Yo, guys! The two-parter beginning that started it all. Enjoy the first chapter!

It was a beautiful, clear orn the day Skyfire died.

Thick splatters of energon now flayed the walls and ground amongst the shattered glass and ruined top-quality furnishing of his office, and behind Skyfire's desk (now a mess of files, data pads, a demolished decorative lava lamp and a broken family photo) lay the scientist himself, drowning in a pool of his own fluids, gray as the floor and littered with holes. His hand reached out towards an area just to the left of the desk, where his sparkling had been frozen in horror just moments before he went offline. In only a few joors, his passing would be described in the news as "one of the most tragic homicides of all time," the extinguishing of "one of, if perhaps not the greatest scientific minds Cybertron has ever known."

But of course an untrained optic cannot infer much of a story from the remaining carnage. No, in order to get the full scope of the events, one must rewind the hands of time, and have an insight to the build-up of events that led to such a front-page tragedy…

Skyfire arrived to his office building on time, as he always did; and, right on schedule, everyone awaited him. He was a warm, friendly mech, so massive that the building's entrances and elevators had to be reformatted in order to fit his stature. Everyone was physically dwarfed against him, but rather than being an intimidating shadow, Professor Skyfire was a veritable gentle giant.

"Good morning, Mr. Skyfire!" said a cheery secretary at the front desk, to whom Skyfire smiled kindly, and waved. She sighed enviously, and went back to work.

From there it spread contagiously. Nearly everyone Skyfire passed greeted him with enthusiasm, and Skyfire responded warmly in kind, dipping his head or waving politely, even exchanging a few words when he could spare, and giving more instructions on the way to his office. Such was the case as one of the scientists working under him approached him in the long elevator ride to the top floor.

"Professor, I have the results from that chemical test group that you wanted."

Skyfire stands calmly with his arms folded behind him, glancing down at the smaller mech. "Good. Have there been any significant changes in the specimen?"

The mech taps his data pad, revealing encoded information. "Everything has essentially come to its end. There are only a few more bugs that we need to work out, particularly in regards to the stability of the composition. Once that is over with, we can claim a patent and begin selling the product."

"Good, good. That is wonderful news to hear." Skyfire smiles wide; "Continue with your experimentations. How soon will the specimen be ready for distribution?"

"A few orns; five, maybe, no more than seven…"

At that moment, the elevator stops, and another mech walks in; larger than the smaller scientist, and with wide, sleek wings. The working mech closes the encoded information upon the very sight of the other. This third mech is a flier, with a dark black helm and a crackling blue paintjob streaking his frame underneath a stylish deep-blue business suit. He grins boisterously at Skyfire, makes a zealous shout and pats his massive arm. "Great day today, right, Skyfire?" he cries.

Skyfire chuckles and drapes an arm carefully on the smaller, younger mech's shoulders. "Energetic as always, aren't you, Thundercracker?"

"Hey, someone has to be, with all these serious science-types around!"

"Now, Thundercracker!" laughs Skyfire, to which the blue mech lifts an optic ridge.

"Oh, right," he snickers, "I forgot you're one of the serious science-types. Well, excluding you, I mean."

Feeling stifled by the time he reaches his floor, the working scientist steps out, and Thundercracker makes use of the space to give his wings some extra stretching room. "So what's on the agenda for today?"

"What's in the news?" asks Skyfire.

Thundercracker makes a face. "Not good. Bunch of obsessive mechs are sayin' your products are killin' the planet with the amount of energon they use." He holds up his hands at the first signs of disdain in his business partner. "I know, I know—I know how you think of them. But I'm just saying, Skyfire, maybe it would be best to find a slightly less consuming way to sell your products. You know, to keep those creeps from picketing and singing songs on your front lawn."

"Believe me, Thundercracker; my latest project is going to snuff that loud-mouthed minority faster than a flame put to ice."

"You don't say?" guesses the fellow flier, tilting his head with a curious smirk. He crosses his arms. "Any chance you wanna share your findings with me?"

Skyfire shakes his head, and says gently, "I apologize, Thundercracker. You know that in any and every other situation, you are my first and foremost partner in the business, and I trust you with everything I know. But this is something that I must keep classified until it is ready for release."

A frown crosses the blue mech's face briefly, and he says, with some bitterness and a sour smile, "If you trust me with everything, Skyfire, then why's this pet project of yours so top secret?"

Skyfire's expression drops. Silence drags for the rest of the elevator ride up, until Thundercracker takes them back on track with discussion of current events. He follows Skyfire to his office on the top floor; the massive mech swipes his card key and the doors open with a low hiss. It is an extravagant office, furnished beautifully and with a skyline view of Iacon, floor-to-ceiling windows lining the wall behind his desk. The room is optimally lit, both from sunlight and the fluorescent strips thrumming gently from the tall ceiling. There is a slender, gorgeous silhouette standing at the windows, looking down upon the world below with an unseen wanton expression, which then turns up to the skies. The figure has wings the same as Thundercracker's, but the paintjob is different; bright red streaks the wings and blue shades the forearms, and the rest of the figure is determined by the long, form-fitting halter-top dress that brushes flier-make ankles.

Spotting the standing figure, Thundercracker is the first to smile; he folds his arms behind him, and makes a coughing sound with a stutter of his engine.

The figure turns, revealing a beautiful, effeminate gunmetal face beneath an ash-black helm, all smooth curves and polished surface with burning red optics. Soft-shaped lips curve in a happy smile and he speaks. "Thundercracker! Good morning."

Skyfire takes a lab coat off of the hanger near the door to don it with a chuckle. "No hello for your old mech, Starscream…? I'm shot."

Starscream's lips twitch a bit, before smiling again. "Good morning, father." The flier's voice is hoarse and shrill, a sound that, to most, grates upon the audios like knives screeching on glass. It is a defect Starscream has embodied since birth, and something Skyfire has tried numerous times to have surgically reformatted; abuse that has only made his son's throat worse with mistreatment. Medics finally took the sense when the flier was young to inform the both of them that the defect would continue for the rest of the young bot's adult life.

But Thundercracker still moves to meet his partner's sparkling, winding an arm around his slender waist with a pleased smile. He tilts Starscream's chin up and kisses him. "Miss me, my love?" he purrs.

Starscream's lips pucker and he makes a face, squeezing Thundercracker's waist. "Terribly," he insists with a snicker, smirking wide.

"Good," says Thundercracker, swaying his love from side to side, wings lowering affectionately as he strokes Starscream's cheek. "I'd be sad if you thought so little of me." Starscream smiles, his faceplates warming.

"Now, you two," Skyfire chides gently, patting their shoulders in turn as he moves towards his desk to open the laptop placed there. "Can't that wait until after the work day is over?"

Starscream rolls his optics. "Ugh, father, what secret is it?!" he hisses irritably, leering at Skyfire over his shoulder. "Everyone in the office knows about us."

"True as that may be, we still have appearances to keep," Skyfire replies calmly. "I won't have these indecencies going on in my office while I'm present."

"Appearances," scoffs Starscream, "You would be one to talk about appearances, father."

Skyfire narrows his blue optics in warning, their color flaring. Thundercracker quickly steps in, squeezing his mate at the waist and petting the flat of one wing when the appendages hike defiantly on Starscream's back. "A-Ah, sir, please, you must forgive her." Thundercracker chuckles, "She's your sparkling, after all, and we both know what a spitfire she can be." He shoots a look at Starscream, who shoots a look right back. "Isn't that right, darling?"


Still, Skyfire sighs, leaning back in his massive chair, shaking his head. "I suppose that is true enough. But, Starscream, that does not excuse this disrespectful behavior." He looks up, giving his sparkling a pleading, tired glance. "Please, for all our sakes, you must do something about that temper of yours."

Starscream turns his nose up and nuzzles his lover's chassis. "I'll fit it into my schedule," he sneers.

Skyfire shakes his head again, entering a code into the laptop to unlock the save screen and get to work. "Please, now, you two. I have some tests to monitor." He looks up, "Thundercracker, I trust you'll report in later? You said you had something to speak to me about, but I'm afraid this may take some time."

"Sure thing, Skyfire," replies Thundercracker. He tugs Starscream towards the doors as he looks down at the flier, whose wings are still tugged as high as they'll go; he continues giving those beautiful wings slow strokes along their edges. "Stop that, or you'll rip your dress."

Starscream hisses rebelliously and clings to his lover. "Now, now," hums Thundercracker as they make their exit. Once outside, he holds Starscream close. "No need to be like that. He is right though, you know; you do have quite a temper."

"Hmph!" grumbles the red flier; although he does begin to lower his wings, with the continuation of Thundercracker's gentle attentions. Eventually, as the blue flier continues to hum and rationalize and nestle his neck, Starscream's wings droop and he presses to the other's broad chest. "He's so insufferable sometimes!" he complains.

"Yeah, don't I know it," mumbles Thundercracker, taking a furtive glance back at the double-doors leading to Skyfire's office. He turns back to Starscream. "But he's still your father, love, and you've gotta respect that." Starscream pouts and looks away; Thundercracker lifts his chin. "Come on. Do it for me…?"

Starscream still pouts. "…Fine," he says ambiguously.

Thundercracker kisses him. "That's my girl," he smiles.

At that, Starscream gets a fretful look on his face. He squirms in his lover's arms, despite the affectionate strokes to the flat surface of his wings. They quiver softly in appreciation as he looks up at Thundercracker. "TC…can we talk for a moment…in private?"

A wide grin splits the aspiring business-mech's face and he turns Starscream down the hall. "Sure thing, love—my office will suffice, I think."

Starscream follows the blue mech to said office, twiddling his fingers around Thundercracker's arm the whole way. He bites his bottom lip and his wings twitch lightly. They enter, and the office is spacious—the digital shades are down over the windows and it is much less bright and harsh than Skyfire's office. The only light streaming in is the sunlight through the spaces of the blinds. Things are more closely placed, but there is still enough room aplenty for the both of them to move freely without catching their wings. Starscream likes Thundercracker's office. There is more closeness, more friendliness. Skyfire behaves warmly to his competitors and companions, but his office is large and mostly empty; in it, Starscream always feels distant and cold.

He stares through the blinds for a moment, even as Thundercracker winds his arms around him from behind, pressing against him, nuzzling his neck. "Anyway, I'd like to talk to you," Starscream begins coolly, ignoring the advances.

"Hmm," hums Thundercracker, pressing a warm open kiss to Starscream's cheek. The flier shudders under the silk of his dress.

"About us," he clarifies.

Thundercracker chuckles, "What's there to talk about? We both know where we stand." He kisses Starscream's throat. "Don't we…?" His hands press the flier's stomach under the silk, pulling soft material over warm metal. Starscream begins to give, optics flickering to a dim glow. He tilts his head for Thundercracker to ravish it, sharp teeth scraping the cables that are sensitized and worn from multiple aborted reformations. Softly he sighs as Thundercracker's hands move down over his thighs, one sneaking beneath the slit of it to stroke bare metal while the other begins to pull the material up in a scrunch.

"TC, be serious," warns Starscream.

"I am being serious," says Thundercracker.

Starscream sighs laboriously with annoyance, because Thundercracker isn't stopping. "You know I'm self-conscious," he whines, hoping the pity card will work better than his previous try.

Thundercracker turns Starscream around and looks at him with a deadpan expression, hands cupping his cheeks. "And you know that I don't slagging care if you're scarred, crippled or screechy. I love you, Star."

But the flier turns his optics. "That's what they all said," he mumbles.

"This again?" sighs Thundercracker. He regains his lover's attention with a kiss to his lips. "I've told you before, I'm not like them. I've been very patient, have I not? I've been the perfect gentlemech. And I've spoiled you rotten, let's not forget that."

Starscream's voice raises an octave. "TC, please, you don't understand…"

Thundercracker quiets him with a kiss. Still turning with worry, Starscream gives. An oil-smooth glossa flicks against his lips and he willingly parts them for the blue mech to explore, and his vents cycle a little faster when there is the added bonus of an electric crackle on his energy field, leaving his mental processors dizzy for a few astro-seconds. When Thundercracker parts from the kiss, Starscream's processors are still looping with feedback.

"Nothing you say is gonna change my mind, Starscream," he promises. "Nothing—hear me?"


"No. Nothing. I've said it, and I mean it." Starscream bites his lip at the serious look on Thundercracker's face; the blue mech cycles his vents in a sigh, and distances to arm's length, smiling wryly. "I'm sorry; I don't think I'm being the gentlemech I said I was. If it's what you want, then I guess I can be patient a little longer."

Starscream sputters. "It's not that…!"

Thundercracker quirks an optic ridge at the mech. "Well, what else could it be, Star? Do you want to share?"

Another long silence permeates the air. Starscream stares; so does Thundercracker, with his hands on his lover's shoulders. The fliers gaze optic-to-optic, each expecting something from the other, until Starscream finally breaks with a saddened expression. He moves close to Thundercracker and cuddles against him. "No…it's…it's nothing. I'm sorry." He turns his head up to kiss his mate. "I love you." His fuel systems churn sickly as he murmurs the words.

"I love you too, baby." Thundercracker pets Starscream's wings, which shiver pleasantly under the touch. It elicits a happy purr from the red-dressed flier. After a moment, huffing, the blue mech detaches. "I'm afraid I've got some work to do. Think you can keep yourself preoccupied for a few more joors?"

Starscream takes the invitation—Thundercracker is giving him the opportunity to sort things out alone. He smiles, nodding assuredly and kissing the blue mech on his way out. Another reason he's happy to be with TC: the other mech always seems to know what he wants, and, more importantly, he cares.

He knows he should wait a little longer until springing this on Skyfire, but Thundercracker is at a loss. He has already considered his options as he reaches the double-doors to Skyfire's office. He wants this—he knows that he does. Still, no matter how he rationalizes and steels his copper nerves, he's got a nervous twitch in his fingers, making him clench his hands as he swipes his card key to enter.

Skyfire is still behind his desk, working busily away. He looks up when Thundercracker enters, smiling a bit. "What a pleasant surprise, Thundercracker. I'm afraid I'm still a bit busy…"

"I know, Skyfire, but…" the flier approaches to the left of the desk, hesitating. "Could we…talk? This is, ah…a very urgent issue."

The Professor can deduce that from the personal stance his business partner has taken by standing beside him rather than in front of the desk. Curiosity piqued, he tilts his head, closes his laptop and slips it into a drawer on his desk. He leans back casually in his chair. "What's on your mind, Thundercracker?"

Again, the blue mech freezes up. His intakes skip a cycle and for a moment the energon in his systems stops flowing. But then, as he blinks and clears his vocals of static, everything runs smoothly again. "I, ah…well, you know, Starscream and I have been…together for…quite a while now." He falters, and picks up. "And, well, I love her—and she loves me."

"Yes, this is true…" Skyfire nods slowly, waiting patiently for Thundercracker to reach his point.

Thundercracker continues, making some vague gestures. "I mean, I really love her, Skyfire. I would cut off my wings and jump off a cliff for her. I want to give her gifts and keep loving her and…and see her as happy as I can make her."

Skyfire blinks slowly. "Yes…?"

"…And…" Thundercracker quiets. He pulls a deep cycle of air through his vents, meeting Skyfire's optics firmly. "That's why, Skyfire, with your permission…I'd like to bond with Starscream."

Thundercracker stands still, not shying from his position. He waits anxiously, wires fraying to their ends as Skyfire analyzes him up and down. At first, there's no expression from the larger flier; for the first time in his life, Thundercracker feels like a petro-rabbit in the towering white mech's presence.

But then there's a smile, and Skyfire, being at equal level when he's sitting down, reaches out to place a hand on the blue mech's shoulder.

"Then it is my honest hope, Thundercracker, that the two of you will be the happiest couple on Cybertron."

Relief, shock, and joy wash through Thundercracker's systems all at once, and his vents give a stutter to his laugh. "I…I…thank you, Skyfire—thank you!"

Skyfire smiles; Thundercracker grins; the hand falls away from his shoulder, and Skyfire's smile softens a bit as he heaves a rumbling sigh. "Make my little femme happy, Thundercracker," he murmurs, a strange pleading tone on the edge of his voice as he looks away—almost as if in shame. "Primus knows I've tried…"

Thundercracker's elated mood crashes a bit. He crinkles his optic ridge down the center, faceplates tightening, and it's his turn to comfort Skyfire. "Come on…I'm sure that she loves you. You're her father, and besides, you've raised her right."

Skyfire shakes his head. "No…no, no," he mumbles.

The smaller flier is puzzled by this, and tilts his head. "'No'…?"

At that moment, the double doors open. Two mechs roughly Thundercracker's size walk in, dressed in smooth black suits. Both he and Skyfire turn their attentions to the new guests, Thundercracker with a hint of suspicion as he sees the way the two appear. They are stocky, grim and they stomp when they walk—generally quite unfriendly looking.

"Did you have an appointment?" Skyfire asks in confusion, checking his internal chronometer. He didn't schedule for any meetings…

"We bring a message from Megatron," grunts one mech.

Skyfire's systems stall and his optics go wide. "M…Megatron…?"

Thundercracker sees the fear in his partner's eyes and grows hesitant himself. "Skyfire, what's going on?"

But there's no time for the large mech to respond as the small gruff mechs rip the arms of their suits, massive rapid-fire pulse guns splitting from their mechanics. They take aim, and Skyfire acts before his younger partner does; and he reaches to push Thundercracker roughly just as the gunfire erupts.

The two small mechs empty every bit of energon they have stored in their guns; they fire until Thundercracker and Skyfire are riddled with sizzling holes and both drop to the ground, twitching in a growing puddle of their mingled energon. Skyfire's last act didn't save Thundercracker from the intruders' desire to erase the spark of any mech that witnessed their act, involved or not.

When their guns are done firing and the chambers are steaming, one mech waves to the desk. "Get the computer," he growls. His partner complies, circles the desk, kicking Skyfire aside; the large flier moans painfully, making the black-suited mech laugh as he smashes in the front drawer to break the lock. "Hey, he's still livin' back here!"

"Hah! Not for long," chortles the other mech. His partner pulls the smashed drawer open, and takes out the thin silver computer inside. "Jackpot!" he declares, grinning, flashing fangs. "Let's get this back to the boss."

"Right," agrees the mech. Both shooters, one with Skyfire's computer in hand, depart by jumping out one of the shattered glass windows. Thrusters on the bottoms of their feet allow them to take off swiftly in flight.

It was a beautiful, clear orn the day Skyfire died.

Thick splatters of energon now flayed the walls and ground amongst the shattered glass and ruined top-quality furnishing of his office, and behind Skyfire's desk lay the scientist himself, drowning in a pool of his own fluids, gray as the floor and littered with holes. Thundercracker, his most trusted young business partner, had fallen just beside him, just as damaged as he.

Then the double-doors open and Starscream rushed inside, optics wide and bright.

His intakes skip on a sharp hiss of air and he covers his mouth aghast at the sight before him—instantly running towards the blue-suited body lying in a glowing pink puddle.

"TC!!" Starscream shrieks, turning the mech's body over in his arms, shaking him desperately. "TC! TC! Stay online! TC!!"

Energon stains his dress. Thundercracker's optics flicker and he winces, his vocals catching on static. Starscream leans down over him, pressing a hand to his face. His voice is high with panic and screeches on the blue mech's audios in a dull drone that he can barely register. "Stay with me! Please! Stay with me, TC, I'll make this better! I'll make it better!"

A large white hand reaches out. Skyfire groans, causing his sparkling to look up in shock. Their optics meet, for a moment—Skyfire opens his mouth to say something, reaching as far as his arm will stretch. He drops offline.

Starscream is quivering from the sight as a storm of employees soon come rushing into the office, everyone in horror at the scene. For a moment Starscream forgets himself and stares blankly at his father's graying body, at the dull pool of energon under his body and the splatters of it all over the floor and the ruined desk.

He feels a hand press against his face. He gasps, looking down at Thundercracker, who is gazing desperately up at him. Starscream tries to speak and he chokes as his lover rolls his optics, head falling back—and there's a sizzle of electricity in his ruined chassis as he falls offline.

Amidst the following chaos, a despairing cry like knives on glass cuts the sky over Iacon.