Notes: Set in the end of ms_elegante , before the big battle with The End.
Warnings: Very strongly implied CLANG CLANG CLANG
There's something fevered in their touches now. Something frantic, rushed. If they slow down, they'll feel guilty. They'll feel as if they're doing something wrong, that there is something infinitely more productive they could be doing with their time than this. Thinking that way is stupid, they both know it. Why should they feel guilty? Doubtless there are others doing the same thing right now. But it doesn't change anything.
They push it aside, ignore it, and only focus on the moment. On how rough fingers feel when they drag over neon-plated hips. Or just how hard to press against the scar on that shoulder. The quiet amusement when one of them fumbles, and the deep, resonating growl that can only mean something has been done completely right. Right now, they are the only ones who matter. These fleeting, pleasured moments. The company, the companionship.
Knowing what they know now, it would be all to easy to lose such things.
So perhaps, this is the real reason for the frantic pace. For the uncharacteristic roughness that leaves a chair in splinters, and scrapes of paint provocatively across panels. There's a wrenched knee joint. A dent in the wall. A few bent and twisted pieces of metal. Heavy black arms wrapped securely around brightly colored armor, dark, spiked head resting against the curve of a neon shoulder. Dexterous fingers have found purchase around a broken, jagged bit of armor, leaning comfortably against the bigger, more solid black form. Neither one of them speaks -- nor are they unconscious in their usual exhausted sprawl.
There's no time for that, either. Everything has fallen apart. The fagile peace they'd gathered for themselves in the absence of their war is breaking down around their heads in the shape of missing walls, of vast expanses of nothingness where there once was sea. It isn't war -- and that is far more frightening than anything else they could have faced.
Ratchet makes to pull away first, reluctant, but insistent. They're both needed -- no one else is as big, or as durable as they are. They can do the most good. He knows it's best if they part.
But Ironhide's fingers dig in, and he pulls the protesting medic back to his chest in an unabashed, unconcerned, cling. The scars and ridges of his face press against the side of Ratchet's helm.
"You will come back."
It's not a question. Not a request. But neither is it an order. His voice is too rough, to broken around the edges for that. There's too much trembling tension in his big frame. When Ratchet turns his head, regarding his companion with concern, there is a deep, unfamiliar sorrow in the weapons master's scarred optics.
Ratchet sets a hand on the side of Ironhide's face, thumb trailing over the long, wrinkled line of damaged metal there. His gaze follows it, focusing only on the broken parts, and the stubborn will that's kept it in place on dark armor. If he looks away, meets his partner's optics again, he'll come face to face with a broken corpse long past his saving, lying amidst a sea of fire and rubble. He'll have to see what's lurking there, in those optics, in the murmured plea to return.
They need to focus on the here and now again. Save what's left to save. A decision he's made countless times in his work, over the course of his service. Ironhide knows it, as well as he does.
"Don't be a fool," he answers, finally, firmly.
It's a moment before the words really register with Ironhide. Subtleties never were his strong suit. He snorts, once. Then his optics shutter as the dark helm ducks forward, leaning gently against Ratchet's.
The medic never moves his hand, only bringing the other up to join it, framing Ironhide between his fingers.