Teaching Young Bots Old Tricks

Pairing(s) – Part Three: Optimus/Ironhide

Warning and Disclaimer: All that was stated in Part One remain true in Part Three.

Note: This is a short chapter that focuses primarily on Ironhide and Optimus getting it on. I couldn't figure out how to parse into the previous chapter and the fourth is planned to be pretty long as it is. So here you go. Nothin' but robots doin' it.

- Part Three -

"I want you to set my sensitivity lower than the standard," Optimus said.

Ratchet shook his head before Optimus even finished. It was a few weeks since the now infamous "The Talk" and they were in Optimus's recently finished quarters for final install and training. As much as Optimus had been looking forward to finding out first-hand how his new upgrades operated, he couldn't shake his lingering sense of uncertainty.

Everyone had ended up agreeing to get the mods installed, even the reluctant Sideswipe, somewhat to Optimus's surprise. He couldn't tell if it was genuine interest or morbid curiosity driving them at that point, and he didn't care. He did know that once he'd gone through his own adaption period, he and Ratchet were sitting down for a nice long talk about better ways to introduce the salvation of their species to the uninitiated.

"It doesn't work that way, Optimus," Ratchet said, "You'll be just as distracted while your systems adapt no matter how low I put your settings. Besides, what's the point of going through all the hassle of adjustment if you're not sensitive enough to enjoy interfacing at the end, anyway?"

Optimus vented air. He wasn't sure that enjoying interfacing was a goal to reach for. Yes, Ratchet had explained the reasoning behind the design, but ultimately, this was to make sparklings. Optimus would do it even if it was as exciting as poking a stick in the ground for hours.

"In that case, I want to state again my concern over lowered battle efficiency," Optimus said. They had worked together long enough for Ratchet to know that he wasn't backing out of the procedure. It was just a reality of their world, even now, that battle-readiness had to be at the forefront of their minds.

"Duly noted," Ratchet said, "The rest of us will be here to back you up, whatever may happen." A hint of a smirk entered his tone. "Besides, I have absolute faith that if any enemies show up, they're in for a Pit of a surprise."

"As you've said," Optimus said, not bothering to hide his suspicion.

Ratchet chuckled and patted the berth. "Come on, let's get you up and running before Ironhide wears a hole in the floor with his pacing."

Optimus obligingly crossed the few feet to the padded surface. His room was larger than he'd expected, given the limited space and resources the humans had provided, but still much smaller than his officers' quarters back on the Ark. An elevated berth with a thick rubber mat and storage space underneath occupied the right side of the room, while the left was open for small gatherings. An archway in the back lead to a private, well-stocked maintenance station. Most of the other apartments had been designed along similar lines.

"Ironhide will be training me?"

"Yes, and he's slagged nervous about it too," Ratchet said. He waited for Optimus to lie down before approaching to attach the datapad. "Be gentle with him."

"...Ironhide seems unusually reticent on the entire subject," Optimus said, relaxing against the berth despite himself. He hadn't recharged in a few days and it was a relief to ease the pressure off his joints and hydraulics. "Was this... common for your generation?"

"Depended on where you came from." Ratchet tapped the pad and an access request flashed across Optimus's HUD. He granted it with a short command. "Some cities were more conservative than others. But I'd say it has less to do with that and more with it being you."

The install started up and allocated a chunk of Optimus's resources before he could question that further. He tracked its progress silently, alert to any possible errors, but he wasn't surprised when the execution finished without a hitch. Ratchet had been modding programs for individual use for a long time, after all.

The world wasn't noticeably different when he cycled back to awareness after the induced reboot. He lay still for a few milliseconds, waiting for a change to manifest. Nothing. Well, the system did alter his perception of physical stimulation, so... Optimus ran a fingertip between the seams on his thigh, testing. There was a... a feeling. A tingle? A jolt? Whatever it was, it made him relax the armor along his leg without thinking about it, giving his finger room to press in deeper.

"Any discomfort?" Ratchet interrupted his self-exploration. "Conflicts? Numbness?"

"No..." Optimus said, distracted, "The programing seems to have integrated well." He curled his finger, hooking it on a neural line and tugging slightly.

The feeling burst across his sensor net like the aftermath of a concussive blast. His vents snapped open in a gasp to combat the sudden temperature hike and his hips jerked involuntarily. He yanked his hand away, startled by the suddenness of the sensation.

"That -" A screech of feedback distorted his voice. He quickly rebooted his vocalizer.

"Yep, its working fine," Ratchet said.

Optimus gave him a sharp look. "Are you certain it wouldn't help to lower -"

"I've comm'd Ironhide to let him know you're ready," Ratchet said and reached out to remove the data cable from Optimus's side access port. Ratchet's energy field, usually nothing more than a faint buzz to Optimus sensors, was a hot wave that seemed to sear across every sensory fiber. It was... nice. Very nice.

Optimus had his hand half-lifted to pull Ratchet closer before he realized it. He forced his hand back down.

"Thank you for keeping an optic on everything while I'm occupied," Optimus said, as much to distract himself as from sincere gratitude. A restlessness filled his limbs, making him want to shift and squirm.

Seeking friction to increase the charge, he realized. Somehow, that didn't make it any less strange.

Ratchet grunted, his usually response to appreciation. He hesitated over storing away his datapad in a chest compartment. "Optimus," he said, "Don't think too hard. Don't try to stay in control. Just enjoy yourself and trust Ironhide."

Optimus struggled with a response to that for a moment. He knew what his friend was saying, but it wasn't that simple. "Ratchet," he said at last, "Either touch me or tell Ironhide to move his aft."

Ratchet laughed and a beat later, the automated door mechanism responded to a remote command.

Ironhide normally entered rooms like he was invading them. Now, he skulked in with all armor clamped closed and shoulders hunched, trying to make himself as small as possible. A familiar flood of fondness filled Optimus's spark, fast followed by a startling surge across his circuits. Primus.

"I'll leave you two alone," Ratchet said. Optimus sensed a quick, encrypted comm pass between them and whatever it was caused Ironhide to shove Ratchet on his way out the door.

But that hardly mattered. All of Optimus's attention was centered on Ironhide as the door slid closed. Ironhide was fiddling with the plating on his right hand and flicking his visual range uneasily around the room. It was... endearing. Much like Optimus himself, the old soldier so rarely showed such vulnerability.

Now, if only it wasn't stopping him from doing something about Optimus's increasing restlessness. The weapons specialist's energy field was just beyond the reach of Optimus's sensors and with the memory of how Ratchet's had felt fresh in his mind it was an effort not to lunge at Ironhide in order to experience it again.

"I want you to know," Ironhide said, his voice gruff, "I've never done this in a teaching capacity before, so don't expect... well, just keep that in mind."

"Understood," Optimus said, keeping his own tone grave. Now wouldn't be the best time to give into impatience and scare Ironhide off.

"Right," Ironhide said.

The fortunate thing about Ironhide was that no matter how he might dither and hesitate over doing something he wasn't comfortable with, once he'd made the decision to do it, he was as unrelenting and unwavering as one of his own missiles. All hesitation dropped from him as he covered the distance between them in a few broad strides and hoisted himself up onto the berth.

Optimus shivered. It was as much relief as the sensation that shimmered along his sensornet.

"What you're feeling right now," Ironhide said, "Is 'arousal'. In a bit, you should be getting alerts to increase your energy output. Now, you let me know the instant you start to feel uncomfortable, alright?"

Optimus made a faint sound of acknowledgment. He realized he was flexing the armor on the leg nearest Ironhide, torn between wanting to be touched there and unnerved by the intensity of the feeling he'd generated touching himself. He forced a ventilation cycle in a grasp at calmness.

Ironhide laid both hands on flame adorned panels of Optimus's thighs and stroked down. Armor itself was largely insensitive; approaching objects were picked up by proximity sensors long before making physical contact and anything that hit hard enough to cause damage would impact on the tactile sensors under the armor. Still, Ironhide's hands generated a series of static shocks and Optimus felt that. It was like a tingling flood over his sensors. He shivered again, his fingers curling against the berth padding.

At Optimus's knees, Ironhide paused and ran his hands back up. "This, is 'foreplay'. It's important to prepare your partners, and yourself, before plugging in. Let's you build up more of a charge, gives you a chance to get to know each other, and - it feels good."

Optimus had a hard time attaching 'good' to this, if only because it was so new. Ironhide continued going up, from Optimus's thighs to his hip panels, to the split grill adorning either side of his abdomen. Ironhide accompanied the motion by swinging one leg over Optimus and straddling him. Another hard jolt lanced through Optimus at the feel of Ironhide's weight, his heat, the pulsing flare of his EM field, settling on his hips.

His hands jerked up involuntary, grabbing hold of Ironhide's forearms. The large cannons normally mounted there were folded inward, tucked into their smallest forms. He forced his fingers to unclench and dragged his hands up and down the compacted mechanisms, cautiously mimicking Ironhide's petting.

"Like this?"

"Yes, good," Ironhide said. A pleasant, deep rumble underscored his already gravelly voice. He rubbed his palms just below Optimus' windshields; his thumbs brushing the curve of the engine mount that thrust between them. "It's fine to take your time and just get to know your partner. Get each other wound up. Figure out each other's hot spots."

Optimus automatically started to run "hot spots" against his translation programs to check whether Ironhide meant it in the human context of a place of political unrest, a point of intense heat and radiation, or an irregularity in metal casting. There had to be some slang reference he hadn't picked up yet, because none of those really -

Ironhide's fingers curled under the outer edges of his chest plates, grazing the wires along his flanks. Optimus's back arched and he offlined his vocalizer against the cry that tried to come out. Ironhide gave him a sharp look, optical ridges bent inward suspiciously. He reached deeper under Optimus's plates, finding a sensor node to pinch. Optimus was prepared this time and his firmly locked joints didn't do more than twitch, but oh Primus. His engine kicked up into high gear and his vision fuzzed to white static from the sensory overload. When he could see again, a frantic cascade of alerts flooded his HUD. Two of the new components in his chest were online and tingling urgently.

The majority of the alerts could be summed up as; more, more, more.

"All right?" Ironhide asked cautiously. His caresses had stopped. Optimus forced himself not to squirm in frustration.

"Fine, I'm fine," he said, after rebooting his vocalizer.

Ironhide was still hesitating, smelt it. Optimus's restlessness was returning and, as unsettling as the intense surges were, this was worse. Desperate, he reached up past Ironhide's cannons to his upper arms. There wasn't as much armor there, mostly exposed struts woven through with fluid lines and data cables, and his urgent touches were rewarded with a low grunt.

That was... an interesting sound.

Optimus took hold of a tight bundle of cables and stroked it back and forth with his thumb. Ironhide groaned. His pelvic structure grated against Optimus's as he rocked forward. His energy field flared and settled into a rapid, rhythmic pulse.


The expression on Ironhide's face plates - mouth open and optics flickering as energy diverted elsewhere - was entrapping. Optimus touched him with greater deliberation; petting and tugging at wires and lines, wanting to see the way it would make Ironhide move, the noises he would produce.

"Optimus," Ironhide said, thready and distorted by static, "You shouldn't -" He cried out when Optimus gently pinched two lines and Optimus again restrained himself from bucking.

He couldn't figure out why that sound should make the heat in him flare higher, but it did. His longer arms gave him the advantage, allowing him to reach up under the empty wheel-wells that protected Ironhide's shoulder joints and gently rub the normally hidden shoulder pivot. Ironhide's frame shuddered, optics flicking again before going completely dark.

"You know," he said, "This is supposed to be about making it good for you."

Optimus probed carefully along the pivot and savored another pleasant surge when Ironhide arched forward. Focusing on the other mech was so much easier than trying to sort out and categorize his own new sensations.

"I call this good," he said.

Ironhide stiffened, and then flicked his optics back on. The look he gave Optimus was wry and much like his early nervousness, the familiarity made Optimus warm with affection. "You would."

And with that, Ironhide started moving again. The fingers still buried in Optimus's flank twisted and took hold of the node he'd pinched earlier. He rubbed a slow circuit around it, over and over, putting pressure along the edges of the connection, instead of in the center where it was the most sensitive. Optimus shifted, helpless, his fingers unconsciously flexing in time to that steady, maddening motion. It was so close, so very close, and every time Ironhide skimmed the wires instead of pressing the point where they twisted together, made him want it there all the more.

"Ironhide, please..." The words slipped out his vocalizer, unbidden.

As if that was the cue he needed, Ironhide finally, finally stroked across instead of around and sent a burst of searing heat through Optimus's lines. The additions to his spark chamber abruptly switched over from tingling to throbbing.

I want, I want- "My systems say they're ready for connection," Optimus said.

Ironhide chuckled and rocked forward again, sparks flying. "I noticed."

It took Optimus a moment to realize he'd unconsciously shifted his chest plates to give better access to his spark chamber. His immediate reaction was embarrassment at the loss of control, but it was swept away by Ironhide's continued movements. No matter how strange and new, he wanted it, wanted to feel grating of metal against metal and the lighting of his proximity sensors as they tracked the motion. He relaxed enough to let his own body shift, carefully, in echo. The rubber mat caught and dragged at his armor protrusions, but he hardly noticed as Ironhide let out another of those intoxicating noises in approval.

"Release your cable," Ironhide said. He slid his hands back toward Optimus's chest, only this time the feeling was even more intense against the delicate, now exposed machinery making up the outer shell of his chamber.

Optimus spent a few seconds locating the right command. He'd never had self-guided cables installed before and the processes were a long way from being instinctual. A sort of aching anticipation filled him as he extended the cable from its coil and past the last bit of protective plating.

"Now we get to the tricky part," Ironhide said. Blue sparks danced around his fingers as he took hold of Optimus's cable and pulled it gently to stretch out the still coiled length.

Optimus's intakes hitched - oh, that was sensitive.

"Tricky?" he rumbled. He continued to roll his hips in time to Ironhide's steady rocking and let his fingers wander a bit. He found the edge of a weld just above Ironhide's shoulder joint, undoubtedly one of many, and traced it lightly. Of all of them, Ironhide had been pulled apart, patched up, and completely over hauled the most. His exoskeleton and whole sections of his protoform had been replaced more times than Optimus cared to remember. It was easy to think of him as immortal - Primus's own warrior, forever dragging himself through one firefight only to jump yelling and shooting into another - but Optimus had seen him split open under Ratchet's tools far too often to hold on to that illusion.

Ironhide reached up with his free hand and curled it over Optimus's wrist.

"No getting distracted on me now, Optimus," he said in a low, gruff voice and tugged pointedly. Optimus took the hint and left the weld line alone. "Tricky," he repeated, "You have to get this -" he held up the plug, "-into my spark chamber port. Blind."

Optimus took a shuddering in-vent. He wasn't certain why they weren't hooking up the other way, given Ironhide was the more experienced, but he wasn't going to question. "I will do my best."

Ironhide's back arched as he pressed Optimus's cable against his chest and urged the plug to slide in with urgent nudges. "The connector is... here," Ironhide said, comming Optimus with an image of his internal schematics, "Line up your cable and push in."

Easier said than done. Optimus could barely seem to hold onto the cable guidance commands through the clamoring urgency that was overwhelming his processors. It didn't help that Ironhide couldn't seem to hold still or that the sight of him squirming and arching and tugging slightly the extended cable between them was making Optimus feel like he was going to fly apart at the seams. He forced himself to focus.

"Take... you can take your time," Ironhide said. His voice was thick with want, underscored by the frantic, irregular revving of his engine. "No need to rush."

Taking his time was the very last thing Optimus wanted to do right now. He struggled with impatience, a rare state for him, and managed to push his cable in deeper under Ironhide's chest plates, maneuvering it around a pipe and through what felt like a mass of tubing. A small cry escaped Ironhide when Optimus felt his plug bump across a rounded rim. Encouraged, he pulled in a draft of air in a vain attempt to cool his overheated frame and aimed for the rim again.

It took a bit more fumbling and Ironhide came very close to bending back a piece of flank plating with how tight his grip was, but when Optimus's cable at last snapped into place, all thought was lost in a wash of burning sensation. The energy that had been building in his power cells shunted down the cable, setting every circuit alight as it went. Ironhide thrashed and without thinking, without even a hint of hesitation, Optimus tightened his hold on Ironhide's shoulders and dragged the smaller frame down against his own.

Ironhide grunted as their chests clanked together, but only braced his knees on the berth padding and ground against Optimus, the sting of his bumper catching on Optimus's wires only adding to the heightened pleasure. Optimus pulled and pushed at Ironhide's shoulders, heedless of the desperate sounds escaping his vocalizer. Code flew between their processors as their reproductive systems synchronized, sending alerts he barely understood darting across his HUD. He felt like he was reaching for something, straining for it with every tightened joint and frantic buck, every scrape of Ironhide's burning hot armor. If he moved just a little more, pushed his engine just a little harder, he could, he could -

It peaked all at once. Ironhide stiffened above him almost at the same moment pleasure burst across Optimus's entire sensor network, an internal implosion that whited out his vision and shuddered through every inch of his frame. His engine gave a final scream as it strained its limits in release and then sputtered down into its lowest gear. A profound sense of relaxation rolled over him. Joints unlocked, hydraulics depressurized, springs loosened. He was aware of Ironhide collapsing on him, but he couldn't seem to make his limps move to do anything about it.

Frankly, not moving at all for a few hours seemed like a really, really good idea.

Optimus was jerked out of his somnolent mood by his OS attempting to cycle down into power saver mode. It was a common reaction of an overtaxed system and especially one that had recently emptied its energy reserves. Ironhide's was probably doing the same, assuming he hadn't been kicked entirely offline. However, in addition to height and bulk, there was one other big difference between his and Ironhide's model types.

In response to his low energy state, Optimus's secondary power plant growled to life.

"Oh Primus," Ironhide groaned into Optimus's shoulder.

Optimus made an uncomfortable noise at the now-familiar pulse that passed through him. He hadn't been aware that it was something that could activate again so soon. "My apologies," he said, almost on reflex.

Ironhide grunted. He was clearly worn out, but the pleasant, post-overload tingling of Optimus's sensor nodes was quickly priming into something a little more... needy.

"Do you think we could..." Optimus said after a few seconds of struggling with himself.

Ironhide groaned again. "Yeah, yeah... gimmie a minute."

It took longer than a minute. When he finally showed signs of being willing to move again, Optimus immediately rolled them over.

"Allow me, my friend," he said, laying Ironhide's arms firmly against the berth and running reverent fingers beneath flared armor.

Ironhide sighed gustily. "I should have known you'd get me like this eventually. Just - go slow on an old bot."

Optimus's only response was to put his newly acquired knowledge to good use.

An hour later, Ratchet's curiosity got the better of him and he opened a private comm line to Ironhide. ::So, how'd it go?::

Ironhide's response, which took him an unusually long time to send, roughly translated as "ffftttpzz".

Ratchet prudently closed the line.

To be continued...

Thank you for reading!