Tailgate was…awkward. He was confused about a great many things about this other group of people, these people from another universe. Why was other him marrying some guy named Cyclonus, for a start? Especially when there was a perfectly good Whirl right there, reportedly good friends of them! Why was he, himself, lurking outside the venue, trying to not look like a creep? Okay so he knew the answer to that one, he knew Whirl would be here and he couldn’t….he couldn’t not at least see him, maybe even say hi without freaking him out too bad.
He wasn't treating this Whirl like a replacement, really, he just…wanted to see him. Have a new final moment other than the famous one everyone had now, a private one. One where he could look back on and know he was still alive, somewhere, not a gorey cut to black. They’re similar but different people, he knows this, but its been centuries, he just wants to see him again. He won’t even bother him if he looks remotely busy or uncomfortable with his presence.
He just needs to see him again.
So, here he is, awkwardly leaning against a building, trying to watch the doors but not too close to look weird about it.
His patience pays off finally as he spies something purple taking off in one direction, and moments later, a familiar blue helicopter rises in the opposite. His spark jumps as he pushes himself off the building, taking several steps in that direction, a little confused and a lot terrified because no, no he can’t lose him just like that!
Tailgate transforms quickly, following that blue dot in the sky as best he can, but Whirl doesn't have to worry about buildings getting in the way. Several minutes later he spies a lighter blue someone also following him, it’s only moments later he realizes there’s only one real thing of note in this direction.
The rust sea.
He pushes his engine further, vents working furiously, now that he knows exactly where his-where Whirl is going he can maybe beat him there, maybe. He knows this world better than the other Whirl does.
He transforms back to his root mode as he nears the edge, metal screeching under him in objection, looking both in the sky and on the ground for that helicopter he so loves. It doesn’t take long to pick out the blue among the brown. He rushes in that direction, heedless of the groaning and hissing of past pain under his pedes as he closes the gap.
Whirl starts to turn towards the loud commotion that is his rush, while the other blue mech lands not far away. “Tailgate?” he asks, optic narrowed. “I know that’s impossible, I must’ve had more than I thought I did.”
“You’re not allowed to die!” he snaps instead of anything to explain his presence, reaching him and reaching out and grappling at his claws, unable to stop himself. “I won’t let you.”
The other mech clearly doesn’t know what to make of any of this, his winglets keep twitching as he moves to say something before stopping.
Whirl looks down at their hands, then away from him, to the other mech. “Stormy…they definitely flew off together, right?”
‘Stormy’ nods, “This could be the other Tailgate.”
“Oh! Oh frag I...hello?” he says awkwardly, moving as if to wave only to be stopped by the grip on his claws and Tailgate feels the lubricant gathering in his eyes. He is so very much like his Whirl that it hurts.
He pulls himself back together with some effort, “I’m sorry,” he says instead, loosening his grip but not able to convince himself to be the one to pull away. “I just, wanted to see you, and then you flew off and…” his vocalizer cuts out for a moment.
“Wanted to see me ? Why?” the stress he puts on the word cuts him deep in his spark. He’d asked a few lost light crew about him and they never had much of anything to say, that was part of the reason he became so desperate to see him. His Whirl died not knowing he was loved, probably, this Whirl seems to be in a similar spot, and its like watching the broadcast all over again.
He’s not the same Whirl, he’s not, but he’s similar enough. He can already tell he could find himself falling for him but-he's not going to force his presence on him but maybe he can at least make sure he knows someone cares about him, someone will be sad if he’s gone.
He doesn’t say that. What he says is. “I lost my Whirl. He died for me, well partly? Mostly?” the degree of blame has always been a little wishy-washy. “You’re not him,” he continues quickly, “I know you’re not, I’m not trying to make believe that you are I just….I wanted to meet you.” he’s not able to meet his optic, eyes darting over to ‘Stormy’ instead.
His winglets twitch a bit, “You were….close?”
“I wish I could say we were conjunx but...we weren’t quite….we didn’t have the opportunity.” he can’t bring himself to admit it out loud. They were conjunx in his mind, they were three-fourths of the way there.
Whirl rocks back on his struts at that, “Conjunx?” he vocalizes softly, “Really? With me?”
His spark feels like it’s cracking in two all over again, “Of course.” he replies just as soft, “You’re….you’re wonderful Whirl. You can try to pretend you’re some terrible person but you’re not. I know you’re not.”
“I…” its clear he’s starting to get overwhelmed and Tailgate fully lets go to pull away, only for Whirl’s claws to chase his hands instead and he freezes in place, not wanting to ruin this moment.
Part of him wonders-hopes that this might be close enough to count but that’s not what’s important.
“Sounds like there’s someone that will truly miss you Whirl.” the other mech speaks up. It’s clear he’s not trying to intrude too much but, he is right there and he doesn’t seem particularly willing to leave either.
“I would.” Tailgate agrees softly, “You’re not him but you would’ve been, and he would’ve been you, and that’s all I need to know that you matter to me.”
He can hear Whirl’s fans churning rapidly. He can almost feel them reverberating through his frame. “You’re not going to just leave, are you?” he says instead.
“Not a chance.” he nearly snaps.
Whirl doesn’t have a mouth but he manages to convey frowning anyway. Or maybe Tailgate is just good at reading mouthless mechs, its anyone’s guess. He guesses that Whirl’s trying to find a way to wiggle away from them. “You know you survive this, right?” he states, just a fact.
Whirl’s frame heaves with a sigh, “I suppose I do.” he answers, before finally pulling his claws away. He turns to the mech that is not Tailgate, who tries not to let it hurt. This Whirl is not his Whirl, and his Tailgate isn’t here (left the party?) so he might not care to see him. He drops his arms to his side as he watches him walk away.
It’s fine, he got what he wanted. Whirl is alive, that’s the most important thing. He got to have a moment with him, even better! He told Whirl that he is loved, he did all the things on the bucket list. But he still feels hollow. He thought it would help, but it doesn’t seem to have helped much at all.
“You comin short stuff?” he’s shaken out if his thoughts as he looks back up at Whirl who’s standing beside the other one, clearly waiting for him.
His spark lights up as he hurries over. This might just be a tonight thing, but maybe, just maybe, this Whirl will still want to see him later too.