Hey guys, I'm back!
A metric shit ton has happened since I last updated so I just want to say I hope everyone is staying safe and practicing every preventative measure available to them while we're dealing with this pandemic. I'm sure many of you have been affected and are looking on difficult times ahead, but you'll get through this. It will be rough for a lot of people, but we're all here and we're going to get through this together. You're all in my prayers and I believe in us.

If you want to share your struggles or need someone to listen to you, I respond to PMs and I have a tumblr blog under the same name that also accepts anons.

On with the fluff!

-Haeree. Welcome home.-

With those sparse words, a door unlocked somewhere and the whole world came shining through. Vast, endless possibilities, futures dotting the horizon like stars. Cramped doubts and dark fears that had been closing in on his heart this entire time were now but shadows cast behind him.

Silverline had been dreaming of this exact moment for so long, he could scarcely believe it was finally happening.

Everything aligning in perfect unity, everything suddenly so right with the universe. The chapter brimming with secretive wishes, lies, and uncertainty had closed, and Silverline couldn't wait to discover what was now before him.

It was dazzling to behold.

Silverline clambered down Barricade in seconds, oblivious to the panicked cursing as the Decepticon struggled to catch him before he could further injure himself. How could he hear anything past the thunderous pulse of his energon pump and rabbiting ventilations?

Silverline lost his grip on polished black plating somewhere about Barricade's lower struts, but the tumble down wasn't too far and he fanned his wings out to further ease the fall on a rough glide.

Silverline slid into a heap on the sandy, sloped flooring and was up in a shot. If he'd hurt himself at all he couldn't feel it. All he could see was the space between himself and his guardian, all he could feel was the cable attached solidly to his spark and reeling him to his Lord.

He sprinted for the shadows further down the hall, but the effort was unnecessary.

In the next moment Silverline was lifted from the floor on grey talons, swifter than Ratchet ever dared and higher than Ironhide ever could. Up he went, right to the ceiling. The servo only came to a halt when crimson optics were level with his own.

"Lord Megatron!" Silverline cried, a desperate sort of joy he'd never felt before pulsing through him, far too large for his body to contain.

Home, home, home was the thrum of his spark, the song in his auditory sensors. The itching, aching, hollowed space within him welled up with brass joy, and only when he was whole could he appreciate just how much weight he'd shed in seconds.

He felt invincible in that servo, powerful under Lord Megatron's regard.

"Little one," Lord Megatron rumbled, his words vibrating straight through Silverline, burying themselves in his starving soul.

"You were missed." Unadorned, simple words. But so much just a breath away from bursting behind them.

He didn't have room in him for sadness, but Silverline just might cry anyway.

"I missed you too," He choked out, "So, so much. I-I waited. Just like you said."

Finally, finally, Lord Megatron bestowed contact on him, a cool clawed thumb tracing up and down his helm, memorizing the shape.

"I expected nothing less from mine," He said simply, proudly, and Silverline couldn't resist the urge to cuddle any longer.

Thoroughly spoiled by Ratchet, he could barely dredge up the slightest hint of apprehension for his intentions. He latched onto Lord Megatron's thumb, stiff and unwieldy though it remained, and plastered himself against it, coos erupting from his chest like a flock of pigeons.

The thumb did not resume its administrations, though. None of the other digits curled from their flat platform, he wasn't brought closer to his guardian.

How strange had he become that this lack of greedy contact struck him as wrong? Aggravating and concerning all at once, why was he being withheld his reunion?

Silverline lifted his helm to question his lord- but froze.

Just moments ago he'd been staring up at a face brimming with gentled contentment and intense desire, powerful and fierce and all he could ever want. But in the space of seconds it had been ripped away.

A dangerous snarl had torn its way through, fangs fully bared and gleaming under harsh lighting. There was true murder in his optics, fiery violence crackling for release.

He could've been staring down his sworn enemy with an expression like that, but instead he was staring at his own thumb.

"Barricade," He hissed, the churn of gears pulling his simple response down to base noises, almost unintelligible past the growl spitting to life in his throat.

Silverline pulled back further to track his gaze, curiously examining the offending digit.

Understanding bloomed, the answer clear as day.

"I didn't do it!" Barricade shrieked. His booming voice was high with fright and a little distant in the enclosed space of the hallway. He sounded as though he hadn't moved an inch from the lip of the base, and Silverline doubted he'd come any closer with his lord shaking with rage.

"I swear I didn't! Something was botched during delivery, I don't know! I couldn't communicate during transport so-"

Megatron lifted his optics from his thumb and that was enough to snatch Barricade's voice from the very air.

"I want the mech with the most experience treating wounds, any necessary materials, and the designations of who did this now."

Megatron had already swung around and started stomping deeper into the base before Barricade had the chance to stutter out an affirmative.

Silverline held onto the thumb again for stability as they raced through the hallways in unfaltering spirals, only going deeper underground until he was sure they rivaled the dam in unseen depth.

Hallways widened and branched off into luxuriously spaced rooms, patchy scrap welded walls dwindled to nothing and in their place was gleaming steel, shiny and new from ceiling to floor. Huge crates and clumsy tables and chairs dotted the landscape, each looking as though it had been constructed with a different method from the last. Eclectic and varying in sizes to the point that every Decepticon in the base must've pitched in at least once for a seat that suited their frame.

The lighting grew more complex as well, brightening considerably until shadows stopped crowding corners, an assortment of lamps and bulbs peppered each space they crossed in atmospheres distinct from one another.

It was in one of the brighter rooms, unflinchingly white and sterile, that Megatron slowed to a halt. Industrial shelving and a strange skeleton shower stall sat to one side and in the other was a raised slab of steel large enough to park two cars nose to nose.

Lord Megatron set Silverline on the frigid slab so slowly he had time to arrange his legs as he wanted to before they separated. There was hardly a tap as his silver peds made contact with the slab, and with a whisper of steel against steel Lord Megatron's servo receded.

Immediately the air around him plummeted several degrees, lonely and empty where his guardian should've been.

Lord Megatron stared at him mutely for a moment, frustration tangible, before he turned away. He jerked a lever and began roughly scrubbing at his servos under the shower spray.

Silverline curled in on himself with a shiver, patiently waiting for his lord to finish scraping the electric blue stains off and down the drain. He knew he was a mess, the twinging sting of the puncture wound wouldn't let him forget now that he wasn't so distracted.

In his haste to reach Lord Megatron and press himself close, he'd reopened the wound. Scraping the wire anew during his spill to the floor and unintentionally wiping it across his guardian before Lord Megatron had been given a chance to properly look him over.

New, bright energon had been smeared across his face while being pet, he could feel the weak warmth of it congealing there. He swiped it away with his arms but only managed to paint his servos the same neon blue in the process.

With a sigh, he sat down on the wide expanse of the berth, allowing the cold surface to be dirtied as well, and pressed a servo against his neck wound.

The bleeding was already slowing again, the puncture wound wasn't deep. However, he could feel the circumference of it under his palm. Almost half the width of the wire had been breached and if the healing rate matched the last time he'd had a wire cut, Ratchet would need to solder it shut.


A pain far fiercer than the wire struck through Silverline then, he grit his denta. Ratchet, he'd left Ratchet behind. He had known he would and had given his goodbye, but still. Ratchet had begged for him to stay and now he may never see the medic again.

It had only been a few hours and he couldn't regret the decision, but he missed his friend bitterly. There wouldn't be a Ratchet to patch him up now.

A rumble cut through his grief like butter, Silverline looked up to find Lord Megatron staring at him with bright crimson optics, tracing over him again and again.

"Be still, little one," He said, "You will be treated shortly, I am here."

With a bundle of strange tools under one gauntlet and a soft looking towel in the other, Lord Megatron crossed the room and once again turned on the rudimentary shower.

Now that he was really looking, Silverline didn't think it was water coming out of the spout, at least not entirely. It was a spray that circled the drain normally enough, but tinted lime green with some sort of solution he'd never seen before.

"Did you make all of this?" Silverline asked, the Autobots definitely didn't have such strange amenities.

Megatron ran the towel under the liquid, pressing lightly enough to wring it of excess moisture without tearing it under the spray.

"Decepticons can accomplish a great deal when given the proper motivation," he said, "Far more than Autobots simpering to humans for scraps. You'll find the entire base more accommodating, especially the south most wing."

He crossed the white tile floor, full-sized towel roughly folded and masquerading as a modest washcloth in Lord Megatron's expansive grasp.

He didn't appear concerned with the lime liquid dripping onto the floor or running rivulets down his armor. It smelled a bit like wood polish, the distinct scent of disinfectant nipped the air after it.

"What's in the south wing?" Silverline watched as Lord Megatron finally approached the slab he was sitting on, towel extending with the clear purpose of washing him off.

Silverline wasn't looking forward to the stinging cold of both the slab and being wet down for a bath, but he locked his joints and spread his wings compliantly. It had been ages since his last bath, and the blue blood smeared across half his plating was gross.

His guardian didn't respond, still looking him over and over, helm, optics, neck, chest plating, gauntlets, in a drawn out pattern. Tracking the energon, Silverline realized.

Silverline didn't have much experience reading Lord Megatron's less humanoid facial features, but he believed the expression he was looking into now could be considered grave, maybe even mournful.

"Be still, little one," He said, leaning down with optics that smouldered the way volcanoes did trapped beneath the sea.

The washcloth made contact with his pauldrons first, startlingly warm and soft against his thin plating. It didn't hurt, in fact it felt great against the crisp cold of the room, but Lord Megatron only appeared more upset as he tensed obediently.

"Your bravery does you credit," He murmured, "Be still, I will rectify this trespass as swiftly as possible. You're functional and operating near-optimally."

Silverline supposed this was his lord's version of Ratchet's you're okay. Reassurance meant for a sparkling, but it was spoken like a spell, like his words needed to be true. He knew Ratchet required certain responses after that or he'd only grow more upset.

He leaned into the wash cloth gently stroking over his plating, from pauldrons to peds and shifting in increments further in. The lime solution was clearly designed for whatever material Cybertronians were made from. He wished Aunt Petunia's cleaning supplies sliced through grime and stains as effortlessly as this did. He was even glossier as he dried, as shiny as a new car.

He cooed again, drawing Lord Megatron's attention from his plating with great patience. Once they'd connected gazes, however reluctant his lord looked to be distracted from his work, Silverline beamed.

"I'm okay."

Lord Megatron didn't soften the way Ratchet did, soaking up his reassurance with the ache of a withered flower. Instead he sharpened. Optics narrowed, mouth tight, a fresh wave of rage cresting just under the surface. Silverline wondered if he'd made a mistake finding his Autobot friend in his Decepticon guardian.

But Lord Megaron loomed even closer in the next moment, probably nearly kneeling on the floor at that point, and brushed a digit down his face plates at a pondering pace. It was completely incongruous with his expression, but Silverline latched on to the affection.

"You will be," He swore, and continued wiping him down.

It was quiet for a while, Silverline helpfully spread himself where he needed to be and received near constant clumsy praise for his fortitude and behavior. He squirmed when they reached his wings, but Lord Megatron ran the cloth under the shower again and the renewed heat pulled the bolts directly from his joints. He was a liquid mass after that, completely at the mercy of the wonderful warm washcloth tracing the edge of his wingtips just right.

It was a violent thunderclap that yanked Silverline back to himself, startling him badly enough to flinch away from the washcloth as he searched the room for the source of the noise.

He was interrupted by Lord Megatron plucking at his left ped, a dozen chainsaws ripping through his vocal synthesizer. Silverline looked down at the yellow band pressed tight against his plating, pinned in place by his guardian.

It wasn't alarming to look at anymore, it had been a part of him for so long he'd stopped registering it. The Autobots hadn't brought it up either so he'd been content to ignore it up until now.

It was jarring to realize how little he'd thought of it, a fresh flush of ice down his back to see just how much he'd disregarded during the past weeks with so many other things fighting for purchase in his priorities.

Sickly yellow under the light as it was and striped with thick black digits like his very own barcode, but it hadn't caught his eye since leaving the dam.

"You'd promised to remove it," Silverline remembered, it had been a tracking device, hadn't it? Except the scientists found him without it in the military camp.

"Why does it remain?" Lord Megatron barked. In a swift pinch it was torn from his ankle and crushed into yellow confetti before his optics.

"Prime should've removed it the moment you were in his custody."

Silverline curiously pawed at his ankle, gleaming like the rest of him with the lime solution. It felt oddly ticklish after being covered for so long, a little newer than the rest of him. Otherwise it looked and functioned just like his other ankle and he soon grew bored of the shiny finish. Silverline looked up to his fuming guardian.

"I'm sorry, I didn't bring it up. The scientists already knew where I was and there was always so much going on...I didn't want to cause more trouble." And secretly, a touch more selfishly, Silverline hadn't wanted to erase a promise from Lord Megatron in case it somehow weakened his other promise to get him back.

"They would've tapped into the signal within astroseconds, especially with that scout." Lord Megatron sneered, "Had Soundwave not been monitoring Barricade's retreat they would've intercepted before you reached me."

Silverline stilled, "I don't- what?"

"It's a tracking device, useless to the scum that first captured you if they already knew where you were, but the Autobots could also track the signal once they were familiar with the device. What a desperate move, were they praying I wouldn't have Soundwave jamming Barricade's frequencies? Or that I'd allow you out of the base without properly examining you?

Panicked clawed up the back of Silverline's throat, Optimus had sounded so certain he'd be recaptured….

"I didn't show them where this base is, did I?" He demanded.

Lord Megatron dropped the washcloth on the berth and traced another digit down his cheek, running past his helm and curving over his back. It was more inquisitive than soothing, like he'd thought so many times of doing it he could no longer deny the impulse.

"I'll need to contact Soundwave at a later date," He said, "But it matters not. Per our agreement, this base will not be attacked so long as you reside in it. And they are severely lacking in spy bots for infiltration."

Silverline held onto the servo, not letting him withdraw, "I'll stay here, then. Right?"

He needed to hear it. He needed to hear that this wasn't a momentary stop in his life, that Lord Megatron wouldn't be swept away just as easily as the first time. He couldn't bear to exist in the same space as his protector without trusting it to remain.

Rage seeped from Lord Megatron's optics, something a little quieter remained there as he cupped his claws around Silverline, enfolding his entire frame like his own personal cove.

"You belong to me, little Haeree. Wherever I reside you shall have a place with me."

He gently lifted a talon under Silverline's chin and tilted his head back until Silverline was staring up at the fluorescents.

His digits were razor sharp and immense, the slightly twitch and he could very well sever Silverline's intake piping and central wiring. A slight twist and he could just simply crush him like an insect. These were only passing thoughts to Silverline, the thinnest trickle of apprehension amidst an ocean of adoration.

Trust, pillowy and sure like an old beloved quilt settled over him and he melted into the handling. His trust was rewarded, just as he knew it would be. Lord Megatron didn't twitch, didn't move a single gear as he studied the puncture at Silverline's throat.

"The bleeding has stopped and the wound is clean, it is time to solder the wire."

A general ring of Lord Megatron's comm unit pulsed through the base and a Decepticon walked into the room like he'd been practicing his entrance the entire time they'd been there.

He was shorter than Lord Megatron, as most Cybertronians were it seemed, with upturned, angled wings and long struts that carried him across the room with grace. He was shaped in a way he hadn't seen yet in either Autobots or Decepticons up until this point, streamlined where the others were solidly stout, slim in a way Ironhide would have no trouble denting with a single heavy gauntlet.

Silverline might call him delicate, but he did have armor, pointed and thick where it needed to be, just without the weight behind it.

Navy blue paint was dull and scraped in places, particularly his gauntlets but there was a twinkle in his scarlet optics Silverline found oddly similar to Bumblebee. Good-natured, maybe, or just prone to teasing.

"You?" Lord Megatron said sharply.

"While it is Soundwave who has the most experience patching tiny bots, he didn't think you'd appreciate waiting for his descent, my lord." His voice was lower than Silverline would've thought, gravelly, and tinged with a murky dislike.

Lord Megatron glowered, "No matter, you've had plenty of time to practice recently."

Silverline watched as the other Decepticon flinched, servos balling into tight fists. Lord Megatron hadn't said anything mean, but the other Decepticon looked enraged.

And then, the anger wiped away too swiftly, tucked under with expert ease and no small amount of malice. The line of his shoulders remained tight and balled fists hid in pleasantly linked arms behind his wings.

The Decepticon deliberately placed his back to Lord Megatron and smiled down at Silverline.

"Greetings little sparkling, my designation is Thundercracker."

Silverline waved hesitantly, unsure, "Mine is Silverline, hullo."

Lord Megatron made a noise but Thundercracker spoke first, "Silverline, huh? I like it. I'm here because you were damaged during retrieval, may I examine you?"

Thundercracker didn't reach out to tilt Silverline's helm himself and there was a genuine warmth in the way he regarded Silverline. He found his previous misgivings faltering as he pulled his helm back and pointed in the general proximity of the wire.

Thundercracker whistled a short distressed tune, "Ahh. That had to hurt, just a few centimeters over and your voice synthesizer would've been punctured too. Primus." His wings shook, hitching higher behind him like a great bird. However, his volume remained even.

"Hold still, I've got my tools."

Silverline obeyed, hearing the familiar hum of medical tools heating up, Ratchet's had sounded the same.

"It did," He admitted, "Ravage was holding me there and when those humans started shooting at us he slipped and….it hurt."

"Ravage, you say?" Lord Megatron might've been aiming for cool but he overshot and landed somewhere past glacial.

Thundercracker hummed, scarlet optics narrowed thoughtfully, "Yeah, this looks like Ravage's work. You'll need to be careful with your tubing here, I can see where his other denta pinched and scratched and those wires are vulnerable to popping leaks."

"You won't be placed in another situation that requires you be careful," Lord Megatron said, stepping back up to the berth and crowding his subordinate in.

Silverline took great pains to be as still as possible, starkly aware of the tiny torch being lifted to his wires. Staring stiffly up at the ceiling, he reached out a servo slowly to silently grasp for his guardian.

There was a pause, the faintest intake of air high above him, it badly tempted him into craning to peek at Lord Megatron. He held still, claws outstretched and demanding.

He'd hardly gotten any cuddles so far. He understood why, he even appreciated how gently he was already being cared for, bathed and praised and treated for his wounds, but that didn't stop the chasm of needling hunger cracking through his chest at how far he was from his guardian.

Like a Christmas buffet at the Dursleys when all he had was a spare biscuit, the promise of warmth and security lingering just out of reach strained on him.

A shadow passed over his helm and suddenly there was pressure against his back and deadly claws curling into his line of sight. So light, so careful not to jostle him.

Silverline smiled beneath his mask and latched on, wrapping a thumb to his spark and settling against Lord Megatron's thick gauntlet.

"Alright, that should do it," Thundercracker announced.

Silverline allowed his head to drop and watched as the navy Decepticon carefully deactivated his tools without looking away from Silverline's throat.

"Is there any discomfort? Any pain- don't touch it-"

Lord Megatron caught his claw before he could brush over the coin of heat pressed against his wiring where the puncture had been. It was pulled firmly to his side while Thundercracker fretted over him.

"It's still fresh, sweetspark. You need to let it settle and repair itself before putting any strain on the wire, okay?"

Silverline nodded, Ratchet had lectured in a similar manner over the slice to his arm all those weeks ago.

Thundercracker smiled again, the scratches across his paint glinting like silver stripes across his faceplates. "You were amazing, couldn't have asked for a better patient. With bravery like that you're going to be terrifying in the skies."

Silverline ducked behind Lord Megatron's thumb, overheated and no doubt cherry-red if he were still human.

What was he supposed to say back? Thanking him seemed so arrogant, Silverline wasn't brave, especially after he demanded his guardian cuddle him like an oversized teddy bear the entire time. But he couldn't correct a strange adult either, so he settled for squirming in silence.

Thundercracker smiled wider, a coo in his words now. "Yeah, such a trooper. I know I wasn't nearly so put together as a first frame seeklet and I was spoiled rotten by my carrier."

"You're a seeker?" Silverline shoved Lord Megatron's thumb out of the way, suddenly desperate to get a better look at the bot.

What had Ironhide said a seeker was? Not just a Cybertronian with wings- specialized? Lord Megatron wasn't one even though he could fly, so it couldn't just be flight that was a qualifier.

Thundercracker let his navy and white-tipped wings flutter behind him- identically to Silverline when he was feeling happy or proud. The cool, harsh lighting played well off his scuffed wings, putting an emphasis on where the polish remained untarnished.

"Of course I am, I'm part of the lead Decepticon trine. Practically an icon," He boasted.

Silverline's spark lept, "There are more here?" Would they all look like Thundercracker? Slim and long-legged with wings bracketed above their helms like ornaments?

"My trine leader, Starscream. Skywarp is on his way too, though it might be a while considering his aptitude for navigation."

Starscream, Skywarp, and Thundercracker, all other seekers. Silverline found himself imagining Thundercracker in a rainbow of colors, each more vivid than the last. They all had sky-related designations as well, star, sky, and thunder. He hoped it wasn't a tradition.

He liked his new name, still treasured the moment Prime gave it to him. However, it sent something plummeting in his abdomen to imagine he was wrong for a seeker on top of everything else. Silverline hearkened to the sky indirectly, recalling a proverb admiring gloomy clouds before the sun. That must be enough, Prime wouldn't be mean enough to do less.

Thundercracker grinned down at him, that playful gleam in his optics brightened considerably as he bent forward, bringing his face closer to Silverline's.

"You must've been starved for seekers in that drab Autobot base, hm? They're almost entirely grounders, it's so boring. Want to come with me and meet Starscream?" There was something sickly sweet in his words, but Silverline couldn't spot a trap in his generous offer.

Before he could accept, however, the cage of digits encroaching on his line of sight spasmed.

Lord Megatron tightened his grip on Silverline, curling gently around his flimsy body with claws so thick they banded his chest and still pushed his chin up in order to rest around his neck and shoulders. His wings were pinned to his spine and his struts were carefully sorted to dangle below the knee joint as he was gingerly lifted off the table.

"Mind your place," Lord Megatron growled. "Haeree is to remain by my side and we will be headed to the south wing. Your presence is no longer necessary."

Thundercracker's facial plates pinched but he didn't hesitate to gracefully bow, wings still high and proud on his back. Before he was fully out the door, the seeker paused and gave Silverline a parting smile.

"I hope to speak with you again soon, little one."

"Goodbye," Silverline said, unable to wave but more than happy to make good on that invitation once he and Lord Megatron were situated together.

Silverline was shuffled in Lord Megatron's grasp, a bit clumsy but never rough. He allowed himself to be handled, content with his lord's attention fixed firmly on him and those cool claws rasping protectively around his frame.

It was awkward, being held like an action figure, then cupped like a trapped spider, but eventually he figured out to bring Silverline high on his chest plates and press him against a thick sheet of gunmetal, lukewarm with the heat of the spark buried deep beneath.

Silverline trilled, curling comfortably on the shelf of a single servo and pressing his helm to Lord Megatron's chest. This close, he could hear as well as feel his lord's every deep ventilation.

They didn't make any headway toward the door so Silverline pulled back a little to chirp curiously at his guardian.

Lord Megatron was watching him, dark red optics gleaming in the shadows of his helm.

"Are you well, little one?" He asked, almost gently, "Do you require any other treatments?"

Was this anxiety? Silverline learned not to treat it like Ratchet's worries, so he made a production of looking himself over rather than seek out more affection.

In his inspection, he carefully avoided touching his still tender throat and indulged in a quick brush against his newly naked ankle before going over every colorless grey panel and nestled wire. Everything was in order, the only wound he had was treated and the rest would be cured with a long nap, so he peered back up at the Decepticon.

"I'm a little cold, could you warm up?" Well, perhaps he couldn't deny his impulse to respond with affection completely.

Lord Megatron's look of deep confusion popped Silverline's daring like a balloon. The drawn out silence after that was even worse and he hid his burning face in the armor, waiting for his silly wish to stop echoing so loudly overhead.

"Me? The south wing is heated, would that suffice?"

Something fragile and hungry in Silverline's chest withered at the notion of no more warm, warm cuddles. He dug his claws into Lord Megatron's servo and couldn't bring himself to make eye contact as he pushed his luck,

"Please? I- Ratchet heated himself up and held me all the time and it-"
His torturous confession was interrupted by a fierce blast of fans kicking to life within Lord Megatron's chest as the plating beneath Silverlined abruptly soared in temperature.

He squirmed, thin armor stinging, "Too hot!" he gasped.

Lord Megatron yanked Silverline off his chest plate fast enough to make his limbs rattle, he was held at arm's length. The distance yawned out with the Decepticon's massive reach until Silverline could no longer hear the fans humming and the dizzying shifts had him swaying, stunned.

Lord Megatron studied him, "Sparklings are incapable of effective thermoregulation and their optimum temperature exists within a small window. Nevertheless, you should not be this sensitive."

Silverline felt that like a punch, rocketing right back to reality with a wheeze of his vents. Suddenly, the bite of heat creeping over him no longer hurt quite so much.

"I'm sorry," he said, "I didn't mean to whine, I'm sorry." He'd gladly take the burn over Lord Megatron scowling down at him from a distance any day.

The scowl deepened, "I am not scolding you. Recall that I have said I will tell you when you have behaved insufficiently and now is not that time. You lack proper armor even for a first frame, this sensitivity will be corrected as soon as possible." He paused until Silverline ventured a nod of acknowledgement and then continued.
"Currently I am devoting power to more carefully adjusting my internal temperature, I am...unused to such manipulations and am experiencing temperature fluctuations too extreme for close contact. Be still, my adjustments are almost complete."

It was probably true, what Lord Megatron said. All the Autobots had followed a similar practice, never waiting for Silverline to trespass on unknown grounds to gleefully punish him. No cupboards for using the wrong floor polish, no cuffs to the head for missing a surprise guest during dinner preparations. Rules were explained to him, even repeated, and he hadn't been more than gently rebuked since becoming a robot.

Still, being held like a mongrel as far away from Lord Megatron as possible, Silverline's wavering nerves poisoned his thoughts no matter the logic behind them. His chest felt tight, his servos were balled into fists, and anxiety roiled under his guardian's clear displeasure.

Two or three minutes of winding tighter and tighter stretched on into infinity before Lord Megatron huffed and brought Silverline back to his chest plates, but not against them.

"Touch my armor and tell me if the temperature is optimal," He said.

Silverline obliged before the sentence fully left his guardian, pressing his palms to ridged metal. He lurched the upper part of his body out of Lord Megatron's claws to press himself back up against the armor with a coo of contentment in the next moment, melting into the blissful embrace of curling heat.

He felt Lord Megatron's vents hitch and the claws around him quickly shifted closer to accommodate his posture, sealing him from the floor so far below and carefully pinning him in place.

"An affirmative would have sufficed," He growled.

Silverline laughed, sore and heavy limbs pressed deliciously into the seeping hearth of his guardian, and Lord Megatron didn't scold him further.

Finally, they were out the door.

Lord Megatron walked them through what could've been miles of tunnels, steps smooth and gait even. He paused at the door of almost every room to allow him a peek inside and a brisk summary of its function, like a museum tour if the tour guide stroked his helm with striking familiarity and lectured like he was quizzing on the topic at the same time.

It was far too distracting, even with the amazing heights and scale of all the different rooms and hallways being shown to him. He stayed awake, eager to learn all he could, but an inescapable nap was dawning on the horizon.

Silverline was shown the first room from the main entrance, which was an armory. It was an empty room, stacked only with a few meager cases and stacks of spare ammo, but Lord Megatron was confident with reinforcements would come hidden supply caches.

The second was a security room, it was to be checked over by patrols before doing a lap outside and unmanned otherwise. The room consisted of a stack of monitors playing back footage from cameras dotting along the base's layout above ground and within the base. They lacked human military support and couldn't afford to dedicate Decepticons to seismic monitoring like the Autobots, so this room would see the most upgrades in the near future.

Then came the clinic, which they skipped over, a rec room filled with the mismatched furniture, and finally the throne room.

The throne room was the widest and tallest room so far, with the shiniest polish and marble flooring to add a shimmer under bright white lights. It could easily hold two dozen Decepticons of Barricade's size and echoed like a cathedral.

It was probably the grandest room Silverline had ever been in, constructed seamlessly and adorned the only decorations seen so far. Bold purple and deep black paint lined the walls in symbol-ridden murals Silverline didn't understand. The lights were diffused with diamonds and silver lined the flooring to an extravagant effect, Lord Megatron and his Decepticons had spent a lot of time adding Earth's finery in small, meaningful touches to make the whole room fit for royalty.

The only things occupying the room was the throne he might find modest if not for the sheer size of it, rivaling the cube in scale, a control station full of blinking lights and holographic monitors placed to the right of the throne and within easy reach, and a huge black blaster leaned on the left side of the throne, shiny and clean and no doubt heavier than a car.

From there the hallway diverged in several different directions, splitting off on either side of the throne room and behind it as well. Signs were mounted helpfully along with each new hallway, but whatever instructions were written on them was unintelligible to Silverline.

Lord Megatron went to the left wing and gestured down the harshly lit scope of it, they were his soldiers' barracks and each would be identical to the last, outfitted with a recharge station, a shower stall, and a storage locker. Past the barracks Silverline could see where the hallway sprawled wide, ending in an enlarged space bigger than the throne room. It was a training room for his subordinates, and probably the most clumsily built room yet.

Everything was clearly made to be impermanent or functional above all else, from the jigsaw walls so lopsided the room appeared crumpled, to the debris and scrap metal littering every blackened corner.

Lord Megatrin left the barracks for the right wing directly across, which was lit with the same harsh lighting and seemed narrower than the other. Lord Megatron gestured to the sign and explained these rooms were to serve as mechanical rooms, space meant for the technical powering and upkeep of the base at all times.

Rather than ballooning out into a wide open space as the other wing had, this one ended in a simple door tucking the war room from sight, it sounded similar to that building Prime was always hidden in with Colonel Jacobs back on the military base.

Silverline couldn't imagine what machines and systems were squirreled away behind those doors, were they as alien and futuristic as the rest of their tech? Would he even be able to tell an American power generator from a Cybertronian one? However they also didn't go into any room, didn't even open a door.

Instead, Silverline was warned against going inside the rooms without permission. The petting grew heavier as Lord Megatron recalled losing a younger recruit to a boiler malfunction in what seemed to be a bid to cow him into compliance, despite the stress creeping into his own tale. Silverline swore to follow the rules, but the petting didn't ease.

Lord Megatron's cuddles weren't as unerringly effective as Ratchet's or as confident as Ironhide's. Though Silverline would never dare say it outloud, he was most reminded of Optimus Prime in the way his guardian slowly and deliberately applied contact like he was following a textbook's instructions.

Silverline didn't mind, in fact if he woke up to find this all to be a dream he'd most definitely be inconsolable. There's no way he could go back now after all that had happened in the last twelve hours.

He arched into the ruler-straight touches and hummed whenever Lord Megatron found a good spot that had him boneless with bliss. His limbs only grew heavier, weighed down with what felt like a week of events packed into a single day, but it was a good sort of weight, the kind that promised deep and peaceful rest.

Lord Megatron continued, pointing to an almost imperceivable dip in the marble directly behind the throne, a secret tunnel rested beneath, one that led to a natural canyon where the mouth would remain hidden and undisturbed.

He didn't show Silverline how to open it, simply stepped over the hidden depth and to the last hallway placed on the opposite end of the main hallway, far behind the throne. As they drew upon it, Silverline realized only a few feet lay open to the throne room, a durable hatch blocked off the rest.

"This is the south wing," Lord Megatron said softly, thumb smoothing peaceful up-and-down motions across his back.

"All rooms here are yours to access and safe to wander. The hatch is locked and reinforced to withhold a full frontal assault long enough for you to escape out the back exit."

He traced the windowless, thick hide of the hatch, metal matching his own in utility coloring and jagged layers. Once his ponderous digits flattered across the middle of the bulk a loud shriek of bolts snapping out of place filled up the acoustic room, ringing in his auditory receptors.

"I, and a select few of my subordinates, have clearance here, press your servo next to mine and I'll add your signature to the roster."
Silverline hesitated.

"Um, I won't be able to unlock it myself, though. It's too high up," He mumbled. Lord Megatron hadn't needed to stoop even a little to unlock it. The other Decepticons probably had to raise their arms above their heads or near it to reach the same invisible panel. Silverline would have to scale twenty feet of steel to reach it on his own.

Lord Megatron didn't jolt or startle, didn't appear thrown at all that Silverline would be incapable of accessing the south wing on his own. He might've thought there was a prepared set of stairs or a second, smaller panel at a more reasonable height if it weren't for the rising rumble in Lord Megatron's chest.

"Ah," he hissed, "You are very, very small."

"I- I'm sorry," Silverline wasn't sure what else to say.

Lord Megatron snarled and threw open the hatch with a deafening bang.

"Don't apologize. You are not at fault."
It sure sounded like he was at fault, the lawn mower growl lodged in his guardian's throat rose and fell with a temper Silverline couldn't see anywhere else.

Silverline remained quiet, uncertain. They stepped inside and the hatch shut behind them, leaving them in an entirely different environment from all the other rooms and halls.

The hallway was spacious, wide enough for two sets of Cybertronian pauldrons to cross at the same time without knocking. The lighting wasn't reserved only for the ceiling, either. Harsh though the ceiling lights remained, running board lights dotted the floor in an array of softer hues. Were these meant to light his way when he wasn't being carried high enough for the fluorescents to reach?

The rainbow LEDs lapped sweetly at Lord Megatron's peds as they made their way further in, reaching the first door.

Silverline flinched away as the door opened automatically, shooting into the hollow of the wall and allowing free entry. Lord Megatron steadied him against his chest plates and his growl deepened into the roughest coo Silverline ever heard.

"Peace, little one," He said, "The doors here are connected to the power grid and are fully automated. We were careful to make them as sensitive to weight and resistance as possible for your freedom, but be mindful of them nevertheless. Do not rely on them for protection either, they are meant to be easily dismantled in case of malfunction."

Silverline cuddled closer, pressing himself into the divets of Lord Megatron's armor as the door loudly shut behind them. The coo rose, sounding like nothing more than a chorus of tigers and yet settling him faster than Ratchet's singing ever could.

"So they'll open for me?" He whispered.

"Affirmative, all you must do is approach. Now pay attention, this is my command room."

Silverline had never seen a command room, but he had seen a home office before and it looked a great deal like that. Steely grey paneling covering the walls and the LED tracks and fluorescents followed them in. A desk bigger than any he'd ever seen before sat in the middle of the space, large enough for Lord Megatron to sit comfortably below the table of it and possibly cannibalized from a storage container given the shape and height. A seat just as impressive was pushed away from the desk like he'd left it in a hurry, cushioned and padded under incredibly durable fabrics, curved in an ergonomic design completely unique from the overall rigid, angular fashion of the Decepticon base, and painted black. Silverline had no idea what it had been made from, it was assembled so specifically to suit Lord Megatron.

They crossed the open floor to reach behind the desk and Lord Megatron stooped to give him a better look at what was partially obscured by wires and CPUs piled on the desktop.

"This is where I shall dictate my will when it is not necessary to do so directly or with great detail. You will find my time in this occupation growing as my reinforcements touch down, at the height of my command it was crucial to maintain my rule."

So this was where Lord Megatron would be working for most of the day? Silverline frowned, he didn't like the sound of that. He'd known it was impossible to have his guardian's attention constantly, it would be unreasonable to demand that he never be left alone. Prime left for most of the day when he went to work, though, and Silverline didn't want to only see Lord Megatron right before resting for the night.

"Could I visit you?" He asked. That was what the LEDs were for, right?

Lord Megatron barked, fangs flashing in a warped smile. He brought Silverline back up from his stoop to bundle him briskly under his chin with a pleased growl, claws dancing down his wings. Silverline automatically reciprocated, wrapping his servos across his guardian's neck and nuzzling deeper into the junction between throat and pauldron.

"You are mine, little one, you need never ask to be in my presence," He rasped, "You do well to remember your place at my side."

Silverline beamed, elation bursting like summer fireworks in his chest.

"With that in mind, considerations were given on your space in this room"

Lord Megatron brushed across the desk space, moving giant tablets and CPUs around until Silverline could see a previously obscured corner of the table. A platform, curved and raised like an eggshell, had been placed there.

Smooth stained wood made up the frame of it, dark and pleasant against the otherwise military ensemble. Filling the concave of the wooden eggshell was a mountain of plush pillows, small and large, silky and furred, it was an incredibly lavish lining to the already cozy nook. The pile of thick quilts and throws stacked on the lip of the wooden frame assured the warmth and softness of a cloud, outstripping his old cot by miles.

The platform was tall enough to stretch within Lord Megatron's personal space, were he sitting at the chair, and wide enough that Silverline could arrange himself in a variety of positions while remaining within its confines.

"It's beautiful," Silverline whispered, in awe that he was granted such a space, and it was clearly only for him. Lord Megatron really did want him around, really desired to be with him to an undeniable and humbling degree.

Lord Megatron's chest puffed up, plates flexing proudly beneath Silverline as he ground out a note of satisfaction. The instant reception caught Silverline's attention, he squinted up into his guardian's tender expression.

Tentatively, he tried it again, "I love it, thank you for making a place for me. It looks so comfortable."

Lord Megatron's fans kicked up a notch and his engines rumbled pleasantly. The heated vibration of it like the rattle of a big cat, pressed against Silverline's spark. Silverline went liquid, hanging from the tightening grasp with a happy sigh.

His whole world buzzed pleasantly around him and satisfaction lit him up from the inside out, his guardian was here and happy and just as affected by Silverline as Silverline was with him. He couldn't imagine the moment getting any better.

Lord Megatron definitely heard that thought and wished to disprove it, for he found a spot under the right side of his helm with a wandering clawtip that instantly relaxed him to a dangerous degree, he was pretty sure he skipped a few ventilations somewhere in the rapture.

"There are yet more rooms to explore," Lord Megatron crooned to the puddle of silver goo in his arms, and they backed out into the hallway to reach the door directly across from the office space. Silverline didn't bother sitting back up, allowing his helm to loll under the continued kneading just to the right of his chin as his optics lazily traced the generous space sprawling before him.

This was the most unique room by far, easily outstripping the throne room in violations against the general steely aesthetic of the Decepticon base. Bright colors danced and rippled merrily across the walls, bright pinks and yellows and blues and every shade in between splashed their way up to the ceiling and back down again like the inside of a crayon box.

In line with the throne room, many colors made up murals, stacking up on themselves in a rainbow of glyphs and ornate images. The spaces left over were filled with rows of alien lettering, beautifully inscribed in broad strokes that bordered the walls.

And that was just the walls.

The wide expanse of the floor was equally cluttered, every corner of the room dedicated to tall structures and bright stations. One may have been a tower to practice gliding given the padded trampoline below, another could be a sort of jungle gym if the swings and slides were anything to go by. Silverline couldn't wait to explore the rest, for in only dazed glances he couldn't begin to guess anything else.

Toys were everywhere, the sight undeniably reminiscent of Dudley's second bedroom save for the thoughtfulness in where they were placed. Nothing was dropped carelessly where it sat, chests of puzzle boxes and stuffed animals were placed neatly along the walls, basketballs were tucked next to the plastic hoop, stacks of glossy books crowded in on another eggshell nest of pillows, this one hooded by a thick circular veil and fairy lights like a hideaway he'd only dreamed of.

Underneath the heaps of toys and structures, the floor was the same LED-dotted flooring as the rest of the wing, save for the tumbling mats and brightly colored rugs strewn about like little islands of padding and comfort. The ensemble was a gymnasium and toy store's strange, candy-colored love affair.

"Frenzy reported your living conditions with the Autobots, you will find this far outstrips a ring of heaters and a leather ball," Lord Megatron promised.

Dizzy, processors cooking and overwhelmed to the point of tears, Silverline bypassed the daydream playroom entirely to realize something he probably should have noticed a while ago.

"This wing is heated."

Lord Megatron quirked a browplate, "Affirmative. This space is yours to traverse freely and that would not be true if you were unable to leave heat sources."

Silverline was glad to look away from the hundred different feverish wishes he'd had in his cupboard, soaking in the simple smokey greys of his guardian's face like a balm to his burning optics.

"It's really nice, I didn't even notice." They must've had the heating honed down to the decimal, Silverline felt human for it. The atmosphere wasn't what he'd imagine of a heater suited specifically to him, it didn't feel toasty or even lukewarm. It just...was. A tiny temperature readout waiting behind his optics if he bothered to look, and that was all his Cybertronian body bothered to note.

The only place he'd felt similarly was out under the desert sun, where he'd had room to run and jump and play with the Autobots. Even then the temperature waned and waxed, he never forgot that he was at the mercy of the hour.

This entire wing was a summer afternoon frozen in time and he hadn't hoped for that kind of freedom since the dam.

"You are...displeased with this space."

Silverline startled, focusing back on Lord Megatron.

"No! Not at all! It's amazing in here."

Lord Megatron peered doubtfully at him, "Platitudes are unnecessary, if you require more enrichment you need only request it."

Silverline couldn't drum up the imagination required to even guess what else could fill the playroom. The balls and action figures and packs and packs of markers swam in his vision whenever he tried to focus on the room as a whole, swirls of loud colors and painted smiles floated in and out of focus like they were bobbing on a tide. Dizzy, he trained his attention back on his guardian.

"I love it," He said honestly, green connecting with scarlet, "I've never seen anything like this before and I can't wait to explore it all."

Unshuttered optics stared back, open and waiting. Silverline pushed past his fatigue to chase after them, scaling the gunmetal armor with surprising ease. A servo no doubt floundered after him, but he was quick and managed to scamper onto a hulking pauldron.

Still watching, still aching with sincerity, Silverline stretched out onto the tips of his clawed peds. With a straining arm, he brushed a servo over Lord Megatron's inhuman face. So different from any other Cybertronian. Even Prime, the only one to match him in stature, couldn't look more alien in comparison.

Lord Megatron's face was as dark as his armor, feline in the angular planes that made up his helm. A tiger's powerful jaws hinged beneath, heavy with fangs and a cruel face guard. Equally predatory optics were set above, wide and intense. The helm interrupted his gaze almost immediately after them, the first band dropping in a deep v so thickly reinforced it threatened to limit the top of his vision and cut between his optics at its lowest point.

Built above the massive band was the first and only mark of ornate status to mar his brutally efficient design. An undeniable crown of charcoal-smeared grey adorned his head, proud and tall. As close as Silverline was, he could see what shadows and damage once obscured.

Colors, almost completely tarnished silver made up the centerpiece on his forehead and faded blues lined it in prominence with geometric stripes and layering. A millennia ago, how it must have shone. The jewel-like glyph so carefully etched into the centerpiece in ebony and platinum sighed with the last whispers of polish and peace and twinkled like a distant star for it.

"But right now all I want is you," Silverline finished lamely. It was intimidating, wasn't it? To be so wholly seen by such a fearsome and infinitely more powerful person. Lord Megatron looked like he was gazing down into the depths of Silverline's spark with round optics and parted mouth plates.

Silverline had changed in the weeks he spent among Autobots, painstakingly nurtured there was the nerve to look up at this undeniable warlord and so nakedly profess his bullheaded and childish desire to be held that superseded all others. The nerve was there, but it was surely buckling under the stunned silence that echoed like a gunshot between them.

Then, movement.

A ripple of jagged armor and two sets of claws were once more enclosing around him. Gently, slowly so the pauldron he teetered on barely shifted, he was brought up to the place he'd managed to caress with his own tiny servo. Bundled there, he waited for his lord's reaction.

Razor teeth flashed in the fluorescent light before Lord Megatron's helm dropped and his face guard swung overhead.

A purr of a growl, not loud but impossibly deep resounded all around Silverline. With far more grace than a human could ever be capable of, Lord Megatron nuzzled his massive head against the top of Silverline's helm, scraping his jaw delicately across his colorless plating like the largest most dangerous house cat in existence.

"Mine…" He cooed so roughly it was almost indistinguishable from the rumble in his vocal replicator.

Mouth plates brushed across Silverline's own jaw, so large they took purchase of the entire right side of his head before merging seamlessly into another rasp of metal against metal.

"How could Primus have given away a spark like yours," Lord Megatron sang in a lullaby without a tune, a series of thunderous ventilations and agonizingly precious affection.

Talons carded around Silverline, like they couldn't not pet him. They pressed and smoothed and teased until he was limp with bliss, entire frame sagging under its own immense weight and eventually it was only Lord Megatron holding him up. He was cuddling with Silverline's front and wings and everything in between, the only point of contact unutilized was Silverline's soldered throat.

They weren't finished with the tour, Silverline knew so little about where he was and what his days would look like now. He had no idea how many Decepticons lived in the base, what they knew and what they were like. Silverline had no idea what Lord Megatron knew about him from Frenzy's spying. It wasn't enough to know he was no longer Harry, what else had escaped him?

But all those anxieties and uncertainties were light years away, mere specks of dust in the warm rays cast across Silverline's soul. Exhaustion sank into him with syrupy sweetness, a shadow's wing was draped over his head.

He drifted to sleep so happy it hurt, so serene that it didn't matter. He was held and loved and those were unshakable truths, and that was all he needed.

"Mine…" His dreams murmured and Silverline sank down deeper.

Ravage watched the humans burst out into the streets, scuttling like panicked insects in the wake of an enraged Autobot. He couldn't blame them, it was an intimidating display from down on the ground like this.

"Ironhide!" Prime snapped, lunging for his haywire weapons specialist, "Stand down!

Ah, was Prime losing control of his minions? That's what he gets for recruiting exclusively weak-willed trash compactors instead of real soldiers.

"Which one of you did it?" Ironhide roared, cannons spinning furiously, spitting so much heat Ravage could feel it a block away.

"Which one of you was gutless enough to open fire on a sparkling?"

Oh. Ravage could understand the outburst then, they were late to the party but he would accept assistance whilst exterminating every squishy creature that attacked them during retrieval. Ravage was pragmatic that way, a feature his creator highly valued.

He stifled a pleased rumble as Prime's second- Jazz latched onto a cannon and hauled Ironhide away from the cowering human soldiers. Was he really going to get front row tickets to an Autobots brawl? Maybe Laserbeak was the unlucky one for successfully fleeing the scene.

As if Primus heard his thoughts from on high, the Autobot medic stepped into view next. He was staring black death at every human in succession, something truly venomous in bright blue optics. Ravage could recognize barely contained violence from a mile away and he knew at a glance it was only the iron grasp Bumblebee had on his servos that kept him docile.

Ratchet marched ahead with his arms wrenched back, not arrested, not with the doughy looks he garnered from his comrades, but firmly incapacitated.

"Those guilty have already been identified and they will be punished, but it is not your place to mete it out so stand down." Prime latched onto Ironhide's shoulder and gave it a rough shake, yanking him away from a crowd of humans stupidly trusting a car to shield them from an Autobot's wrath.

No, that was what their morals were for.

"Whose is it then?" Ironhide said, "I was Silverline's protector, this is what I swore to do. Who has greater claim to their lives then I do?"

"That," A cool, female voice intoned, "Would be me."

The human woman, the one Frenzy identified as their highest commander on the Autobot base, strode out of the building and right in front of the Autobots.

Ravage had difficulty reading those puny wet faces, but he took a stab at angry seeing those fleshy lines on her face bunch up between her brows.

"My men are my responsibility and I shall handle them as I see fit, you have no authority over them, Ironhide," She said, and only flinched a little when Ironhide bellowed back wordlessly in response. Stupid little worm, it was by the last insignificant thread of loyalty Ironhide held for his Prime and second that he hadn't stomped down hard.

"And there certainly won't be any claiming of lives. I saw the footage as well, was it not those Decepticons who damaged Silverline?"

Ravage dug his claws in, hatred surging through his wiring. She would die as well, just as slowly as those who fired at them for her ugly accusations.

The sweet taste of high-grade energon tickled at the back of his throat, a reminder of his guilt and the hatred only burned brighter for it. He hadn't meant to, he hadn't meant to. The sparkling would be fine.

Prime regarded the human- Colonel Jacobs, "We agreed upon many nonnegotiable, all encompassing laws between us and our people. I did not forget and neither did you, that humans were forbidden from attacking Silverline and were not permitted to fire when they did."

She didn't back down, "That agreement hinged on Silverline being classified as a non-combatant and your word that he was harmless. Your harmless non-combatant seemed pretty willing to join a terrorist organization just now, Optimus."

All four Autobots zeroed in on her with utterly frigid expressions and it was only then that the wretched creature noticed the danger she was in.

Jacobs lowered her gaze, "I will punish those who fired without the go ahead, they will be discharged. But I won't pursue the issue further for firing in the proximity of a traitor."

"He's not a traitor, he's a child," Prime said, serpentine in his fury, "Your men fired on a child being manipulated by one he trusts above all others."

Ravage bared his teeth up at the unaware Autobot, what scrap. Lord Megatron was the one manipulating his sparkling? No one would buy that but his own minions, not when the sparkling had to assist in a jailbreak to escape their cruel captivity.

Ratchet spoke for the first time, quite enough that Ravage had to strain his auditory receptors to catch it all. Even Bumblebee released his hold to lean in.

"Why bother humoring these humans? If they refuse to properly punish those who nearly killed Silverline, we can simply do it ourselves and move on to a different human nation."

That had every human taking steps back, some even fiddled with their guns like they had a prayer in fighting back should Prime consider the suggestion.

"Blame your terrorists! You're all acting like it was humans who fired on the base, who stole Silverline and killed good soldiers in the process. We all saw that Decepticon maul Silverline in HD back there, are they a harmless non-combatant as well?"

Jacobs was trembling, grey eyes wet and knuckles white. Fear? Anger? Frustration? Soundwave would tell Ravage later once his memories were reviewed.

"Ravage wasn't maulin' Silverline," Jazz shouldered Ironhide out of the way to get in close and dangerous.

"It was batshit, sure, but that spybot has control and has done shit like that before. Silverline should'a been completely unharmed- would'a been taken without a scratch if it weren't for yer screw ups. Ravage is nasty as they come but there's no way in hell he damaged Silverline on purpose, it was either that'r drop him twenty feet right onto yo personal firin' squad."

Ravage nodded in silent agreement, tail lashing behind him. He'd done that exact maneuver while collecting Rumble countless times without a scratch, Laserbeak hated the weight but Ravage was good at keeping his hold strong and steady over long distances.

It was when morons shot out Laserbeak's wings that his hold diminished to a series of jolting shakes between knives until something inevitably snagged and sliced. He hadn't meant it, Soundwave please-

The human Colonel was incensed, "So we should've just allowed those creatures to take pot shots at us on their merry way back home because you trust a terrorist organization over the allies who house you at this very moment?"

Affirmative, even a frenzied Cybertronian berserker can be trusted with a sparkling, parental protocols were embedded in all but a handful of truly specialized bots honed to the point of insentience and The Fallen himself. It was only in the death throes of their civilization that such programming wasn't ensured and regulated. Even then, those unfortunate scrapheaps who dodged starvation by a single orn usually had something crafted in their image.

Humans on the other hand had no such hard wiring and very little interest in distinguishing the sparkling from the average veteran. Ravage would trust a sparkling to an empty room before he left it with a human.

Prime did not explain any of this, instead he gave a great ventilation and drew himself up like a tolerant king. Jacobs relaxed, unspoken forgiveness seemed to dance in the air. The violent rage and demand for blood had somehow, miraculously passed like some terrible dark cloud.

The dead giveaway lay with Prime's troops, who were practically foaming at the mouth and pressing in to slaughter the lot like pigs. But no human was smart enough to make that connection, least of all ones that fired on sparklings.

"I have no intention of violating our agreements or taking negotiations to a foreign land," Prime said gravely, "This attack was a loss for us both, but an opportunity to encourage further understanding between our people as well. When my reinforcements arrive, I believe further incorporating them into your military and vice versa will be most beneficial."

Ooh, was Prime going to try taking over a foreign militia? This, Soundwave would have to hear, some countermeasures will need to be developed. Whatever happened they couldn't be driven out of the dirty ghetto of a human nation, not when their base was just completed.

Colonel Jacobs pinched her lips and nodded, looking for all the world like she'd just left tense negotiations cautiously advantaged instead of walking away from the most important battle of her life a loser. Prime didn't trust her, so he'd go over her head and take her troops and her influence with a steady aggressive campaign in brutal charisma.

Ravage had seen it all before, it was one of the reasons the Decepticons destroyed public broadcasting towers in the first leg of the war, Prime was far too good at charming people onto his side when he wanted to. He won a lot of colony planet support that way as well, before Lord Megatron razed them to the ground as punishment.

"I'll have that entire squad dishonorably discharged, you'll never see them again. Should we continue our search for the cassetticons or return to base? The evacuation will lift soon," Jacobs said, already gathering her men from where they clustered in hiding or quivered behind cars and trash cans. How inspiring, too bad none of that prey-noise would stop Ravage from finding them later.

"That won't be necessary." Prime announced, and it was then that a crawling sensation took hold of Ravage's spine and made him want to squirm inside out.

Run, run, run, run, Soundwave!

Wildly he took another headcount, Prime, Jazz, Ironhide, Ratchet- everyone had taken part in that conversation.

Everyone except-

He leapt into the air on powerful haunches, bursting from his place at the mouth of a narrow alleyway like a startled thrush. His eyes were on the horizon, on the gleaming cars and shiny skyscrapers he could duck around until he found another hiding place-

But it was too late, and small nimble servos crushed together to catch him and slam his body into the asphalt. Winded, Ravage yowled in panic and charged up his machine gun. Only, he couldn't hear the whine of activation, not over the blaster charged and waiting directly over his head.

The servo pressing Ravage further into the crumbling street threatened to bend his struts, something had already cracked and wept fuel over the grimy rubble digging into every brand new scratch and dent. One or two good blasts to the head and Ravage would be as deactivated as they came.

-Stay down or I'll make you stay down.- The ugly yellow stain commed, a buzz of warning crackled from his ruined throat.

Ravage bared his teeth and hissed hatefully up at the mech, but he wasn't stupid. He stayed down.

"Nice work Bumblebee, Ironhide," Prime commended, strutting up to them like the entire scene had been staged from the getgo. It wasn't though, Ravage was sure. There's no way they knew he'd been there the whole time, who ever assumes the spybot is directly under their olfactory sensors?

"He still smells like high-grade energon, a lot more than what we found," Ironhide said, and despite the humming blaster burning hot as a coal directly against his face plating, Ravage felt the planet's temperature plummet.

His full tank taunted him, Ravage shuttered his optics closed so he didn't have to see those ghoulish faces twisted in condemnation or his own display proudly blinking out his current stats.

Didn't mean to, didn't mean to, didn't mean to- Soundwave, I promise-

Prime was quiet, the silence stretched on just long enough for Ravage to wonder if they were really going to execute him for what he did out in the open. Not even torture beforehand? Not that he deserved it, because it wasn't his fault it was all theirs. It was their fault, the humans and the Autobots and Laserbeak but not his fault because he didn't mean to,

"I see," Was all Prime ended up saying, and then Ravage was peeking out to find the Autobot warlord turning away from his prisoner and strolling off like it didn't matter to him in the slightest.

"Ratchet, take him out and then put him in the back of Ironhide's alt mode."

A flash of yellow, paler this time and streaked with orange.

"Yes, Prime."


A pop of electricity and burst of pain- and then nothing.

Megatron staring down at a napping Harry

Megatron: It's beautiful…

Megatron: I've looked at this for five hours now.

Ironhide: makes homicidal noises.

Ravage: cheers from the bleachers.

Ironhide and Ratchet: both make rebellious noises.

Ravage: screams so loudly he gets featured on the concert audience camera.

Jacobs: speaks.

Ravage: throws his popcorn at her while booing loudly.

Bumblebee: catches him in .3 seconds.

Ravage: D: but I was being so careful!