Title: Anything You Like

Universe: loosely G1 cartoon surrounding Astrotrain's transfer to Earth.

Rated: NC-17 for detailed physical intimacy between mechanical beings. Mention of abuse, long past.

Pairing: Astrotrain/Decepticon mech; brief reference to Astrotrain/Guardian femme.

Warning: Notable size discrepancy, on the order of a Dinobot with a Minibot.

Author's Notes: Never mine, except for Enny and that MiG-29 Fulcrum. 7090 words. A version of this story was an entry for the under-loved challenge in November, 2007, at MechaErotica.

-:-radio transmission-:-


Astrotrain knew he was being used. It was the story of his life. As a troop transport on Cybertron, he was often loaded with more mass than he was built to carry. Sometimes he arrived at the battlefront not only out of fuel but with systems so strained he could barely defend himself. He would much rather torment and destroy small groups of anarchists, alone. Their bellows of dismay and confusion when he attacked as first a rolling transport and then an airborne one were music to his audio receptors. Megatron never appreciated his true talents.

Surprisingly, Shockwave was much better to him after Megatron left. In sole control of Cybertron, Shockwave set about methodically clearing it of resistance. Neither side had enough troops left to fight large battles. Controlling the few remaining energy sources on the planet allowed the Decepticons the upper hand. Shockwave rationed their energon carefully but gave Astrotrain what they finally agreed was close to his fair share. This, in addition to letting Astrotrain enjoy what he loved most: working alone, playing two roles in every engagement, and savoring the dying screams of those he could catch on his reduced energy level. He found he could also enjoy hearing empty threats from those he was only able to chase from the planet. Perhaps that was even more efficient: on their own, the fleeing Autobots might come to appreciate the structure, the order the Decepticons represented and return, ready to comply. He forgot what it was like to be relegated to the role of carrier. He enjoyed his existence. When Autobot signals disappeared from Cybertron he took up a hobby, building spare parts and designing alternate modes for himself. Shockwave encouraged him in that additional pursuit, even commissioning odd parts from him on occasion.

Astrotrain was well-prepared when the order came to join the Earthside front. Shockwave shared the entire catalog of Earthly vehicles with him, allowing him to select his own optimal alt-modes. He carefully reformatted himself to resemble the engine of a locomotive and the crude vessel called simply a space shuttle. That was an anxious process, but he succeeded and felt very comfortable with his new forms.

When the time came to depart Cybertron for Earth, he had three mechs in his hold. He was not yet back in proper Decepticon ranks, and already being used as a transport. The situation was sufficiently novel by then that a wave of nostalgia overwhelmed any protest. Shockwave offered no details. Astrotrain calmly cooperated when Shockwave ushered them aboard at the last astrosecond. One gave the impression of being a Triple-changer, one a Seeker and the other a ground-pounder. Astrotrain was immediately interested in getting to know the possible Triple-changer and tried to start a conversation with him. All he was willing to say was that yes, he was a Triple-changer; his name was Blitzwing; and being a passenger made his systems falter, "So leave me the frag alone." Astrotrain shrugged it off. If the opportunity to meet another Triple-changer was not worth his interest, there was no reason for Astrotrain to try to talk to him. The small four-wheeled one appointed himself flight attendant and supplied the other two with whatever they wanted to keep them quiet and contained. Astrotrain monitored their activity only cursorily. He had nothing in common with the tiny one, disliked Seekers as a general rule, and had been rebuffed by the other Triple-changer. The flight was going to be long and lonely.

Blitzwing basked in the numbness of strong high grade. The Seeker was lost in a datapad. The active one, serving some private purpose of his own, set about mapping Astrotrain's interior. Astrotrain did not realize what he was up to until something gently touched the cover beneath which his core processors and spark lay.

Stifling an exclamation, Astrotrain quietly demanded to know what the mech thought he was doing. In answer, a second hand joined the first in stimulating the sensitive area. Astrotrain suppressed a shudder. He had not carried passengers in a very long time; the added oddity of being touched there, like that, was a distraction he could not afford. Constant recalculation of position and trajectory was required to determine the slight adjustments necessary to keep them on their flight path. "Stop that," he ordered.

Silently projecting reluctance, the other mech withdrew his hands and went to check on the others, handing each another round of his preferred entertainment.

He then returned to his exploration of the shuttle.

Astrotrain lost track of the wheeled one's whereabouts until he again touched something sensitive. Astrotrain told him to stop and he complied, moving on silently.

After the third time, Astrotrain tried to engage him in conversation. "You're very curious. You must be young. Can't you find another way to occupy your processors while we travel?" He had worked in isolation for so long, he was reluctant to be harsh. It was not as if the attention were unpleasant - quite the contrary, in fact - but he did not know this mech at all, and traveling at full speed along an untried course was not the circumstance in which he could enjoy it if he did.

The only answer was a pat to the nearest bulkhead.

"Is this your first time in space?"

The mech gave an affirming gesture and trailed the remarkably soft pads of his fingers down the wall.

"Do you understand why I keep telling you to stop that?"

The mech held very still, hands unmoving on the bulkhead.

Astrotrain got the impression his new acquaintance was waiting for him to explain why. He trained visual sensors on the small mech and catalogued his shape. Like Astrotrain, he had obviously already been formatted for Earth. Astrotrain recognized his chestplate as the hood of an automobile, saw doors on his thighs, the four wheels he had immediately noticed with disdain, and many lights of various shapes and colors. When he felt he had waited long enough to be sure he was not going to get an answer, he provided it himself: "You're distracting me. I can talk to you and still navigate reliably. I can't navigate reliably when you stimulate my tactile sensors like that."

The mech remained still, as if waiting to hear more.

"Can you speak?"

The mech repeated the affirmative motion.

Astrotrain cast his internal attention briefly toward the others to verify they were unaware of the conversation aft of them. "Shockwave may have told you my name is Astrotrain. He shared no information with me. What may I call you?"

The mech withdrew his hands. As if knowing there was an audio sensor near him, he vocalized at a decibel level that could not carry, "Anything you like." Then he went to check on the others, providing a new data chit for the Seeker's entertainment and harnessing the now off-line Blitzwing securely to his bench.

He resumed his silent scrutiny of Astrotrain's passenger space.

Astrotrain was unnerved as much by the mech's silence as by the near-constant, gentle attention. Enny, as Astrotrain started to think of him, short for Anything-you-like, did not actively distract him after having it explained why he should not. Unfortunately, his mere presence filled Astrotrain's thoughts. Somehow Astrotrain kept on the required route and they arrived in Earth-space at the appointed time. They nearly burned up on entry in the outer atmosphere because he forgot to account for the variable density of it in his attitude profile. He adjusted to prevent permanent damage to his skin, and directed his passengers to prepare for landing on unknown terrain. "You too, Enny," he said softly when he noticed the mech had not moved from his latest position in the cockpit, "go strap in." He expected some sort of welcoming party. For a tick, he wished for an enemy to appear instead, so he could show off his fighting ability for his new acquaintance.

Where did that come from? I don't care what anyone thinks!

Blitzwing came on-line and startled a bit as if not knowing where he was. The Seeker assured him that they were nearly at their destination. Enny arrived in their vicinity and fastened a harness around himself.

Three Seekers, each outfitted as the same airplane, took up formation about him, hailing him on the secure channel Shockwave had specified he monitor. McDonnell-Douglas F-15 Eagle, he identified their camouflage. The one who called himself Starscream directed him to land on a steppe, telling him they would fly with him over the dark side of the planet.

Without incident, they landed megamiles from the nearest signs of technology. Blitzwing and the Seeker eagerly debarked and transformed to take to the air with their escort. He identified both of them as MiGs, a Foxbat and a Fulcrum. Enny lingered, in root mode. Astrotrain transformed to be bipedal, himself, and saw with some satisfaction that Enny looked impressed. Despite a significant portion of his alternate forms in subspace, Astrotrain was still a large mech, at least as big as Megatron himself but significantly more massive. He dwarfed the remaining Decepticon.

Starscream sent him a set of coordinates and condescended over the radio, -:-I'm sure you're tired from the trip. We'll leave the little flightless one to keep you company, Astrotrain.-:- They flew up and away.

He already did not like that mech.

Enny transformed. He was a very ... innocuous-looking ... automobile, mostly shiny black with white extremities and white stripes on his hood. Not very warlike, Astrotrain thought, I can't imagine any being finding that vehicle intimidating. A logical reason for that presented itself. He asked, "Are you in recon?"

Enny did not vocalize, but the shift he performed on his suspension clearly approximated a shrug, non-committal but not a denial. He revved his engine and spun his wheels a bit, trying to encourage Astrotrain to transform and get moving.

Astrotrain looked around, not ready to go anywhere else just yet. "You have the coordinates. Go on to the base. I must recharge for a while. My levels are very low."

Enny transformed back to his biped form and gestured at the openness of the area.

"You're right, this isn't an ideal location. I'm not concerned for the locals. If Autobots will come, let them. I can fight them here as well as I ever fought them on Cybertron."

The Seeker who made the trip with them flew low overhead. When Enny looked up at him, flashing a few of his lights, the Fulcrum dipped his wing. Astrotrain regarded them curiously. Enny waved calmly to the jet, who then disappeared again in the direction the others had gone.

Astrotrain had to rest. He had internal reserves, but they were best accessed by his charge system. He decided the landing area was as good as any other in this unknown world and settled there to recharge. "I will meet you at the base," he said as he began cycling strained systems down.

When he regained alertness much later, he was surprised to see Enny standing watch over him with a blaster. The little mech smiled at him and transformed, again making 'let's go' movements in his auto-mode.

Astrotrain smiled. His systems all came back on-line and his readings were satisfactory: the warmth from the sunlight on his plating had sped some of his regenerative processes. "Yes, I'm ready to go," he said, then transformed into his locomotive form, just to show it off before returning to his shuttle mode. He opened his boarding hatch, "We'll get there faster if we fly," he offered.

The odd feeling of tires rolling over the floor of his cargo bay was surprisingly pleasant. He found he did not resent playing transport in this instance. As he took off, he spoke to his transforming passenger, "You didn't have to stay, Enny."

One of his bulkheads received a lingering pat.

-X-X-X-

They had orders to report to different locations in the base. Astrotrain departed almost immediately for his first assignment, a power plant raid in India with Thundercracker. Returning in the darkest hours of the day, Thundercracker injured himself badly in a collision with a local aircraft. It was clearly his own fault. Astrotrain had no sympathy for him. When it became clear the damage would slow them down, Astrotrain reluctantly let him ride the rest of the way back, skimming the surface of the water to appear on radar as a large watercraft. Thundercracker was able to transform in Astrotrain's hold but unexpectedly shut down from loss of fluids. This presented a problem: too large in either alt-mode, Astrotrain could only enter the base in root-mode but could not transform with someone in his bay. It would be uncomfortable for him, and likely fatal for Thundercracker, for him to try.

He almost dumped Thundercracker in the ocean. He decided it would serve him better to make the effort to find a way to save his new colleague. It would not do to return alone from his very first mission under a new command. Megatron would naturally assume he had destroyed Thundercracker to eliminate some competition. That would go badly for him. Not that any Seeker was truly his competition, but that was how it would read to any Decepticon who was not also a Triple-changer. Undoubtedly someone would have noticed he did not pretend to appreciate Seekers. He executed a risky maneuver, transformed, and caught his oblivious compatriot before he hit the water.

He expected to be met by Starscream, who assigned the raid. He was surprised when Soundwave was waiting for them in the lift. Soundwave relieved him of the spoils but flatly refused to take the damaged mech from him. "Injury minor. Repair him."

Astrotrain narrowed his optics at the familiar-seeming mech. He thought he recognized him as a particular medic from long ago, before the specialty disappeared from their ranks. He registered the unique field fluctuations that singular mech used to cause that meant his surface thoughts were being scanned. Even if he could mistake the physical form of an individual after all this time, that feeling of intrusion was singular. Aware of surveillance in the lift, he chose not to vocalize. If this were the medic he knew, he did not need to speak. I recognize you, he thought with all the intensity he could, Your other skills are needed. I can build replacement parts but you can extend life.

Soundwave answered him aloud cryptically, "Statement valid. Implementation banned. Megatron emphatic."

So that was it, that was why there was no medic in the base. Megatron would be the victim of his own success if he was too stubborn to let old habits die when their usefulness was past! Decepticons had no medical officers since early in the war when Megatron adopted the battle strategy of shooting Autobot medics first. To get them off the battlefields in case the resistance adopted a similar policy, Megatron directed Decepticon medics to cease that function and apply themselves to destruction of the enemy. Their new specialties became interrogation, problem solving, and strategy.

With the advent of permanent bases and stable Decepticon superiority, Astrotrain thought the medics should have come out of hiding. It was not as if their skills ceased to be needed, nor could all of them have been killed in the fighting. If a medic were safe anywhere, it was this base. Thundercracker's playful welcome-aboard rambling indicated they suffered more damage at each others' hands than at their enemies'.

For lack of a better idea, he hauled Thundercracker with him to his own quarters. Soundwave was right, the damage was minor. He patched it, brought Thundercracker on-line, escorted the disoriented Seeker to his proper part of the ship, and left him there just outside the lift. That was the limit of his generosity: Thundercracker could recharge in the hallway of the Seekers' level if he did not have the wherewithal to get to his berth.

They have a level. All the Triple-changers had was a chamber with two bunks that barely accommodated them. How is that proper allocation of resources? At least Blitzwing had proven reasonable once he was no longer a passenger. The two Triple-changers agreed to cooperative recharge, each to look out for the other in case scavenging events were common here as they had been at times on Cybertron.

Randomly, he wondered what sort of provision had been made for Enny. Since riding down the lift together upon arrival, he had not seen the little mech. He wondered where his acquaintance recharged, and in what condition of safety. What use do we really have for such as he? was the last thought in his CPU before shifting into recharge.

-X-X-X-

As soon as the Air Commander learned he made short work of Thundercracker's damage, Starscream accosted him and demanded to know what experience he had in that vein. Shrugging, Astrotrain explained he filled the time on Cybertron by learning to build alternate parts for himself. Starscream sneered and stalked off.

Despite Starscream's disdain, word spread quickly. Those who had been Earthside for any length of time gathered their supplies into their subspace pockets and made excuses to talk to him. He was approached as he left his quarters for the day, as he left the dispensary, any time he looked remotely approachable. Apparently each had been trying unsuccessfully to keep himself in repair, trusting only his closest associates for help, and things were falling apart. By the end of the first cycle - week, in the local vocabulary - he had cultivated so many favors that it appeared he would not be standing any of his duty rotations.

Starscream pulled him aside to grudgingly tell him they were making him their Chief Mechanical Officer. The requirements were that he fulfill their repair needs and participate each day in their status meeting. He would be removed from every menial duty roster to which he had been assigned and be given an entire chamber to use as a shop. Most important to him was that now he would have rank. That was something he could never have attained while considered primarily a dumb transport.

He was pleased to be in the group that met first-thing each day at 1400 hours when not out on a specific mission. It was good to know and possibly influence their actions, better to know when the next entertainment - a drill for the smaller and less-experienced mechs - would be run. Scrapper participated via video connection from the Constructicon base on the eastern continent. Soundwave led the meeting. Megatron did not appear. Astrotrain had not seen their leader once in the time he had been on Earth. That did not speak well for the Slag-Maker. Was Megatron aging badly? With no practicing medical talent aboard, nearly every Decepticon except Megatron had been to see Astrotrain already. Had Megatron degenerated somehow in all the time away from Cybertron? How he retained power over all of them without intimidating them regularly mystified Astrotrain. That would have to change, to ensure victory over the Autobots and to allow Astrotrain to realize his aspirations of rank and power. Megatron was so out of touch with their circumstance that he even refused to adapt to the simple time measurements of Earth! Soundwave, surely thinking to be recognized as second-in-command, insulated the others from their leader, meeting with Megatron on his whims but operating their base on the cycle of the rotation of the planet. Astrotrain noted how easy it was for Soundwave to keep track of everyone's activities this way. He would implement it when he had his own minions. Watching Soundwave closely, he realized what the communications officer did: he made everyone feel valued. For less than a breem - a few minutes - every day, Soundwave gave each of them his undivided attention while they reported to the group. Everybody wants to feel valuable, Astrotrain mused. Although he knew what Soundwave was doing, stroking his ego with body language and optical sensor contact more than words, he felt himself respond to it, every time. It was an amazing tactic. It cost Soundwave just a little time and earned him not only the information he wanted but made them eager to listen to him, in return. Even that fragger, Starscream, was not immune to it.

After another week, Enny appeared at his side as he left the conference room. Unspeaking, Enny accompanied him to the shop and proceeded to work as his assistant. After that day Enny spent nearly as much time in Astrotrain's shop as he did, silently passing him tools or supplies when he needed them, often without his asking, and occasionally showing him an alternative solution that made something function much better, or function where he could not come up with the answer himself. He was particularly helpful with anything that required software or an electronic interface. Enny even built and programmed test equipment to simulate individual portions of a Decepticon's transformation sequence to evaluate the most common complaints.

Astrotrain was fascinated by his helper. His size was almost alien to Astrotrain; the efficiency of his form a puzzle; the grace of his hands haunted Astrotrain's imagination. The memory of tires rolling over his cargo bay led him to absently brush the one on Enny's left shoulder with a fingertip one shift. Enny jerked away from him. Astrotrain nearly apologized for the familiarity. Rather than appear weak, or admit the fleeting contact was other than an accident, he did not. On another occasion there was something Astrotrain needed Enny to look at that was on the repair bench but configured in such a way that no amount of turning the mechanism would allow the little Decepticon to see it from his height. The part was in too delicate a state to pick it up and show him. Astrotrain lifted Enny bodily to sit on the bench so he could take a look at the problem. Enny swatted ineffectually at him. That time, Astrotrain did apologize: "I should have asked first." Enny's face changed from an expression of offense to one of indifference, then he made a dismissive gesture and offered a small smile. Astrotrain was forgiven.

Why that was important to him, from a Cybertronian who would not even tell him his name, Astrotrain did not evaluate.

When any other Decepticon came to visit, Enny would disappear somehow, letting Astrotrain's client feel he had a private session with the mechanic. Pride would not let him ask anyone else about Enny. It would never do for any of his potential rivals to suspect he had interest in the ground-pounder except as a flunky. As far as Astrotrain knew, he was the only one in the base with whom Enny interacted at all. Enny was too small for most of the watchbills, nearly as small as the Casseticons, but not among Soundwave's trusted few to participate in their duty cycles. From what he was learning about the Casseticons, Enny must be very good at disappearing and staying disappeared to avoid being scavenged by the little fraggers. Being about their size, he was probably full of parts they could use.

Again, Astrotrain wondered about the conditions in which Enny had to recharge. He did note that every morning near the appointed recharge time, Enny disappeared, always without Astrotrain noticing until he was gone. Perhaps that's how he survives here.

Astrotrain suspected he was being used. Enny surely only spent time with him because their association afforded protection from harassment by the others. Strangely, this understanding did not offend him. Partisans were a true benefit of power and position. Astrotrain enjoyed his first lackey immensely, confident that someday he would have many. He could gladly allow himself to be used in that manner. Enny listened to anything he had to say, and though he never spoke, he did respond and even encourage Astrotrain to speak. Astrotrain found Enny's company necessary.

-X-X-X-

The base operated on a cycle that maximized the use of darkness to enter and leave. Nominal recharge time was the morning hours. Energon was doled out once per day, one portion each (based on rank and transformation complexity among other things) to be claimed between noon and 1400 hours. This gave them over a groon - several hours - to prepare for whatever would be done in the darkness. Mechs so equipped could come and go as they pleased in the night but the tower was raised in daylight only for Megatron or someone acting on open orders. It amazed Astrotrain that such a small number of mechs was subject to such a large number of regulations on a planet teeming with energy sources.

We are order in the chaos, he thought.

At the end of his first month as CMO, the daily tag-up established that no one had anything pressing to procure, drills to suggest, and no 'Anarchobot-baiting' to report from the previous night. (Skywarp coined the phrase; Astrotrain appreciated it despite its author.) Soundwave dismissed everyone except the senior Seekers and Constructicon. Astrotrain had plenty of work to do in his shop and all the supplies he currently needed, so he was not slighted by the dismissal.

Like clockwork, Enny fell in beside him as he left the conference room, ensuring the other officers saw him with the Triple-changer. He had the skill set for reconnaissance even if he would not admit it. Astrotrain never registered Enny waiting for him in the corridor until they were side-by-side, walking in comfortable silence to the shop. Taking two steps to Astrotrain's one, he never complained or appeared hurried, focused on securing inclusion in Astrotrain's presence.

He wished he had an excuse to go for a flight and take Enny with him. On my next procurement run, he thought, I can use some help. He reviewed his memory of Enny's curious attention often. He had enjoyed physical contact in his life, but had always been the initiator, the pursuer, never the pursued. That seemingly innocent, tentative attention snared him.

He had an idea: why not implement Soundwave's technique with Enny? Not save it for attendants yet to come, use it with the one he already had, now. Perhaps building up the young mech's ego would encourage him to behave as he had while they hurtled through space, or at least talk.

Almost finished with the upgrade for Soundwave's concussion blaster, he reached for the buffer. Enny placed it in his hand, positioned precisely as needed for Astrotrain to use it immediately without fumbling or adjustment, despite the awkwardness of it in his small hands. Astrotrain made a point of noticing the action, this time. "Amazing. You hand me just the tool or part I need before I can ask for it. Are you telepathic, Enny?"

Enny offered a tiny smile and flashed his pale optics once in negation.

Astrotrain smiled back. Rather than return immediately to the task, he held Enny's gaze. Careful not to lean over the small mech, he knelt and tried to equalize them by body-language. On his knees he was still head and shoulders taller. He sat back on his heels. "You add a lot to the work I get done in a day. Yet you're never noticeable when someone's here. You'd benefit from having your skills recognized. Why do you not allow others to see you here in the shop?"

Enny shrugged and looked elsewhere. Astrotrain was pleased that he did not shy away.

He tried to think of a way to rekindle Enny's original interest, to encourage him to approach. He did not have anything to offer. Or did he? The other officers had support, why should the Chief Mechanical Officer not also? "I don't imagine very much energon is allocated to a mech your size whose work isn't obvious to Soundwave. I can fix that. I'll request a larger ration for you. I'll explain to him all the value you add."

Enny looked at him sharply, optics nearly white, they were so bright.

Astrotrain imagined that was a hopeful look on his face. "Shall I do that?"

Enny dimmed his optics briefly in agreement. He inclined his head and stepped shyly closer.

Astrotrain held very still. He wanted very much for this mech to touch him as he had when they first met, but while he was in a circumstance to enjoy it and in a form to participate and return the attention. He wanted ... to not feel like he was using this mech's talents to further his own position, to not feel he was being used by this mech as a shield to keep the predators within their base at bay. He wanted to know this mech's name. He wanted ... to feel this mech was his friend.

Enny carefully removed the tools from Astrotrain's unresisting hands.

The light, incidental touches of Enny's hands on his made him stop cycling his temperature regulation systems. The pads were as soft as he remembered.

Tools deactivated and set aside, Enny stepped even closer to Astrotrain. As if he recognized the panel - Astrotrain did not think there was any way he could even see the panel to recognize it - he placed his hands on Astrotrain's chest, on the surface perpendicular to his vertical axis, and touched the plating directly beneath which lay his processors. It was the same panel that first got Astrotrain's attention on their flight to Earth.

The caress was as compelling as he remembered. He wanted to pull Enny close to him. He refrained from doing anything forceful, choosing instead to bend farther down with his right hand on the deckplates to bring that panel into easier reach for Enny. He dropped his head and kissed the knuckles that were right there on his chest-ridge. He noted once again that Enny had only three fingers and a thumb on each diminutive hand. His fingers were elegant, particularly long in proportion to the palm: each slender digit had an extra knuckle. With his left hand he tentatively traced the stripes on Enny's chestplate, down from his left shoulder to his grill and back up to his right shoulder, careful not to press too firmly, noticing how thin the plating was.

Enny stopped what he was doing.

Astrotrain immediately ceased as well and raised his head to meet Enny's optics. He looked frightened for the first time in Astrotrain's experience of him. Astrotrain dropped his left hand to the deck, mirroring the position of his right. "I don't want to do anything you don't want. I'll make fewer mistakes with you if you talk to me."

Enny patted the expanse of dermal plating he'd been petting and dimmed his optics. At roughly half power, they passed through a disconcerting shade of blue. Enny ducked his head as if he realized that might be uncomfortable for another Decepticon to see. For answer, he crouched down and grasped each of Astrotrain's hands, slipping his fingers around them in such a way as to make it clear he meant to lift them from the floor. Astrotrain complied. Enny guided Astrotrain's hands to his midsection where his engine block and the shell of his transaxle were partially exposed beneath his grill. Astrotrain gently grasped him, hoping that was what Enny meant him to do: Enny had batted his hands away from there under other circumstances. Enny ran his hands up the length of Astrotrain's chest, ghosted those remarkable fingers over the sensitive plate on his chest-ridge, and traced along the sides of his helm. He rested them on Astrotrain's neck, teasing the cables that held his head on his body. Astrotrain groaned softly.

When he raised his optics to Astrotrain's again, they were so dim they were almost powered-down. Astrotrain could tell they were blue but purplish, not as close to Autobot blue as when Enny turned his face away. "I didn't know your optics are blue," he said huskily.

Enny dimmed them completely for a tick and smiled slowly.

Astrotrain thought the metal to which Enny had guided his hands felt significantly stronger than that of the shoulder on which he initially placed his hand. He was still uncertain what to do for such a small being. He mimicked the motion of Enny's hands on his neck with his fingers on Enny's waist. The vibration that seemed to evoke from his engine was encouraging.

Enny exerted pressure on the back of Astrotrain's neck, and Astrotrain took that for an invitation to lean forward. The partial battle mask that shielded Enny's mouth rotated up and out of the way allowing them to kiss.

Astrotrain tried to notice everything about that moment. His lip components were warm and smooth as glass. His engine was hot and the vibration from it was pleasantly strong as it transferred up Astrotrain's arms. His mouth and jaw were proportionate to the rest of him, smaller than any in Astrotrain's previous experience. Where Astrotrain made extensive use of subspace, Enny obviously did not. He actively used every part in both modes. It made Astrotrain nervous to think of it, but the ratio of Enny's mass to his was nearly as drastic as the ratio of his mass to the one who once forced him into intimacy, the Guardian-sized femme he pursued until she caught him. She used him for her own purposes and threw him aside, not even allowing him the release of an energy flare. He would not do that to another, not her, Not even a captive Anarchobot. That thought unnerved him, recalling the instant when Enny's optics passed through Autobot blue. He broke the kiss and dropped his hands from the tiny mech, palms back on the floor, gaze studiously cast to the wall.

It's not like I'm making him do this, he thought, I gave him a chance to start something and he took it. He cycled his thermal systems, trying to reclaim his calm, the enjoyment of the moment.

The voice he had only heard once before asked, "What's wrong?" The decibel level was low but the impact was greater than any shout Astrotrain had ever heard. The long, delicate fingers caressed his shoulders. In his peripheral vision he could see a concerned look on the minimalist faceplates. Even Enny's head was only plated as much as absolutely necessary. Lines for power, data, and all manner of fluid were clearly visible and mostly frighteningly identifiable.

As his systems responded to Enny, Astrotrain was struck once again by how fragile his body was. Comparisons aside, fragile body equated to fragile hold on life. He moved his head to look Enny in the eye. "I fear I will injure you by accident. Your plating is very thin and widely spaced. Much of each necessary system is exposed. I might-"

Enny cut him off by stepping into him so that their chestplates touched. It carried the purr of his engine perfectly into Astrotrain's body. He pulled himself forcefully into the large mech so that the curve of his chest flexed against the flat expanse of Astrotrain's. Astrotrain gasped in horror, thinking Enny was damaging himself to make some point. Enny leaned back on his heels and Astrotrain looked down to see the dent. There was no new mark to show for it, the chest plate had popped back into shape. Enny rocked forward and his plating flexed again, allowing their disparate forms more surface area in contact. "There are limits," he said very close to Astrotrain's face, "but I'm not frail."

Astrotrain lost track of who initiated what. They kissed, lip components moving over every bit of facial plating they could reach. Enny worked his hands all the way under Astrotrain's chest plating, going straight for his processors and spark chamber; Astrotrain allowed it. Astrotrain worked his fingers all the way around Enny's engine block, grew tired of crouching on the floor and lifted the tiny mech onto his work bench; Enny allowed it. Enny wrapped his legs around Astrotrain's abdomen, bringing the very edge of his manifold into direct contact with Astrotrain. That changed the angle of their bodies so that Astrotrain could mouth Enny's neck, hungrily claiming each sensor and module there with his lips and glossa. Enny moaned. Astrotrain felt accomplished, having wrung an unintentional vocalization from him. Enny's motor revved faster. Astrotrain felt every cycle of it. Electricity crackled out from the big mech's core, over his plating, and through the one who caused it. They trembled together, approaching overload.

The door to the shop opened and someone - surely one of his clients, maybe even Soundwave looking for the upgrade for his weapon - walked in on them. Enny stiffened but made no move to disengage, staring over Astrotrain's wing toward the doorway. Astrotrain did not turn around to see who it was, choosing instead to rest his forehead on Enny's shoulder. "Leave us!" he said with all the threat he could muster.

Nearly simultaneously, the intruder drew air sharply through constricted intakes. "Cobweb!" he exclaimed, turned efficiently and stomped out. The door closed. Astrotrain did not try to place the voice.

They held their positions as if each had forgotten what he was doing. It was several processor cycles later that Astrotrain made the connection. He tried the syllables out, "Cob Web. That is your name," he breathed, and resumed his exploration of Enny's neck joint.

Enny - Cobweb - was straining to give Astrotrain as much access to his neck as possible. Astrotrain nibbled at a cable under tension, then said, "Relax. We have all night." It seemed to be the right thing to say: he was rewarded by another lusty, appreciative sound. Enny found Astrotrain's spark casing and stroked it. Astrotrain felt the texture of Enny's fingerpads, warm and silken, at the core of his being. Enny gently wrapped his hand around Astrotrain's spark chamber. The vibration of his engine carried through his fingers to it, into Astrotrain's spark.

In his primary audio sensor, Enny whispered his name: "Astro Train."

The shock of hearing his name from that seldom-used vocalizer sent every one of the Triple-changer's systems past their upper limits. He vocalized the only thing in his CPU: "En-ny-" Current arced from him to his paramour, to the table and the deckplates. Enny's systems red-lined; heat poured from him. Light and ozone filled the room.

Astrotrain's gyros failed and he fell back, pulling Enny with him. He sat heavily on the deck, retaining enough capability to prevent him over-compensating and falling forward: if that happened, he might crush Enny. He was able to lean carefully back against the staging table that took up the middle of the room. "Next time, remind me to secure the door." He laughed softly, "And stay on the deck." No response. "Enny?" he asked, instantly concerned. He maneuvered Enny so he could see his face.

Enny was off-line. Astrotrain could feel every cycle of Enny's systems, winding down from overcharge with no sign of damage. He was relieved. The fingers coiled delicately around Astrotrain's spark chamber twitched.

That was too much stimulation for one breem. His processors powered down in self-defense as another wave of radiation rocked him.

-X-X-X-

When he returned to conscious function, Astrotrain was sprawled on the floor of his shop between the work bench and the staging table. For a few ticks, he did not understand why he was there. Then he remembered. He touched me precisely as I was wanting. He suppressed a shudder. His official designation is 'Cobweb'. He smirked at the supposition that someone was jealous of his luck. He caused a spark-flickering flare. He did shudder; it rippled pleasantly through each of his systems.

His logic protocol asserted itself. I let him find my spark chamber, he thought, abashed. I can't allow him that power over me. He started to get up.

The door cycled open and shut. He saw that it was Enny, locking the door behind him. He settled for sitting up. "Well," he said, trying to assess the situation.

Enny came around the table and stopped in front of him, within Astrotrain's reach but outside his own.

Astrotrain waited. Frag it! he thought, feeling all his systems speed back up with Enny so close again. I wanted that. I will let him do that again. I want him to do that again. He dropped his head but kept his optics on Enny's face. I'm lost.

Enny finally met his gaze. He truly had the minimum necessary facial structure; Astrotrain thought he was silently asking for welcome, for forgiveness. Astrotrain did not know why.

He gave it, holding his arms out, careful not to touch without clear permission.

Enny gave it, stepping forward to be wrapped in an embrace that engulfed him. He seemed to shrink into Astrotrain's lap, leaning heavily into the broad chest.

A long moment later, Astrotrain spoke. "We need to finish Soundwave's upgrade today. After that, I'll deliver it to him and make that request for your increased energon."

Enny trembled against him but made no conscious move or sound.

"Do you appear in the roster as Cobweb?"

Enny buried his face in his hands as he curled into a lump of despondent mechanoid and made a tiny gesture of affirmation.

Unable to fathom who was using whom in this scenario - Enny was making him feel powerful and necessary where he found he aspired to make Enny feel accepted and valued - he contented himself to stay like that for as long as needed. He cherished the sensation of every bit of contact, even if they were incidental to what he was doing for Enny in that instance.

Who has power over whom?

Astrotrain didn't know.

Maybe that meant they had achieved friendship, a partnership of sorts. Astrotrain realized he had stopped keeping track of all the benefits he gained from time spent together as well as all the things he imagined he knew Enny gained from it.

Enny seemed to be calming down. He did not lift his head from his hands but relaxed against Astrotrain.

Astrotrain decided to test his theory. He said, "I am your friend." Enny stopped cycling air. "I want you here." Enny raised his head to look up at Astrotrain, resting his hands lightly against Astrotrain's chestplate. "Tell me what I should call you: Cobweb, Enny, Assistant, Partner?"

He was rewarded with a faint smile and a fleeting look from white-blue optics. "Anything you like."