Summary: As a Cassetticon, it is your duty to teach your younger sibling the rules of life. Even if you ridicule yourself in the process….

AN: Italics are present events, normal print represents Ravage's story.

Thanks to mdnytryder for the correcting.

Disclaimer: I own nothing, not even the song turned chapter title.

Fairytale Gone Bad (G1 AU, Earth, pre-"Dominant" Universe)

It was a fairly normal day at Decepticon Headquarters –
Hold a moment, let me check something….

Yes, I thought so… I used this line already.
Sheesh, now that's a little bit… embarrassing…, hum….
But I can't just leave you hanging now without a story either, huh…?

Okay, I think I have a solution.
Hold on….

It was a fairly normal day at Autobot Headquarters. (There, all saved. Yay me!)

The twins plotted, Ratchet hollered at the top of his vocalizer, Wheeljack exploded, Prime played video games in his office, Prowl worked, Jazz grinned….
Need I say more?


Good, then we can finally get to the main event of this story:

While all Autobots lived their merry lives, the life of five little Cybertronians onboard the Nemesis had taken a turn for the worse just a minute ago.
Their problem was small, winged, and called Ratbat.

And dear little Ratbat, youngest of Soundwave's Creations, but by no means less sneakier or less evil and selfish (He only hid it better behind his cute Sparkling optics), had asked his stuck-with-babysitting brothers and sister for a story.

A nice story, it should be, with humor, sharp wit, fights, self-sacrifices and lots of romance.
A fairytale.

One problem: Decepticons didn't do romance! Period! Not even the smallest and youngest ones!

To say that Ratbat wasn't happy about this declaration from his older twin brothers would be an understatement of universal proportions.

He was about to telepathically rat them out to his Creator, already filling the tiny valves responsible for helping to clean his optics with liquid, his lips wobbling lightly while his vocalizer strained to its very limits for the scream of all screams – when Ravage, both front pawns planted firmly on the heads of the twitching forms of Rumble and Frenzy, suggested a compromise.

He knew a story that fit – loosely – into each category Ratbat had wished for and he was willing to tell it.

The youngest Cassetticon didn't think long about it.

He wanted to hear a story and the fact that Rumble and Frenzy protested vehemently against it, even begging Ravage to keep his vocalizer mute about this particular story, made it oh so much sweeter.

The batlike mech trilled happily and Ravage began.

Once upon a time, when Ratbat wasn't even a speck of dust on a thought of an idea about a new, possible Creation on Soundwave's processor – oh, how peaceful those days had been –

"Hey! Can it, Ravage!"

"Yeah, look at little Batty. You've hurt his feelings…."

Okay, my bad.

Once upon a time, when Rumble and Frenzy were nothing more than young, far too impressionable and rude small mechs, now they are just….

"Don't even go there, Kitty! I have piledrivers and I'm not afraid to use them!"

"Yeah, now you're hurting our feelings!"

Ratbat shrieked and every other Cybertronian in the room winced.

"Who cares! Story! Now! Or I'll tell Soundwave!"

Well, to cut a long introduction short, Soundwave was on Cybertron and the Cassetticon had been left on Earth.


Not a good idea.

The whole ordeal began when Rumble and Frenzy overheard the usual argument between Megatron and Starscream while monitoring the activities near the Arc – and watching human soap operas at the same time.

Frenzy was bored, staring at the screen in front of him, which showed the Arc in all its glory and no Autobot in the immediate vicinity, just like yesterday, or the day before yesterday, or….
He sighed noisily, then he glanced warily over the edge of his console at the two squabblers in the middle of the room.
They hadn't heard him, good.

Starscream and Megatron were once again fighting about some little thing or other, bitching, shouting, insulting and trading blows as if they hadn't had enough "fun" on the battlefield only four days ago.

Frenzy shook his head disapprovingly, sighed again, and exchanged the nice and peaceful view of the Arc on his computer screen with one of the many soap operas human television poisoned the world with.

He really wanted to know if Mariella's baby was from Julian or Kai.

They already had argued for two episodes about it, so the secret should be disclosed today.

A quick glance at his brother's screen showed the exact same view of cheesy title music and credits.
Cables leading from the twins' wrists to the consoles ensured that only they would hear the soppy dialogues while their superiors could argue obliviously and in peace.

It was Rumble who first noticed "it", when he looked up from his console to check if Megatron and Screamer were still fighting.

He frowned, looked down at his console, up again, down….

The blue Cassetticon leaned over to his brother and nudged him.

"What?" hissed Frenzy irritably, totally engrossed in the TV show.

His brother decided that showing was always better than telling and cut the visual feed on Frenzy's console. Before the red mech could protest, his twin had grabbed his head and yanked it up, so that Frenzy had to watch what played out in front of him, live and in color, uncut….

Starscream sat on the ground, a light blue hand over a deep dent on his cheek plates, fear in his optics and speaking rapidly.

While the Cassetticons saw the dark lips moving, probably spouting ridiculous excuses and pleas for mercy, their audios were still attuned to the soap opera, in which the female actor pleaded with their male counterpart to not leave her.

"Please!" sobbed the curvier of both squishies. "Don't go! It was just a mistake! I won't do it ever again!"

Starscream get to his knees, clearly begging now, desperation on his faceplates, while Megatron stood above him, murder in his optics.

"Please!" whined in the twins' audios. "Please don't leave me! I'll do anything! I love you so much! I need you!"

A soft violin began to play in the background, underlining each feminine sob with long, mournful notes.

Starscream fell silent when Megatron began to speak, arms crossed before his mighty chest, baring his teeth at his unfaithful SIC.

As if on cue, the male actor began to speak with a rich and smooth voice. Rumble glanced at the visual feed still running on his computer. There was no way that voice really belonged to that puny, scrawny fleshling.

"I've heard that before! Do you really expect me to believe you? After all these years? After all that you've done to me?"

"But I love you!" whimpered the female again.

Meanwhile, Starscream had crawled to Megatron's feet to better influence his begging.
The Seeker looked up at Megatron out of glimmering, red optics, head slightly titled to one side, the light of the bridge creating a strange shimmer on his dark faceplates.

'Does Starscream usually lay it on so thick? Or is this only coincidence now?' wondered Rumble fascinated.

Megatron glared at his SIC, then he heaved a deep sigh, look up as if pleading some deity for patience.

"Very well then. I'll forgive you one last time! But never again, do you hear me? This is your last chance!"

"I promise. I will never betray you again, love," Starscream surged back on his feet, a triumphant smirk on his face.
Or was it just a touch too sweet?

A contented sigh and wet, squishing noises filled the twins' audios and they scrambled over each in an attempt to stop the feed on their screens, before some disturbing mental images of their Supreme Commander and his SIC could be forever etched deep into their innocent and pure memory chips.

When normalcy finally returned to the bridge, Megatron sitting on his throne and Starscream working on a datapad (and the soap opera was thankfully, finally off) , the twins looked at each other in shock and relief.

Then, they began giggling softly, stuffing their fists into their mouths to muffle the traitorous sound.
With no Soundwave around to protect them, it would be suicidal to enrage their superiors with inappropriate laughter.

The twins needed some time to calm down and to return to their duties.

"That was great," sent Frenzy to his brother over the com link.
Rumble snickered quietly and nodded vigorously. "I wonder if it works with other television shows as well."

"We could watch a boxing match next time." Suggested the red twin, starting a new round of silent laughter.

"Or wrestling!" "Horror!" "Drama!"

Suddenly Frenzy went quiet and his optics widened, only to narrow thoughtfully some seconds afterwards.
He turned to his brother, a serious if skeptical look on his face, "But, you know…. They really would make a cute couple…."

Rumble stared back at him, wearing an equally dumbfounded expression.

"You know… you're right!" he stuttered in amazement.

The twins stared at each other, than huge grins began to spread on their faces, both having the same idea.

If this would be a comic or a cartoon and not real life, a giant light bulb would certainly appear above their heads. But as it was not….

The lighting of the bridge sputtered suddenly, flickered one last time and went out.

Four pairs of red optics stared up to the ceiling, two of them surprised, the smaller two filled with glee.

No light bulb, but it would do….

"And that's when everything started to go downhill," remarked Ravage dryly and sighed.

Ratbat peered at his older twin brothers, "Why? What did they do?"

Laserbeak snorted from her perch on the recharge berth, "They got it into their tiny CPUs that Megatron and Starscream were destined to be together. It must have really overloaded their processing power to just think about something deep like that."

Buzzsaw twittered in agreement and at Rumble's rude human hand gestures.

"Well," Ravage continued, "Regardless if they shorted some circuits then or not, they saw the sudden blackout as a divine sign that they were right."

"Too much human TV. Leaving two love birds in the darkness doesn't necessarily lead to a revealing discussion and a happy and healthy relationship." Mumbled Laserbeak and shook her head.

"Well, sue us. We really thought it a good idea at the time."

On the bridge it was still dark, and while Megatron and Starscream tried to figure out what had happened, Frenzy and Rumble created an evil plan that even Sideswipe and Sunstreaker would have been proud of.

At least, they thought so….

In reality, the great "plan" just consisted of "Get the slag out of the room without anyone noticing, lock Megs and Screamer in, keep the lights out and eavesdrop for any suspicious noises like the screech of metal on metal, moans, cries… the usual."

"Rumble?" asked Frenzy halfway through the room, half listening to Megatron shouting at the unfortunate Constructicon on the other end of his comlink. "How do we know that they are doing that usual und not the other and beginning a fight?"

His twin brother blinked at him, "Come again?"

Frenzy ducked behind one console, beckoned Rumble to do the same and began to explain, "Well, it practically sounds exactly the same, and we decided we would wait and listen if we hear moans and cries and metal on metal and whimpers and groans and…."

Rumble's optics widened with each new word and he began to look positively ill. "Dude! Stop. The images!"

Frenzy scowled at his brother's disgust, "A moment ago, you were perfectly fine with the idea of Megatron and Starscream scre…."

"Not one more word!" the blue Cassetticon hissed. "I agree that they need to get laid and are simply perfect for each other – but I do so. Not. Need. THE FRAGGING IMAGES! IN MY POOR, INNOCENT CPU!"

Now it was Frenzy's turn to blink.

Some seconds passed, then his face contorted and he whimpered, "Urgh… I need acid if I ever want to get rid of this, this…."

"This? This?" asked a vaguely curious voice above them.

Frenzy and Rumble froze, looked at each other, then glanced up simultaneously.

Starscream was leaning languidly on the console they were hiding behind and peering down at them, his dark faceplates, dimly lit by his red optics, showing amusement and mild interest.
The Seeker rested his head on one hand and quirked an optic ridge, which strengthened the contrast of bright red and darkness on his face even more.

"This?" Starscream urged again, his lips forming a predatory smile.

"Err…," Frenzy glanced to his brother for help, but Rumble was completely transfixed by something behind the Air Commander, his mouth wide open.

The red Cassetticon clearly was alone on this.

"Yes?" purred Starscream, shifting on his support and leaning even closer to his captives. The strange glint in the ruby red optics made Frenzy more and more uneasy and he wished for nothing more than never having thought of getting Megatron and his Second in Command together.
Soundwave clearly was right: You don't meddle with what you don't understand – and that which is known for violent reactions if crossed.

That counted for bombs, automatic defense systems, a mech's internals and all of Wheeljack's inventions as well as your homicidal superiors.

"This… this horrible memory of the…, the… incredible…, incredible bad luck that has destroyed all the wonderful, detailed reports I had finished just a minute before…."

Starscream didn't believe him, he could see it clearly in the rapidly growing smirk on the bloody red lips.

Time for plan B, better known as "producing bullshit until he either believes it, dies laughing or gets too annoyed to care".

"The blackout destroyed my whole human porn collection," stated Frenzy in a matter-of-fact tone.

Starscream jerked in surprise. "Why do you collect human porn?"

And here Frenzy had thought he had saved himself….

"Hey!" he shouted desperately. "I'm a Cassetticon! Since when do I need a logical reason for anything I do?"

Starscream regarded him for a moment, then he nodded, "Good argument."

As if on cue, the lights flickered back on and every mech in the room looked up.

Megatron was the first to get over his surprise: "Rumble, Frenzy! Go see what happened. I await a full report in an hour!"

The Cassetticon twins saluted and ran out of the room.

"You left me totally alone, bro! How could you? After all I am your only…"

"Brother?" asked Rumble wryly.

"Twin!" finished Frenzy and sent his blue counterpart an evil glare while continuing to run through the halls of the Nemesis.
"You hurt my feelings, bro? How can I ever trust you again when you let me down like this? My Spark has developed a large crack, I can feel it…."

"If Ravage were here, he would ban you from ever watching soap operas again. And I had a good reason to get distracted."

"Pff…. See if I care. I'm not talking to you anymore," stated Frenzy and sniffed in an exaggerated manner.
Rumble smirked, "And why are you telling me this then? If you tell me that you aren't speaking with me anymore, it is a contradiction in itself."

Frenzy scowled at his twin and tried to run faster.

"Hey, look…. We really should forget this little fight and begin planning," Rumble put on more speed as well, effortlessly staying beside his twin.

"I'm not with you in this anymore. It's pointless. They would never think of each other that way," declared Frenzy with a glare.
He had survived enough humiliation for this vorn, thank you very much.

Rumble scowled for a moment, then a grin spread over his faceplates. "Did I tell what distracted me from helping you?"

"I don't care!" stated the red Cassetticon stubbornly, even while his curiosity nagged him to find out more.

"I'm telling you anyhow, just because I'm such a generous Spark. I coincidentally had a perfect view of Megatron from where I stood."

Frenzy gave in, "And?"

"And our great leader stood right behind Starscream, almost in touching distance…," Rumble took his sweet time finishing his sentence, basking in his twin's attention and the wonderful possibilities his find implied for the future. "And his optics were glued right on Screamer's wiggling aft."

Frenzy made a strange little squeak. "The whole time?"

Rumble nodded self-importantly, "The whole slagging time. We still have a chance and I intend to use it. Are you in, oh brother mine?"

Frenzy grinned, still running, "I'm in…. So, what's the fastest way to the Constructicons?"

Rumble looked around, then answered sheepishly: "The fourth corridor to our right – and behind us."

"And that's when our dear resident dimwits began to plan in earnest. And because their next terrific scheme was somewhat out of their league, they roped the possibly dumbest, clumsiest, most gullible, most incompetent and most pathetic creature of the universe into their ploy."

"A human?" asked Ratbat in awe.

Ravage sighed, "No. Skywarp…."

Skywarp had never been the most intelligent mech of the universe and he knew and accepted it.
Really, who needed intelligence anyway, if it only gave you more processor space to fill with worries, unpronounceable words and plans that were too complicated to ever work.

He could live quite happily with his average or a bit below average CPU as long as he managed to amuse himself with its help and survive the consequences.
And so far, as limited and often ridiculed it was, his brain had done a slagging good job keeping him alive and well.

And it was about time to test these abilities once more.

Skywarp grinned, glanced around the corner at the unsuspecting victims of his newest prank, the Constructicons, and nodded smugly to himself.

This would become one of his greatest successes.

He slid a bit closer to the corner's edge and peeked again at the green and purple mechs who were chatting about something the Seeker couldn't even hope to ever understand.
But then again, as stated before, he didn't even want to.

'Just two more steps, Scrapper,' he cheered his victims silently on. 'So close! So close! Yes, almost… no, you missed…. Try again? No? Then Scavenger. He will set my wonderful, glorious, ingenious, perfect trap in motion and he will never know that it was my doing. You're a bad bot, Skywarp. A really bad bot. The dream of every femme –'

He jumped and clapped both hands over his mouth to keep himself from shrieking in surprise when somebody tapped against his leg.

Skywarp whirled around, optics wide, expecting to see a smirking Ravage wave his tail at him jovially before running away to Soundwave to snitch on him –


Skywarp groaned in realization, not even daring to look down to see his certain doom.

Soundwave was on Cybertron: Ravage would tell Starscream!

Please, somebody shoot him now.

Whichever Cassetticon stood before him simulated the noise of a human clearing their throat and Skywarp relaxed instantly.
Ravage had never used that particular human behavior before, but the Seeker knew two little mechs who used this noise quite often to get the attention of their larger companions.

"Hey Frenzy, Rumble," Skywarp's grin returned and he looked down at the twins, who smirked in return.

"The Constructicons, huh? You really are suicidal, you know?" commented Rumble in a way of greeting. The purple Seeker only shrugged and leaned back to peek around the corner once more.

Still no action.

How could one miss a hidden switch so precisely without even trying?

Again the throat clearing sound, a bit irritated this time.

Skywarp didn't bother to look at his comrades and only waved a hand in their direction, his optics still focused on the Constructicons and their feet, "What do you want?"

"You will help us!" stated Rumble.

Skywarp actually paused a second to consider this sentence, then he shook his head, "No."

"Hey flyboy! That wasn't a question," growled Frenzy with a frown and crossing his arms in front of his chest.

"Yeah! You have no choice. No doors to choose, no a,b,c or d, no jokers! You will help us!" Rumble mirrored his twin and glared up at the much larger Seeker.

Skywarp glanced at his prey to make sure they hadn't heard the twins, then he slowly turned around, straightened his back, raised his wings as high up as he could and scowled down at the annoying pests that had forgotten their places, "And why exactly do you think, that you, lowly grunts that lack their usual backup in this moment, could order me, an elite Seeker of the glorious Decepticon army, chosen for his post by Megatron himself, around like a mindless drone?"

"There is a difference?" asked Frenzy with the most innocent look on his faceplates that he could muster.

"Apparently. Who knows, perhaps next time he'll be telling us he actually has a CPU hidden somewhere in that thick, hollow cranium of his," mumbled Rumble wryly.

"I'm dying of laughter here," deadpanned Skywarp. "Seriously now, guys. Why should I?"

"Because…," Frenzy grinned smugly, stabbing a finger to the Seeker's shin armor. "If you you don't help us, we will tell Megatron who put the glue on the seat of his throne."

Skywarp froze and would have blanched if it had been anatomically possible.

That had been a prank gone wrong….

"Low blow…. A really low blow…," he whimpered pathetically as his shoulders sagged.
"And it wasn't even my fault, you know it, you were there! It's practically a law of nature: When Megatron is away, Starscream uses the chance to test-sit on the throne and to command everyone around as if he would run the show. And this one time, when I decide to act and prank Screamer, Megatron returns earlier and… ARRGH! Not fair…."

Rumble wiped a mock tear out of the corner of his optic, "I feel your pain, seriously…. It hurts my Spark just to think about it…. But now back to business. How familiar are you with human holiday customs?"

Skywarp sighed one last time, then resigned himself to his fate and shrugged, "Depends on the holiday."

Frenzy beckoned the flyer to bend closer to his level and whispered conspiratorially, "What do you know about 'Christmas'?"

Skywarp thought for a moment, than a positively evil grin spread on his lips, "Do you plan what I think you plan?"

"You can think?" was the deadpan answer of both mechs.

Skywarp didn't care.

If he was right, the next week would be fun and if the sudden explosion behind him and the yelps and angry shouts that followed were any indication, he was neither needed nor welcome on base right now anyway.

So he had time for a little delivery run or two in the nearest woods….

"What did Skywarp want in a forest? It's icky there. And you have to bathe when you return home. Soundwave says so!" asked Ratbat confused.

Until now the whole story had been simple enough to understand and to enjoy. After all, hearing about the misdeeds and misfortunes of his older siblings always was fun.
But why was there suddenly a collection of organic non-sentients in his personal fairytale?

"Just listen, Ratty-Batty. You will understand soon enough," soothed Frenzy and patted the head of the puzzled, and a little bit miffed, flyer.

The youngest Cassetticon pouted, but nodded majestically at Ravage to continue.

As long as no Autobots appeared out of nowhere in his story, the natural flora could stay.

Completely coincidentally, Rumble and Frenzy weren't even that far off with their newest idea.

It was almost Christmas, even if no Decepticon beside the Cassetticons, Soundwave and the Seekers knew what Chirstmas was.

And because of this little fact, one morning all Decepticons halted right when they stepped out of their respective quarters and looked up at the myriad little green "things" that hung from the ceiling. Not one bare spot of blank metal was left, mistletoe was hanging everywhere, be it in the corridors, the rec room, the medbay, the hangar deck, the conference room or even the bridge.

Only the personal rooms had been spared, but somehow the more intelligent of the mechs onboard the Nemesis had the distinct feeling that this condition would change during the course of the day, when the ones responsible for this impressing display of "quantity instead of quality" could be sure that the occupants of the plant-free quarters were on duty.

While the rest of the Decepticons stared in awe at the tiny little things above their heads, Thundercracker took one long look, glanced at the date displayed on his HUD, groaned and headed back into his quarters. He would rather deal with punishment detail from Screamer later than become caught up in Skywarp's newest scheme.
He didn't want to see the outcome of this prank when his comrades finally discovered exactly what mistletoe meant at Christmas time.

The blue Seeker just knew that this particular day wouldn't end well, because the other mechs onboard would misuse the tradition for their own little pranks and tortures.

He would simply go back in recharge and pretend this day had never happened.

Skywarp could save himself this time.

The blue jetformer only jumped slightly when the first mortified shriek echoed through the base, followed by raucous laughter.

It sounded like Thrust, he mused and grimaced. Poor fellow.

He should have known better to step out in the open, after all, as a Seeker himself he was a victim of Skywarp's obsession with human culture too.

More laughter out in the corridors, shrieks, curses, insults and then, Thundercracker winced on his recharge berth, a furious, imposing roar, louder than any shout before: Megatron.


"So the tradition is to kiss beneath a mistletoe?" Ratbat snickered when his older brother nodded with a sigh.

"Aw, I wished I had been there."

"No, you don't!" stated Ravage in a tone that let no room for arguments. "The other Decepticons decided that they liked this particular human idea and began to carry mistletoe around wherever they went, hoping that they would catch a crush or a partner somewhere alone and to force him into a kiss, if he wanted to or not. And if one mech wasn't infatuated, he used this evil little weed to embarrass somebody he hated or wanted to see squirming."

"Needless to say, big bro here had to kiss quite a lot of mechs. He hid in a waste chute until the whole ruckus was over," piped Rumble with a smug grin on his face.

Ravage growled, ducked and pounced.

Unaffected by the screaming and snarling in the background, Frenzy continued to describe the consequences of their little prank, "Actually Ravage was rather lucky. He is small enough to hide away. Starscream though…."

"He was the victim number one," nodded Laserbeak from her perch next to her twin. Buzzsaw agreed with a chirp, than he went back to watching his other siblings fight.

"He couldn't go anywhere without a smirking Con waiting for him."

"In the end he simply resigned himself to his fate – for once –, walked right into the rec room and declared that everybody that wanted to kiss him could do so in the next half hour and that hopefully everyone could go back to normal then."

Ratbat got the impression that Frenzy was a bit disappointed that Starscream hadn't thrown a fit but had taken the wind out of everyone's sails for once.

"And Megatron? Has somebody kissed Megatron?" asked the winged Cassetticon curiously.

His siblings roared in laughter.

"No, nobody dared. You have no idea how thoroughly pissed Megatron was because of the whole thing. We really thought he would kill Skywarp when he finally managed to find him in one of the closets in the medbay. It's only because the Constructicons dismembered him already because of the other prank that he is still alive to be his usual idiotic self. But even Megatron wasn't able to torture a living bunch of parts even further and so our Supreme Leader had to wait with his punishment until Skywarp was repaired again and by then, Megatron's anger had cooled down considerably."

"I think the only one who wasn't bothered by our dear siblings scheme at all, was Thundercracker," mused Ravage, having finished with disciplining his younger brother.

Rumble looked like an oversized scratching post but his grin was still firmly in place, "Yeah, the lucky fragger had holed himself up in his room right from the beginning and nobody ever noticed."

"So Frenzy and Rumble had no success at all with their plan," continued Ratbat, as he tried to coax his siblings into continuing the story.

Ravage sighed and curled himself around his youngest brother, "Not really, no. But unfortunately for all of us, they once again found a 'clue' that Megatron felt more for Starscream than he let on."

"They did?" The question was a strange mix of amusement, disbelief and exasperation.
Ravage smirked happily; a little Cassette right after his own Spark. He had reacted exactly the same way when he had first heard about the twins' escapades.

"Yes, they did. You see, when Starscream agreed to let himself be kissed by the other Cons and someone – I think it was Blitzwing – went a bit too far with his advances, Megatron came into the room, still furious like the pit, and blasted him in the next wall. Right after that he ordered everyone back on their posts and the mistletoes to be burned, but your brothers were absolutely sure that he had shot at Blitzwing out of jealousy."

"And they came up with another plan," snickered Ratbat and shot his indignant siblings a pitying look.

"Yes, that they did…."

Rumble and Frenzy cowered in an air shaft close to Starscream's quarters and looked expectantly at a small display in front of them, showing the hall in front of the Air Commander's room and the inside of it, with the soundly recharging Seeker himself, on a splitscreen.

They didn't have to wait long before Starscream began to move.
The red and white mech onlined his optics and stretched lazily to shift any displaced cables back into alignment and to ease his parts back into functioning.

He sat up, muttered the first curse of the morning because of the much too early time his shift started, and stood up, ready to begin his day.

A smug grin slowly began to crawl over two tiny faceplates.

The Seeker picked up a datapad, skimmed through its contents, grunted something unintelligible but most likely not nice and opened his door – only to stumble over a large parcel wrapped in a brightly red bow.

After Starscream picked himself up from the floor, again accompanied by much cursing, he knelt down to gingerly inspect the package, poking and prodding it as if it contained a ticking bomb.

But then again, you could never be too careful when you were living in a base full of homicidal lunatics and insane pranksters.

After a few minutes of thorough scans, Starscream seemed to be satisfied that the contents of the package wouldn't harm him in any way and he picked it up and carried it into his quarters, with a heavy scowl on his face.

"A suspicious little fragger, isn't he?" commented Frenzy with an amused grin. Rumble nodded and watched as Starscream opened the box too reveal – another package.

The frown deepened and his two stalkers chortled in unholy glee.

Irritated but curious like every Seeker, Starscream couldn't resist opening this second paket too and revealed a large white… something, sprinkled with red bits.

"Is that… a cake? What in Primus' name should I do with a cake?" asked the Seeker nobody in particular, his scowl giving way to utter puzzlement.

The twin guffawed silently in their hiding place, storing the moment away in their memory banks.
For once, their all knowing SIC was absolutely clueless and didn't even try to deny it.

He knew about American Christmas traditions thanks to his impressionable wingmate, but he knew nothing about Japanese customs. And in Japan it was common to bake Christmas cakes and to spend the day with your lover or crush.

Starscream had cross-referenced the date and a photo of the white cake with the Internet by now and had found the meaning of this newest strange occurrence on base.
The red and white flyer scanned the cake again and sighed.

'At least it's all Energon,' he mused, as he dipped one finger into the 'icing' of his cake.
He hesitated for a moment, than he warily licked at the digit.

Edible, good.
So at least he'd get something from this whole ordeal.

He picked up one of the red toppings on the cake and noticed the distinct heart shape.

His face fell, 'Oh please, no!'

The Seeker groaned, then he activated a Comlink, "Megatron? We have to talk!"

The Cassetticons in the air shaft cheered.

"So they got Starscream and Megatron together?"

"No. Starscream only called Megatron to blow of some steam and to bitch about the latest plan and how it would be the end of all Decepticons…. The usual." Corrected Ravage while shaking his head.

"Aw…." sniffed Ratbat, by now really getting into the story.
The little Cassetticon had forgotten that Starscream and Megatron were real mechs which he saw every day and by now practically prayed for them to come together and to live happily ever after like in every good fairytale.

"Did they give up?" asked the little mech with large, sparkling red optics, pleading for Ravage to say 'No' and tell him more.

Fortunately for every audio receptor in the room, Ravage could nuzzle his smaller sibling reassuringly.
After all, Rumble's and Frenzy's stupidity knew no bounds among Cybertronians. Perhaps it was even infinite.

"No, they didn't give up…. Furious after all their failed attempts, they decided to become a little bit more obvious."

"More obvious," snorted Buzzsaw from his perch. "By then Screamer had already smelled a rat and began to keep an eye on all resident pranksters and scallywags and was on guard for any suspicious behavior."

Ravage nodded, "He wanted to catch either his tormentor or admirer in the very act. Naturally, your dear siblings were among the first on his list of possible suspects and couldn't make one move without him breathing down their necks – figuratively speaking."

"And what did they do?" asked Ratbat excited, his little wings quivering in anticipation. He should ask his siblings to tell him stories more often.
This was

Ravage hesitated to answer and the avian twins fidgeted on their perch.

They looked embarrassed somehow, mused Ratbat.

"They… got us involved," finally confessed the black Cassetticon.

Ratbat's jaw fell.

His normally calm, reasonable and well-behaved siblings squirmed under his disbelieving look while the twins threatened to overheat in their unstoppable laughter.

Ravage stared down at his paws, scratching at the floor in shame and avoiding everyone's optics, "The first time they explained their theory to me, I laughed at them. I thought it impossible that Megatron and Starscream…."

He made a grimace and shifted his gaze to a corner, "But they didn't stop needling me and after a few days I involuntarily began to observe Megatron's and Starscream's interactions – and suddenly it began to make sense to me. Laserbeak and Buzzsaw didn't stand a chance either and finally we all succumbed and agreed to help Rumble and Frenzy with their newest scheme. I will never be able to forget the mistake I made when I listened to them. It's simply… humiliating that they managed to draw me into their madness…."

Ratbat snorted, "Your Spark is eternally broken, your honor lost. Now get on with it."

Ravage glared at his youngest sibling and received a wide-opticed, innocent look.

"Allright, you little pest, I'll continue…."

Starscream's shriek was heard throughout the entire base, and the more curious of his comrades hurried to see what the ruckus was about.

They weren't disappointed.

Starscream's whole room had been turned into an ocean of flowers overnight, the different conflicting smells merging into one single, dizzying stench, the vivid spots of colors almost overstressing their CPUs.

The Seeker himself cowered in the middle of his recharge berth that stood out of the sea of petals like an island, and looked distinctly traumatized.
His wingtips twitched in a nervous manner that had the peanut gallery taking a step back.

Better safe than sorry.

The far-too-bright scarlet gaze ghosted over the different onlookers until they homed in on a purple and black, winged shape, their gleam even brightening a notch or two.

Skywarp held his hands up and began to stagger back, "It wasn't me! Honestly, Screamer… Starscream… Air Commander Starscream, Second of Command of the glorious Decepticon army, ruler of the sky, why should a lowlife flyer like me do something like that to a wonderful, magnificent, unreachable individual like you, whose abilities and greatness are beyond my flawed and limited imagination…. I think…, I will go now!"

Skywarp fled, paying no heed to the retching sounds his fellow Decepticons made nor to the insults shouted his way about "suck ups" and "ass kissing".

When the Decepticons finally tired of Skywarp's unsuccessful attempt at flattery to save his hide, they finally remembered Starscream.

One look at the positively murderous Air Commander and they all ran for the hills, spouting their own variety of boot-licking.

Finally, when his audience had fled the scene of crime, Starscream's maddened glare slowly wandered to the little pile of datapads that lay innocently beside him, each of them holding either a horrible little poem or an overly soppy love letter, signed with a small Decepticon emblem in a heart shape and a large 'M'.

His optics flickered fitfully.

Starscream opened a Comlink and said overly calm, in a saccharine sweet voice, "Megatron…."

The answer came immediately, "Do I even want to know?"

Meanwhile, on the other end of the Nemesis, three Cassetticons furiously wrote their last wills and an explanatory note to their Creator that essentially stated, "It's all Rumble's and Frenzy's fault…. Why did you ever create them?"

"We managed to survive because nobody suspected us. We were well known for being reasonable after all. And the twins argued that they had been on guard duty all night, right under Megatron's noseplates, so they couldn't have been responsible.

"He did blame Skywarp, didn't he?" asked Ratbat in a somber tone.

By now, he felt sorry for the purple and black Seeker.

"No, surprisingly he didn't. I think his reasoning was that Skywarp knew better than to do something like that. That he would be dumb, but not suicidal. Starscream targeted Rumble and Frenzy even more, somehow sensing that they were the culprits. He couldn't prove anything, but he was sure that they were to blame, and if he ever found out the truth, then may Primus have mercy…." Ravage shot a look at his snickering siblings.

"But of course, this promise only served as a challenge to our dear, resident idiots. After all, Starscream had linked 'M' to Megatron right away and not to Motormaster or another Decepticon…."

"Oh Primus…."

"You can say that again!"

Once again Rumble and Frenzy sat on the bridge and monitored the Arc under the ever watchful optics of Ravage.

At least, that was what they should have been doing.

But, because they had (for once in their long, but with each new prank, drastically shortening lifespan) something to blackmail siblings with, Ravage could only sit on a chair and twitch his tail anxiously, and wish that Soundwave would return before either Starscream or Megatron killed them all.

Laserbeak and Buzzsaw weren't much better off.
They had to follow the two officers around and alert Rumble and Frenzy the minute they neared the lift from the lower corridors of the Nemesis to the halls near the bridge.

Coincidentally a wall had collapsed in in the lower level of the base earlier in the day, and almost all Decepticons had to help pumping the water out and cleaning up after the breach had finally been sealed.

Rumble was still trying to get the algae out of his piledrivers.

Finally, both avian Cassettes gave the signal: Megatron was on his way up to the bridge to check on his most notorious troublemakers, with Starscream trailing along to get out of "mopping duty".

While their flying siblings used the air shafts to unite with them on the command deck, Rumble and Frenzy switched the view of the Arc for an image of the interior of the lift.
Behind them, Ravage lay down and hid his optics beneath his paws, "This won't end well…."

Starscream and Megatron entered the lift, apparently arguing about something, if their erratic gestures were anything to go by – they clearly suspected nothing.

The grinning twins waited until the doors to the lift had closed and the whole mechanism began its way up the levels.
Between the second-to-last and the last level, Rumble turned to his brother and bowed exaggeratedly, "If you would, please."

Frenzy touched a hand to his Spark and flickered with his optics like he had seen a flattered, aristocratic femme doing once, "My pleasure."

He thumbed a button and the lift came to a jerky hold between the last two floors.
The lights flickered out and all power died – except for the speakers on the ceiling. They crackled to life and began to broadcast love songs in a low volume.

It was a pity that they had no audio feed for the lift, Frenzy mused.

He would simply love to hear Screamer's and Megatron's reaction to this newest occurrence. But, as long as they got the hint and began to use the blackout like they should, he could put back his own wants and needs.
And seriously, who wanted to hear how his superior officers got to know each other?

Ick! The images…!

Frenzy hammered his head against the next best flat surface to get rid of the disturbing thoughts in his CPU.
Buzzsaw and Laserbeak watched him disinterestedly, while Ravage refused to acknowledge the terrible reality and Rumble's optics stayed glued on the dark screen. The purple mech still hoped to see something that would prove once and for all that their endeavors had finally been successful and their mission completed.

But everything was pitch black and not even the glow of two pairs of optics could be seen.


"What do we do if they still refuse to see the obvious?" asked Frenzy after a while, rubbing at the impressive dent on his forehead.

Rumble shrugged, optics glued on the screen, "We will try again! Nobody stands a chance against the Cassetticon twins after all! We will win in the end and Megs and Screamer will be grateful and together!"

"That's the spirit!" cheered his twin, giving him an unseen thumbs up. "But seriously, they are kind of dense. I mean, after all these years they should have noticed how perfect they are for each other."

"Say that again! We could paint Screamer pink, decorate him with Energon goodies in heart shapes and cuff him to Megatron's berth and they still wouldn't get it."

Frenzy snickered, "I won't even try to imagine that reaction…."

Rumble grinned and checked up on his two little lovebirds.
Still no change, everything was black.

He declared it safe to look at his brother for a moment, "You know, if this doesn't work, we could lock them out the next time after a battle. They would be all alone, out there in the dark, lonely night, having to share body heat to survive…." He suggested with a leer.

"Perhaps it escaped your notice, but we are not humans! We don't have to rely on fragile little organs and their functions to keep our body heat even and our body functioning. We are vastlye superior," mused a screechy, all too familiar voice behind the twins, making them jump.
They quickly turned around and came optic to faceplate with no other than Starscream, whose expression was deadly calm.

The Air Commander cocked his head to one side and narrowed his optics to deep scarlet slits, "But then again, what can I expect from the likes of you?"

Before the twins could react or even scream, the Seeker grabbed them by the scruffs of their neckplates and lifted them up.
When he turned around, Rumble and Frenzy could see a very irritated looking Megatron, holding Ravage up by his tail with one hand and their two avian siblings with a grip around their necks with the other.

While Buzzsaw and Laserbeak twitched, squirmed and desperately fought for freedom, Ravage had simply resigned himself to his fate and hung limply, glowering at his younger brothers.

"Lord Megatron? I believe I have discovered some… vermin in our base…. Any suggestions how to deal with them?" hissed Starscream while he held his captives high for Megatron to see.

The larger mech growled deep in his throat and his optics flashed in a dangerous bright red, almost white, "What a coincidence! Indeed I do have some ideas."

All Cassetticons began to tremble, knowing that there would be no mercy this time, even if they were the best spies the Decepticons had to offer.

Well, if they died in the near future, they could at least die knowing what happened, mused Rumble and he dared to formulate a question, "How did you...?"

"Escape?" purred Starscream near his audio receptor, much too close for comfort.

The Seeker began to laugh, a low, silky laugh that no Decepticon heard often.
A laugh of real, unquestionable triumph and not the shrill cackling the SIC made when even he didn't believe that he had bested Megatron.

"Oh please…. We are the two top officers of this army! We do know certain codes that give us full access to every system on this base, including the monitoring devices, cameras and the motor controls of the lifts. It was a piece of cake to escape your little trap and it will be equally easy to reduce you all into a pile of spare parts that even your Creator wouldn't recognize."

Starscream composed himself, even as an amused smile that gave his captives the creeps lingered on his lips. "Your ideas, Milord?"

"I believe the flyers could be salvaged. They are useful to our cause. A year or two in a small cage should convince them to never again take part in a prank that concerns somebody they shouldn't cross," suggested Megatron, glaring down at the trapped Cassetticons in his hands. Buzzsaw and Laserbeak began to whimper at the thought of being cooped up for so long.

"But as for this little pest, he should have know better than to help his idiotic siblings." The Supreme Commander stated with a growl and shook Ravage. The black mech flinched guiltily and curled into himself.

"I'm uncertain if I should give him to you as a pet, to the Constructicons to experiment on or to the Autobots to have their way with him."

"Give him to the Bots. They should have built up quite a fury after all the times he's snuck into the Arc right under their noseplates. I will give him a leash and implant a tracking chip and they will have a great deal of fun with him. Isn't that so, Ravage?" Starscream smiled sweetly at the feline mech. The Cassetticon mewled and flattened his audios against his cranium.

Starscream chuckled at the pathetic display, then he grasped his own prey higher and shook them so hard, that the twins' heads clonked together.

"Sounds hollow," he commented, then he turned serious. "What do we do with them?"

Megatron glared at the trembling little mechs, the cause of all his fury over the last several days. Their attempt to charm him with big, apologetic optics didn't work one bit.

"They are expendable," he concluded.

Starscream smirked full of dark anticipation, promising his new toys a world of pain, "Oh, goodie…."

Frenzy and Rumble whimpered.

"Suggestion: Immediate release of Cassetticons. Request: Full report on recent misdeeds. Promise: Suitable punishment will be dealt!"

Ratbat gave a whoop of delight.

"Yay, Soundwave to the rescue!"

"I honestly have never been so glad to see Dad in my whole life like on this one day, believe me, Batty." Confessed Rumble, snuggling against his twin.

He still could remember the terror when they had been caught red-handed and had been at the non-existant mercy of Megatron and Starscream.
The Cassetticons had never, ever dared to go that far again and they never played pranks when Soundwave wasn't on Earth.

They had learned their lesson, once and for all.

Ratbat blinked at his oldest siblings with large, innocent optics, "So Rumble's and Frenzy's plan failed and Starscream and Megatron never did get together, huh? That's sad…."

He sniffed and began to pout.

Ravage sighed, "You are forgetting, that each story has a moral, little brother."

Soundwave walked through the corridors of the Nemesis, on his way to his quarters, his Creations held in front of him by various extremities.

He was not gentle with them, they had misbehaved after all and had acted like stupid, suicidal Sparklings.
Soundwave was neither amused nor pleased by their actions and planned to make them remember to never ever mess with their superiors again.

In fact he planned to remind them constantly over the next several weeks.

But his Creations didn't care about the rough treatment.
Some of them were aware that they deserved it and all of them were simply glad that their Creator was back on Earth and had saved their little, shiny afts.

"Do you know what I don't understand?" asked Frenzy into the heavy silence.

Soundwave glared at him from behind his visor, but the little red mech didn't care, "Why didn't any of our plans succeed? I mean, Screamer and Megatron should have become at least a little bit closer."

"Yeah, and how come they suspected foul play so fast? I mean, come on? It's not too farfetched that Starscream couldn't have thought about the possibility of a real admirer or something like that. But no, nothing, nada…. They didn't act on anything. They only suspected a scheme. Everything we did was in vain….", whined Rumble and he crossed his arms before his chest with a huff.

Soundwave sighed silently, knowing that his Creations wouldn't stop moaning and whining until they had an answer to their questions.
The blue mech decided to satisfy their curiosity, if only to have some peace for the duration of their punishments.

"Status Megatron and Starscream: Bondmates. Approximate timeframe: Since Starscream holds status as SIC. Lesson learned: Never again make assumptions!"

The Cassetticons were speechless and Soundwave reveled in the rare occurence.
He hesitated for a moment, then he added.

"Suggestion: Don't use red bows."

A little late, I know.

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.