Teaching Young Bots Old Tricks

AKA: Ratchet, Ironhide, and Kup Do The Autobots

Pairing(s) – Whole Fic: Anything is Possible.

Part One: Ratchet/Ironhide

Continuity: Transformers live-action movie. Takes places after the '07 movie and ignores ROTF. Will reference G1 characters and events.

Warning: NOT Work Safe. Graphic descriptions of non-sticky/plug n' play robot sex. Slash, het, mentions of mech-preg. No beta, questionable humor. Please don't take this too seriously, because I'm not.

Disclaimer: All characters are property of Hastak and Dreamworks.

Summary: After the AllSpark's destruction, it was thought to be the end of the Cybertronian race. But there is another way - a method of reproduction not practiced in a million years and known only to the oldest mechs. Now it is up to them to instruct the clueless younger generation with a very hands on approach.

Notes: Originally written for the TFAnon Kink meme. Many thanks to everyone who commented there!

Time Notes: For the sake of ease, the Autobot's track time using the human calendar. The exception is "breem" (8.3 minutes) and "vorn" (83 years).

- Part One -

If there hadn't been the death of a comrade, a few slagged Decepticons needing proper disposal, an entire species of understandably nervous organics, and newly arrived Autobots to deal with, the problem would have occurred to Ironhide sooner. As it was, well over a year on the tiny, cluttered, noisy world had passed before the pieces suddenly clicked into place in his processor. He immediately went to see Ratchet.

The medic was busy in the converted airplane hangar that made up his medbay, taking inventory. If Ratchet had been a shorter mech, Ironhide would have loomed over him; instead, he was restricted to hovering pointedly.

"Ratchet," he said, gravely serious, "The AllSpark is gone."

Ratchet switched his optics from the pile of wires he was sorting through to Ironhide. He made a disgusted noise. "Oh good, you noticed."

Ironhide ignored the jibe with the ease of considerable practice. "Have you thought about what that means?" he demanded.

"No more chasing across the galaxy? No more resurrected homeworld? No future generations?" Ratchet shoved the coils of wires back onto their shelf with more force than was necessary. "Yeah, lets talk about that Ironhide. It's not as if I don't dwell on it enough to make my processor short-out as it is." His voice grew increasingly sardonic.

A brief flicking of guilt and sympathy passed across Ironhide's circuits. He'd seen the quiet grief among his teammates and knew that as necessary as it had been, the destruction of the AllSpark had weighed heavily on all of them. Somewhere deep in the back of his spark, there had always been the faint, illogical hope that they'd be able to get to the AllSpark before the Decepticons and bring it back to Cybertron. That there was still the possibility of going home. But that hope had at last been completely extinguished, leaving only a sad ache in its wake.

He determinedly pushed aside the melancholy. This was not the time.

"There's more than one way to make a sparkling, Ratchet. The AllSpark wasn't our only option."

Ratchet went still. After a long moment of startled silence he pulled away from the storage shelves to stare at Ironhide. "The reproductive systems," he said in amazement and scrubbed his faceplates with his hand, "I'm an idiot, why didn't I think of those?"

Ironhide politely restrained from answering that question.

Ratchet spun around and headed toward his desk. A previously neat tower of datapads collapsed as he yanked one out.

"It'll take some modifications," Ratchet said, mostly to himself as he typed away at the pad, "Especially on the younger mechs. None of them had it built into their frames by default like our generation did. Shouldn't be a problem, what with our trade alliance with the humans. Just need some... and also..."

As the distracted muttering continued, Ironhide realized that Ratchet had failed to grasp the true severity of the situation.

"It's more than just frame mods and program installs, you glorified arc welder," Ironhide rumbled, "Don't you remember what it was like having a fully activated reproductive system?"

Ratchet's retort died before escaping his vocalizer. His faceplates took on a faraway look as he accessed what were undoubtedly many, many memories. Ratchet had been a party mech in his youth and his reputation before the mandatory deactivation and banning of bot-to-bot reproduction had been legendary.

His expression shifted to one of horror. "Slag."

"And we've got a couple thousand virgins - " Ironhide used the all-too-fitting human word with extra relish, "- who think the organics' obsession with physical contact is a sign of low intelligence and will probably blow a processor the first time they get a thrill out of a little fondling. There's only a handful of us in the entire army with any experience."

"Double slag," Ratchet said with great feeling, "We're going to have to teach them."


Ironhide and Ratchet had something important to tell him. Optimus Prime could feel it in his pistons.

They were avoiding it, though. Anyone who hadn't known them for tens of thousands of years wouldn't have picked up on it. But Optimus did and had and their barely-there hesitations and preoccupation was starting to wear on his gears.

He gave them a month to come clean. At the end of the month, with nothing more relevant than a periodic status report crossing his comm, he cornered Ironhide in the warehouse they all slept in. It was currently empty except for the two of them and the newest arrival, Jolt. Jolt had shown up out of the blue yesterday, scaring the living energon out of Ironhide and the Arcee triplets while they were heading back to base after a mission. Optimus checked over the small soldier and determined that Jolt would be offline for a few more hours, before focusing his attention on Ironhide.

::Good morning, Ironhide,:: Optimus said agreeably over an encrypted comm channel when his weapon specialized came out of recharge.

Ironhide straightened up on his axle in surprise. Optimus had parked diagonally across the nose of his alt-mode, leaving him trapped between the back and side wall. He couldn't even back up to angle out around Optimus's front end without going through the wall.

::Sir?:: Ironhide answered back, cautiously.

::How are you doing?:: Optimus said, ::We haven't had a chance to really talk in a while.::

He kept the same casual, personable tone throughout the entire conversation, undaunted by his subordinate's unenthusiastic answers. Ironhide may have been several times his age, but Optimus had the vast experience of many Primes at his disposal and the patience to wait for suns to die.

Ironhide lasted half an hour.

::I'm not explaining this mess without Ratchet,:: Ironhide said.

::Traitor,:: Ratchet said when he accessed the frequency. He was off lending the base personnel a hand with the construction of the new barracks. Why the medic had volunteered for this, Optimus wasn't entirely certain, but he suspected it had to do with Ratchet's raging fury over their human companions' "grossly inadequate living quarters" during renovations.

::How major of a concern is this?:: Optimus said. He trusted them enough to know that they wouldn't have put off telling him this long if it had been a true emergency. Which probably meant it was part of a really annoying inconvenience they wanted to get out of handling. ::Is it restricted to us our will it affect our allies?::

::Just us,:: Ironhide said, ::It... it's about the future of our people, Optimus.::

::What Ironhide is being deliberately obtuse about,:: Ratchet said, ::Is that we recalled a way to create new sparklings without the AllSpark.::

Shock rocked through Optimus's systems even as Ironhide grumbled that he would have gotten to that part eventually.

"That - " he started to say out loud and belated switched back to the encrypted transmission, ::That's the best news I've heard in ages!:: Could they really have sparklings again? A quiet longing tugged at his spark. It had been ages since he'd seen a child of their kind.

::Why did you wait so long to tell me? I can't tell you how relieved I am.:: His wonder and delight gave way to concern when the two didn't respond immediately. ::What's the bad news?:: he asked gravely.

Ironhide vented a noisy huff of air through the grill of his alt-mode. It tickled across Optimus's atmospheric pressure sensors. ::It's not 'bad news', Optimus, just... slag it. The budding process is not the best option. It was banned over a million years ago for many reasons -::

::Excuses, Ironhide,:: Ratchet interjected, ::Calling them 'reasons' implies that logic factored higher than the rampant propaganda.::

::-and even 'fore that, only half the population ever used it. Not as efficient as AllSpark reproduction and the frame and software mods it requires can be rather, hrrm, distracting. Just ask Ratchet.::

::You fragger, my personal time never interfered with my duties. Unlike a certain mech who twisted a back strut plugging his team leader in a storage unit right before an Academy presentation -::

::Later you two,:: Optimus said, cutting off the scuffle before it could escalate, ::Ratchet, do you have any documentation on this process I can review?::

Ratchet obediently sent him a file. "Overview of the Budding Process, Intended Function of Standard Issue Reproductive Systems, and Basic Instruction on the Act of Interfacing"

Optimus read through it, focusing on the key points.

When a significant influx of energy is introduced to a spark, there is a 69.008% probability of it budding a secondary spark, the file stated, Provided with sufficient energy, this second spark will develop into an individual life unique from that of its originator. This was followed by calculations to determine the ideal amount of energy to begin the budding and to support both sparks until 'separation'. The next few bytes of data were about research done to explain how and what causes the budding. Optimus skimmed to the next section.

The repair nanytes that inhabit a Cybertronian body are hard-coded to respond to the presence of a spark by creating a protoform to support it. They will cannibalize the structure of the originator and begin building the new shell near the spark chamber. Once the secondary spark is strong enough to disengage from the originator, it will be absorbed into the new shell.

In the majority of cases, the nanytes will gather their raw materials only from non-vital frame sections, such as exterior armor. Providing an outside source of materials will prevent any frame absorption. However, glitches that cause vital sections to be cannibalized, or the protoform shell to be built where it will interfere with the originator's' internal systems, or to be so large as to prevent mobility, have been recorded. To protect from this, utilize a properly calibrated reproductive system.

Reproductive systems serve two purposes. First: to enable two or more individual mechs to create the charge necessary to begin the budding process. Second: to make the process and subsequent carrying of the immature protoform safe for the originator.

Forms and diagrams were included with this section, detailing the modifications needed to create a reproductive system. Among these was ports and cables added to the spark chamber to allow energy to be exchanged between two separate sparks and to transfer a new spark to its growing shell. Software mods included a safety override that would allow internal power plants to temporary exceed normal operating parameters, and recalibration of sensors to -

Optimus paused and read back over the last part a couple times.

::What's the point of re-coding sensor analysis to read physical stimulation as pleasure?:: Optimus asked in confusion.

::Friction increases the charge,:: Ratchet said, sounding both amused and resigned, ::The logic was that if we honestly enjoyed rubbing against each other for breem, we'd be more willing to do it. It's a slagging dull procedure otherwise.::

::But to this extent?:: Optimus said. He sent over the parameters suggested by the file to emphasize his point. Sure, he liked the feel of a hand on the shoulder or sitting next to a friend as much as the next mech, but this would make the sensations overwhelm his processor. How could anyone function like that?

::Believe it or not,:: Ironhide said dryly, ::You desensitize over time. Emotions play heavily, too. I spent centuries thinking my settings were too low because interfacing was less fun than shooting up a gun range. Then I fell for Chromia. Nevermind frame play, she could short out my entire system from across the room with nothing more than a click and a smile.::


::Figure of speech, boss.::

::Oh. Good,:: Optimus said faintly. He shook off his doubt and took a moment to analyze the information he'd been granted.

The immediate concern was for the emotional and mental impact on his soldiers. This reproduction method had been gone from their culture a very long time, long enough that Optimus hadn't had a frame of reference for what "plugging" might entitle or why it could result in twisted back struts. And even now, he wasn't entirely certain he got it. There was undoubtedly going to be an adjustment period as it was reintroduced, both for individuals and their society as a whole. (Be honest now Optimus, for what's left of their society.) There was a high chance several mechs would refuse to participate. Or, for that matter, would have to be prevented from participating; Optimus dearly loved every member of his army, but some of them weren't the most stable of individuals. It would be best not to subject them to something that could push them over the edge. Then there were the inefficiencies, with how much time it took and the danger, even minor, presented to the carrying mech.

Well, Optimus was willing to make the effort to surmount these issues. He would get the mods, even if no one else would. It was worth it, to have children again.

::Ratchet, how soon will you have the supplies to make these modifications and what needs to be done to aid mechs that under go the procedure?::

Ironhide spoke up before Ratchet could answer. ::Boss, you don't honestly plan to start reproducing right away, do you?::

::Actually going through the budding, no,:: Optimus said, ::But there's no reason we can't integrate and start adapting to these systems now, since it's been so peaceful. Once we have adapted...:: He let his words grow earnest, serious. ::Old friends, I don't believe we've seen the last of the Decepticons. There are too many that fight for personal reasons for the war to end all at once. Our numbers will only continue to grow smaller if we don't do something. Yes, it hurts my spark to think of children being created and raised while the war still rages, but we can't put off living forever. We should seize what we can of the future while we have the chance.::

Next to Optimus, Ironhide revved his engine in a decidedly peeved manner. ::Slag it Ratchet, I can't argue with him when he gets all noble like that.::

::It's why he's the Prime,:: Ratchet grumbled. Optimus transmitted amusement over the connection. ::As for the mods; I already have everything I need when it comes to hardware. The software will have to be copied from Ironhide and I and edited for grafting onto other systems. Either way, Ironhide and I will have to reactivate our systems first so we can help the rest of you with yours. There's a... learning curve,:: he said with such tired disgruntlement that Optimus realized that this must have been what made them put off telling him so long.

He ruthlessly stomped out the hint of apprehension that gave him.

::I'll send you a suggested course of action for after that later today,:: Ratchet finished.

::Very good,:: Optimus said. He disengaged his parking brake and rolled forward, freeing Ironhide from his corner. He chuckled to himself as Ironhide finally relaxed back onto his axle. ::Keep me updated.::


"Why do I have to go first?" Ironhide demanded from the other side of the room.

"Get on the lift, you big sparkling," Ratchet said.

Ironhide folded his arms and cycled his cannons menacingly. The two glared at each from across meters of scarred cement.

It had been four days since their discussion with Prime. Ratchet had spent the time running diagnostics, updating old software to prevent conflicts with newer modules, and replacing a few worn parts. Ironhide tolerated Ratchet poking around his systems and internals in the same stoic manner he greeted all routine maintenance. It only figured that he'd start balking at the official reactivation.

"I can activate my own programs," Ratchet explained, "But you need someone with medical clearance to do yours. Do you really want me jacking into your cortex while I'm itching for my first overload in hundreds of millennia?"

"While you're ... Pit-spawned glitch, you just want to interface me!"

Ratchet allowed himself to smirk. "I promise to respect you in the morning. Get on the lift."

Ironhide growled, grumbled, shifted his weight, and finally stalked over to the hydraulic lift Ratchet had raised out of the floor for him. A flare of nervousness disrupted his energy field as he lay down on his back.

Ratchet didn't get his tools right away. "Joking aside," he said, "We have to do a test run to check for errors. And to make sure we remember what we're doing before subjecting the younglings to our fumbling." When Ironhide didn't respond, Ratchet added, "Tell me honestly if you aren't up for this, my friend. Optimus will understand if I tell him I need to wait for Kup to arrive instead. I'm not going to ask you to do anything you're uncomfortable with."

Ironhide squirmed around a little to get comfortable, the lift being a couple feet too small for his frame. At first he wouldn't meet Ratchet's optics. Then, with a venting of heated air, he said, "Slag it to the Pit and back, I'm not going to let you get away with having all the fun. Do your worst."

Ratchet chuckled and picked up a datapad and cord. He jacked into a medical access port on Ironhide's chest with a quiet snick. Having accessed them recently, it took a matter of moments for Ratchet to pull the programs from Ironhide's back-up drives, install the patches he'd written, and start the whole set-up integrating into the rest of Ironhide's OS. The weapons specialist stared fixedly at the ceiling the entire time.

The datapad beeped to let Ratchet know the install was complete. "Rebooting," he said and typed in the required sequence.

Ironhide's optics blinked off and his internal systems cycled into silence. A second later, they purred back to life. His optics remained off even as everything else powered up to its normal setting. Ratchet had the datapad run a scan, but found nothing unwarranted.

"How do you feel?" he asked.

Ironhide grunted. "Table seems a little rougher. My atmospheric moisture gauge is cranked higher than usual... s'bout it."

"Hmm. I'm going to turn off your internal force field." He entered a command into the pad. Ironhide stiffened, a natural response to being deprived of the field's protection, but showed no other reaction. Ratchet leaned over sideways to slide his fingers around the top of an ankle joint, searching for the proximity sensor he knew was located there. Tall models like Ironhide had higher concentrations of sensors in their legs to make it easier for them to maneuver without stepping on anything important. Like Sam Witwicky and other irreplaceable organics.

Ironhide let out a burst of startled static that quickly escalated into a yelp when Ratchet found the sensor and rubbed it. He jerked up into a sitting position and grabbed Ratchet's wrist in a tight grip, halting further stimulation.

"Oh," he said quietly. And then with a sudden, sharp flux of his energy field and a rev of his engine, "Oh."

"I barely copped a feel, Ironhide," Ratchet said. He glanced at the pad to make sure he hadn't set Ironhide's sensitivity too high.

He got a growl for his efforts. "Don't flatter yourself. I was remembering... my last interface. With Chromia. Been thinking about it all month. Knew it was a big deal at the time, just couldn't quite recall what the feeling was." His engine revved again. "Now I do."

"Ah. Good sign," Ratchet said, "Means the software is applying to existing data." Something like anticipation tingled across his circuits. He, too, had been dwelling on old memories of long-past exploits and while most of them were undoubtedly good memories - one incident taking place under the main communication console in Iacon during a staff meeting being particularly fun - he knew something was missing. He couldn't explain why he'd enjoyed interfacing so much, or sought out so many partners to do it with, or found the urge to do it distracting at times, only that he had. He still had the sensory input, but without the right software to translate, it was just gibberish to his processor.

Ratchet twisted free of Ironhide's grip. "Lie back and tell me if you get any warnings. I want to check the feedback you're getting."

"If you're trying to seduce me, it's not working," Ironhide said gruffly. Despite his words, he continued to hold himself tense as he settled back down, his armor clamped tight over tender internals and his power plant working at a higher capacity.

Ratchet set the datapad to alert him if any errors cropped up and secured it to Ironhide's frame, just above the chest port, so it was out of his way. He turned his attention to Ironhide's legs; like the rest of him, they were heavily armored and large, equipped with powerful hydraulics and reinforced joints to support his considerable weight. His massive peds hung off the edge of the lift, the jointed ends of the forward support struts flexing back and forth. Ratchet consulted his medical records - and considerable personal experience with mechs of Ironhide's model - and then drew his finger tips lightly along the arched underside of a ped.

Ironhide let out a curse and jerked his leg, trying to escape the teasing touch. "Fragger, don't -"

"Does it feel good?" Ratchet demanded. He repeated the motion, concentrating his efforts on the sensor node where Ironhide's heel strut was attached to his arch.

"iYes/i," Ironhide ground out, peds twitching, "Primus, I'm not going to be able to iwalk/i if they're that -"

"You managed before," Ratchet said, dismissively. He didn't bother to explain that there was a big difference between deliberate stimulation and general use. He continued his touch over the side of the ped, heading back up to the ankle. Ironhide tensed, but Ratchet ignored the main proximity sensor and reached under armor plates instead. He found a length of cables and rubbed them, sliding them through gaps in his finger plating to get the full effect. Each cable was threaded through with thin fiber optics that transmuted tactile data, normally meant to alert Ironhide if one had been cut or was twisted out of place.

Now, it drew a stuttered moan from Ironhide's vocalizer. His back struts arched, rising his chest off the lift, before he collapsed again, muttering to himself. Satisfied that the software was correctly handling tactile information, Ratchet moved up to the knees, intent on the sonar emitter installed there.

"Are the energy receptors in your spark chamber responding?" he asked. He tapped the emitter, but didn't seem to provoke much of a reaction. Not Ironhide's thing, apparently. He reached into the nearby wires instead.

"Yes, they're - " Static cut off Ironhide's voice as Ratchet found and stroked an energon line. "Frag. I'm getting cascading requests for energy increase."

"Good. Are your -"

"Ratchet!" Ironhide snapped, yanking his knees away, "Activate your slagging software!"

"I need to make sure - "

"Single-processor Pit-spawn, if you can't monitor everything while actually doing it, you aren't qualified to repair a human bicycle!"

Well, slag that.

"Get off the lift," Ratchet growled, pulling his fingers free.

"Get on, get off, make up your - whoa!" Ironhide scrambled off the lift as it began to lower in response to Ratchet's remote command. He pounced slightly on his peds and relaxed, apparently relieved that his newly hyperactive sensors weren't going to drive him to complete distraction.

"None of the lifts are big enough for the both of us," Ratchet said, "We'll have to do it on the floor."

Ironhide groaned. "This is so undignified. You did lock the door, didn't you?"

"Yes, as much good as it'll do us if one of them gets determined," Ratchet said. He lowered his aft to the cement with the hiss of hydraulics, whirl of servos, and one or two embarrassing squeaks where he clearly needed more oil. "Think positive. They won't know enough of what we're doing to properly make fun of us."

He locked his joints to keep himself sitting upright and turned on his fail-safes. They would help protect him if the install went wrong. He wouldn't say it aloud, but technically, even he shouldn't be doing this without a monitoring technician to make sure he didn't frag his operating code. Of course, he was also the only one on Earth with those qualifications right now.

"You're underestimating Sideswipe's capacity for mockery," Ironhide said, but joined him on the floor.

Ratchet grunted, distracted by the programing bundle unfolding and going to work. As with Ironhide, it took a couple minutes because of the sheer size of the thing. Almost immediately, he started getting alerts in his HUD as his current systems disagreed with the new program on how to handle input. He ignored them and initiated a reboot to complete the process.

When the world faded back into existence, the first thing he noticed, strangely, was Ironhide. The weapon specialist's energy field was pulsing in response to his erratically rising energy output. It rolled over Ratchet in hot waves, making his receptors tingle and his engine jolt oddly. Lacking any recent data to understand the feeling, his subroutines accessed his memory files to find a frame of reference.

And all at once, Ratchet remembered what lust and arousal felt like.

"Oh," he said faintly.

"Yeah, 'oh'," Ironhide said.

They stared at each other.

It was Ratchet who moved first, levering himself over with one hand and reaching for Ironhide's hips with the other. Ironhide met him halfway and kept going. He pushed the medic down against the ground and straddled him. The feel of Ironhide above him and the heat from his plating and faint vibration from his engine sent a shudder of longing through Ratchet's frame. The monitors in his spark chamber that tracked energy flow came alive, demanding more, making his systems race. The sensation distracted him long enough for Ironhide to press blunt fingers in under his grill, pinching at the lines leading out from his spark chamber. Ratchet let out an involuntary cry.

"Primus," he said, the word strangled.

"Getting any errors?" Ironhide drawled, sounding distinctly smug. It gave Ratchet's medical programs a kick and he'd done a quick analysis of himself and the read-out from the datapad still clipped to Ironhide's shoulder, before he realized that Ironhide was taunting him.

"From that?" he demanded as scornfully as he could. He continued his halted assault on Ironhide's hips, managing to get his fingers under the protective plates. Once there, he split his fingers open, extending the filaments he used for extremely delicate surgery. Ironhide's moan turned into a yell as Ratchet separated wires from their bundles and coiled around them, stroking.

"S-slagging m-med-" Ironhide's attempted insult cut off when Ratchet found and teased a normally well hidden sensor node. He sagged forward against Ratchet's chest, his face plates pressed into the curve where Ratchet's neck met his shoulders.

Ratchet wanted to say something snide back, but the feel of the larger mech squirming on top of him sent a surge of pleasure across his circuits. He felt himself arching up in response, trying to rock against Ironhide and get the friction his motion sensors itched for. Primus, how had he gone so long without this?

Ironhide grunted and laboriously pushed himself up on his free arm. Oh, that didn't fit with what Ratchet wanted at all. He pulled up his leg and dragged his heel strut along the back of Ironhide's leg, between two plates of armor. Triggering all those lovely, lovely sensitive places. The squeal of grating metal filled the medbay and Ironhide shuddered, his fingers curling against the cement before that arm gave out entirely. The fingers still in Ratchet's grill twisted, pulling on the wires in a way that should have been painful, but instead made his entire frame burn. One of the ports on his spark chamber come online with a flurry of urgent requests to establish a connection; his processor translated this as an ache, desperate and begging. A needy keen had escaped his vocalizer before he could stop it.

Well, there went his reputation from now until forever.

It was a testament to how far gone Ironhide was that he didn't take the prime opportunity to mock Ratchet ruthlessly. In fact, his response was more along the lines of a low groan that made his armor vibrate and to grind against Ratchet harder. Sparks of building energy flashed around in their internals, special channels guiding them away from fragile circuits and toward their spark chambers.

Ratchet yanked one hand free of Ironhide's hips and grabbed the weapon specialist's helm, holding him in place to prevent him doing anything stupid. Like moving away again.

"Plug into me," Ratchet growled into Ironhide's nearest audial.

Ratchet felt a transfer cable drop to his chest seconds before Ironhide said a staticky, "Ya sure?"

Ratchet had a policy of ignoring dumb questions. His fingers were still open, so he extended two slender lengths of metal into the mesh covering Ironhide's audial. He lay them against the extremely sensitive membrane found there and, activating the small motor in his wrist, made them vibrate.

Ironhide's yell shorted out his vocalizer. Only Ratchet's hold on his helm kept him from jerking away and taking the surgery instruments with him. Rendered voiceless, he commed Ratchet a mangled message that was either "stop stop stop not there" or "oh please please more more never stop". Probably both.

Unfortunately, he used the main comm channel to do it.

They both realized the error at the same moment and froze. Ratchet quickly tugged free his tools. Nearly the entire team was on base, well in range of being able to receive that transmission.

A conspicuous silence followed.

"(...Ratchet, I want to cancel my maintenance check for tomorrow,)" Sideswipe announced over th line.

"I'm going to remove his tires to use for wall decoration," Ratchet snarled out loud. He transmitted over the comm; "(Prime, permission to drag Sideswipe to his appointment by any means necessary.)"

"(Granted,)" Optimus said over Sideswipe's squawk of protest. On an encrypted line, he added, ::Is everything all right?::

::It's fine,:: he snapped, a little too distracted by the haze in his processor to be anything close to reassuring, and broadened the connection, "(I'm repairing a glitch in Ironhide's radio, go back to work -)"

He'd been fully intending finish up with a spark-felt "you nosy, lazy slaggers", except that Ironhide decided now was the time to comply with Ratchet's earlier demand and slide his transfer cable under the armor plates. As the blunted plug head, already sparking with energy discharge, scrapped along his internal wires, Ratchet slammed the comm closed before his transmission could dissolve into something even more embarrassing than Ironhide's.

He onlined his optics - when had those gone off? - to scowl at Ironhide's unrepentant smirk. "Fragger."

Ironhide only chuckled and pressed his cable in deeper. Ratchet's already erratic intakes stuttered. He extended his own cable from its coil and wrapped it around Ironhide's, pulling them both closer to his throbbing port. The light brush of the plug across Ratchet's port drew a whine from him. Ironhide quivered. Another, firmer, brush as he lined it up. Ratchet's frame grew taut with anticipation, arching up into Ironhide as if that could make his cable move those last few millimeters. Old images of doing this with other mechs flitted through his processor, teasing flashes of sensory data reminding him of how good this would feel, how much he'd loved it each and every time.

A hard push.

The plug slid over the rim of the port and clinked against Ratchet's spark chamber instead of connecting.

Ratchet very nearly killed him. "Ironhide -"

"Shut up. It's been a while."

Ratchet could feel as Ironhide tried again to get his cable into the right position. The tantalizing hints of contact were maddening.

"Do you need a map?"

"You're going to need a new partner if you keep that up," Ironhide said warningly. Despite the threat, he activated his arm cannon and pressed the barrel along Ratchet's side.

The heat and vibration sent his sensors into a frenzy. Ratchet scrambled at Ironhide, drawing him as close possible with with hands and legs. "H-hurry, please.."

This time, thank Primus, the plug snapped into place. A burst of pleasure seared through Ratchet and he howled. Energy pulsed in, making his spark blaze and throb, and sending alerts of impending overload flashing across his HUD. "Oh yes," he babbled, senseless, "Yes, there, right there."

He bucked against Ironhide urgently, feeling the charge build and build. Distantly, he was aware of Ironhide's systems on the peripheral of his own, a network connection allowing their reproductive programs to sync. Ironhide uttered rhythmic bursts of static as he rode out Ratchet's frantic movements, every brush of his frame triggering hyperactive sensors. Their tangled cables flexed, rubbing against each other.

Almost, almost, please I need it…

The charge in Ratchet's power cells reached its peak first and his reproductive system sent out eager signals to Ironhide's. Desperate little whines escaped Ratchet's vocalizer has he hung, trembling, right on the brink.

He felt it the second that Ironhide reached the same peak. The larger mech froze above him and then, with a yell, the built up energy discharged. It slammed into Ratchet like a tidal wave, triggering his own release. His sensor-net lit up like a firework display. Pleasure streaked through him, alighting every circuit, and his spark gave a hard, sharp throb from the influx. Almost too late, the inhibitor he'd set in place flicked on, shunting a portion of the charge away to disperse into the ground. He convulsed, caught in the grip of sensation, and then all at once, the world went black.

Moments later, Ratchet booted back online to find that he was, in fact, still alive. A cheery little note from his reproductive system told him that the amount of energy his spark had absorbed gave him a 20% chance of budding.

"Slag me," he groaned aloud. Clearly the inhibitor needed to be recalibrated. He made that first priority on his "to do" list and wrote up a couple protocols to watch his energy consumption and alert him if it started to hike. Not that it would do any good if he did start budding, but it would give him plenty of extra time to throw a good screaming fit and he liked that.

That done, he just lay there for a while, Ironhide a dead weight on top of him, the buzz of their cooling fans the only sound in the medbay. He felt very... relaxed. Like there was a bunch of gel where his joints used to be. It was unspeakably nice. He looked forward to doing it again. Many, many times.

There was a few clicks and an increased hum as Ironhide's systems activated. Ratchet carefully removed the hand still tangled up in Ironhide's hip wires and pushed Ironhide up enough read the datapad clipped to his shoulder. Its lower right corner had gotten cracked during their activities, but the rest worked fine. Ironhide's reproductive systems rated him at 0% chance - naturally, as he'd been the "plugger" rather than the "plugged".

"Ratchet," Ironhide said.

"Hmm?" Ratchet said, still analyzing the data read-out. No major errors, just a little fine-tuning needed. Another corner of his processor, however, was very seriously debating the merits of nuzzling Ironhide's neck, to see if that would get him going for another round.

"How the slag did we ever get anything done?"

Ratchet thought about it. "Primus knows."

Ironhide groaned and set about the tricky task of disentangling himself, unknowingly squashing Ratchet's hopes of a second go of it in the process. He paused in the middle tucking his transfer cable back into its storage place. "So. Two thousand virgins."


Silence reigned for a moment.

"Dibs on Bumblebee," Ironhide said.

"You slagger."

To be continued.

Thank you for reading!