A/N – Jetsmut! Takes place a few weeks after the Aerialbots were created.
The seekers were bored. This, as countless Decepticon commanders across the Empire had discovered, was a bad thing.
The coneheads had taken over the rec room, glaring death at anyone who dared invade their space. Thundercracker had been forced to drag Skywarp out by his intakes in an attempt to keep his trine-mate from antagonizing Ramjet into feeding him his own ailerons.
Starscream was off sulking and plotting a thousand little revenges he'd never enact for his latest humiliation at Megatron's hands.
Finally sick of staring at the walls, Thundercracker pulled Skywarp away from his cassette-baiting and out into the open air.
They cruised through the clouds, enjoying a quiet moment of camaraderie, wind rolling over their wings.
"TC, Check it out," Skywarp radioed suddenly, banking. "A little lonely Autojet, all by himself."
"Maybe we should pay him a visit." Thundercracker warmed up his cannons.
"Wait." Skywarp pulled closer. "I have a better idea."
Fireflight threw himself out of the Ark and into the air, wings trembling in humiliation. Why did everyone have to get so angry? It's not like he meant to plow into Skydive! He hadn'tmeant for the equipment to go flying, or for it to hit Ironhide and break, or for Bumblebee to get knocked into the table, or…
He never meant to do a lot of the things he did. But did Slingshot have to be so nasty about it? And Silverbolt – he knew Silverbolt was trying to be patient, but Fireflight could see the irritation and despair behind his normal look of exasperation.
Fireflight engaged his thrusters, wanting to get far away from the accusing stares and disgusted muttering. He pushed hard, trying to escape the memory of the snide comments that followed him no matter how far he flew.
He couldn't blame the other Aerialbots; after all they were the ones he was always blundering into. But the Autobots were mostly ground-vehicles and didn't usually have to worry about Fireflight's less-than-stellar flying. And he really hadn't meant to knock Red Alert into the security console… That had been three days ago, and Fireflight still couldn't face Red Alert or Inferno.
Maybe Cliffjumper's right. I do more damage to the Autobots than the Decepticons! He gave a start, angry voices blaring over his radio. Guiltily, he changed course, pulling out of the human aircraft's flight path.
"Sorry," he muttered sheepishly over the radio. The human pilot didn't seem mollified.
"Learn to fly, you damned winged menace!"
Winged menace. Fireflight flinched. That's what I am. A living collision with wings attached. I should just leave, go somewhere with no planes to crash, no one to hurt – but I can't. The Autobots need Superion. If only they could find someone better- Is there a way to replace a member of a gestalt? Fireflight turned the idea over in his mind. How many of Superion's shortfalls and defeats were because of me? The one weak link that breaks the whole chain. They need somebody like Skydive, or Air Raid, or Slingshot, or… or anybody but me. Maybe I can ask Wheeljack – he'll know.
Fireflight was not the most observant of mechs, so it was understandable given his state of mind that he failed to realize he was being followed. He didn't notice the two seekers until he came out of a cloud bank to find an F-15 flying off either wing.
Fireflight yelped in surprise, losing control and plummeting a few hundred feet before he managed to level out.
The seekers swooped down to bracket Fireflight again.
"Easy!" one of them laughed, waggling sky-blue wings. Thundercracker, Fireflight realized belatedly. "We ain't gonna hurt ya."
"We're just out for a leisure flight," Skywarp added. "Maybe chase each other around a bit."
"Then we saw you," Thundercracker picked up the thread of conversation easily.
"M-me? I – I don't think I should be talking to you," Fireflight stammered nervously.
"Aw, just for a little bit?" Skywarp slid closer.
Fireflight banked slightly in surprise, making Thundercracker climb to avoid putting his wingtip in Fireflight's cockpit. "Sorry," Fireflight muttered reflexively. He leveled out. "I've just never seen anyone do that before."
"Do what?" Thundercracker drifted back into position.
"Move sideways in the air like that."
"Oh, like this?" Skywarp sidled closer.
"Y-yeah…" Fireflight twitched nervously at the sudden proximity.
"Then," Thundercracker said with amusement, "You've probably never had anyone do, oh, this…" The tip of his wing whispered across the top of Fireflight's, his energy field washing over the young Autobot.
Fireflight squawked and lost altitude.
Skywarp shifted closer to his wingmate. "This is going to be fun," he commented cheerfully.
They caught up to Fireflight with ease.
"I really really shouldn't be talking to you," Fireflight said nervously.
"Probably not," Skywarp agreed, rolling under Fireflight so they were belly-to-belly, fuselages almost touching. "But do you really want to stop?"
Fireflight shivered at the sensation running from his nose to his tail. "I-" Thundercracker rolled and settled just above Fireflight, hot wash flowing over the Aerialbot's fin and stabilizers. "No…" Fireflight managed finally. "Don't stop."
"Have you ever wondered," Thundercracker asked, deep voice sending thrills through Fireflight, "What it's like to interface at Mach two?"
"To- to what?" Fireflight was finding it very hard to think. His wings were between the seekers' and the building energy was making his ailerons quiver. Then Skywarp shifted against him, and he couldn't think at all.
He'd overloaded before – Slingshot had wanted to know what all the fuss had been about – and that had been nice, but nothing at all like this. He could feel the seekers… their energy invaded him, filled him, touching every nook and corner and crevice of him… It was like flying and falling and drowning and living all at once.
The pleasure was intoxicating; it just kept building and building until Fireflight was sure he couldn't take anymore, and he was going to die or explode or melt…
The world dissolved into a blur of color and sound.
Slowly, the sound resolved itself into the familiar voices of his gestalt-mates, calling his name with varying degrees of concern and irritation.
The color resolved itself into a cliff side hurdling towards him at distinctly uncomfortable speeds.
Fireflight squawked and pulled up.
Four red-and-silver jets swarmed around him, talking all at once.
"Fireflight! Where have you been? I've been calling you –" Silverbolt started.
"- We've been worried about you," added Skydive.
"We thought you'd taken a nosedive through another building." Slingshot looped around him.
"-Or another plane-" Air Raid put in.
"-Again," finished Slingshot.
"Sorry," Fireflight said to Silverbolt sheepishly. "I didn't hear you. I must've been distracted." By two very insistent seekers, he added mentally.
"When aren't you distracted?" Slingshot asked sourly. "If you'd pay a bit more attention, you might spend less time plowing into things."
For a bare second, Fireflight swore he saw two shapes disappearing into the clouds – one the color of noon-time sky, and the other midnight black.
"Fireflight! Are you even listening to me?" Fireflight looked guiltily back at Silverbolt. Silverbolt sighed. "Never mind. Let's just go home."
Skydive hung back to fly next to Fireflight. "Are you alright?"
"I'm fine, Skydive, really. Never better," he reassured his gestalt-mate.
"You have scorch marks all across your tail," Skydive said with concern. "And you're steaming a bit. Did you have another crash?"
"No, just a bit of a close call." Well, it was close. Wonderfully, frighteningly close…
Skydive blew air. "Are we going to be getting another call from the FAA?"
"Uh…" He stalled, suddenly remembering the airliner.
"Sorry?" Fireflight tried sheepishly.
Skydive just sighed. They flew in silence for a while.
"Have you ever wondered what it's like to overload at Mach two?"
x-xxx-xA/N – FAA: Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA is the American agency that regulates all civil flights and monitors things like mid-air collisions. They probably don't like poor Fireflight too well.