Title: Glyphs and Marks

'Verse: Post '09 movie-ish

Characters: Ironhide/Ratchet, Optimus Prime, mentioned Jazz, First Aid and Prowl

Summary: Ratchet and Ironhide snuck off and got bonded, there is some fallout around the base. Cybertronian bonds have their own traditions.

Rating: PG

Stuff you'll read: Cybertronian profanity, mech/mech relationship, Ratchet and Ironhide doing their affectionate bickering thing

AN: This was written mostly for an excuse to play around with inventing a bit of Cybertronian culture.

They had returned to HQ without making any sort of announcement. The pair had bonded in private, alone outside the base, and they really did not want any pomp about their new status. Ratchet and Ironhide seemingly went about their normal duties.

The only change was the near-constant contact between them for the first few orns. Prime suspected something when his CMO had suddenly requested a brief leave, which would put First Aid solely in charge of the medbay for the duration. Odder still, that Ironhide was present for the strange meeting, his hand resting on Ratchet's back. Ironhide was also taking time off, for the first time in vorns, he would be away from combat training without a direct medical order. The Prime smiled inwardly and simply let the pair be, the news would be out as soon as Jazz made the connection.

And just about the time that Ratchet and Ironhide's sparkbond settled, Jazz's perceptive audios were tuned to a secret, and he pounced. Nothing was kept from the saboteur for long and everyone was aware that Ironhide is a terrible liar. After a long cackle and scurrying throughout the base hollering something like "'bout fraggin' time!," Jazz took it upon himself to announce the new mates. Then with Prime's amused blessing, and much coercing of Prowl, the silver Pontiac busied himself for almost a full Earth month coordinating an enormous festivity that left both of the newly bonded mechs desperate for somewhere to hide.

Both Ratchet and Ironhide did show up for the party. It was mainly an attempt to remain in the collective good graces of the Autobots and their allies. Unintentionally, they even managed to have a good time, for the most part. After the party had died to a dull roar, and Ironhide had quite literally hoisted and carted off a spitfire Ratchet, they sealed and quadruple locked themselves in their quarters.

Nested together on the berth, they reveled in some peace and isolation with each other. Ironhide sat with his back propped in the corner, holding his mate in his lap. Ratch had his back against his mate's broad black chest, and was still hissing that in retaliation, Jazz was getting no sympathy if he ever fell with sparkling. 'Hide tightened his arms around Ratchet's waist and chuckled, nudging the smooth helm aside so he could have free rein of neck cables. That sidetracked the medic nicely.

"Credit to him," 'Hide growled beneath Ratchet's jaw, granting himself a pleased optic shutter when the Hummer quivered. "You're mine, and now everyone knows."

Ratchet purred while his mate strummed along the bullbars crossing his chest. "Mmm. Point, we're official, boltbucket."

"What about the last tradition, Ratch?" Ironhide slowed his hands over Ratchet's chassis.

Ratch made a questioning little chirp and turned slightly to face his mate.

"The brand," Ironhide answered, "Yours in every other way, should have your glyphs."

A murmured whistlepurr against the pickup's audio and Ratch wriggled aside with a broad smirk. "That, I can manage."

Ironhide's optics flickered, nuzzling his mate's cheekplate. He brushed his lip components against jawguards, whispering against heated metal. "Good, wouldn't want anyone but you to do it."

Pressing softly back, Ratchet smiled. "Alright, 'Hide." He shimmied and knelt over 'Hide's thighs while producing an etching stylus from his subspace. Propping a hand on his hip, he growled playfully. "Where do I get to mark you?"

One of 'Hide's gray hand slid around Ratchet's back, cupping his aft and tugging him closer to his own abdomen. Ironhide's other hand reached up and tapped quickly against black plating. "Here."

Ratchet chuckled and squirmed into the hand on his aft, "Idiot, knock it off unless you want this glyph to be-" he blinked. "Wha- There? Ironhide. No, that covers vital circuits, nodes, servos… it's hyper-sensitive. Core programming is ingrained so you'll flinch and protect it. The pain…" But Ironhide had cut off the medical ramble by tipping up his chin and pressing a kiss to frowning lip components.

"I know, but it's your spot. Always has been."

The Hummer engine purred and he studied the planes of his mate's faceplates. After a few moments Ratchet huffed and gave a piercing look, tugging on the bar of 'Hide's lower lip. "You fragging well better hold still."

Ironhide growled, nodding. Primus, he thought Ratchet was beautiful when he was intense like that. He moved his hands to the Hummer's flanks and tipped his helm indicating he was ready. Ratchet braced his arm against Ironhide and activated the stylus against plating. The frontliner tensed, his optics flashing briefly, but otherwise he did not move.

Diligently, Ratchet traced through the fluid curves and loops in his designation with the same expert skill and efficiency in the artwork that made him such a genius in his field. "Almost done, 'Hide," he breathed.

Ironhide churred an assent, intakes sucking air in quiet gasps while his fingers twitched against his mate's plating. But then Ratchet pulled away, gently brushing metal flakes from the shining new glyph. Only then, did 'Hide shudder, dropping his forehead against Ratchet's smooth helm with a quiet whuff.

Ratch deactivated and set the tool aside, then he brushed over his beloved old warrior's brow, nuzzling Ironhide's cheek. "You're a slag sucking moron."

"Yeah, your moron," 'Hide rumbled. The burly mech gingerly pulled Ratchet into an embrace, chittering and whispering whistlepurrs.

"Always," Ratchet replied. Chartreuse plating near his forearm pulled aside, and he reached into the gap, coating his fingertips with a liquid patching. "Since the branding sidesteps the self-repair nanites, this numbs pain signals."

"You make it better," the soldier purred, looking at the new mark and rolling his shoulders. "Where do you want yours?"

"Hmm. Well," Ratchet mumbled, looking down at his hands. "Here," a graceful digit pointed to his inner wrist, "but we'll need help, First Aid…"

His mate chuckled appreciatively, shaking his helm. "He already has." Ironhide picked up the tool, twirling it between his fingers. "Taught me, and I've had about a month to practice."

Ratchet made a startled little trill, swatting 'Hide's chest. "You glitch!" he laughed and willingly held out his hand for his bonded.

Ironhide's crested helm tipped, not denying the statement and softly headbutting the other mech. The weapons specialist cradled Ratch's smaller hand in his palm and activated the stylus. "Ready?"

Lighter blue optics looked into Ironhide's with absolute trust, and Ratchet nodded.

Ironhide leaned over, focusing on the hand in his. He was not as fast or sure with the tool as his mate, but he was careful. The medic couldn't help a small grin quirking the edge of his lip components. Slowly, the simple lines and corners of 'Hide's designation were carved into Ratchet's wrist. When he finished, Ironhide offlined the tool and looked up.

Ratchet held his arm up, inspecting the glyph. "Ironhide," he breathed, "it's beautiful."

'Hide rumbled and wiped some of the patching liquid from his own brand with his thumb, then he took his mate's slim chartreuse hand and rubbed it gently onto his carved designation. Ratchet rudely shutter-blink-rolled his optics. Ironhide chuckled, brushing his lips across his mate's brow. "Flatterer."

"Mute it."

"Love you too, Ratch," Ironhide snipped, settling his sparkmate more against his chest. "Come on, been a long day. Recharge, medic."

Ratchet let himself be shifted and they both lay down. He curled on the weapons specialist's chest, brushing his foot along 'Hide's leg. "You'd know, wouldn't you."

Ironhide's engine purred beneath the medic, a light mechanical chuckle. Strong arms curled around Ratchet's back.

Ratchet nudged his helm carefully into the space between 'Hide's shoulder and neck as he shuttered his optics. His glyph was below his temple, marking his favorite place in the universe.