Well, we've dealt with killing, Sideswipe and I, so how about lust? Not love … well, maybe a tiny bit of affection that neither party will admit to … but love will occupy a chapter of its own.

The "Finnegan's" referred to herein really does exist in Portland, Oregon. If you live there now, take your inner child to Finnegan's some day, or borrow a kid and take him/her. You won't be sorry.

Vaeru came up with the idea that Sideswipe once ate a hundred tacos (blergh) on a bet that paid him a buck per taco. I received her permission to cite. Go read her excellent and funny, as well as very moving, stories. Then come back & read this one (self-pimping alert: and some others, if you liked this!).

On a late Saturday afternoon in Portland, Oregon, when the humans were most numerous, Sideswipe was in holoform, sitting in a Barstuck's near 82nd Avenue and Holgate, carefully ignoring an expensive cup of coffee. Sideswipe liked caffeine, a substance which naturally overclocked a Transformer's processor, but Ratchet had lately been on his case about ingesting human food. After the tacos, when he'd had to clean refried beans out of Sides' fuel pump, it was really to be expected.

Where the medic was concerned, discretion was infinitely the better part of not getting whanged around the helm and shoulders with a wrench. So Sideswipe was fleshbag-watching, and not-drinking his coffee.

Humans, in many ways, were not emotionally different from his own race. Had Sideswipe been a more verbal bot, he might have used terms like "body language and some facial expressions in common" to describe his findings, but he wasn't; he sat, and watched, and learned.

He was facing away from the door, and didn't see the other holoform come in. That one eyed the back of his red head with calculation as the coffee was made and paid for, then came to his table.

"Hello, Sideswipe." The words were coated in a whiskey-and-cigarettes voice which sounded like it was simultaneously cold-turkeying heroin, suffering from a bad cold, and experiencing adenoid trouble. Early-morning garbage trucks sounded like a Metropolitan Opera diva by comparison.

Sideswipe cocked his head at the ravishing young woman, whose center-parted bronze hair fell to her waist. She had manifested in a shirt, jacket, and pants that were very close to the color of her hair, and OMG where'd she get those? low boots in the same color.

Sides himself had manifested in a blue shirt to match his eyes, jeans and jeans jacket, and shoes of that color which is neither black nor brown but both as need be (though sometimes one when the other would do better). His red eyebrows almost met his red hairline. "Do I know you?" he said.

The other snorted, and sat down. "Of course you know me, idiot. I've shot at your red aft time and again." Several of the human men at nearby tables blinked.

Sideswipe's jaw dropped. "Starscream?" he said, lowering his voice.

"Of course." The Seeker stirred his (her?) half-caff latte, and took an appreciative sip. "One thing these humans do right is cultivate coffee beans," he said.

Sideswipe shut his face with a visible effort. "What are you doing here?"

"Same thing you are. Having some caffeine, and watching the fleshbags."

"Don't call them that."

"Oh, all right." The beauty grimaced, which made several of the men around them look away again. "The native sentients, to give them a credit they don't deserve, of this Primus-forsaken dirtball. There. That make you feel better?"

Sideswipe had recourse to his coffee. Ratchet would have to take remedial steps later; he couldn't deal with Starscream-on-caffeine without speeding up his own processor. "It's less derogatory."

"Oh, spare me the noble Autobot crap. They're a pain in the aft."

Sideswipe grinned. "Often," he allowed, and took another small sip. Stuff wasn't bad, even half-cold, with enough sugar and creamer in it. He liked the taste of the creamer, that little zing of aluminum it carried.

Milk had tasted okay until Ratchet showed him, in depth and in detail, where it came from. ("A cow's what?" Sideswipe remembered saying.) After that, he was all over the powdered stuff. He considered telling Starscream.

Who shrugged. "Yeah, I know. You know what energon comes from?"

Sideswipe looked at him askance. "Pretty sure I don't want to," he said.

Starscream grinned. His expression was no less feral when surrounded by a female human face. "So, you want to 'face?" he said, casually.

Sideswipe had to shut his mouth again. "Are you nuts?"

"Completely off my processor," Starscream agreed, losing not one iota of that careful casualness. "I've watched you for a long time, Sideswipe. There's too much political distance between us to be friends, but I've had the hots for you for a while now."

Sideswipe blinked. "How long?"

"Since you first jet-judoed me. That's what you call it, isn't it?"

"Yeaaah," Sideswipe said, color creeping up his cheeks. He was counting the subsequent times he'd jj'd the Seeker, never realizing it carried an erotic charge for the jet. He twiddled his cup in his large, blunt fingers. "That first time was several vorn ago, if I'm not mistaken. So why'd it take you until now to speak up?"

The Seeker grimaced again. "Why do you think? Megatron would kill me outright if he knew I was here, talking to you. My trine would be all over my aft as well … of the two, I'd rather face Megatron."

Sideswipe grinned. "I know what you mean. I'd rather face Sunstreaker bein' mad at me than Ratchet on one of his good days."

Starscream smiled back at him, and had some more coffee.

Sideswipe would later say to himself that it was the smile that sealed the deal. That might have been true, but it was much more likely that even a holoform is vulnerable to pheromones.

Starscream hadn't taken any chances. He'd ordered that gunk out of the back of human magazines, the one to attract men, which was one reason no human male above the age of ten could keep his eyes off the Seeker; he'd also approached Hook about the Cybertronian equivalent, and applied it as well.

The result was that, to human women or gay men, his holoform smelled very odd indeed: musky, with an undertone of gasoline. But to another Cybertronian, or to a straight human male, he smelled … better than a whole binful of red, ripe, juicy apples. Dee-fraggin'-licious.

Starscream himself thought it was just because he was a) a Seeker, and b) Starscream. With the possible complication, c), that Sideswipe, d), gave item b) the hots e).

The only question in Starscream's mind was whether the eventual equation would be couched in terms of b/d or d/b. Or, if you like, a/d or d/a. The entire mathematical expression was [(a+b)+d]c = ca+cb +cd = e, which Sideswipe, the Seeker was pretty sure, could be made to yodel at the top of his voice and perhaps beyond it; it depended on how much time they spent arguing over it. The more foreplay, the better the eventual results; this café was simply the site of the public part of the event.

The red twin was, unfortunately, too strongly affected by the pheromones to question Starscream's agenda, or get up and walk away. Which Starscream had rather counted on.

So they sat in Barstuck's, trying each other on for size, as it were. The tall fit man, heavily scarred, hair a luscious fiery fall to his waist, had had to fend off the human women when he first got there, which he did without much thinking about it; they were not why he was here. Those ladies were now glowering at the Seeker; they couldn't very well say, "What's she got that I haven't got?" because the list was long, and started with that hair. Go on to perfect creamy skin, hot brown eyes, almost red in the direct sunlight, and a figure usually seen only in comic books. Leave aside the voice and the personality.

It is very likely that Sideswipe and Starscream were the best-looking couple ever to conduct a public argument/seduction in that particular Barstuck's.

Sideswipe swallowed. "Where will we be doing this?"

"Your brig or mine, you mean? I've got a better idea. My alt-form is hangared at the Hillsboro Airport, about 25 miles from here. It's a big place, and it's not busy at night. You and I would have time and space to have time and space."

"I don't have any high-grade with me."

"Sideswipe, I'm insulted. You don't need high-grade to have sex with me. Several others have indicated that it's a pleasant experience without the drug."

The café had grown dead silent, and the humans around them were watching them both with the rapt expression usually reserved for messy car crashes or reality TV, but neither noticed.

"You got protection?"

"I'm not a carrier," Starscream snorted (he meant of sparks, not STDs). "Are you?"

Sideswipe snorted right back. "Still, you found me, and I don't trust you not to be carrying some kind of virus."

Starscream dug in a pocket, and slapped several odd-looking little contraptions down on the table. "Take your pick," he said.

Sideswipe's large hand herded a strange six-sided device to the edge of the table, and he picked it up by the stem with thumb and forefinger. "The Pit's this?" he said.

"Oh," said Starscream, startled, "that's a … a toy."

"A toy?"

"It's called a dreidel. There's this toy shop in downtown Portland called Finnegan's? They have all kinds of neat toys. Look, it spins." Starscream's finer fingers demonstrated.

Sideswipe mastered it after five or six tries. "So you went to a human sparkling's toy store. That makes you about as sick a Pit-spawn - "

"As you are," Starscream interrupted. "You're playing with it too."

Sides jerked his hand back from the wooden thing, and his lip lifted in a snarl. "So, fine, let's go."

Starscream simply stood and walked out. Sideswipe, not used to having servants, bussed the table, and dug his "car keys" out of a pocket on the way out the door.

The entire café's-worth of patrons watched them climb into a red Lamborghini. When its powerful engine roared to life, two women fainted, and four others hustled their men out of Barstuck's and into the nearest bedroom (three blocks down, cheap and no-tell). Three other men smiled at their partners in ways which promised a very good time in a very short while. Twelve other partners of assorted genders held hands and smiled into one another's eyes. Four of those had yet to have sex yet, but they were going to fix that.

Two of the baristas went into the back for supplies and were not seen again for almost thirty minutes.

"Stop that!"Sideswipe yelped.

Starscream, still in holoform, grinned, and again ran his extremely long fingernails around the inside rim of the Lamborghini's steering wheel. "If you insist," he said.

"Come on, Starscream! I'm gonna hit another car! You want to spend the rest of the day explaining that to the human cops?"

The holoform shrugged. "We don't have to stop for them."

Sideswipe groaned. "You don't. I do – Optimus makes me pay for my own tickets."

The Seeker huffed. "Oh, very well, then. Can't you go any faster?"

"No! Look at the traffic!"

It was a fine fall early evening, and half of the population of the Oregon north coast was on its way to back to Seaside or Tillamook. Most of them were doing forty on US 26 westbound with the two Autobots. The Seeker looked out the tinted window, finding no beauty in all this organic slag, the changing colors of the trees notwithstanding. Cows? Horses? Pshaw. (That is not a noise Seekers can make without a gob of fluid being expelled, so Starscream refrained. Just as well. If he had gobbed inside of Sideswipe, the Lamborghini would have left him by the side of the road, OMG boots and all.)

Forty-five minutes later, after Starscream had fondled the inside of the door handles and been told to stop, stroked the inside of the tiny map compartment and been told to stop, run the edges of his long fingernails over the seams of the driver's seat and been told to stop, tapped all his fingernails rhythmically along the edge of the door panel and been told to stop, patted the dashboard and been told to stop, run one single fingernail under the chest belt of the restraint system and been told to stop, begun to self-pleasure his holoform and been told to stop, and asked seventy-two times, "Aren't we there yet?" and been told to stop, Sideswipe pulled off the road and onto the tarmac at Hillsboro Airport.

Sideswipe had the presence of mind to manifest his holoform in the passenger's seat as they pulled up to the guard's booth. Starscream successfully demonstrated his identity to the guard, Sideswipe did the same, and they were allowed to drive up to the hangar containing Starscream's alt-form.

Sideswipe got out of himself and pushed the hangar door open, and Starscream drove him into the hangar. (Or that's what it looked like, anyway.) The holoform pushed the door closed from the inside, and vanished without a sound as Starscream's holoform did the same.

Both transformed. Neither bothered to turn on the light. Two Transformers stood looking at each other using infrared vision, Sideswipe's head tilted slightly down to inspect the smaller Seeker.

"Well?" said Starscream, reached up to twine his arms around Sideswipe's neck, and began to kiss him.

Sideswipe said, "Don't … stop."

Starscream was twirling his long fingers across Sideswipe's broad chestplates.

"Enough," Sideswipe said, and gently took the Seeker's long-taloned hand into his own.

They lay on the concrete of the hangar floor in root mode, Sideswipe's left arm supporting Starscream's helm, his right across his own chest holding hands with Starscream. "What did you think this was," he said, "a truce?"

"Just an interlude," Starscream said peaceably. "A little lust, a little conversation."

Sideswipe snorted. "The conversation was little. The lust, not so much."

"Where did you learn that expression, 'not so much'?"

"A human TV show called 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer.'"

"Oh. Teach you much else?"

"Apparently," Sideswipe said thoughtfully, "human males do not expect their females to fight, and when the females can, the males almost worship them."

Starscream was silent for a while. Then he said calmly, "Nothing about this damn' planet makes any sense."

"Nah, not much of it. Still, here we are, and here you are."


"Well, not you and me, not right now, anyway."

"Will you jet-judo me again?"

"You give me the opening, you bet your aft. Will you shoot at me?"

"To miss."

Sideswipe snorted. "I suppose I can jump just high enough to miss you, too."

They lay quietly together in something like a fragile companionship for a time. Then Starscream sat up. "Time to go," he said.

"Yeah? Well, it was fun, Starscream. See you around the battlefield."

They transformed. "Goodbye, Sideswipe," Starscream said. "If you want to do this again, go back to that Barstuck's."

Sideswipe, pushing the hangar door open in holoform, said, "Sure."

But he never did.