"-copy that, Grapple," Jazz said, though how much was actually making it through the static laced comm system was debatable. "We'll hang tight 'til you get here. Jazz out." Whatever else he was saying passed by in a subchannel flurry of electric pulses too fast for Ratchet to follow, assuming he had the cryptokey for it, which he doubted. Spec Ops codes changed faster than Tracks' wax jobs, but hopefully whatever Grapple couldn't pick up via the regular comm was being supplemented by the codes Bumblebee or Mirage or whichever other of Jazz's team was in range was relaying to the others.

Hopefully. Hope. The humans, Ratchet had decided, might be on to something with their prejudice against four-letter words in the local native language. A wide sampling of them seemed to be more than a bit disgusting. 'Hope'. 'Luck'.

'Time'.

It had started out to be such a nice day, too, and wasn't that just another fragging four letter English word to add to his growing collection, given that 'nice' was relative when he had gotten all of three and a half hours of repeatedly interrupted recharge.

Every single slagging night.

For the last week.

It was quieter here than it ever was in the Ark, absent from even the constant low hum of Teletraan I's systems, and it would be so slagging easy to power down his optics and slip into a first level recharge, just for a little bit...

"Hey, doc, you still with me here?"

Ratchet rebooted his optics with a sharp ventilation. Jazz was peering at him curiously, the blue glow of his visor darkened slightly in concern and casting a pale glow across the other mech's face in the dim light. He had, Ratchet realized, been very close to slipping into recharge right where he stood. Muffling a groan, he scrubbed a palm across his face plates, the scrape of rough sensation momentarily jolting his sensor net enough to keep his processor online. "Did you get through?"

The 3IC nodded. "Yeah. Comms are pretty much dead down here, too much interference, but mah mech Bee got a ping back. They're comin'."

Which went without saying, really. Of course they were coming - even if it hadn't been the 3IC and CMO, the Autobots didn't leave their own stranded. Someone would always come, the question was when, and how long the wait would be, and...

...and whether the entire slagging mountain was going to come down on their heads first. Ratchet ground his dente and stilled his ventilations as another tremor shivered through the ground beneath his pedes, the rumble of shifting stone ominously all around them. It was over almost as quickly as it had begun and Jazz, who had tipped his head to the side as though to listen, nodded with satisfaction. "Aftershocks are gettin' smaller."

"That," Ratchet growled, "was what Beachcomber said last time."

The advantage of a starship half buried into the side of a not-entirely-dormant volcano was multi-fold, though the first and foremost consideration had always been the immediate source of a plentiful and renewable energy source which was under no real claim or use by the organic natives. It kept the most basic ship systems running, powered the base and armaments and defenses, and generated well over half of the energon rations of the crew. It was, in other words, indispensable.

The disadvantage, however, was that it was, in fact, a scrap slagging not-entirely-dormant volcano.

Periodic tremors were to be expected, the science team had assured them all. Nothing to be concerned about, just temporary and necessary easing of the tectonic pressures. Which was, Ratchet was privately convinced, nothing but the lot of them blowing a ton of hot air and smoke out of their exhausts, because when in recorded history had Cybertron had any tectonic activity to study? More likely they were going by second hand heresy data culled from vaguely similar organic planets, and that wasn't exactly what Ratchet considered reassuring.

None the less they had proven, for the most part, to be right - occasionally things were a little shaken up but by and large Mt. St. Hillary had been a well behaved location. Which was why Ratchet hadn't thought much of it when that afternoon's round of maintenance and minor repairs had been interrupted by a low rumble and vibration; he had paused work on Cliffjumper's overstressed cabling to rescue several tools which had attempted to vibrate themselves right off the tray and onto the floor, and then gone back to work with a grumble when the shock had passed.

It had, in retrospect, made the surprise of the honest-to-Primus, Pit slagging earthquake that ripped through the Ark and dumped them all on their afts not five kliks later seem like the universe's way of laughing at them.

By the time everyone in the medbay had either picked themselves or been assisted up off the floor and new dents and one wrenched joint had been accounted for, the internal comms had already been swamped with half panicked demands for information and direction. Something down the corridor in the science labs had exploded in a belch of acrid black smoke and more panicked shouting, and then there had been a fire to put out (literally - Perceptor had been alternately apologetic and in a frantic dither about his half melted notes) and more injuries trickling in and the entire afternoon's orchestrated schedule had gone straight to the exhaust-sucking Pit. Ratchet had only just picked up his patients, his staff and his medbay into something resembling order and a minor triage line in time to hear Red Alert and Beachcomber broadcast the all clear - a slightly more than 'small' tremor but nothing to be concerned about, the only damage the mountain had taken had been in the unused caves outside of the occupied zones.

The aftershocks had made most of them a little twitchy, but true to prediction there was nothing else major and after the fifth or sixth tiny tremor most mechs stopped jumping. Injuries were confined to dents and scratches, a few twisted cogs and wrenched joints, and some assorted burnt plating in the science team. "Suppose that was our drama for the day," Wheeljack had joked as he helped Ratchet retrieve and stow supplies back where they should be.

Then the call had come in, one hour after the initial quake, Jazz's voice a little static laced and threaded with the sound of his ventilations. ::Ah... guys? Pit, this is embarrassing, but Ah'm a little stuck.::

The Spec Ops division, it turned out, had been conducting "training exercises" - which bore a striking similarity to a game human sparklings played called "hide and seek", only with the addition of training-powered firearms, tripwires, paintball traps, and a scoring system that possibly needed spreadsheets and equations to keep track of. It was, according to the duty roster, to be conducted "on base"; Jazz's definition of "on base" was apparently any slagging where in, on, under or around the entirety of the fragging mountain. Mirage, who had been outside, had only taken a few minor scratches. Bumblebee had needed several kliks to collect himself and a re-callibration of his primary audio sensors - earthquakes experienced while squeezed inside the maintenance crawl ways were more hazardous than anticipated and the minibot had been venting hard by the time he'd shakily dropped out of the hatch above the rec room, servos shaken loose and audials ringing. Their 3IC had blithely pinged in on the base-wide status report call, but only with the minimal ID and 'status - operational' codes which didn't mention things like the fact that Jazz's position was within the damaged section of caverns that had taken the brunt of the quake.

That had only come to light with the later call, when Jazz had finally exhausted every means at his own disposal to extricate himself from the partial cave-in that had trapped the spy in a precariously small pocket of space surrounded by unstable rockslides. When Red Alert - who's vocalizer had been crackling with angry static by that point - had demanded to know what in the Pit the other had been thinking, Jazz had cheerfully replied over the open comms that the network of caves connected an exterior hole with a broken, unused section of the Ark (which had treated everyone on the channel to the sound of Red Alert's feedback shriek of outrage). ::Good news is,:: the saboteur had added, ::it don't any more. Little help, here, maybe?::

"Oh, Primus," Ratchet had groaned, already shoving the handful of supplies he had into Wheeljack's startled grasp. "The Pit fragging glitch is going to dislocate everything from his neck struts down trying to get out, if he hasn't already. First Aid! Keep things going here; I need to go put our slagging 3IC back together."

Getting to Jazz's position had required some creative work from Grapple, Hoist and Beachcomber. When they finally broke through the collapsed cave it was to find that Jazz was well and truly stuck - the white and black mech was caught in a higher, smaller offshoot branch of the cavern, his voice and the flare of an emergency light finally leading them to him. He had managed to wiggle loose head, shoulders and one arm from the pocket he was trapped in, but getting the rest of him loose was going to require excavating.

It had been the cap on the whole afternoon when Jazz had brightened upon seeing Ratchet, gamely grinning. "Hey, doc! Was hopin' you'd come with."

"Why?" Ratchet had demanded, shoving past Grapple to climb up the tumble of rocks and glare into the small passageway that the 3IC was embedded in. "What did you break?"

"Nothin', yet," Jazz had replied, and the preliminary scan Ratchet had run over him had verified the words as more or less true. "Think Ah can get outta here if Ah take out the shoulder and hip, though - you mind?"

"Yes!" Ratchet had yelped. "You fragger, if you take your Primus blessed arm off I will weld it to your Pit slagging aft! Stay there! Don't move!" Hoist had steadied him when he slid back down, the other medic's face reflecting a more resigned version of Ratchet's own seething temper.

"Dig the glitch out," Ratchet had growled, "but you don't have to be slagging gentle about it."

In the end, Wheeljack had been called down to confer with Beachcomber, the engineer and geologist carefully marking what could be dug, and how deep, and in what order to keep things from shifting for the worse. Painstaking work had widened the pocket enough that Ratchet, with a boost from Grapple, could fit without too much squirming and finally reach Jazz, who had managed to work his second arm free as well.

"Halfway there," Jazz had joked, but his visor was bright with relief when Ratchet clasped his outstretched hand. "Almost got it, but it's digging in mah hip something fierce."

"Don't you dare move," Ratchet had huffed. It was a tight fit but he found he could, if he laid on his front and squirmed close enough that his chin was practically resting on Jazz's shoulder, slide his hand back along the gap that the 3IC's freed arm had left to reach the pinched portion. Dented plating, a tactile sonar scan told him, the hip joint near compromised by the pressure, and there were primary energon lines there that he didn't want torn through unless he knew he could free Jazz entirely immediately after and begin repairs.

Jazz had buzzed a soft sound of amusement, his ventilation warm where they were pressed bumper to bumper. "Watch it, doc - keep that up and Ah'm gonna think you're gettin' fresh with me."

"Glitch," Ratchet had grumbled, and he would have said more if the second shock - which Beachcomber had sworn on his plating wasn't coming - hadn't chosen to hit right then.

It was horrifyingly like being in a ship under heavy enemy fire, only worse, and Ratchet had had one terrifying nanoklik to register nothing but deafening sound and sickening motion and the spark chilling realization that he was going to offline from being crushed when Jazz had made a truly alarmed sound, the yelp right in Ratchet's audials, and latched onto the medic's hand in a desperate hold. Ratchet had hauled back on instinct, only to have his arm jerked hard enough to snap a tension wire when Jazz's hold abruptly turned into a half ton of dead weight; someone had been yelling, and then the whole world exploded in a dizzying rush of rock and freefall, followed by blessed darkness.

(It had, Jazz informed him afterwards, been a sinkhole that had opened up underneath the saboteur's lower half. He had grabbed onto the medic in sheer instinct, but without any way of bracing the both of them had fallen victim to gravity and crumbling rock. Ratchet, who was nursing a sizable dent in his helm and several kliks spent rebooting major systems after impacting with large rocks and coming face to face with the ground had growled that he would take the other mech's word for it as medics, unlike Pit slagging saboteurs, didn't bounce.)

That had been nearly two hours before, according to Ratchet's chronometer. They had, in retrospect, been fairly lucky - Jazz was favoring his leg on the side that had been trapped, dented plating still pressed in sharply enough to pinch the joint, and he was more dusty brown and rock pitted than white, but he had escaped otherwise unharmed. Ratchet had a three centimeter deep indentation pressed into the side of his helm, courtesy of a rock, and the blow had severed his primary comm transceiver and reduced his range to little more than three yards in direct line-of-sight. His right arm was down to less than half strength, wire snapped and several sensors knocked out, but really, if that was the worst of it then Ratchet was willing to call it Primus blessed luck. He had checked them both over to the limits of his scanners, patched what he could and disabled pain sensors with a free hand, and then pronounced them stable enough to last.

The worst problem was that they were in the bottom of a bell shaped sinkhole, with the only exit the one they had fallen through several dozen yards above them, as the culmination of a disaster that had eaten most of the afternoon and it was going to take several more hours - if they were lucky - before their rescuers could get to them.

Time. Ratchet was running the frag right out of it.

Jazz had, thank Primus, had a standard emergency kit on him - or whatever in the Pit passed for 'standard' to Spec Ops, which wasn't any stranger, Ratchet supposed, then the things which had made their way into his own 'standard' kit, and Primus bless the organic who had come up with 'duct tape'. There was a handful of emergency flares, which Jazz was doling out one by one, giving them just enough light to thoroughly explore their surroundings. It wasn't much; the bottom of the hole was just wide enough for Jazz to stretch out, assuming the floor had been clear, which it wasn't, and high enough that Ratchet had estimated Skyfire could have stood upright at the center of the peak. Above that it narrowed sharply, funneling into the long drop that had landed them there, and most of that was blocked by rocks. The aftershocks kept dribbling grit and smaller rocks down on them and Ratchet had rigorously suppressed the processor thread of what would happen if another large quake came through.

It wasn't reassuring. None of it was fragging reassuring. It would have made Ratchet snarlingly uncomfortable at the best of times and it was not the best of times by a long shot. He was hurt, he was tired, his fuel tank was low, and he would have been due to come off shift in another seven kliks if the universe hadn't decided to frag up his whole damned day.

Venting hard, he tipped his head back, surveying the shadows of the space above them. There was some openings in the shaft they'd fallen down; Jazz had confirmed that his sensors could pick up airflow through the rocks. "You couldn't get yourself out of here, could you?"

Jazz looked up and gave a low whistle. "Ratch', m'mech, you give me too much credit."

"If I gave you a lift up there," Ratchet clarified, without much hope. The light behind Jazz's visor narrowed and he hastily added, "without dislocating or removing any limbs, you glitch."

The 3IC huffed softly, amused. "Well, now you're just makin' it hard." He stretched his good leg out, tapping his pede against the armor of Ratchet's ankle. "Tryin' ta get rid of me?"

Ratchet scraped his hand across his face again, digging his thumb into the corners of his optics. Pit, pit, slag, scrap. Unmaker take it all, he shouldn't have bothered rebooting after the fall. It would have solved several problems quite handily. "Yes," he growled, bluntly, but Jazz only laughed.

"Aw, don't be like that," the spy said. "Besides, Ah wouldn't leave ya down here by yourself. Wouldn't be right." He cocked his head and slag, it was so fragging easy to fall into the trap of taking the easy-going mech at face value but Ratchet knew better. Knew what kind of sharp processor was working behind the affable party-loving front, and how observant those hidden optics could be. "You okay? You're lookin' kinda peaked, there, doc. They run all that vacation time outta ya already?"

"Oh frag," Ratchet groaned, letting his head fall back far enough to thunk softly against the rock wall he was leaning against. "Don't remind me." That was the last thing he wanted to think about and the only thing he could think about.

Jazz chuckled, tapping the medic's ankle again. "See, you got your priorities all wrong. Ah ain't ever seen anybody bitch an' fuss as much about taking time off as you did, and then ya run right back t' work. It's supposed t' be the other way around."

Four kliks and counting, and the first of the forewarning alarms had already popped up on his HUD. Pit slagging scrap metal. Ratchet kept his optics trained on the darkness above them. "Don't do me any fragging favors. Seriously, Jazz - can you get out of here?"

He felt it without seeing it; felt the other mech go perfectly still, one nanoklik of silence unbroken by either of them, and now the game was well and truly shot because if there was one thing Jazz couldn't stand it was a secret he himself wasn't keeping. The 3IC's voice was steady and as perfectly business-like as Ratchet had ever heard it. "No, not even if ya were Skyfire's height and Ah was standing' on your head. Why? What's wrong, Ratch'?" Jazz's visor, Ratchet was willing to bet without looking, was probably flickering through the host of wavelengths the saboteur had available to him, trying to scan for damage that Ratchet hadn't admitted to.

He vented until his intakes were empty. His voice, he was proud to find, was as steady as it ever was when he was walking First Aid through a medical procedure. "I'm in the middle of a heat cycle."

The silence, that time, was longer and more profound. The click of Jazz resetting his vocalizer was loud in the enclosed space. "…What?"

"You heard me the first time," Ratchet growled. "I have protocols in place, suppressing it, but it's medically inadvisable to keep them running for too long. I time it with my shift in medbay which-" another alarm alert, bright and insistent in his processor, "-is ending, right now. I have exactly fifteen kliks before I either drop the protocols or it's going to hurt like the Primus slagging Pit."

The lack of response finally made him bring his head up, reorienting on the 3IC. Jazz was right where he had been, perched against one of the larger rocks, his visor overly-bright and expression stuck somewhere bordering on shocked. "You might as well go ahead and say it," Ratchet snarled.

The light in the other mech's visor blinked as he reset his optics. "You can do that?"

Alright, that actually wasn't what Ratchet had been expecting, and it made him vent a burst of unwitting amusement. "I'm your slagging Chief Medical Officer, I'd better know how to do it."

"Well, Pit." Jazz gave himself a quick shake, sound dampened armor barely rattling. "When'd it start?"

"When do you think?" Ratchet drawled, sourly. "Three fragging Earth weeks in the Primus forsaken Pit of exhaust slag sucking rest and fragging relaxation, and look where it got me."

The spy had the grace to actually wince. "Oh, slag. Didn't even think of that. Don't think anybody thought of that. Primus… it started then?"

Ratchet glared but Jazz wasn't in the habit of flinching from much of anything and the medic finally relented. "…a week ago. It started last week."

Jazz vented sharply. "…Fuck."

It was, Ratchet thought dourly, a singularly apt Earth obscenity for summing up the whole slag sucking mess. There were, he reminded himself, an entire Ark's worth of worse mechs he could have been stuck with - Cliffjumper, for instance. Grimlock. Sunstreaker. "You're the only one who fragging knows and I'd like to keep it that way."

"Course," Jazz said automatically. "Ah can keep a secret… wait." Realization came with another click through his vocalizer, his voice bleeding over into static. "If we're the only two who know then who the slag have ya been fraggin'?"

There was the question Ratchet had been expecting. He grit his dente. "No one."

Jazz was openly gaping at him, shock written all over his face and frame. "You haven't… you… are you slagging nuts?" It wasn't, exactly, the reaction Ratchet had been expecting and he didn't know how to respond to it, even as the 3IC devolved into swearing. "Primus in the Pit, mech, you are grade A scrapped certifiable! A whole slagging week and ya ain't jumped anyone's frame? Are you trying' ta make yourself glitch? Ah can't even imagine… why didn't ya say nothin'?"

"Oh, yes," Ratchet snapped sharply, "I'm so sure that would have gone over well. What was I supposed to do? Stand up in the middle of the rec room and announce I'm in heat and oh, by the way, does anyone fancy a frag?"

"If ya didn't wanna pick, then yes!" Jazz flung his hands up in exasperation, venting sharply. "Primus, there's lots of us old enough t' have been there, done that, back before the war. We'd've helped ya out." He shook his head and slid off of the rock he had been leaning against, shoving himself upright. Ratchet braced himself but the 3IC's touch was light, the spy's hand's framing Ratchet's helm with just enough strength to make him meet the other mech's optics. "Glitch," Jazz accused, mildly. "Fragging rusted processor stubborn glitch. All ya had t' do was say."

Ratchet had, he admitted dimly to himself, been more braced for rejection than anything else. It had been so slagging long and it sounded so utterly Pit fragging ridiculous that he had a hard time taking it seriously even to himself, even when the crawling, burning charge was dragging him out of every scrap of recharge he could get on a pendulum cycle of repeated aching need. He let himself think on it, just for a moment, one nanoklik of fantasy of what it would be like to have a heated frame resting next to him when he onlined in those desperate hours of the night cycle, with hands waiting to hold him and an eager spike sliding into the hungry depths of his valve, and the sound that curled up through his vocalizer was almost a whimper of static that he cut off in horror.

"That's it," Jazz crooned, his voice low and thrumming in a way that wanted, even through suppression protocols, to slide in a shiver through Ratchet's struts. "'S what friends do, yeah? Take care o' each other. You just take those blocks off an' let Jazz take care o' ya. Ah'll do ya good, and ain't nobody else needs to know."

The alarm was pinging him, insistently, with a mindless pre-set warning of what was to come. He should, Ratchet thought, have been in his own quarters right then; he should have been in his own quarters, with his own fingers buried in his valve and another night of intermittent recharge and tank churning need to look forward to. He had drifted through the days in a blur of temporary relief buried in the familiar tedium of routine, contrasted against nights where thinking was the last thing he could do; finding an actual solution to the situation hadn't crossed his processor with any seriousness yet. This was nothing but sheer desperation, now, every ping of his alarm another point on the scale of how much this was going to slagging suck. He had thought… he wasn't even sure what he had been thinking, it wasn't as though self service in front of another mech was any less humiliating than begging for a pity frag but Jazz was right there, the Porsche pressed up lightly against him, chassis to chassis, with the warm hum of his engine shivering over Ratchet's plating and his voice purring encouragement into the medic's audials.

The saboteur was, Ratchet had to admit, a perfectly agreeable potential solution. It wasn't ideal - nothing about it was ideal - but the more he thought about it the more it seemed better than 90% of the rest of his choices. Ratchet grit his dente hard enough to taste metal shavings, his fingers digging shallow holes into the rock he was pressed against, and offlined his optics. "You're going to want to back up," he warned, his voice coming out gruffer than intended.

Jazz chuckled softly. "Ah'm thinkin' that's the last thing ya want me t' do."

"For your own sake," Ratchet clarified. The alarm ping was getting less ignorable by the nanoklik. "Back up. The protocols have a kick to them."

Jazz didn't say anything, but after a moment he let Ratchet go, taking a step back. Ratchet vented, bracing himself against the rock at his back, and kept his optics offline. He really didn't want to see Jazz's reaction in the last split nanoklik between normality and the first backlash of the medical protocols. Taking a deeper cycle of air, he tried to steady frame and processor both, cringing internally, and triggered the codes that released the suppression blocks.

The heat hit him like a raging inferno, internal temperature skyrocketing impossibly quickly as nine hours of the pent-up cycle slammed through him, too fast and hard to be anything like pleasure, his cooling fans howling online. Ratchet stiffened, backstruts arching, and was only dimly aware of the keening cry ringing through his audials as his own. Need pulsed through him, empty and yawning, as though it would devour him from the inside out - hunger need desperation NEED - searing through his sensor net and burning, hot and painful, through every processor thread. The wet rush of lubricant was trickling down his thighs before the mechanisms for his interface panel could even retract, and the cool air against his valve made him cry out, shuddering against the rock, hands scrambling to try to fill the void, aware only of the emptiness and the desperate hunger.

"Primus." The voice wasn't his own and then there were hands, Primus blessed hands that weren't his own, fingers slid with hard, fast determination into his valve, and Ratchet lost all track of everything as his hips arched, grinding into the touch, vocalizer breaking into a static laden scream.

The first overload was always the hardest and easiest all at once - hardest in that it hurt, circuits dragged from cold to burning overload so quickly that everything was over sensitized, bordering on a knife edge of pain, his frame and processor wracked with the backlash of going from suppression to heat with no buffer between. Easiest in that any little touch could set him over, a few quick perfunctory strokes tipping him into strut arching overload, the charge raging through him with a relief that would be harder to come by after that first system shocking release.

The whine of his own fans was the first thing to register in the aftermath, his ventilations fast and shallow. Weight, pressed up against him and pushing him into the rock at his back, made him shudder and once he started he couldn't stop, the tremors shaking through his frame. Slick fingers slipped from his valve, stroking wetly across exterior sensors, and Ratchet couldn't even identify the static-revved whimper as his own as he clutched at the frame pressed to him.

"Primus." Jazz's voice was rough, threaded through with a pulse of throaty static. "Pit, that was the hottest fraggin' thing Ah have ever seen." Hands slid over Ratchet's thighs, pressing them further apart, and the medic could only keen softly as he spread his feet, renewed ache rising fast and insistent through his circuits.

"Primus, yes, please, yes, Pit, yes, yes, yes…" His own voice again, broken and panting, as those hands skimmed back up, stroking over the seams of his hips and waist. Jazz laughed, the sound fractured through ventilations.

"Hot," the Porsche breathed, his vents pulsing heat against Ratchet's sensors. Fingers gripped his hips, pulling him forward, and then - oh Primus, yes, slagging yes - the ridged tip of a spike pushed inside his valve, sliding home in one smooth, aching thrust.

Sensor nodes sparked, priming, and Ratchet moaned, clinging to the other mech's shoulders. "Slagging scrap, Pit, Primus - ah! - Frag, yes…"

"That a request?" Jazz huffed, but his engine, finely tuned for racing, growled long and hard, the vibrations shuddering through Ratchet and making him burn. His second thrust was slower than his first, drawn out and pushed back in with painstaking control that made Ratchet's vocalizer offline in a burst of static, shaking. "So fraggin' hot," the saboteur hissed and his next thrust was slow again, jolting a broken cry from Ratchet as the medic arched into it, trying to press impossibly closer. "Burning hot and Primus, you're soakin' wet… Pit, Ah could do this all slaggin' day…"

There was a warning there, something that tried and utterly failed to break through the haze of strut melting pleasure that each stroke of the Porsche's spike into his aching valve created. Stretched, filled, and oh Primus, yes, he had needed this, he had needed this so fragging much. Slow, slow enough to melt every last processor thread he had left, his whole world collapsing down to the growl of the engine pressed against his own and the wet sound and feel of being properly, truly, fragged. He was crying with every thrust, cursing and begging and swearing, sounds he couldn't even classify, desperate and needing and oh frag, yes, please, don't slagging stop, don't ever stop, Primus in the Pit, don't STOP

The pace picked up incrementally with each thrust, deeper, harder, building in a long, gradual slide back into the burning heat of urgency… and then, on the raw edge, charge building, it abruptly stopped. Ratchet keened, struggling. Jazz pressed a hard hand to his mouth, covering it, and pushed him roughly back against the stone. The saboteur was swearing, vicious and sharp under his labored breath, his spike a solid, heated pressure deep in Ratchet's valve. "Pit, slag, scrap, frag - mute your vocalizer, Ratch', mute it, not a sound, c'n ya do that for me? C'mon, mah mech, comms off, vocalizer off, shut it down, frag it!"

Something in his tone, the sharpness that reminded mechs he was the 3IC, registered. Ratchet gulped air in stuttered ventilations and offlined his vocalizer, the sound of his own cries cutting off into stark silence filled only with the twin hum of their cooling fans. Jazz rewarded him with a short, slow thrust, rocking his hips into Ratchet's. The spark of white hot sensation would have made the medic moan if he could have, his head dropping back limply against the rocks, back arched and hips raised in silent entreaty. "Good mech," Jazz whispered, and then, in something almost approximating his normal tone, "Jazz here, Grapple, Ah read ya, over."

Cold ice and burning heat collided with a sickening lurch through Ratchet's circuits. Jazz soothed him with a light touch when he stiffened, the slow, gentle rocking of his hips making Ratchet squirm. Whatever was being said over the comms made the Porsche pause momentarily, then pick up again with a deeper thrust, his hands catching Ratchet's wrists and pinning them down to the rocks. "Got it. We'll be ready. Jazz out." His mouth was on Ratchet's almost before the last word was said, glossa sliding wet over lips. "Told ya Ah'd take care of ya," he panted. The next thrust was in earnest, hard enough to arch the medic's back struts off of the rock. "Got it sorted, all covered, an we got time. Gonna scream for me?"

Ratchet rebooted his vocalizer in a spiraling cry with the next thrust, trying to cling to the hands holding him down as Jazz reared back, the Porsche's hips snapping forward, rough and demanding. His own moans threaded through Ratchet's cries, cooling fans howling, and there was nothing controlled or slow about the pace he set. Half sobbing, Ratchet clung to the sensation, processor shattered with need and fulfillment and the rising, burning wave. The overload caught him almost by surprise, bursting through his sensors in a flash storm of electric sensation and white hot charge, and left him limp and gasping in its wake.

Jazz was braced against him, half laid over him, and it was a little gratifying that the Porsche's ventilations were just as labored as his own. "Pit," the saboteur breathed, groaning softly. "Primus, so slagging hot. We have got to do that again - not now. Oh Pit, not now, later. Ratch', mah mech, can you get those protocols up again?"

Ratchet shuddered and just then, in the immediate aftermath of overload with his processor trying to clear, it had very little to do with the careful slide of the other mech's spike from his aching port. "Y-yes," he managed, the word half static. He rebooted his vocalizer and tried again. "Yes, I can. I shouldn't, but I can."

Jazz's fingers smoothed gently across his lips. The flare had burned out, the other mech's visor a bright slash in the darkness. "Gonna hurt? 'Fraid Ah can't think of another way."

Nodding wearily, Ratchet let his head rest back against the rock. "They're coming?"

"Seventeen kliks, if 'Jack has his calculations right," Jazz confirmed. "'Nuff time t' get cleaned up and nobody the wiser, yeah?" His mouth twisted, wry. "Ah'd just say go another round before they get here, but Hoist and First Aid are gonna wanna look ya over before you're clear and Ah'm bettin' ya can't hold out that long."

"Smart bet," Ratchet muttered. He felt good, strutless and aching in the right way, and it made the idea of a second backlash in less than one day sound like the slag sucking bottom of the Pit. Groaning, he rubbed the heel of his hand over his optics. "I'll manage."

"Hey." Jazz's hand caught his, tugging it away from his face. "Turn the protocols on. They're gonna come get us; you're gonna get that arm fixed up, get some energon, and get back to your quarters, and then you're not gonna drop those protocols 'til Ah get there, ya hear me?" He gave Ratchet's hand a little shake, his engine purring a counterpoint that vibrated gently through the medic's plating. "Ah'm gonna take care of you. I meant it. You wait for me, ya hear? None of this slag about takin' care of it yourself."

Astonished, Ratchet could only stare, processor startled into blankness. Jazz's look was stern, the one normally reserved for presenting a unified front with Prowl, and after a long moment Ratchet made himself tentatively nod. "Yes… sir," he managed and Jazz's smile was a bright, brilliant flash in the darkness.