A/N: Well, I'm sorry to announce that we have come to the final chapter of Intorqueo de Fortuna. When I first started posting this, I didn't have any idea what kind of response to expect as this AU was little explored. I was nervous, I'll admit it. The initial response cleared away my doubts very quickly, and the continued overall response kept me working at it, even when at times it proved to be difficult. I thank all of you who have followed me from the start, and those who have joined since then. Your encouragement meant a lot, and as stated before, I'm sorry I have to end this story. Intorqueo de Fortuna has become one of my own personal favorites and I will miss writing it.
Now without further ado, I present the final chapter of Intorqueo de Fortuna.
Prime's words both stunned and angered Starscream. His hands clenched into fists.
That coward! That fragging coward!
"Starscream? Are you still there?" Prime sounded concerned. Not wanting to worry him further, Starscream took a deep intake before responding.
"I'm here, Prime. So he's made his choice, it seems," Starscream forced his voice into a level tone.
Starscream was furious. Skyfire was leaving. Deep down, Starscream was fully aware that his own behavior towards Skyfire contributed towards this decision of his, but still…He could at least have tried to approach me to say 'goodbye'. Instead, he decides to sneak away like the coward he is!
No, this could not be allowed to pass. But Starscream knew he would get nowhere with Skyfire while in a rage. Forcing himself to calm down, he asked Optimus one question.
"When does he plan to depart?"
Of course. During early shift when few would notice his departure. Why am I not surprised?
"Thank you for letting me know, Prime. Goodnight, Starscream out."
"Goodnight, Starscream." Optimus broke the connection, after which he sat back and chuckled. The question Starscream asked told him all he needed to know. Seems that the gamble would not backfire after all.
Starscream stood in the middle of the room for several minutes after the comm. call ended. He was angry, no furious, at the thought of Skyfire running away like this, but Perceptor's words plus his own mixed feelings of earlier could not be shunted aside that easily.
After some long thought, Starscream came to a decision.
He went and lay on his berth, setting his chrono to wake him two breems before sunrise. This time, Skyfire would not be running away so easily.
Skyfire stepped outside the Ark. Sunrise - the perfect time to leave. Very few were about at this time, and there was merely a skeleton crew shift on duty. They would pay little attention to him as he departed, which was for the best.
Time to be on my way.
He started forward.
"So, it is true what Prime told me, then. You are leaving."
Skyfire froze at the rather unexpected voice. He turned to see Starscream standing at the entranceway to the Ark, leaning against the frame, arms crossed and expression grim.
Seeing he had Skyfire's full attention, he pushed himself off the frame and stepped forward.
"Can't say I was surprised to hear you were leaving. After all, running away seems to be your method of choice when it comes to dealing with your problems, rather than simply facing them, regardless of the consequences."
Skyfire sighed. "Look, Starscream…"
Starscream held up a hand, cutting off Skyfire's words. He had some things he needed to say, and Skyfire was going to hear them. He would not listen to any excuses for Skyfire's behavior. This was too important.
"Perceptor approached and spoke to me last night. During our conversation, he told me what happened at the Academy after we failed to return from that last expedition."
Skyfire felt apprehensive all of a sudden. "And what did he say happened?"
"That when it became obvious neither of us were returning, the Expedition Council made an announcement," Starscream's voice turned bitter. "They announced your deactivation, and held a memorial service for you. Nothing was said about my disappearance at all. The Council chose to pretend I never existed. Oh, they didn't wipe or alter my records, although I honestly wouldn't have put it past them. In my records, the entry next to the space listing our final expedition simply reads 'Missing, presumed deactivated.' Nothing else was done, nothing was said."
Skyfire felt sick. It was one thing to hear rumors about the corruption and callousness within the Expedition Council but to hear them confirmed...Primus.
A bitter laugh interrupted his thoughts.
"You have no idea how I felt when Perceptor told me this story. Their actions didn't entirely surprise me, given my history with them, but still...it hurt, Skyfire. It hurt to know I was considered as less than nothing."
Starscream paused and stared at Skyfire, his expression hardening.
"In fact, it hurt almost as much as learning I was abandoned by one I considered my friend."
The stare turned glacial as Starscream paused, then continued in a cooler tone.
"Almost as much as the realization that that same friend was capable of lying."
Skyfire flinched. But Starscream wasn't quite finished.
"And almost as much as knowing you were capable of keeping secrets from me." The tone was ice-cold now.
Skyfire made no response, absorbing each harsh word. There was nothing he could say to refute any of them, and he was painfully aware of this fact.
Skyfire's silence angered Starscream. He continued to lash out mercilessly. "I looked up to you, Skyfire. I respected you. You were my guide, someone I could vent to when I needed the outlet, someone who corrected me when I needed it, and encouraged me when I felt ready to quit. I trusted you like I trusted no one else. And when it came right down to it, when I needed you the most, you ran away because you were scared."
Starscream paused for a few intakes, trying to get himself under control. He couldn't afford to lose his temper. Not now.
"I could have deactivated, Skyfire. There was every chance the shifting ice could have pierced my Spark chamber or corrosion from the salt water could have destroyed my vital systems. As strong as our armor is, it is not invulnerable, and I was entombed for over one hundred thousand vorns, nine million of this world's years. Anything could have happened during that time. But you. Did. Nothing. Nothing except save your own plating. And to make it worse, when we met again, you lied to me and tried to cover up your actions."
Every word felt like a judgment to Skyfire, and he accepted it. There was only one thing he could say. It was no defense, but he had nothing to lose by saying it.
"Actually, there was one thing I did."
Starscream raised a browridge at the comment. "Really?" The tone was disbelieving. Skyfire couldn't blame him for the doubt, not after everything he had done. But if he didn't get this out now, he might never be allowed the chance again.
"After receiving your distress call, I responded. I couldn't get through the storm, so I waited until it passed, after which I went in and ran several scans and made attempts to contact you. When all attempts met with failure, I assumed you to be deactivated, and I didn't feel that I could go back and face the Council with the information."
Starscream looked at him for a long moment with the same cold stare. Fragging excuses. True or not, he just keeps trying to deflect responsibility for his own actions. He shook his head. "It still does not excuse your actions, Skyfire. You could have gone back and made the report. Whatever happened next was up to the Council. If you truly believed your life was at risk, you could have left after making the report. You could have gone with a clear conscience, knowing you had at least tried to help me."
He looked Skyfire straight in the optic. "Just as I would have tried, consequences or no."
Silence fell between them. Skyfire had no idea what to say to that. And the worst part about it all, he knew Starscream was correct. He had had other options, but had not even bothered to consider them. He had thrown away everything because...
"I was afraid." And somehow, that admission made him feel like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders.
Skyfire met Starscream's gaze, waiting for an answer. Starscream said nothing, wanting to see where Skyfire was going with this. He nodded at Skyfire to continue.
"The orn you crashed, all I could think of were the rumors about the Council and how they reacted towards those who displeased them and I panicked, making my choice based on fear of what could happen. I never stopped to consider that I had other options. At the time, I believed it was the correct decision."
Skyfire took a deep intake. No turning back now. "I was wrong. I know that now. And if I didn't before, the Autobots made sure I did. There is nothing I can do to change the past, but I am sorry, and hope that you can one day forgive me for my actions."
Starscream said nothing for a few kliks. His emotions were roiling inside him. He was still angry at Skyfire, but he had received an admission of guilt, something he quite frankly hadn't expected. Not by any means. Starscream felt a grim sort of satisfaction over it. Skyfire's final words, though...Starscream wanted to forgive, he truly did, but when it boiled down to it, one fact remained. One he couldn't overlook.
He sighed and shook his head.
"I don't know right now, Skyfire. Overlooking the fact you cared more for your own plating than our friendship…I'm not sure I can do that. On one level, I can understand why you acted as you did, but simply letting it go is something else entirely. I do apologize for punching you that night, but I will not apologize for the reasons I did it. You earned that reaction from me."
Skyfire felt his Spark sink. So this was the end of their friendship. It hurt, but at the same time he was aware that he deserved it. His actions had led to this point, and he knew it.
Almost as if reading his processor, Starscream spoke once more, and his next words were unexpected.
"But I won't entirely discard the possibility of forgiveness. Primus knows I've made more than my share of mistakes."
In spite of the seriousness of the situation, Skyfire allowed himself a small grin. "Never thought I ever would see the orn when you would admit to that."
Starscream smirked. "Well don't get too used to it. It won't be happening again."
Skyfire's grin grew wider. "Wouldn't have it any other way."
The smirk changed into a tired smile. "Hmph. So, this is goodbye, then?"
"Yes, given the circumstances, I feel it's best I leave."
Starscream frowned at Skyfire's response, and shook his head again. "You need to stop running away, Skyfire. I won't deny I know something of your feelings. Yes, I have had problems with a handful of the Autobots. They vilify me simply for being a Seeker, a class of mech they have fought against for eons. It can be difficult dealing with them. But most here have actually been friendly enough. I refuse to run away just because of the actions of a handful of idiots."
He looked up, meeting Skyfire square in the optic. "Running away is the coward's way out, Skyfire, and I refuse to be one."
Skyfire's grin faded and he didn't reply for a few kliks. Starscream is right again, slag him. I am being a coward. Eons ago, I chose to run away rather than face whatever possible consequences the Council would inflict, and here I am running away again...This cannot continue. But what do I do? Staying here is impossible. Wait. Maybe...
Skyfire made another decision, this time knowing it to be the correct one.
"I would like to re-earn your forgiveness and trust again, Starscream. Just tell me what I need to do to re-earn them. But staying is the one thing I can't do right now."
He paused. Starcream's face was unreadable and he did not reply. Taking that as an encouraging sign, Skyfire continued. "I've been away from Cybertron for far too long, and you know enough of my nature that you would be aware that even without the treatment I have received, there is little use for me here. I do feel it best for everyone if I leave, but would prefer not to go with this quarrel between us. I am willing to do whatever it takes to repair our friendship, if that is possible."
Starscream was silent for several kliks following Skyfire's words, a cold gaze aimed at the shuttle. When he finally responded, his voice was stern.
"Somehow, I suspected you would still leave no matter what I said. You always were so slagging stubborn when you got your processor stuck on something. As for the rest, there may be ways for you to re-earn my forgiveness. Your apology was a start. Hearing from you periodically would be further progress. You have my old comm. signal. Use it. Chatting, updates…I don't care."
Starscream stepped forward until he was right in front of Skyfire. Looking up and meeting his optics once more, he continued.
"And please do visit whenever your wanderings bring you back into this galaxy. I would appreciate having a familiar face around occasionally."
Skyfire nodded. "I will, I promise."
"Be sure to keep it. This will be your only chance, Skyfire. I mean that."
"I know, and I understand. I won't let you down this time."
Starscream nodded. That would do. Only one thing left to say now. "Farewell, then. Stay safe."
Skyfire laughed. "Considering you're involved in a war, I should be saying that to you."
A smirk accompanied Starscream's reply. "I can take care of myself. Now, get out of here, you big lummox. And don't forget your promise."
Skyfire nodded and turned to leave.
He went into a running start, transformation sequence beginning as he did so. He looked backward for one final glance at his friend.
Starscream directed a small smile and nod at Skyfire.
Skyfire nodded in return and continued on his way.
Upon getting a short distance away, Skyfire launched himself off the ground and completely transformed. He soared into the sky, his Spark far lighter than when he arrived. It was amazing how life could change in so short a time. Once he had hated this world and fled from it for the pain it caused, but now he had a reason to return. And he would return one day.
And that is a promise I will keep. I swear it.
With new resolve in his Spark, he soared up through the atmosphere and into the void beyond.
Starscream watched until Skyfire vanished from sight, pondering everything that had happened.
He wished he could be certain that Skyfire would keep his word. So many of his illusions about Skyfire had been stripped from him recently. He had believed Skyfire could do no wrong, and the past week's events had shown otherwise. Skyfire had run away from this planet, leaving him to his fate; he had run away from Cybertron, believing he would be killed if he went back. Even if it was in a moment of panic, those actions (along with the lying and attempt to conceal it when it was revealed) seemed to display in how little regard he held the friendship. Taking all of this into account, Starscream had difficulty believing that Skyfire would keep his promise.
But still…Something about his words rang true. They truly sounded as though Skyfire truly was sorry for his actions and had every intention of making amends…
Starscream desperately wished he could know.
He was startled out of his thoughts by a touch to his shoulder. Whirling around, he saw Optimus Prime standing next to him.
"He'll come back," Optimus said, almost as if he had read Starscream's processor. His words held the sound of conviction, like he did believe this event would occur one day.
"How long were you standing there listening?" was all Starscream could bring himself to reply. He couldn't quite bring himself to respond to Optimus' statement just yet.
"Long enough to witness that promise," responded Optimus, and somehow Starscream just knew the mech not only was grinning behind that facemask, but he had wanted the conversation between himself and Skyfire to occur. Slagger. But I suppose I can't be too upset about it. He shook his head, a tired smile on his face.
"You seem certain he will return," Starscream said finally after a few moments, deciding to face the comment Optimus had made. "How?"
"He has a reason to."
"And that is?"
"The desire for redemption. Skyfire knows what he has done, and how he has damaged things. He simply chose the wrong path before. Your words have put him on the correct one. He simply needs to regain his confidence before he can return."
"But not to stay." Starscream couldn't help but doubt a little, in spite of the reassurance in Prime's words.
"Perhaps not now, but I think he will find it hard to stay away from here permanently." And with that, Prime turned and went back inside the Ark.
Starscream turned his gaze to the sky, a sad smile on his face. Goodbye, Skyfire. Don't stay away too long.
Then he turned and walked back towards the Autobot base. Just before he entered, he looked back at the empty space where he and Skyfire had spoken.
I will try to believe in what Optimus says. It will be difficult, but I will make the effort as long as Skyfire does.
After all, if a twist of fate caused us to be separated, and another has brought us back together only to be separated again, then perhaps another will bring us back together for good, and if he is willing to try, then I must, if only to greet him well upon his return.
So I will wait. I will do my best to be patient. I will try to find the strength to forgive.
No matter how long it takes.
With that thought, and new resolve, Starscream reentered the Ark to await the day when Skyfire's path would lead him back once more.
"Fare thee well! and if forever,/Still forever, fare thee well." - George Gordon, Lord Byron
"Don't be dismayed at goodbyes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetime, is certain for those who are friends." ~ Richard Bach
A/N2: And so ends the journey through this AU.
In spite of the lecture he gave, I know there are those who will believe that final meeting went a bit too easily. To them, I ask you bear these factors in mind: 1) Starscream was as removed from the war as Skyfire was; 2) Since he was never involved with the war until recently, his core personality remained as it was at the time of his accident, never having become as embittered and cruel as it could have otherwise; and 3) He is surrounded by those who've had a good influence on him for the better and won't allow the more negative parts of his personality to take hold. Starscream, therefore, is capable of being reasonable under such circumstances.
However, that doesn't mean I was willing to let Skyfire completely off the hook. He needed to hear what Starscream had to say regarding his behavior and his friend's own feelings on it. It wasn't plausible to give Skyfire a complete personality makeover, not with how I set him up; but I did want to leave the possibility open that he could change. Hence the lecture and Starscream's conditions. The friendship is certainly damaged, but not shattered beyond repair. What happens next can be left to the imagination.
In regards to that, in spite of the way it ends, I have no plans at the moment to continue exploring this AU. However, I have been known to change my mind and won't completely close the door on the possibility. But in the meantime, if there is anyone who wishes to write a continuation or side-story of their own around Intorqueo, all I will ask is for you to let me know.
Again, I did enjoy writing this AU. It was a pleasure to write, even if difficult at times. I thank you all once more for sticking with me.