Warning: Yes, this is slash. No happy ending, though. Starscream wouldn't have it.

Disclaimer: I don't own The Transformers, and I don't make any money with this.


Cold Flame

"My beloved, my bright moon,
My torch, my sunshine, my sun in heaven,
I am the Lover - this joy is mine."

Sultan Suleiman I (1494 - 1566) to his wife Roxelana

--*--

This planet was fascinating.

He had already thought so when he had seen it for the first time, so many millennia ago. Everything was so... variable, so in constant flux. How was it possible that a landscape that could reach temperatures of over 110° F by day would by night, only hours later, be shivering in the relentless grip of biting frost? It was fascinating.

Skyfire touched down gently and transformed back into his natural form. There was a waning moon in the sky tonight, which only allowed for a modicum of sight. Just a few seconds ago, Skyfire's scanners had told him that he was not alone, but he could no longer rely on them now. It was the rule. No scanners, no radar, no radio. No questions.

He switched to night vision and waited.

"You're late", said a cold voice behind him.

Skyfire had expected such a greeting. He turned without haste.

"I can't always wait for hours on end", Starscream said angrily. His blood-red optics were glowing almost threateningly in the dark. "Unlike you, I will be missed eventually."

"I couldn't make it any sooner", Skyfire answered calmly. "I had to..."

Starscream snorted. "Yeah, yeah, yeah. Spare me."

They stood motionless for a while and stared at each other, two pairs of glowing optics in the dark. Finally, Starscream folded his arms across his chest in a gesture of challenge.

"So, where do we go from here? Do we fly, or do we spend the rest of the night standing around?"

"I'm ready when you are", Skyfire said placidly.

The answer he got was something like an angry hiss, and he couldn't help but to think of one of those native reptiles that used such sounds as a warning signal.

A gentle vibration shook the ground when Starscream fired his thrusters. Skyfire knew the power that lay hidden inside this graceful body, a power that would effortlessly vanquish Earth's gravitational force.

Two quick steps, one powerful leap, and a moment later, Starscream was easily 300 feet above ground, not bothering to look behind. A small smile tugged at Skyfire's lips when he returned to his shuttle mode and followed the seeker a little more slowly.

Starscream doubled and circled, transformed into his jet mode and spiraled upwards into the night sky. Skyfire synchronized their flight paths, all the while staying behind his companion, but at the same time keeping their movements in perfect harmony.

It was a well-known ritual, an ancient and yet unpredictable game of theirs. Without scanners or radar, Skyfire could not foresee which maneuver Starscream would perform next. All he could count on was experience and instinct, and it never failed to surprise him how well it worked.

Then again, perhaps it was simply the sheer beauty before his very optics that was guiding him. Starscream flying was grace personified; he moved with a kind of rapt ease Skyfire had never seen before in any flyer. Moonlight caressed the jet's outline, making every movement look as if a silver flame flashed up in the darkness. Skyfire felt strangely sad at this sight, and suddenly a deep longing came over him, though he could not say what it was he longed for.

Suddenly Starscream did an abrupt U-turn, fired his afterburners and shot straight up into the sky, his turbines screeching.

The sudden noise jerked Skyfire out of his melancholic thoughts. Now what was this supposed to mean? He changed direction as quickly as possible and gave chase.

Starscream, it seemed, had decided to break his own altitude record. Curiosity got the better of Skyfire; he decided to ignore the rule and opened a comm channel.

'Starscream? What are you doing?'

Instead of an answer he got a playful nudge with a wing tip when his companion leaned slightly towards him, as if to say: Catch me if you can! A moment later, Skyfire found himself well and truly outspeeded and left behind.

He forgot all precautions and all concerns. Without hesitating, he picked up the game and followed Starscream, followed the silver flame.

Earth had long since disappeared below them when the seeker suddenly veered to the left and brought himself back to a horizontal position. Skyfire changed his course a little less abruptly while Starscream slowed down and transformed back into his bipedal form. Skyfire followed suit.

It had become quite cold, he realized. His thermostat registered several degrees below zero. What might their altitude be? The stars seemed so close...

"Sixty-two miles above sea level", Starscream said as if he'd read Skyfire's thoughts. "Kármán line. Edge of space."

Skyfire grinned. No matter how hard he might try, Starscream just couldn't deny the scientist within him. The seeker had brought them into an orbit where the centrifugal forces created by their thrusters kept them in zero gravity. They were literally floating between the worlds.

Starscream rolled around and stretched out on his back, as carefree as if he was lounging in his berth aboard the Nemesis and not hovering in utter nothingness sixty miles above ground. The moonlight, being so much brighter up here, made his armor plating gleam and sparkle with each movement, and Skyfire couldn't help but stare in fascination. Starscream had always known how to play to the gallery.

Except for the constant hum of their turbines it was perfectly quiet up here. Above the planet's northern pole, a geomagnetic storm had got caught in the ionosphere, creating the multicolored lighting effect humans called aurora borealis. Skyfire marveled at the sight and noticed that Starscream was watching, too. It had often been like this in former times, when they both had watched the atmospheric activity of some uncharted planet together for their research work. And for a moment, Skyfire did not feel the cold anymore. For a moment, there was a warm, gentle, intimate feeling between them.

"Why do you do it?" he asked quietly.

Starscream turned his head to look at him.

"Why do I do what?"

"Why do you keep meeting with me?"

The seeker gave a small, derisive laughter.

"Don't be too smug about it. I'm just passing time. There's nothing so boring than having to listen to Megatron's war-mongering speeches while you're stuck at the bottom of the sea."

"You're lying", Skyfire said gently.

Starscream moved so fast that he didn't have the slightest chance to react. The next moment the seeker was face to face with him, and the muzzle of a null ray gun was pressed against his throat.

"Mind your vocalizer, 'friend'", Starscream hissed threateningly. "You know I have no qualms whatsoever about shooting at you."

Oh yes, Skyfire knew that very well. He had learned it the hard way. But what he also knew was that Starscream did not waste time with idle talk if he really wanted to shoot. Maybe it was this thought that prompted him to do what he did next.

Slowly and deliberately he reached out for Starscream's hand that was so close to his face now. It seemed so delicate in his bigger one, and the sight caused him to be even more cautious when he gently pried the clenched fingers open and then breathed a tender kiss onto the dark palm.

Complete silence. Complete standstill. None of them moved. Starscream did not take his optics off his companion's face. Skyfire felt his spark skip a pulse.

And then Starscream's face contorted into the most disdainful sneer Skyfire could ever have imagined.

"You're a fool", he said coldly. "Even more so than I thought."

And with this he jerked himself free, and before Skyfire could say anything he had left the orbit and rushed back down to Earth, his afterburners droning.

Skyfire looked after him as the glistening silver flame quickly became smaller and smaller and finally vanished in the dark.

He could feel the cold again.

He would soon be missed. He would return to this planet of constant change where everything was so different and unfamiliar, and he would pretend nothing had happened, as he always did.

But for now, the night was still young, and so he allowed himself the luxury of floating in cold nothingness a little longer, wistfully reminiscing about the light of the silver flame.


I received so many kind and supporting reviews on "Wash my Sins Away" that I decided to give my Transformers plot bunnies another chance. So before you review, please remember: You asked for it! ;-)

Translating this one was tricky because of all of the scientific and aeronautic stuff in there; so if you spot a mistake please let me know so I can fix it.