Early Merry Cultural-Celebration-Of-Your-Choice-Cross-Out-Whichever-Is-Not-Applicable of the year to y'all! Feel free to fling coal and boughs of poison ivy. Armada Megatron/ Starscream slash. This is probably as close to an actual PWP fic as I'm ever going to get. If you wanna keep with the canon, this fits sometime between 'Regeneration' and 'Crack'. In my ficline, it'd fit sometime after 'One To Waltz'.

Aaaiieee! Ugh, kick me next time I upload at three in the morning. Forgot the smegging disclaimer. ((cowers in fear of HASBRO lawyers)) Spare me, I'm penniless!

Disclaimer: I own NOTHING. NOTHING AT ALL! AHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

…well, okay, the story's mine.

Sap, angst, SNADs rule and YES CKRET! CONEHEADS NEED LOVE! ((snuggles Thrust)) Transferred my first mini-rant to profile page 'cause I liked it so much. Tweaked title 'cause I heard this…song… ((shifty eyes))

And now, to get coffee…

Vertigo

The unfortunate thing about love is that it doesn't require a reason.

That is to say, it doesn't require a reason that is in any way apparent to the victim in question.

The thing about Megatron was that he did.

Above, the stars shone against an ink-black sky.

Megatron was sure there was a reason for this.

Everything he did had a reason before it, in his opinion. Granted, occasionally he thought up the reason only after he had actually done something, but that was immaterial. Sooner or later, everything he did, he did for a reason. He was rather proud of himself for this small fact. It seemed to ensure that, unlike so many of his predecessors, he wouldn't slip further and further down into the icy grip of madness without even noticing it, until he was lost beyond all hope of reprieve. As long as there was a rational excuse, he would be fine.

So long had he clutched to this reasoning, this wonderful piece of reassurance, that he barely questioned anything he ever did anymore. Eventually, a sensible reason always made himself apparent.

Megatron was aware that this was insane logic, just as unquestioningly aware of it as he was aware that, on some secret level, he was insane. Not as obviously so as Cyclonus, perhaps. Certainly not as intrinsically so as Sideways was, in his opinion. But he knew full well that, somewhere within him, there was always a bright, sparking, twisted edge of supreme madness. Always there, always threatening to send him over the line, spiralling forever downwards into surrender. It came upon him occasionally-he felt it- in the heat of battle, or after a particularly unsuccessful loss. Then the red veil would descend and he would lash out at all and everything he could reach. Rock, the landscape, the ship.

Him, too.

Ah.

As his thoughts snagged on this particular little silvery thread, an expression of mild surprise flashed over his faceplate. Yes… him

It had been bothering Megatron, not having an adequate explanation for his current location. But, suddenly, the Decepticon warlord had a rough idea. A rough idea that was quickly translating itself into cold certainty.

He was standing in a field.

This was surprising enough. Of all the places one would expected to find the leader of the Decepticon army, a grassy field in the middle of nowhere at midnight was not amongst the top ten.

What was more surprising, not to mention just a tad horrifying, was that this field had flowers in it. Buttercups, to be exact.

There weren't many of them. So far, Megatron had counted only five. Idly, he toyed with the notion of opening fire, setting the organic mush to flame and ash. The thought was intriguing, and for a moment he entertained the vision of his awaited visitor arriving to see him, standing proud and tall within a circle of destruction. But no. Not only was there an inadequate reason for that, but alerting Optimus Prime and his men to his presence was the last thing he wanted. At the moment.

Still, the thought made him smile. It would almost be worth it, really. He could just see the look on his face, those easily-read optics widening in awe as much as fury. But no.

Still, he forced his mind to return to the question at hand. What, precisely, was he doing here?

Well, there was the simple reason, of course. He was here purely and simply to regain a powerful ally, or, should the meeting not go as planned, to destroy a dangerous enemy. That was the simple reason. And, as simple reasons went, it wasn't bad. The problem was that Megatron knew slagging well that it wasn't the whole reason. The even bigger problem was that Megatron did not know quite what the real reason was. It was a disconcerting situation for the proud and ruthless warlord. So, he stood steadfastly by the simple reason. It was…simpler.

Six buttercups, he noted, spotting another of the accursed things out the corner of his vision.

He had made sure that the Decepticons wouldn't get into too much trouble by leaving Thrust in charge. This felt unpleasantly like leaving a guppy in charge of a barrel of neurotic piranha, but it would have to do. His only alternative had been Demolisher, and Megatron wasn't quite that sadistic. He'd wondered briefly about the worried look Demolisher had given his commander before saluting, but quickly dismissed it. He hadn't even noticed the glance which had passed between Demolisher and Thrust as he warped out, and it would have only confused him if he had. There was no friendship or even fellow-feeling lost between the tactician and the tank-bot, yet for a minute they both looked strangely like the only two people in the zoo who are aware that some idiot forgot to lock the door to the lion cage.

Odd, that. Megatron had also made sure that all radio contact was severed safe for an emergency line that Thrust alone had the contact codes for. And then he'd warped down to Earth. To the field. To the blasted, blasted, six-buttercup-containing field, where he was now waiting.

And then he'd sent out a specialized broadcast, on a radio wave that the Autobots would not intercept.

And here he was.

Nice night, really.

The Decepticon warlord folded his arms and stood impatiently, head tilted to the sky. Incidentally, also tilted in exactly the direction he wasn't expecting his visitor to appear from. Needing something to focus on, he set his intellect to the task of plotting out tomorrow's battle plan. He knew well enough to expect a battle tomorrow by now, having noticed the Minicons' odd tendency to activate around what humans knew as 'quarter moon'.

His fingers began to tap rhythmically against his arm. He waited.

It was an exact hour before he heard the sound he had been waiting for. The shrill purr/whine of jet engines rapidly approaching. As he had predicted, the noise came from behind him, and still, he kept his gaze firmly riveted to the opposite piece of star-filled sky. He continued his inspection of the stratosphere even as he heard metallic feet touch down lightly upon the ground.

The new arrival said nothing, which was just as telling as if he'd opened fire. Even more so, in fact. After all, silence from this particular mech was as commonplace as rivers turning to blood. About as uncharacteristically sinister, too.

"Hello, Starscream", said Megatron in a voice that was one step above apathy.

An onlooker might have wondered why the Decepticon tank had not yet turned to face the other. Surely, they might have reasoned, this should have been effective suicide, under the circumstances? But no weapons had been drawn, no laser fire had yet turned the field into a battle zone.

But then they would have noticed the faint smirk upon Megatron's face, combined with the way Starscream's clenched fists shook in barely-controlled fury. Upon which they would have reached a startling, but accurate, conclusion. The Decepticon warlord was teasing the red and white traitor.

Still nothing was said, and, although it showed none, Megatron was feeling the first stirrings of worry. Silence from Starscream was rare but generally came as prelude to some horrible storm of treachery, screeching, or gunfire. Just when he was about to continue in his monologue, if only for the satisfaction of tormenting the traitor further, a scratchy, rasping voice spoke up.

"Did you call me out here for a reason, Mighty Megatron, or was it just a whim?"

At the tone of the seeker's icy words, Megatron almost broke a four million year-long record of not wincing. Thankfully, before that particular disaster could occur, he regained composure, and turned to face Starscream. The smirk upon his face revealed nothing but cold satisfaction at having gotten a reaction.

"Ah, Starscream. There you are."

As if he hadn't been aware of the seeker's slightest movement for the last five minutes.

The scowl was no surprise. Nor was the way his fuel pump gave a sudden, contractile jerk upon seeing his warrior close up for the first time in months. He'd really have to get the Minicons to check that out, he decided. Spontaneous systems failure was unlikely but it never hurt to be cautious. The cursed gear had been doing much the same thing each time he'd set optics on the traitor since his desertion.

"WHAT are you DOING here?" Starscream spat, wings positively aquiver with indignant fury.

Icily, Megatron surveyed the surrounding landscape with one surmising glance, reassuring himself of the absence of Autobots, Decepticons or the Air Defence Team. Interesting, that. He hadn't expected the traitor to lead the Autobots out here to him, but he'd thought that Starscream would at least have brought the Star Sabre along with him. It was a relief to discover that this was not the case, for all that he'd braced himself for the possibility of facing up to the glowing weapon with an enraged enemy at the other end of it.

Calm. Calm.

Now, to start off with, contemplated the analytical voices in the leader's head, get him off his guard. Break the defences, break the foe. A little verbal torture, perhaps? And then a few new dents, to remind him not to double cross him again? Confuse him. Hurt him. Bring him back or wipe him out. Scare him. Fear was a tactic that had worked well on the seeker in the past.

Megatron made an effort. Summoning up his greasiest voice and his most sinister grin, he said, "Tell me, traitor, are you well?"

At this, Starscream's carefully-assembled frown wavered somewhat. The expression that was next to arrive was the nearest possible visual equivalent of the word 'Huh?'.

Without allowing his expression to flicker, Megatron ran his optics over the sharp, blade-like edges of Starscream's wings. Leisurely his gaze moved across the seeker's pale face, with its two black tear-marks stretching down either side. Pausing, he refocused to take in the stance, the defiant tension warring with the cornered-animal pose, every red and white fibre trying to choose between attacking and fleeing. It wasn't often Megatron indulged himself, permitting himself to admire the seeker's form openly.

"What are you talking about?!"

And it never failed to amuse him that Starscream never seemed to notice when he did. The smirk remained, although a tinge of mocking innocence entered his words.

"Come now, Starscream, it was a perfectly civil question. Are you doing well? Hmm? Are you getting along nicely, in the company of your new, Autobot comrades?"

The scowl became even deeper as Starscream tried to puzzle his way through this one.

"And what business is it of yours?", he finally resorted to, trying to sound as haughtily aloof as possible. Aloofness tended to come as easily to Starscream as breathing did to humans. Where Megatron was concerned, however, that particular faculty developed a few glitches.

The smirk fell away, momentarily revealing something dark and blistering beneath the surface, before another of Megatron's mass was put into employment. Cold superiority.

"Very much my business, traitor", he growled, anger tinting the edges of his speech despite valiant and commendable effort, "when one considers the circumstances."

The circumstances? What was he talking about? Judging by the look Starscream was sending him, the seeker understood no better than he did. Struggling, Megatron forced himself to regain some basic groundwork of sense. But anger was beginning to take hold now, the same twisting, all-suffusing anger that had come upon him each time he had stared upon the red jet, every time since his filthy, cowardly desertion. His thoughts began to move too quickly to keep track of, leaving him feeling, for one ghastly moment, as though his cooling systems were being clogged with a new sort of toxin. Growing desperate., he launched himself at the first coherent thought process he could find.

"That is to say", he continued, sounding just a little too brusque and efficient to be believed, "wouldn't you be interested in the fate of the creature who betrayed his own ideals and ran to the side of the enemy like a disgusting rat? Tell me, traitor, why didn't you bring the Autobots out here with you?"

Starscream stared into the feverishly pulsating optics of the larger mech, and wondered, not for the first time, if his leader was actually insane. He'd never truly thought so but… he was standing here, alone, in the middle of the night with the stars arching above him and his face was taught across a sudden, unnerving grin that tore open his face like a wound. His fingers wide splayed wide, looking as though they begin to tremble with the anticipation of ripping the seeker's throat out.

"Wh-what do you mean?", Starscream queried, curiosity overriding suspicion. Hearing the stutter and despising himself for it.

"Why? Tell me, Starscream the traitor, why didn't you bring them here with you?", snarled the leader, optics flashing and dropping bloody light across his helmet.

Anger leapt to Starscream's aid as it had so many times before in his long life.

"The Autobots?", he hissed. "Do you think I need them to defeat you, coward?"

Again, that cold smirk, that faintly unstable grimace.

Megatron felt somewhat…peculiar. The anger remained, but it was swiftly being diluted with something else that he would have been hard pressed to identify. Confusion, maybe. His head had contracted a dull ache quite suddenly and he distantly wondered why he hadn't brought his fusion cannon to bear yet.

"But traitor, that is quite obvious", he rumbled, latching his crimson gaze onto Starscream's death-white faceplate. "After all, that is your self-proclaimed reason for joining up with Prime in the first place, is it not? Because you know so very well that you can never hope to defeat me."

Orange optics brightened to sunset-yellow in the fresh night as a soft growl was let free. Megatron drank up the sound, feasted on the emotions behind it.

Let's see just how far you go, traitor.

"Never, Starscream", he repeated, not sure why but seeing the immediate future very clearly indeed.

An animal snarl was wrenched from Starscream's lips as, in a blur, he moved, jet engines flaring into life. One fist drew back whilst the other came forward, fingers curved over into claws. Limbs bent, colours dissolved into liquid speed as he flew at Megatron like a comet, trailing fury and wild-fire hate behind it.

Before the blow could land, Megatron's hand swept up in a rising arc. Lightning fast, his fingers snapped shut around the seeker's wrist and yanked upwards, almost bringing the red being off his feet. As his other hand snatched hold of the lunging fist, to a startled gasp from Starscream, Megatron was suddenly, vividly reminded…

He'd gone too far. He'd gone too and, in succumbing to the red veil, had attacked the first moving, smirking thing he could reach. The 'punishment' had been unfair; he had realized that upon recovering from the fleeting madness of rage. And Starscream had reacted violently. And yet, for all his later fury and wounded pride, the seeker had practically allowed Megatron to maul him, offering up no resistance to the blows that rained down upon his already damaged shell. He'd taken it, taken and taken and taken it and it wasn't until later that the retaliation had come.

Starscream had challenged him. He'd agreed, partly out of knowledge that there was no way the seeker could win. Partly out of knowledge that, in some way, he owed it to Starscream, that it was penance. Partly because he was still very, very angry.

And so they'd fought. He'd won, obviously, leaving the jet upon the ground, bleeding and battered and in far worse shape than he'd been to start with. But there had been a moment, just the tiniest moment, when he'd doubted the outcome of the duel. As his fist had been slowly pushed back by the seeker, a triumphant flare had erupted in those orange optics. Black fists had balled up and the warlord found himself on the receiving end, enduring dents that took a surprising amount of time in the energy chamber to heal.

He'd snapped back, of course, sending Starscream to the ground for the second time. Watched the exultant fire and spirit die away as the red seeker weathered strike after strike. And then he'd left, leaving his second to bleed.

But there had been that moment, he remembered. Just that one, tiny moment when he'd watched the seeker's wild grin and felt a surge of white-hot joy. A moment before the anger took hold, when he'd gazed upon his second's smug, cunning expression and felt a delighted shiver crackle down his back.

Looking down into Starscream's enraged, upturned face now, Megatron felt the tight, demented grin on his face become replaced with something real. His grip tightened on the seeker's arms.

"Nnnyaargh! Let me GO!", Starscream shrieked, trying unsuccessfully to free himself. One white foot came up and kicked Megatron in the shin, earning a grunt from the warlord.

"Now, now, Starscream", chided Megatron, watching him, wincing slightly at the pain that hissed from his dented leg. But his thoughts felt clearer than they had in days, and the dull ache in his head had disappeared, leaving him feeling…grounded. Yet again, stability had returned to his world.

Stability. Starscream. Starscream.

The two words-the two concepts- seemed laughably dissimilar, but the truth was there. For all his emotion, all his outbursts and tantrums, the seeker was a stabilizing force. Sane when Megatron was irrational, violently unthinking when Megatron was sane. His frosty, polarized opposite. His beautiful twin.

Feet barely touching the ground, the seeker ceased his struggles with a final, feeble wriggle, tilting his head down to glare at the larger mech who held him aloft.

"Let. Me. Go."

The words were angry, yes, but the ice had melted. Irritation had taken the place of blind fury, the familiarity of the situation draining some of the tension away. Megatron chuckled dryly.

"I think not, seeker", he murmured, pausing once again to bask in the glow of Starscream's hell-red armour, his quasi-angelic features and the scowl that seemed set into his whole body. "I was just reflecting that you rarely look more lovely than when my hands is around your neck."

The seeker hissed at him, before the glower melted away, replaced by a slow, cruel smirk. Megatron's optics widened as Starscream's fists unclenched, black fingers coming to cling tight to the lethally strong arms that held him tight. Megatron watched with a strange intensity as the other leapt from the ground in a little jump.

Aware that, suddenly, he was trying to keep the traitor near rather than just hold him still, Megatron asked yet again, his voice quieter this time. "Why?"

The anger flickered, exposing for an instant a raw edge of hurt. "Better I should be asking you that, leader", replied Starscream softly.

Silence seeped in, only to be dispelled with a grunt as Starscream enhanced his anti-gravity mechanisms, threatening to rise from Megatron's grasp. Frowning, the tyrant tightened his grip upon the scarlet arms, and gave a noise that was almost a gasp as he felt the seeker's gravity-defying field creep around his own. Cold fingertips of flight ran up his legs, swiftly moving to enfold the rest of him, and with a start he realized that no longer was he standing firmly upon the ground. Instead, he was suspended almost on the tips of his feet, held down by only his own weight.

Looking up he noticed that Starscream's faint smirk had become purely demonic. The field around him shimmered like water or the horizon in a heat wave.

Dare you, his optics whispered.

"Scared, Megatron?", he asked flippantly.

"Never", growled Megatron for the second time that night and those fire-coloured optics glowed like beacons in the darkness as the seeker's field folded around them both, black as a vampire's wings and then they rose.

Megatron had flown before. Linking up to Tidal Wave, unpleasant as he found it, granted him the ability to go above those pathetic mortals on the ground. And the sensation of power had been satisfactory, as had the opportunity to combat Jet Convoy. But not once could he admit to having enjoyed the experience of flying for its own sake. Megatron was one of the greatest warriors of the Decepticon army, yes. Megatron had turned crude pit-fighting into an art form that hundreds had tried, unsuccessfully, to imitate. But pit-fighting took place on the ground. In the air he felt…vulnerable.

Not that anyone would have guessed it, as he fixed his consistent, piercing glare on Starscream as the seeker bore them both higher. The ground fell away, the field becoming smaller and smaller. Ebony fingers clutched painfully at Megatron's arms as purple hands left grooves in the seeker's armour. And still they rose.

The wind whistled past Megatron's shoulder-mounted wheels and in between Starscream's cannons. The seeker upped the power in his anti-gravity field, causing Megatron to wince ever so slightly as it crackled gently and snapped at his armour. White, misty shapes appeared around them and a small part of Megatron was aware that they were clouds, yes, clouds all around them. And still they rose.

When the finally started to slow down, before coming to a drifting halt in mid-atmosphere, it occurred to Megatron that a review of his current position might be in order. He was ten thousand sions or so above the ground, supported only by the will power of a creature who had betrayed his army, stolen his weapons and publicly declared a desire to kill him. Not, really, anyone's idea of the best tactical position.

It occurred to Megatron to swing his cannon round to point at the seeker's exposed midsection, take hold of his wing and demand to be taken down to the ground, whereupon he would blast approximately twenty holes in his body. Alternatively, he would just keep shooting until the red and white armour disintegrated entirely and all that defiant will power was turned to ash. But, he decided, peering closely at Starscream's cold faceplate, maybe that could wait. Just a little while, say.

They hung silently, denting each other's arms but refusing to let go, legs buffeted lightly by the breeze. There were probably a great number of stars visible overhead, but Megatron couldn't sustain any interest in what the cosmos may hold this evening. He'd always preferred the view from the moon. And besides, he thought, releasing his hold on Starscream's left arm, what he had before him right this moment was far more fascinating.

The gesture threw off Starscream's impeccable balance, causing them to tilt sideways before the seeker composed himself and righted them. His left hand remained clinging to Megatron's arm as it rose to the side of his face.

Megatron studied intensely the look of chilliness turning to confusion as he placed one dark finger beneath one burnt-saffron optic. As he traced down the tear-mark line on the Starscream's face, the seeker lifted his head fraction and pressed against the digit, producing a soft scraping noise of metal against metal. His optics narrowed his slits but remained on the tyrant's own. The moment held for a further three seconds before Megatron took his hand away, accidentally grazing the side of Starscream's mouth as he did so. With some strange dark delight, he noted that he had left a small, almost-invisible grey scratch running parallel to the dark black line.

Starscream blinked once, twice and looked up at Megatron with something that bordered on hate. Possibly anger, possibly just hurt. Megatron glared back, trying to suppress the urge to run. Mainly because trying to run at this particular point would have been quite, quite terminal.

"Slagger", growled Starscream quietly.

At that, Megatron smiled in cold satisfaction of the term. It was, perhaps, one of the only truly accurate titles he had ever been awarded.

A tendril of apprehension crept into his mainframe as he observed the glare turn into a evil smirk. Not that he wasn't at home with evil smirks, of course. For a vast amount of the Decepticon army, evil smirks were the default expression. This one in particular, however…unsettled him. Just a bit. There was something about it that he didn't quite like…

The smirk blossomed into a full, diabolical grin as the seeker's field surged around them both-causing Megatron a shiver slightly, in spite of the circumstances- and their bodies both ascended a few metres higher. Caught off guard, Megatron looked sharply at the aerial warrior and reflexively tightened his grip. All for naught, as Starscream took advantage of his momentary lapse and performed a clever twisting motion with both arms, ducking back swiftly so that he ended up holding onto the backs of Megatron's wrists. The warlord snarled and attempted to regain some control over the flood-fast seeker, before raising his head to give the other a cold glare mingled with just a dab of approval. It had, after all, been a perfectly Decepticon trick.

All expression on his face, evil or benign, abruptly vanished when he took one look at Starscream's sweet, saccharine smile.

Right before the seeker let go.

As the sky went past him in a blur, Megatron reflected he probably should have expected that.

Rather nice night, really, he thought. It was a strange, distant reflection, and he shook it away like an irritating wasp. White flashed by him, the cloud leaving moist droplets on his armour. Beside him, his optic sensors detected a dancing glimmer of red and white and he turned his head to the side as far as he was able. Starscream was also falling, arms spread wide and head tilted back, optics closed, fists clenched with an expression of breathless pleasure on his face. It struck Megatron as somehow strange, before the thought occurred to him that he had never seen the seeker look happy before.

Interesting.

For no reason, he suddenly gave a harsh, genuine laugh. Throwing back his head himself, he reflected that this was really quite refreshing, if one took one's mind of the probability of instant, gruesome death looming only seconds away. A part of his mind tried to point out that the ground was very close now, and that while Starscream could fly out of this predicament at any time, they, sadly, did not have that luxury. It was dismissed as Megatron felt a sudden pressure on his wrist, and gave a small, satisfied smile of his own.

The pressure increased dramatically as his other wrist was also snagged and suddenly they were rising again, the anti-grav field folding around him like a stinging blanket. The ground fell away once more, and Megatron had tried to catch a glimpse of the seeker's face. He detected twin beacons flashing in the darkness before Starscream took them both into a spin. The world became a cyclone-blur as they clung to one another in the midst of it.

At last, perhaps when the seeker got bored with his game or drained enough energy, perhaps when Megatron raised a hand once more to take hold of the red jet's chin, they started to descend. Swiftly at first, then slower and slower as they approached the ground. Their feet connected with the field with barely a whisper of shifting dirt.

"Hm", smirked Starscream, shamelessly proud of himself for yet another flawless re-entry. Megatron's corresponding smirk was just as proud, but somehow…distracted, as though his mind was preoccupied with something else entirely. He was studying the seeker's face very closely.

"Very impressive", murmured the tank-bot, watching the seeker's optics dim in delight at the praise. A sharp, wolfish grin alighted the large Decepticons features and the shadows shifted slightly, revealing a flash of fangs.

His hand altered its grip on Starscream's chin, allowing him to rub lightly against the seeker's neck. A sound not quite a growl and not really a purr was released. In response, Starscream gave a soft hissing sound, raising his own hand to touch feather-lightly on Megatron's own neck.

And in truth, the mighty Megatron knew exactly why neither of them had come armed with anything more lethal than their standard-issue weapons. Perhaps they had indeed come here to fight. But the tactical layout of this particular battle had enemy lines drawn uncomfortably close together.

Megatron's optics flashed brilliantly then faded to grey as he growled. Starscream's hand had risen to one of his horns, and remained there, fingers laced around the struts with deceptive gentleness. Megatron's horns, which possessed roughly ten times as many active sensor panels in robot mode as they did in vehicle mode.

Vengefully, he lunged forward and ducked an arm under Starscream's own, outstretched one, noticing the seeker's surprised jerk. Quick as lightning his hand disappeared up the jet's back, teasing under his wing and finding the connection point between wings and back. Excess sensory energy danced over his fingers, drawing an unconscious smirk as his other hand found itself pushed up against the seeker's own, fingers splayed wide. The tyrant leant to the right and pressed the side of his faceplate against the cool metallic touch of Starscream's helmet, relishing the nearness of his chilly rival's form.

A small 'nnh' sound reached his audios, as the red and white traitor took his free hand and raked his onyx-coloured fingers down the back of Megatron's tank treads.

Giving a gentle groan, he tilted forward and buried his face at the spot where the seeker's neck gave way to his fighter plane torso.

Wretched, lying, hateful little traitor. How I've missed you. How I've missed you.

A soft, choking whine escaped Starscream's vocal processor as Megatron's hand made small circling motions at the point where his wings met. His frozen fingers laced around the seeker's own trembling ones and brought both their hands in to rest between their chins. Ice-fire enjoyment mingling with hollow, broken regret, the tyrant drew Starscream's relenting hand up towards his mouth and brushed his lips over the ebony plating. The dark fingers contracted possessively around his own as the seeker made a noiseless growl and forced Megatron's chin up once more. And then, quite suddenly, he drew away.

Starscream's other arm fell away from its idle play with his horns and Megatron sensed that something was, in some strange, oblique way, over.

Letting his hand fall from Starscream's wings, Megatron stared into his double's blazing optics and once again his fuel pump gave a spasmodic double-beat that briefly accelerated the progress of fluid through his systems. Really rather unnerving. He supposed he should let Leader-One run a scan when he got back to base, provided, of course, that anything remained of his base.

Cold spread through him. A block of ice seemed to have been deposited in his mind, and about thirty avenues of thought in Megatron's mind suddenly slammed shut. Almost startled by the sudden, endless supply of frigid calm he had chanced upon, Megatron found himself wandering yet again what the smeg he was doing there.

The question 'What now?' loomed purple and ominous in his head as he stared at the seeker thoughtfully, privately trying to decide what to do with him. A well-timed fusion blast should be able to take care of him, provided that Megatron had safely warped back to the moon before the Autobots arrived. One well-aimed blast right through-…

His internal monologue was cut short as Starscream's lips connected with his own.

For a long, long moment there was sheer silence. The crickets that inhabited the field went right on chirping because nothing in the world disturbs a cricket. The breeze kept on blowing, making the buttercups bob from left to right, causing leaves to rustle faintly. Ten miles away, a wolf went for another wolf's throat, but the strangled howl produced was barely perceptible to those standing in the field. Had they been paying any special attention to it, which they weren't.

When he finally felt Starscream's face drawing away, Megatron did not, perhaps, open his optics as quickly as he should have. It was one of about fifty-two things for which he would later reprimand himself. Possibly it had something to do with the white lightning taking a moment to clear. Nonetheless, he didn't and so was caught by surprise but not shock as a stinging slap caught him directly on the side of his face.

Memo to me; it never pays to forget that Starscream does not have a romantic fibre in his wretched body, thought the warlord sourly, bringing up his fingers to touch the scratch marks. The seeker, who had leapt twenty metres back in one graceful movement, stood glaring at him, fists clenched. A curious form of pride was emblazoned on his face, satisfaction t having conveyed whatever obscure point he had been trying to convey.

For a minute, the stare-down held, much as it had only two days before.

Then Starscream gave a tiger's growl and leapt into the air. As he transformed into his lethally efficient jet mode, Megatron heard the words echoing in his audios.

"Now go away."

The low rumble of nearby jet engines rose to a high-pitched whine and he was gone. For a moment, Megatron could point out a red and white speck of colour disappearing at searing speeds towards the Autobot base.

Something wet ran down his sculpted cheek, and he was unsurprised to discover that the scratch marks had begun to leak oily fluid. Regarding his black-stained fingers, Megatron reflected that, yes, there had indeed been a reason for this. The reason being that he was simply very, very stupid.

Just before moving to activate the sequence needed to warp out, the dark Decepticon noticed, to his absolute disgust, one of the hated, wretched buttercups by his feet.

Perversely happy at having found something to pulverise, even if it was something as pathetic as a piece of organic mush, he went to step on it. Lifting one foot, Megatron suddenly stopped moving as another idea occurred to him. A strangely blank look of thought appeared, and the warlord cocked his head to the left with a noise of consideration.

His thumb and index finger retracted into his hand, to be replaced by two identical blades, each as long as an earthling scythe and as sharp as a scalpel. With a surgeon's skill, Megatron cut through the stem of the blooming piece of foliage, watching it fall to the ground. Doomed, now, doomed to die in a matter of hours. Stupid thing.

Taking great care not to crush his trophy, Megatron picked it up with his bladed fingers and deposited the severed plant in his other hand. Staring at it for barely a moment, he silently activated the sequence for the warp gate, felt the sensation of his molecules getting ready to break apart for the journey back to base.

As he warped out, Megatron looked once more to the direction in which the jet had arrived from and disappeared to, before returning his optics to the buttercup, a contemplative frown on his face. He was sure he could find some way of preserving the damned thing… after all, it was necessary research, wasn't it? The thing was hardly pretty and uselessly fragile. Hmph. Research. Yes. A biological specimen for Wheeljack to take a look at. That was it.

Pleased to have found a reason, Megatron allowed himself to be snatched from Earth in a flurry of molecules and a flash of technology. An observer might have commented on the painful, twisted gash that could almost have passed for a smile. A smart observer, on the other hand, would have thought better of it.

Five seconds later, the field was lost in silence one more, as the wind whistled high above and the stars shone mercilessly onward.