Near capacity, Swerve's bar was busy, noisy, and bright in ways that were both similar and completely different from the bustle of an emergency ward. Feeling somewhat self-conscious, First Aid made his way over to the table that Skids usually – and was currently – sitting at.

"Hey," Skids greeted cheerfully, "if it isn't Ratchet's favourite new apprentice. Grab a seat, Doc."

At the title, even truncated as it was, something soft bloomed in First Aid's spark. Feeling more confident, he took the one remaining spot, squeezing in between Pipes and a small, oddly vintage looking Autobot.

Chromedome leaned over, "Don't think I've seen you outside of the Medibay. So, what brings you here?"

"The lot of you are past due on your maintenance checkups," First Aid replied breezily, trying to hold onto that jump in confidence. "I figured I'd find you all here." He paused as if thoughtful, "You know, we really should start those exams as soon as possible..."

"Yeah?" Skids asked, a smile tugging at his admittedly handsome mouth. "And what exactly does this exam entail?"

Nervous and emboldened all at once, First Aid answered as cool as he could, "Put your hands on the table, bend over, and find out."

Skids was the first to laugh. "That so you can get at my panels?"

"T-cog, actually," First Aid corrected, trying to maintain his best professional voice over the laughter of the rest of the table. "Got to make sure everything's working as it should."

"If you could do me a favour and not mention T-cogs, that would be great," Pipes chipped in, somewhat sullenly, playing with his straw. "Never again would be preferable."

The small blue and white Autobot spoke next, merrily introducing himself as "Tailgate." He seemed inordinately pleased when First Aid reached across and shook his extended hand.

The Lost Light crew may not have been the Delphi staff he missed, but they weren't so bad. As it turned out, socialising hadn't been such a terrible idea after all. The conversation flowed around him and First Aid found himself joining in easily.

Eventually Chromedome remembered that the absent Rewind had wanted to know the fate of the outpost's security footage, and whether there might be a chance he'd be able to get a copy somehow.

Surprised – because that wasn't a usual conversation piece – First Aid asked why. As it turned out, Fortress Maximus's 'resurrection' was a bit of a hot topic and more than a few wanted to see the event themselves. The fact that First Aid had been the one to resuscitate him wasn't lost at this table, and that soft thing nestled in his spark bloomed even wider.

Dragging a hand over his face, Pipes asked a somewhat muffled, "And can we not talk about Max either?"

Chromedome gave Pipes what was probably a sympathetic look and patted him on the back. Moments later Trailbreaker was rolling up to join them, slinging an arm around them both. The chatter that followed was more than slightly slurred, a liberal amount of engex was spilled on everyone within three metres, and then Chromedome was hauled off to another table to preform some sort of party trick. Curious, Tailgate had vacated his seat beside Skids, hopping off to follow after the pair.

Pipes chose that moment to get up. "Anyone want seconds?" he asked, wiggling his empty glass at the two remaining people.

"You payin'?" Skids asked, taking a sip of his own unfinished drink.

Pipes ignored him, turning instead to First Aid. "How about you?"

"I'm good," First Aid assured him. He'd refuelled at the medibay before coming here out of habit and was now kicking himself because who even went to a bar and didn't have a drink?

Pipes shrugged before meandering off towards Swerve, leaving just the two of them. Sparing a glance at the empty seat besides Skids, First Aid almost considered taking it but stopped himself just as his knee joints started to unfold.

It was just them. Alone. Together.

Well. Couldn't ask for a better moment, really.

But how to actually broach the topic?

"Not going to see the show?" First Aid asked, gesturing across the room to where Chromedome was standing among a new group, facing a wall this time as Atomizer transformed behind him.

"Nah, seen it already. How about you? From a critic's perspective I can say it isn't a bad performance. Could do with a little more style, but then that's Chromedome for you."

And that was as good an opening as any First Aid could hope for.

"I just finished my shift actually, and those always seem longer when you're working with Ambulon. I was thinking of heading back to my room," he said, completely casual. "I've got one along the hull so I landed a window. You should come and have a look." Even as he spoke, First Aid was conscious of every millisecond ticking by without Skids offering a reply, never mind that he hadn't actually given him a chance yet. Nerves had First Aid tacking on, probably unnecessarily, "I mean, the view's nothing to write home about, sure, not compared to any other porthole, not when we're all staring at deep space, but..." He trailed off lamely.

Damn. He probably shouldn't have implied that he was tired either.

Trying to salvage the situation, First Aid added somewhat weakly, "But at least Ambulon's pulling a double shift so he'll be out for another four hours and I'll have the place to myself."

Skids hadn't said anything yet. Why hadn't he said anything? Okay, so, maybe First Aid hadn't really stopped talking yet, but still!

"We could, uh, chat?"

So much for taking initiative. Worst plan ever.

Skids chuckled before knocking back his drink. "Sure, Doc," he said, a smile in his voice. "Maybe I'll even let you preform that check up you wanted."

Never mind. Operation Initiative: a tremendous success!


The walk to First Aid's quarters hadn't even been awkward at all; Skids was a great conversationalist! But once the door to his shared suite slid shut behind them, First Aid felt himself begin to flounder. What was he supposed to do now? It wasn't like he could offer Skids a drink – the suites weren't equipped for that kind of thing and besides, they'd just come from a watering hole. In fact there wasn't much of anything to offer company now that First Aid thought about it, and he didn't think it would be polite to try and pin Skids up against the wall just yet.

They'd barely even gotten to know each other.

Completely unfazed by his host's ego having a small meltdown, Skids made himself at home, taking a seat on the nearest slab. It was Ambulon's (and that probably shouldn't have pleased First Aid as much as it did).

"Nice place you got here," Skids said, looking around. "Looks kind of like mine."

"But does yours have a window?"

"Actually yes, yes it does."

First Aid crossed his arms, hip canting to the opposite side that his head went. "Does it have a medic in it?"

Skids made a show of settling and looking thoughtful before he answered. "No, I can't say it ever has."

"Then maybe you should stay and enjoy this one while you've got the chance." As soon as the words left his vocaliser, First Aid winced internally. That sounded so–

Not missing a beat, Skid's rejoinder was, "Maybe you should come over here and let me enjoy that medic a little more personally."

Internal monologue standing corrected, First Aid happily slid onto the slab beside him.

Looking up into that handsome face, First Aid placed a hand over Skids's. Softly he said, "You have to admit though, the view really isn't that bad from here."

"Yeah," Skids agreed, cupping one side of the medic's mask gently, "it really is something."

"You're not too bad on the optics either," First Aid laughed, allowing Skids to tilt his helm upward so the two of them could affectionately bump their heads together.

Somehow that friendly bump turned into a nuzzle, crowns rubbing against each other, and soon that was followed by Skids planting a kiss lightly on his forehelm. First Aid let out a satisfied sigh.

This could have gone some much worse.

"Hey," Skids whispered, running his thumb along the bottom of First Aid's chin, "just curious, but does this thing come off? I can see a pair of seams and I don't see any latches for an intake cover."

Behind his mask, First Aid's mouth formed a pout. This had been going so well and he wasn't in much of a mood for it to stop. Still, it was a legitimate question and not at all offensive so he answered honestly, "Yeah, it can come off."

"Open up for me?" Skids asked playfully, two fingers tapping over where his lips could have been.

First Aid hesitated. He'd kept the mask on for a lot of reasons. At first it had been for professionalism. He saw so many patients he was bound to get a whiner every now and then, the kind that wouldn't stop complaining about minor damage or trying to wheedle out preferential treatment. No matter how gratifying, you weren't allowed to let them see you rolling your eyes at them. A complaint like that and Pharma would've had you written up so fast it'd leave your gyros spinning. And actually, working under Pharma was as good a reason as any to keep a faceguard up; that guy would drive you into the dirt if he so much as got a whiff that you were getting 'uppity' with him – imagined or not. Then there was Ambulon. Yeah, a mask was definitely the professional option there. Especially when the alternative was letting his once ward manager see all the faces he was making at him.

It'd become a habit, First Aid knew. But it was easier to keep the gear up and take his fuel through a secondary intake while on the go. It saved time and with so many war casualties, whatever was most efficient was what you went with.

Then Rung's diagnosis had splattered all over his career and it'd just been easier to keep it up entirely. He hadn't really wanted people to see his face after that.

Skids was cupping his head with both hands now, laying these cute little kisses all over the mask. "You don't have to, if you don't want," he murmured between each drop of his lips, "I was just curious."

The mask bisected down the middle before Skids could give him another, folding away under the vents on the sides of his face. "Why not," First Aid heard himself say, his voice echoing differently in his audios now that his words were free to open air. "War's over after all."

"That's the spirit," Skids said with approval before dipping down and catching newly exposed lips in the first kiss they'd had since before his demotion.

First Aid had thought the climate controlled air had tingled against his mouth oddly, but with another set of lips against his, he realised the entirely of his lower face was just oversensitive. Really, intensely oversensitive. He couldn't stop the half-surprised, half-more-than-a-little-pleased moan from slipping out.

Skids hummed agreement, pushing him to lean back against the slab – still Ambulon's (hah!) – as he deepened the kiss.

All the things he'd had planned, had been ready to suggest; the restraints, the bondage, the chance to really let loose and have some fun because Skids seems like the kind of guy to be open and easy going about that kind of thing, well, they all floated away before they could escape his newly exposed mouth.

This was too much. Too much sensation, too much pressure, too much warmth and electricity, too good... Maybe he was malfunctioning because there was no way his systems should have been getting this flustered with just a little necking.

Skids pulled away, and he would have had to be dead not to notice how heated the medic's frame had grown. Lucky for both of them, Skids wasn't dead, but he sure did look smug (and it wasn't a bad look on him either).

"Too much for you?" Skids teased, brushing his knuckles over trembling white lips.

Panting, an instinctual effort to circulate more air over his too-warm wires, it took First Aid a few seconds before he could reply somewhat breathlessly, "You're good, sure. But not that good."

"Wanna show me how it's done then?"

First Aid shot up, inspired to steal his own kiss, hands slipping around behind Skid's head to massage a spot under the helmet that Skids's larger fingers wouldn't have be able to reach. The theoretician's engine gave a contentedly rumble as he made an aborted movement backward, like he wasn't sure whether to press forward or lean back. Eventually he settled for pulling First Aid closer, fingers hooking under the panels of his white shoulders.

Somehow Skids managed to brush the tip of his finger against a sensitive cluster of nervewires that had First Aid tensing and pulling back. "You okay?" Skids asked, voice thick and needing to be reset twice before it would form words.

"I'm fine it's just–" First Aid couldn't help but giggle as Skids let go of his shoulder, brushing those wires again and he unhooked his hand, "It's just that I'm – ha sort of – no don't – ticklish there."

Skids gave him a long look.

"Don't you–" First Aid was just starting to threaten when Skids dove back with both hands now, fingers wiggling toward spots that might've been similarity sensitive. Most weren't, but he did find some, and those had First Aid dissolving into the least sexy fit of staticky laughter imaginable.

If Skids would just relent for a moment, First Aid could have properly mourned the loss of the really good mood they'd had going on there for a while. Except... he couldn't really find it in him to be properly cross. Not with Skids's hands roaming over him like that, and oh. Oh. Well, maybe it was a little too early to write that mood off after all. Good.

"Fold?" Skids asked, hands groping over equipment that while sensitive, definitely weren't his shoulders.

"Like foil," First Aid wheezed, exhaling what might as well have been steam.

"You did a good job, Doc, but I think it's time I show you how it's really done." There was a burr of charge underneath Skid's every word making his voice fall a bit lower. "Here, lay back again for me."

And who was First Aid to deny a request that sounded like that? Reclining slowly, and not even bothering trying to see if he could make the action look sultry, he cushioned his head in his arms and relaxed. "Ready to impress?"

"Think I'll let you be the judge of that," Skids said with a wink, before leaning over a giving him a quick kiss on still-tingling lips. Another kiss landed on his chin. The next was caught on his throat and the next after that, was placed over a collar ridge.

And Skids just kept going lower.

And lower.

And wow. First Aid had let his optic shutters fall closed but he could still feel the unmistakable arc of tiny strands of electricity grounding themselves in his chassis whenever Skids made contact.

Skids was between his two chest vents how, and the kiss placed over his Autobot symbol was long and almost reverent, sending tiny shocks of sharp joy directly into the spark behind it. Then, because it couldn't possibly get any better, it did, and First Aid felt the very tip of a tongue touching into the space of the brand's right eye.

He almost sobbed.

"MmmHmmm?" Skids asked, moving down another couple increments, vibrating the sound directly into First Aid's chest instead of asking like a normal, boring, completely unattractive person might have done.

When he was sure it would be words and not just spewed nonsense he'd be spitting out, First Aid asked, breathless again, "Why did you do that?"

"MmmDNnmM," Skids purred, engine echoing the hum and pushing even more vibration straight through the medic's body before Skids propped himself up. "Why not," he shrugged. "Felt like a good idea at the time, and you certainly sounded like you enjoyed it."

"Oh I did," First Aid assured, reaching over and stroking the side of Skids's helmet.

Skids turned his head and First Aid caught another kiss in the centre of his palm. "Guess I just like badges."

"You too, huh?"

"Liked this one enough to get it stamped on me," Skids said, nuzzling his head against that one hand even as his own wandered lower.

"Yeah. It's – don't you dare stop doing that – they're exciting," First Aid mostly agreed. Mostly because he was finding it a bit difficult to dedicate all of his attention toward conversation.

"Mhmm. Maybe I like them for what them represent. Can't really imagine myself without this little guy." Skids let First Aid slowly run his fingertips over his faction symbol, each pass slow, gentle, bordering worshipful. "You ready to try something else exciting?"

First Aid had to switch gears. He'd gotten a little... distracted. "What did you have in mind?"

"Well," Skids said, face shifting into a disarmingly enticing grin, "we could always grab those cables under that slab over there and see what we can figure out?"

Okay. So.

Operation Initiative?

Going to have to do this more often.

[END]

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Note:
My personal headcanon is that First Aid doesn't actually have a mouth under that mask. But what the heck, who ACTUALLY writes their personal headcanon anyway, amirite? I know I sure don't. And I don't write fluff either. Ever. I usually don't even read it. Do you know what else I don't normally do? Speed writing. And these two, First Aid and Skids? Never wrote 'em before and neither really struck me as having a particularly strong voice. Pretty much this entire ficcity thing was one big experiment on my part, and I'm not sure how I feel about it yet. Anyway, hope you enjoyed my effort at this rare beast!

As always, a crit would be appreciated, but reviews are always good too! (Did I do okay? D:?)

Additional note:
Do you want to see more fics posted and faster? Do you have a passion for literary analysis and/or like to make wayward punctuation disappear after a midnight visit to their homes? If so, gimme a shout through any method of contact if you'd be down for beta reading. (I sort of collect them) I'm sure we'll get along like a pair of peaches in a basket. A basket full of happiness, and rainbows, and peaches.