A/N: I originally wanted to include this in the main story, but for the life of me, I couldn't figure out how to work it in without postponing returning to the plot even further. This takes place between chapters 5 and 6. If anything in their behavior is odd or OOC, it's because I pretty much just threw it together due to desperately wanting to write it.

I listened to Star-Stealing Girl from Radical Dreamers while writing this. Now, given the mellow tune of this song, one would NOT normally associate it with Prime/Starscream, but it...fits this so disturbingly well. creeped out

Blue fingers traced over silver metal which reflected the soft glow of red optics. The fingers were dull, paint worn and peeling, but the metal they traced was, somehow, still new though not as shiny as it could have been. The optics above it were offline and dark, but he knew they would shine a brilliant blue once their owner awoke. Soft white light broke the choking darkness, dimmer than it usually was since the owner was offline. The other was thankful for the consideration.

Starscream let the fingers of his remaining hand trace over the middle ridge of Optimus Prime's mask again. He tilted the offline mech's head first one way then the other in an attempt to find a latch or catch of some kind, anything which might remove it, but he found nothing and soon gave up, instead lacing his palm on Optimus' chest so he could rest his chin on his hand. He shifted his mutilated body so it settled more comfortably on top of Optimus where they lay together on the cavern floor. As far as he could tell, there was no way to remove or even open it. Surely, he had a mouth behind it or something similar. Surely, it was not part of his face. Was it?

Regardless of his lack of progress, he found himself going over it again, pressing curious blue fingers against the middle ridge to see if he could find a seam which would part it, but once more, he found and accomplished nothing more than awakening the larger mech.

Starscream had to admit he was truly beginning to like Optimus' touch. Of course, he would never openly admit it even if the cobalt hand which slid up the back of his thigh, over his aft, and trailed up his wingless back felt very relaxing. It was almost a pity he did not continue.

Blue optics finally came online, but the larger mech obviously had not expected to wake to Starscream so closely scrutinizing his face. Optimus' head jerked back as much as the cavern floor would allow and swore quietly as he promptly offlined his optics again. "Don't do that," he grumped and raised his other hand to rub at his optics, cleaning them of cavern dust.

"Jazz or Elita-1 ever tell you that you can be awfully cranky after interfacing?" Starscream huffed in response, too comfortable stretched across Prime's torso to bother moving just yet.

"They didn't startle me like that when I first awoke," came the grumbled reply. He again brought his optics online and gave the smaller mech a confused look as their position fully registered - Starscream lay stretched over Optimus, cockpit to windshields and optic to optic. It was the position in which they had interfaced last just before Prime fell into recharge. "Not that I'm complaining, but why haven't you moved yet?" As he asked it, the hand on Starscream's back moved again, sliding up to where his wings used to be then back down, stopping just short of the smaller mech's aft where his hand then went back upwards.

"Didn't feel like it," Starscream answered simply, and try though he did, he could not keep a relaxed sigh out of his words. The Autobot did not have to wonder what triggered it, and his amused glance earned him an offended, red glare. "Shut up."

"I didn't say anything."

"You didn't have to." As a quick attempt to change the subject and get the leader's mind on something else, Starscream touched his mask again and once more ran his fingers down the middle ridge. "Does this come off?" The oddly random question earned him a surprised flicker of blue optics. That was one of the last things he expected to come from Starscream's vocalizer.

"No, it doesn't," Prime answered. Red optics seemed to glow a little brighter as curious blue fingers grew bolder.

"So you don't have a face behind it?" the former scientist inquired, fascinated.

"It is my face."

"But how do you take in energon?"

Blue optics flickered in a blink as it suddenly dawned upon him where Starscream was going with the topic, and he had to admit he was rather amused. The stagnant air of the cavern was replaced with an air of nostalgia when Optimus was flooded with nearly forgotten memories of a nearly identical conversation with Alpha Trion shortly after his initial activation in his new body when he ceased to be Orion Pax and became Optimus Prime.

"It's not metal," he patiently explained. "It looks and feels like it, but it's made of a mineral Alpha Trion found over a hundred thousand vorns ago - long before he built me. It absorbs energon like dirt absorbs liquid." He had to greatly resist the urge to laugh at how he had effortlessly captured Starscream's undivided attention, the smaller mech scrutinizing his mask even closer than before. "I'm not the only one with something like it, you know. Alpha Trion wasn't the only one who used it."

"I didn't think so - I often watched Soundwave when he energized, and it seemed to go right through his mask."

Optimus nodded. "His is probably the same mineral. Wheeljack, Grimlock, and Blaster's cassettes Rewind and Eject are the same. I would imagine the Constructicons are as well - those with face plates and masks, that is, but I could be wrong. Seaspray's is retractable as are Powerglide's and Cosmos'."

"Does it register sensation?" Starscream asked, and Optimus nodded again.

"Yes, I can feel with it just like any other part of my body," he answered, simplifying the other mech's more technical description. He hesitated before he tilted his head to one side and offered, "If you'd like, you can see it work." Already bright red optics shined brighter as if their owner had been given one of the things he wanted most in the universe, and for a brief moment, Starscream disturbingly and irrevocably reminded him of Wheeljack.

What kind of mech would he have become had he not been seduced by the Decepticon way?

Optimus more firmly pressed his hand against Starscream's back so as not to throw him off as he used his other hand to push himself up into a sitting position with his back against the cavern wall, letting Starscream settle in his lap. Once he was certain the unbalanced mech would not topple, Prime reached out and took one of the three energon cubes they had remaining, and as Starscream watched intently with all the enthusiasm and fascination of the scientist he was in a previous life, Optimus pressed the cube to his mask and partially drained its contents.

It was exactly as he said - it was like watching the ground soak up rain, but the metallic texture remained the same. As he watched the telltale shimmer of energon soak into the mineral, Starscream raised his hand to touch it. It was still smooth like any piece of metal, but the energon passed through it effortlessly. The tips of his fingers came away glistening with energon he had wiped away before it was absorbed, but as soon as he pressed his fingers back to the mask, the mineral it was made of absorbed that as well and left his fingers clean.

Optimus dimmed his optics during Starscream's hand-on scrutiny. Neither Jazz nor Elita-1 found his mask so enthralling and, after touching it once or twice, ignored it completely. Elita-1 had even been disappointed at his lack of a mouth, and Jazz had tugged on the mask only to earn himself a pained howl. Starscream, however, was utterly fascinated. His touch was feather-light at first then grew firmer after a moment before it became light again as he ran his fingers the entire mask. His touch was almost soothing, and he nearly let out a noise of disappointment when it departed.

Optimus activated his optics again when the touch quickly returned, this time wet as Starscream smoothed his thumb from one side of the mask to the other, thumb coated with energon from the cube Prime still held. He left a line of the shimmering substance which he then watched soak into the surface. Optimus, not for the first time, wished he had a real mouth under it so he could smile.

"Why wouldn't he just give you a normal face?" Starscream finally asked to break the silence, crimson gaze still on Prime's mask as he repeated his action, this time with two fingers instead of his thumb to make two lines of energon to be absorbed.

"This body was meant to fight," the larger mech answered as he dimmed his optics once more and let the other do what he wished. He was enjoying it far too much to ask Starscream to stop even if there was a reason to. "He thought a battle mask would be better to have than a face that could become disfigured by battle damage since the face is harder to repair than most other parts of the body."

Starscream made a small noise of understanding but said nothing in response. Silence filled the cavern for the next breem until the energon cube was completely emptied and Starscream drew one last line across Optimus' mask. He made this one a jagged zigzag just for variety then lifted his thumb to his own mouth to clean it of excess energon and leaned back away from Prime's face where he found a knee already propped up for support of his back.

"If we ever get off of this rock, you're going to have to let me study this mineral further," he finally stated after another lengthy moment of silence. Prime again wished he could smile.

"I'd be glad to."

A/N: Last thing in this AU from me for a while. I want to work on something for the November challenge in mecha erotica on LJ, and I have pr0n I need to write for a friend for Christmas. After all that, I think I might get started on the Prime/Screamer/Frenzy crack then finally get back to my original plan of telling the story of a different group of survivors (Humans Call Them Dreams was supposed to be a one-shot, people D: ).