The second of the older stories that I'm just now getting around to uploading here. This one was also written in 2008, in response to this prompt: "When it was just Blurr referring to them as 'GrappleandHoist', Hoist didn't think much of it. When Perceptor started doing it, he began to suspect he'd missed something, somewhere along the way."
When Blurr's distinct rapid-fire speech carried mention of "GrappleandHoist" across the rec room, Hoist glanced up long enough to share an amused look with Grapple before returning to the blueprints spread out between them.
When "GrappleandHoist," filtered through the dull roar a second time and this voice didn't belong to Blurr, Hoist looked up again, startled. Grapple hadn't seemed to notice. Hoist hesitated, deliberating. Grapple shuffled one of the datapads to the side, catching Hoist's attention with a muttered comment about the coolant systems, and the incident passed out of Hoist's processor, momentarily dismissed as unimportant.
"Grapple and Hoist," Prowl called as he gave out work assignments, and Hoist wondered if his audios had begun to malfunction, or had the normally steady tones actually slurred those three words together, just slightly?
That was when Hoist actually started listening, and he began to hear it everywhere.
"Hey, Grapple'nHoist!" Jazz greeted them one morning.
"Hi, Grapple-Hoist, sorry, I can't talk, I told Mirage I'd meet him to go shooting and I'm late. Sorry, bye Grapple-Hoist," Bluestreak babbled at them a few afternoons later, not once stopping from his hurried rush down the hallway.
But it was Perceptor's call that finally convinced him.
"GrappleandHoist? I require your assistance."
A beat of silence spread through the room as the two mechs in question pulled their processors out of the table-full of blueprints in their shared quarters.
"We'll be right there, Perceptor," Hoist replied, recovering himself. He turned to see Grapple leaning reluctantly away, only just then realizing that their forearms had been touching. In fact, now that he thought about it, they brushed up against each other quite frequently when he was helping Grapple with his many projects.
"Grapple," Hoist said carefully, "have you noticed, ah…"
Grapple tilted his head expectantly, that particular slant that said he already knew both the rest of the question and the answer but was waiting politely for Hoist to finish anyway. But Hoist, to his chagrin, found he could not actually voice his thought aloud.
"We shouldn't keep Perceptor waiting," he finally managed. The moment he said the words, he felt dissatisfied with them. It was time to confirm his suspicions, he decided, just as soon as Perceptor was done with them.
Later that evening as they once again leaned side by side over a spread of schematics, Hoist let his forearm brush briefly against Grapple's. Grapple's vocalizer faltered ever so briefly. When Hoist did it again a few minutes later, bracing one hand on the table by Grapple's elbow and leaning forward as if to double-check measurements near the top of the page, Grapple seemed to hesitate before leaning forward and sideways into the touch. Their shoulder components brushed.
Hoist lifted his head, peering at Grapple out of the corner of his optic only to find Grapple staring straight at him. Hoist reset his vocalizer, beginning to speak even before the slight static settled. "If we… adjust quadrant B to utilize the support already in place in quadrant C…we…"
Grapple's optics were dim, and so very close. Hoist leaned in until their foreheads were touching.
"It would solve the weight issue," Grapple finished. Hoist could feel the slight vibration of his speech through their touching helms.
"Hm," Hoist agreed, feeling blindly for Grapple's hand on the table until he found it, or Grapple found his. Hoist daringly ran the tips of his fingers along Grapple's, shifted them up until they ran along the back of his hand before feeling gently at his wrist components. "And, with the weight, mm, taken care of, we…hm." For the second time that day, his sentence trailed off into nothing.
"My dear Hoist," Grapple said, reaching up to run the tip of his nozzle along the edge of Hoist's windshield, "I did wonder when you were going to stop teasing."