Disclaimer, as usual. I own nothing here; I am borrowing a particularly overdone pairing for a few minutes, and returning them to Hasbro/Takara without major structural damage. Don't sue me, please.

From above, the silver jet didn't look very badly damaged, but even a casual observer would wonder what the hell it was doing half-buried in blowing snow, hundreds of thousands of miles from the nearest air base, surrounded by dark smudges where some sort of incendiary had melted the snow down to bedrock. At ground level, however, the extent of the damage was apparent. Something had shot a hole directly through the left wing, exposing the wiring and the struts that supported the metal skin; the control surfaces were torn and bent almost beyond recognition by what looked like the dents of huge fingers. One of the vertical stabilizers jutting skyward just before the jet nacelles was canted sharply to one side. Burn marks and holes scarred the fuselage; the cockpit canopy was cracked. The only area which seemed to have avoided damage was the nosecone, still glittering silver and ice-blue in the thin sunlight.

The wind gusted, flickering more veils of snow over the wreckage. After a while several penguins appeared, heading across the snow-covered ice towards the water visible in the distance. One of them paused and stared at the jet.

It said, in a rasping and rather pained voice, "What're you looking at?"

The penguin gave it an extremely withering glare and waddled off to rejoin its friends. Left alone again, the jet shivered and sank a little further to one side in the snowdrift, watching the birds' footprints blowing away to nothingness.

Starscream wasn't aware that his logic circuits were shorting; he considered it perfectly normal that the penguin had made a face at him, and that it had been purple and green instead of black and white. It was interesting, but not particularly worrying, that the pain of his mangled wing and blasted armour seemed to be fading, and that the cold which had threatened to freeze his exposed hydraulics solid had given way to a comfortable warmth. He couldn't remember exactly how he'd come to be lying in a snowdrift surrounded by Constructicon-coloured penguins, but he didn't much care: all he wanted was to slide down into recharge. He was very, very tired.

...blowing snow, and the hideous helpless feeling of being tossed by winds too strong even for his skill; cold that first bit at his joints and then spread numbness over his entire exostructure, deadening the sensation of tiny chunks of ice hurling themselves at him...

...too far off course...radio contact lost; he was alone in a white whirling world that had no horizons, no limits, no ground or sky or reference points; he was being spun by huge unseen forces, he had no control, he could not escape, and no one could hear him as he screamed into the void; the storm had plucked him from his companion's side with no warning, roaring down out of the clouds so quickly even their radar had barely warned them it was on its way...

...and finally waking to find himself sprawled on the ice, under a brilliant merciless sky; calling his companion, first calmly and then more and more desperately as the signal went unanswered; finally launching himself into the air and searching, searching, searching for any sign of him, any glitter of metal in the distance, any faint energy signature that might remain; circling half the globe, his energon levels in the danger zone, his mind still feverishly inventing ways for this to end; at last admitting the truth, that he would not find him, and turning back into the welcome desolation of space, not really wanting to find his way home...

"But I didn't," he muttered to himself, listening vaguely to the spick-spack of ice hitting his fuselage. "I didn't go home. I'm in the snow."

Perhaps it hadn't been real, the flickering memory of Cybertron at war, magenta laserbolts slicing the darkness. Perhaps he had dreamed of the mech in silver-white armour who had given him command; he was hallucinating, still lost on the uncharted planet, his mind slow and stupid with the cold and the damage and the misery.

The white blur of snow falling all around him faded, flickered back to life as his visual circuits lost power for an instance, and now he was absolutely sure he was hallucinating, because the snow had begun to change colour. It wasn't all white now. There were red bits.

"Starscream?" someone said, and he was aware that the voice was familiar; it was rather cruel of the storm to steal that particular voice. He felt, distantly, phantom hands touching him. Gentle fingers explored the crumpled wreckage of his left wing, traced their way up the angle of his vertical stabilizers. There was pain, but not much of it, and it was a long way away.

"Starscream," said the voice again, and it was more insistent now. "Starscream...can you hear me?"

"Mmm," he said, not wanting the hands to stop.

"Can you transform?"

He didn't know. It felt as if he didn't want to try, but that voice was all around him, swirling like the snow, refusing to let him sink away into sleep. Wearily he flicked out a tendril of energy and activated his transformation sequence.

It hurt badly enough to clear some of the white fog from his mind, and he rolled over weakly and stared up at the hallucination, who looked kindly down at him with blue optics exactly the colour of the sky.

"You're badly hurt," said the hallucination, and bent closer. "Lie still."

Starscream widened his optics as white hands—larger than his, but so much gentler, so much more skilled—carefully opened his chestplate, and connected a cable. There was a sharp rush of pain, and then the familiar feeling of energy flowing into his circuits, flooding him with warmth and strength and power.

With the energy, the edges of the world began to slide back into focus. He could feel the sharp stinging pain of the torn wing surfaces and the duller ache of bent metal; slowly some of his self-repair systems came back online and began the job of stabilizing him. Still the hallucination remained, one hand resting on his chest and the other holding the cable that fed him energy, those blue optics inscrutable and fixed on his face.

He didn't know how long the transfusion lasted, but the feeling of loss and emptiness when the connection was severed came entirely too soon. Making a wordless noise, he reached up for the hallucination, and was surprised when his fingers brushed white metal, and a pair of arms slid around him and held him close. He ignored the shrill pain of his injuries, pressing himself to the cold sweet curve of the other's canopy.

"You're not real," he murmured. "I lost you in the storm." His vision flickered out again.

"And you found me again." A finger traced its way down the sharp edge of his cheek. "Your comrades are coming, Starscream. You'll be all right now."

"No," he said, tightening his embrace. "No."

Chilled, oddly soft metal brushed his neck, his shoulder. He could not see, but he could feel; and he reached out and found the other's face, and drew it to his own, and their lips met. He felt a shudder pass through both their frames, and for a moment he was held tight enough to send a shock of pain through his damaged systems; and then he was alone again, lying on his back in a white world, as a faint droning in the distance swelled to the sound of thunder.

"Slagging inferno, Starscream," said somebody, and the roaring faded as a jet thruster powered down. "They really did a number on you."

"Heh," said another voice, "looks pretty geeky if you ask me. Let's grab him and get out of here, this snow is playing hell with my scanners."

Hands grasped his arms and dragged him upright, not gently, and gravity dragged at him as he was lifted from the ground between them. The movement shifted damaged wires, and his visual circuits flickered back online; he stared dizzily up at Skywarp and Thundercracker, glittering and powerful in the sunlight.

"Hey, you're awake," said Thundercracker, glancing down. "What happened to you, Screamer?"

He could hardly remember. "...Aerialbots," he said after a while. "Got me...with a new weapon. More powerful than they've ever had."

"We got a call on an Autobot frequency," said Thundercracker, over the hiss of the wind. "Just coordinates and a distress signal. You steal an Autobot comlink or something?"

Starscream blinked dizzily. His mind, normally blade-sharp, felt as if it were full of vacuum sealant, but he knew what he had to say. "Yeah...had just enough time before they shot me down."

"You were lucky it got through," said his wingmate, shifting his grip on Starscream's arm. "You'd be ready for the scrapheap if we hadn't found you."

"Yeah," Skywarp agreed, "and you're lucky we're just such nice guys, because no one else would have bothered to come looking." Both of them snickered.

No, he thought, letting himself slide back down into semi-consciousness. No. There is one who searched this frozen wasteland for me, and found me, as I once lost and found him, and lost him again.

There is still one who cares for me.

Neither of the other Seekers noticed when Starscream's mouth, tight with pain, curved briefly into a smile that lit his whole face. For a moment he was back in Skyfire's arms, and the snow that fell about them both glittered like the shards of stars.