Warning: Slash, recollections of a past abusive relationship.

Continuity: TF Prime with AU elements

Note: This story can be seen as a sequel to "Show me the way to Paradise", but it can also stand alone.

Recommended listening: w w w. youtube . c o m ( slash ) watch?v=3uBTLc1r1U0&feature=plcp (without the spaces and bracketed terms, of course)


Home

On nights like this, Starscream watched the sky.

He would find himself inevitably drawn to the cool, crisp air, and the fathomless ocean of stars that hung like a transparent canopy over the endless fields just outside of his humble home.

He would slowly make his way down the shallow slope, and sit down on the soft, moss-like vegetation that covered the land and stretched far beyond the horizon. The forest behind his small home would rustle and sway as a light wind breathes by – a gentle, tuneless song whispering to him in soothing voices.

The sky had been so alien when he had first reached this planet, an exhausted Seeker with a broken spark. It had taken him years to become accustomed to the sky and its constellations, years to rid the insides of his chassis of its deep, writhing pain. When he finally understood the beauty of the foreign sky, he deactivated his chronometer, and forgot about the passage of time.

The planet was young, untouched by sentience. Most of its surface was carpeted by plant organisms that blossomed for half of the planet's orbital cycle, and hibernated for the rest. It was the cooler season now, which was why the fields were one canvas of blue tinted green. Little gatherings of taller plants dotted the planet, one of which he had decided to habit near. It provided amble material for building his little hut, and the presence of this shrubbery, tree-like vegetation often indicated an abundance of rich resources, which he converted into fuel for consumption.

Living was simple here. It was as though time was of no significance to this small world, which existed without purpose.

On nights like this, Starscream would venture outside of his small hut, and he would watch the sky. Sometimes, he would entertain the notion of a short flight, and sometimes, he indulged in such notions. Most often, though, he simply let it slide, satisfied with admiring the freedom the ocean of stars offered.

Only admiring.

Most of the time, he ended up recharging on the gentle slope of the grassy field. Night cycles were long on this tiny planet, but they were peaceful. On this night, however, he chose to push himself up onto tired limbs and groggily wander back into his little home. Folding his wings neatly behind him, he climbed into the low berth made up of soft branches, and slept, comforted by the quiet.

To a mech who had been living in an eternity of war, this was paradise.

When he woke up in the morning, the sun had already bathed the fields in soft, warm light. He stayed in his berth for a little while, and got up only when his tank complained with a whiny churn. After refuel, he walked to the small pond situated in the middle of the small forest behind his home, and took his time in a thorough wash. The small creatures that lived in the pond dispersed upon his entrance, but every once in a while, one or two would cautiously swim close, looking at him with curious optic sensors. He usually regaled them with only brief glances, but he would always smile when they startled and hurriedly darted away as though just in realization of what they were doing. They hardly carried any worthwhile intelligence, but they had been his only company for many uncounted vorns.

The rest of the day involved gathering materials for any patches he needed to do on his little hut, and visiting the deposits of precious mineral matter that made passably good midgrade. If he was feeling exceptionally adventurous, he would take a brief flight to the tallest hill just beyond the forest, and watch the largest body of water on the planet rise and ebb.

His life had become simple, and the first time he realized that he could no longer recall what war was like, he did so with little emotion.

This life was what he had always wanted – comfortable, peaceful, and his own.

That evening, he was gifted with a tiny surprise. The sky drizzled a light shower, more akin to a thick mist than rain. The humidity tickled his intakes, but it did not bother him in the slightest. The showers rarely lasted long. The thin clouds would clear, and he would lie on the open field of moist vegetation, allowing the gentle breeze to dry the tiny, lingering droplets on his plating.

It was as he was lying on the soft carpet of grassy moss that the first disturbance in an eternity descended from the sky – a black, hulking shape he was too familiar with to mistake for anything else.

The Nemesis came down from the sky, its strumming hum a low bass to the soft song of the rustling forest.

Starscream immediately sat up, the first abrupt movement he had made in too many decades to count. His intakes hitched in a gasp, and he scrambled up onto his peds, hurrying to the little hut he called home. He quickly gathered up the energon converter and the repair kit, and subspaced them before dashing out of the door. Without a single look at the massive ship that touched down at the horizon, he promptly transformed, and flew in the opposite direction. With only a small tug of reluctance, he left his tiny home, and sought for the far forests in hopes of refuge.

He did not doubt for a second that the arrival of the Nemesis was a coincidence. However, if he were careful, he knew he could evade the attention of the mech he had left behind lifetimes ago.

Starscream flew at a speed he had not reached since his last day in the war, and disappeared into the blanket of the night, fleeing from the one mech who had ever held his spark and broken it.

..

Starscream rarely dreamt, not since settling into life on this tiny planet. However, on this night, huddled under a canopy of shrubbery trees, he suffered such affliction, and shivered as memories he thought he had long forgotten rose from the deepest recesses of his mind.

In his dream, there was a red opticked fiend with sharp, large claws that reached for him with a malicious grin of gleeful cruelty. In his dream, the fiend grasped for his thin limbs, and pain blossomed all over his trembling frame. In his dream, his voice choked as he shrieked, desperate pleas he had not uttered for countless vorns bleeding past his quivering lips. There was something wet on his faceplate, and when he finally struggled awake, he realized that it was not energon, but coolant, streaming down in teary tracks from his widened, fear-filled optics.

Starscream slowly sat up, wiped his faceplate clean, and proceeded to make himself a small cube of midgrade for morning refuel.

There was also a small pond in the middle of the forest he had taken refuge in for the night. It was little more than a puddle, really, tinier than the small pond at his forest, but he did not complain, carefully washing himself in silence. He did not wonder about what the inhabitants of the Nemesis were doing at the moment, or what their intentions were, though that was painful obvious. He only focused on rubbing invisible dust from his plating, and concentrated on bringing out the natural sheen of his wings.

There was very little to do on this planet, so Starscream took his time to preen, the only thing left of his previous pride as a Seeker.

By the time he was done, half of the day had passed. He left the pond, and walked around, looking for soft branches to make a temporary berth with. He did not plan on staying in this forest for long, but he could afford to stay for a few cycles. By the time evening arrived, he had a nice, round cushion on the forest floor to lie in for the night.

He curled up in his temporary berth, and watched the sky until he fell into recharge.

..

For the next segment of time he had no way of measuring, Starscream travelled, moving from forest to forest and making berths along the way. Eventually, he returned to the first forest he took refuge in, and found his berth disturbed. Just as he thought, the inhabitants of the Nemesis were looking for him. However, he merely bent down, and fixed up his berth before settling back into the comfortable cycle of life of rest and little tasks.

He had not concerned himself with anyone for a long time, and he found little inclination to return to such concern any more than getting away from it.

That night, Starscream dreamt again, but this time, the red opticked fiend did not strike him. The red opticked fiend only knelt down beside him, and gently rested a claw on one of his wings. The claw carefully stroked the smooth, metallic skin of his slender appendages, and it left tickling sensations over his sensors. The red opticked fiend wore an expression Starscream had never seen before, and, despite knowing he should be nervous or frightened, he only laid there, allowing the soft touches to glide across his plating.

When he woke up, the forest floor around his temporary berth had tracks of a large Cybertronian, and a small cube of midgrade energon had been placed by his peds.

He ignored the cube, and went to the tiny pond for a wash.

..

Starscream continued to dream, and, strangely, the dreams mostly constituted of the same events. The red opticked fiend would come, and he would touch a platonic part of the Seeker's frame, careful to the extent of being almost wary, as though one brush of digits too firm would shatter the fragility of the moment. By the time Starscream woke up, there would always be something left behind beside his temporary berth, whether a cube of energon, small bottles of touch-up paint, or polishing cloths.

Starscream ignored all of them, and when he moved on to another forest, he expected the gifts to end.

They did not, following him wherever he went, always faithfully waiting when he woke up from a hazy dream.

One day, his energon converter broke down. He tried to repair it to the best of his abilities, but no matter what he did, the little machine refused to restart. Fuel tank churning uncomfortably with emptiness, Starscream turned his helm, and looked back at the small cube of midgrade sitting by his temporary berth. He stared at it, nibbling on his downer lip component, and contemplated long and hard. Eventually, hunger won, and he shuffled toward the small cube. Carefully tearing off the lid, he sat on his temporary berth, and slowly drank.

The taste was quite different from the energon he made from the tiny planet's precious minerals.

After his fuel tank was satiated, he placed the empty cube back down on the forest floor, and ventured toward the twin ponds on the west side of the forest. That night, the red opticked fiend came again, and when Starscream woke up in the morning after, the empty cube was gone, replaced by a larger cube of refined energon.

Starscream had not had refined energon since he had arrived on the tiny planet. His systems suffered at the lack of proper fuel for a Seeker of his caliber, but they eventually learned to adapt. This was why when Starscream drank from the large cube, he only took tiny sips before subspacing the rest. It would not do well to shock his engine.

He took his morning wash after refueling, and flew away to the next forest.

..

On one night, it rained.

The tiny planet rarely drizzled, and yet, on that night, it rained.

Starscream pushed his temporary berth further under the shrubbery trees to hide from the rain, and curled up inside the nest of soft branches, furling his wings behind him. The air was cold, much colder than usual, and a shiver began to spread in his frame. This time, when the red opticked fiend came, Starscream had not yet fallen into recharge. However, he pretended, fearful of what might happen if he exposed himself otherwise.

Heavy peds made soft thuds as the red opticked fiend approached his berth, quiet splattering of raindrops on thick plating a steady, hypnotizing beat. When the large mech stopped to loom right over his prone form, Starscream almost startled in fright. However, he caught himself, and regulated the cycling of his vents. He could do nothing to stop the minute trembling of his frame though, the movement an automatic response in attempts to keep his internal temperature leveled.

For a long moment, the red opticked fiend only watched him, still as a statue. He eventually moved, carefully kneeling down beside the berth. Starscream waited for the gentle patting that would customarily follow, but it never came. Instead, the red opticked fiend slowly leaned forward, and arched his larger frame over the Seeker's slighter one.

At first, Starscream did not understand what the red opticked fiend was doing. It was not until the raindrops stopped and the air began to warm that the Seeker realized the purpose of the gesture.

The night went on, silent aside from the dense blanket of rain falling onto the forest. Starscream was no longer suffering the cold, instead enveloped by a cocoon of warmth created by the frame above his.

The shivering in his frame settled, and his joints slowly relaxed. He sunk deeper into his temporary berth, and felt a sigh of comfort passing through his vents. For the first time that night, a heavy curtain of drowsiness began to fall over him. His recharge protocols activated, and his processors became sluggish. The red opticked fiend shifted a little, and Starscream felt his optics dimly online just as he entered recharge. He was briefly greeted by the sight of a large, sharp claw, placed on the edge of his temporary berth, propping up the heavy frame draped over his.

Starscream watched the claw, studying the strength in its digits. A small burst of warmth that had not touched his spark for ages reignited then, and he suddenly felt the desire to hold the strong, massive claw into a small, slender one of his own. However, just as his fingers made a tiny twitch, exhaustion overtook him completely.

Starscream fell into sleep. The warmth stayed, and when he woke up in the morning, there was another cube of refined energon, accompanied by a data pad.

He took the energon, but ignored the data pad.

He took his morning wash, and tidied up his temporary berth.

After everything was neatly and safely tucked under the canopy of shrubbery trees, Starscream leapt into a transformation, and flew away.

He flew far this time, and hid in a forest thicker than all the other ones he had been in.

Building a new berth took the remainder of the day, and by the time night had once again fallen over the tiny planet, he was feeling rather tired. Recharge quickly claimed him as he lied in his temporary berth, and when morning arrived, he was feeling quite light and refreshed. However, there was nothing waiting for him by his peds, the spot on the forest floor empty and undisturbed.

Starscream watched that spot for a while, and he could not distinguish whether he felt comforted or disappointed.

In the end, he only sipped on the refined energon he had saved, and went to find the pond in the forest for his morning wash.

..

Several days passed, and still no gifts by his peds upon the arrival of each morning. Starscream looked at the empty cubes that previously housed refined energon, and weighed his options.

He needed fuel to survive, but with the energon converter broken, he could no longer harvest the previous minerals native to the tiny planet. He could attempt to find the crash site of his spaceship, to see if there was anything worth scavenging in hopes to fix the converter. But who knew whether there was anything left of the ship now, after all this time? He was not sure if the ship was still there in the first place. The inhabitants of the Nemesis must have gotten to it already.

With very little choice in the matter, Starscream decided to check the previous forests he had temporarily stayed in. He took his morning wash, and spent the majority of the day flying from one place to the next, hoping to find energon sitting by his numerous temporary berths. Time and time again, he found only empty forest floor. He flew until a low fuel level warning popped up on his HUD, prompting him to make a last stretch to the closest forest. He landed near the pond, and looked for his temporary berth.

Evening had settled then. The sky was a gradient of clear, deep blue and fiery, red-tinted orange. The stars blinked amongst the darker hues, fading the closer they were to the setting sun. A few transparent wisps of thin clouds ghosted over the horizon, a mist whimsical in existence. The tops of the shrubbery trees were aflame with colour, and Starscream was temporarily blinded by the radiance of the ebbing light – a last, triumphant cry before sinking under the edge of the world.

There was nothing beside his temporary berth, the forest floor undisturbed by tracks of a large Cybertronian. Starscream looked at the empty spot, and he realized then that it was indeed disappointment that he felt, not comfort.

The rustling of soft branches, and the Seeker startled, whipping around in a hurried turn. The wind blew then, and the trees swayed, their familiar song soothing and warm. Fallen leaves were swept up by the currents, and they danced in the air, fleeting past the broad frame that had emerged out into the clearing. Starscream felt his optics widen, and his intakes quietly stall. His spark skipped beat, and it was then that he knew he had not forgotten how to love.

The red opticked fiend stood on the other side of the clearing. The brilliant light of the setting sun cast an almost piercing sheen atop his thick plating, smearing smooth the scratches and imperfections Starscream knew plagued the chassis bearing the familiar, purple insignia. The Seeker was almost too afraid, too laden with old hurt to look up at the faceplate he suddenly remembered with too much clarity. Along with a tiny skip, his spark clenched, and a throb he had not experienced for an age returned to him, from a wound he had thought was no longer tender.

The red opticked fiend remained on the other side of the pond, as though he knew any closer would scare Starscream away. He had not moved beyond leaving the cover of the shrubbery trees, and waited patiently for the Seeker to rid himself of fright to settle into only caution. The massive frame was exactly as how Starscream remembered it. The fusion cannon still glinted, exuding menace even while deactivated and pointed down. Starscream glanced at it warily, having felt its blistering touch much too intimately to not feel a trickle of fear.

For a long moment, they only took each other in, completely still while the world breathed around them. By the time the first word was spoken, the sun had already receded further into the horizon, and the light that left the broad chassis glistening had dimmed, exposing the scratches crisscrossing its surface.

"…Starscream…"

The red opticked fiend whispered in a voice so familiar and terrible…and a pain so fresh and severe stabbed into the Seeker that he almost clutched his chest, almost furling into himself. As though physically struck, Starscream gasped, and skidded a few steps backward. He averted his shaky gaze, and looked to the ground, chin lowering in a submissive gesture that was almost second-nature, having learnt through countless vorns of pain and humiliation.

From his peripheral vision, Starscream saw the red opticked fiend part his scarred lips, but no word left them. The red opticked fiend hesitated, and, to the Seeker's utter surprise, averted his gaze as well.

"…Starscream…"

The rough, gravelly voice spoke again, yet this time, it held none of the wonder of its previous utterance. This time, it held a heavy note of guilt and regret, and it was that note that made the Seeker startle, looking up with an expression of astonishment on his slender faceplate.

"…Starscream," The red opticked fiend repeated for the third time, and finally moved on to speak: "I finally found you."

Starscream's lips sealed tighter, and he looked down again, a frown dipping his brow-ridges. Without warning, he abruptly turned, and prepared to transform and fly away.

"Wait!" A hurried exclamation halted him, and his heeled peds almost stumbled. There was no command in the sudden, loud burst of a shout, but it stopped him regardless, the brief eruption of frantic plea freezing him in place.

He had never heard such a tone from the red opticked fiend before, and he looked back at the tall, massive mech, optics once again widened.

"…At the very least…take this," The red opticked fiend spoke slowly as though afraid to unintentionally startle, and took out a cube of refined energon from subspace. Starscream's gaze flickered to the cube, and a scorching, sore burn rose from within his spark, rousing a dual burn at the edges of his optics. His brow-ridges dipped further, and his lips, trembling, parted slightly. His vision blurred, and he quickly blinked them clear. He ignored the expression of shame and sadness that dawned onto the heavily scarred features of the red opticked fiend, and jerked his chin at the forest floor before turning away to hide his face.

As instructed, the red opticked fiend carefully set the cube down on the forest floor – a gesture surprising in on itself. For a moment, he paused, and Starscream felt the prickling sensation of being meticulously studied. His wings twitched, and he sent a hasty glance at the tall, massive mech, who immediately looked away as though ashamed at being caught staring. A deep sigh heaved from a broad chassis sounded, and the quiet thuds of heavy peds slowly walking away followed.

They took a few steps, and stopped. For a moment, there was only silence. Starscream knew the red opticked fiend was leaving, but he did not know why he stalled.

He got his answer when the red opticked fiend spoke up once again:

"…I—…" The deep, growly voice was low and soft. "I hope…you will come home…"

Starscream's wings shivered, but he kept his helm lowered, and remained still.

"…The war ended, vorns ago," The voice continued, disturbing the soothing, calm song of the rustling forest, "Cybertron has been rebuilt. Factions mean nothing now, not anymore." There was the slight noise of a large frame making a small turn.

"…I hope…you will come home, Starscream."

The Seeker's thin fingers made a tiny, clenching motion, but he did not respond.

Silence hung between them. Like too many words left unspoken, the memories of past wrongs weighed down the cool, crisp air. Starscream lowered his helm further, and wrapped his thin arms around his chassis. He wished the red opticked fiend would just leave…leave, and never come back. He wished his little world of peace had never been disturbed by the arrival of the sole disruptor of his universe. He wished his energon converter had not broken down, so that he would not need help from the one who had stripped him bare of who he had once proudly been. It was unfair, that the monster that had destroyed him was now the one keeping him fed and alive.

The silence grew brittle, and the red opticked fiend sighed to ease its tension. He turned away, and made two more heavy steps.

"I'll be back the next cycle with more supplies for you," He instructed, not commanded, "If you are not here upon my arrival, I will leave them for you to pick up." Without another word, he transformed, and took off, briefly cutting through the soft branches of the shrubbery trees.

Starscream stood on the same spot for a very long time before he moved to take the cube of refined energon. He sipped it slowly, and later took a second wash of the cycle before turning in for the night.

He curled up in his temporary berth, and tried to ignore the tightening sensations at the back of his throat. His optics burned, so he offlined them, and covered them with his arms.

He fell into recharge, plagued by dreams of not a red opticked fiend, but of a mech who had once held him gently, and revered him with the tenderest of smiles.

Megatron had loved him once, before the war tore him from his Seeker's arms.

..

Starscream was in the middle of his morning wash when Megatron arrived. What followed could only be described as extremely awkward staring before the larger mech bent down, and placed his cargo on the forest floor. There was a cube of refined energon, a data pad, and some polishing cloths. The ex-gladiator lingered for a while, as though he had wanted to say something. However, he only sighed, failing to formulate his thoughts into coherent sentences, and left after a stiff farewell.

Starscream stayed in the little pond for a very long time, but he eventually emerged from its shallow depth, and gingerly picked up a polishing cloth with slender fingers. He dried his plating, and spent the rest of the day ignoring the data pad.

The night came. Starscream took a few more sips of the refined energon, and went to his berth. He slept soundly that night, and, when morning came, he waited for Megatron just so he would not be caught in the middle of a wash again.

Megatron came, and dropped off another cube of energon, along with more polishing cloths. He looked at the data pad, which remained on the same spot as where he had left it, and almost appeared to be a little disappointed. However, he did not comment, and only nodded at Starscream before taking off once again.

Starscream retrieved the cube, and placed it beside the one he had not yet finished. He partook in his customary morning wash, and spent the remainder of the day tidying up his temporary berth.

The night came, and Starscream slept.

The next morning, Megatron arrived early. He was already there when Starscream woke up, and the Seeker felt a little embarrassed and alarmed, spotting the larger mech sitting on the other side of the clearing upon waking. At the middle point between their respective sides sat a cube of refined energon and more polishing cloths, with the data pad on top. Starscream glanced at the small pile, at Megatron, and back again. The intention behind the placement was clear, and the Seeker squirmed, huddling deeper into his nest of a berth in a wary manner.

Megatron did not move, nor did he speak. He simply sat there, looking to the world like he was prepared to wait forever. His faceplate bore a determined expression, but it was not harsh, merely patient. He gazed at Starscream, demeanor calm and passive. He did not move a single cable as the Seeker cautiously crept out of his berth, and hastily retrieved the little pile.

"…I want to make things right, Starscream," The ex-gladiator spoke softly, and Starscream glanced at him in between sips from the cube. "I want to bring you home."

The Seeker ignored his words. He placed the cube beside the other cubes of half-finished energon, and returned to his wary watching of the larger mech.

Megatron lingered for a while longer, but eventually, he nodded, and pushed himself up onto his peds.

"Some things are easier written down than spoken," He said as a farewell, looking back at Starscream over his shoulder, "If this makes me a coward, then so be it." And then he took off, flying away with a surge of strength that accompanied him in everything he did.

Starscream remained huddled in his berth, and did not venture out of it until mid-day had passed, when the urge for a wash became too strong to push away. He took his time in the small pond, and found himself looking at the data pad despite his best efforts at ignoring it.

Eventually, curiosity won. He walked out of the pond, dried his plating, and reluctantly activated the data pad.

I've always thought about you.

Said the only line of text, and Starscream immediately threw it away, gasping as though the apparatus burned his fingers.

He simply left the data pad where he had tossed it, and spent the rest of the day curled up in his temporary berth.

..

They continued to meet, day after day, until Starscream was not sure whether his berth was temporary anymore.

The half-finished cubes of refined energon stacked up, and the polishing cloths became a noticeable pile beside them. Megatron continued to bring him data pads to read, even when some of them ended up at the bottom of the small pond. Starscream did not know why the ex-gladiator kept coming back. It must have been months since the Nemesis had landed on the tiny planet, and yet Megatron did not seem inclined in the slightest to leave. Based on snippets the Seeker had been told, the ex-commander of the Decepticons was now a co-ruler of Cybertron alongside Prime. Surely there were better things to do for a lord of a planet than staying on the outskirts of the universe playing delivery-bot for a willingly ostracized Seeker.

However, regardless of duties to Cybertron, Megatron kept coming back, as though the most important thing to do in the world was bringing energon cubes for his ex-second-in-command.

"Ratchet is aboard the Nemesis," The large mech spoke one morning, as Starscream was sipping on his energon cube, "He has informed me that he is more than capable of fixing the damage to your vocalizer."

Starscream immediately stopped his sipping, joints growing rigid at the mention of his injury that never healed. The air quickly became thick with tension, and, for the first time for a very long age, an emotion much like anger erupted from the Seeker's spark.

The energon cube fell to the forest floor, toppled and discarded. With a most vehement glare, Starscream snapped his helm toward his seated company, and swiped an arm violently at the sky afar.

Get out.

The message was clear, and when Megatron opened his mouth to say more, the Seeker bristled, pointing even more forcefully at the sky afar.

Get out!

His lips quivered, and his vision blurred. The even cycling of his intakes gave way to jagged hitching, and his wings trembled. Fear accompanied the anger, fear at the fact that he had acted out in aggression toward the ex-gladiator. An age ago, this would have earned him a beating to the brink of deactivation or worse, and the well-conditioned response of terror stayed firm despite the passage of countless vorns. However, Megatron only gazed back at him, expression unreadable, as he slowly stood up, and left without another word.

As soon as the sound of Megatron's departure faded away, Starscream collapsed to his knees, and he soundlessly cried. Cradling his wet faceplate, his shoulders jerked spastically, and his intakes gasped.

It took him what felt like an eternity to calm himself. When he did, he gathered up the remaining energon cubes, and fled the forest. He carefully catalogued the coordinates to this location, and made a note to never come back here again.

He was so hell-bent on running away that he had completely forgotten about his morning wash, overwhelmed as he was by the memories of a painful parting with the very same red opticked fiend who had just offered to make things better.

He ran away, and he did not take a single glance back.

..

The next time he saw Megatron again, the fields were already covered with pearly-petalled flowers. The moss-like vegetation carpeting the surface of the tiny planet had blossomed abundantly, and its sweet scent could be detected at even the most remote crevices of this world.

Starscream was lying on a gentle slope, resting after a long trek, when the first sound of an approaching Cybertronian aircraft reached his audials. Without hesitance, he immediately scrambled up onto his peds, and ran for cover, no longer flight-capable due to the little energon he had left in his systems. He had to ration carefully, rendering him to function half-empty on the best of days. However, he did not complain, as getting away from the red opticked fiend was more than worth a little hunger.

Unfortunately, his quick retreat did not go unnoticed. With a surging arch, the aircraft came back, and prompted transformed into the massive form of Megatron. "Wait!" The ex-gladiator instantly started to shout, taking after the Seeker with fast strides. "Wait, Starscream!" He called out, but Starscream ignored his cries, merely focused on getting away.

He managed to evade capture for most of the morning, using his slighter frame and agility to his advantage. However, by mid-day, he was famished and exhausted from the running, speed slowing as his tank churned uncomfortably deep inside him. A miscalculation ended in him being cornered in front of a thicket too dense for even him to travel through. Megatron stood before him, vents soundly whirring, and he cowered, pressing his back against the shrubbery trees as though he could bleed through and disappear.

"Starscream," The red opticked fiend held up his large, sharp claws in a placating gesture, "Starscream, I'm not going to hurt you."

Starscream eyed the large, sharp claws, and his widened optics shone with fear.

Starscream knew that it was too early to assume, too early to trust the words falling from the scarred pair of lips.

…Such poisonous lips…How many times had he fallen for the same trick? How many times had he believed in the false promises uttered by them, only to suffer the consequences of his blind trust?

Starscream stared at the pair of thin lips, and remembered the way they would gently brush against his before the large, sharp claws tore through the thin plating of his wings.

…the large, sharp claws…with cruel, malicious digits that plunged into his neck, and ripped his voice away without a hint of mercy.

The red opticked fiend took a step forward, and Starscream immediately bolted, a desperate attempt in evading the pain that he was sure was kliks to follow. Before he took even three full strides, large, sharp claws clutched around his arms, and yanked him back from escape. His intakes spluttered in spark-seizing terror, and he would have screamed in despair if he could. He struggled frantically, joints straining as he tried to tear his limbs from their captors, but the claws stayed, relentless like shackles around his thin wrists.

Vents choking on fear, the Seeker looked up, and almost burst into tears at how massively the ex-gladiator loomed over his much slighter form. The empty hole where his vocalizer used to sit pinched and stung as he tried to whimper, tried to stall the inevitable that was sure to come in the form of fists raining agony atop his body. Terror rose to an unbearable degree, and the first wave of coolant finally fell from his optics, washing down his cheek-plates in twin streaks. The clear, cool liquid dripped from his chin, but he hardly noticed, desperate as he was at running away.

The red opticked fiend was speaking, voice tense and hurried, but words meant little to the hysterical Seeker. All Starscream knew was that he had to get away. He had come too far to finally perish under the claws of his abuser – the only one who could turn a love once so passionate cold and bitter, the only one who could turn unwavering loyalty to spiteful treachery. Starscream was tired, so tired, and he no longer wanted to be any part of this vicious cycle he had been perpetually lost in. He no longer wanted to be helpless, no longer a victim to the whims of his own spark.

He made one tug so forceful that he almost dislodged his own arms, and the red opticked fiend, so close, so strong, finally growled in obvious displeasure.

This was it, Starscream thought. This was how he was going to die.

He lifted his tearful faceplate, and his mouth fell quivering apart—

…and a pair of lips descended from above, and they kissed him, heat and passion so overwhelming that, for a long moment, Starscream forgot how to breathe.

The large, sharp claws released his thin wrists, and pulled him in, pressing him tightly against a warm, hard chassis. Thick arms wrapped around his slim frame, and they cradled him – embraced him, until it almost hurt. The pair of lips, so hot, so familiar, scorched with an affection that had long ago blistered the deepest, most fragile nucleus of the Seeker's spark.

"…I'm sorry…!" A hushed, breathy whisper, heavy with emotion, spoke between hurried, almost clumsy kisses. "…I'm sorry!" It repeated, and Starscream's spark trembled, utter shock widening his optics.

"I'm so sorry!" The words fell from the pair of scarred lips, and the voice was unmistakably Megatron's, yet the Seeker, no matter how much his processors informed him otherwise, could hardly believe his audials.

Never in his existence could he recall another instance when the red opticked fiend had uttered these words. Never in all of his vorns of agony and suffering had he heard a single apology from his lord and master, as undeserving as he was of the numerous punishments.

No…this red opticked fiend…was his lord and master no more…

…This red opticked fiend was his tormentor no more.

The red opticked fiend was gone, replaced by the mech he had fallen for so many uncountable vorns ago…the one he had trusted and believed with the entirety of his spark would bring about a new age, a magnificent age, for Cybertron.

"…I'm sorry…" The voice shook, and a large, clawed hand carefully wrapped around his cheek-plate, holding him as though he were the most treasured, delicate being in the universe. "…I'm so sorry…"

And for the first time in an eternity, Starscream looked into the red optics of the mech he had once called a fiend.

…and he smiled.

It should not have been this easy, to forgive an existence of pain and hurt, to forget the countless wrongs that the mech in front of him had committed. However, as a small burst of heat revitalized the frozen recesses of his wounded spark, he found that he did not care, because the one who had captivated his being, the one he was once hopelessly drawn to, had come back to him.

…It was as though the war had never happened. Megatron was back, the Megatron who had fought in the deepest pits of Kaon yet had such life in his optics, the one who had promised him the world and a love that would never die.

Starscream smiled, through the minute trembling of his lips, through the thick coating of tears on his cheeks, and, for the first time in an eternity, reached with thin arms for the broad shoulders he had grown so familiar with.

His slim heels left the forest floor.

He leaned forward on the tips of his peds.

And he kissed the pair of scarred lips.

For once, all was right in the world.

..

On nights like this, Starscream watched the sky.

He would find himself inevitably drawn to the cool, crisp air, and the fathomless ocean of stars that hung like a transparent canopy over the endless fields just outside of his humble home.

On nights like this, Starscream watched the sky, and he waited.

A few kliks would pass, and, inevitably, quiet, heavy footsteps would approach from behind him, signaling the arrival of a tall, massive mech. The soft thuds of a weighty form sitting down beside him on the soft, grassy vegetation would reach his audials, and he would shuffle ever a little closer, until the skin of their arms touched.

Starscream and Megatron would watch the sky together, and they would wait, hands held and fingers interlaced.

Far on the peripheral, sitting at the horizon, was the Nemesis, upon which Ratchet threatened a snarky Knockout with a wrench, and an exasperated Breakdown failed to mediate the situation. The medics would eventually figure out a way to work together to repair Starscream's vocalizer, but for now, the Seeker simply enjoyed the silence, and the soft strumming of a spark close to his own.

The wind floated past the forest with a gentle caress, and the shrubbery trees rustled with a soothing, calm song. The sweet scent of the flowers rose from the grassy fields, and Starscream took a deep cycle of its aroma, helm falling sideways and leaning against a broad shoulder.

Deep in the sky, a star twinkled, its dazzling light reaching even the farthest corners of the universe.

Starscream gazed toward it, and he smiled.

Home.

He was going home.


Notes: This story is inspired by a number of things, including and not limited to the recommended listening above and conversations with friends.

I tried hard to capture the mood depicted in Mahler's Adagio. Don't know how well I managed, haha!

Review, please? : )

ps: Regarding updates of other stories, please see my profile.