This story contains an increasingly dysfunctional relationship that may cross the border into abusive, as well as non-explicit depictions of sex.

Notes: I love Florence and the Machine, and find the words in many of her songs to be vivid and beautifully lyrical. I wanted to write a story set to one of them, but couldn't decide which one. So I figured, heck, I'll just do something like that old ten songs meme and use the entire "Lungs" album. My headverse Tracks and Sunstreaker fit with the combination of passionate love and dysfunctional relationships, and I've been wanting to write something for them anyway. The order of the songs has been rearranged to fit chronologically with the story, which begins before the war. The title is a line from "Cosmic Love."

P.S. The homepage link now leads to my AO3 account. If you're trying to read a story here and the formatting is all screwy, try looking for it there. All the stuff that's too racy for this site will eventually find its way up there as well.

oOo

Drumming Song

Energon thrummed heavy through his lines. His audios seemed to be buzzing with static. From across the room, a single pair of optics locked with his.

The mech was handsome, of course. Showy vents framed a perfectly maintained face from which guarded blue optics stared out at the world. Light reflected off brilliantly polished armor.

No, he was not simply handsome. He was beautiful. Tracks did so enjoy beautiful things.

When that same mech invited Tracks home after the party, he'd agreed without a moment's hesitation. The rest of the night went well. Very well.

That's where it should have ended. Sunstreaker was beautiful, yes, and knew how to lavish attention on a mech as meticulous about his finish as he. But Tracks had been with mechs like him before. They were good for a night, then best left forgotten.

No good would come of this. He knew better. He knew better than to buff his already perfect finish to a high shine before heading to another party where he knew the mech would be. Knew better than to wait on the edges, energon cube in hand, while the mech consorted with the other guests.

The pounding in his fuel lines as their optics met again across the crowd drowned out everything else.

oOo

Between Two Lungs

This was not something that happened to Sunstreaker. Yes, he had companionship. Sideswipe loved him. His fans loved him. Many mechs had made love to him. But romantic love? That was something that happened to other beings.

Sunstreaker loved beauty. He loved it in the twisting shapes of Cybertron's cityscapes, the barren desert of her landscapes. The way this mech moved his hands, the curve of that femme's calf. He loved it in himself.

He made a point of surrounding himself with beautiful things. Tracks was not the first attractive thing to find its way into his life.

Even so, even if it was ridiculous to think so, something felt different this time.

He stared at the scarlet face so close to his own, lovely even when slack with sleep. The soft breathes of their ventilation systems huffed between their entwined bodies, and Sunstreaker felt that something he'd not even known was empty had begun to fill. He sucked in air, deliberately stalled his fans. As if it were something that could be kept contained within his body if he just held on tightly enough.

He'd never experienced a feeling like this before. He clung to it, holding it close. It might have been the type of feeling portrayed in those ridiculous plays of romance and intrigue. It might not. But it was a unique experience to him.

A warning lit in his HUD and he released his ventilation systems again. Felt wonder as the feeling didn't dissipate. As if he'd really believed it could be held onto it in the first place. It felt like taking in energon after a fast. Like creating a masterpiece after too long without a chisel in his hand.

He resisted the urge to hold his breath again, letting their ventilations mingle, tightening the arm flung across Tracks' waist instead.

oOo

Dog Days Are Over

Life had been flat, before. Easy, yes. Pleasurable. Even entertaining, at times.

He hadn't realized how utterly dull it all was until Sunstreaker came along.

It was a bit of a shock, truth be told, the realization knocking him off his feet when he'd thought he had them squarely beneath him. There was a thrill to it all that no amount of parties or lovers had given him before.

Sunstreaker… Sunstreaker was a star going nova. As intense and passionate in some things as he was cool and aloof in others. Pushing Sunstreaker's buttons was a fascinating endeavor, seeing the way his optics flashed when he was furious. That he kept that part of himself so carefully under control made it all the more thrilling to see that beautiful tempter explode out into the open. The interfacing they had after made him feel alive like nothing else.

Of course, the interfacing when they weren't angry with each other was also incredible. When they went slow, took the time to worship each other's bodies with polishing cloths and whispered words and expensive waxes.

War whispered on the horizon. Rumors that the Golden Age was ending.

Tracks threw himself at life now like he never had before.

oOo

Cosmic Love

Sunstreaker had never thought someone who could make him so furious could also make him care so intensely.

It very nearly frightened him away. Except then one day he'd come home, found Tracks sitting on his couch, head in his hands. And when he'd looked up, met Sunstreaker optic to optic, Sunstreaker had seen in him what he felt in himself, and found he had to stay.

oOo

Intermission: War

War. An ugly word, but nevertheless, now reality.

Tracks stood in the doorway of their apartment, looking it over one last time.

The tide of the war had changed them. Sunstreaker seemed… almost pleased with the changes. There was a fierceness to him that Tracks used to delight in teasing out when he wanted to see Sunstreaker's passionate side. Now it lingered close to the surface, a happiness like a punch in the gut.

Tracks stood and stared and remembered those first wonderful orns they'd spent here together, before things started to change. Sunstreaker, him, Cybertron itself… everything. They'd heard the cries of war long before it had reached them, and now that it had come… well.

He checked the room one more time. The balcony where they'd watched the stars, the couch where they'd made love, the corner where Sunstreaker liked to read. He committed the entire thing to long term memory banks, checked his subspace one last time, turned and left his old life behind.

oOo

My Boy Builds Coffins

Sunstreaker had, before the war, been an artist by profession. More than that, he created the statues, busts, and carvings that decorated the coffins of those entombed in Cybertron's vast catacombs. The work was rare, but well paying. Between his occasional commission and Sideswipe's business, the brothers were quite well off.

It was a unique profession, Sunstreaker's. As such it came with its own type of fame. Sunstreaker was one of the best in the business. When Primes died, members of the counsel, Cybertron's wealthy, those coordinating the memorials came to him. That earned him a fair amount of attention, and a kind of cult following. It was an exotic profession, for a race that so rarely died. At the height of his career, Sunstreaker had been invited to a great many parties.

His work, after all, though exquisite, was carried down into the depths of their planet as soon as it was finished, to be seen only by those rare few who ventured down to pay homage to their deceased. There was a certain air of the forbidden around it all that carried over to its maker. To a certain type of mech, that created a draw that was irresistible.

Even now, now that the finer aspects of Cybertronian culture had been set aside, there were a few who remembered what Sunstreaker once had done.

Now, like before, statues were rarely built for the dead. Unlike then, this was due to the dead being far too numerous, the resources too few. But Sunstreaker, Tracks discovered, still practiced his former profession.

He'd found them, hidden away in a spot Sunstreaker must have thought entirely secret. A datapad full of rough likenesses of faces, the kind Sunstreaker created in preparation for his true work. The first one, an image of Tracks himself. The second of Sideswipe. The third Sunstreaker. Prime. Every one of the Autobot officers. He found one of a comrade already dead, though not buried; they'd been unable to retrieve his body. That sketch held a more finished quality than the rest.

He sorted through them all before putting the pad back exactly as he'd found it. And felt only a sense of peace, of rightness. Even these, unfinished, held the care and attention that had once made Sunstreaker's work so sought after. Tracks held that image of his own face in his mind like a treasure.

oOo

Intermission: Artistry

Those who cause death know it intimately. They know, at every moment, that this could be their final. No warrior can be completely successful without acknowledging this. Without facing this fact, accepting it, and turning it to a blade to be wielded.

I know that I might die today. Someday, it will be my brother's turn. Someday, my lovers'. And someday, perhaps after them or perhaps before, it will be mine.

Perhaps today will be yours.

Let's see what image the knife carves out today, shall we?

oOo

Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)

The battle was not going well. Their enemies had them cornered, and all they could do was fight desperately to hold on, to not let this fight be the last. Sunstreaker and Sideswipe in the thick of things, as per usual, Tracks and half a dozen others unhappily right there with them. Then it happened. Sideswipe screamed as he went down, smoke billowing. The Decepticon who'd done it was right there, standing over him with Sideswipe's fluids splashed across heavy green armor. The gun barrel lowered, ready to fire the finishing shot, and Tracks brought his own missiles to bear already knowing he was too late. Then suddenly Sunstreaker was there, appearing out of nowhere in the chaos, beating the Decepticon back with brutal efficiency.

Bluestreak, closer than Tracks, reached Sideswipe first, performing frantic first aid even as Sunstreaker sent a final deadly shot through the Decepticon's chest.

Sunstreaker was frightening in his intensity for the rest of the battle.

Even later, back in their quarters with Sideswipe stable in medbay, he was no better. He stalked the room with a look in his optics that had previously only existed in glimpses. It started a nervous flutter in Tracks' core, set his battle systems on edge. As if hewas the Decepticon that had been stood over Sideswipe, poised to kill.

Then Sunstreaker was on him, touches brutal. The interfacing that followed was the most intense they'd had in orns, and Tracks thought that he wanted this more now than he ever had before.

oOo

Kiss with a Fist

Their arguments became infamous among their comrades. Both of them too prideful to back down when they butted heads, to simply let things lie.

The interfacing more than made up for the fights. They likedthe fights.

Or at least, they had at one time. The feeling that welled up in Sunstreaker was looking less and less like love. The arguments became increasingly cutting, the interfacing more and more like the extension of a battlefield.

oOo

You've Got the Love

They were far, far too vulnerable to each other. Intimacy had no place in war, especially not with so physically dangerous a mech as Sunstreaker had become, as stuffily as Tracks comported himself. They had both seen the heartache that could befall such relationships. And yet neither of them left.

They knew each other, now. It had taken effort, and arguments, and vulnerability, and sleepless nights, and neither of them was quite ready to give that up.

And, if he was being honest, being with Sunstreaker was like feeding an addiction. When they were separated, it didn't take long for Tracks to start missing this… whatever it was that they had. Love, if you could still call it that. (Tracks told himself that he had never really fallen in such a way.) Knowing Sunstreaker could give him what he needed. A pair of arms to fall asleep in at night. That same pair of arms that had held him when their world was falling apart around them. Perhaps it no longer qualified as emotional support in the way Autobots traditionally thought of it, not with the glares, the arguments, the acid comments, the way Sunstreaker no longer seemed to care for anyone but himself… but that was what it was nonetheless. And Tracks found he couldn't give that up. Not yet.

oOo

Howl

Sunstreaker slammed Tracks against the wall of their quarters, mouth and fingers brutal. His teeth sank into Tracks' lip, tugging, twisting like a cyberhound with its prey. The resulting yelp flooded his systems with heat, energon thrumming headily through his system. Tracks' hands landed on his armor, pushing, tugging. His fingers were leaving deep scuffs, but so were Sunstreakers.

Their coupling is feral, frenzied. It's Tracks that does this to him, Tracks that makes him feel this crazed intensity. Tracks, whose optics light up with dark thrill at the flame he's stoked to an inferno.

They'd both changed. A part of Sunstreaker hated what he was becoming. Knew he was using Tracks, as Tracks was using him. Could hardly remember the last time they'd made love slow and sweet instead of hard and hurried. There'd always been an excuse, after the war started. No time, no place private enough, no supplies to spare for frivolous things like a long soak in a bath of warm oil.

It's a slow poison, this relationship. But it is far, far too late to go back.

oOo

I'm Not Calling You a Liar

People change. Life changes them. War changes them. Makes them harder. Quicker to anger, slower to forgive, betraying trust where once they'd have left shared treasure undisturbed.

Still, they tried to make it work. Couldn't seem to part. When your life is gone, you cling to what's left of it. Even when it's been twisted, hammered until once beautiful gems have cracked and splintered, burned until what were once mere specks of blackened dross are almost all that is left.

The beauty is still there. It is. It's just so hard to see...

oOo

Girl with One Eye

There were places that, by mutual understanding, they did not go. Certain issues that even in the most passionate anger they did not touch.

Until one day, in the middle of a very public argument, Sunstreaker said something that made Tracks burn in furious humiliation. Sunstreaker had his own cracks. Tracks dug his verbal fingers in and pulled.

He knew it was a mistake the moment he said it. Seeing Sunstreaker's optics bleach near white with rage, he fully expected to soon be regretting the words. In all their arguments, Sunstreaker never backed down without getting in at least one final barb.

Stunned silence rang out around them. In the void that followed, Tracks saw something cold open up behind Sunstreaker's optics.

Sunstreaker never backed down.

Always had to get the last word.

His lover turned and left, silent. Tracks didn't stop him.

oOo

Blinding

Sunstreaker punched his code in to the door of his and Tracks shared quarters. They each had their own security passes, or he expected he'd have found himself unable to enter. He slipped inside, Sideswipe following close on his heels. They had two hours until Tracks was off duty. Two hours to move everything he owns to Sideswipe's quarters. There was a point in his life when the idea would have been laughable.

He was tossing datapads into a crate, briefly flicking each one on to see what they contain, when he switches one on and suddenly a rendering of Tracks face, done in his own hand, stares up at him. He stares back, a boiling morass of dark emotion slowly tightening his grip on the pad, one finger jerking up to hover above the button that will wipe the picture.

There was a time when that face lit him up inside.

A touch against his shoulder. Sideswipe, come to see what he is staring at so intently.

His brother snorts. "Good riddance."

Sideswipe has, at best, only ever been politely tolerant of Tracks.

Delete.He stabs his finger down again at the next question. Yes, he is sure.

oOo

Hurricane Drunk

There was a party in the rec room.

Tracks was having to give himself a pep talk to show his face. Ridiculous, that he didn't want to be there and been seen. To talk. To party. To dance. Alone.

Sunstreaker would be there.

He spun away from the mirror. Determined strides took him out his door, not faltering on the walk down long corridors, not allowing himself to hesitate at the rec room entrance.

There he was. With Sideswipe, in the thick of things. Scowling, sneering, apparently his same, charming self. He had his arm around another mech.

Tracks wrenched himself away before he could catch more than a flash of bright armor, cutting straight for the energon dispenser. He knocked back the first cube in one hard, long pull, and reached immediately for the next. No reason not to get drunk. No one to argue with about why he shouldn't. His systems raced. He downed his second cube.

Parties had once been his favorite pastime. The throbbing rhythms of sound and bodies let him soar, made him feel alive.

He looked once again, just in time to see Sunstreaker drop a quick peck of a kiss on the helm tucked up so close to his.

The music thrums through him, fills him full to choking, leaves him utterly empty.