!! Warning: slash. !!
Disclaimer: I own nothing, however much I might want to.
Staying on Top
Part 3: Truth and Consequences
Skywarp stretched out on his recharge berth and carefully tipped his abused head backwards until it rested against the metal beneath him. "Ow." He looked across at the other Seeker who sat slumped with his back against the door. "This is all your fault."
Thundercracker raised his head and grinned. "But you've got to admit it was worth it," he said.
Skywarp glared at him. "Worth it? Do you have any idea how much I hurt after all that? Look, Thunder - next time leave the pranks to the expert, willya? You're a slaggin' liability!"
"Hey, you were the first to laugh when I started!" Thundercracker protested. "Just because Rumble and Frenzy pushed it too far -"
"I'll say it went too slaggin' far!" Skywarp retorted. "I did not need to hear Megatron and Starscream arguing about their preferences in front of the entire army!"
Thundercracker grinned at the memory. "Oh, come on, Warp. You were laughing at the time."
"Yeah, right," Skywarp answered with a shudder. "That was before I realised how vivid my imagination was."
"You - oh." Thundercracker looked at him in horror. "You're supposed to laugh at that kind of thing without actually picturing it happening, you know!"
"I can't help it," the black Seeker muttered darkly. "It's far too picturable."
"What? I -" Thundercracker stopped. Slowly, a look of incredulity spread over his features. "Shock, you're right, aren't you? Hey, they would make a cute couple if they could only stop trying to scrap each other for long enough, as well..." He started to giggle. "Oh, my. I didn't need that thought."
Skywarp sat up, grinning. "I feel better for not being the only one having it, though."
"I'm sure," his friend said wryly. "You know, maybe I shouldn't have told the Screamer how he ended up in Megatron's quarters. You never know, they might have sorted it out between themselves..."
"Shock of a way to matchmake," Skywarp laughed.
"Right." Thundercracker nodded. "Ah, well, they'll either work it out or they won't. Me, I've caused enough trouble for a while." He grinned. "Think I'll take the rest of the day off."
Skywarp smiled, his optics gleaming. "You do that, Thunder." A beat. "Don't worry, I'll cover for you."
Thundercracker looked at him suspiciously. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"Well, I can make plenty enough trouble for two. Nobody will even notice you're off the rota." Skywarp grinned, obviously already well embarked on his next plot.
Thundercracker put his hand over his optics defeatedly, but despite himself he was hiding a smile. "As long as you leave me in peace," he said, "I don't slaggin' care."
Someone was knocking on Megatron's door.
With a muttered curse the Decepticon commander sat up and shook his head, then winced - the hangover was still doing its thing. "Whoever that is," he snarled, "it had better be important!"
"It's me," replied a familiar, scratchy voice. "Can we talk?"
"Starscream." Megatron tapped the door control, letting the Seeker in. "Will I never be rid of you?" he demanded rhetorically. "Even for as long as it takes to sleep off a hangover?"
"Ah, actually, that was partly what I came about." With a mischievous smile, Starscream reached into a folded-space pocket and pulled out a couple of suspiciously glittering energon cubes. "Hair of the turbocanid?" he offered, holding out one of the cubes invitingly.
Megatron took the cube and looked at it suspiciously. "Bribery now, Starscream? Trying to win your way back into my favour yet again?" He frowned. "And what have you spiked this with? It looks potentially fatal!"
"You wound me." Starscream gestured theatrically, his hand over his breast. "I'd prefer to describe it as a peace offering. And no, I'm not trying to poison you." He shook his head. "You're always so suspicious of me!"
"Suspicious?" Megatron repeated incredulously. "I should think so! You caused me to be dragged into one of your subordinates' pranks, you embarrassed me in front of the entire Decepticon elite, you interrupted my hangover and now you're trying to get me drunk again! Where in all of this is the reason why I shouldn't blast you?" He gestured threateningly with his fusion cannon.
Starscream gave him the Look, the special expression of hurt, wide-opticed innocence that the Seeker always used when he knew he was in trouble. Megatron suppressed a smile at the sheer familiarity of the situation. The two of them had been doing this for so long - strike, counterstrike, betrayal, vengeance, reconciliation - that it had become a game to them. The point of the exercise wasn't for either of them to win, but for them both to keep each other in check.
Of course, to admit that would have been to concede an advantage, so he kept his expression stern as he glared at Starscream. "Well?"
"What do you mean, well?" Starscream retorted. "Is it my fault that you got overenergised and passed out in the middle of the control room? Is it my fault that Soundwave can't keep his delinquent creations under control? And besides, now who's picking a fight? I came here with entirely peaceful intentions, and what do I get? Threats!" The Seeker drew himself up, glaring. "I should leave you to your headache!"
Megatron gave up and let himself start laughing. "Starscream, for Primus' sake stop posturing and sit down." He waved the energon cube. "And find yourself a drink. If I'm getting trashed, you're going to join me."
Grinning, Starscream obeyed. "As you command, fearless leader!" He raised his own cube in salute. "Here's to oblivion!"
They laughed together, and drank.
Starscream leaned back against the wall, and sighed in contentment. "Now, tell me that isn't an improvement."
"Hmm." Megatron blinked lazily. "For once, Starscream, I believe you have a point." He looked speculatively at the half-empty energon cube in his hand, then tipped his head back and finished it off. Almost at once, he felt a warm surge of energy through his core - whatever secret ingredient Starscream used in his homebrew, it was potent stuff. "Mm. That's... definitely better. I don't suppose there's any more, is there?" He looked pointedly at Starscream, though the effect was slightly spoiled by the fact that he was starting to lose optical focus.
The Seeker smiled in response. "Of course, Megatron," he murmured smoothly, producing another full cube and pressing it into Megatron's hand. "Though you might want to take it easy," he added, with just a trace of playful malice. "Can't have you drinking yourself unconscious again, now can we?"
"Speak for yourself, you tinfoil lightweight," the Decepticon leader growled, more in reflex than real annoyance. He was too drunk to take offence at his lieutenant's needling. And besides, Starscream was smiling teasingly and his optics were bright with unvoiced laughter, about as far from being a serious threat as the ambitious Seeker ever got.
"Lightweight, is it?" Starscream retorted. "Your repartee loses something when you're drunk, Leader. And I'll be online long after you pass out, at this rate." He underlined the point by knocking back the last of his own drink, and threw his commander a challenging glance.
"Oh, really, Starscream?" Megatron grinned wickedly, raised his arm and fired.
The blast was set to the lowest possible power, and all it did was singe Starscream's armour. He complained nonetheless. "Now you're cheating!"
"Of course I am, you idiot!" Megatron retorted. "What do you take me for, an Autobot?" He rose to his feet, somewhat unsteadily, and stepped forward to loom over Starscream. Starscream looked up at him, smiled innocently, and blasted him in the chest with a low-power null ray.
"Aargh! Starscream-!" He stumbled as his already overtaxed motor circuits tried to compensate for the sudden numbness in his upper body, lost his balance, and crashed face-down to the floor.
And somehow, the look on Starscream's face in the second before Megatron landed on him made it all worthwhile.
"Bad tactics, Starscream," Megatron murmured. He didn't bother to get off the smaller Decepticon, instead wrapping his left hand around Starscream's throat and grinning down at him. "Just like you to make such an obvious mistake."
Starscream glared, fighting to retain some semblance of dignity. "Get off me!" he protested, trying to kick Megatron away.
"Oh, I don't think so. After all, I'm perfectly comfortable." To his surprise, he realised it wasn't all that far from the truth. There was something deeply satisfying about having his arch-rival at his mercy like this, Starscream's lithe frame pinned under his own greater weight, trapped, vulnerable... He let his fingers tighten on Starscream's throat, just a little, and felt the Seeker tense in response.
"Megatron? Please... I - I thought we were only playing..." Starscream looked up at his commander, the beginnings of fear starting to show in his optics. "Don't..."
Amused, Megatron relaxed his grip and heard Starscream gasp with relief. Oh, this was sweet - more subtle than the heavy-handed intimidation tactics he usually deployed to keep his treacherous lieutenant in line, but apparently just as effective. He leaned down, staring into Starscream's optics, so close that the tips of their noses almost touched. "Oh, don't worry, Starscream, we are only playing. I'm merely raising the stakes a little."
Starscream looked back at him, and cracked a sudden smile. "You..." he began, then laughed softly. "Oh, I'm not drunk enough for this."
"What are you talking about?"
"Well, if you don't know what this looks like, I'm not going to be the one to tell you," Starscream answered, still laughing. "I just hope no one's watching the surveillance monitors."
The credit dropped. "Ah."
"If anyone sees you doing this to me -" Starscream tilted his head back in teasing submission, smiling wickedly - "this morning's exercise in rumour control will be completely wasted. Your move, Leader..."
Megatron thought about it for a second, then twisted around and shot the security camera off the wall. The device exploded in a spitting shower of sparks and fried electronics. "Is that better?"
Starscream's optics widened in shock. "Erm -"
"Now let's see anyone interfere." He looked down consideringly at his captive, wondering what to do with Starscream next. Oh, this was fun...
"Interfere with what, mighty Megatron?" Starscream prompted him.
The truth was that he hadn't quite decided yet, but the challenge in Starscream's tone could not be left unanswered. Megatron bent his head, leaning close and dropping his voice to a whisper. "That's for me to know, Starscream, and for you to find out."
"Oh really?" Their faces were barely inches apart now. Starscream's optics glittered hectically with overcharge and emotion, and Megatron felt a surge of dizziness as he met the Seeker's gaze. How drunk am I? he wondered, surprised. He had a nagging feeling that he wasn't as in control as he'd thought he was a moment before.
Starscream gasped softly, and Megatron could feel him trembling. "Yes..." The Seeker tipped his head up, pressing himself against the hand that still gripped his throat - and somehow, awkwardly, their lips met.
For a moment Megatron was nearly shocked into pulling away, but Starscream reached up to cling to him and he found himself not only accepting the kiss but returning it. And, to his surprise, he realised he didn't actually want this to stop.
What am I doing? part of his mind demanded. This is insane... And then Starscream pulled him closer and deepened the kiss, and he decided to worry about it later - or preferably, not at all...
Megatron came back online with a headache and a horrible feeling of deja vu.
He activated his optics and assessed the situation, being careful not to make any sudden movements. He was lying on the floor of his quarters, surrounded by the debris of what had clearly been a serious night's drinking, and something heavy was resting on his left arm. Looking around, he found...
The Seeker jumped and blinked as he came out of recharge mode. "Megatron?"
They looked at each other.
"Oh, Primus," Starscream said faintly. "Last night..."
Megatron frowned. What had happened, anyway? He remembered Starscream setting out to get both of them drunk, and then...
"Oh, no." Megatron disentangled himself from his second in command and sat up, despairingly burying his face in his hands as the events of the previous evening sorted themselves out in his memory. "Not again!"