Allowing Megatron's most loyal Decepticon to self-destruct just wouldn't be any fun. Overlord intends Tarn to live.

Title: Devil May Care

Warning: Attempted suicide, forced care, mindfragging instead of mental help. A 'what if' extrapolation off of Tarn's depressive behavior after discovering Megatron's defection.

Rating: R

Continuity: IDW, AU for MTMTE #39

Characters: Tarn, Overlord, Nickel, Decepticon Justice Division.

Disclaimer: The theatre doesn't own the script or actors, nor does it make a profit from the play.

Motivation (Prompt): As motivation for Shibara, prompts from a list of her favorite robot kinks were picked to write ficlets for. This one grew out of control.

Pt. 1

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"Oh, no. No, I don't think so. You won't be escaping so easily."

Tarn dully wondered whom Nickel had found to pester him this time. She'd given up screaming abuse and trying to force an energon drip into his arm after her last tantrum, he'd thought, and the rest of his mechs respected his choice to turn his face to the wall and offline. He hadn't explicitly said that's what he was doing, but he considered it fairly apparent. So had his unit.

This mech, however, wasn't one of the Decepticon Justice Division. He knew that much immediately. An audio tag pinged a match in his archives. He lacked motivation to chase down the associated designation, but the rich, amused voice seemed familiar to him. Familiar with him, as well.

"I understand why I was brought here, now. It all makes sense. Charming medic you have, by the way. Seemingly working against you for your own good, Tarn. You might want to investigate that. I believe I would have died out there as a floater but for her determination to save you, and that did seem rather counterintuitive initially. I thought it was your goal to hunt me down as a traitor to your beloved leader." A tinge of puzzlement entered the purring voice. "Although I'm told I paid the price of my life already, strangely. Your subordinates - very loyal to you but annoying, you should curb them before I do - insisted on showing me recorded proof of my own execution while I was still recovering. It certainly seemed real enough, evidence of my survival aside. I broke out of that prison your video shows me locked in. Odd…"

"Regardless, I'm here now, and this does make sense of your medic's nattering. My survival as well. Ironic how executing traitors has come around to this, isn't it?" Amusement roughened to a dark undertone as the speaker drew closer to where Tarn stubbornly laid, optics closed. Anger filled the mystery mech's voice. Tarn knew that tone. He felt the betrayal as his own. This mech, too, had seen the universe turn its back on him. "I knew you possessed a flair for overdramatic gestures, but starving yourself offline, Tarn? Tsk. Your subordinates are frantic. How touching. They all think I will either inspire you to fight for your life, or perhaps just put you out of your misery, and then I suppose they believe I will oblige their own death wishes by taking them out in blaze of glory. The last stand of the D.J.D., against me. Their last chance to be heroes, and I their villain. Well, I feel no obligation to give them what they want, play the part they've cast me in, and you." The speaker leaned down to growl an unsettling low promise in Tarn's audio. "You won't be escaping this so easily."

"You don't get a tidy ending. There's no cut-and-dried finish at my hands. Living through this is going to be a slow agony, and I want to see you suffer, Tarn. I want to see you struggle to come to grips with your idol turning his back on you, on everything he preached to you, on everything you've built your pathetic hopes, dreams, beliefs, and future on. I want to watch you see it fall to ruin around your feet. I want you to see him as the weak, sniveling politician he's become. I want you to know he'll never respond to your questions. He'll never turn his attention toward you. You are one worthless minion among many, now abandoned, and I want to see the realization dawn in your flickering spark that he doesn't care. You are nothing and no one to him, whatever you once were, and you and your Cause are left behind to rot."

A strong hand wrapped around the back of Tarn's neck, yanking him upright on the recharge slab. He stiffened in apprehension. The words pouring honeyed poison into his audio never stopped, and they churned through his apathetic depression like the shrapnel tearing bloody wounds, or knives slicing open an infection to finally drain. They hurt to hear, and he shuddered under the pain. His mask ripped off his helm, and the hard edge of a glass pressed to his lips. Stubborn, he tried to turn aside, and the glass slammed into his clenched teeth as the mech holding him ground it between his lips. Energon flooded in, seeping through his teeth, and Tarn writhed futile protest in the mech's grasp.

"They sent me to end you, one way or another, but I believe I'll take your dear medic's advice instead. She's of the opinion you need to be saved despite yourself, and I want to see that. I want to see you forced to witness Megatron burning the Decepticon Empire down around you. It's time for you to see your lord for what he really is, fanatic. I'm going to make you choke down his reversal, eat your history, realize every mistake you made owing your loyalty to someone who threw it away to save his own neck. You will come face to face with your own blind worship."

The hand on the back of his neck dug kneading fingers into the intake valves of his throat, massaging with expert care. Tarn sputtered, too weak from starvation to really fight back. He had to swallow. The fuel washed down tasting of the bitter, vicious truth he heard, and satisfaction entered the mech's voice as the energon went down to fill empty tanks against Tarn's will.

"You're going to live, Tarn. I think you'll strike back, too, once you've recovered. I'll enjoy watching you turn on your master."

Over and over again, the fingers made him swallow. The glass sliced into the side of his mouth when he feebly fought, pushing at his captor's arms. His body greedily welcomed the fuel, but he didn't want it. He didn't want to return to the universe described to him. He didn't want any of this to be real, but it was. The energon kneaded down his intakes one patiently pinched-open valve at a time made it clear passively fading away wasn't an option anymore.

"I will visit you every night if I must, reminding you of what you've lost. What he's done to you. The consequences. You will refuel," the amused, dark, satisfied voice informed him, "while I watch, and I will be here to supervise every mouthful. Hesitate, and this is what you have to look forward to. Your little medic will help me in this. Should she tell me your health is risked by any simple matter you should be taking care of yourself, well, it will fall to me to assume responsibility. I won't allow you to take the easy way out, Tarn. You will suffer, and I will be right here to keep you alive."

A strong knead forced his intakes open a final time, and the glass tipped up to drain the last of the energon down his throat. Tarn lit his optics, confused and angry, and Overlord smiled down at him.

"But you're welcome to resist."

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