"Dear Primus, how long can he hide?" Skywarp burst out, chucking his empty energon cube at the wall. Starscream had been conspicuously absent for the past few orns, not even appearing in their quarters. The excuse given by Soundwave and confirmed by the records was a long patrol.
Thundercracker sighed. "It's only a matter of time. We're not sitting around here forever—we're moving out in a few orns." He stood up, pacing restlessly. "We'll get him, Warp. We'll make him see."
TC caught up with Starscream near the command center. The red Seeker spotted him and turned right around, heading in the opposite direction.
"Starscream, wait!" Thundercracker called, following close behind and grabbing his arm.
"I don't want to talk to you," Starscream hissed, trying to jerk from his grip, but Thundercracker wasn't larger and stronger for nothing. He pinned his commander to the wall by both arms.
"Just listen to me. Please."
Starscream glared, but stopped struggling. His energy field was held in close to his plating, fizzing and sparking angrily when Thundercracker's drew near.
"Skywarp and I weren't making fun of you," TC said earnestly. "We're serious. We want to get to know you, Starscream. We want to learn from you and to teach you. We want you in our trine… properly."
Again, Starscream was torn between surprise and suspicion. "Why would anyone want someone like me?" he grated out. "Someone who sounds the way I do?"
"Someone who flies like you," TC countered. "You want a trine. I know you do. We will be your wingmates, if you let us."
"I don't trust you."
Starscream bucked in his grasp, kicking out, and TC let him go. The red Seeker left him behind, nearly smacking Thundercracker in the face with his wings as he did so.
The nerve of him! The brazen nerve!
Starscream fumed, engines growling. Oh, he'd seen this one before, though the big blue lout was admittedly a better actor than most. We really like you, we want you in our trine…!
"Oh, of course you do," he muttered as he stalked down the corridor. Thundercracker and Skywarp were probably laughing about it right now in their quarters.
Fraggit… now he was thinking about Skywarp and the wonderful fly they'd had together. The way the light had glinted off of Skywarp's wings when he moved. The way they had seemed to fit so perfectly up in the sky, the way Skywarp had moved with him as surely as though they had shared the same processor. The way Skywarp smiled with a touch of an apology, or, even better, when he just smiled…
Starscream whirled and punched the wall. Hard. He examined the dent he'd left.
Why was he getting so worked up about Skywarp? And why, why, why did he suddenly want Thundercracker to fly with him as well, just so he could feel what it was like? Why did the blue Seeker's voice still repeat on loop somewhere in his audios, just for the wonderful sound of it?
What was wrong with him?
We have discussed the stubbornness of Seekers, and now stubbornness was the only thing that kept Starscream going. If there was one thing he hated, it was being forced to eat his words, to swallow his pride. So he wouldn't admit it, not even to himself.
"There's nothing to admit," Starscream hissed. "Nothing!"
Skywarp was worried. And Skywarp, reader, was not the type of Seeker to worry. He loved TC, he truly did, but sometimes his mate's approach to things frustrated him. And his approach to Starscream, slow and cautious, was clearly not working.
If only, he thought, there were some way to force him to be direct. If TC and Starscream just spent enough time together to actually interact, Starscream was bound to like him. What wasn't to like? TC was perfect. And he already liked Starscream.
But how to manage it? Skywarp didn't think a romantic dinner would work, nor a scheduled flight (too much sky for Starscream to hide in). He wasn't a relationship counselor, he was a prankster…!
And then Skywarp had the Idea. An Idea so perfect, so typically Skywarp that it made a rather evil grin curl his mouthplates.
Starscream and Thundercracker would spend some time together. They'd have no choice…
Storage Closet 33-D was not on Thundercracker's list of destinations for the orn. Or at least, it hadn't been until Skywarp had discovered that the energon dispenser in their quarters was missing an important part, and Closet 33-D was the closest place to find it.
Ordinarily TC would have sent Skywarp for the part, but he knew his mate would probably bring back the wrong thing at least twice (Skywarp was cute, but he wasn't too bright) and he was hungry, so out he had gone, down the hall to the closet. The box he needed was a few steps in, at the back, so he had to actually go inside, wings twitching at the small space. There were no lights in here, but the open door let in the illumination of the hallway so he could see what he was doing.
This light was abruptly blocked by a winged silhouette.
"Oh, it's you," Starscream said in a tone normally reserved for vermin discovered in the energon supply. He glanced at the box of parts, then at Thundercracker, then at the parts, and stepped inside. There was just enough room for the two of them to fit. "I need one of those."
"What for?" TC asked.
"Broken energon dispenser." Starscream gestured impatiently at the box.
Just as a nasty suspicion sprang into Thundercracker's processor, the door slid shut, plunging them into darkness, lit only by the red gleam of their optics.
Starscream tried the door. (Thundercracker couldn't see this, of course, but he assumed from the noise.) "Slagger locked it. You planned this, didn't you? Clearly I underestimated the lengths you'll go to—"
"I had nothing to do with it," TC snapped, uncharacteristically annoyed. Thundercracker, reader, was usually a perfectly mild-mannered Seeker, among the calmest of his kind, but any Seeker will get testy when locked in a small, dark space. "You think I like this any more than you? Skywarp!"
There was no answer to his shout—Skywarp had already fled the area, sniggering all the way, leaving the other two trapped in Storage Closet 33-D for some quality time.
"This is all your fault," Starscream muttered. "Ouch! Watch where you're swinging your wings!"
"Sorry. I can't see a thing."
"Then activate your night vision."
TC would have snapped at him, something along the lines of "I know that, stupid," but then he remembered that he and Skywarp were supposed to be courting Starscream. Come to think of it, this was probably one of Skywarp's crazy plans to get Starscream to like them. He switched his optics over to see Starscream with his arms crossed, looking decidedly annoyed. If Warp was going for a romantic atmosphere, this probably wasn't the best place for it.
"He's probably not going to let us out for a while, if I know him," Thundercracker said, feeling the need to apologize for Skywarp's actions. "He's a bit of a prankster."
"I know. I pulled his record," Starscream answered shortly.
There was a silence. Oddly, it was Starscream who broke it, and he sounded almost hesitant.
"How do you put up with him?"
Thundercracker shrugged, surprised. "He's my wingmate. He can be stupid sometimes, but I love him anyway. He doesn't have to be perfect." He let that sink in, then added, "Besides, for every dumb trick he pulls like this, he does something nice later to apologize. It's sweet, in an annoying way."
Starscream absorbed this in silence. Thundercracker wondered what he was thinking. If he was lucky, it would be Maybe these two aren't so bad. If he wasn't, it could be These two are such morons.
Truthfully, it was These two are morons… but not so bad. For morons. Starscream huffed, squeezing his arms more tightly across his cockpit. Now that Thundercracker was actually talking to him, he didn't seem like the mastermind of a devious plot to trick Starscream. Still, that might have been exactly what he was meant to think.
But when Thundercracker had been talking about his mate, no matter how annoying Skywarp had proven this morning, his tone had still been affectionate. The purple Seeker was clearly far from perfect… yet he had found a mate. So why should it be any different for Starscream…?
"I should give him three shifts of monitor duty for this," Starscream said, desperate to get his processor off the subject. It wouldn't do for his Spark to get tangled up with these two, not after he'd gone so long without getting hurt.
"You could." Thundercracker's tone of voice gave nothing away. Starscream growled. He could give Skywarp a much more severe punishment, as his commanding officer. But… he almost… liked the mech. Enough to settle for monitor duty. And that in itself was strange… Starscream, reader, was not a mech to easily forgive anything.
It wasn't as though he… cared. For Skywarp.
"What is it," Thundercracker finally ventured, "with you and wingmates?"
Starscream froze. Of all things, he hadn't expected a question like that. Surely Thundercracker knew what his problem was. He was the one taking advantage of it. Teasing him about it. Wasn't he?
"I'm sure you've noticed my compelling voice," he said acidly. And now he would lie, just like the others had. They'd told him there was nothing wrong with it, that they thought it was beautiful, and he had once believed them.
Thundercracker was silent for a time. "We did notice," he answered at last. Starscream jerked his head up, goggling at him through the darkness. "But it's obviously not a subject you'd want to talk about."
"But, Starscream… I've never seen any other Seeker fly the way you do."
Starscream reset his optics. He'd thought he had Thundercracker figured out, and yet the blue Seeker surprised him at every turn. What did he think he was playing at? If he was going to gloat, then he was going about it all wrong.
Thundercracker persisted, hoping he wasn't only making matters worse. "Skywarp and I want to be your wingmates. We have so much to learn from you… and you can learn from us."
"You don't fly too poorly yourself," Starscream grudgingly admitted. He'd watched Thundercracker flying during exercises, the way he complemented Skywarp in the air and the way he flew individually. Hastily, he added, "but that doesn't mean I want to be your wingmate."
"Why not?" Thundercracker pressed. He had worried at first that Starscream simply had standards that he and Warp failed to meet, but as time passed it became ever more apparent that this wasn't the case.
"Because I've been tricked too often!" Starscream snapped. "Because you and your little mate are just the latest in a long line of Seekers who enjoy making mechs fall for them and then leaving them! And you won't get that satisfaction from me!"
It was Thundercracker's turn to sit in shock. Starscream fumed, wings flicking, optics smoldering. Now maybe they would finally give up on him, now that he'd exposed their little plan. Now they would leave, or he would make sure they were reassigned, no matter what Megatron had ordered, and he would never have to face them again… never be tempted by Skywarp's easy, open smile or Thundercracker's rumbling voice or their exquisite flying… never have to deal with these annoying twinges in his Spark when he thought about them.
"We would never hurt you like that."
Thundercracker's words jolted Starscream. The blue Seeker's voice was soft and controlled, almost upset.
"I don't see why anyone would," he went on. "You're beautiful, Starscream. And you're the best flier I've ever seen. Who wouldn't want that, no matter what you sound like?" Starscream became aware that he was gaping, but he couldn't bring himself to close his mouth. "Skywarp and I want you to complete our trine, if you will have us. We want to fly with you forever."
But surely… Yet Starscream couldn't detect even the slightest hint of a lie in Thundercracker's voice, and Starscream, reader, was an expert at reading others. He was… sincere. He meant it. These two Seekers, these two very handsome, very talented Seekers, wanted to be his wingmates. They knew about his voice and they accepted it, the same way Thundercracker accepted Skywarp's pranks.
I have previously mentioned Starscream's pride and stubbornness, which had previously kept his processor and his Spark closed to Thundercracker's and Skywarp's overtures. But there in the darkness of Storage Closet 33-D, both pride and stubbornness collapsed.
Thundercracker had said his piece and was now waiting for a response. For a time Starscream didn't know what to say. What was he supposed to do now?
"I'm still giving Skywarp three shifts of monitor duty," he said at last, his voice cracking more than usual. "Even wingmates don't get favoritism."
Thundercracker's face broke into a rare smile.
If either of them thought it was suspicious that the door unlocked barely a cycle later, neither of them mentioned it to a madly-grinning Skywarp.
"Wow, I have no idea how that happened," he said innocently. "Locks must be faulty. Someone should report it. You two have fun in there?"
"Oh, yes," Starscream replied drily, "loads." Then, hesitantly, shyly, his energy field expanded out from his plating to mingle with Skywarp's and Thundercracker's.
Mission accomplished, Skywarp congratulated himself. "I knew you just needed some 'alone time,'" he crowed, throwing his arms around Starscream. The other Seeker stiffened and Thundercracker worried that Skywarp might have gone too far, too fast, but instead of screeching or clawing at him, Starscream cuffed Skywarp over the helm.
"I hope you like staring at monitors, idiot."
"Monitors?" Skywarp whined, as Thundercracker smiled at them both. "But I want to go flying! You know, in honor of the occasion!"
So he had been listening in, Thundercracker thought in amusement. "We've never truly flown with you before," he reminded Starscream.
"You mean, I'll fly while you two eat my vapor trail," Starscream scoffed.
It turned out to be true that Skywarp and Thundercracker spent most of the time in Starscream's vapor trail, but they didn't mind, not when all of their Sparks pulsed so joyfully behind their chestplates, when they executed maneuvers with perfectly-tuned precision, and landed with their three energy fields all in sync with each other.
And when Starscream turned to them with a small but genuine smile and said, "Nice flying up there," reader, neither Thundercracker nor Skywarp even noticed his rasping voice. Seekers, after all, are built and programmed to function in trines, and these three were as compatible a match as there ever was.
A/N: Thanks for reading! I hope you all enjoyed this silly little thing!