Characters/Pairing: Skywarp, Thundercracker, Starscream, TC/Screamer/Warp
Summary: Seekers fly, live, work, and bond in threes. Thundercracker and Skywarp pursue a potential mate… said mate is less-than-enthusiastic. A whirlwind courtship commences…
Warnings: Awkward/pitiful/comedic/sweet attempts at romance
The two Seekers stood side by side, excited and perhaps a tiny bit nervous, but not showing it. Instead they put on their best arrogant, confident expressions and murmured to each other. They could, of course, have simply spoken over comlink, which would have been completely silent, but it was the air of nonchalant unconcern that they were going for, and standing there whispering with a furtive sort of air was guaranteed to make others notice them. Seekers love to have others notice them.
Seekers are a private group. As with all models, they have their own little subculture largely incomprehensible to outsiders. Only another Seeker, just by looking, could have told us that these two are a bonded pair, open for a third to complete their trine. It's in their stance, the subtle fluctuations of their energy fields. Harder to tell with only a look, even for a Seeker, are the dynamics between them. For now, however, for story purposes, you should know that Seekers, much like Earth birds, look for three qualities in a potential mate: aesthetic appeal, aerial skill, and vocal harmonics. Not that Seekers summon mates by singing, as birds do, but for whatever reason, a fine speaking voice is like a magnet.
In the case of our bonded pair, the purple-and-black Seeker—the one doing much of the whispering—found these three qualities in the other: those sleek wings, that beautiful blue paintjob, the build a bit bulkier than normal but in a good way, a nice, strong mate to protect him; the speed and agility, the sheer talent… not many mechs could pull out of a top-speed dive from a hundred astrometers with only ticks to spare and land perfectly unscathed a half-cycle later; and that wonderfully smooth, deep voice.
Seekers are also stubborn, and this one in particular was determined to get this excellent catch before anyone else spotted him. And so he set about showing off, strutting around much like an organic bird, striving to win a glance, and finally red optics strayed his way. Like a sparkling with a first crush, he took every opportunity to impress his prospective mate, and he put on a rather impressive display of airborne acrobatics, and after that, he waited on his to-be-partner's every whim. It was a sometimes comedic, sometimes painful, sometimes strangely sweet courtship, which is, alas, a story for another time. The end result we see clearly: the bonded pair, waiting and watching for a third. Their third, one who would meet both of their standards and complete their trine.
The two Seekers stood side by side, muttering to each other. They had just joined the illustrious Decepticons and awaited assignment, whispering about their new comrades to pass the time.
And in he walked.
He was another Seeker, red and white and blue bright enough to put any feathered flyer to shame, and he moved as one completely conscious of his superiority and attractiveness and unafraid to flaunt it. His appearance hit all the right triggers, and the other two reacted accordingly.
"Woah," Skywarp, the talkative purple one, murmured appreciatively, optics traveling over the slender frame and the perfect wings. "Will you look at that!"
"Quite a paint job," Thundercracker agreed. His purple mate goggled at the stranger.
"And check out the pretty wings," he hissed. "Think he's claimed?"
It took only a moment to check. Seekers are sensitive to each other's energy fields. "No."
Skywarp grinned gleefully. "Oh, lucky orn! So bright… he's either desperate or advertising."
"Or compensating for something," TC replied with a snicker.
The red Seeker shot them a withering look, one normally reserved for the remnants of some sort of squishy alien life form on the bottom of one's pede. This caused some minor consternation for the pair.
"Someone's sending mixed messages," TC muttered.
Before either of them could ogle any more, the massive, intimidating silver mech who was now their leader looked up with a sudden glow of scarlet optics.
The other Seeker pulled his glare away from the pair; instead, it landed squarely on Megatron. Thundercracker and Skywarp nearly leaned forward in anticipation, their intakes pausing, Sparks skipping a pulse or two, waiting with rapt attention, eager, hungry…
"Yes, oh wise and glorious leader?"
The bonded pair gained a few odd glances from the other Decepticons, and for an understandable reason: both of them had jerked back, so startled were they by the sounds emitting from this otherwise glorious creature. Not only were the words heavily laden with cynical, biting sarcasm, but that voice. It was what happened when an ancient parrot was crossed with a dying feline, hoarse and screechy and high and definitely incongruous coming from the lovely creature standing before them and most definitely not what they were looking for.
"Ouch," Skywarp whispered.
"I told you he was compensating for something," TC answered.
If either of them had cared to look at the red Seeker's face just then instead of unfocusing their optics in a sort of horrified stupor, they might have noticed the tightening of his optics, the thinning of his lips, and the utter hatred with which he now watched Megatron, even more intense than usual. If they'd still been eagerly scanning his energy field for little hints and clues, they would have noticed the tortured humiliation he burned with while and after he spoke. But as neither of them were looking, you, reader, are the only one to realize just how mortifying it was for Starscream to have to speak, just then, under the watchful optics and audios of two Seekers who he'd never seen before.
This includes Megatron, naturally, and the tyrant had no idea what sort of agonizing ignominy he had just afflicted on his second-in-command. Doubtless he'd have been pleased to know, but in this case, he had Important Things weighing on his processor and had neither time nor interest to research the social habits of Seekers. This said, his next flyer faux pas was perfectly understandable.
"These recruits are with you," he said, jerking his chin irritably towards Skywarp and Thundercracker. "Take them and train them, and I expect you all to be prepared by the next skirmish."
Starscream stared. "But Meg—"
"You're always complaining that you need a trine. Now you have one."
"You can't just—!"
The sheer amount of menace that Megatron's voice can achieve is formidable; violation of Seeker tradition is the same. You cannot simply assume that three Seekers make a trine. Trines are units made out of carefully calculated associations that often form over a great many vorns. Trines are normally bonded, or on their way to being bonded, or at least compatible. A sloppily-put-together trine can be more of a hindrance than a help, let me assure you. Megatron's mistake was one which any non-Seeker can easily make: he saw two Seekers and one Seeker and added them together to form three Seekers; that is, a trine.
However, Seeker tradition has no fusion cannon with which one can be intimately familiar, so Starscream chose the immediate lesser of two evils. He turned to the two Seekers, whose horror had reached new depths with their leader's command, and gestured sharply for them to follow him... he did not speak. In fact, he didn't speak again until they had traversed the intricate labyrinth that was the Decepticon headquarters, eventually coming to a door that presumably led to their new commander's… their… quarters.
The red Seeker keyed in the code for the door and stepped inside. The others had to follow quickly; the door closed in a hurry, nearly taking off Skywarp's wing.
These rooms were much better than the standard Decepticon barracks. The one they stood in was spacious but sparse – there was a berth, a console, and a shelf of datapads. One closed door led to the left. Two more led to the right, one closed but unlocked, the other open to a small washracks area.
"Your room is through there," Starscream rasped, pointing at the closed door to the right. "You have your own washracks." He didn't look at them while he spoke, probably so he wouldn't have to see how they flinched at the sound of his voice.
"Thank you," Thundercracker said.
Let us take a glimpse into Thundercracker's personality. He was unusually down-to-Cybertron for a Seeker, sensible and practical. He wasn't one to endure hissy-fits or other sparkling-like behaviors. And the way he saw it, Starscream was being silly. Though in Starscream's defense, Skywarp was also being silly. The way TC saw it, they would have to grin and bear it and work together whether they liked it or not, so they might as well get to know each other and that would be that.
"My designation is Thundercracker," he said, making sure Starscream looked at him. "And this is Skywarp."
"Starscream," the other said after a moment. "Commander Starscream to you."
"What happened to your, uh…" Skywarp trailed off, gesturing vaguely towards his throat.
Skywarp, reader, was not the most tactful of Seekers.
Starscream glared at him, unconsciously rubbing his throat. "An accident," he growled. "The medics tried to fix it but only made it worse." He jerked sharply around and pushed past them, exiting.
"He didn't even say goodbye!" Skywarp huffed. TC glared at him. "What?"
"You don't have to antagonize him," the blue Seeker said sternly. "It's obviously a sensitive subject."
"Yeah, but, TC, I don't want to be in a trine with him. Sure, he's pretty, but… still. How could Megatron just stick us with him?! It's not right! If I'm gonna be in a trine with someone, I want it to be someone I know, you know?"
"I don't like it either," TC agreed, "but that's how it is. We can get to know him. We can work with him. Just try not to sabotage it, all right?"
Skywarp pouted, but TC gave him a peck on the cheek to cheer him up.
"Fine," the black Seeker agreed. "All right, where'd he flounce off to?"
For the second time that joor, Skywarp and Thundercracker were rendered speechless, staring open-mouthed into the sky, where the distant form of their new commander and trineleader could be seen wheeling about.
"Primus," Skywarp sighed longingly. "Look at that."
All Seekers love the air. They are Cybertron's best fliers, Sparked to soar. And Starscream, reader, loved it most of all. Perhaps it was because he had nothing else to love. He was an artist when it came to flight, an acrobat, a dancer. He was the pinnacle of his kind, all speed and agility and perfection. He twirled and looped and barrel-rolled and spiraled and dove and never slipped, never got dizzy, never lost his bearings. He put on a dazzling display even if nobody was watching – which, in this case, they were, but Starscream didn't know that. He was working off his anger, his frustration. All of his death-defying stunts made him concentrate firmly on staying alive, draining all thought of his new wingmates.
It was a beautiful sight to behold, and it is my sincerest regret that I cannot adequately put it into words. Suffice it to say that Skywarp and Thundercracker were spellbound, for this was an entirely different side to Starscream and neither of them knew quite what to think.
"I've changed my mind," Skywarp said decisively. "He… look at that, TC! Why would anyone not want that?"
"You'll change your mind again the next time he opens his mouth," Thundercracker answered. "I know you, 'Warp."
"But he's gorgeous and look how he flies! Two out of three is fine in my processor."
TC shook his head wearily. As he'd said, he knew his bondmate. Though between you and me, reader, Thundercracker was more than ready to court Starscream, he was a caring bondmate and needed to be sure that Skywarp would welcome the third member of their trine.
Starscream came in for a landing and nearly bowled them over carelessly as he touched down.
"What do you two want?" he sneered. To TC's surprise, Skywarp stepped forward, extending a hand.
"I wanted to apologize for upsetting you earlier," he said. "I didn't mean to poke my olfactory sensors into your business."
Starscream looked from his hand to his optics and back before nodding shortly. Skywarp let his hand fall back to his side, but wasn't discouraged from his campaign for friendship.
"That was some flying," he said honestly, grinning. "Will you teach me some of those tricks? I don't think I've ever seen anyone as good in the sky as you." His energy field nudged playfully against Starscream's. The red Seeker twitched, startled, his energy field drawing in close about him. "I mean, if I could move like that, I'd have Seekers throwing themselves at me, just begging—"
/Careful,/ TC warned. 'Warp stopped, but his energy field brushed coyly against Starscream's, blatantly flirtatious.
"—begging for me to teach them," he finished smoothly. "I, ah… it was spectacular. Truly… beautiful."
Starscream's face had gone from suspicious to startled to astounded. His optics, wide in surprise, grew lighter. His mouth was slightly open, not frowning, and without the scowl he was lovelier than ever. He glanced from one to the other and saw that they were both of the same mind.
Then his stunned face morphed into sudden fury.
Now, reader, let us examine Starscream's psychology. You see, as we have discussed, he was ashamed of his voice. And in spite of his attractive form and fantastic flying, that glitch had driven away all previous potential mates. This wasn't the first time that an incomplete trine had approached him, but before it had always happened in the same way: they had built up his hopes, gained his trust, then spurned him and tossed him aside. After a few repeats of this, Starscream had gotten tired of getting his Spark broken and had begun to preempt this sort of thing by rejecting everyone who tried to approach him. Deep down he wanted a trine, as all Seekers do, wanted it desperately, but he was so convinced that everyone was out to mock him that he refused to consider that anyone would actually consider bonding with him.
"I see how it is," he shrieked. "You're making fun of me! Isn't it enough that I'll never have a trine without you teasing me and mocking me?! I don't need a trine... I don't want a trine!... and I don't need you!"
He whirled and flew off into the sky, vanishing swiftly from range.
"I think I'm in love," Skywarp said weakly.
And so the great irony is this: that Starscream was trying his hardest to avoid the very thing he most craved, and that Thundercracker and Skywarp were eagerly pursuing a mate that any other Seekers would find repulsive.