Easing Tension

The control room boomed with the lover's quarrel. "Do you really think a counterattack like that would work?" Starscream sneered.

Megatron growled. "Always so quick to conclude that your own plans would have prevailed."

Megatron was closing in on Starscream, backing him up toward the control panel. Soundwave sat at the controls, typing away as he documented the recent battle. The noise was irritating, and being forced to be in such close proximity to Starscream was even worse. Starscream's backside was starting to bump into his arm, which made typing rather cumbersome. The couple shouted back and forth as if he weren't there. When Soundwave hit the wrong key for the third time because of Screamer's aft, he decided to come back and finish when the room was unoccupied. He stood up behind the hissing SIC.

"And really," Starscream spat, "to think that Prime would fall for something like that, you must be delusional!"

It all happened in an instant. Soundwave turned around to see Megatron swinging his fist forward. Starscream dodged the blow, darting out of the way so the giant fist was heading straight for Soundwave. His tentacles sprung out to protect him automatically, but his loyalty was too deep, and they froze before grabbing his leader's wrist. The metal fist collided with his facial plate with a loud crack.

Megatron froze as his spy fell backward and clattered against the control panel, his tentacles whipping around with disorientation. Soundwave's servos went to his face.

"Soundwave…" Megatron started as he gaped. "What kind of malfunction are you? Why didn't you block me if you had your feelers out?"

The pain was immense, worsened by the humiliation of being in such an undignified state in his master's presence. He was still too embarrassed to remove his servos from his facial armor. His vocals trembled. "Retaliation: disrespectful."

"Pfft," he heard Starscream add with a hint of caution. He was obviously trying to work the incident into his favor and distract their Lord. "It's just like him to put propriety first."

"Starscream!" Megatron shouted, "I'm not finished with you. Soundwave, you are a valuable resource to the decepticon cause, and I think I could handle a few tentacles to save myself the trouble of having you repaired. Now get to the med bay and make yourself presentable."

Soundwave struggled to his bases, and realized suddenly that he couldn't see. His facial armor had short-circuited and everything was dark.

"Status: blind."

"For Primus sake… Starscream, get him out of here and call Knockout to come get him."

Soundwave heard the signature stomp of high-heeled bases coming his way. Sharp fingers grabbed the back of his neck, and he had to fight the urge to grab Starscream with his tentacles and body-slam him to the floor. Starscream roughly led him out into the hall. The door closed and Soundwave was left alone.

It was quiet in the hall, the ship humming peacefully. Soundwave took a servos from his face and touched the wall, determined to make it at least partially to the medical bay without assistance.

He heard the sound of approaching footsteps, and waited for a reaction, humiliation creeping in again. The footfalls slowed near him, then turned down another hall and walked away. Soundwave felt a sudden shock that whoever it was, very likely an eradicon, hadn't asked what he was doing. He sighed internally. It should have been expected, with his unapproachable silence. The eradicons were too afraid to look his way on normal occasions, much less bizarre ones.

Soundwave felt the wall, suddenly forgetting where he was. Normally he could pull up a map to display on the inside of his facial armor, but it was so cracked that nothing would work. Soundwave did his best to remember how to navigate the complicated network of hallways, but as he walked he wasn't sure if he had gone off the wrong way. Being lost was below him. He was head of navigation! He located unsuspecting autobots, and he did not get lost in his own territory.

He heard another set of footfalls, brisker this time. "Oh, there you are!" It was Knockout's voice approaching. "Megatron said you'd be outside of the control room. You know it's really irritating having to hunt you down when I have three more damaged eradicons waiting for me in the med bay. And to hear you need help because of a smack to the face? Now let me see."

Soundwave felt Knockout's servos hold his, moving it aside. "Well…" Knockout said, his tone changing slightly. "How amazing, you didn't get a scratch in battle this morning but you've been mauled in a domestic dispute. Alright, let's go." Soundwave prepared himself to be manhandled, but the slightly taller mech placed Soundwave's servos on his broad, curved shoulder and led him casually.

The medical bay was busy with noise, talking and complaining. Knockout led Soundwave to an examination table. "Lay down and I'll be with you in a minute. I've got two bad to deal with first."

Soundwave sat on the table, uncomfortable with lying down in the presence of others. He listened to the sounds of the medical bay, listening to Knockout as he worked. "You there, hand me that scalpel. Now hold still. I'd give you an anesthetic but your intake tubes are pinched from the buckled metal, so it won't help anyway. Alright, here goes." The eradicon shrieked, his intakes sucking air. "Alright, now I can give you something. You over there, your damage is superficial. Come back tomorrow when I'm less busy. And you, take this one with you. He needs support to lean on. Okay, hmm… If I just tweak this.."

Soundwave relaxed slightly. Knockout was notorious for being caught up in meaningless distractions like native illegal racing and especially superficial appearances. But it was easy to forget how good he was at his trade. In Soundwave's opinion he was possibly as skilled in the medical concentration as Soundwave was in his own occupation.

"Alright, the rest of you just have dents for me to hammer out. Come back tomorrow and I'll see to them. Right now I have an officer to attend to."

Soundwave heard the room clearing as Knockout began examining his face. The room was empty by the time he spoke. "You'll need a new facial screen unless you want to wait twenty-one solar cycles for it to heal naturally. But I wouldn't recommend that anyway. It'd leave some hideous scars." Soundwave internally scoffed at the idea. He had far too many responsibilities to sit around blind for so long. "I don't have any spare screens like yours, so I'll have to create one from scratch."

"Creating from scratch: time?"

"Oh, a while. You won't get it tonight. I'll spend the better part of tomorrow making it."

That was a deal less than Soundwave was expecting. He felt Knockout's servos ghosting over his face, the tips of his fingers prodding and pressing into the seams around the mask. He felt the red mech's hips against his knees as he grew closer. Although he disliked physical contact, he resisted pulling away and distracting the medic from his work. He felt the other's hip slide against the inside of his thigh slightly more and suppressed a shiver. He was surprised how much he reacted to the rare contact. The ache in his facial plate worsened as Knockout dug a fingertip into the seam.

"I'm not familiar with your design at all. How do I remove your face? I'll need to remove it to repair it from the inside. You'll be without a face for a day, my apologies."

"Inquiry: faceless?"

"Well yes, I need to repair it. Wait, are you saying this isn't your face? Is this facial armor?"

"Theory: Correct."

"Well that's interesting," Knockout said. "I truly never knew. Now it seems you have a lock on it. You'll need to remove it yourself."

Soundwave's machinery tightened inside. He really didn't like to be looked at. It was too personal. But it would have to be done, he was sure. He placed his fingers along the side seams, flicking six locks in a precise order until the seal finally broke. He slid the mask down, wincing at the light on his optics. Cool air flooded over his face as he grew accustomed to the light. It was good to see again.

And the first thing that he saw was Knockout's gleaming white and red structure, looking down at him in shock. Knockout slowly closed his mouth, his eyes still fixed on Soundwave. Soundwave hesitantly returned the eye contact for which he was unaccustomed.

"Inquiry: problem?" Soundwave's voice sounded clearer without the barrier of the mask.

Knockout blinked, "Uh, no. I guess I wasn't expecting… Well your optics are such an unusual color and…" He smiled his signature cocky smile. "I suppose I wasn't expecting you to be so pretty."

Soundwave was suddenly overwhelmed with embarrassment, his face heating up. He stood from the table and slipped past the medic. "Facial plate retrieval: tomorrow evening?"

"Sure," Knockout said, optics glued to the purple-trimmed mech.

Soundwave left as quickly as he could, dreading every nanosecond until he could conceal his face again.

To be continued…

This was mostly written for my own amusement. I've been drooling over showing Soundwave's face for ages. I'll give you one of Soundwave's tentacles for your thoughts on this chapter.