a/n: New pairing for me. Starscream's dialogue is immensely fun to write. Please enjoy! Also, be warned, this fic has only been beta'ed by me. I tried to catch all mistakes but feel free to point out any you might see.

Title: The Heir Apparent

Universe: TF:Prime, pre-season one

Pairings: SoundwavexStarscream

Words: 2862

Rating: M

Warnings: tactile smut, mechslash

Description: Among those who share a throne there can be no loyalty.

"Keep an optic on him, Soundwave," Megatron says, watching Starscream from the edge of his sight, the Seeker loudly berating one of the Eradicons. "I don't trust that Seeker any further than I can fling him into space."

Soundwave inclines his helm. "Then why appoint him your second, sir?"

"Because he is the best at what he does, no matter his... other, unappealing traits."

Soundwave has and will always be loyal to Megatron. Whatever their Lord asks of him, Soundwave is quick to obey. He is greatly invested in the Decepticon cause and will do whatever it takes to see Lord Megatron's plans come to fruition.

Even if it means befriending Starscream. Or as close to befriending as one can get.

It comes as no surprise that Starscream trusts no mech. For someone who is always willing to stab a mech in the back or try to whisk control of the Decepticons from under Lord Megatron's claw, then of course it would be only logical for such a mech to not trust another in return.

Earning Starscream's trust is no small matter. Especially when Starscream considers one to be a loyal "pet" to Lord Megatron, easily Starscream's most hated and yet admired adversary. The contradictions never cease to amaze Soundwave.

Still, Soundwave is nothing if not a loyal mech. And if Lord Megatron has asked him to keep an optic on Starscream, Soundwave can do nothing less. By any means necessary.

Starscream is no Megatron, but he can be an effective leader when he puts his processor to it. Stockpiling Energon is only one of many tolerable decisions he has made in Lord Megatron's absence, yet Soundwave keeps his audials open for any clear signs of mischief from the Air Commander.

It is quite obvious that Starscream would be content if Lord Megatron never returned, and as the diun drag on, he becomes more and more convinced that such a return is less and less likely. Soundwave, of course, knows otherwise, but Starscream will always manipulate any absence to his advantage.

"It is such a terrible thing, Soundwave," Starscream says with a long-suffering tone and a grand gesture of one clawed servo, "for the Decepticons to come to this. Clinging to dark shadows as we await the return of our illustrious leader. A leader, I'm sorry to say, who seems to have abandoned us."

Soundwave says nothing. He's learned that it is best to neither contradict nor agree with anything Starscream says so as to avoid appearing biased. He lets Starscream assume whatever he wishes which makes their... relationship a lot easier to handle.

"Oh, I know of your unfailing loyalty in our lord," Starscream continues. Soundwave often hypothesizes that he likes to speak just to hear himself talk. "But it is becoming increasingly clear that whatever he is searching for out there, he has not found. Meanwhile, we labor to find the smallest Energon stockpile while occasionally engaging in battle with those wretched Autobots."

He lowers his servo, clenching long spindly fingers into a fist. He continues his slow, methodical pace down the main corridor, folding both servos behind his back. Soundwave trails along after him, ever listening, ever watching.

All is quiet. It is the latest shift, the dead hours, when all but the lightest duty shift is aware and watching. Of course, they have an advantage against the Autobots in that the Nemesis is nigh undetectable. They've no worry of an Autobot attack. No, they are more using their resources to continue waiting their Lord's return and searching for Energon.

And always, always searching for signs of the AllSpark.

Starscream sighs, a breathy expulsion of air from his vents. "Nevertheless, I suppose that it is prudent to continue to wait for Lord Megatron's inevitable return. I can't imagine his displeasure should anything go awry in his absence." A note of distaste rings in his vocalizer.

And there it is yet again, the wavering between loyalty and treachery that Starscream is so infamous for. In all the orn that Soundwave has spent watching, Starscream has continued to follow this pendulum's path, swaying between both choices and yet choosing neither.

He is effective in the leadership position where Megatron has left him, yet it is clear that he still yearns for something more.

"Though one must wonder exactly when it is safe to presume that Lord Megatron has met an untimely demise," Starscream muses aloud, and then pauses in the corridor, directly outside of his quarters. His gaze shifts to Soundwave, optics cycling out in consideration. "You are... not on shift tonight?"

Soundwave has perfected the art of speaking without words. It has served him well this past orn and even now, it is easy to suggest without verbalizing.

He lifts a servo, gesturing toward the door to Starscream's quarters, a room that should, by rights, be Lord Megatron's. At this point, however, it is best not to quibble on the smaller things. Lord Megatron's return will sort those out.

"I see," Starscream says, a gleam of triumph making the red of his optics darken. "You do know that your company would not be, ah, unwelcome."

Such a fine line between loyalty and betrayal.

Soundwave inclines his helm, turning to watch as Starscream enters his quarters, a quantifiable sway to his movements. A motion meant to lure and entice. Soundwave is not entirely unaffected.

Starscream's personality can be, at times, most abrasive, but no mech can deny that he is attractive. The sleek lines of a Seeker. The elegant jut of his wing fairings. The knowledge of the skill that Starscream contains when he's not cringing with cowardice. There is also an adept processor within his helm, one he occasionally sees fit to use when he's not plotting Lord Megatron's demise.

"Of course," Starscream says, pausing in the doorway as it slides open with an audible shuunt, "the case may be that you are otherwise occupied."

Soundwave's answer is to release Laserbeak with an echoing click, the minicon flying around the corridor before settling in the shadows above Starscream's door. An ever vigilant guard. Also, Starscream has expressed – in a roundabout fashion – his discomfort at Laserbeak's presence during interfacing.

The action is as much an agreement as anything else. He can read the understanding in Starscream's face as the jet smirks and enters his quarters, leaving the door wide open for Soundwave to follow. Which he does, an unexpected quiver of anticipation streaking across his circuits.

Interfacing with Starscream is not part of Lord Megatron's orders. And there are times when Soundwave is not certain precisely how it has come to this. Oh, he can pinpoint to the very nanoklik the first time Starscream touched him in invitation and Soundwave accepted. But he cannot quite locate when it became something to be expected, desired even, and when he stopped considering it an opportunity to observe Starscream as he has been commanded to do.

The door slides shut behind Soundwave, leaving him standing alone in the main room. Unlike everyone else's quarters, Starscream's appropriated quarters features three rooms: a receiving room, a berth, and private washracks. The door is open to the berth and he can see Starscream inside, preparing an Energon cube.

As Soundwave appears in the doorway, the jet turns, clawed fingers clutching a blue, glowing cube. "Would you like some?"

Orns into this and Starscream still doesn't accept that Soundwave won't refuel in a public setting. Soundwave doesn't dignify the offer with an answer.

"No, of course you don't," Starscream muses aloud, answering for himself. "But you won't mind if I indulge, will you?" He lifts the Energon cube to his mouth, taking a long, slow drink. Half of the bright blue fuel pours down his intake.

Soundwave watches with no small amount of interest. He has spent too long observing Earth's social media to not recognize a seduction when he sees one. He has spent far too many vorns in Starscream's company for that matter.

He crosses the floor in one fluid stride, gaze locked on Starscream's smirk and the way the jet is watching him in return. Starscream lifts the cube as though to drink again, but Soundwave catches his wrist before he can do so. Red optics flash and lust creeps into Starscream's energy field, curling outward to stroke at Soundwave's own.

"Or maybe you do mind," Starscream all but purrs, shifting his frame toward Soundwave, lifting his free hand to settle on the spy's chestplate where Laserbeak usually resides.

Nimble fingers easily slide into the spaces between armor plating, the ends of his claws caressing the wires and cables nestled beneath. A surge travels through Soundwave's circuits at the faint touch and his vents click on, sounding like a roar in the expectant silence of Starscream's quarters.

Unsurprisingly, the jet chuckles. "Actions do speak louder than words," he says, and continues to stroke those nimble fingers over Soundwave's cabling.

A shudder races across Soundwave's frame. He takes a step, backing Starscream against the berth, and once the jet is trapped, lifts his other hand. With nowhere to run, Soundwave is free to drag a long touch across Starscream's left wing, eliciting a shudder from the Seeker. He traces the edges and at the apex, pinches a sensor node, causing Starscream's own vents to kick on with an excited whirr.

"Just like a gladiator," Starscream says, never one to keep silent, not even in this. "You go straight for the kill."

Amused, Soundwave releases Starscream's wrist, allowing the jet to finish his drink if only to give his servo freedom to roam to the narrow breadth of Starscream's hips. Bundles of cabling are visible through the open gaps of his armor, and Soundwave is more than willing to take advantage of them with a sharp pinch, eliciting a gasp from Starscream. His other servo continues its ruthless manipulation of Starscream's sensitive wing.

Despite all attempts at distraction, Starscream's servos are no less exploratory. One dips between the plating in Soundwave's shoulder. The other drifts downward with a light scrape of talon over armor before sliding into a narrow seam in Soundwave's dorsal plating. Sensitive circuitry less protected in Laserbeak's absence makes for an arousing surge through Soundwave's systems.

Pleasure floods into his energy field, surging against Starscream's own and quickly establishing a feedback loop that strives to strip away all semblance of Soundwave's control. Luckily, Starscream is more susceptible to it than he, arching his frame toward Soundwave's in an unvocalized demand for more, his talons curling into Soundwae's shoulder cables with a pinprick that is half-pain, half-pleasure.

Electricity sparks between them, dancing across their plating. Starscream hooks his claws on Soundwave's pelvic strut and drags the spy tighter against him. Their armor clashes with a static-inducing rub of metal on metal that amps the charge.

Soundwave's servo focuses more intently on Starscream's wing, with full intent to drag the jet into an overload certain to give credence to his designation. He sweeps his servo over each sensor-laden panel, focusing on the bundle of sensors at the edges of the wings, sensors that make Starscream shudder, his energy field flaring with need.

"You... are relentless," Starscream says, less a seductive purr and more a needful gasp.

Soundwave's answer is to pulse his energy field hard and fast, pummeling Starscream with stabs of arousal. The Seeker arches toward him, a shudder racing through his frame. More electricity arcs between them, sure to send tiny shocks of pleasure into Starscream's systems.

No less affected, Soundwave finds himself greedily watching the arousal in Starscream's optics and letting it throb wildly in his energy field. A heat races across his circuits, building within him to an overload, but it has always been his prerogative to see Starscream tip over first.

His servo continues a leisurely exploration of Starscream's wing, easily finding sensor clusters and manipulating them with long strokes or sharp pinches. Soundwave leans forward, his faceplate inches away from Starscream's, close enough that sparks of electricity pass between them, making the screen fuzz out.

His servo wanders away from exploring the enticing plates of Starscream's pelvic armor, reaching for what he knows to be incredibly sensitive cabling at Starscream's neck. Such delicate armoring here, such a vulnerable position. And all Starscream does is tilt his chin upward, bold and defiant, allowing Soundwave's fingers to lightly trace across the cabled lines.

Starscream shudders, their synced energy fields vibrating with pleasure. Soundwave pulses his in steadying waves, as relentless as Starscream accused of him, and watches as Starscream's optics shutter. The jet undulates against Soundwave, their plating scraping together in a tantalizing hum of static. Sensing that Starscream is near to overload, Soundwave finds the densest sensor cluster on his wing and pinches it firmly, the startling clash of pleasure-pain sending Starscream into a growling overload, his claws scraping over Soundwave's plating and peeling off a few paint flecks.

The feel of Starscream's overload pours into their twined energy fields, crackling over Soundwave's frame. Only then does he allow himself to give in to the heat singeing his circuits. The overload crashes through him, his grip on Starscream's wing tightening to the point that Starscream hisses and bats his hand away.

There's a moment, barely a blip in Soundwave's processors, where his awareness whites out to pleasure and static. The charge crawling across his circuits leaves him pleasantly buzzed, but as always, hungry for more. He pushes such a desire down, locking it away in his processors, as it is a weakness he cannot afford for Starscream to learn.

Starscream is nothing if not adept at capitalizing on weaknesses.

Despite his recent overload, the look on Starscream's faceplate is sour as he shifts away from Soundwave and twitches his left wing into view as much as he can manage. No doubt checking for dents.

"Hmm," he says. "Adequate."

More than. Soundwave is hardly offended. Starscream is not Starscream if he is not trying to be insulting. He would never admit he had enjoyed it, even if it is the more obvious truth.

Uncurling his long digits, Soundwave draws back from Starscream, putting a more appropriate distance between them and hiding a shudder as Starscream's claws slip from between his plating. His circuits still tingle with lingering traces of electricity.

Starscream reaches out, fingers brushing over the few scrapes on Soundwave's plating. "I'd offer to share the berth with you, but that isn't how this works, is it, Soundwave?"

He doesn't answer. He doesn't have to. Soundwave lifts a servo, lightly pushing away Starscream's touch.

"No, it isn't," Starscream agrees to himself, voice a contemplative hum. "After all, among those who share a throne there can be no loyalty." He turns away from Soundwave, flicking a servo in the spy's general direction. "I'm sure there are countless other places you'd rather be."

Soundwave watches Starscream for a long moment, reading the telltale flicks in his wings, the tense way he holds his shoulders. Each body motion speaking volumes more than the spill of words from his vocalizer. Starscream's energy field remains held tightly to his frame, so close that Soundwave would have to put in effort to read it. He opts to refrain.

Finally, Soundwave turns, leaving Starscream to his contemplations and his lonely berth. The door slides shut behind him with a defining shuunkt.

Master. Above, Laserbeak pings him for attention. Ravage reports the discovery of another energon well.

Soundwave tilts his head, acknowledging the message, even as he lifts a servo to invite Laserbeak to return. The avian mech chirps a confirmation and alights from her perch, folding up against his chassis.

-Laserbeak: report,- Soundwave demands internally, across their link and requesting further information as he heads for the bridge. His shift may be complete but he has no urge to power down. Unlike Starscream, he can function on significantly less recharge and the matter of the energon is far more important.

The minicon pings him with the coordinates of the stockpile. Ravage also indicates the presence of Autobots.

Interesting. Their last altercation with Prime's troops had been three Earth-years ago. Since then, they've been laboring within an unstated truce. The Decepticons haven't attacked and the Autobots have been understandably wary.

The door to the Bridge slides open, and the lone Eradicon on watch snaps to attention. Soundwave barely pays him a notice, moving instead to the console that has been designated for his personal use. He jacks into the systems, pulling up the information Ravage has sent him.

The Energon stockpile is in the center of one of Earth's main continents. Judging by the radiation levels, however, it will be reasonably easy to mine and is large enough to make it worthwhile.

Soundwave keys the new coordinates into the Nemesis' navigational controls and prepares to shut down his console when he detects something. An echo, perhaps. An echo with a familiar resonance to it.

It is faint. Too faint to make an absolute identification, but it is enough for Soundwave to make an educated guess.

Lord Megatron is alive and near. Near enough to ping the Nemesis' systems for a brief status update.

Starscream will be disappointed.

a/n: "Among those who share a throne there can be no loyalty" is an abbreviated quote belonging to Marcus Annaeus Lucan. Unfortunately, that brilliance does not belong to me. Alas.

I do think I'll be writing more with these two (along with the JazzWave building within my brain and the SoundwavexKnock Out which needs some fic, slaggit!).

Feedback is welcome and appreciated.