The truth behind my dirty little brain. Yes, I am a slash fan. If you really have a problem with slash, DO NOT READ THIS FIC. Flames do not phase me and will only be added to my bonfire, because it gets quite cold here in Ohio at night.

Sooo... that said...

Warnings: slash, WAFF, absolutely no plot, ficlet
Pairings: Wheeljack/Ratchet
Rating: PG-13 for mild adult situations

/"Falling in love with someone isn't always going to be easy... Anger... tears... laughter.. It's when you want to be together despite it all. That's when you truly love another. I'm sure of it." -Anonymous-

-There You'll Be-

Ratchet was jolted out of a fairly pleasant recharge same as always as his berth shifted, alerting him to the weight of another moving upon it.

It was like this every morning, wasn't it?

He sighed quietly, rolling to his side. Just as he'd suspected, there sat Wheeljack, carefully fitting the battle mask over the lower half of his face, as if Ratchet hadn't seen what was beneath it a million times before.

"You know, you don't have anything to hide from me." The engineer stiffened when the medic spoke. "It's not like I haven't seen it before."

A tense moment of silence passed as Wheeljack leaned back on his hands, the battle mask already securely in place. "I know, Ratch. Just... a little creature comfort, y'know? It still makes me kinda insecure." He looked almost as if he sensed the apprehensive frown on his bondmate's face. "I ain't blamin' you, Ratchet, I never have. Ain't your fault that there's some damage that just can't be fixed. It's an old scar. I'm over it."

"But I'm not," Ratchet grumbled. He sighed and sat up, fixing Wheeljack with a steady gaze. "I can't help but think there was something more I could've done." He reached over to remove the mask, but his hand was caught almost immediately in Wheeljack's. "That there might be something I can still do."

Slowly, the engineer shook his head. "Ratchet, stop beating yourself up over this. What's done is done. Y'can't change the past. Gotta look t'the future."

Another moment of uneasy silence. At long last, Wheeljack leaned back far enough to be optic-to-optic with Ratchet, who sighed and looked away. "That's not the problem, Wheeljack."

"Then what is the problem? You can tell me, y'know. Not like I'm gonna chat it all over the base."

The medic said nothing. He only frowned, pulling his hand away from Wheeljack to bring his knees up to his chestplate. "I told you, it's nothing. I just..." He shuddered from top to tailpipe, rubbing his forehead slowly. "I keep thinking... of that time, back then..."

Frowning, Wheeljack scooted back a bit, reaching over to lean Ratchet against his chestplate. "Ratch... I've been through all sorts'a slag. Yeah. I got the lower half'a my face blown off. You did whatcha could ta save my life. Whether'r not I can open my mouth is of very little consequence to me."

Ratchet sighed, leaning his head back against Wheeljack's shoulder strut, and for a moment, he sat just like that.

It wasn't like he could forget... the memories were as fresh as if they'd just been planted yesterday. How could he ever forget...?

Kalis, Circa Approx. 56,571 Vorns Ago

It was just panning out to be one of those days. Of that, Ratchet was certain. He'd long since lost count of how many orns he'd been stuck in this horrible war, watching people die all around him, unable to save so many young mechs that had barely gotten a chance to live.

In all of it, he'd only had one anchor holding him tightly to sanity. Wheeljack just didn't ask questions. He listened when Ratchet ranted, and occasionally let the young medic beat the daylights out of his chest just to get all the horrible feelings off his own.

And really, that's all of what Ratchet had been in the days since his arrival: a barrel of pent-up emotions and energy. He was lucky to have met Wheeljack, they both decided. Very lucky indeed.

Usually, Wheeljack would show up just in the nick of time after a battle, ready to help the young medic so he didn't go crazy right on the spot. Today, of all days, had to be different.

Only a couple of days before, things had... changed for the pair. Pats on the back had turned to hands lingering, a comforting hand slung over the shoulder into deeper embraces. Wheeljack hadn't expected it, and Primus knew Ratchet certainly hadn't. But it was something to hold onto, even in this crazy war.

Ratchet had been apprehensive, of course. He hadn't even noticed the engineer's advances at first, having been too tired from the workload he was by far unaccustomed to. It had only been one day, after he had fallen asleep lounging on his desk, that the thought had even occured to him.

He'd woken from recharge in silence, realizing at the last minute that he was being cradled by someone. Which was surprising, as the someone in question was certainly at least a head shorter than him.

He mumbled, but Wheeljack did not stop to put him down. Not until they had reached the medic's recharge berth.

The boxy medic mumbled quietly, his optics flickering on dimly as the engineer smiled down at him, laying him down with a gentle pat on the shoulder. "If y'get your back in kinks," he chuckled, "I'm not working it out."

In the days that followed, things had been pretty much the same, although for a while, Ratchet had been terrified to go near his friend. Both of them were nervous, and even though they each knew what they wanted, they didn't know how to tell one another or how to put those thoughts into action.

In the end, Ratchet had been surprised in his quarters at the end of his shift one night by simple apprehension. Someone was standing in the doorway behind him.

When he spun, he found himself face-to-face with Wheeljack, whose expression was simple... waiting.

Ratchet inclined his head forward. Was he ready?

Just a slight nod from Wheeljack. Of course he was.

A step forward, careful and nervous. Was this what he wanted?

Once again, the engineer nodded, unmoving. Of course it was. And him?

Uncertain, the medic shifted his weight. Yes...

No. Wheeljack shook his head this time. Not unless he was certain.

Ratchet steeled himself. He was certain.

Bonding was not at all what Ratchet had expected it to be. Everything was on a purely metaphysical level, but his circuits felt every shift, every touch. He squirmed for a moment when Wheeljack focused his attention on his face, but that stopped instantly when the engineer trailed his fingertips in a featherlight touch over his hands, leaving him a trembling, if not euphoric, puddle of medic.

In the end, after the bond had been made and Ratchet was certain every mech in the hall had been awakened by his cries, when his mind finally returned from wherever it had gone, he felt drained but connected... as if Wheeljack wasn't just an entity beside him, but part of him.

He saw the engineer smile and couldn't help but smile back.

That was when it had started, after all.

And then, this happened. Ratchet was almost used to all of the battles by now, even though he stated on numerous occasions that he would never agree with them, but he just wasn't ready for this.

There was a steady flow of wounded, most of whom just needed slight patching... but then, Ironhide came in with a grim expression, and slung limply in his boxy arms was Wheeljack.

The medic's intakes choked on nothing as he looked at his mate. Wheeljack had taken the hit mostly above the torso, and his shoulders and face had sustained the most damage.

There was almost nothing left of his lower jaw but a mangled wreck - outer skin, fiber musculature, wires, and fine tubes torn away to reveal most of the endoskeleton that should have been hidden beneath. And when he spoke, what was left of his lips just barely moved, his voice a garbled murmur.

Ratchet only stared. With the way the endoskeleton was twisted, metal shorn from the proper places, the wire damage...

He couldn't fix this.

There was nothing he could do to fix it.

Wheeljack, despite the pain he was in, seemed to notice the medic's distraught expression, reaching over to grab his partner's hand. Despite how messy his speech sounded, it was impossible for Ratchet to miss what he said.

"Not your fault."

But no matter how many times Wheeljack could've tried to say that, Ratchet couldn't help but feel horrible. The end result was a battle mask, fitted only after most of Wheeljack's lower jaw had been secured to the top with wires, rendering him unable to speak normally. The answer to that was lit speaker panes at the sides of his face, wired to his vocal synthesizer. It took him a while, but soon, he developed a method of using the light and color patterns in the speakers to not only beat in tune with his speech, but also to change color depending on his mood. Everyone knew that when Wheeljack's face was lit up like Polyhex on a gala night, he was in a spectacular mood.

Ratchet, on the other hand, remained quiet for a long time. Even after his mood had cooled, he remained obviously upset. The thought just never left him.

Never for a moment.


Wheeljack's face panels glowed almost indigo as he watched the change in Ratchet's face. It wasn't like he didn't know what was going on in the medic's mind... Ratchet was so terribly transparent sometimes.

At length, the engineer reached up to remove his own battle mask, reaching out to lift the medic's hands, pressing sensitive red fingers against the slipshod stitching. "I've never blamed you for this, Ratchet," he stated quietly, panels flashing in time as his sealed mouth just barely twitched. "I'll never blame you for this. Primus-dammit, Ratchet... there was nothing you could do." He gently closed Ratchet's hand into a loose fist, pressing the knuckles of his mate's hand to his forehead. The medic breathed a sigh, lost in the feelings the engineer was generating, both from his words and the light touches to his hand. "I want you to stop-..."

"And how am I supposed to just stop, Wheeljack!" Ratchet demanded, finally breaking free of his bondmate's mental hold on him. Wheeljack looked bewildered, leaving the white and red mech with the room to rant. "How am I supposed to forget! You were brought to me to make things right and I couldn't do anything but seal your bloody mouth shut and reroute all your vocal sensors. I can't even..." His voice caught. "Why wasn't there anything I could do?"

Frowning, Wheeljack lifted Ratchet's head to face him, thumb lightly rubbing over his mate's cheek. "Because none of us is Primus. Look me in the optics, Ratch, and just stop thinking for a second. This face hasn't made you stop wanting to be bonded to me yet." He chuckled, and for a moment, Ratchet swore he saw the corners of his partner's useless mouth twitch in a smile. "And this face hasn't made me want to break from you. Got it?"

The seconds ticked past like hours, and in the end, Ratchet gave a weary sigh, leaning heavily against Wheeljack's chestplate as the Lancia's arms came up to encircle him. "I hate it when you make sense, 'Jack."

He could just make out the soft blue glow of Wheeljack's face panels as he showed his own light smile. "I know you do. But someone has to... and you love me for it all the same..."