There was no one on any planet who hated their Creation Day more than Starscream.
It wasn’t that anything particularly bad ever happened during it. It was that nothing happened during it. He went to the Science Academy with all kinds of snotty science frames who constantly bragged about all the things they were given for their Creation Days. Parties and gifts, none of which he truly cared about to be sure. But even he’d admit it would be lying to say that he wasn’t at least a little jealous of the entire affair.
The only person who had ever cared was Skyfire. They’d get together for their Creation Days and do something quiet, usually a holovid or dinner. And it was nice, yes, but sometimes he wished to be the center of attention.
“Starscream, would you take Skyfire and investigate these energy spikes Teletraan-1 has been picking up in Florida?” Optimus Prime asked, pointing at the screen before him. There was a steady pulsing light on the map somewhere on the southern tip of the state. “As our resident scouting experts, not to mention your expertise in energy detection and conversion, I suspect you’ll be able to gather greater results than anyone else.”
Starscream looked at his servos and exvented dramatically. “I suppose I wasn’t doing anything more important today,” he said, not bothering to hide the prideful vibration of his wings as he was praised. “Would you like us to leave immediately?”
“That would be appreciated,” Optimus nodded. “I would appreciate it if you returned by tonight as well. Prowl has scheduled a meeting we all need to attend. No, even I can’t get out of it despite being his commander.”
“If it’s that important,” Starscream rolled his optics and turned around. “We’ll have your results before you know it, Prime.” He walked out and down the hall towards the Science Team’s lab where he knew he’d find his partner. Of course, he’d be going on a mission during his Creation Day. It wasn’t as if he’d actually told anyone, as he never found the time and actually felt nervous about it.
What a ridiculous notion. Starscream? Nervous about something as silly as telling the Autobots about his Creation Day? For some reason, it felt… invasive to bring it up. They’d only been a team for a few Earth months at this point, and he’d practically be begging them to pay attention to him exclusively for one solar cycle. Something about how accepting they were of him and Skyfire made it actually feel wrong. He’d faced so much discrimination up until they were awoken from the ice. Now there was an entire army of Cybertronians who just accepted who they were.
“Skyfire?” Starscream called as he entered the lab, finding him talking to Perceptor, Wheeljack, and Mainframe in low vocals. “Skyfire!” he called a little more sharply, putting his hands on his hips.
The shuttle before him jumped, turning quickly. He looked startled for some reason, though he quickly covered it up. Not that he was ever a very good liar. That was Starscream’s job. “Oh, Star! Sorry about that, we didn’t hear you come in,” Skyfire apologized quickly.
“Yes, clearly,” Starscream sneered. “And what were you all conspiring about?”
“Conspiring, us?” Wheeljack asked in his most innocent voice. It was the same one he used whenever Ratchet asked what he did this time when he arrived injured in the medic’s office again. “Come on; you’re talkin’ about Skyfire, here.” He slapped the larger mech on the arm. “You really think this guy could actually do something untrustworthy?”
Starscream narrowed his optics at the weaponologist. He looked from him to Perceptor, but the microscope had suddenly found a point in the corner of the ceiling extremely fascinating. Mainframe just turned his back on the flier, knowing he was the worst liar of them all. The Seeker exvented. “I don’t have time for this. Skyfire, Prime asked us to go on a mission to… what was it called… Florida. Something about energy spikes.”
“Right, coming,” Skyfire confirmed, following quickly as Starscream turned and started down the hall again.
There was a long moment of awkward silence between them before Starscream finally asked, “Are you going to tell me what you’re hiding?”
“I’m not hiding anything!” Skyfire answered a bit too fast and loudly.
“You are the worst liar I know, Sky,” Starscream snickered, turning on his heel and walking backward as they approached the exit from their crashed Ark base. “Are you sure it’s nothing to do with my Creation Day?”
The shuttle rubbed the back of his helm. “I really can’t hide anything from you, can I?”
After a moment, Skyfire finally answered, “I don’t want to tell you now. Can it wait?”
“If you must,” Starscream confirmed, turning back around as they exited. “Now, let’s get there as quickly as possible. Prime wants us back tonight, so we’re on a bit of a time crunch. Not that the pair of us need to worry about speed.” He took a running leap into the air, transforming into his jet mode and taking off. He knew Skyfire was right behind him.
Florida was… wet. And hot. Honestly, it was miserable in general.
“I’m detecting absolutely nothing,” Starscream complained as they flew a circle around its southern tip again. “I think our computer is glitching. No major energy sources, no Decepticons luring us in, no anything. This was just a great big waste of time.” He huffed the last word, transforming into his robot mode and allowing himself to fall out of the sky and land on the wet grassland beneath them.
“Not a… complete waste of time,” Skyfire offered, landing next to him. He took the Seeker’s servos and pulled him over to a clear spot and sat down, gesturing for him to do the same. “When was the last time we had time to go out exploring together? We’re always so busy these days.”
“True, but…” Starscream trailed off as realization dawned in his optics, looking up at Skyfire in disbelief. After a moment of looking at the grin the shuttle was giving him, he scoffed. “I don’t believe it… you planned this, didn’t you?!”
“It took teamwork, but I actually managed to do it,” Skyfire laughed, leaning down until his forehelm was resting on Starscream’s. “You’re not an easy person to fool, but I wanted to take you somewhere we could finally be alone for your Creation Day.”
“Wait, do the others know?” Starscream asked incredulously.
“Of course they do, how do you think I would have convinced them to help if they didn’t?”
“Great, they actually knew it was my Creation Day, and I got absolutely nothing from them. I see how it is.”
Skyfire chuckled and scooted closer to the Seeker, pulling him into his side and stroking his frame affectionately. “Come now; they did give us some alone time. Isn’t that enough?”
Starscream huffed petulantly but still relaxed. It was true that they didn’t have a lot of time for just the two of them anymore. Sure, in their quarters on the Ark they were building many fond memories, but there was always the lingering threat of a sudden interruption as a mission suddenly popped up, or the Decepticons attacked. (Honestly, Starscream was glad he strayed from the route of the phantom version of himself he’d encountered, as the Decepticons were insufferable enough to deal with as enemies.) The prospect of some time without either was inviting.
“I suppose it’s not so bad,” the red and white flier finally admitted. He shuttered his optics and vented contentedly. Yes, he supposed this would do just fine.
“Also, the other scientists helped me make you a gift,” Skyfire said, shifting against him. “I know it’s not much, but…”
Starscream activated his optics again, looking to where Skyfire was holding out a hand to him. In it was a small box. The Seeker pushed himself upright again curiously, taking it and opening. His optics went wide at the sight within it. It was some kind of accessory in gold, with three huge red gems set into it. He gently pulled it from the box, turning it over in his hands. “What is it?” he finally asked.
“It’s a bracelet,” Skyfire answered, taking it. “Humans wear them on their wrists.” He hesitated a moment, looking from it to Starscream’s optics. They were the same striking red color as the gems. He turned fully to the Seeker and said, “Before all of this happened, before we went on our expedition, we promised we’d get bonded, remember? Formally, I mean. On Earth, they call it ‘marriage.’ They usually initiate it with a ring, but those aren’t very compatible with our servos. So… I thought, maybe…” He opened the bracelet, holding it out. “Starscream, would you bond with me?”
Starscream looked from him to the bracelet, for once in his lifecycle completely speechless. Finally, he held out his hand, placing his wrist on the open bracelet. “Of course I will,” he huffed, though he couldn’t help the smile that spread across his grey faceplate. The bracelet clicked closed, and he held it up to look at it. It was striking against the blue of his hands. “You already said we promised. We’ve just… never had the time to get around to it. Being frozen and missing a whole war and everything, you know.”
Skyfire smiled in return, leaning down and taking Starscream’s faceplate in his hands. “I love you,” he whispered. “More than anything. I would give you the universe for your Creation Day if I could.”
Starscream felt his spark warm, placing his hands on the back of Skyfire’s helm and pulling him down into a kiss. When they broke apart, he vented contentedly. “It would certainly make for an amazing Creation Day gift,” he teased. “But I’ll settle for a bit of gold. And you. I will most certainly take you.”
“That I can give you,” Skyfire chuckled and pushed him back onto the grass, kissing him again. And again. Yes, this would do for a present quite nicely.
The pair of explorers landed in front of the Ark again as the sun was setting, comfortable and content and happy with how their time together had been spent. It was certainly a nice change, being able to spend hours together without fear of interruption.
It was time to wind it down, though, as Prowl’s meeting was waiting for them. Joy.
When they entered the Ark and opened the door to the bridge where Teletraan-1 was, Starscream was startled by a sudden chorus of, “SURPRISE!”
The Autobots were all standing in the room with their human friends. There were balloons and streamers, a huge banner that said ‘HAPPY CREATION DAY,’ and even a large cake made of Cybertronian ingredients.
“W-what the frag is this?” Starscream finally managed, completely confused.
“It’s a Creation Day party, mech!” Jazz answered, walking over and slapping him on the shoulderplate.
“Skyfire had told us how your Creation Day had never been properly celebrated before, at least not by anyone but the two of you,” Optimus explained. “So we decided to surprise you.”
“From yer face, Ah’d say we succeeded!” Ironhide laughed.
Starscream reset his optics and shook his helm, feeling heat rise up. Was that what this was about? Giving him a party so they could laugh at him with everyone there? How dare they?
No, no, this wasn’t the Science Academy. He wasn’t being laughed at, they weren’t like that. They went through all of this effort to send him and Skyfire away for some alone time just so they could do this for him. He could do this.
“I’m impressed,” the Seeker finally answered, putting his hands on his hips. “It takes a lot to fool me.”
“Tell us about it,” Wheeljack laughed, putting a hand on his helm. “It took literally everyone to be able to pull this off! You almost caught us in the lab, too!”
Starscream chuckled in return and let himself be pulled into the crowd to mingle and talk with his fellow Autobots. Well-wishes and congratulations were given to him, and Starscream did his best to take them all graciously. He simply… didn’t know what to do. He didn’t know how to handle people actually caring that he was created. He came off an assembly line with literally dozens of others on the same day. What was special about today to anyone that wasn’t him?
“Happy birthday, Starscream.”
Starscream looked down to the table at his elbow as he took a bite of the cake that was provided. Apparently, it had been made by Ratchet, which was a surprise. It was actually pretty good. The tang of liquid metal was especially well done. Spike, Carly, and Chip were eating cake as well, though theirs was from a much smaller one made of human-safe ingredients. Chocolate, apparently. “Excuse me?” Starscream asked, unsure of the sentiment.
“Spike means ‘Happy Creation Day,’” Carly corrected, elbowing the boy standing with her. “We call them birthdays on Earth. We even helped decorate.”
“You wouldn’t believe how many balloons we blew up,” Chip chuckled. “We couldn’t even fill a third of the room, though. You guys need balloons your own size.”
Starscream looked at the ceiling, which was covered in tiny, colorful rubber spheres filled with what his scanners registered as helium. These must’ve been the balloons they were talking about. They most definitely were a human thing, as they were about the size of the tip of his servo. He could poke one and pop it. “Hmm, well, I appreciate your effort,” he said diplomatically. “I’m not sure what we’re going to do with them after this, though.”
“I’m sure we can find a use,” Spike said, taking another bite of cake.
“They surprised us when they said you guys don’t give presents on Creation Day,” Chip said.
“Well, that’s only technically true,” Starscream explained, putting his plate down and leaning next to the humans. “We only expect gifts from those we’re especially close to. Creators, sparkmates, the closest of friends. That sort of thing.”
“So… Skyfire’s your sparkmate, right?” Carly asked, looking over to where the shuttle was speaking to some of his fellow fliers. “That’s where you got the bracelet. Who else did you get them from?”
Starscream looked away from her and felt his spark sink a bit. He didn’t have creators, being constructed. And best friends? He liked plenty of them well enough, but no one enough to call such a thing. He was suddenly very aware of how… lonely he was. Just another soldier. Instead of expressing it, he asked, “How did you know Skyfire got me the bracelet?”
“Because I was the one who suggested it,” the human girl answered, reaching in her back pocket. She handed her plate to Spike as she fished out a small pamphlet, opening it. “I’ve been looking at some jewelry for my mom’s birthday, and I showed this to Skyfire. You like looking nice, so I thought you’d like something like this.” She held it out on a page with a similar looking bracelet to his. It was silver instead, with sapphires.
Starscream looked at his bracelet. The gems were certainly not rubies, as getting some the size required for them would be near impossible. However, in his opinion, it was still much nicer than the one in the pamphlet. “Well… thank you,” he finally said, feeling it was the appropriate thing after she apparently gave Skyfire the idea.
“No problem,” Carly smiled, folding it back up and putting it back. “Raoul was the one who suggested the colors. Believe it or not, he’s actually really good with that kind of stuff.”
They looked over to where the young Latino man was sitting on the edge of Teletraan-1, talking to Tracks and Blaster as he usually was. He seemed far more comfortable spending time with the ‘bots than he did with the other humans. “I would never guess it, considering how he dresses,” Spike muttered.
“Spike, don’t be rude!” Carly snapped, elbowing him.
“Yeah, I don’t think we want to hear anything about that from you, Mr. I-Wear-Hard-Hats-Literally-Everywhere,” Chip teased.
Starscream chuckled a bit but decided to leave the kids to their bickering. He wasn’t always comfortable spending too much time around them. Something still burned in the back of his memories, the ones he received from the other Starscream. Images of things he’d done to the humans that made him feel guilty for things he never did.
“How do you like the party?” Mirage asked, leaning against the wall. He wasn’t a very social person, though no one blamed him. He was much better at not being seen.
“It’s nice,” Starscream replied, looking around at the Autobots attending again. “Everyone has been really… nice.” He really couldn’t think of a better word. This all seemed so… pointless. He wouldn’t say it out loud, but it felt like something they did because they had to rather than they wanted to.
This was why he didn’t tell them about his Creation Day.
After a moment of thinking on that, Starscream passed his plate to Mirage, who accepted it without question. “Excuse me, I’m feeling a bit exhausted.” It was a dumb excuse, but again the infiltration expert didn’t say anything. He simply nodded.
Starscream walked out of the room and vented deeply, looking at the ceiling. A green balloon had followed him out. He shook his helm and kept walking down the hall towards the room he shared with Skyfire, arms crossing over his chestplate as his thoughts wandered.
“Starscream!” Skyfire’s vocals found him, the shuttle hurrying over. “Starscream, where are you going?” he asked, concerned. He fell into step behind Starscream, which wasn’t hard considering his steps took him a great deal further than the much smaller Seeker’s.
“To our room,” Starscream simply answered as if it were the most obvious answer. It may have been, as he stopped outside of it and pushed the button to open the door. He stepped in and slumped, his entire chassis relaxing now that the others wouldn’t be able to see him.
Skyfire followed inside and closed the door behind him. “What’s wrong?” he asked. “And please don’t say ‘nothing.’ Even you’re not that good of a liar.”
Starscream rubbed his servos over his faceplate, looking up at his sparkmate. “This isn’t what I wanted,” he admitted, gesturing the direction they’d come from. “Why are they even doing that? They don’t know me that well. I’m just another Autobot to them.”
“Starscream!” Skyfire sounded startled, moving in front of him and putting his hands on the smaller flier’s arms. “That’s not true, and you know it. They threw you a party because they care. They wanted to do something to show that.”
“Well, what if I didn’t want a party?!” Starscream snapped, shrugging out of his touch. “Why did you even tell them about my Creation Day?! I don’t want them to celebrate it! It doesn’t mean anything if they do!”
The words shocked his sparkmate, who stared at him with wide optics. “I don’t understand. Why are you so angry?” he asked, sounding a bit hurt.
Starscream felt his spark clench that he did that but didn’t take it back. He shouldn’t have to. “It’s my day,” he said stubbornly. “I get to choose how I spend it, and I wanted to spend it with you! Not with any of them! I barely even know them!”
“Well, perhaps if you gave them a chance…” Skyfire tried to reason with him.
“They’re celebrating my Creation Day because they have to! I bet they have parties for everyone!”
“They don’t, and you probably realize that,” the shuttle said in exasperation. “Did you know last week was Red Alert’s Creation Day?”
Starscream stared at him a moment before huffing. “He’s different. He’d probably worry about every security concern a party would have and never have fun.”
“Alright, how about Hound? His was a month and a half ago.”
Starscream turned his back on Skyfire and stared at the floor, but he couldn’t think of a good response to that one. Instead, he asked, “Well, then, why me? I’ve barely been here that long. They said they felt bad that I never had a celebration before. It doesn’t make it better if it’s out of pity.”
“Starscream,” Skyfire exvented. He could hear frustration starting to well up in the normally endless patience. “You’re being unfair to them. They’re doing something nice for you. Why can’t you just… let it be that?”
“Because I don’t want them to do it because they have to! I want them to do something nice for me because I’m me! Not because I’m just another copy of the assembly line!” Starscream finally shrieked, turning and grabbing Skyfire’s arm and shaking it. “I don’t want to just be another member of an army again!”
“Again?” Skyfire echoed, kneeling down in front of him. “Starscream… does this have to do with the memories you gained from that other you?”
Starscream’s frame shook for a moment before he threw himself into his sparkmate’s arms. He let out a strained sound of distress. “I’m not just another knockoff…” he sobbed. “I’m me… I’m not replaceable…”
“Ssshhh,” Skyfire soothed, rubbing his backstrut and helm comfortingly. “You’re okay, it’s alright. You’re right, you’re no one but you. No one here thinks anything differently.”
Starscream let him hold him, comfort him, trying not to let the other Starscream, the one from the future he refused to let happen, invade him with his memories again. But all he could think of was the Creation Days that Starscream experienced after joining the Decepticons. Lonely and uneventful, even with two members of his trine sharing the same one. Bringing it up every once in a while, and the Decepticons waving it off as just another day. No one to make it special like Skyfire had. No one to make him feel important despite sharing the Creation Day with so many others. Just another soldier. Just another Seeker off the assembly line.
Now, though, this now that he created by defying what his future counterpart had shown him, the Autobots were celebrating him. Despite not knowing him that long, despite him trying to hide from them that today was it. They were trying to make him feel accepted and as a part of the team, not as a soldier but as a person.
Frag, Starscream felt like a selfish glitch.
“Are you okay?” Skyfire asked after Starscream’s venting started to calm, though he continued to rub calming circles on his back.
Starscream nodded, and then pushed himself back. He stepped away from his sparkmate and pulled a cloth he usually used to clean spots off his frame to wipe away at the washer fluid that flowed from his optics. “I’m sorry,” he said pitifully. “I don’t know what’s gotten into me. Besides that afthole other me, I mean.” He sneered the last part.
Skyfire chuckled, standing up again. “Are you ready to go back?” he asked.
“Yes,” Starscream confirmed, subspacing the cloth again and taking a deep vent. “Thank you, Skyfire.” He held out a hand and waited for Skyfire to take it. He pulled the shuttle down into a kiss. “I love you, Skyfire.”
“I love you, too,” Skyfire smiled.
“Now, come on. There’s a whole room of people waiting to tell me how amazing I am.”