Author's Note: This was written for a prompt from the random pairing generator. The prompt was Hound/Thundercracker, saturated.
Comments are much appreciated. As always, Transformers don't belong to me.
Nothing and Everything
The bar is a dive, little more than a lean-to tucked away in the rough landscape just inside Neutral territory, corrugated walls and a slanted roof almost entirely rusted through in places. It's well off road, hard to find for anyone who doesn't know exactly where to look for it; popular with Autobots stationed in the area and close enough to the Decepticon-controlled border to ensure that the clientele is usually mixed.
Vehicle tracks stop a quarter of a hic from the building. Hound transforms and walks the rest of the way, red dust kicking up under his feet and sticking to him.
There are mechs loitering outside, some already stumbling drunk, others standing clustered together, muttering in patois of trade cant and military code. Lettering stenciled onto the badly corroded, pieced-together advertising sheet that makes up the building is still legible, along with graffiti scrawled across the building's front: a crude rendering of a busty femmebot, large double-dot glyph for the number eight, and over it, in dripping pink paint, the phrase "Prime's ball bearings."
Inside, a quick glance to the right reveals a couch against the wall, piled with bodies, and a table made out of crates and scrap metal. The bodies are shifting together, moaning, and he catches a quick glimpse of Autobot insignia.
The bar itself runs the length of the left wall. It's crowded, but a burly mech is lifting an unconscious Decepticon away from his seat between two groups of Neutrals, leaving it empty, and Hound takes it. The bartender slaps a glowing cube down in front of him before he even has the chance to ask for it. They serve one type of energon here: drum-distilled, lowest of the low grade, foul tasting and so shot-through with volatiles a mech not used to overfueling could almost get slagged off the fumes alone.
It's cheaper and stronger and significantly less legal than anything he could have gotten his side of the Autobot border. Hound is technically AWOL, and he knows he'll pay for it with one hell of a dressing-down when he drags his chassis back to base reeking of unrefined fuel in a few joors, but in the meantime, all he cares about is getting scrap-faced. It's not like he has anything better to do out here.
He's halfway through his second cube and feeling it when the pitted sheet that serves as a door swings open and the Seeker walks in.
Or rather, shuffles in sideways because his wings are wider than the opening, and then hovers in front of the doorway, looking around the place. His entrance causes a stir, a flurry of curious head-turning, interest in one of the only obviously flight capable mechs here. Hound looks too, not so much curious as instantly alert. The Seeker's clearly Decepticon, generically good-looking as Seekers tend to be, one of the off-the-belt types distinguishable only by their colors. This one is painted an attention-getting blue and white with stripes of sky-red on his wings.
A gap has opened up to Hound's left at the bar. There's no seat, but room enough to stand, and the Seeker spots it. He makes his way over, the crowd shifting for him.
As he squeezes in next to Hound, he grazes his back with his wing.
The Seeker looks over at him while the bartender fills an energon cube. "Sorry," he says, gesturing toward the wing, still barely touching him.
Hound jerks his head once, glancing up briefly without meeting the Seeker's optics. On Hound's other side, a mech with a dull black paint job and a rolling lilt is sitting with his back turned to him, describing a pit fight he'd seen in Kalis. "...an' then 'is arm came right off, an' Scrap just looked at it..." There's nowhere else for the Seeker to stand, and Hound is boxed in where he's sitting. He has little choice but to remain as he is, watching out of the corner of his optic as the Seeker lifts the sloshing cube of energon to his lips.
The Seeker winces at the first sip of low-grade and puts the cube back down on the bar with a grimace, then looks around furtively.
Catching Hound looking at him, he smiles an awkward kind of grin. "It's not that bad, really. I've had rations that tasted worse. Back in Polyhex. And Kaon."
Hound is surprised at being addressed by the Decepticon. "Drink a little more of that and you won't be able to taste anything."
"Yeah? Here's hoping," and the Seeker picks up his cube again, shuddering after he sips from it, and then Hound dares to look at him openly.
"I'm Thundercracker," the Seeker says, his voice a low rumble against the white noise of other conversations.
"Trailbreaker," Hound lies without giving it thought, his friend's name rolling off his glossa. He pushes his own now-empty cube away and gestures to the bartender for a new one.
Thundercracker is relaxing, settling himself against the bar. "Autobot?"
"Yeah," Hound breathes, instantly tensing. Can't lie about that, and pass himself off as a Neutral – Hound wears his decals on his chest and arms, there's no way the mech hasn't seen them. Too late to use a hologram to change his appearance.
But Thundercracker is looking at his cube with resignation. Everything about the situation is unexpected and surreal.
They talk about nothing and everything.
At some point, it starts raining, and the bar becomes decidedly more crowded as the loiterers pile in. Conversations grow louder to be heard over the pelting of acid rain on sheet metal, and bodies push together as mechs and femmes move away from spots where the roof has indeed rusted through. Someone jostles the Seeker from behind, and with an apologetic twist of his lips, he presses himself closer to Hound. His wing is now solidly in contact with Hound's shoulder. Too many chassis are packed into far too small a space, and the air is thick with the fretful, jarring overlap of EM fields.
"Gettin' cozy in here," Thundercracker comments over the racket of voices, grinning. He's looking over his shoulder, out into the crowd and all around, optics lit up happily. The energon must be getting to him. He's almost through his second cube; Hound is just starting his fourth and everything around him is neon, buzzing.
He can barely hear what Thundercracker is saying, now, but he likes the feel of a chassis close to his in this crowd of strangers. He watches the mech's lips, more intent on the shapes they form than on whatever it is Thundercracker's saying, even as the noise gradually quiets and the fusillade pounding on the bar's roof dies down to a half-sparked drizzle.
Someone behind them orders a drink, and the bartender hands him his cube leaning out over the bar between them. As he withdraws, Hound's optics track the bartender's retreating arm until it reveals the curve of Thundercracker's jaw, and there his optics linger.
"You doing alright?" Hound asks finally, when Thundercracker falls silent, noticing that he's swaying and his optics have gone dim.
Thundercracker glances over at him and his lips jerk up in something like a grin.
"Rain's stopped," someone calls out, over the voices, and as soon as it's said, there's a general migration toward the door. The bar all but clears. Mechs and femmes hurry outside, out of the heat and the thick anion build-up.
Thundercracker slumps into the seat next to Hound's once it's empty and leans both elbows on the bar, cradling his energon cube. The mech to Hound's right, with the black chassis, having lost his audience to the rush, has gotten another drink and slunk off, leaving Hound and Thundercracker alone at their stretch of the bar. Thundercracker's optics are dimming and brightening periodically.
For almost a breem, neither of the speak. Then, suddenly, Thundercracker gives a jerky shake of his head, like a turbofox sluicing water out of its ears.
"Need s'm air," he mutters, forcing himself to sit up straighter on the re-purposed ordnance crate that serves as barstool.
He's very drunk, Hound realizes. He's heard that fliers are lightweights, and whether it's true or not in general, he knows the look of 'had too much' and that this low-grade can hit fast and mean.
Thundercracker forces air through his vents and shoves his half-finished cube away. "'m goin' outside," he says.
"Yeah," Thundercracker breathes, but Hound's looking at the unfocused flickering of the Seeker's optics, and Thundercracker leans in his direction, wing's surface scraping across his shoulder before he slides off his seat. As he watches Thundercracker totter and weave toward the door, Hound feels something lurch, like something's slipping out of his fingers.
Whatever it is, he should let it go. He knows this, in the part of his processor that isn't completely slagged on low-grade, knows that there are countless reasons why he shouldn't follow him out of the bar. That they belong to different factions is only the first and most glaring of these. Thundercracker's scrap-faced, he's almost as scrap-faced as Thundercracker is, and he doesn't really care about any of it.
The energon has done its job on him, in that sense.
Hound stares down into the dregs of his cube, and the bartender mech's looking at it and him questioningly. No, he shakes his head at the mech when he looks up and sees his expression. Mind made up, he staggers to his feet.
He stands just outside the bar, cycling sharp, wet air to cool his systems as the door swings shut behind him, hoping it will clear his processor. Ignoring the knots of hungry-looking Empties who have gone back to lurking outside, he scans the area for wide blue wings striped with sky-red detailing.
Thundercracker is nowhere to be seen.
Some mechs are transforming and leaving the area, and when Hound doesn't spot the one he's looking for anywhere, he thinks he must have missed the Seeker. He leans back against the wall with a disappointed sigh. But the ground in front of him is churned with footprints, and Hound's optics, blurring in and out of focus, fall on a broken, semicircular imprint.
Half-formed recognition pinging at the back of his processor, he pushes himself from the wall.
Further along is another impression, clearer.
Rounding the corner of the shack he sees him. His back is to Hound, his blue wings standing out in prettily discordant contrast to the rust-colored scenery, and as it had when he'd gotten his first look at the Seeker, the sight of him fills Hound with something like fear. For a moment, he wonders what in the Pit he thinks he's doing. What he's about to do, the reality of it.
Then his feet squelch in the mud, and Thundercracker turns at the sound, teetering dangerously.
"Hey," Hound says.
Thundercracker is swaying where he stands, red optics shining, grinning at him tipsily.
There's an astringent smell, and it's wet with rain, everywhere. He winces slightly and looks down at the muddied ground, scuffing one foot in the mud. "My name's Hound. I -"
He falls silent, frowns, and looks back up to see Thundercracker still grinning.
"Hound," Thundercracker says, just before he pitches forward, into Hound's arms.
Hound grabs at him reflexively, wrapping his arms around Thundercracker's back below the wings, bracing himself to keep the top-heavy Seeker on his feet, and the next thing he knows, Thundercracker's kissing him. Hound's surprise only lasts for an instant before his processor makes sense of the situation and he's kissing the Seeker back.
He's supporting most of Thundercracker's weight, and the kiss tastes like low-grade, and the whole planet is tilting around him, he's so overcharged.
And then they're just mechs stumbling behind the bar, where those other footprints lead, where jagged boulders of ore break the ground like sharp, metallic teeth, hiding shadowy movements in hollows and defiles where sounds can be heard of grinding gears and scraping metal. Thundercracker's hands are all over him. His hands are on Thundercracker, and he doesn't know if he's pushing Thundercracker or Thundercracker pulling him, only that they find a sheer lip of ore to slip behind that's wide enough, and the Seeker readily falls back against it, beneath him.
Hound draws a hastily improvised hologram around them, acting on ingrained habit, and then his hands go to the Seeker's wings, exploring the flaps and moving parts he'd first noticed in the bar. He doesn't know what he does to cause it, but Thundercracker arches, hips coming up off the boulder. Hound slides his hands around Thundercracker, cupping his aft for a moment before working them up the wings' back surfaces, feeling for more unfamiliar parts. The lines and textures of Thundercracker's body are new to him, sleek fuselage where he's used to the jutting angles of engine blocks, turbine housings in place of wheel wells.
And the wings themselves - a part of him can't believe he's really feeling them. He's seen Autobot fliers – never been close to them, not close enough to touch, or taste, or smell, but he's seen them – on base, or in officers' clubs in Iacon, occasionally slumming but more often turning up their olfactory sensors at mechs better-looking than he is. They're unreachable, and Hound is as average as a mech can come, boxy and functional, nothing more. A part of him shivers as in awe of something forbidden, and he wrenches the mech's wings, wanting to feel more.
Thundercracker's arms are around his neck. The Seeker's mouth is pressed to a spot on Hound's throat, and he's rubbing one heel thruster against the outside of his ankle.
"Up," Hound gasps.
"With your foot. Further up."
The back of his knee has always been sensitive. He sighs at the scrape of Thundercracker's heel against it, clumsily insistent, and tightens his hold on Thundercracker's wings.
To his dismay, the thin metal plating gives easily beneath his fingers. Thundercracker shifts against him and murmurs against his lips.
"Sorry! Did that hurt?" he asks as soon as he's pulled his mouth free of the kiss.
"S'okay. It's good."
Not entirely convinced, Hound runs his thumbs over the wings' trailing edges, feeling for damage.
He finds none – where his hands had been, the surfaces are smooth and undented. He gives them another experimental squeeze and watches the metal pop back into shape as soon as he releases them.
Thundercracker moans, a deep, throaty sound. He lets go of Hound's helm and steadies himself by gripping his shoulders instead, leaning back so far that Hound finds himself looking the Seeker full in the face. His optics, dark as rust, the tip of his glossa flicking out between his lips - his glossa is black, or a very dark gray. Only now does Hound notice it.
The Seeker's field is spiking erratically, little surges of energy Hound can feel licking at his sensors. Hound squeezes his wings again. The metal creaks, and another strangled moan comes from the Seeker's vocalizer.
"Oh slag, yeah," he sighs when Hound slides his hands a bit further and gives his ailerons a twist.
Thundercracker's heel slides down the back of Hound's calf armor. He's fidgeting, caught against the rock by Hound's chassis, fingers digging at his shoulders, and it's just this side of painful, the way they scrabble at his seams, his transformation cogs, then at weapon mounts, then at the wheels set into the backs of his arms. Hound likes the way it feels, likes that he's getting to the other mech. Suddenly, with a buck of his hips and an impatient mewl, the Seeker lets go of Hound's shoulders and gropes for his hands, pushing them away from his wings.
"What do you want me to -"
Thundercracker is leaning back against the rock, cycling air heavily. Heaving with it, as Hound touches the amber-colored plating, polycrystalline ceramic trisected by curved struts, the material strange and slick under his fingertips. Hound barely brushes his fingers against the canopy and Thundercracker's whimpering. Hound can smell himself, heating up, over Thundercracker's own smell, oil and dust and the sharp tang of metal – just hearing the sounds this Decepticon is making arouses him.
Struck with sudden inspiration, Hound pulls Thundercracker's hands away from his hips, where they've come to rest, and holds them pinned to the boulder, to either side of his shoulder vents. Then, pressing his own chest to the Seeker's canopy, he revs his engine.
Immediately Thundercracker writhes in his grip, biting down on his glossa, which Hound can see peeking between those pale gray lips. Thundercracker's groin bumps Hound's hips, the inside of a thigh against his waist, a thruster heel grazing Hound's aft, and a moment later Hound feels him go stiff, with a fisting of hands and a low, rough wail.
"oh slag oh slag oh slag," the Seeker moans, electricity crackling between their chassis as he overloads to the rattling vibrations of Hound's engine against the alloy covering the null-space of his cockpit.
Hound's engine drops to idle when the leg leaves his waist. He's let go of Thundercracker's wrists, and now he catches himself on the rock's wet surface. The boulder is slicked with acid rain, and he feels the sting of it on the palms of his hands, smells it, an acrid note underlying that of interface, perfect.
Thundercracker, limp and panting, slips his hands between them, twisting fingers into his grill, feeling around for sweet spots. His fingers brush loose connections, naked circuits, and it almost hurts. Almost, but not enough for Hound to tell Thundercracker to stop what he's doing. The sensation of metal in contact with current-carrying metal is too raw, too real, even the hurt feels good.
He shudders when one of the Seeker's hands detaches itself from his grill only to rake across the vents at the front of his pelvic armor, and then he knows nothing but feeling, nothing but fingers and metal and spark and friction.
He clenches his jaw, and his engine roars when overload hits him.
Music drifts from the bar, something popular – pulsing electronic remix of a mining colony workers' anthem, new-ish. Someone's purging his fuel tank nearby.
"I have to go."
The air is acid-damp and electric. Thundercracker, still propped against the boulder, blearily looks up at him.
Hound doesn't answer, doesn't quite meet his optics.
Thundercracker's hand is on one blue thigh, unconsciously stroking his own plating.
"It's just – "
"Yeah. No. That makes sense."
He doesn't leave.