…uh. Anyone still there? XD I know updates have been slim all around my Fanfiction life…but that's because I'm working on a novel. To sell. It took priority. Sorry! But hopefully I can make it up to you with a new chapter of this! :D (And if it makes you feel better, all my fics have suffered equally from the total lack of updates. XD Not just this one!)

Oh well, we finally got to the part you've all been waiting for. I hope that makes up for the wait! (…it's a little sappy though. XD I'll admit.) Plus I really need to finish this thing. I'm still itching to start working on my Skyfire x Starscream sparkling fic. Thanks for reading!

Chapter 22

"Stupid Skyfire thinks he's so funny." Starscream muttered as he pulled onto the ramp opening on the Nemesis. He transformed to his feet on the deck and continued to mutter to himself as he stomped down the alleyway not caring who heard him grumbling about. Cons smartly dodged out of the way and avoided him (as they should). The air commander really should have known better than to believe the shuttle's prank. Skyfire didn't have the brass to cheat on his partner like Starscream did…Starscream stopped.

Rumble was not his partner.

Starscream chuckled to himself. That's right. You couldn't cheat on someone if you weren't committed. So, technically, Starscream hadn't cheated. The flyer continued his march down the hall towards his quarters. He'd refuel and then think about what he was going to say to Rumble. To prevent the squirt from attacking him in a rage, of course. Self preservation. Starscream typed in the code to his room slowly. Self-preservation. That was all that mattered, wasn't it?

"Have a nice flight?" Rumble greeted as Starscream stepped into the room and froze. Rumble glared at the flyer from his place sitting on Starscream's berth. He knew it was only a matter of time before the (good lookin') snake slunk back to his hovel. The cassette didn't mind the wait. Not like he had anywhere else ta' be considering he was avoiding the Boss right now. "Let myself in, sorry."

"Rumble." Starscream flinched before shifting his hip to the side and standing up straight. He was the intimidating one! Starscream was Second-In-Command of the Decepticons! He didn't do anything wrong. No matter what Skyfire said. "What do you want?" Starscream looked around the room looking for changes. "And where's your little baby-sitter?"

"I'm off the hook." Rumble stood on the bunk so that he was eye level with Starscream. Their red optics competed for dominance but Rumble caught a waver in the flyer's optics. He shoved a finger into Starscream's breastplate knowing he had the advantage. Rumble drew back and poked the chest again hard enough to move the Seeker. "Not that you aren't."

Starscream slapped the hand away and took a good look in those glaring optics. They screamed accusation and betrayal. Rumble knew. Starscream lied. "I don't know what you're talking about. I think all that time with your brother has made you delusional."

"Ol' Megs is that good in the sack, is he?" Rumble threw out with a drawl in his voice. He crossed his arms across his breastplate and cocked his hip to the side defiantly. "That why you been avoiding me? I mean I know we weren't an item or nothing, but still."

Starscream weighed his answer. If he played this right, Rumble would finally take the hint and be gone for good. Starscream could break it off with Megatron again and play it off as his usual schemes and mind games. He'd spend a month or two in the repair bay, but at least his troubles would be done and his only annoyance would be the Constructicons. It would be easy and normal. Starscream looked down at the squirt and felt his insides hitch. Starscream rubbed his chin and avoided looking down. "He's...persistent."

"Yeah, that what'cha call it now adays?" Rumble growled and un-crossed his arms. "Yer' actin' like it's no big deal! But if that was true, why were you trying so hard to hide it?"

"I didn't hide anything!" Starscream bristled in place and grit his teeth together through the lie. Rumble scoffed and rolled his optics behind the visor. How dare that little! "Don't look at me that way! He's the jealous type! What do you think he'd do to you if he thought I was sleeping around on him!"

"You backstab him all the time!" Rumble shouted right back and stomped his foot. "How would this be any different!"

"I don't know!" Starscream screeched. "Maybe the same reason you're getting so upset over something as stupid as interfacing!"

"It's not stupid if I like you!" Rumble screamed back with equal ferocity.

Starscream's systems came to a screeching halt.

Rumble would note for the record that he did not panic when Starscream froze up and fell over on his back, sparking in a way that would make that screw-loose police 'bot proud.

Soundwave didn't want it to come to this. He really didn't. Especially since he knew how well tactics such as this worked in the past, but he was sure he could work it to his benefit. Rumble had gone back to see Starscream almost immediately after his warning. It only made sense for there to be severe reprimand for the small cassette. However, Soundwave had a slight change in plan in mind.

Soundwave walked down the hallway, Lazerbeak flying just above his head as moral support as he neared his destination. The main control room loomed before him holding his main option for getting his plan in motion. He waited for the door to slide open before heading towards their "Glorious Leader."

Going after Rumble directly had resulted in negative results thus far, so the only logical conclusion was to go for Starscream. Again. Soundwave sighed inwardly at the flyer's ridiculous good luck. Perhaps this time he'd be able to get the flyer out of the picture for longer than a day and a half's beating. Soundwave cleared his throat as he stopped at Megatron's side.

"Soundwave." Megatron acknowledged dully as he stared at the monitors. That idiot Prime was doing some PR stunt helping clean up a forest fire and the idiot humans were worshiping at his feet. It was disgusting but like one of Astrotrain's wrecks, Megatron couldn't help but keep up with his rivals news and actions. Soundwave continued to stand next to his shoulder and Megatron sighed and answered while keeping his eyes on Prime. "Did you need something?"


Megatron waited for the 'con's voice to drone on but when nothing else came, Megatron sighed while keeping his attention on the Autobot leader. What exactly was Prime playing at trying to get on the good side of the locals? Megatron's voice was drawn out in annoyance as he tried to rush Soundwave to getting on with the point. "Which is?"

"Forbid contact between Starscream and Rumble." Soundwave paused and wondered if he should provide justification. "Bad influence."

Prime accepted an award from some human leader or whatever and Megatron slammed a fist on the arm rest of his chair. "Slag." He paused and looked back at Soundwave. "What now?"

"Starscream. Forbid contact with Rumble." Soundwave repeated.

Megatron stared and looked over his shoulder to the other side before settling back on Soundwave. "Is this a joke?"

Soundwave didn't move. Lazerbeak snickered from somewhere in the rafters. "No."

Megatron turned up the volume on the news. "Telling Starscream what to do is a futile effort and you know it. Stop wasting my time." Megatron smirked. "Besides, Starscream's been warming my quarters lately. I doubt he'll have time for your little cassette as it is. You're worrying over nothing."

Soundwave wilted.

After a few more moments of his leader cursing at the news and damning the Autobots to the pits he realized the discussion was closed. So much for that plan. Soundwave retreated into the hallway and contemplated his next move. He had planned on Starscream disobeying Megatron's orders to stay away and then watch him be beaten to pulp so badly he'd be stuck in the repair wing. While that was normal fair, Soundwave had hoped the resulting beating would be worse than normal due to the new sleeping arrangements.

You're getting rusty, boss. Lazerbeak snickered as he landed on Soundwave's shoulder.

Shut up.

Starscream's optics blinked online to his dull ceiling and a freaked out Rumble in his face. He would later deny screaming and shoving the cassette off his chest and into the wall. Not that anyone would believe him. Starscream sat up quickly and stared down at the cassette yet again invading his personal space. Somewhere in the back of his mind he wondered how he got on the floor. Rumble continued to look at him like he was made of Energon or something and Starscream shrieked out a nervous "What!"

"Oh thank Primus." Rumble sighed in relief and held his head. "You woke up. I almost had to call somebody 'cause I'm no good with circuit repair and stuff." Rumble waved his arms around. Starscream had been completely offline for almost a full five minutes. "You just fell over and stuff!"

Starscream ran over his memory for the last entry and replayed the offending line his processors refused to…process. (Starscream decided he might want to run a repair program…).

It's not stupid if I like you.

If I like you.

Like you.


Starscream threw a hand out and shoved it in Rumble's face. "You liar!"

"Wha?" Rumble backtracked. The panic of Starscream shutting down for good had done wonders for make him forget his earlier anger. The confusion only helped matters. "About what?"

"You said you liked me!" Starscream accused, venom dripping off his vocalizer in a tone he usually reserved for Megatron and traitors.

Rumble's visor flickered in confusion. His answer was slow, but honest. No point in hiding his feelings at this point. "I do."

"Liar!" Starscream hissed and slammed a fist into the floor of his room hard enough to cause the floor to shake. Rumble fell over from the shockwave and clanged into the floor loudly. Starscream rolled over onto his knee joints and shoved the cassette back down when he tried to get up again. "How dare you!"

Rumble gaped. "But I do! I like you!"

"No! You don't!" The flyer's systems began to overheat in his frustration as he stared at the gaping cassette. How dare he play that game. How dare he! Even Starscream didn't sink that low when manipulating others! "No one likes me!"


"No one!" Starscream continued. "Thundercracker and Skywarp only like me because they're required to! We're brothers and team-mates! There have only been two other than that who did and even they don't count because Skyfire abandoned me for the wretched squishie-loving Autobots and don't even get me started on Megatron."

Rumble sat up slowly as Starscream slowly began rambling incoherently. Apparently he was going to get himself started on Megatron. As the flyer kept talking, Rumble slowly realized some floodgate had been opened.

"Megatron may seem like he likes me." Starscream continued. "Everyone believes that because, and I quote 'Why else would he let that back-stabbing traitor live?' But what they don't realize is he doesn't like me! He likes the idea of me! Megatron hates suck-ups you know? He hates them. He hates followers who just blindly follow orders. He's a freaking fighter!" Starscream's voice started to pick up in volume and pitch. "Megatron lives for people to challenge him! He loves that I try and stab him in the back every other day!"

Starscream sucked in air to his vocalizer. "I swear to you, if Soundwave tried to kill him and revolt he'd probably take your boring as slag boss to the berth! Then were would I be! You wonder why I don't let anyone else touch him! Because then he wouldn't need me and I'd be fragged!

"And if Skyfire doesn't like me anymore and Megatron who lets me get away with straight out murder doesn't like me than don't you dare try and suggest that you do!"

Rumble had been listening and he did not like it one little bit. No one as self-loving and self confidant as Starscream should believe those lies about him. And Rumble really didn't like being called a liar. "I like you."

Starscream made a choking noise before launching forward and grabbing the little pint-sized brat by the throat. He threw the tiny con into the wall and proceeded to choke him. "Shut up."

"But-" Rumble clamped onto Starscream's hands and pulled them back from around his neck. "I do. And you're-" Rumble transformed his hand into a pile-driver and slammed Starscream back into the other wall. He stood over the groaning flyer and kicked his wing for good measure. "Going to listen."

"Why you little-"

"I like it when you your optics get 2% brighter when you're working in the lab."

Starscream stilled in place and looked up at Rumble. He was standing straight and his fists were clenched at his side. Starscream's reply was weak. "Shut up."

"I like it when you start going off on a rant and talk to yourself endlessly. It's cute."

"Stop it."

"I like it," Rumble took a step closer. "When you smirk at something you find funny or when your brothers do something stupid. I like it when it's just you and me in the lab and I make you laugh."

Starscream backed up into the wall and fell against it.

"I like it when I can brag about your flying maneuvers to Frenzy or wipe it in Skywarp's face that we hung out without him." Rumble stood in between Starscream's legs. His height allowed him to be eye level with the sitting Starscream. "I like it when you get flustered and start acting like you don't care. I like it when you plan to overthrow Megatron and get this, I dunno, energy that makes it seem like ya' can take down anything."

Starscream stared as Rumble pulled a cord from his chest plate and didn't even bother to move when the cassette hooked them together.

"And I love it when we frag." Rumble smirked. "'Cause I know that I still like ya' even when we aren't."

Starscream felt the connections clicking into place and his circuits opening and accepting. It felt, real. Natural in a way Megatron had never been able to accomplish. "Rumble."

"So don't call me a liar, 'Screamer." Rumble nipped Starscream's lips quickly. "'Cause I like ya' something fierce."

Starscream would fully admit that he tackled Rumble into the floor of his room scrambling to connect more interfacing wires when asked later about the dent in his floor.