This takes place well after the events of the G1 Season 3 episode "Ghost in the Machine", and is a direct, very slashy sequel to the framing conversation in my story, "The Message". These conversations, and Starscream's accidental encounter with alien aerial flora, take place some months after the events of "Friends No Longer with Me..."

Starscream still lazed at the edge of the viridian stream, gleaming white metal against dark green moss. One wing had been stripped of its outer panels for repair, leaving only the skeletal outline of the beams and struts laying atop the moss like a metal leaf decayed down to the bare veins and stem.

Puffy green clouds--full of the same aerial algae which had brought him down painfully to earth--drifted by overheard. Skyfire finished straightening the last of Starscream's bent wing struts and began to replace the outer panels.

As Skyfire flexed and hammered the first one back into shape, Starscream shifted his gaze from the alien clouds to the big white Autobot jet. "You did surprise me," he said.

"How so?" Skyfire asked as he gently but firmly pressed the white panel back into place, then began to weld it down.

"I already told you," Starscream said. "You got that sappy over me..." He flicked his hand in an idle gesture of dismissal.

"And why shouldn't I?" Skyfire asked softly, finishing the last weld on the panel.

"I'm a Decepticon. Autobots don't mourn when we die. We don't mourn each other very much--who regrets the fool who dies of his own stupidity? If we die doing our job well, our wingmates might regret our loss for a short time--but the dead are soon forgotten." Skyfire heard something wistful in the red and white Seeker's voice.

"What happened after Galvatron killed you?" Skyfire asked carefully, as if probing an inflamed wound. He began working on the next panel.

"What usually happens when a Decepticon leader dies to his successor--blamed for every bad thing that happened before and quickly forgotten, except by those who despised me," Starscream said with some bitterness. "They desecrated my shrine in the Crypt."

"Go ahead and hook up the sensor leads as soon as you finish with the panel. I hate having numb wings," he added, changing the topic of conversation.

"Did it matter that much to you?" Skyfire asked, changing the topic back as he hooked up the sensors.

"No! Of course not!" Starscream lied. His gaze returned to the evergreen clouds.

"At least Octane remembered me without hatred. I terrified him when I appeared to him that first time--I didn't mean to." Again, Skyfire heard that wistfulness in Starscream's voice. "I told him not to fear me, but it wasn't that easy. He didn't calm down until I hid myself in Cyclonus's body." An odd, dreamy smile crossed Starscream's face as certain memories surfaced...

...Strong white fingers caressing long dark gray wings, Octane's body shivering against Cyclonus's borrowed form as Starscream nuzzled Octane's horns, one white and purple arm reaching back to gently stroke the long white ridge on Octane's back, shivers increasing to passionate shudders, one of Octane's white hands reaching up to fondle Cyclonus-Starscream's sensitive horns...

Skyfire ran his fingers over the leading edge of the wing panel and traced the weld line. Starscream gasped.

"Sensors working properly?" Skyfire asked.

"Y-yes," Starscream said, that odd smile still on his face. "Go ahead, replace the other two panels."

Skyfire did so, working carefully and deliberately. After welding each panel into place, he reconnected Starscream's sensors. Starscream gasped softly at each gentle touch as Skyfire tested his wing sensitivity.

"You're enjoying this far too much," Skyfire finally said, a smile spreading across his face.

"There's no such thing as too much enjoyment!" Starscream grinned. "Ah, good. I can move now?"

Skyfire nodded. "Everything is back in place. Ready to flight-test it?"

Starscream rolled to a sitting position, then stood up, looking optic-to-optic with the still-kneeling Skyfire. "In a bit. First, could you check the continuity along the leading edge?" He half-turned to present his newly-repaired left wing to Skyfire.

"Ermm..." Skyfire looked slightly nervous. "I'm sure it's fine--"

"Check, Sky. I want to be sure," Starscream said, fighting not to smirk.

Skyfire gingerly ran his fingers along the lower edge of Starscream's left wing, snatching his hand away as soon as he reached the tip of the smaller Transformer's wing.

"Sky! Constant pressure along the edge, please. How else can I tell if the sensor hand-off from sector to sector is correct?" Starscream said in mock rebuke.

"Starscream... I know what you're trying to make me do. I don't think I should..." Skyfire said in his slow, quiet voice.

"Make you, Sky? I'm inviting you, you silly spaceship!" Starscream suddenly seemed to buckle at the knees, falling with careless grace onto Skyfire, who instinctively caught him. "Why hold back?"

"I'm... not used to you like this. It's been... a while," Skyfire said, definitely nervous now, looking at the dark-faced Seeker unexpectedly cradled in his arms.

"Longer for me than you," Starscream said languidly. "I suppose I was shyer in those days. You never knew me when I was Prince of Vos." Blue fingers idly stroked Skyfire's air intakes.

"I'd heard that you ruled Vos..." Skyfire said. "Will you kindly stand up?"

"Am I that heavy? I rather like it here."

"This is awkward," Skyfire said. "And do you have to tickle me like that?"

"Yes," Starscream smirked. He ran his fingers lightly around the edges of Skyfire's cockpit window.

"Starscream! Just... stop that!" Skyfire shivered.

"Sky, Sky... don't fear me." The wistfulness was back in Starscream's voice. With the same easy grace he stood on his own feet again and looked into the pale jet's face. "Don't... fear me."

Skyfire looked at the smaller Transformer, hearing the words Starscream could not bring himself to say openly. Trust me, he was saying; please trust me.

"I don't fear you, Starscream. I never did," Skyfire said, looking down at his once and current friend. "But when repairing something that damaged, it's wise to move slowly and carefully. It would be so easy to make a mistake and make things worse..."

"I'm tougher than you think, Sky." This time the wistfulness showed in his smile. "It's only been twenty or so years for you, Sky. It's been over five million years for me. Plus a four million year nap." He gave Skyfire a somber look. "I have changed a great deal from the naive idealist you knew. That Starscream is very long dead, indeed."

Skyfire looked down at Starscream, deeply thoughtful. "No, he's not. Some things about you never changed, not in all these thousands of millenia. As I've gotten to know you again, I can see the roots of everything you are now in the person I knew then."

"Everything, Sky?" Starscream asked as he reached up to gently stroke Skyfire's face. He pressed up against Skyfire, amber canopy locking against blue windshield. "Even the Decepticon leader?"

"Especially the Decepticon leader." Skyfire closed one large white hand over Starscream's blue one. "When you woke me from the ice I did not really understand how much time had changed you--only that you had suddenly become someone different."

Starscream ran the fingers of his other hand over the vanes of Skyfire's air intakes. "I never forgot you, Sky--but over those eons my memories of you became somewhat... idealized. I lost who you really were to time." He began to systematically stroke the angled vanes, running his thumb around the edge of the cowl. "These last few months, I've been getting to know you all over again." Starscream pulled his other hand free from Skyfire's and caressed the bigger jet's face. "This time I have the advantage of knowing that you're worth it." ...Of knowing that I can trust you, were the unspoken words Skyfire heard.

He climbed up, using Skyfire's knees as stepping stones until he was face-to-face with Skyfire. One hand slipped around behind the white jet's head, pale blue against dark blue. "It's like resurrection--everything that went before is a ghostly memory and I'm back to the basics again." Starscream leaned forward and kissed Skyfire, his mouth touching and caressing sensitive living metal of Skyfire's face.

"Yes..." Skyfire gently seized Starscream by the wings, both of his huge white hands rubbing and caressing the sensitive leading edges of Starscream's wings. Starscream arched back, letting Skyfire have full access to his wing surfaces, his fingers hooking into Skyfire's air intakes.

"The basics," Skyfire said, "haven't changed."

Starscream shivered as those gentle hands stroked and caressed his wings. He kept silent, letting only the quivers of his body betray how each stroke sent spikes of sensation crackling through his circuits. His turbines whined as they spun up, energized by the sensations shivering through his wings' flight sensors.

"No," Starscream said, "they haven't. But there's so much more--"

Starscream pressed his canopy alongside the still-kneeling Skyfire's cockpit, armor-glass scraping against armor-glass, setting thermal and pressure sensors to shrieking. His right foot traveled up Skyfire's thigh to rub against the nose of Skyfire's fuselage, teasing the sensors there. Skyfire's own turbines began to rumble in response.

Skyfire's optics brightened and he shivered. "That's a new trick--"

He continued stroking Starscream's wing with his left hand as he reached around Starscream's back with his other hand, running his fingers along the join between wing and body. Starscream gasped softly and shuddered; his turbines whined higher and faster.

"Oh, I've only just begun, Sky." Starscream laughed, then pressed his right foot hard against Skyfire's fuselage nose, letting the scream of the turbines in his legs resonate through the metal, directly into Skyfire's sensors. Skyfire shuddered, his optics very bright as the sensation shrieked through his circuits; his own turbines spun faster and louder, an immense basso growl.

He slid his hands down Starscream's wings, eliciting further gasps and shudders, down to the smaller jet's waist--then Skyfire hoisted Starscream irresistibly up, wrapped one arm around the back of Starscream's air intakes and head, and locked his other arm firmly around the Decepticon's waist, and kissed him hard. Starscream responded, his mouth caressing sensitive living metal, his dark face locked to Skyfire's pale face, his amber canopy scraping against the white chassis.

"I learned--" Starscream bent his head down for another kiss, nibbling and teasing the living metal of Skyfire's face, "--much in Vos."

"What does--" Skyfire nuzzled and nipped Starscream's tender dark face, "--Vos have to do with it?"

Starscream wrapped his arms around Skyfire's head, holding himself in place with one arm while the other reached past to caress one of Skyfire's immense wings. His blue boot-jets kicked, drumming on Skyfire's chest plates, intermittently blasting hot exhaust into the big white Autobot's air intakes.

"I was Prince of Vos, and sublimely decadent," Starscream replied.

Skyfire shuddered at the resulting waves of heat and cold running through his systems, and groaned like failing metal as Starscream stroked his wing harder. He released his hold on Starscream as his knees buckled, and Skyfire fell backward, falling not quite flat atop the half-hull on his back.

Starscream pivoted easily as Skyfire toppled, landing astraddle of the back of Skyfire's cockpit, his boot-jets pressed against Skyfire's wings. Jet engines howled as Starscream engaged his thrust reversers, deflecting the burning hot exhaust away from Skyfire's wings--but letting the whine and vibrations feed into Skyfire's wings sensors.

Starscream smirked down at Skyfire, ruby optics bright with passion. "You're all mine, now!"

Skyfire shuddered and groaned, the sound lost in the roar of jets, as the sensation whipped and lashed through his wings. His big hands clamped down on Starscream's waist, pinning him in place. He gripped the Seeker convulsively, his fingers raking the roots of Starscream's wings--Starscream shrieked as mingled pleasure and pain jangled through his already over-driven sensors.

"Who has who now?" Skyfire gasped, in between his own cries. The pleasant torment in his wings shivered through him, lashing his own sensors to near overload. All of his own turbines were spinning now, the growl turned to a roar that blasted away moss and turned the blue-green, algae-saturated water of the stream to a spray of viridian mist.

In reply, Starscream's turbines howled louder, the vibrations slamming through Skyfire's whole body. Skyfire screamed wordlessly and arched his back convulsively. Starscream shuddered and whimpered at the vibrations being fed back into him where he pressed against Skyfire.

"Give in, Sky!" Starscream gasped raggedly. "You're... holding... out.. on me." He whimpered, his own systems half-mad with the sensations jangling through him. Metal skin crumpled under Skyfire's passion-driven grip, but pain was only another lash to Starscream's over-driven sensors.

"Re...versers," Skyfire gasped out as he bucked again. "Stop. Them."

Starscream barely understood as he trembled on the brink of overload--but he understood just enough. He disengaged his thrust reversers and let the full heat of his jet exhaust blast into Skyfire's wings.

Heat washed over the spacecraft wings--warm, comforting heat like that of re-entry, not so lethally hot, heat like the sun in space, heat like passion--

Thermal sensors flooded Skyfire's overdriven circuits; he screamed and convulsed as the overload hit him--pure whiteness, ecstasy, agony--

Starscream was pinned, his wings crumpling as Skyfire rolled and thrashed, screaming in pain and pleasure, writhing convulsively as his own sensors overloaded--


Turbines spinning down with a slow, tired whine. Abused sensors coming back online, sensation, vision, audio flicking back on.

"Sky... you need to fix my wings again."

-- FIN --