strategician said: “Buddy, oh buddy. Buddy, Ej, I missed you like crazy and I thought you were gone forever but you’re here! Eject! Oh, buddy, man, pal, chief, mvp.”
Eject can’t help but laugh at Rotorstorm’s enthusiasm. He can’t say he’d feel any different if their positions had been reversed, and it’s really honestly very sweet. “I’m sorry, Rotors. Didn’t mean to make you worry.” It’s kind of a silly thing, to apologize for dying, but Eject can’t quite help but feel guilty when he imagines making his friends upset in such a way.
“But I’m back now! We need to make up for lost time,” he declares.
“You’re damn right you made me worry!” Rotorstorm crows, grinning and laughing jovially. “Come on, come on, when do I get to see you and have some quality bro time. Things just have not been the same without you, totes quiet and just…bleak.”
And things are right with the world and his support system is there and he feels energized and just good. And things are going to look up from now on, he’s not letting anything else happen to his friends. That he can help, anyway.
Pipes is relieved to hear the gentle tone of Rotorstorm’s voice, but it just makes him more upset that he can’t give the other what he was asking for. But he does want to be friends, definitely wants to be friends, and he’s very grateful that Rotorstorm is extending that option to him right away. “Thank you, Rotorstorm. I…” He just shakes his head. “It’s… it’s not a long story, really.”
He can feel his spark pick up a pace as he begins to speak. Nobody else knows about this (except perhaps Onslaught, who might know something of this story in the abstract), and he’s a little apprehensive about telling it. “Well, when I first woke up here, and there were all these mechs from all kinds of different dimensions, I was just talking to them all. Because it was fascinating, you know? Talking to people from whole other dimensions. And me and this one mech, we just… kept talking.”
Pipes goes silent for a few moments as he revisits those conversations. Maybe it seems silly, feeling this way about someone he’s never met in person, but he is not precisely in control with the desires of his spark, and that mech had given him enough reason to be affectionate. “He’s from another dimension. And, uh…” He nervously licks his lips, working up the courage to admit, “A Decepticon.” He honestly has no idea how Rotorstorm will react to that information—has he ever done anything similar? Would he feel betrayed? Pipes isn’t sure, but he does know Rotorstorm, for his kindness, deserves the truth.
“Before I left the Lost Light, he… cut it off. I mean, I know it was for the best, it was crazy to think that…” He lets his voice trail off and he just sighs. It is crazy to think that anything between him and a Decepticon from an entirely different universe could have anything lasting, no matter what they felt, but Pipes isn’t sure he cares anymore. He’s lucky to even be alive, and he’s running out of optimism that things will get much better for him. What would caution earn him? “Neither of us really wanted to.”
And that’s what made it so hard, the knowledge that it had been a break of necessity, rather than any form of mutual desire to separate. That’s why Pipes can’t quite banish this lingering feeling that has nestled in his spark over the past year. “Rotrostorm,” he says, “I think you’re just. I don’t even know how to say it, you’re fantastic. You shine, you know? And if I ever did… um. You know, be with you, I wouldn’t feel right unless I could give you my all. And I just… I can’t. Not now.”
He lets his chin fall to his arms, resting on them where they loop around his drawn knees. “I’m not sure how I’d feel if things had been different, but I really do care about you. You’re an excellent friend, you just… you deserve one hundred percent. Full throttle. And I don’t know if I could ever be anything else, but I’m going to damn try and be the best friend you ever had.”
Rotorstorm has tried to stifle the fact that he’s a hopeless romantic. And there’s nothing more romantic than a pair of star-crossed—dimension-crossed, he supposes would be the better thing to call it. His processor is, all at once, racing as he takes in the information, strategizing and already planning things should the opportunity arise. He’s got his ways, he knows that, but Pipes is a good friend, fiercely loyal and he’s endearing and for a second he feels less like a buddy and more like Pipes is some student he’s gotten attached to. Sure, Pipes isn’t a rotary but frame solidarity never did mean much to Rotorstorm anyway.
“I know it doesn’t really matter what I say to you about this because no matter what, it’s gonna hurt. I know, I’ve been there. Believe me, and I don’t give a damn if he’s a ‘Con, a neutral, an alien from eight hundred galaxies away that’s purple and eats Gideon’s Glue for fun. What matters is that—okay, well, actually I take that last one back because that sounds potentially fatal and hazardous. But the real point is, I appreciate you being honest with me and you know I’m gonna do the same with you. Really, I don’t care what his faction is as long as he’s not playing you for a sap.”
Rotorstorm shrugs, going back to flipping through the settings on his visor. “I don’t know this mech, I can’t make a call on him but if he’s that special to you, I think it’s something you need to stick with. I mean, don’t let it eat you alive, obviously. Don’t let it change who you are because sometimes things can get to be too much if you don’t let them go and I’m telling you that firsthand, I guess. Look, you know I’m going to back you up but if I see something fishy or something’s just not right, I’m not going to hesitate to tell you and be upfront about it. The last thing I want is for you to get hurt in any of this. And I’m sorry you’re hurting over it now, wish I could tell you it gets better but with this whole…honesty policy thing? Yeah, Pipes, some days will better than others. You probably already know that and you don’t need me telling you.”
Rotorstorm wiggles his fingers, draws and imaginary line connecting two stars as he switches his visor to look at some star fields. “But thank you, I think it’s really, really admirable of you to think like that, you know. Giving someone one hundred percent, if you were here I’d give you a sticker because I think deserves one hundred percent. You’re a good mech, Pipes. And I really hope stuff with this whoever-they-are gets sorted out and you can end up happy.”
Rotorstorm is lucky that Pipes is in another dimension, because small though the truck might be, he is more than strong enough to haul Rotorstorm directly to Ratchet, should he decide to (and find a place to get a good enough grip). Pipes gives an involuntary, soft snicker at Rotorstorm’s response—even pointing out Pipes’s awkardness, he’s so damn witty—and then he can’t help but laugh at Rotorstorm’s pick-up line. “Rotorstorm, that’s so bad it’s good. It’s off the charts.”
He gives a brief huff through his vents. “Sorry. I just. I’m not used to that. This.” And now he has to think. Oh, Primus. How does he feel about this? Flattered, certainly, and more than a little astounded. Pipes isn’t sure if he’s just been oblivious to any budding interest or if he’s been willfully ignorant. He’s been a little apprehensive as far as affairs of the heart go. He’s had a brush with romance recently and…
And he feels his spirits sink as, for the first time in months, he lets his mind touch back on those memories. And he feels… still so messy inside, still so confusing and upsetting, made all the worse by that tiny, stubborn sliver of hope lodged somewhere deep in his spark. If he pinged Pipes right now, if he were suddenly here and he walked through the door, what would Pipes do? He doesn’t know. Oh, dear, this isn’t good, and now he’s suddenly filled with a terrible churning apprehension, because he doesn’t want to upset Rotorstorm or lose his friendship but he doesn’t think…
He knows he’s not ready for this.
“I…” Pipes cringes and pulls his knees up against his chest, assuming a defensive position despite the fact that Rotorstorm can’t see him. “I… gosh. I’m… I’m really honored. That’s… wow. Scrap, I’m sorry, I’m—urgh, I’m making a mess of this. I… Rotorstorm, I really do like you—” Oh, slag, he shouldn’t have started out like that because now he has to say the word, “But I’m… oh Primus. It’s a long story. But if you’re still willing to talk to me, I’ll tell it to you, because I… think you deserve to know.”
He takes a short, deep breath and switches to a private frequency. “The short version is that…” Here his voice softens, it’s usually chipper tone tinged with an uncommon hint of deep melancholy, “I’m not… ready.” Assuming Rotorstorm doesn’t cut him off or get too upset to go on, he’ll get the long version. “I, uh. Did something I probably shouldn’t have. I don’t regret it,” he says, and he means it. “But it… didn’t end so well.”
“Oh, come on, it was cute.” Rotorstorm presses, flipping through the several settings on his visor. He settles on infra red because the ceiling looks the most interesting in that one as he pushes at the edge, balancing his seat on the back legs precariously as Pipes goes slightly quiet, mood changing almost palpably.
Rotorstorm lets his chair fall to the ground with a soft thud and his spark gives a sudden, sharp drop. “Oh, Pipes.” Rotorstorm tuts softly and he’s not let down, he understands this. He knows that raw, wet ache that can settle in a spark. And it’s not anger that settles in his struts, it’s not pity or even sympathy. It’s more like a drive to pat Pipes on the head and tell him it’s going to get better. But it’s a lie and Rotorstorm doesn’t like to lie because it leaves him feeling hollow and cheap.
“Hey, Pipes, it’s okay. Dating is great and everything, really, but the way I see it sometimes things go sour. And taking a second to think about it, I’d rather not have things go sour with you if it’s alright. You’re a good friend, buddy. And since we’re buddies, you go ahead and you vent, Pipes. Go on, shoot, I’ve got an audio with your name on, big guy.”
Pipes grins to himself at Rotorstorm’s enthusiasm. He’s free to wander around Misfire and Sixshot’s ship now, so while he isn’t technically loose from his prison, he’s in a much better position that he has been since he left the Lost Light. One of the empty rooms has a broad window with a padded lounge built into the rim, and Pipes is compact enough to fit easily into it. “Yep! You can’t keep a good mech down. Or a pair of them.”
Rotorstorm’s next comment brings a more worried expression to Pipes’s face. “Blackouts? Concussion? Rotorstorm…” His optic band flickers. “Are you seeing First Aid about that? That sounds kind of serious.” Rotorstorm does assure him he’s being safe, but even so. “Be sure not to be too cavalier with that sort of thing, okay? I know I can’t tell you what to do, but I’ll get really, really worried if you don’t.” This is as good ammunition as any, he figures. “As for me, well, I’m not in any immediate danger of dying. Er, that I know of. I’ll get back as soon as I can. I think they want to ransom me, so here’s hoping that goes well.” He gives a snort.
Misfire has let Pipes roam freely on the ship, as long as he wears a “tracking device” around his neck. Pipes fingers the metal hoop with irritation. He’d be even more irritated if he knew that the collar-like device had no tracking capabilities at all, and he has in fact been made the butt of a colossal joke.
Rotorstorm’s next words bring his train of thought to a dramatic screeching halt, spectacularly sparking brakes and all. Pipes blinks a few times, opening and shutting his mouth silent. He… oh. Does he mean—does he really mean—? “Oh. Uh.” He responds intelligently. “I… um.” Oh Primus, what if he wasn’t being serious? A mech like Rotorstorm couldn’t be interested in him (he’s a Wrecker, he’s a hero, he’s intelligent and witty and way out of Pipes’s league), but what if by some strange quirk of reality he is and Pipes responds like it’s a joke and upsets him? Oh crud. Add onto this that Pipes is honestly unsure how he’d feel about a genuine offer like that and the end result is very simply:
“I. Uh. Are you…?”
“I’m just glad they’re okay.” Rotorstorm isn’t sure how to express things about losing people, it’s just not something he knows how to do. He figures everyone leaves at some point, some come back and some don’t and that’s awful but, well, that’s just the way things work. But that doesn’t mean he copes well with people leaving. He just likes knowing they’re there, likes being able to reach out and fool around or share a joke. And having Eject back feels like a massive weight off his spark, he feels content and calmed, nearly sedate.
Oh, but then the thing with the concussion, damn. He shouldn’t have said anything.
“Hey, hey, listen. Don’t you worry about that, it was just a knock to the back of the helm. Let me tell you, I’ve got a hard one so I’ll be okay. The floor took most of the impact, believe me.” He laughs, stops flicking glass at a random screen and focuses on read-outs. “I’m okay, no need for medical intervention, no purging here. So it’s not that serious.” Medics, can’t trust them.
“Am I—? Am I serious, am I playing around, am I pink and blue or blue and pink, am I asking you out to get drinks, am I currently in range of some pliers, what, Pipes? Come on, use your words.” He says clearly and oh, maybe that was a little too forward. You couldn’t just play it like that, there had to be romance and awkward courtship attempts and—quick, Rotorstorm, be suave and use a pick-up line!
“You must be a miner because you’re making me want to get a little boulder with you.” Yeah.
Yeah, that was a good one. Good job, irresistible charm.
Pipes laughs. “I promise to be careful with such obviously sensitive information,” he responds solemnly. It’s certainly wonderful to hear Rotorstorm’s voice. The Wrecker is not just a talented flyer, but he’s damn good at navigating his way through a sour mood and making it significantly better. The last time Rotorstorm contacted him, Pipes had been facing down the possibility of his own demise.
Now, he has more than a few reasons to be happy. “How are things over on your end? I heard about Rewind! He actually contacted me. Seemed surprised to hear from me.” Pipes blinks. “I can’t say I’ll ever get used to the way these tears work, but I am not complaining.” He’d noticed Eject’s signal online, as well. “Everyone else staying safe? You included?”
“You should be really careful, watch your back. That information is so confidential the last mech that spilled it, well, you know how that goes. No one likes a chatter box, I guess.” Rotorstorm is lazing about the bridge, boredly flicking bits of glass at the screens in hopes of making his own fun but it’s no use. It’s a ship, there’s only so much he can do before he’s bored out of his mind and contemplating stealing some gurneys to barrel down some stairs. It’s something to do to pass the time, Primus knows he has more than enough of that on his hands.
“Eject’s back!” Rotorstorm crows happily and it’s good news because Eject is just too cool of a mech to just not have around. Rotorstorm has already contemplated what he can do to put together a little welcome home basket. Or, well, what he assumes is a welcome home kind of gift, he’s not really too sure what to even call something like that.
“And, well, I’ve been kind of…shut off for a while. Black out periods, lost some time, hit my helm, concussive whatever. But I’m keeping safe, I think. For the most part, and what about you? Are you safe, remember you have to come back soon. Don’t stand me up for drinks, Pipe, you’re not supposed to stand up your dates. It’s really rude.”
Rotorstorm pauses and laughs, shrugging to himself. “I mean, not that it’s a date. Well, unless you want it to be a date. Or something, I don’t know.”
Pathetic? More like I want to get coquettish with you.
Pipes is a little startled to hear the response, and for more than one reason. He gives a strangled, snorting laugh, which is followed by a more recognizable sound of mirth, and he shakes his head, grinning. “Good to hear from you, Rotorstorm,” he responds. “Allow me to assure you you’re just naturally coquettish.”
“Oh, Pipes. See, the funny thing is,” Rotorstorm pauses meaningfully, grinning but keeping his voice pitched as if divulging some grand, incredibly important secret, “that I’m not like this with everyone. Only with trucks.”
Someone do something exciting
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