Ohaithar. Yeah this is just going to be another of those 'collected' stories, that has NO plot and no real continuity. Just random ficlets for a 100s prompt table for IDW Wing/Drift. I'll warn for chapters in which there's sticky. Schmoop and angst, probably should be expected.
Drift had insisted Wing show him the city. Top to bottom. Determined to root out the injustice, the suffering he knew was buried there, underneath. Iacon had seemed like a glittering perfect jewel, itself. But Drift had known better, living in the gutters where they never saw solar light, where air was cycled and recycled to the point of stale tang.
Thus far, nothing but clean and pretty. Lies, all lies. It was just a matter of time before he'd penetrate them, though.
Wing led him into a park, crystal leaves ringing and tinkling from silver branches as they brushed by. Wing directed him to a small bench, his face lighting in a smile. "I'll be right back. Stay here." His smile flashed broader, as though he could not imagine a more beautiful place to be, before turning and heading down a copper-paved path.
Drift frowned, looking around. He'd seen the optics of others on him today for the first time—as though they had any right to look. But they knew a stranger, and they recognized his legs—the dark flat planes of armor, as alien to them as their ornate arcs and swoops were to him.
Here, though, was secluded. Wing no doubt wanting to keep him away from the truth.
Drift scanned, stepping down the path. Nothing but trees, musical, tinkling trees, low crystal formations, glowing and humming, generating a soft hum of music that drowned the sounds of the city all around them. If he didn't know any better, if he didn't look up, he could almost imagine he was planetside.
"There you are!" Wing's warm tenor, happy. Drift turned to see Wing with a parcel in his hands. Wing raised it. "I brought us something to eat." He gestured meaningfully toward the low, white bench.
Drift wanted to refuse, but his autorepair had devoured his own energy stores, and the moment he heard the notion of refueling, his cortex could not let it go. He slumped onto the bench.
Wing straddled the end, laying his parcel between them, unwrapping it with skilled fingers. His Great Sword hung nearly to the ground.
"What's that?" It didn't look like any ration pack he'd ever seen.
"Energon?" Wing looked amused, as though Drift had shown some charming naivete.
"Why's it look like that?" The energon was marbled different colors, and somehow a gel or solid, carved into intricate shapes.
Wing shrugged. "Because the mech I bought it from thinks his wares should look as good as they taste? You'll have to ask him."
"Waste of effort."
"It's his effort to waste, then," Wing said, mildly. He handed one of the small shapes to him. "Try it, at least?"
Drift took it, studying it. Ridiculous. Energon was a sludgy liquid, everyone knew that. It wasn't meant to be solid. Or have glittery silver dust on it. He felt Wing's optics on him, studying him. He shot back a glare, and took a defiant bite. And. Oh.
Wing laughed. "Good, yes?" He bit into one of his own, letting his optics dim as he savored the taste.
Drift managed to swallow. "Waste," he said, defiant.
"Is it?" Wing's optics tilted, curious. "Is it a waste that something be better than it absolutely baseline has to be?"
Wing tilted his head, optics gleaming the way they did when he'd caught Drift. "You're better than you have to be, yes? At your warfare?"
Drift's optics glared back, hard, before he tore them away, looking at the dipping and dancing branches in front of him. "Different." His optics flicked over to Wing, before taking another bite of the cube. It seemed to melt into his systems. "Besides. Costs too much."
"He can charge what he sees fit." Wing shrugged. "I think it's worth it."
"Means some can't afford it. Some starve." Drift's optics were hard blades.
"No one starves here, Drift." Wing took another bite. "Anyone can buy his cubes."
"If they have the money." It struck Drift suddenly that…these had cost money. And that Wing had spent it on him. He faltered.
"Anyone in New Crystal City can get subsistence rations, and a place to live," Wing said, patiently. "More than that, any luxuries, yes, they cost money. But," he shrugged, "It is not that hard to acquire."
Drift felt his hands ball into fists. Not that hard. When he'd had to steal back on Cybertron. "And how do you 'acquire' it?" he sneered.
"Me?" Wing shrugged. "I have a stipend as a Knight—to compensate for the practice I must do. Beyond that, well…," he considered. "I have done service at this park, for example, or helped others move, or run errands." He riffled his wings, shyly. "I am considered a fast courier."
"And that's it? You do odd jobs."
"Helping others is not…'odd'."
Deliberately misunderstanding? "You know what I mean."
Wing smiled. "Yes, and if I did not want nicer things, I could conceivably not work at all." He reached a hand toward Drift's arm. "We made changes. We learned our lesson from Cybertron."
Drift growled. "Didn't do us much good."
"I know. I'm sorry." The hand closed gently over Drift's wrist. Drift tried to shake it off.
"Not your fault," he muttered.
"It wasn't…that kind of apology. I regret what you had to go through. But," Wing scooted nearer, his wings spreading to clear the edge of the bench, "it made you who you are."
"Great." Drift felt his mouth curl. Who he was. Like that was that great.
Wing reached down to the parcel spread open between his thighs, handing another of the energon cubes to Drift. Drift wanted to throw it away, crush it into the ground, but…Wing had worked for it. Wing had spent money and effort on something he thought Drift would enjoy. It was…weird. Uncomfortable. And though he thought it was a total waste of Wing's time, it hit him in ways, in places, no weapon had ever struck. "Please?" Wing said, gold optics warm.
"Why?" Drift asked even as his fingers closed over it, knowing he wouldn't throw it, wouldn't grind it into powder. Looking at it, studying it, because it meant something, everything he'd never had. Not just luxury.
"Because it would make me happy to see you enjoy something?"
That. He'd never had that. What would it take to feel that? What would it take to see that in someone else, that their happiness made yours?
He looked away, his blue optics scouring the careful beauty of the park. As he looked, a silver leaf detached itself from its crystalline branch, spinning idly down to the ground, landing with a soft clink. He turned back to Wing, gaze running over the spread white wings, the open, earnest face. He tilted his chin down. "Not going to eat alone."
And the smile that kindled on Wing's face meant, suddenly, everything.