Oh, no. Not this again.
"No," Skyfire snapped over the comm line, rolling slightly to avoid a stray piece of space debris.
"But I'm tiiiired!" Starscream whined, managing to sound both pathetic and cajoling at the same time. To emphasize, the smaller jet faltered his flight pattern, lagging behind, dipping and swaying erratically. Skyfire kept more sensors on him than he should have.
"You were 'tired' last time too! Forget it, I'm not letting you into my hold again, you lazy slagger."
"But you weren't protesting much, were you?" Skyfire could sense the smirk in his tone.
"I protested plenty," Skyfire argued back. He noted that Starscream's flight pattern didn't seem too exhausted now.
"Only at first..." Starscream countered smoothly. "But really Skyfire, you would leave your poor partner out in the cold of space, low on energy and vulnerable to all sorts of hull parasites and pirates? I'm hurt, truly! I never thought you would be so cruel, so-"
"Alright already!" Skyfire cried, exasperated. He conveniently ignored the little barrel roll of triumph on the edge of his sensors. "Get over here, you miswired..." He trailed off, feeling Starscream eagerly come close and hover near his hold opening, apparently impatient.
"Open up!" Starscream demanded, nudging Skyfire's underbelly insistently. Skyfire took the opportunity to feel smug- he could fix both their problems.
"You first," Skyfire quipped, and nudged Starscream with the probe he had dropped while the jet had been distracted by his own impatience. He felt Starscream jerk a little in surprise, and refocus sensors to determine what it was. Predictably, he reacted negatively to what he found.
"No. Stop this foolishness and let me in!" Starscream snarled.
"Why Starscream," Skyfire chided teasingly, probe trailing under his belly still. "After all the trouble I went through, consenting to this modification so that you wouldn't have to be weighed down with extra fuel in order to not stall out in the middle of deep space! And you won't even consent to using it."
"I don't need to!" Starscream snapped back, bumping rudely against him.
"I have to disagree. You're obviously dangerously low on fuel, to be so desperate to get towed. I'll have to insist that you top off your tanks, Starscream. For your own good."
Starscream tried to veer suddenly out of range, but they had been through this procedure several times before. Skyfire half transformed, rearranging enough of himself to grab hold of the screeching jet underneath him and keep him in place.
"Open up," Skyfire instructed, his tone light and teasing.
Skyfire's probe was bumping insistently against Starscream's plating, over where he knew Starscream's drogue was concealed. Starscream snarled and strained against Skyfire's grip, to no avail.
"Don't be so stubborn!" Skyfire chided. "You were the one insisting that your fuel tanks were low."
"Well they're fine now! Stop it!"
"Are you really going to go through all this again?"
"You let go of me right now, you misclocked, glitching- AAAH! What are you doing?!"
Skyfire hummed his engines a little, not responding, and continued moving across Starscream, his probe firmly scraping at his plating, drawing uncomfortable groans and protests from his partner, until, finally, the plating split and folded back, revealing Starscream's drogue. Before it could even be pushed out of its recessed space, Skyfire pushed his probe against it and made a connection.
"Aaah!" Starscream wailed at the sudden intrusion, even as the line filled with fuel and pumped into his tank.
"Hush, it's not that bad." Skyfire informed him. It was useless to try and placate Starscream, but Skyfire insisted on sharing fuel periodically. Starscream only provoked it by being so blasted needy.
Most groups of flyers regularly shared fuel, and in emergency situations ground-based builds would too. Flying models, however, did it recreationally - it was a social procedure, no matter the size of the group. In their own case, it happened to be conveniently practical as well. Skyfire, being the larger of the two, had been outfitted with extra fuel tanks to accommodate Starscream and supplement his rather small tank size. It simply wasn't enough to sustain him on long journeys through space. For most exploratory flying teams, this was considered something of a perk to the journeys away from Cybertron.
Unfortunately, Starscream loathed it.
As near as Skyfire could determine, it was mostly to do with the fact that it was a kind of bonding ritual, something bordering on affectionate between notoriously aloof and distant flyers. Starscream had only recently overcome his aversion to referring to Skyfire as his partner. He wasn't going to consent to taking fuel from him when he could just hitch a ride in his larger partner's hold. And causing mischief meanwhile was just a bonus for the sneaky glitch.
Unfortunately for poor Starscream, his partner wasn't so reluctant to show affection. In fact, he was downright insistent.
"Alright, alright!" Starscream half-wailed, half-whimpered pitifully. "My tank is full now, stop it!"
"Hardly," Skyfire responded. "The pressure gauge says your tank is at half. Why can't you just relax?"
Starscream grumbled and tugged at Skyfire's grip on him without much effort put behind it, but eventually calmed down, even as Skyfire's feed slowed to a trickle in an effort to draw the experience out. Skyfire took the opportunity to rumble contentedly at his smaller jet partner, expressing his approval and happiness, and to his delight, after a few moments Starscream briefly returned the sound.
Was it hopeful thinking, or had Starscream relaxed completely now? Well, that was interesting. He normally didn't start relaxing until his tank was almost completely full...
"I hate you..." Starscream grumbled without any force behind it. "I'm applying for a partner transfer as soon as we get back."
"Yes," Skyfire soothed. "And you'll have your new partner following you around like a worshipful little turbopuppy within a vorn, I'm sure." He didn't miss the revolted shudder of the little jet in his grip.
"Ech," Starscream answered, tone dripping with disgust. "Don't remind me. Those stupid weak-minded morons..."
Skyfire listened patiently while Starscream went off on a rant about decreasing standards and the lack of strong-willed individuals in the general population, humming every once in awhile to show that he was still listening.
"And I'd have to train them, too... blech. More trouble than it's worth."
Skyfire hummed again and started to retract the probe, only to be met with resistance. He paused in surprise. Starscream must have locked it in place... Skyfire had stopped the flow of fuel some time ago.
"Are you sure?" Skyfire asked, trying his hardest to sound casual. "I'm sure there's someone at the academy who'll be willing to put up with your idiosyncrasies." Starscream responded by scraping up along Skyfire's underbelly unpleasantly.
"Stop being smug," he snapped. "It doesn't suit you."
"Yes, yes. I wouldn't want to infringe on your territory."
"Shut up before I rip this blasted thing straight out."
And because he knew Starscream would carry out that threat, Skyfire turned his attention back outwards towards the wide expanse of space between them and their destination. Starscream connected to him, insistent on control as always, they burned shared fuel towards their mission goal.
AN: This was partly inspired by watching birds feed each other, and wondering what social implications there would be for aerial refueling. I considered doing it with Octane, but I don't know them well enough yet.
I'm working on the next chapter now, but it might take awhile, and it'll be a switch from Dominant Skyfire. Sort of. You'll see.