Note: This is the final chapter. Remember to read the notes at the end! You'll miss out if you don't. Also, light trigger warning for the beginning.
Starscream stood nervously before Megatron in the control room. Desert dust clung to his frame from the incident with the Autobots, and the weight felt heavy against his back.
"My Liege," he said carefully, "I am endlessly grateful for being retrieved from the desert, but would it not have been simpler for my rescue team to unbind me so I could fly back, rather than escorting me on foot?"
Megatron didn't speak and Starscream's panic worsened. "That is to say, is there a reason why the Autobots' stasis cuffs have not been removed from my wings?"
All but one of the surrounding Vehicons and Eradicons tried to look busy at the mainframe computers as they caught glimpses of the spectacle of their bound Commander. Only one Vehicon, the one stationed closest to the seeker, worked at the controls without looking over his shoulder. Airachnid stood by wearing a smug expression and Megatron watched him, optics unsettlingly dark.
"I suppose it might have something to do with Airachnid's report, what she saw between you and the Autobots from a distance. Do you have any idea what that might have been?" Megatron stepped forward and Starscream cowered back. "Something along the lines of you falling to your knees before the Prime, pleading for mercy from my greatest enemy?"
Starscream's spark sunk, a cold chill running down him. "I… I know of nothing but my own self-defense, my Lord. I only wished to return to serve you."
"Let me rephrase that. Do you have any idea what it is that she might have HEARD between you and the Prime? Some expression of your eagerness to deflect from the Decepticons and become an AUTOBOT?"
Starscream gaped, optics wide with terror. "I… I would never! I would never betray you!" Megatron took another step closer and Starscream fell ungraciously to his knees. "Lord Megatron please have mercy, I was only trying to-"
Starscream was cut off as Megatron hit him across the face, knocking him to the side. Megatron stepped closer and threw his fist down, punching him over the spark chamber. Starscream gasped as the air was forced out of his chest. Megatron closed a servo around Starscream's throat. "How dare you show your face here again? Did you think you would just get away with it? Did you think I wouldn't find out?!" Megatron swung down, punching Starscream so hard that his vision went momentarily black. And then he was hit again just before it returned, sending his helm crashing against the floor. He shrieked from the pain as Megatron moved back to his stomach, one blow after the next until he simply gripped him, digits beginning to dig into the metal plates. Starscream cried out. He had seen this before, Megatron tearing a bot open with his bare hands, pulling out his machinery while the victim consciously watched himself die. "I can't imagine why you didn't try to run, not after such blindingly unforgivable treason against me!"
Starscream knew why. He knew exactly what compelled him to step out from behind the rocks when an Eradicon search party came near. His last time seeing the Vehicon who had bathed him in the wash racks could not have been in the past. Even if he had to wait years, he needed to see him again, to tell him the truth before something pulled them apart for good.
"You will never leave," Megatron growled wildly, "you will never escape me. You are mine. Your every drop of Energon belongs to me, your every intake of air is mine to give or take from you. You will never belong to the Prime because YOU ARE MINE!" He punched him again, cutting a long line beneath his optic. His servo turned down to Starscream's interface panel. Starscream yelped as he roughly shoved a claw into the side seam, triggering his interface panel to automatically open like he had so many times before. Airachnid's expression had fallen, optics wide as she watched. Everyone knew Megatron took what he wanted from Starscream, but it had never happened out in the open. The drone soldiers had all stopped their work, and the closest Vehicon stood unmoving with his digits dug into the controls, still not turning to look.
"Please don't," Starscream cried, terror and humiliation overtaking him. He tried to close his legs and Megatron forced them apart.
Starscream's processor flicked over memories of the gentle Vehicon's touch, and his words of devotion and admiration, his belief in him. He growled and swung up, hitting Megatron in the face. It barely knocked him back and he growled, optics brightening furiously. "How dare you strike your master? You should be begging for me to frag you, for me to punish you rather than rip out your spark! This frame of yours has saved your life too many times, and you are lucky for it, lucky you have a tight valve worth my interest. So unless you want to die tonight, you will press your servos against the floor and lay there quietly for me, for you have no other worth."
But Starscream had had enough, even if it killed him. "Perhaps it doesn't mean anything to you that I loved that Eradicon, but I know what matters to you. And that's that this valve of mine isn't all yours." Megatron's expression smoothed, fury building in him as Starscream continued. "That's right. I never dominated him; he was always the one to take me, pounding this pretty little valve better than you ever have. You may be able to hurt me, my Lord, but you will never be able to please me."
Starscream was ready for the pain of retaliation, but Megatron stayed unmoving. He watched Starscream silently, which was almost more terrifying than any other kind of response. When he finally spoke, he spoke low and evenly, a sharp digit pointing to him. "I am going to bury these claws in that port of yours and tear you apart. And when I am finished, I promise you will never be able to feel another frag again."
Starscream heard the sound of even footsteps approaching from behind him, and watched Megatron look. Starscream turned his head and looked up at the Vehicon standing above him.
"You'd better have a magnificently crafted excuse for interrupting me now, drone," Megatron growled.
The Vehicon shrugged a shoulder. "Just taking back my seeker."
Steve snapped his digits and the other Eradicons hit the controls, sending the room into darkness. All at once the control room was filled with the sound of weapons firing and Megatron's canon blasting in all directions. Starscream felt Steve grab his servo, pulling him up and dragging him to the door. The hallway was black for a few moments before sirens began to ring, dull backup lights blinking to life.
"I am so sorry I didn't intervene sooner," Steve said as they ran along, still holding Starscream's servo. "I hated waiting but I wanted to make sure you were ready to burn that bridge. I didn't want to ruin things for you if you were prepared to take his punishment. But then when he threatened you like that, I just couldn't stand by anymore."
"I cannot help wondering if your chivalry has slipped over the brink of insanity, to face Megatron as you did… But I am glad of it." Starscream tightened his hold on Steve's servo. "Now we need to concentrate on devising a way off this ship, and where in Primus' name there is to go from there."
"Does finding the lost seekers sound like a plan?" Steve asked.
"Are you serious? How do you expect to get there? How would you possibly locate them?"
"Don't worry. I've got everything covered."
"Do you even know how much Energon would be needed for such a trip?"
"Already stolen, Sir."
They continued to run through the Nemesis, and it seemed at every turn Steve was receiving a comm from someone else, telling him which halls to take. Nearly at the end of the ship, they stepped into an elevator and Starscream realized where they were headed. "The shuttle?! It's ready?"
"Yes, Sir. Flight ready and stocked with supplies."
Starscream felt a swell of pride in him. The elevator door opened and his face fell as they looked out into the shuttle hangar, where close to fifty soldiers stood waiting. He knew they'd been caught. He quickly raised his weapon, denta clenching together. He wouldn't go without a fight.
"Commander! It's okay, they're with us."
Starscream looked at him with confusion. "What is that supposed to mean?"
"I kind of got promoted, it's a long story. Come on." He ushered Starscream out of the elevator. Starscream stared at the mass of soldiers standing at attention. He watched as the soldiers fell to one knee, helms bowed. One of the drones in the front row approached. "Lord Starscream, standing before you are the Eradicons who have pledged their loyalty. A few will accompany you on your expedition, and the remaining will remain here under Megatron's command to await your further instructions." He turned to Steve. "Sir, we're running out of time."
Steve nodded. "Alright mechs," he called out, "get to it." The Eradicons broke formation. Steve turned to Starscream, whose mouth had fallen open. "C'mon Sir, we have to get you out of here." He took his servo, pulling him through the crowd toward the shuttle. There was a gust of wind as the hangar wall slid open, looking out over the night sky. They stood outside of the Little Ferocitress.
"Okay, you're going to be accompanied by eight Eradicons. They are navigators, medical assistants, engineers to maintain the shuttle, and the best fighters who chose to become loyal to you."
Starscream struggled to find the words. "But what caused this? How did this come to be?"
"The late Alpha tested you, and you passed. He chose loyalty to you by choosing me as his predecessor. Now come on, you have to go."
Starscream nodded and started up the shuttle ramp, pausing as he noticed Steve staying where he was. "I thought we were in a rush, Steve. What are you waiting for?"
Steve hesitated. "Sir, I'm… I'm not going with you."
Starscream straightened. "What do you mean?"
"I'm Alpha now. I can't leave."
Starscream couldn't speak for a moment. "Wh… what are you talking about? You can't stay here! Megatron will find you! He'll kill you!"
"He won't find me, I promise. And I have to stay here if there's any chance I can convert the rest of the army to swear allegiance to you. I know I can do it, but it's going to take time."
"Forget that!" Starscream shouted, panic rising, "You've done enough! Come with me!" Steve didn't answer. Starscream's brows drew together. "Steve, I don't need any more! Just come! I will make you come with me! I will force you!" Starscream's digits clung to his chest plating, but he knew he didn't have it in him to force Steve into anything anymore.
"I can't," Steve said. "This is only a few soldiers among the Decepticons. I can't leave until I've given you the whole army, and made you a true Lord. That's what you've always wanted, and I'm not stopping until you have it. It's what I was meant to do, and you won't be able to change my mind."
Starscream stared at him. "I'll be gone for years, don't you understand?"
"I'll wait for you. And… I know it's a long time. If you feel differently when you come back, it's okay… I'll-"
"Shut up," Starscream said, feeling himself breaking down. He buried his face against Steve's neck. "Just shut up, Steve."
Steve's arms slipped around Starscream's waist, and he leaned into the Vehicon's hold.
An Eradicon approached them hurriedly. "Megatron is closing in. You have to go."
"It's time," Steve said. He walked Starscream into the shuttle where the other Eradicons waited. "You're going to be Lord someday," he said, trying to encourage him. Starscream leaned in, pressing a lingering kiss to Steve's intake.
As Steve backed away and the shuttle ramp closed, Starscream's rank was the last thing on his mind. All he could think of was someday being free to give his spark to the one who truly deserved it.
The shuttle lifted off and headed skyward, but it wouldn't be the last time Starscream saw these stars.
Important Note: If you haven't already, I suggest you check out Easing Tension, and especially the sequel, Whisper of the Spark. They're in the same universe. Whisper of the Spark takes place ten years in the future, when Starscream returns to Earth in the Ferocitress. It's still about Soundwave and Knockout, but there are continual hints of Starscream and Steve, especially in the last few chapters.
Thank you so much for reading.