A/N: Alrighty, folks--this be the last chapter. I have to say that I am completely flabbergasted at all the wonderful and talented people who have taken the time to review my little story. I never expected to have such a positive response with my first fic. I love you all.
And, as always, huge, huge thanks go to okami-myrrhibis aka VAWitch for beta-ing this--without her, this thing would have been a huge flop.
(P.S. I have also discovered that I hate the way that FFN eats my formatting. And all of my underscores. Bad, bad FFN.)
Ratchet was not all that surprised to find Sunstreaker gone when he woke the next morning. He found him in the medbay with Sideswipe, talking with his brother in a low voice. They looked up when they heard him enter, halting their conversation and looking a little embarrassed. Sunstreaker rose to his feet from the chair he'd appropriated, mask of indifference falling back into place as he said to his brother, "I'd better go—I've got to go stare at security monitors with Red Alert this shift." The medic thought for moment that he would pass him by without acknowledging him in any way, but just as he drew alongside, he casually reached up to brush a hand along the white mech's shoulder—and then he was gone.
"So he spent the night with you, huh?" Sideswipe asked quietly. He shifted to face Ratchet, his one remaining leg hanging over the edge of the repair table and idly swinging back and forth.
The medic nodded, coming up to stand beside the injured twin—and was startled when Sideswipe snaked out a hand to yank him down for a quick kiss. "Thanks," he said, once he had let Ratchet go. "You're the first he's ever actually been with on his own. It made me a little nervous when I realized he'd gone to your quarters instead of ours. He's tried it once before, but I think he scared that poor femme half to death—she was really in a hurry to get away. After that, he always just waited 'til I was there," Sides explained grimly on seeing the CMO's questioning look. "Oh, and don't tell him I told you this, because he'll beat the slag out of me if he finds out—I'm not joking," he added, with a warning look at his lover.
"I don't doubt you, it's just… a lot to take in. I'm beginning to think he's got so many layers I'll never find them all."
"Having second thoughts?" Sideswipe asked dangerously.
"No!" Ratchet snapped back, angered by the implication. "I am not afraid of Sunstreaker, nor would I use him just to get closer to you. If I didn't want him, I certainly wouldn't have… spent the night with him." He stopped for a moment to let that sink in, then hissed, "And yes, he was rough as the Pit—but it was damned good, you overprotective little glitch. I'm not some dainty little femme that can't take a bit of manhandling."
He was just getting started, beginning to feel really angry, when Sideswipe's sudden disarming grin took all the wind out of his sails. "Well then, that's all right," the red twin said, sounding satisfied, and abruptly pulled Ratchet down for another kiss.
"You're incorrigible," Ratchet muttered, leaning into the mouth feathering kisses along his jaw.
"I don't even know what that means…but—whatever you say, babe," Sideswipe replied absently, more concerned with the ways that he could make the medic squirm.
"Where's Wheeljack?" Ratchet managed, suddenly concerned as he recalled that the last place he had seen his friend had been in the medbay.
"Gone back to his lab—got some thingamajig he's all excited about," Sides answered breathily—not to be outdone, the medic's clever fingers had found one of his more delicate sensor nodes.
"You know, just about anyone could walk in here and see you two," someone quipped, and Ratchet leaped away from Sideswipe as though he had been burned. He stared at Jazz in complete mortification, while Sides merely smiled and looked unrepentant.
"Glad to see that you two have made up," the Porsche laughed, walking over and hopping up to sit beside Sideswipe on the repair table as though he had seen nothing unusual. "Yo, Sides, how you doin'?"
Sideswipe grimaced. "As well as can be expected with my leg still missing. I am bored out of my processor."
"Didn't look too bored to me. In fact, it looked an awful lot like you were corrupting our CMO," Jazz said slyly, glancing sidelong at the still flustered medic. "Anyway, how's ol' Sunshine?"
They chitchatted in that vein for several more minutes, ignoring the now fuming CMO until finally he ground out, "Jazz, if you are not leaking from your primary energon lines or otherwise dying, then get out of my medbay!"
"Man, Sides, you shouldn't leave him hangin' like that—he's even grouchier than normal!" the special ops officer chortled, dodging as the medic lunged at him, then darting out the door, laughing the whole way. And when Sideswipe dared to snicker, one of Ratchet's tools impacted the side of his head.
"You know, you really need to get laid," Sideswipe deadpanned, rubbing his dented head and trying not to grin at the snarling medic.
Sunstreaker had all but moved in with him while his brother was being reconstructed, and Ratchet finally gave in and replaced his 'charge pad with a bigger one.
Sideswipe, upon being released from the medbay, immediately followed his twin's lead, and adjusting to having them there nearly overwhelmed the poor medic. Ratchet never doubted that they both loved him—Sideswipe continually found inopportune moments to tell him so, and more than once he had found some little sketch Sunstreaker had done of him while he was not paying attention—but Sideswipe and Sunstreaker were Sideswipe and Sunstreaker, and he doubted that they would ever change. They were brash and loud and violent, and everyone in the Ark knew when they pushed Ratchet a little too far.
You could hear the argument two decks down.
Still, it was worth every moment, the medic mused late one night after coming back to his quarters after a particularly rough shift to find that the pair had beaten him there. They were both sitting on the berth, Sideswipe recharging soundly with his head lolling onto his brother's shoulder, and Sunstreaker seemingly engrossed in a video game that Spike had probably acquired for them.
On hearing the medic enter, the yellow twin saved his game and shut off the console, uncoiling from his seat on the 'charge pad to greet his lover. Sideswipe let out a startled sound when his support was suddenly yanked out from under him, but subsided back into recharge when Ratchet eased down onto the berth and wrapped his arms around him, with Sunstreaker following to lie so that the medic was between them.
This, Ratchet thought as all the tension of the day left him, was how it should be—and he knew that, as long as Sunstreaker and Sideswipe were around, he would never be lonely again.
And it would certainly never be boring.