dracoqueen22: (Starscream)
[personal profile] dracoqueen22

Chapter Rating: T
Summary: Sunstreaker pries until the truth outs; Deadlock does the same. 


Trial By Fire - Chapter Nine


The scent of a freshly scrubbed speedster announced Deadlock’s arrival, but so did the drape of a warm frame over Starscream’s from behind, arms caging him in and chassis pressed to the back of his wings. Kisses dotted like little gifts all over the curvature of his head until Starscream squirmed.

“What did I miss?” Deadlock asked, amused and warm, his voice drizzling into Starscream’s audial and making him shiver.

“Nothing,” Starscream replied, and gamely tried to wriggle from under Deadlock’s weight, but for all that the mech was shorter than him, he was quite heavy.

Triple-layered armor, apparently. A mech could never be too careful when he lived most of his life alone and wandering.

“Come on, Lock, I’m working,” Starscream said, in vain, as he peered at his datapad but couldn’t seem to focus given the way Deadlock’s hands lingered.

And wandered. Sliding up over his shoulders, curling around to brush his abdomen, and then slipping over his chest. One finger twirled a tiny turbine, sending zings of pleasure through Starscream’s lines.

“Mmm, so I see,” Deadlock purred as his finger went flick, flick, flick, and Starscream’s turbine lazily spun in its casing. “But I’ll bet you need a boost first. Gotta keep your processor sharp, right?” He nibbled at the side of Starscream’s neck, singling out a cable and applying a sturdy pressure to it.

Charge crackled up Starscream’s backstrut. “That is a terrible excuse,” he groaned.

“But is it working?” Flick-flick-flick went the finger while the other hand toyed with his cockpit, trying to ease into the seam.

Starscream shivered and arched into Deadlock’s hands, his array tingling. Especially when the finger abandoned his cockpit and went in search of his dataport, flicking over the latch protecting it.

“Not at all,” Starscream said in an attempt to be droll, but it failed miserably as he pushed into Deadlock’s touch. “I swear the universe is out to distract me.”

Deadlock laughed and pinched at his dataport cover, making Starscream jerk. “I’m the only one who’s been here in months. What else would you find so distracting? Unless...”

He trailed off, tone turning contemplative, and then his hands vanished. Starscream made a noise of protest, but it quickly cut off when Deadlock swung around and deposited himself in Starscream’s lap, straddling him. He draped his hands over Starscream’s shoulders and cocked his head.

“Unless I’ve not been your only visitor,” he purred and leaned forward, hands seeking and finding Starscream’s wings. “Spill it, Starling.”

“Spill what? You’ve missed nothing,” Starscream said with a huff, his hands finding their way to Deadlock’s hips, because if his friend was going to persist in being a distraction, then Starscream was going to enjoy himself.

“Ooo, the lies you tell me straight from your lips.” Deadlock tweaked an aileron and Starscream shivered, his array flushing with heat. “Something’s different. This whole place feels different. And you, especially are different.”

Deadlock leaned in close, pressed his forehead to Starscream’s, sliding forward until their chestplates touched. “Come on, Starling. Tell ole Deadlock what’s going on.”

Starscream laughed. “Primus, you’re ridiculous.” He gripped Deadlock’s hips, letting his thumbs sweep inward, teasing Deadlock’s array housing. “But you’re right. I’ve had a visitor since you’ve last been here.”

“What? Really?” Deadlock reared back, and a scowl twisted his lips, though it wasn’t directed at Starscream in particular. “Who do I need to kill?”

“No one, you bloodthirsty thing.” Starscream snorted, but his spark still fluttered at the offer. It was nice that someone wanted to protect him. “One of the locals got themselves into some trouble at the back door, and I bailed him out.”

Deadlock squinted at him. “You let someone into the tower?”

“Let is a strong word. It was either that or deal with his clan when they came looking for their missing Firebrand.” Starscream leaned in, tried to initiate a nuzzle. “He’s gone now. What does it matter? Don’t you owe me a ‘boost’ as you so elegantly called it?”

“He didn’t hurt you?” Deadlock’s hands swept over Starscream’s shoulders and arms, a small frown on his lips, as though determined to find the smallest injury.

“No,” Starscream replied, bemused. “But I appreciate your concern, Deadlock.”

Deadlock cocked his head. “That can’t just be it though.” He pointed a finger at Starscream, waggling it in his face. “Usually when your research is interrupted, it’s the first thing you rant at me when I show up. So why’d I have to pull this time out of you?”

“What? Do you think there’s something nefarious going on?” Starscream chuckled and resisted the urge to nip at that waggling finger.

“I think there’s something you’re not telling me.” Deadlock’s glossa flicked over his lips, and he leaned forward, nose twitching as though he could pick up the scent of the Firebrand off Starscream’s frame. “You fragged him, didn’t you?”

For someone who spent so much time isolated from society, Deadlock could be astonishingly perceptive.

“Not in so many words,” Starscream said, and of all things, his face heated. “I miscalculated, and didn’t know if my coding degradation would stall until you arrived. I was desperate.”

“And lucky he was here to donate.”

“He saved my life,” Starscream corrected. “I’m still not sure he quite understands that.”

Deadlock snorted. “Right. What would it matter to him? He got to frag a Seeker. Aft probably pranced out of here, trying to calculate who all he should blab to.” He folded his arms, optics darkening.

“While I appreciate your defending my honor, as I said, it wasn’t like that.” Starscream’s tone was wry, even as he tickled his fingers into Deadlock’s seams. “He offered his code and that was it. We did not interface.”

“Hmph. Then you found the honorable one out of the bunch,” he said with a sniff, though he gave Starscream a side-eyed look. “And don’t think I haven’t noticed you trying to distract me. Your fingers are all over my seams.”

Starscream made his optics big and wide. “What fingers?” He kept his tone as innocent as possible, even as he found a bundle of cables and stroked them. “Besides, what else am I supposed to do with a pretty little grounder in my lap? Hmm?”

“I can think of a few things,” Deadlock purred and his hands returned to Starscream’s wings, his engine rumbling noisily. “That is, if you don’t mind the distraction.”

“I wasn’t making any progress anyway,” Starscream said and pulled Deadlock into a kiss, moaning as denta nipped at his lips, and Deadlock rolled his hips in a manner which should be considered illegal.

~


The settlement’s oil baths were larger and more numerous than Starscream’s private one, but they were also cooler. And loud.

Rodimus tried not to make comparisons, but couldn’t help it. Not when he sank into the springwell they’d carved and shivered, because it wasn’t as blistering hot as Starscream’s had been. Or quite so soothing. He missed the enticing scent of whatever minerals Starscream swirled into the oils to make them so appealing. Plus Scuttle wasn’t around beeping at him as if afraid Rodimus had drowned.

To be fair, however, there was one thing Starscream’s private bath didn’t have – a determined and dedicated Sunstreaker.

There was once a time that Rodimus thought getting scrubbed on by a willing partner was an erotic experience that would lead to fun, berthtime shenanigans. He thought maybe that was still possible, so long as his partner wasn’t Sunstreaker, who considered time spent in the oil baths as serious as time spent on the training mat. It wasn’t for fooling around. It was for getting clean and spotless to Sunstreaker’s idea of perfection.

Sunstreaker scrubbed into Rodimus’ seams and armor plate as though the tiniest speck of dirt offended him. He lifted Rodimus’ limbs and spun him around like a drone meant to obey and little else. It wasn’t the soft and sensual, flirtatious sweep of a washrag. It was a determined, ferocious scrub that would have been invasive, if Rodimus wasn’t so used to it. Sunstreaker didn’t know how to say he cared so he showed it instead.

At least he’d be clean afterward, Rodimus thought, and braced himself to endure. It wouldn’t be the first time. Besides, a scrubdown by Sunstreaker was considered a thing of value in the clan. He was being treated. Other mechs were envious of the friendship Rodimus had with the twins, even though they’d scorned Sunstreaker and Sideswipe before.

Rodimus knew, just as much as the twins did, that their interest only came about because Sunstreaker and Sideswipe had successfully courted the warchief. Suddenly, Sunstreaker’s abrasiveness and Sideswipe’s irritating pranks were endearing, rather than off-putting. Now that they had the audial of one of the clan’s highest ranked members.

“So,” Sunstreaker began as he attacked a scuff on Rodimus’ left shin as though it had insulted his twin, “Want to tell me what happened?”

Rodimus winced. “You already know.” He didn’t meet Sunstreaker’s gaze, instead looking around at the other patrons of the bathing room. There was a group of younglings splashing around in the corner, under the bored gaze of their sitter. “I let the idiots goad me into doing something stupid. Then I got lost and had to hide out until the storm passed.”

“You were also attacked by turbowolves and somehow managed to repair yourself in the middle of a storm,” Sunstreaker said, his tone mild, but disbelieving.

“Yeah. Sounds about right.”

Sunstreaker snorted and spun Rodimus around. He bent over to peer at the patch of bare armor on Rodimus’ abdomen. “You didn’t do this,” he said as he gave it a poke before he looked up at Rodimus. “Come on, Roddy. It’s me, not those idiots. You can tell me the truth. Who’d you run into? One of Elita’s bunch? Magnus’? Skyfire’s?”

Rodimus shook his head. “I didn’t come across any of them. Honestly, Sun. I’m the only mech dumb enough not to check the forecast and realize there was a storm coming.” He rubbed the back of his head, lowering his gaze.

“Foolish, too, for actually believing those stupid rumors and letting the other Firebrands goad you.” Sunstreaker gave Rodimus another critical look. “You’re clean enough. Let’s get you dry so I can paint you.”

“Aww, Sun. You don’t have to.”

Sunstreaker cocked an orbital ridge. “None of that was a suggestion, Rodimus. Up you get.” He patted Rodimus’ aft for emphasis. “I’m not letting you walk around looking like that. It’s embarrassing.”

Beaten, Rodimus climbed out of the oil bath and snatched a meshcloth, toweling himself in short, efficient strokes, just as Sunstreaker had taught him. Beside him, Sunstreaker did the same.

In the corner, the younglings were being herded out by their sitter. This time of the day, the baths were scarcely occupied. Most of their clansmechs were on duty or out performing necessary tasks. The few mechs that were present paid them no attention. Frag, Drag Strip looked like he was napping. Rodimus wouldn’t be surprised if he actually was. Drag Strip was the only mech who spent more time soaking in the baths than Sunstreaker.

“You shouldn’t let them get under your plating like that,” Sunstreaker murmured as he finished his own armor and then frowned at Rodimus’ back, only to attack his spoiler with the drying cloth.

Rodimus bit back a sigh and endured once again. It was part of the price of a Sunstreaker cleaning. If he didn’t do a good enough job, Sunstreaker would do it himself.

“Goading you into doing something so stupid, I mean,” Sunstreaker added as he wiped the last trickles of oil from Rodimus’ spoiler and tossed the meshcloth into the recycle bin. “You don’t have anything to prove to them.”

“Maybe not. But I do have to show that I’m capable to Kup and Wirelight and the Warchief.” Rodimus gave Sunstreaker an askance look, though he knew Sunstreaker would never understand.

He and Sideswipe were born warriors, built for it down to the struts. It came easy to them. They had always been certain of their place in the clan. Yeah, maybe they’d wavered when it came to their chosen mate because who would be arrogant enough to court their warchief? But the twins had always been confident of themselves. It was one thing they never lacked.

“Chasing after a myth is not the way to do that,” Sunstreaker retorted. He tugged Rodimus out of the public baths and down the narrower back halls, no doubt to the large room he shared with his twin and their Warchief.

Warchief Megatron and Optimus Prime had larger rooms than anyone in the clan, but they weren’t ostentatious. Both mechs claimed they were nothing special, and to be fair, both had rather large family units that needed the greater space. The Prime’s bond was a carrier mech, one responsible for a half-dozen symbionts, and the Prime himself often held meetings in his quarters. Warchief Megatron was much the same, though he and the twins had not opted to raise younglings.

Yet.

“He’s not a myth,” Rodimus muttered.

Sunstreaker rolled his optics. “I know that. But honestly Rodimus, did you really think finding a Seeker for whatever reason was any way to prove your worth?”

His face heated. He clamped his mouth shut. He didn’t want to talk about how desperate he felt then. How the goading and the teasing and the challenge had made him puff up, made him feel obligated to prove himself. How he felt miles behind his fellow Firebrands and felt he’d never catch up. How his dreams of being a warrior slipped through his fingers. He’d never get to fight alongside Sideswipe and Sunstreaker if he couldn’t take the Warchief’s brand.

He wouldn’t get to travel. He wouldn’t get to see anything. He’d be stuck at the settlement, always at the settlement, with the rest of those too old or young or unskilled to defend themselves. He’d never see the Sea of Rust or the Sea of Mercury. He’d never visit with the other clans and meet new people.

He was too stupid for anything else. Rodimus knew this. If he couldn’t be a warrior, what use was he? He hadn’t the processor for tactics or study. He hadn’t the creativity to weave or sew or build. He was somewhat practiced at a little bit of everything, but skilled at absolutely nothing, and useless everywhere around.

What was he if not a warrior? If he couldn’t seek any of his passions? If he had to settle for security and safety, left behind to rot? He didn’t know if he could bear it, a life like that. He had to be meant for more.

If not a warrior, then what?

Rodimus didn’t have a good answer for that which didn’t make him sound pathetic or like a fool, or worse, both. So he pressed his lips together and folded his arms over his chest.

Sunstreaker sighed. He didn’t press for answers, at least, not while they still walked the public corridors.

When they arrived at the massive quarters Sunstreaker shared with his twin and their Warchief, however, Rodimus knew he was in for it. He braced himself, and tried not to look like he trudged to his doom as Sunstreaker swept aside the swinging door and gestured him inside.

Rodimus had been here before, albeit not as often as the time he’d spent in the small room Sunstreaker and Sideswipe used to share. The largest room was, by far, the main receiving room. Three other doorways led to the shared berth room, an office for the Warchief, and a storage room for all their spare weapons, energon, and supplies.

“Sit,” Sunstreaker said as he gathered up his painting supplies, all of which he kept in a central location for ease of use. Given how often he touched up his own paint, it was no surprise. He had a whole corner of the receiving room cordoned off just for his supplies.

Rodimus planted his aft in one of the chairs expertly arranged throughout the receiving room and cycled a ventilation, preparing himself for a lecture. Or an interrogation. Or both. Sunstreaker could be pretty perceptive when he put his processor to it, and with a victim who couldn’t escape, he had all the time in the world.

“Now,” Sunstreaker said as he moved closer, dragging a wheeled tray with his various instruments arrayed upon it, “are you going to tell me what really happened out there?”

Rodimus squirmed.

“Be still,” Sunstreaker added as he picked up a cloth and a bottle and eyed Rodimus’ midsection intently.

Rodimus fought back a sigh. “I’ve told you what happened.”

“Not the truth.”

Rodimus ground his denta. “How are you so sure I’m lying?”

“Because I know you,” Sunstreaker said simply, as if that was explanation enough.

Sunstreaker frowned, but it was directed at Rodimus’ belly, as he drizzled something on the mesh cloth and started to dab at Rodimus’ armor. The bitter reek of stripper floated up to Rodimus’ nose, and he wrinkled it.

“What does it matter anyway?” Rodimus asked, as desperate to keep the secret as he was to tell someone, anyone, about it in a vague hope that they would understand and help him make sense of it. “I’m back, I’m alive. What’s it matter what really happened?”

Sunstreaker didn’t look at him, focusing intently on the task at hand. “Because it matters to you,” he said softly, and then he looked up, his optics gentle as so few knew they could be. “Do you trust me?”

Rodimus groaned. He buried his face behind his hands. “Sunny, that’s not fair,” he said, just short of a whine. “You can’t pull that on me.”

“You see, that’s where you’re wrong.” Sunstreaker leaned back, and the tray clattered as he set aside the stripper and reached for something else. “I’m a warrior. I can use whatever tactic I like. That still doesn’t answer my question.”

Rodimus’ shoulders sank, even as he shifted at Sunstreaker’s urging, surrendering his abdomen to his friend’s ministrations. He leaned into the chair, trying not to wince as Sunstreaker chipped at the raised edges of the ragged weld.

“You can’t tell anyone,” Rodimus said as he lowered his hands. He gnawed on his bottom lip in between words. “I mean it, Sunny. I owe him my life.”

“Owe,” Sunstreaker echoed, before he nodded firmly. “Consider it locked then. Not even Sides or Megatron will know.” He bent over Rodimus again. “Tell me.”

If there was one person in the entire settlement Rodimus could trust with the truth, it was Sunstreaker. And he needed to tell someone.

So he did.

Quietly, in stuttered bursts and meandering incomplete sentences, while Sunstreaker silently worked on making his abdomen look brand new and then moved on to touching up his frame here and there. He didn’t comment, said nothing until he was sure Rodimus was finished, and that made it easier somehow.

He told Sunstreaker about getting lost, finding the caves, being attacked by the turbowolves and thinking that he’d met his end. He talked about how he’d woken up in an unfamiliar place, in the company of a stranger, who had not only repaired him, but offered his home as a refuge from the storm.

How Starscream had been rude and standoffish, but kind where it mattered. How he was beautiful and smart and ate Rodimus’ treats with evident delight. How he’d let Rodimus read his books and use his training room and explore the universe through the holographs in the Astronomy room. How Starscream had trusted Rodimus with a secret of his own, and then, the code sharing. How it had felt, how strange it had been, but also wonderful.

And then, his own mixed feelings. How a part of him had wanted to stay, because he wasn’t sure there was anything left for him in the clan, and aside from that, he wanted to get to know Starscream better. He was fascinated by everything in the tower. He’d learned so much and wanted to learn more. He loved the drones and Scuttle especially. He wanted to kiss Starscream and mean it.

By the time he finished, Sunstreaker had moved on to buffing him to a shine, his fingers making long, delicate sweeps over Rodimus’ spoiler. It was soothing, like a loving embrace, and Rodimus leaned into it, feeling like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders. Being around Sunstreaker, and Sideswipe also, had always been a comfort for him. Springer was his brother, but there was always this sense of competition between them. Whereas being with the twins was more about companionship.

“Well?” Rodimus prompted, once the silence had grown too long and stretched thin between them. He wanted Sunstreaker’s advice. He wanted to hear it from someone other than the stupid hopes building in his own spark.

Sunstreaker set down his buffing cloth and rested his hands on Rodimus’ shoulders. “I’m glad you came back to us,” he said.

Rodimus blinked. “That’s it?”

“Were you expecting a reprimand?” Sunstreaker’s voice was warm with humor, even as he moved around to face Rodimus, crouching to look up at him. “Tell me this, Rodimus. Is taking the Warchief’s badge the only action of worth to you?”

“It’s what I’m supposed to do.”

Sunstreaker shook his head, resting a hand on Rodimus’ nearest knee. “That’s not what I asked.”

Rodimus gnawed on his bottom lip. “If I’m not a warrior, then what am I? What’s the point of anything?” Which, he knew, didn’t answer Sunstreaker’s question either.

“I can’t answer that for you, and right now, I do think you need to answer it for yourself.” Sunstreaker patted his knee and stood up again, cupping Rodimus’ head and pressing a kiss to his forehead. “If I know you as well as I think I do, you’ll figure it out.”

“Thanks. I guess.” Rodimus squirmed in his grip, warmth fluttering out from his spark.

There was still a part of him which resented that Sunstreaker would never be his. He valued their friendship and what they had, but that Megatron had come along and wooed them away hung heavy in his spark. He used to dream about getting old enough, earning his warrior’s badge, and presenting himself as a mate candidate to the twins.

They bonded with Megatron before he ever got the chance.

“You’re welcome.” Sunstreaker released him and stepped back, lips curved with amusement. “Now come on. Let’s find you a meal before I turn you over to Kup’s custody.”

Rodimus groaned and hung his head. “Can’t I just hide here until he forgets about it?”

Sunstreaker chuckled. “I don’t think Megatron will approve, kid.”

“You’re not that much older than me.” Rodimus rolled his optics and forced himself to stand. Sunstreaker was right after all.

He had to face the consequences of his actions. No matter what it meant. Yes, they’d goaded him, but it had been Rodimus’ choice to leave without telling anyone, to barge into the desert with a half-baked plan and an absurd idea of proving himself.

“But thanks,” Rodimus added with a small smile. “For listening, I mean.”

Sunstreaker winked and dragged him into a half-hug, his frame warm and his engine purring and his field feeling the closest to what Rodimus could describe as home.

“Anytime, Roddy. Anytime.”

~


“So tell me about the Firebrand,” Deadlock said, out of nowhere, as they lounged in Starscream’s berth, feeling lazy and indulgent.

Interfacing with Deadlock was always a curious thing. Half-comfort, half-familiarity, all pleasure. Starscream adored Deadlock and the sensations his friend could invoke in him, and there was a soft curl of comfort in his belly whenever Deadlock was around. It was love, but it wasn’t.

Starscream didn’t think he could define it.

The jolt in his spark at the mere mention of Rodimus, however, was something wholly different. And unexpected. Had the Firebrand crawled so deeply under his plating?

Starscream lazily stretched his arms over his head and flopped over to his front, letting his wings twitch and shift in their housing. “Why?”

“Because I’m curious.” Deadlock sprawled next to him, hand slip-sliding over Starscream’s back to tease his seams. “And because it’s rare that you let anyone stick around.”

Starscream twitched a wing and pillowed his head on his arms. “Is that jealousy I detect?”

“Mmm. More like protectiveness.” Deadlock leaned over, getting his mouth on a wing flap, his denta asserting a light pressure.

Starscream hissed, heat coiling in his array, threatening to stir his sated bits back to life. “He’s gone,” Starscream managed to spit out. “What does it matter what he’s like?”

“It just does.” Deadlock’s ex-vents were hot and wet on the edge of Starscream’s wing. “Come on, Starling. Tell me. Was he at least attractive?”

Starscream laughed into the berth cover. “You’re ridiculous,” he said with a groan. “But yes, he was. Red and yellow, these garish flames painted across his chestplate. His alt-mode had a spoiler, and in root mode, it created these adorable faux-wings across his upper back.”

“Mmm.” Deadlock nibbled on his ailerons. One hand drifted down Starscream’s back, flirting over the curve of his aft. “What else?”

Starscream buried his face in his arms, though it did little to stall the light coils of pleasure stirring in his frame. “I think he’s from the Kaonite clan, you know, that big settlement to the east? He wasn’t branded.”

“Look at you, creche-robber.” Deadlock laughed. “Taking code from such a young thing. I shouldn’t be so surprised.”

Starscream shoved himself to his elbows and directed a glare over his shoulder. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Deadlock snorted. “Nothing.” He bit at Starscream’s wing again, optics teasing as they met Starscream’s. “Tell me more.”

“Why should I?” Starscream sniffed and flicked his wing out of Deadlock’s oral range.

“Because I asked.” Deadlock’s glossa swept over his lips, baring a hint of fang. “What’s his name?” His hand rested on Starscream’s aft, a lingering, heavy weight.

“Hot Ro-- No, Rodimus. It was Rodimus.” Starscream frowned as he corrected his defaults. “For some reason, he felt the need to tell me an alias. And he came here, like so many before him, because of a rumor. You know the one.”

Deadlock field flickered into anger. “Yes, I know the one,” he growled and his hand curled, claws threatening to curl a strip of paint from Starscream’s aft. “And you let him stay here anyway? Knowing what he wanted from you?”

“I made it quite clear the consequences of any misbehavior.” Starscream sniffed and tossed Deadlock a dark look. “I am capable of taking care of myself, you know.”

“Still a pointless risk.” Deadlock’s hand abandoned his aft sadly, and he pulled himself up, seated with his back to the wall and his knees drawn up. He draped his arms over his knees, hands gesturing. “Especially since he got what he wanted in the end.”

“I didn’t ‘face him,” Starscream repeated and buried his face in his arms, his voice muffled when he added, “I copied his code. I offered to ‘face him, in exchange for his code, but he turned me down.”

“Huh. A Firebrand with a conscience. Who knew they existed?” Deadlock snorted.

“He was quite… unusual.” Starscream offlined his optics, cycling several ventilations in an attempt to dismiss the lowgrade arousal simmering in his lines. “Messy, full of questions, and quite irritating at times but he wasn’t as much of a bother as I expected him to be.”

“Hm.”

Starscream blinked and pushed himself upright, half-swiveling to stare narrow-opticked at his best friend. “I know that tone.” He frowned. “What is it?”

Deadlock twisted his wrists, palms facing upward, a gesture of conciliation. “You tell me.” He tilted his head, optics dark and acute. “Get used to him being around, did you?”

Starscream twisted his frame until he was seated on the edge of the berth, though one leg curled up on it so he could face Deadlock. “You sure you’re not jealous?”

“Nothing to be jealous of. Not like you’re mine.” Deadlock shrugged, but there was nothing nonchalant about it. “Only I know that you don’t like people, yet you seem to have nothing but good things to say about this one.”

“Well, maybe that’s because he turned out not to be an aft like everyone else.”

“Except me.” Deadlock smirked, flashing one sharp fang. “And, well, Blurr.”

Starscream’s spark twinged at the reminder. It had been decades since he’d separated romantically from his former partner, and while that end had come by mutual agreement, it was still an ache of loss in his spark. Visiting Blurr occasionally, for a code refresh or just because, did little to ease the ache.

“You’re still an aft,” Starscream said loftily, trying to chase away the rush of sadness. “Just a different kind.” He hopped down from the berth and stretched his arms over his head. “I’m going to get some coolant. Shall I bring you something?”

Deadlock flopped back down to the berth, taking up such a large amount of space for a frame smaller than Starscream’s own. “Surprise me,” he purred as he wriggled about to make himself comfortable. “And don’t think we’re done talking about this. I know a redirection when I hear one.”

Starscream snorted and waved Deadlock off. He did need coolant, but yes, also, he wanted some distance.

He didn’t want to talk about Rodimus, because he couldn’t put into words the answer Deadlock wanted. Starscream wasn’t even sure what answer he wanted to give.

Best to forget about it.

****


a/n: More to come soon!
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