Title: As it should be
Rating: K+

Summary: It's time to form trines and Skywarp has a pretty good idea of what he wants. But things don't turn out quite the way he expects.

A/N: 2009 one-shot that somehow never got posted here.

Disclaimer: I don't own them, I make no profit from this

"Well this is awkward." Skywarp loudly commented into the silence.

A few of the others in the large hall looked over at him but most just continued looking around the room. Disappointing.

The instructors had insisted that they would know when they found the other parts of their trine. That it would not matter whether it was a complete stranger or an old friend: when the trining protocols were unlocked, the choice would be right.

So here they were, all sixty-seven of them, all looking for two partners to make their trine complete.

All well aware that someone was going to leave alone.

Well it was not going to be him, that was for sure.

A soft exclamation of joy echoed from the far end of the large room, and Skywarp peered through the crowd. Neither of the new pair were familiar.

How had they known? he wondered fretfully. He was giving each mech in view a long look, hoping that something would trigger, but so far there had been nothing.

Oh, there were a few he would be entirely happy to share a berth with. Starting with that one in the garish gold with red highlights. Nasty colouring, but the mech's detailing was exquisate and the way he moved made Skywarp eager to see how he flew.

Maybe that was the signal? A strong attraction, they had said, so why not lust? Deciding it was worth a try, he took half a step towards the mech. Then stopped as he saw him approach two others and begin talking animatedly.

Skywarp sighed. Apparently that was not to be. A future berthmate, maybe, but not a trinemate.

Restless, he fired his thrusters and hovered above the group, hoping someone would catch his optic. Instead, he felt a thread of fear winding through him.

From above he could clearly see the way the room was dividing into groups of three. Some of the participants were finding each other from opposite ends of the room, but all seemed purposeful and all had that same look of delight on their faceplates when they spotted each other.

Desperate now, he scanned the room.

He could not be the last. He could not be the lonely one. He had always been popular, had always done well socially, if not academically. Several of his classmates had actually begged him to try to manipulate his own programming so they could fly with him. He had not - would not know where to start, really - but now he was beginning to wish he had.

Too late. The administrators were gathering up the new trines and assigning them to quarters, sending them out. He was going to be left behind.

Spotting his tutor watching from a doorway, he warped over to him and landed.

"I can't be the last. Something's wrong. Maybe the medics didn't activate the programming right. I want to do it again. It's not my fault!"

"Is this the one left out?" an administrator interrupted him.

"Yes." the tutor nodded.

"Very well. Come with me, novitiate."

Skywarp froze.

Just what did happen to Seekers who had no trine? He had never heard of it happening. Oh, sure, he had known his cohort had the wrong number - one had had a core glitch on activation, and another had died in an unfortunate accident - but he had been sure the problem would be solved some way.

Well now he was the problem. And he no longer wanted to be solved.

"Couldn't I just join the next cohort?" he gulped. "They're gonna be coming up for trining pretty soon. Maybe I'll fit there? I don't mind waiting..."

"Quietly, novitiate." the administrator intoned.

Skywarp appealed silently to his tutor, but the mech simply gestured brusquely.

"Get going, Skywarp, you heard the mech."

Left with no option, he walked sullenly behind the administrator. Come to think of it, maybe that's how they got picked? No trine, so become one of the staff? No, that could not be right: he had seen several of the teaching staff with their trines.

Before he could get too far down the track of what might happen next, he found himself being ushered into a room just across the corridor. Another room just like the one he had just left, only this one contained older Seekers and they were all intently watching him.

"Uh... hi?"

They were all either standing in pairs or alone, and as he started to try to grasp what that might mean one of them suddenly pushed forward.

This Seeker was predominantly blue, with red and silver detailing. He did not so much walk as stomp, but Skywarp barely registered that because there was something weird going on.

There was a humming, a warm and inviting sound, and it seemed centred on this stranger. The light seemed to catch him, as though everyone else were standing in shadow. The others were leaving, but that didn't matter; he had no interest in them anyway. Then, most wondrous of all, Skywarp felt a word forming on his lips.

"Thundercracker. Wait, Thundercracker? Is that your name?"

"About time." the mech grunted sourly, though somehow Skywarp could tell he was inwardly delighted. "We've been missing our third for six vorns now."

"We?" Skywarp asked, confused.

Thundercracker took his arm - and oh, wasn't it wonderful to have physical contact with this mech? - and turned him gently around.

Skywarp immediately focused on a mech leaning casually against the wall who had previously been hidden by the crowd. A Seeker in bold colours, red and white and blue and silver. Beautiful enough to make that orange mech from his vorngroup look tawdry.

"Hi, I'm Skywarp." he squeaked.

The other mech stayed in place, looking straight past him.

"Are you sure, TC?" he asked snidely. "This one looks a bit plain. And slow. I don't need a trinemate who can't keep up."

"He'll keep up." Thundercracker asserted firmly. "And the connection's strong: don't tell me you don't feel it."

The third mech glared briefly, then sighed and pushed away from the wall.

"Well, I suppose we can train him up. At least his detailing's tidy."

"From Starscream, that's a compliment." Thundercracker confided.

Skywarp spluttered. Starscream? The Air Commander? The mech who had already gone through two trines and was grounded at Vos until he completed his third? This was Starscream?

The questions spilt out of him before he could censor them.

"Yes." Starscream growled. "You have a problem with that?"

Skywarp opened his mouth again, hesitated, then said the first thing that came into his mind.

"I bet I can beat you in a race."

Starscream's engines revved at the challenge.

"Lets see you do it, then."

Thundercracker simply slapped his palm to his forehead, muttering something about fools, but Skywarp just wanted to laugh.

This was how it was supposed to be. This was perfect. And he was going to make his ex-classmates so jealous when they found out who he had trined with!

He was part of the most powerful trine alive.

Just as he should be.