This update was meant to be posted considerably sooner, but a series of fortunate events prevented us from doing it. The most important one, paradoxically, was the fact that we, the two authors of this story, met in person for the second time in two years, and made some fangirl havoc.

It was our intention to post this chapter during the time we were together, but we were so busy having fun and rocking town that we just couldn't find the time.

But it's never too late, and even though we now have thousands of miles separating us again, our love for Transformers keep us together and here we present you our new Cantabile update.

Before we go on, we would like to comment on a couple of reviews that made us think that some of you guys could have confused things a bit – we take the blame for that, since our updates haven't been as frequent as we wanted them to be, and with so many chapters posted and – holy frag – almost five years posting this story, it's very likely that some of you don't have all the details of this story clear.

Last chapter was a flashback, one that happened thousands of vorns – okay, millions of years – ago. As for Vita, you may remember that she was Soundwave's former bondmate. We want to highlight the word 'was' because, well, she is actually dead…

We will have some flashbacks during the story involving her because, as you will notice in the following chapter, the dead can come back to haunt the living…

Chapter 54


Nocturne shivered as Soundwave placed the weapon in front of her. She had known that it was only a matter of time; she had felt his anxiety every time he left their quarters, imperceptible to all but her.

Had it been her choice, she wouldn't have touched it, but she knew she didn't have an option. It was ironic to think that she felt safe here, within the nest of what should have been her enemy, but in truth, she had never felt so at peace with the universe. Her bondmate, however, did not share her tranquility.

They had started their lessons two cycles previous, when Soundwave had pulled his concussion blaster from subspace and had proceeded to explain each and every component. There had been a sense of urgency in the unexpected lesson; a level of concern that felt foreign to their deepening bond. Still, Nocturne had studied without question, accepting the knowledge she had never wanted.

It had been several breems later while she lay in Soundwave's warm embrace that Nocturne sought an explanation for his sudden concern. She had felt his regret permeating their bond as he had answered, his hands caressing her face gently.

Time had only increased his distress.

Light and shadow played softly over the pristine barrel of the blaster, creating an image too beautiful for something so deadly. How many lives had that weapon claimed, how many times had it been wiped clean of the vital fluids of those unfortunate enough to find themselves on the wrong side of war?

"I know you don't want this," she heard Soundwave speak through their bond, not without apology. "There is no other way."

"It's okay, my love. I understand," she responded in kind.

She felt like a sinner as her fingers grazed the cold metal; innocence lost through association. Her hands gripped the butt of the gun and she lifted it slowly, arms trembling under the weight. It went against everything she believed and yet, as Soundwave pressed himself to her back and reached around to steady her aim, Nocturne accepted her training without any regrets.

If this was the price to pay to bring her bondmate solace, so be it.

Two crimson optics within the semi darkness, the scent of lust permeating the air… The familiar bite of a nightmare assaulted Nocturne's spark, bringing her some of the worst memories of her life at a moment in which her priorities were very different.

"Don't you dare take another step," she said. She wasn't afraid, but infinitely disgusted. She would die before letting that monster lay a finger on her again.

Starscream came into the light and stopped, smirking and raising his hands in a pacifying gesture. "I come in peace, my dear femme, that I can assure you."

Nocturne could have said many things about the venom she could feel in his words, but her senses were focused somewhere else, on someone else. Starscream suddenly making an appearance was a very unwelcome situation.

"You look beautiful, Nocturne. Those cycles in the Ark did wonders for your paintjob."

She frowned. Nocturne had always prided herself on having a spark foreign to hate, but that Decepticon was making his way through her forbidden feelings with surprising ease.

"No, wait… There must be another reason to explain your current brilliance," Starscream continued. "Like, perhaps, the joy of reuniting with your Decepticon lover. Well, increase that feeling, beautiful, because I missed you too."

Nocturne moved too fast, so much so that she surprised herself. By the look on Starscream's face, he too was momentarily taken aback.

"Whoa… there's no need to get violent, Nocturne. As I said, I come in peace," he said, keeping his optics locked on the barrel of Soundwave's concussion blaster which Nocturne was now pointing right at his face.

"Return to where you came from," she said slowly. "I swear I will kill you if you dare to touch me again, do you understand?"

Starscream sighed with fake remorse. "Yes, about that… I was hoping you and I could have a civilized talk."

Civilized? Coming from the monster that had almost succeeded in raping her? How could that Decepticon be so brutally sarcastic?

"You and I have nothing to talk about. Leave!"

"I assume that Soundwave doesn't know anything about our last… encounter."

Nocturne grimaced. "Doesn't the fact that you're still alive tell you something?"

He smirked. "True, true… and I have to say that I thank you for your discretion, my beautiful femme, and that I would appreciate it even more if it stays that way. Having that pretty mouth of yours shut will guarantee you a longer life in this base."

"How dare you come here and tell me that? Leave, Decepticreep! There is nothing preventing me from communicating with Soundwave this time."

Starscream's smirk acquired that unnerving touch of bare evilness that Nocturne was beginning to recognize. It was so threatening, almost obscene…

"Why don't you call him, then? I find it curious that you haven't even attempted to communicate with your beloved drone since I arrived here… Call him. We can have a very interesting chat, the three of us, perhaps more than that, mm?"

"Why you—"

"Or… or we can talk, Nocturne, just you and me. You are no fool, my dear femme, I dare to say you are as intelligent as you are beautiful, and you know perfectly well the kind of damage you would do if the little piece of information about what happened between you and me reaches the wrong audios. I don't have to say how badly Megatron would react to a fracture in the Decepticon High Command at this point in the war, and for reasons of this… domestic kind. I, of course, wouldn't have any problem with making use of a prisoner, as is my right as Decepticons Second in Command, but Soundwave, on the other hand… I'm afraid his position and life will be at serious risk if Megatron finds out that he reacted violently against a fellow officer in defense of a simple Autobot female. High treason, my dear, is made of much less than that."

Nocturne hesitated. Everything had happened so fast. Not so many cycles ago she had been a barely functional corpse; now she was so alive, so full of emotions and so willing to immerse herself into an abysmally different, new life, and so soon challenged with a potentially deadly situation.

"You're afraid of Soundwave," she said softly. "You could have said that with fewer words."

Starscream laughed. "Afraid is not the word I would use, but let's say that there is a protocol of respect he and I must follow in our personal interactions, and I don't think you want to break it. Things are already very fragile as they are… But that doesn't matter. If we keep our little secret as such, whatever that remains fragile right now will not break… at least not on my account."

Nocturne couldn't have felt more disgusted. "You are so generous…"

"More than you'd ever grant me, my dear femme, which leads me to the real purpose of my presence here. I want to offer you an apology."

That was it. That Decepticon had nothing but pure sarcasm running through his fuel lines.

"I admit my previous behavior with you wasn't the most… well-mannered," he continued when he saw that she was short of words. "But can you blame me? You were an Autobot prisoner and, you see, our protocol regarding your kind is not precisely hospitable."

"You don't say…"

"But, as I said, that was because I considered you nothing but a prisoner; a very special one indeed, but a prisoner nevertheless… Something that has recently changed, am I correct?"

Nocturne didn't know what to say. She hadn't dared to ask the question of herself, but now she was being brutally forced to face it. Soundwave had said he would take care of everything, that no harm would come to her… But as safe as she felt at Soundwave's side, Nocturne couldn't forget she was in the main Headquarters of the Decepticon Army, surrounded by Megatron's Elite forces, not to mention the Slag Maker himself…

And as if Soundwave had predicted it, here she was holding the weapon he had left her, genuine fear returning for the first time since she had awoken as his bondmate.

Starscream seemed to know exactly what she was thinking. "This is a dangerous place for a femme, a very dangerous place. You are going to need more than Soundwave to keep yourself functional. You are going to need a friend."

Friend… for some reason that word sounded obscene when spoken by the Seeker's voice.

"Is that so? And let me guess… you would be such friend?"

Starscream smirked seductively. "Now we are reaching an understanding."

"We are reaching nothing!" Nocturne snapped, her finger tightening on the trigger of Soundwave's concussion blaster. "Have you forgotten what you did, you monster? You tried to rape me!"

Starscream frowned with fake disgust. "Rape?! Please! That's such an ugly word for your pretty lips to say… especially considering that it couldn't be further from the truth. I was merely trying to seduce you. After having received nothing but Soundwave's frigidness, I figured you could use a real mech in your berth. Do you know how many femmes and mechs would die for a nano klik of my attention?"

"Aside from the one you see in your mirror every day, I would think none. As for real mechs, let me tell you something about them: real mechs don't rape! Only cowardly vermin like you do. Soundwave is a zillion times a better mech than you are."

Starscream frowned. Obviously he had reacted wrongly to the accusation, but he managed to recover his smirk, shaking his head slightly. "Nocturne, Nocturne… why are you doing this to yourself? Why are you doing it to us? You may feel very secure in your petty position as Soundwave's lover, but you should know that it is only temporary. Don't you ever forget what he is and what you are. Such a relationship is not possible, and not only because of your allegiances, but because of the fact that you are nothing to my dear comrade but a pleasure toy, a replacement for the one femme he ever bonded with."

Her grip on the weapon loosened. "W-what…?"

Starscream stared at her with cynical surprise. "What? Didn't you know about Vita? My, my… I would have thought that Soundwave would've already told you about her. It seems that your bond with him is not as strong as you thought."

Vita? What was that name? Why did it suddenly sound so meaningful?

"You're lying…" Nocturne said, doing her best to stop her voice from shaking. "Your games won't distract me…"

Starscream laughed. "Games? I didn't know that games bonded with mechs and actually sparked children with them. Haven't you ever asked yourself why Soundwave is the only Decepticon – not to mention Cybertronian – with such numerous offspring? He and Vita had a project of life together… a family," he said the last word with disgust. "And they certainly would have carried on with it if the ultimate shutdown hadn't separated her from her foolish fantasy. Now tell me, my dear femme, what are you, compared to her, to Soundwave's bondmate? Nothing more than a distraction, a temporary object with which he may release the lust every mech has… If you believed something different, I'm very sorry for you."

Nocturne's arm lowered, the weapon almost falling to the floor. She didn't even care when Starscream advanced toward her and softly seized her arm.

"Hell, my dear Autobot, is something that you thought you knew about, but only now are you about to thoroughly discover it. Stay on this path, and you'll be engulfed by the flames you created with your blindness." Starscream touched her face with disturbing tenderness. "Turn to me when they burn you. And trust me, they will."

That's all Starscream said before disappearing as furtively as he had appeared, but Nocturne's thoughts couldn't have been further from the Seeker.

Vita… who was Vita? Who had Vita been?

To be continued.

Glue Stick Gary: we hope you enjoyed the first scene, it was inspired by a request you made last year – thanks!