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It had been a rough night.

Starscream’s pedes dragged against the cold, pristine floors; each step producing a dull echo in the empty hallways. His wings stood tall, perfect and poised to the untrained eye, with a tenseness so often attributed to the seeker that it became ordinary. His optics were downcast, the deep crimson critical and unseeing as he made his way back to his quarters.

His work was perfect; he knew that. His designs functioned, his discoveries were leagues ahead of that of his lab mates, and his name would undoubtedly find its place in history.

So why did he still feel like slag?

Starscream huffed, hand coming up to pinch the bridge of his nose. It was an endless cycle it seemed.

In the lab he was focused, his mind reworking experiments and creating hypothesis’s. He had questions and knew how to get the answers. Yet, once he left his workstation, it all came crashing down. Without the humming and churring of machines and the familiarity of a datapad in his hands, he was lost. His mind wandered. With nothing else to examine, his constantly criticizing gaze turned inward to himself.

He knew he was intelligent. He knew he was successful. He just didn’t feel that way.

Starscream’s engine gave a high-pitched whine as he abruptly turned down a different corridor; he needed to get some air.

He marched his way to one of the outer halls, a terrace-like structure overlooking the bumbling city below. Servos gripping the guardrail, he let out another heavy outvent and let his optics flicker off.

Against all reason he felt… he felt inferior.

With the size of his accomplishments, the praise returned was nothing comparable. He wasn’t liked very much by his peers, he knew that. Pit, the feeling was mutual. Yet, with every successful experiment, he still felt – something – when the acknowledgment was little to none. He tried and he tried, yet no matter what he did, it never seemed to be good enough. It was simply expected.

“Why do I even care?” He muttered with the breath of a snarl, onlining his optics and resting his head dejectedly on a closed fist.

“Care about what?”

Flinching, Starscream schooled his features out of their solemn positioning and plastered on a bored look as he turned to face the newcomer.

“Why, none of your slagging-“ Starscream cut himself off with a sharp huff, placing a hand on his hip as he gave the other a once over. “Oh, I thought it was somebody important.” He drawled, lifting a servo and nonchalantly inspecting his pristine claws.

“Is that how you speak to important mechs?” Skyfire asked, a fond smile gracing the shuttles faceplates as he neared the seeker.

“Only the ones I don’t like.”

“So, all of them, then?”

Starscream snorted and rolled his optics, pushing off the guardrail and meeting the other halfway. Laying a servo on Skyfires’ chestplate and resting his helm against the glass with a soft ‘clink’, he interlaced his servos with the shuttles and offlined his optics. Skyfires smiled dimmed as he gently placed a servo on the seekers wing and leaned down to press his lips to the top of the others helm.

He knew about the other flier’s troubles. Even though Starscream did his damnedest to hide it, the shuttle could see how the alienation from the rest of his peers ached with each of the seekers movements. He remembered how the seeker used to be when he left the labs: optics shining with the vision of a new idea, wings beating happily to the thrum of his spark, his mind creating worlds and theories too big for even himself, all-consuming and boisterous, the death of a star and the birth of the universe – all at once.

But now? That light was gone.

Holding the jet in his arms right now, Skyfire ached for what was lost in his partners optics. The vibrancy and ambition that perked his wings up for reasons other than disguising his dejection.

Tightening his half-hug on the other, Skyfire gave a small sigh.

“Keep thinking so hard and you’re going to fry your processor.”

Straightening back up, Skyfire looked down at Starscream; the seeker turning his helm up to give the shuttle a deadpan look that said he knew where the others mind was wandering.

“Well,” Skyfire started, forcing a smile to return to his faceplates. “We can’t have that happening, now can we?”

“Nope.” Starscream responded, popping the ‘p’ as he wiggled out of the shuttles embrace. “After all,” He smirked up at Skyfire. “It’s about all you’ve got going for you.”

Skyfire rolled his optics and huffed as the seeker patted his arm and stalked past him towards the terraces exit.

“Come on, it’s getting late and I’ve got some datapads for you to proofread before we recharge.” He called over his shoulder as he left the room.

Skyfire watched him go. While his sparked ached, filled with memories of what they used to have, he still felt hopeful that something new could be made. They could find that light again. Through trial and error, they would find themselves again, and together they would outshine the sun.

Taking one last glance outside the terrace window at the colorful city lights below, Skyfire followed suit.