A/N: Vacation does wonders for one's creativity, that's for sure. While I was taking it easy, this little chapter decided to be written. This is actually one of the two ideas I had that was post-Intorqueo de Fortuna, but was put aside first for lack of progress, then later, interest. This chapter takes place after the final chapter of the original story, and is an answer to those who've wondered whether or not Starscream and Skyfire ever heard from each other again.
Stellar Cycle - One year
Joor - Cybertronian hour (6.5 Earth hours)
"If there is to be reconciliation, first there must be truth." - Timothy B. Tyson, Blood Done Sign my Name: A True Story
Starscream let out an exasperated sigh through his vents upon receiving the unexpected comm. alert.
This better be important. If it's the slagging Twins again...He'd just finished cleaning up after his latest project and really didn't need any more hassles today.
He answered his comm., growling a bit as he did so.
::Starscream here, and if it's you two Pitspawn calling to pester me...::
::Hello, Starscream.:: Starscream jolted. That voice most certainly was not that of the Twins, and more than that, was certainly unexpected. After Skyfire's departure six of this planet's months ago, the Seeker had never stopped feeling doubtful about whether or not he would be hearing from his old friend again, in spite of his promise and Prime's reassurances.
::Don't sound so pleased to hear from me,:: was the dry response. ::One would think you weren't expecting this call.::
Starscream moved over to a chair, sitting down before responding again. ::Actually, I wasn't...I mean...:: He wasn't quite sure what to say.
On his side of the commlink, Skyfire found himself feeling a bit disappointed about the reaction he'd received from his friend. But when he thought about it, the Valkyrie found he could understand why. While the chances were that the hurt and anger Starscream felt concerning the revelations over Skyfire's actions had likely lessened a bit further over the past half stellar cycle since their last meeting, there was still the trust issue to consider. More than likely, Starscream really hadn't been expecting his call, doubting he'd ever hear from Skyfire again, in spite of the promise he'd exacted.
Skyfire couldn't really blame the Seeker for doubting him. I have a long way to go, it seems. Well, at least I can make a start here.
::I did promise, Starscream. As I recall, you said one of the conditions of my eventual forgiveness from you would be getting in touch from time to time.::
::I know. Prime felt you would, too.::
Now that was something that Skyfire hadn't expected to hear. ::Seriously?::
Starscream felt the same sense of amused exasperation now that he had the day of Skyfire's departure when Optimus had come out there to offer his own two credits. ::Yes, and not only that, the reason he asked you when you were leaving was so that he could let me know so I would come out there to speak with you. Slagger set us up.:: As annoyed as he'd been then, he couldn't help but chuckle over it shortly afterwards. Prime certainly knew how to manage them all, that was for sure.
::I see.:: The tone was dry, and less than amused. There were some things Skyfire didn't appreciate, and being set up was one of them. ::I'm glad you seem to be entertained by this.::
Starscream shrugged. ::Wasn't thrilled at the time, but given the circumstances...I found I really couldn't be too upset about it.::
There was a moment's pause as Skyfire thought over what his friend had said. ::No, I guess not.:: The tone was quiet. ::So what have you been up to?::
For the next half joor, the two old friends engaged in calm conversation, talking about Starscream's projects (as usual, Skyfire provided his own little bit of insight and pointed out where Starscream needed to adjust some small details), and Skyfire's own travels (Starscream couldn't help but laugh when Skyfire described his brief stay on the Junk planet. It was just too bizarre).
Finally, Starscream decided to ask the one question that had been bothering him since Skyfire's departure. He wasn't sure why it had been, just that it was. The more he thought over the events leading up to his accident, he had just found himself wondering...::Skyfire?:: he began tentatively.
::Yes?:: Skyfire sounded a bit puzzled by the change in tone.
::I need to know. Did you ever blame yourself in any way for what happened to me?::
Skyfire was taken slightly aback. Yes, he had in part. It had been his suggestion they visit that galaxy after all, but that hadn't been the reason he'd failed to return there or to Cybertron in all that time. No, wait...Skyfire focused on that event once more. He'd been afraid to return to Cybertron because of what he'd believed would happen to him, but he'd also never planned to return to that sector where Starscream had been lost. But there'd been no reason for that notion.
Except perhaps the underlying guilt and self-blame he'd felt. He'd thought it resentment towards the planet, but now he couldn't help but wonder if it hadn't been spurred on by those two emotions.
::Yes,:: he admitted finally. ::For a while after I left "Earth", I did feel responsible for what happened to you. If I hadn't made that suggestion to visit the galaxy...::
::Skyfire, don't.:: Starscream cut him off sharply. ::It wasn't your fault. Yes, you virtually blackmailed me into going on, but I could have still turned and left you to explore on your own. Or simply stayed and waited a short time before returning.:: A slightly uneasy pause. ::Or I could have been paying attention to my own sensors instead of joyflying after I was done with my scans.::
If Skyfire had been in his alt-mode, his optics would have widened at the revelation. ::What was that?::
::You heard me the first time:: was the tired response. ::I made my own choices, Skyfire, and I paid for them. I don't want you to ever again think you had anything to do with what happened to me.::
Skyfire didn't answer for a long time. After a while, Starscream thought perhaps that Skyfire had disconnected the link, and was just about to cut it off on his own side when he received the response: ::I wish I'd known that.:: Skyfire's voice sounded a little annoyed. Starscream couldn't blame him. ::No way you could have. I wasn't exactly in any condition to tell you at the time, and then when we met again, I was just too happy to see you and didn't think about it. Then after that...:: His voice trailed off.
::After that, the slag hit the fan,:: Skyfire finished. He really wanted to be upset with Starscream for this, but then again, what would it change in the end? Nothing really, when it came right down to it. They'd both made bad decisions and paid for them. ::Nothing to do about it now. Thank you for telling me.::
::You had the right to know.:: Starscream paused. ::You know, I actually made Primus a promise that I'd listen to you from then on if I got out in one piece.::
In spite of the seriousness of the earlier conversation, Skyfire wanted to laugh. ::I won't hold you to that under the circumstances.::
On his end, Starscream grinned. ::Good. Knowing me, I probably wouldn't have been able to keep it anyway.::
Now Skyfire did laugh. It had been far too long since he really had and it felt good to do so. ::No, probably not.:: He checked his chronometer. ::I probably should let you go. I'll be reaching Space Station 801-D in a few more breems and I have to do some final checks before I get there.::
On his end, Starscream couldn't help but feel a bit disappointed, but understood. They'd had to cut conversations short for such purposes before when they'd travelled together. ::All right. Just let me know how things go there.::
::I will. Take care of yourself, and try not to do anymore joyflying in snowstorms, please.::
Starscream laughed, knowing he deserved that jab. ::I promise, and you take care as well. Starscream out::
The Seeker rose from his seat and headed for the door, feeling lighter of Spark. Skyfire had proven he could keep his word, and that gave Starscream some hope for the future. If that progress continued remained to be seen, but still...
It's a start, and that's all that matters.