Chapter 1

Turn A Blind Eye

Hot Rod liked to consider himself a simple mech. If he saw something, then he would comment on it. It didn’t matter the time or place. That was just the kind of mech he was. Honest to a fault. That attitude had gotten him in plenty of trouble throughout his life but he didn’t plan on changing anytime soon. He was a constant that anyone could look to. An annoying, bothersome pest of a constant, but a constant nonetheless.

However, lately there was something bothering him. It challenged his regular way of addressing his concerns. He could practically hear Perceptor’s voice: “That is your conscience, Hot Rod. Consider listening to it for once.”

Pah! He didn’t need to listen to his conscience. He wasn’t some kind of smart mech who questioned his actions every single moment. He was Hot Rod! The Autobot commander, Optimus’ second-in-command, a goofball who no one ever felt nervous around, someone who was always underestimated. Hot Rod wouldn’t change no matter what. No sir.

And he wasn’t hesitating to confront Soundwave, the subject of his curiosity. No, of course he wasn’t. Hot Rod never faltered. He simply couldn’t be bothered to talk to the Decepticon commander.

Sure, the two had worked together so well during the Quintesson invasion. Soundwave even set aside their differences to save their comrades together, although it hadn’t been such an instantaneous process. They weren’t singing songs from Cybertron’s Golden Age, but they certainly spent a significant amount of time strategizing at the bar in Maccadam’s. It seemed like all Soundwave cared about was interrogation methods, battle strategy, and playing music all the damn time. Hot Rod found absolutely nothing interesting about him.

No. Soundwave lacked any intriguing characteristics. It was almost sad. Yeah. Hot Rod felt bad for him. Who would give Soundwave a second thought?

“Roddy,” Arcee’s voice broke through his reverie. When he looked up, Arcee was watching him carefully. “Are you okay?”

“Of course,” he answered immediately.

Arcee frowned. “You’ve been on the same datapad for the past hour. It’s not even turned on anymore.” Hot Rod cursed under his breath, flicking the datapad to read the display. A servo pressed his arm down. “Maybe you should go get some rest,” Arcee started, voice a gentle pressure on his nerves. “Just because we’re all working overtime doesn’t mean we should stop taking care of ourselves.”

Hot Rod tried to shrug her off. “‘Cee—”

“Do it for me.”

He watched her faceplate wrinkle in concern. He hated to see her upset. It sent an extra sharp pain to his spark when he knew that he was the cause. Hot Rod would do anything to make Arcee happy. Even retiring to his habsuite early despite that being his least favorite thing to do. Curse her…

“Fine.” He got up from his seat, not bothering to wait to see if he had appeased her.

There was a fire burning within Hot Rod’s chassis. It curled in his abdomen and spread to his appendages with terrifying speed. He was agitated; anyone within a ten-mile radius could tell that much. Sparks flew off from his body as he walked through town. Tiny bursts of flames easily extinguished on the ground with nothing to light.

“Stupid paperwork,” Hot Rod grumbled. “Stupid Arcee.” He stopped, overcome with guilt as soon as he let the words slip. He shook his helm like that would clear his processor. “No,” he reasoned, “she just cares about you, Roddy. It’s not her fault. It’s...”

In the distance, heavy metal played. If Hot Rod went closer to the source, it would probably be unbearably loud but from where he was it was quiet. A familiar mech walked down the sidewalk a ways away from Hot Rod.


That’s right. This all started because of Soundwave. Hot Rod felt a fresh spark fly off of him, coming dangerously close to the buildings he was passing by. He made his way towards Soundwave, the heavy metal becoming increasingly louder. He didn’t stop until he was standing in front of Soundwave. The music was piercing at that distance. A brief, fearful thought passed through him that this could cause him permanent audial damage.

Ignoring his damned processor, Hot Rod grabbed Soundwave’s arm. The sudden contact must have surprised the Decepticon because the music petered out. Soundwave started to push against him, visor flashing dangerously.

Had Hot Rod not spent so much time with Soundwave, maybe he would have been scared, backed off, and let the mech be. But he had seen Soundwave fight. He had witnessed Soundwave interact with someone normally. He could never be afraid of the Decepticon commander. Not after Hot Rod found out that Soundwave had insomnia, that he didn’t like turning his back on others, that he got queasy taking his energon in the morning.

“Autobot,” Soundwave warned.

Logically, Hot Rod reasoned to himself, only an Autobot would have the bearings to attack Soundwave. However, the lack of designation bothered him. He forced himself to remain silent, keeping his grip on the other mech iron-tight.

Soundwave moved his other arm, presumably to punch the living daylights out of his attacker, but Hot Rod grabbed it similar to his right one. “What… is this?”

The question surely wasn’t meant to be heard. It wasn’t Soundwave’s fault that Hot Rod was listening so carefully. He could tell that Soundwave hadn’t identified him yet despite their proximity. He stared straight into Soundwave’s visor, waiting for something. Anything!

A soft click alerted him that Soundwave was preparing a sonar attack. In the millisecond he had, he flipped Soundwave, sending the Decepticon a few feet away with the force he used. Sounwave groaned, slowly getting to his pedes and turning around. He released his sonar attack where Hot Rod had been standing.

Soundwave let out a heavy exhale. His servos, which had been clenched in fists since the start of the altercation, finally relaxed.

Behind him, a clear voice rang out, “You’re blind, aren’t you?”

Of course. It all made sense to Hot Rod now. This would explain everything that had been bothering him since the Quintesson invasion. Soundwave’s dismissive nature. The way he never looked directly at whoever he was talking to. How his fingers twitched whenever Hot Rod showed up unannounced at his office. Shadow Striker’s near-constant presence by his side.

It was as if someone had removed the blindfold and Hot could see again. He couldn’t help the laugh that escaped his intake. It was borderline hysterical. “I should have known. The way you act… It’s not normal! But— This! This explains everything.” Hot Rod sighed in relief, shaking his helm before smiling at Soundwave.

The mech in question was standing very still, his body turned away from Hot Rod. His visor flickered, then he started walking away. Hot Rod’s smile fell. A pit began to form in his abdomen. Nothing like this had ever happened when he spoke his mind. He rushed to catch up with Soundwave.

“Hey,” he called out. Once he was next to Soundwave, he jogged to keep pace. “What’s this reaction? I’m just pointing out the obvious.” A sharp sound came from Soundwave’s speakers. From his lack of reaction, Hot Rod assumed it was a deterrent. Multiple alerts popped up to notify Hot Rod that a nearby E.M. field was displaying high levels of distress. “There’s nothing wrong—”

Soundwave swung his servo abruptly, aiming in Hot Rod’s general direction. Hot Rod stepped back and watched as Soundwave glared at him. “You know nothing about me, Autobot. Just because you figured out my handicap doesn’t give you the benefit of the doubt. In fact,” Soundwave pressed forward, poking off-center at Hot Rod’s chestplate, “I consider you less than worthy of my attention. So leave me be.” Hot Rod grabbed Soundwave’s servo. “What are you doing?”

“There’s nothing wrong with being blind, Soundwave. Perceptor is and no one gives him shit.” Soundwave tried to pull back, tugging on his captured servo but Hot Rod wouldn’t let up. “Quit acting so self-important.” Hot Rod grunted with the effort it took to keep Soundwave in his grip. It was ridiculous. Soundwave was acting like he was trying to escape from something dangerous.

That thought gave Hot Rod pause.

Soundwave thought he was in danger. Soundwave thought Hot Rod was going to harm him, not the other way around. But that didn’t make sense. Why would he—?

“Shadow Striker, what happened to you? You look like one of Shockwave’s failed experiments.”

The memory came unbidden, surprising Hot Rod. He nearly forgot about when The Other One came, having stayed back with Arcee and only witnessing it through the open comm. link. At the time he had assumed that it was only The Other One’s way to act so disrespectfully towards someone who had lost as much as Shadow Striker had. Thinking on it now, with Soundwave in front of him, perhaps it was just how Decepticons acted. They found any shred of weakness and they would tear a mech apart.

Soundwave successfully pulled away from Hot Rod’s lax grip. “It seems you’ve reached another epiphany. Allow me to leave you to your wretched thoughts, Autobot.”

With that, Soundwave transformed and drove away. All Hot Rod could do was watch as the distance between them grew until he felt like a canyon had opened up at his pedes to swallow him whole.

Hot Rod never hesitated. Hot Rod said whatever was on his processor, no matter the situation. Hot Rod wasn’t a remorseful mech. Hot Rod…

He smacked his servo across his faceplate and groaned in exasperation.

“I’m such a bolt head.”

The post I made that inspired this fic.

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