Megatron sat with his back to the wall. His optics were online but dimmed and unfocused. He rarely moved from the rough cot that served as his recharge berth. His cell was small and there was nowhere to walk to. His frame still bore the wounds from the battle of Detroit - no bot had seen the point in repairing a broken mech. Instead they had put him in this cell, knowing it would be his grave.
A mech used to come by with cubes of roughly filtered energon. He would slide them through the hatch in the bottom of the door. Megatron barely gave them a look, and they piled up, untouched. When the pile grew large enough, the guard stopped coming. The only voices Megatron heard now were the ghosts in his spark.
They had started softly. First a pulse in his core that didn't fit the rhythm. A beat after a beat. An echo. Later he got pangs of emotion he knew weren't his. Rage, despair, clawing hatred, longing. Always faint, but, more and more, always there. Unconnected to conscious thoughts of his own.
He didn't mention these to his guards, when they came. He sat still, and drifted in and out of recharge.
It was three stellars since Detroit. Only three stellar cycles, and already the great Megatron was cracking up.
He watched the wall. Sometimes he opened his chest just to watch the light move in the aching hollow. To reassure himself there wasn't some other star burning there.
Over time he began to analyse the ghost signals coiling through his spark. He knew he had to try, else he would lose himself in the impressions warring and twisting inside his core. There was the Allspark itself – when he had taken the relic's power into himself aboard the Autobot vessel it must have left some vestigial energy, an imprint on his spark. Not a physical shard of the crystal but pure energy and sacred, ancient code. His conscious processor hadn't picked them up before. It was only now, in the solitude of his confinement, that the ripples and echoes of that unholy bonding began to make themselves known.
There was a steady tap tap tap outside the cell. Was that footsteps, or the steady drip of water? Of energon?
Megatron's joints creaked as he raised a hand and tapped the side of his head with the heel of his hand. Something inside his helm rattled. He slumped back against the wall.
The light in the cell was dim and guttering. Soon it would be lights-out. His internal chronometer ticked away, but it was the sequence of light and dark that kept time for him.
The footsteps reached the door of Megatron's cell and paused. He turned his optics to the door, moving his helm just the slightest amount. His intakes stilled. Silence ate at him. The footsteps moved on. No new cube today.
He turned back to stare, sightless, at the wall opposite his berth. Ten slow intakes later, there was a clanking, a creaking, and a rumble from up above. The light went out.
The echoes were always more pronounced in the night-cycle. He shuttered his optics so he didn't have to watch the sliding shadows. His spark murmured. His armour prickled. His fingers twitched. He kept very still as his intakes slowed.
He turned himself inward. His spark whispered to him - the vastness of the Allspark, pale likeness as it was, lurked beyond the layer of conscious thought. In that endless mess of code and pulsing energy, his own essence curled and blended. He felt close to the Well of All Sparks, the wellspring of all Cybertronian life. He felt close to the Pit, as the dead whispered in his audios.
Faint vocals, half whispers, snatches of emotion. Memories of a young Cybertron before the war, a snatch of uncomprehending rage, the peace of meditation. The cool, pure rush of wind under wings he didn't possess.
One presence was always stronger than the others.
He pressed his optics tightly shut and swallowed. Something pushed into the centre of his spark, some stubborn feeling. A will the like of which he'd never known before or would again... except in him. It was half a shove, half a creeping caress. He resisted at first, but it was as much a part of him as his own spark. He was open, and a ghost with a grudge could slink on through.
A phantom stroke over his brand. The sensation of wings stretching from his back. And with those, an aching, burning deep in his core, in his mind - a yearning, for life, for more, for everything he could have and everything he couldn't. An insatiable hunger. The graze of sharp teeth against his shoulder. He onlined his optics with a gasp.
The shadows were thick before his face. At first he thought he was alone. Then two points of crimson light grew bright enough to see, and he stared mutely at the smiling face he knew so well.
He was still. Starscream's shade stared back at him like a mask. Megatron's spark twisted, and he thought he saw Starscream's expression falter.
He was the first to break the silence. In the deathly quiet his vocals sounded like somebot else's. "Starscream."
"Megatron." He was close enough to touch, but Megatron didn't move. Starscream couldn't really be there. Starscream died on Earth. He'd seen the grey husk of his frame himself. He'd filed the image away to process later, after the Autobots were done with the victory parade and he was safely incarcerated in his living tomb. Only then had he opened the memory file. He had tried to determine how he felt about seeing the seeker dead, and not at his hand.
There was a glassy look to Starscream's optics. His frame was matte and grey in place of sleek red. His wings were scratched and dented, but his teeth were sharp. He leaned in, and Megatron felt cool breath against his cheek.
"How...?" Was this just another echo from the shattered Allspark, or was he really back to haunt him?
"You know me," Starscream breathed. His vocals were so quiet. Megatron could barely hear him, but he knew just what he said. "I always find a way..."
Megatron stilled at the sudden cool touch of a glossa licking his audio. He raised his hands and dared to touch, resting his hands on the seeker's slender waist. Starscream felt solid enough. Megatron's fingers just met, his large hands encircling Starscream's middle. Had the seeker always been this slight? He seemed smaller, but the shadow his wings cast was long and black.
"You're dead," Megatron mumbled. His vocals were still rich and deep, but there was a flatness to his tone. He couldn't hold Starscream's optics. There was something there he didn't recognise.
"Well..." Starscream ducked his head. He kissed the base of Megatron's throat and made him shiver. One hand came to rest over Megatron's brand, stroking. Megatron looked down – Starscream's slender claws looked like blades. Megatron's vision blurred, and Starscream's hand moved through his chest-plates as though they weren't there. Had he opened his plating without realising? He tried to move. He felt cold, and the voices of the Allspark whispered and rose, becoming a frantic rushing in his audios, his chest, his head. Starscream's hand encircled his spark, his dead fingers like ice. "Nobody's perfect."
He tilted his head as Starscream leaned over him. The kiss was dry and strange, but he responded with all the ache and longing he'd let build up ever since he saw the seeker's body cooling in the rubble, optics cracked and dark. His spark expanded and reached out, calling for another, long extinguished. Starscream purred and pushed close. He answered that call.
The echoing voices grew fainter as Starscream's grip grew tighter. The kiss became harder. Megatron gasped as his spark constricted – his firewalls were useless, and Starscream pushed in. The world shifted, and suddenly he was watching through his own optics as his frame moved, creaking, to its feet, without his command. Horror beat in his spark, but was rapidly quashed. His spark no longer belonged to him alone – hadn't done since he pushed the Allspark into it. And now, his frame was his no longer either.
He felt the pain in his joints, his battered frame, in old wounds that had never been treated and never healed. His body stood, rolled its shoulders, flexed its fingers. It was a strong frame, he realised – in the silence and stagnation of his imprisonment he had almost forgotten. There was a tightness in his chest, a new pain. He realised the sting was the strain of his spark trying to reassert itself as it was smothered by the alien presence, by the invading ghost. Panic finally gripped him. Starscream could not be stronger than him.
Starscream's new-formed spark cooed as it curled around Megatron's. Formed from the echo in the Allspark and stolen energy from Megatron's core and weary system, the heat of it grew until it burned Megatron's chamber and made his own core shrink.
Starscream's being reached out from the spark through every line, and he took his first step. The ground shook. His faceplates stretched into a smile – sharper and slyer than that face had ever shown. He cleared his throat.
“At last... I claim my true place.” The vocals were deep and rich, a gravelly purr that Megatron recognised as his own, though he didn't speak the words. He raged and fought for control, silently. Even so, Starscream heard, and laughed. The snicker became a rumbling chuckle from Megatron's throat.
“Oh, stop complaining,” Starscream said, aloud, in Megatron's voice. “You were happy in your prison before. Nothing has changed.” He turned toward the door. Reinforced, locked, probably with a forcefield to secure it. Guards without, guns, fences.
He was unarmed, but that wouldn't stop him. Nothing could stop him now.
“As for me, however...” His hands curled into fists, and he felt the strength in them. Strong enough to kill him, once. In a past life. “The Decepticons await their leader.”