He retired to his room at midday, while this world's weak yellow sun burnt high in the sky. If only he could blame the fuzziness in his processor on Cliffjumper's fist.
The morning had been... pleasant. Such experiences were rare, where Megatron was concerned.
I still believe that somewhere within you, there is a capacity for greatness. Those had been Megatron's words. And while long experience had taught Starscream to mistrust them - surely, Megatron would only foist such compliments upon in him if he desired something in return! - Megatron had made no more advances, no more demands.
Certainly, there had been no more spark-swelling kisses, the sort that smoldered his tank like fouled energon, and made him furious in all the wrong and right ways. For all intents and purposes, Megatron had been the perfect gentlemech on their little joy-flight. He'd even thanked Starscream after they landed.
It was, Starscream decided, clinking into his personal washracks and setting the solvent level to a gentle solution that should eat through the dust and saltspray on his plating, highly suspicious.
He'd told Megatron he wouldn't be crawling back to his berth anytime soon. He'd made it very fragging clear.
And Megatron... Had accepted it. Without causing Starscream much in the way of undue damage. He’d even proceeded to treat him as if he were a mech worthy of holding a conversation with, and…
Starscream’s jaw champed. Pathetic. For a mech of his standing to suckle on such scraps of affection, and draw any nutrition forth! What did a kind word do, to make up for the dent Megatron crushed into his arm last night? What of all the dents that proceeded it?
You have more pride than this, he snarled, in the privacy of his mind. You are Air Commander Starscream, Winglord of Vos. You will not be tamed by a few sweet nothings from the beast who makes you call him 'Master'!
Unfortunately, while his helm made the sensible choice and agreed that they would never again deign to have any part of Megatron’s anatomy within grinding distance, his cooling fans didn’t get the memo.
Starscream groaned as they whirred to life.
His processor replayed Megatron cutting through the surf, a force of pure might. The rumble of his jets tremoring the waves.
It produced an alternate scenario, whereupon Starscream had flown up to him and twisted beneath. Rubbed his cockpit lasciviously on Megatron’s undercarriage in that way of hungry young Seekers. Where Megatron responded...
Stupid. Childish, imbecilic.
Megatron wouldn't understand the gesture, much less the offer it contained. And Starscream, for all the conflicted heat that had sunk through his frame when Megatron kissed him, wouldn't want him to take him up on it.
Their flame guttered out, long ago. Why reignite it, when Starscream would be the only one burnt?
He stepped beneath the spray. Tilting his head, he let the solvent pour into the crevice of his collar-armor. The warm liquid welled up and over, soaking his neck-cables, draining into all those hard-to-reach nooks and crevices where his armor closed over his protoform.
His wings fluttered, flicking droplets in all directions. He cupped handfuls of the turquoise solvent, rubbing it over his faceplates until they felt clean again.
Bathing had been a communal pleasure, on Vos. But there were no true Seekers left to wash wings with, and Starscream did not deign to join the public washracks with the common drones.
He rubbed up and down his arms, over the newly-hammered forearm guard where Megatron had tried to crush his wrist. His claws lingered there a moment, brushing the head of his replaced missile. Then continued, up and over his chest plates, around his insignia, alighting flickers of feedback through his sensory array.
Megatron, gliding after his contrails, clumsily emulating each manoeuvre.
Starscream dug talons into the seams between his exposed tank tubing, ensuring any grime washed away.
Megatron, dodging the eruption of spray from the great whale’s blowhole, returning dripping and snarling to Starscream's side.
Starscream smoothed a handful of solvent over his thighs, trickles snaking over sleek silver plates.
Megatron's silence when Starscream dared snigger – followed by a grumbling ex-vent, rather than pain.
Starscream rinsed the point where his armor cuved back on itself, leaving the protomesh of his inner thighs exposed. A thin layer of metal separated his claws from his vital energon lines. It was a necessary vulnerability, for one whose battle tactics focused on aerial speed - and yet, when he trusted his partner, nothing warmed him faster than attention to those tender, dark gray stripes.
Once, he couldn't help but recall, he had trusted Megatron.
Megatron this morning, on the flight deck, one hand open to encompass the clouds...
Starscream sighed. He rested his helm back against the wall of the shower, shutting his optics and listening to the rhythmic beat of the solvent over his plating, the camber on the tiled floor.
'After you, Starscream'.
Bastard. This was all his fault.
Starscream ran the very tips of his claws over his thighs. Lightly. So lightly. Not rough enough to scratch the surface.
Then he repeated it, a little harder.
The rush of sensation made his hips arch from the wall of their own accord. His spark pulsed, his core clenched, sensory system sparkling with current.
Perhaps he could...? Megatron had given him a joor to refuel before returning to the Bridge to resume the day's activities. That was time enough to take off the edge, as young mechs called it.
The solvent thundered around him, a curtain that parted him from the world. He was just… attending to his needs, that was all. It'd been so long since he had a long, free flight like that, no orders belted into his commlink, no mission to complete. Just himself and the cold cut of the wind, and Megatron, and -
No. This wasn't about Megatron. This, for once, was all about Starscream.
He didn't think about Megatron, as he kneaded his solvent-striped legs.
He didn't think about Megatron, as he slid back his pointed modesty panel.
He didn't even think about him as he stroked down over his spike housing, ghosting the tips of his claws against the soft, slickening mesh of his valve.
It took an irksome amount of effort.
Starscream shook his helm. He rubbed his spike housing, quick and efficient, the circular motions sending sharp stabs of pleasure into his abdomen. He was here to get off, not pamper himself.
His spike pressurized obediently, nosing forth into his fist. If only all his underlings could be so biddable. It was a streamlined handful, slim and silver as the rest of him, a line of red biolights flickering along its underside.
Starscream shuffled on the slippery, solvent-splattered floor, bracing himself with his back to the wall. The movement made his valve twinge. Empty, needing.
'Greedy little thing', Megatron used to purr, lubricant bridging his lips to Starscream's anterior node. His glossa furled out, lapping it away. 'Just like the rest of you...'
Only – no. Starscream wasn't thinking about that.
Like, as he gathered a handful of solvent to ease the slide of his spike through his fist, he wasn't thinking about the rare occasion Megatron consented to let Starscream crawl over his supine form, straddling his broad chest to tease the tip of his spike on those scarred gray lipplates.
Or even when Megatron growled and flipped them, pinning Starscream to the berth with his hips, lowering his great weight inch by torturous inch...
The plush squeeze of Megatron's valve around him, the only softness on his giant frame. The way he would hold Starscream motionless, relinquishing not an inch of control as he ground his thin wrists together in one giant hand and he rode him slow enough not to crush...
Starscream hissed. He pulled at his spike, shunting the overlapping gray plates roughly against one another.
This whole not thinking about Megatron thing wasn't going so well.
His cooling fans span on their highest setting, a constant audible whirr. The air around Starscream heated; the solvent evaporated in sour-scented steam. He barely noticed, spike dripping, valve clenching slickly over itself. Need tingled under his slim gray plates.
"Frag you, Megatron," he hissed, and dropped his spike to attend to the wetness beneath.
More memories, flitting through his processor one after the next. A slideshow reel of copulation, gathered from across the millennia.
Megatron enjoyed valve stimulation on occasion, but Primus, did he love using his spike. Specifically, using it to make a writhing mess of Starscream.
Slipping the curved head just between his folds, not deep enough to clench down on. Rubbing along the sticky seam of his valve lips, grazing his clitnub with each measured stroke. Pushing his thighs into a split, until even Starscream's flexible hip gyros strained. Huffing hot air on his ailerons, growling that if he wanted Megatron's spike, all he had to do was beg...
But begging Megatron had taken on less fun connotations, since Starscream first had to do it for his life.
Starscream gnawed his lips. He weighed that ugly thought against the promise of release – then, decisively, cast it away.
He pushed slicked fingers two-together into his valve. Stretching, searching, digging for that old, half-forgotten pleasure, how Megatron (not Master, never Master back then) made him arch until his spinal struts burned and live up to his designation, wailing his name - "Megatron, Megatron, Megatron, please..." - at the skies...
It built and burst inside him, a hot throb that raced up his spike and simmered on each stimulated node of his valve.
Starscream's back tightened. His helm knocked on the wall, his mouth dropped wide. Some solvents splattered his tongue – sour, soapy – but he hardly cared.
His optics shuttered; his knees locked so he didn't fall. His heeled peels skidded in the solvents, transfluid pulsing from spike and valve in slick, sweet spurts, drenching his trembling claws.
Megatron, he thought, just once more. Then his wobbling ankle struts admitted defeat, and deposited him in the draining puddle of solvent and his own fluids.
For a breem, Starscream did very little.
He sat there, optics closed, shuddering as his sensitized spike retreated into its housing and his panels slid slowly, stickily closed. Eventually, the beat of solvent on his wings grew bothersome, and so he reached up and shut off the shower.
Then he sat there a little longer.
He felt... Well, he didn't know how he felt.
That, perhaps, was the worst part of all.
He couldn't stay on the floor forever - tempting as it may be. His chrono bleeped, reminding him he was scheduled to take over the next Bridge shift, and that he hadn't yet refueled.
Starscream sighed. Then, legs numbed from the intensity of the overload, he used the wall to lever himself to his feet like a mech twice his age.
If Megatron had fragged him, his valve would be burning right now. A spark-deep ache, as if he'd stretched Starscream to fit only himself…
Once, Starscream enjoyed being reminded of Megatron's spike with every step he took from his berth. Now, the thought of having another mark of his ownership on him, in him, as well as the color of his optics and the crest on his chest? Well.
Starscream didn't know if he wanted to sprint to Megatron's cabin and create some new memories, or crawl to his waste disposal unit and purge.
Neither option was suitable, so Starscream rested his helm on the cool panelled wall of the shower until he could ex-vent without a shake.
Then he righted himself, dried off, and marched to the mess hall. If he couldn’t satisfy this angry twist of wants in his spark, perhaps sating a different sort of hunger would suffice.
“Commander!” Knock Out hailed him from the table he’d commandeered in the mess hall, along with Breakdown and a couple of eradicon drones. Starscream slowed to a halt, narrowing his optics.
“What do you want?”
Knock Out unpeeled his cube with a smack of his lips. “To congratulate you, of course! You haven’t been in the medbay in almost a whole cycle. I was starting to think you’d offlined.”
Breakdown hid his grin in his own meal, and the eradicons were wise enough to stifle their smirks. This meant Starscream only had to glare at the doctor – which he did so, with gusto.
His initial plan – to enjoy a cube, then pay Knock Out a visit and demand that he tweak his malfunctioning balance gyro – lost its appeal.
“Your commentary is, as ever, unappreciated,” he growled.
“And here I thought you kept visiting so that you could enjoy my scintillating conversation!”
“As if. Welding your mouth shut would make a major improvement to your bedside manner.”
Knock Out clutched his chest plates. “Breakdown, fetch the defibrillator. I’m struck to the spark.”
Starscream rolled his eyes. He made to step away from the table, aiming for his quarters, where he could sip on his cube in peace. The squeak of a chair prevented him. He turned back, to find Knock Out, grin shifted into something more welcoming, nudging it further out with his pede.
“Come, Commander. One should never drink alone.”
“I’m a jet,” muttered Starscream, for what felt like the thousandth time. “We drink high-grade in order to fly…”
“And there’s no reason,” said Knock Out smoothly, “why you shouldn’t do it in company.”
There was no way out. Starscream clenched his left fist – the other being occupied with the cube – growled, and sank mutinously to rest on the proffered seat.
Knock Out chuckled. “No need to make it look as if I have a blaster to your head. Relax a little, won’t you?”
Starscream permitted a soupcon of tension to dip from his wings.
Knock Out waited a further minute, blinking patiently, then sighed. “I suppose that’s the best we’re getting. How go your lessons with our Lord and Master?”
Why would he ask such a thing? Had Soundwave put him up to this – gathering information, searching for that crack in Starscream’s motivation? That splinter of resentment that would, once more, give Megatron the excuse to wrap his claws around Starscream’s throat?
Knock Out leaned back. “Woah. No need to look like a hunted turbofox.”
How dare he liken him to such a beast! “I am not –“
“Anyway,” continued Knock Out, as if he didn’t hear, “enough small talk. We were just speaking of your impending ascension to the Decepticon throne.”
Starscream’s jaw dropped. He instinctively hunched, making himself a smaller target, scanning the rafters for Laserbeak, who would – of course – be reporting his response to this treasonous offer back to Soundwave. “I – I – what?”
“Quit rattling him, Doc,” grumbled Breakdown. He leant over the table as if he planned on patting Starscream’s quivering shoulder, as he would with any common drone – always did cultivate a curious fondness for the fools, though Starscream couldn’t fathom why. Luckily, for the sake of his faceplates, he took one look at Starscream's scowl and thought better of it.
“Knock Out’s just talking about Megatron’s upcoming off-world mission,” he said, digits curling back under themselves and retreating out of Starscream’s claw-swiping range. “Figured you’d step up as Lord Regent for the duration, is all.”
Starscream’s mouth had yet to close. It was only his awareness that if he gaped much longer, oral fluid would start to drool out, that forced him to shut it.
Knock Out leaned conspiratorially in. “Surely you know. Megatron is intending to leave Earth on a long-term exploratory space flight, and…” He trailed off, taking in the shock inscribed in every line on Starscream’s faceplates. “Oh. It appears you, um, didn’t know. Well. That makes this a little awkward.”
Starscream wasn’t listening. Starscream barely registered the words.
Megatron was leaving the Decepticons under his command. And Starscream heard this first from the ship’s medic? Who had been gossiping on the subject to a handful of drones?
His wings flared up behind him. Inexcusable. Utterly, infuriatingly, inexcusable.
“Excuse me,” said Starscream, pushing to his pedes. Knock Out mirrored him, almost kneeing Breakdown in the process.
“Woah there, Commander! Please – don’t do anything rash – I became privy to the information through unconventional means – I swear, I had no idea that–“
His voice trailed off, no doubt because his processor failed to supply a finish to that sentence that wouldn’t grossly offend Starscream’s sensibilities. This was, quite simply, because there wasn’t one.
I had no idea that Lord Megatron chose to share this intelligence with me, rather than you, his highest ranked officer.
I had no idea that you were out of the loop.
Not in the know.
Left out of the circle.
Starscream’s mind supplied all these alternatives, and more.
“Doc’s got a point,” sounded Breakdown’s low rumble. Starscream paid it as little attention as he usually afforded the rest of the mech. “Don’t want you coming back to the medbay in little pieces.”
He left the again unsaid. But Starscream heard it, and he was convinced that the watching eradicons and vehicons did, too.
No. He couldn’t afford to lose his cool here, slash Breakdown across the boxy chestplates for his impudence. If what they said was true, he needed to foster allegiances, not grudges.
Starscream turned before the temptation could overcome him, wings drawn up tight and high. “If anyone here is assigned to the next Bridge shift, find occupation elsewhere.”
His voice was quiet, hoarse, still a little staticky from that magnificent overload – but it carried. Starscream left his untouched cube of energon on the table, and went to shout at his Master.