Originally Written in July 2013
Because in MTMTE #4 it's made clear that that Drift, at some point, must have detailed the Decepticon Affiliation Ceremony to Rodimus, which would explain why he knows that 'Cons have a portion of their spark casing ripped out to be turned into their Decepticon Badge—and I'm really curious how that came up in conversation and/or when Rodimus & Drift talked about it.
But instead of writing anything serious, I felt like writing self-indulgent, likely AU, fluff. :D
Characters: Drift & Rodimus (IDW/MTMTE)
Summary: Sometimes Drift doesn't feel like a real Autobot. (Light Humor/Fluff)
Drift held his Autobot Badge, and ran his thumb over the easily removed insignia from his shoulder. It was shined as best as able through the scuffs and worn signs of use. In his room on the ship after the chaos of the spark eater, this was probably his first moment Drift had had to really relax since the D-Void incident. Thinking on the event, the badge seemed to weigh more in his hands. Drift had proven himself an Autobot during the D-Void hadn't he? He fought—
"Magnus catches you with that Badge off and he's gonna' toss you in the brig," Rodimus said, hanging on the inside of his now open door. The red and orange Autobot dripped with confidence, and looked every inch that he belonged where he was standing.
Drift, for two seconds, regretted that as captain Rodimus had overrides to all the doors on the ship.
"It was just a joke, stop looking at me like I'm going to turn you in." Rodimus laughed and clapped his hand on the door's operation button. He leaned back and his spoilers catching on the door frames, so there was an inch of space from where he was leaning and the now closed door. Rodimus tapped his own logo dead center on his chest. "Magnus can be bad about regulation, but he's not that bad."
"Of course," Drift said, closing his hands around the small logo. He wasn't completely successful in hiding it from view, but he could hopefully divert the topic. "Did you need something?"
"If I said I was escaping Magnus' Mountain of Memos from the spark eater incident, would you kick me out?" Rodimus asked, smirking ever so slightly.
Drift scooted over on his berth to make room for the Autobot leader. Rodimus was attempting to look cheeky, but Drift could see the exhaustion in the captain's optics. "Make yourself at home."
"I'd say this won't be a habit," Rodimus said taking the open seat, slouching against the wall. He stretched out his legs and crossed his feet at the ankle, looking far more relaxed than when he came in. "But I'd probably be lying."
"Prior notice would be nice."
Rodimus reached over and tapped Drift's knuckle, ignoring his request. "What's with the badge, anyway? Some sort of self reflection thing?"
Drift placed the badge back into place on his shoulder. Self Reflection wasn't really an accurate statement. What Drift had been thinking about wasn't that deep, and he certainly didn't want to tell Rodimus. Drift couldn't take his laughter. "Not so much, just keeping my hands busy."
"You've got three swords and you use a beat up Autobot badge to keep your hands busy?" Rodimus lifted an eyebrow at him and snorted. He crossed his arms and sat up, leaning into Drift's personal space with a mischievous look on his face and dancing behind his optics. His Magnus driven exhaustion was long gone. "Try again, buddy."
"Self reflection?" Drift asked, smiling as innocently as possible.
"For an ex-Con, you are a horrible liar," Rodimus said. He leant back to his side of the berth and shrugged his shoulders. Rodimus smiled kindly, and re-directed his gaze to a stack of tablets on a shelf across the room. "But it's cool if you don't want to tell me."
Drift sighed in relief, and pushed off the berth. Now that that was behind them, he could concentrate on more important things. Like actually going over the mythology behind the Knights of Cybertron that were on those tablets that had caught the captain's attention. As gung-ho as Rodimus was about this trip, he didn't seem to know as much about this Quest as Drift thought he did.
"And I must be an amazing liar if you believed that," Rodimus said, popping up from the bench with the enthusiasm of a sparkling. "Because I'm curious now. What was so interesting about your badge?"
"Come on, we're all friends here." Rodimus leaned on the shelf, blocking Drift's access to his tablets. He put on a pair of turbopup eyes, wide and begging. "You can tell me. Believe it or not, I'm better at keeping secrets than Swerve."
"You'll laugh," Drift tried. Rodimus had to have some sense of privacy.
"I very well might, but I'm going to keep bugging you about it anyway," Rodimus said. He reached over and plucked the Autobot badge off Drift's shoulder and rolled away from the shelf. He held it up high over his head, and rubbed a scratch with his index finger. "Contemplating your switch from the 'cons to the 'bots doesn't really require staring at the badge, so what's up? You wanted to ask for a new one that isn't so scuffed up or something? Because feelings about you aside, I'm pretty sure Magnus is the last person to turn down a request for a clean, scratch less badge. We've got plenty."
"That's not," Drift said, huffing. "Please give that back, Rodimus."
"Sure." Rodimus tossed it back, and Drift caught it easily. "Spill. I'm stubborn."
Drift dropped his shoulders. "You're going to laugh."
"That a bad thing?" Rodimus asked. "Believe it or not, sometimes it's fun to laugh at ourselves, and if I start laughing I'm going to make sure you do, too."
The smile on Rodimus' face was infectious as the hate plague, and Drift found his mouth quirking up. Perhaps he could suffer a little embarrassment. If it was just Rodimus laughing. Drift turned the badge over in his hand. "Fine, if you must know, I was a upset I never got a real badge."
Rodimus' smile dropped slowly, and his eyebrows scrunched together. He rubbed the back of his neck, and shifted from one foot to the other. "Real badge?"
"I never had an Autobot Assimilation Ceremony," Drift clarified, pointing at his Autobot Insignia. "They just handed me this one when I started running with the Wreckers. There really wasn't time for formalities, and Kup and the others weren't big on them to start with."
"He's right, you know. The ceremony really isn't that important, so have one or not, you're still a real Autobot as far as I'm concerned," Rodimus said slowly as if he were trying to process something along side the words. "But what does that have to do with a 'real' badge? What's a 'real' badge?"
"See? This is you making fun of me," Drift said, crossing his arms. "Decepticons had replacement badges too, but we all remember our first real one. I'm a upset I didn't get one when I became an Autobot, though I'm not sure if I deserve it. I know I'm accepted by most of you, but sometimes I just don't feel like a real Autobot because I missed my ceremony."
Drift waited for Rodimus' answer, but after a few moments he realized one wasn't coming. Rodimus was just…staring at him. "Rodimus?"
"We do have a ceremony for joining the Autobots," Rodimus said, still looking uncertain about his words, "but many never had one, and it's really just a formality to make folks like Ultra Magnus happy. I don't think anyone would look down on you for missing it. I mean, I certainly never had one."
"It's the opposite for Decepticons," Drift said. He dropped his arms and tapped Rodimus' badge. "The Ceremony is essential and must be performed by either Megatron himself or one of the head Conclave to count. Everyone has one."
"Huh," Rodimus said, looking down at his badge. He traced the familiar Autobot symbol and looked up at the ceiling. "Never pegged Megatron for a stickler for formality."
Drift shifted in place, feeling the tense awkwardness fall over the room. Rodimus still had that look on his face. The one that said he was confused. Drift felt his own curiosity stir, and took a note from Rodimus' page. "You look like something is still bugging you."
"I'm still confused at how the badge fits into all of this. You've got the same badge as me, and Ultra Magnus and everyone else on this ship. What makes one 'real' over the other? Because I don't think anyone still has the badge they started the war with. They come off and get damaged all the time."
"That's disheartening," Drift said, frowning. It was odd to think better of the Decepticons over the Autobots for something. Most 'Cons still had the badge they were given during their ceremony. "You'd think they would take a little more care with something made out of their spark casing."
Drift didn't think he'd ever seen Rodimus' face so open and unguarded as that moment. It was pure shock. "Rodimus?"
"Made out of their what?" Rodimus asked, his hand reaching up and rubbing his chest. His fingers were tight, and twitching. "Did you say spark casing?"
"Yes?" Drift answered. "Your first Decepticon badge is made during your Assimilation Ceremony, where they carve a piece out of your spark casing to mold into your first badge. I assumed the Autobots had something similar."
"Did you just get better at lying?" Rodimus stared. "Because I don't believe you. You're making fun of me, right?"
Drift clenched his fists, his shoulders hunched and body tensing. He wasn't lying. How…how dare Rodimus? Drift would have preferred the laughter over wanting to go through that whole ordeal again! Drift un-clicked a latch on his chest, and proceeded to remove pieces of armor. He wouldn't have Rodimus, someone he admired and respected, think him the same of the 'cons he left behind. Decency could be forgotten. "I am not lying, and I can prove it."
"Woah, there's no need to—there's a chunk missing out of your spark casing." Rodimus' stare was indecent, but he was riveted to the scarred side of Drift's casing instead of the brightly lit spark itself a few inches over. Rodimus hissed a breath through his intakes. "Ouch."
Drift watched Rodimus' expression change from something chocked, to something almost pained with sorrow. He looked down and to the side and slowly closed his inner chest plates back up. Drift sat back down on the berth, his heavier outer armor still on the floor. "Autobots don't do that, do they?"
"No, no they don't," Rodimus said. He covered his face with both hands and dragged them down. He dropped onto the berth next to Drift, his spoiler touching Drift's shoulder. "That was not common knowledge about Decepticons, either."
"Oh," Drift said. He laced his fingers together and moved a little so that Rodimus' spoiler was behind him and not poking him in the side. "So, you weren't kidding when you said I didn't miss much from the Autobot ceremony?"
"No, no you didn't," Rodimus said. He pouted. "Now I'm kind of jealous."
"Once you get past the whole horrific carving things out of your spark casing part, the Decepticon Assimilation thing was way more intense than ours. You guys were hardcore," Rodimus said. "The Autobot ceremony's all boring and speeches and pomp and circumstances. Why do you guys get to be the bad afts?"
Drift covered his mouth in a chuckle. Between Rodimus' honest pout and whine, he couldn't help it: Drift laughed.
"Now look who's laughing." Rodimus smirked, thumping Drift in the thigh. "You know what comes next, right?"
"You ask for all the sordid details?" Drift asked, leaning heavy against Rodimus.
"And I'm stubborn, so I'll wait until I get them."
"I suppose that's alright," Drift said. "After all, you're avoiding work, so what better way to do that than to learn about culture?"
"Don't make this boring, Drift."
The ex-Con shook his head and smiled. Things were okay. Here on this Lost Light with a bunch of Autobots running away, Drift had never felt more at home. "I'll try to keep you entertained."