of plating scraping very lightly across plating, and the coalescing into brilliance of two electromagnetic fields in synchronous overload...

© JAT 31/03/12

Part 4 - Back again

Stronghold's field flared welcomingly. ::I am happy you are back safely. I... was worried...::
     'Beat leaned towards him. ::We all were::
     Stronghold scanned the MGC. ::There are some residual stresses in the cabling of your neck and shoulders. I can help with those. Are you OK to drive back?::
     ::I'm fine. Been driving on the island::
     ::Then you'll have contaminants in your joints:: Stronghold 'chuckled'. ::Sand. Gets everywhere::
     ::Can't wait for a shower:: 'Beat glanced up at the drizzle. ::A real one, I mean...::

Iacon House was a very welcome sight, and the two vehicles wasted no time in transforming and heading to the washrooms. 'Beat sighed as he untensed under the hot solvent-water mix, and Stronghold eased strong servos under the smaller transformer's loosening armour.
     ::...mmm... s'good...::
     ::Did you get any recharge at all?::
     ::Not after the attack. Couldn't. And after I got Poppy back I couldn't relax enough. Stayed in root mode on guard::
     The Defender 'humphed'. ::Right, we're taking twenty four hours off. Couple of overloads if you're up to it, then recharge. I'll tell Graham, and Castle and Highdive can take on guard duties for a while::
     ::I don't know... I should really...::
     ::Rest:: Stronghold interrupted sharply. ::You're not indestructible. And if your reaction time is down, you'll be less effective::
     'Beat gave up arguing and relaxed under the Defender's skilful digits. He was offline as soon as they reached their berth.

The transition from recharge to online was usually immediate, all systems optimal, with none of the drowsiness often associated with human wakening. Today, however, 'Beat onlined slowly, leisurely, awareness of his own field and the one behind him, overlapping and enveloping him in warm protectiveness, impinging on his consciousness first. He 'stretched', luxuriating in sheer contentment, settling back more closely as Stronghold's arms tightened around his mid-section. The Defender nuzzled his neck.
     ::You feel better::
     ::Mmmm. Thank you::
     ::For what?::
     ::Insisting. Bullying me to rest::
     ::... I bullied you? I'm sorry. I didn't mean to...::
     'Beat twisted around to face his friend as Stronghold's field tautened, 'anxiety' flaring, and cupped the Defender's face in his servos.
     ::It was a joke. But even if I meant it, it was needed. It's a personal failing, I know, this need to protect. Comes with the coding::
     Stronghold 'chuckled'. ::I understand. Myself, also. We should... try to avoid conflicts::
     'Beat 'nodded' and settled closer, checking his internal chrono. ::Hm. Eighteen hours. Must be a record!::
     ::Much needed though::
     ::Yeah. Feel's good. Though what I'd really like is an anti-grav session. Get the last of the kinks out::
     Stronghold 'laughed'. ::Oh yes!... Hm. I wonder if it would be possible?::
     ::Not with terrestrial tech, and I can't see Skyfire indulging us::
     ::No, neither can I. But there's no reason we couldn't put it to our scientists - and Ratchet. He would probably endorse it on medical grounds::
     ::If we can't recreate it here, we could always try for a space station. The humans already have one: ours wouldn't be subject to the same limitations. Geosynchronous orbit, open structure... must be possible. Or on the moon. The humans' lunar station and shuttle are already in the planning stages - if we hitched a lift with them, on the outside of the shuttle so as not to take up space...::
     Stronghold 'nodded'. ::That could work. The next group briefing is next week: let's explore the feasibility and bring it up then::
     ::OK:: 'Beat shifted, plating raising static where it rubbed against the Defender. ::But right now, I'd like your spike::
     ::Ooh, demanding!::
     ::... if you don't mind...::
     Stronghold nuzzled his face.
     ::As if I would. Want to stay lying down?::
     ::I'd prefer sitting. I'd like a change of position: coolant's pooling down my side::
     The Defender obligingly pulled them both up, seated the MGC in his lap facing away from him, extended his spike and slid smoothly into his friend. 'Beat moaned audibly as the charge began to build...

::I wish you could stay here::
     Spike still in 'Beat's valve, Stronghold exvented softly across the back of MGC's neck, making him shudder. ::I would like that. I know the base isn't far away, but...::
     'Beat relaxed back against the Defender's torso. ::You know, Phil is always asking when he can have his own guardian... How attached are you to Graham?::
     ::We have a good working relationship. We're not that close though::
     'Beat twisted to glance sideways at the larger transformer. ::So he wouldn't cry if you transferred::
     Stronghold 'frowned'. ::I've never seen him cry. I don't think it's something human males do very much. Something to do with appearing strong and unemotional to their peers::
     There was a moment's silence, then 'Beat shook his head. ::What a strange idea::
     Stronghold 'shrugged'. ::Don't understand it myself - but then, they are so isolated from each other. Maybe showing what is usually perceived to be a weakness could lead to loss of the respect of others?::
     ::Maybe. Though I've noticed many of the younger human males don't seem to have the same... detachment...::
     ::Which can only be good... Where were we? Ah, yes. I would not want to leave Graham bereft::
     ::And there isn't really anyone available who could replace you::
     ::Not at the moment::
     Stronghold 'sighed' and stroked the MGC's midriff. ::I know. However, I will moot the idea to Graham, so that he can at least get used to it. It is quite possible that we will have more arrivals. I'm sure Skyfire was only the first, and that because he's the fastest::
     'Beat 'nodded'. ::Well, fingers crossed, as the humans say. Right now though...:: He wriggled, internal ridges sliding across their counterparts on Stronghold's spike. ::You did say a couple of overloads::
     The Defender shivered, then 'chuckled' ::I did, didn't I? And we still have four and a half hours before they expect to see us. Happy with spike?::
     ::In that case...::

© JAT 09.07.12

Calming Blue

::We weren't sure if you'd want company, so we've given you your own room for now:: 'Beat slid open the door to the room next to his own and ushered the sniper in. Bluestreak stood uncertainly for a moment, then moved to the berth and sat on the edge, gazing blankly up at the historian. 'Beat inclined his head. ::Can I get you anything? Are you hungry?::
     ::... no... thank you...::
     ::Would you like to rest? We could leave you in peace for a while if you'd prefer. Stronghold and I can collect you later - we try to eat together when we can. You're more than welcome to join us::
     Bluestreak nodded, but remained silent. 'Beat hovered for a second or two, then 'sighed'. ::I'll leave you to get settled then. We'll see you later::

Stronghold was already in 'Beat's room, and glanced up from his position on the berth.
     ::How is he?::
     ::Not as I expected from what I've heard::
     ::He's suffered::
     'Beat settled next to the Defender, field stroking caressingly. ::I know - some of it, anyway. Ratchet didn't think we needed the full details. He said Bluestreak will tell us as he sees fit::
     Stronghold nodded distractedly. ::I hope... we're all doing the right thing. That it doesn't make it worse for him::
     ::I'm sure it won't. But we have backup if needed. Ratchet has transferred the details and treatment suggestions to 'Spin, and can be here himself in a matter of an hour or so if need be. We just need to take everything slow and gentle:: He nuzzled the Defender's throat. ::To change the subject... I've missed you::
     Stronghold 'chuckled' and pulled the MGC to straddle his lap. ::I have missed you too. But we're here for the foreseeable future. We have plenty of time to make up for lost time...::

'Beat jerked online to find Stronghold already alert and rolling off the berth to take up a defensive stance. 'Beat readied himself.
     ::What is it?::
     The 'noise' that had roused them both came again - muffled, part 'scream', part 'sob', accompanied by a freezing cold pulse of 'fear'. The two exchanged glances, then raced from the room, pausing outside of Bluestreak's door.
     ::Let me go first::
     Stronghold shook his head. ::I am trained...::
     ::And I am smaller and less threatening. He has no weapons - I will be fine::
     ::He can still hurt you::
     ::No. Stay at the door. I'll leave it open::
     The conversation took a nanosecond, then 'Beat cautiously but quickly opened the door.
     It was very dark inside, and it took 'Beat's optics a second to adjust to the gloom. Bluestreak was huddled in a corner, trying hard to stifle his 'whimpering': 'Beat approached him carefully, headlights slowly brightening until there was enough light to see clearly but not enough to blind the suffering Autobot. Kneeling at a little distance, not quite close enough to touch, the MGC extended a servo slowly.
     ::Bluestreak? It's only me. I won't hurt you::
     Bluestreak pulled himself into a tighter ball of misery and covered his optics. 'Beat glanced back at Stronghold, who 'shrugged' helplessly. 'Beat 'sighed'.
     ::I'm going to stay with him::
     ::Then I'll stay here::
     ::I'll be fine::
     ::Of course you will. I'll make sure of it::
     'Beat 'grumbled' quietly, but didn't object any further. To be honest, he'd feel more confident with Stronghold nearby. He seated himself against the wall a few feet from the newcomer, being sure to leave enough room for Bluestreak to escape if he needed to, and began to 'talk', quietly, calmly, soothingly, about Praxus...
     It was two in the morning when Bluestreak finally uncurled, and an hour later when he crept a little closer, lowering himself to rest his helm on 'Beat's thigh. The historian very gently, very carefully laid a servo against his shoulder and continued his tales from the last Golden Age. He smiled and 'quietened' a little, although he didn't stop 'speaking', as he felt Bluestreak slip into recharge, and gently, repetitively pulsed his field to encourage a peaceful rest.
     Moving almost silently, keeping his own field as calm as he knew how, Stronghold entered the room and seated himself just inside the door, keeping watch as the hours ticked by...

At ten the next morning Bluestreak came online with a frightened gasp, pushing himself back from 'Beat and cowering in the corner again. The MGC raised his servos placatingly, keeping his field calm.
     ::Just me, my friend. Just me. How do you feel?::
     ::... tired...::
     ::You could get some more recharge. I'll stay, if it helps...::
     The sniper pushed himself half upright and stumbled backwards to the berth, keeping his optics on the historian, then warily settled on the yielding surface. 'Beat 'smiled' encouragingly but stayed on the floor.
     ::Do you want me to stay?::
     ::... I... yes. Please. Talk to me?::
     Glancing apologetically at Stronghold, who nodded, 'Beat eased himself up and settled on the seat at the desk, trying to discreetly unkink cramped cabling. As he eased into another of his apparently inexhaustible tales Stronghold quietly stood and made his way to the rec room to get them all some energon.

::You can't keep doing this::
     'Beat glanced tiredly at the Defender and stretched a little from his seat: beside him Bluestreak recharged restlessly on the berth
     It had been five days since the sniper's arrival, and in that time 'Beat had stayed with him constantly, talking to him soothingly, a solid fixed point to counter the memories the 'winger's processor kept recycling. But he was exhausted. In that time he'd taken no rest, and although Stronghold had volunteered to share shifts, Bluestreak had reacted to his presence badly, retreating back to his corner. 'Beat had urged him out of the room and spent the next half an hour calming the sniper down again.
     ::You have to take a break::
     The MGC shrugged helplessly. ::How?::
     Stronghold looked from 'Beat to Blue and back again. ::I'm going to speak to Ratchet...::

Half an hour later Stronghold returned - with 'Spin, who indicated to 'Beat to move from his seat. The MGC stood stiffly, both servos cradling his lower back strut: Stronghold gently rubbed the tense, aching metal.
     ::I'll work on it later:: The Defender 'whispered' ::In the shower::
     'Beat indicated the sniper, now showing signs of onlining as 'Spin scanned him, and Stronghold nodded.
     ::Ratchet said it's not healthy for him to latch onto one person so strongly. He needs to interact with others::
     ::Ratchet says five days should be long enough for him to feel safe here:: The Defender shrugged. ::I don't know, but he's the doctor and he has fully investigated Blue's condition...::
     "... Upbeat...?"
     The MGC was instantly at Bluestreak's side, one servo resting gently on his trembling shoulder.
     "It's all right. This is Sparkspinner, our own medic." 'Spin inclined his head and 'smiled'.
     "Hello, Bluethreak. I'm glad you're feeling better."
     There was a moment's silence, then the sniper sat slowly upright. His field expressed more surprise than fear.
     "I... I do, a little..."
     "Good." 'Spin turned to the other two. "You mutht retht. I will tend to our guetht. I don't want to thee either of you for at leatht thix hourth."
     'Beat glanced at Bluestreak, who was fighting not to shiver, than back at 'Spin, who 'glowered'. "I will make it an order if I mutht."
     Unconvinced, 'Beat regarded the sniper. ::Will you be all right?::
     Bluestreak eyed 'Spin for a second, then 'nodded'. ::I... think so...::
     'Beat patted his shoulder. ::I'll be back later::

::Oh that feels good...:: 'Beat arched back as Stronghold pressed and kneaded at his aching frame under a hotter than usual solvent mix. ::Please don't stop...::
     'Chuckling', the Defender slid his digits under Stronghold's armour, tweaking lines then stroking over a cluster of pelvic sensory nodes. 'Beat's hips jerked, and he moaned quietly, optics shuttering, as he reached back for Stronghold. The Defender nuzzled his neck.
     ::You need to overload. Ease the tension::
     ::Yes please::
     Stronghold lowered himself to the floor, pulling 'Beat into his lap...

::Are you awake?::
     Stronghold roused muzzily, making sure he didn't wake 'Beat who was sprawled over him on the berth. He turned his helm to the closed door and the medic who stood outside it.
     ::I am, 'Spin. What is it?::
     ::My recommendations for Bluestreak::
     ::Databurst to me - I'll make sure 'Beat knows when he onlines::
     A second later he had three hours worth of scans, examinations and recommended courses of action in his memory bank. He settled back on the berth, pulled 'Beat a little closer, and began to scrutinize the files.
     Much of it was beyond Stronghold's understanding, but 'Spin had endeavoured to make his summaries, advice, and proposed treatment comprehensible to non-medics. What it boiled down to was that to avoid getting caught up in what 'Spin called a 'negative memory loop', Bluestreak had to rejoin his fellow transformers and start interacting with other beings.
     He'd added that if they were both agreeable, it would be helpful if 'Beat and Stronghold would share a berth with him for the time being, just so he could recharge peacefully without any 'nightmares'. He already trusted 'Beat and found the MGC's presence soothing...
     The Defender vented grumpily but quietly. He couldn't object, not when it meant helping a clade member - and of course Blue and 'Beat were both Praxian. But it was beginning to feel like he and the MGC were never going to get any decent time to themselves...
     No, that was selfish. They had all the time in all the worlds. A decade - even a century - or so of caring for the sniper was no more than a human eyeblink to them.
     Though it probably wouldn't take that long. 'Spin - and Ratchet, who'd checked and authorised his protégé's recommendations - believed that with the appropriate encouragement, he may be sufficiently recovered to resume his normal duties in a matter of months, a year at most.
     ::You're thinking very loudly::
     The Defender 'chuckled' and nuzzled 'Beat's helm. ::Sorry. Didn't mean to disturb you::
     'Beat stretched leisurely, unkinking recharge-numbed cabling. ::You didn't. I was ready to online anyway. So - Bluestreak...:: Stronghold 'commed' the files to him, and a few seconds later he 'nodded'. ::Well, that won't be too arduous. Though I'm sorry we'll lose our privacy for a bit::
     ::We'll cope. We'll have to move into Prime's berthroom for the time being though::
     'Beat nodded. The room in question had been designed to cope with transformers of Prime's size, just in case he ever visited: the berth was huge, easily big enough for the three of them. They could take a few minutes later to make it feel more homely. For now though, it was probably time to persuade Bluestreak out to the rec room for a meal...

© JAT 03.08.12