Fandom: Transformers (G1)
Disclaimer: No ownership implied, no profit gained. This is a fanwork.
Summary: A mission to Mars. Only not so much a mission as a favor. Kinda what scientist!taxis do, really...
Notes: For tf_rare_pairing.
and so you fell and you're intact
so you dove in and you're still breathing
so you jumped and you're still flying
if not shocked
Alanis Morisette - Surrendering
"It was suggested that we think of missions like this as a combination of 'rent' and 'taxes'," Perceptor said as he wheeled a small cart of supplies over to where Skyfire sat, just outside of the Ark.
"But this base has been here far longer than the current government," Skyfire pointed out. He frowned and surveyed the landscape. "And while there might be an actual owner of this land, he or she has not come forward to make any demands of us."
"Have you studied how the current regime has handled indigenous species, including humans?" Perceptor questioned. "We should be thankful that a trip to Mars will satisfy their request."
Skyfire almost smiled. "That and guarding them from the Decepticons."
"We guard the entire planet from the Decepticons," came as a correction. "And other planets."
"Hn." Skyfire stood and looked down at Perceptor. "Are you ready?"
"I have work to do here, so we might as well get this expedition over with," Perceptor replied a few beats after he should have.
Skyfire nodded and transformed, opening his cargo bay door to let Perceptor load everything necessary. He could understand any hesitation on Perceptor's behalf - he'd been pretty much informally introduced as 'Skyfire, an old friend of Starscream's canyoubelieveit?' and his contributions were often overshadowed by lingering distrust.
One of the things he always meant to mention was that Decepticons lacked patience and they'd had enough skirmishes to figure that out for themselves. If he was indeed a spy, his period of monitoring things would have been a dozen or so cycles and then he would have blown things up.
Cargo didn't bother him. Other Transformers were a little different. The smallest ones - and humans - could fit in his cockpit area comfortably, but any larger Transformer was stuck riding with the cargo and therein lied the problematic awkwardness. Sure, a few boxes could bounce around and it wasn't weird, but anything living tended to keep moving and touching or even just settle into a resting state to let electronic pulses and engine rhythms thrum through to his own metal.
Skyfire had never thought to discuss the issue with anyone - he didn't quite find it an issue, after all, more of an oddity, and besides, he had no idea how to bring it up in conversation. 'Do you ever feel weird with everyone else wandering around inside of you?' Most of them seemed comfortable with humans inside of them, touching steering wheels, radios, seat, kicking dirty feet against panels and pedals - maybe he was the only one who really minded it.
Besides, it was only the sort of thing he thought about during the rare moments when he was asked to transport someones along with somethings.
Once Perceptor had everything inside and secured, Skyfire double-checked every reading he could - it should, for practical purposes, be clear flying to Mars.
"Ready to go?" he asked. "The trip will take a few cycles."
"Ready," Perceptor replied.
Amongst the things that did not come naturally to Skyfire, reminding any sentient passengers to 'hang on' was one of them. Actually, he did not want anyone to 'hang on'. He took off a bit roughly - enough that Perceptor banged into a side-panel.
"Sorry," they both said in unison. Perceptor gently patted the spot where he'd hit.
"No dents," he added. Skyfire wanted to reply but was busy checking for air traffic up ahead. He'd only be traversing through flight paths for a moment, but considering the trouble the Aerialbots caused by sometimes forgetting they weren't the only things in the air, he wanted to make sure he wouldn't have to swerve around any nice, non-sentient 747s. Perceptor seemed to take the silence in stride.
"We could have brought human scientists," Skyfire finally said. He wanted to add that they might be better conversation but didn't. They were above the flight paths and he had sent a short message to towers in both Phoenix and Tucson to alert them to his presence as if they weren't already quite used to UFOs.
"No," Perceptor said as he sat down and pulled out a data-pad. "That's part of the mission - get all sorts of environmental information so that the humans can make sure their equipment can handle whatever unique situation exists on Mars."
Skyfire ran that through his processors a couple of times. It actually made sense. And certainly he wouldn't want any of the humans to... pop. Especially not inside of him. "Ah," he said. "Okay."
"Have you been to Mars?" Perceptor questioned. He was working on something on the data-pad and seemed to just be asking idle questions, though Skyfire couldn't be sure. He'd need to concentrate a bit as he went through the upper atmosphere, but he could still carry on a conversation.
"Yes," Skyfire replied. "But I don't have much data on it - I lost... quite a bit of what had happened within the few dozen cycles before I crashed. Back then. And it wouldn't be valid after nine million years."
"The human scientists would probably like whatever you do recall," Perceptor commented. He reached down and pulled his fingers along the metal beneath him and then went right back to work.
Skyfire dropped about a hundred feet sheerly from surprise. "Turbulence," he fibbed and purposely bobbed once more to make sure his story was believable.
"Oh," Perceptor said, rather less perturbed than Skyfire would have expected. After all, he'd managed to make everything in the cargo hold bounce ever so slightly. "I thought for an astrosecond that you might have felt that."
"I was thinking about when I was inside Megatron's body," Perceptor admitted. "He could not feel my presence. However since your design implicitly invites visitors inside of you..." He trailed off and reached down again, hand making the same almost-soft motion.
"Yes, I can feel that," Skyfire said quickly. "You could have just asked." Yes, as if a scientist would be satisfied by asking questions when he could reach out and touch to see reactions.
"What did it feel like?"
Skyfire was thankful that he could still rely ever so slightly on Earth's gravity to keep him from completely veering off course. He had no idea how to answer that question. "Like someone touching me like that any other time," he tried. It had been a fairly intimate motion, though he wasn't sure if Perceptor was at all aware of that or if that had been the entire point.
He wondered if perhaps Perceptor felt the same way when any given Autobot used him to look at something - turning knobs, adjusting things. Perhaps Perceptor had it worse. Or perhaps Perceptor didn't find it to be a violation at all. Skyfire wasn't sure how to ask - asking about how modes felt was a distinctly 'newly-activated' thing.
"Pleasant?" Perceptor asked. Before Skyfire could respond, Perceptor added a bit more information: "I once made the error of asking Sideswipe what was so enjoyable about the automatic car wash so he took me through."
The blackness of space was in front of him and normally it was an exhilarating, beautiful sight, but stars and planets aside, all Skyfire could see what his processor's rendered image of Perceptor in his alt-mode, strapped perilously to the top of Sideswipe and cruising towards the Suds'n'Buff Car Wash.
Perceptor did that thing with his hand again and Skyfire finally mumbled that indeed, it was pleasant.
In the vast, emptiness of what was actually a very crowded galaxy and with both Earth's sun and moon at their metaphorical backs, Skyfire realized that he and Perceptor had come to a bit of an impasse. Skyfire liked to think he learned from mistakes except he couldn't really think of certain things as mistakes because every single one had been a good idea at the time. He thought this might be a good idea. He had also practiced exiting and entering Earth's atmosphere several times in the recent past - just in case.
It just seemed like a good idea.
He didn't say anything and Perceptor didn't stop making notes on his data-pad, though every now and then when they were both being particularly silent, Perceptor would reach down and run his fingers along the metal beneath him and Skyfire would try not to lose propulsion or veer left.
Though once, just before Mars went from being a red dot ahead of them to a red planet awaiting them, Skyfire accidentally did a little of both.
And then he began to plan how to reciprocate the sentiment.
Drink Lemonade! Tip Your Waitress!