Disclaimer: TF © Hasbro
Warnings: a bit of angst and fluff
Summary: His core temperature was fluctuating and his tanks churned uncomfortably. Crowds really weren't his thing.
Word Count: 769
Notes: For hc_bingo. The prompt is social phobia. I actually opted to look into details on what exactly constitutes a social phobia, and dear god. It's as if the gods of writing were trying to give me the juicy stuff on this bingo card.


Anxiety

Sunstreaker would never admit it, but he actually hated gatherings of any kind that didn't involve fighting or refueling.

It was some sort of glitch in his programming – at least according to Ratchet, who had been more than a little displeased that he'd kept it hidden for so long – but whenever he was amidst a group of more than three or four mechs, the Lamborghini started to get nervous. He knew it wasn't true, but some part of his central cortex insisted that he was being judged, that any minor flaw would lead to outright humiliation. For a long time he'd attempted to counter it by cultivating a false sense of vanity and indulging in excessive amounts of high-grade whenever forced into group situations, but both only served to worsen things in the long run.

In fact, the only reason he'd been in a situation for Ratchet to diagnose the problem in the first place was due to a little too much high-grade and a severe systems crash that had lead to a lengthy stay in the medbay. After he'd fully detoxed and been summarily scolded like a wayward youngling that had broken one of his creator's rules, Ratchet had informed him about the origins of his 'social anxiety glitch' and methods of dealing with it that didn't involve drugging himself into a reboot.

In spite of the fact that he now had a small supply of stabilizers to balance out the glitch, Sunstreaker still couldn't really relax fully in group settings, especially parties of any sort. Not even when it was just the crew of the Ark gathering to celebrate a successful counter-offensive against the Decepticons, which was definitely reason for celebration.

The yellow twin managed to keep an amused smile in place as Bluestreak began a fairly accurate retelling of his own role in the day's victory, although he felt his core temperature fluctuate as he took note of how many Autobots were in the rec room. The only mechs absent were those who had yet to be released from medbay, and they would likely be appearing before too much later in the evening. Sunstreaker was uncomfortably aware of just how many sets of optics could pass over him and find him lacking, find something wrong or out of place or imperfect—

Just the thought was enough to make his tanks churn uncomfortably, and he glanced down at the cube of high-grade that Sideswipe had handed him just before Blue started talking. It would only be his third, which was nowhere near how much he'd used to drink in order to get through nights like this one. He probably should have downloaded one of his stabilizers before coming to the rec room, but he'd still been on an electrical high from battle and it never crossed his cortex until he noticed that nearly every soldier was present and accounted for.

He was just about to give into his nervousness and drain the cube – anything to stop the slight shakiness in his limbs – when a hand fell lightly on his arm.

"Hey, Suns? I'm not feeling too good."

Sunstreaker noticed a few of the mechs nearby turning to look their way but was able to force them to the edge of his awareness, focus locked on his lover. "Do you need to see Ratchet?" he asked, absently setting the untouched cube on the edge of the table behind him; Prowl swiftly shoved it back before it could fall.

Cliffjumper shook his head, smiling faintly. "I don't think it's anything major, just my audio receptors still ringing a little. I think I just want to go lie down, try to recharge, and see if that helps."

"Want me to come with you?" the taller mech queried, grasping for an excuse to leave the party without coming across as rude. At the silent affirmative, Sunstreaker draped an arm over the minibot's shoulders and guided them from the room, noting with some relief that no one seemed to bat an optic shutter at their exit. He relaxed further when Cliffjumper's arm slipped easily around his waist and squeezed slightly. "Is your head really bothering you?"

"A little, but it's nothing major," the minibot admitted. "I was more worried about you. Did you realize your right leg was twitching?"

"I thought I was imagining that part."

"Stubborn slagtard," Cliffjumper scolded affectionately. "Let's just get back to our room and then you are downloading a stabilizer while I get out a couple of cooling blankets."

Sunstreaker rolled his optics slightly but didn't argue. After all, it was nice to be fussed over sometimes.


End Note: And then there were cuddles under the cooling blankets. And maybe interfacing. I honestly have no idea what they did, really.