A/N: Originally, this chapter wasn't supposed to exist. However, a couple of people expressed a desire for a continuation, and as unlike my usual oneshots there was actually something I could add, I decided to go for it. I doubt there's going to be a third part, however.
If the previous part took place shortly after the Aerialbot's creation, then this one takes place not too long after "War Dawn". So there's a gap of around a month between the chapters.
Skyfire, apparently, is a bit of an aft. Maybe all of his emotions were drowned out by science?
"Are you alright?"
The Concord shrugged, a tight and wary movement, and did not look up from the Energon in his hands. Skyfire frowned a little, but wasn't too surprised. He hadn't really expected an answer anyway.
Silence fell over the pair, and Skyfire looked around at the empty tables dotting the room. Unsurprisingly they were all clustered around Silverbolt, and the nearest Autobots sat with their backs to the jet. A sort of unpleasant feeling clung to the atmosphere, like the grimy residue of impure Energon in a fuel tank, and the few 'Bots that would meet the shuttle's eyes were scowling. Skyfire scowled right back as he took the seat opposite Silverbolt.
Honestly, they were acting like sparklings whose favorite toys had been broken.
"I don't understand it!" The sudden exclamation drew Skyfire's attention back to his companion, as well as the interest of some of the nearer Autobot clusters. Silverbot didn't seem to notice, or care, as his gaze remained on his Energon. The container creaked as his grip tightened. "I mean, I understand why they did it, but I just don't understand why. Why them? Why him?"
Skyfire sighed, and not for the first time felt a stirring of pity for the younger flier. Silverbolt hadn't asked for this, for the confusion and aggravation of being the leader of a wing. The Aerialbots hadn't even had time to adjust to their frames before being thrown into a war in which they had no place, and the ramifications of that were already becoming apparent.
"Because he's a natural leader, and they're aerials," the shuttle replied. Silverbolt finally looked up from his Energon, pain and anger on his face.
"So what then? I'm not good enough for them?"
The Concord visibly wilted at the statement and the blunt tone in which it had been said, head drooping down to stare at the cube once again. Skyfire had the decency to feel a smidgen of guilt at the reaction, but didn't retract his comment. It was the truth, and there was no sense in softening the truth.
There was silence between them once again. A few 'bots entered the common room, and a few others left. The tables around the two aerials remained conspicuously empty. When Silverbolt spoke again, his voice was quiet and subdued. "Am I going to have to deal with this every time we face the Seekers? Am I going to have to keep chasing them down so they don't get killed?"
"Probably not," Skyfire said after a moment of deliberation, and the younger flier looked up at him. "They'll probably always admire the Seekers, and him especially for his abilities as a trine leader and Air Commander, but they won't forget what happened. They won't be so easy to trust again."
Silverbolt sighed, running a hand down his face. "It's just... it makes sense here," he said, pointing at his helm, then moving the hand down to point at his chest. "But it still hurts here, you know?"
"You feel betrayed." The Concord nodded miserably. "Have you told them this?" The miserable expression twisted some, and he snorted.
"I don't have to. They've been avoiding me since we got back. Hence the lack of airframes in the room." He swept his arm in an arc to draw attention to the empty tables, then hunched back over his Energon. Skyfire resisted the urge to sigh again. Aerial societies were complicated enough without throwing a wing of Sigma 'bots into the mix, and during a war to boot.
"You want to know the worst part? I honestly can understand why they did it. Why they followed him like turbopups. Slag, I wanted to follow him. He's got this kind of aura that, well.." He gestured with one hand.
The corner of Skyfire's mouth lifted up slightly. "That makes you forget he's an annoying aft?"
Silverbolt chuckled. "Yeah, that. Good thing he can't keep his mouth shut long enough for the illusion to hold, huh?" He contemplated his Energon, then groaned and pushed it away, crossing his arms on the table and burying his face in them. "Why me?" he said, the words almost coming out as a whine.
Skyfire shook his head, smiling a little at his companion's actions. At least the Aerialbot seemed to be feeling better. A flash of white plating caught his eye, and he turned to see a wing hastily pulled out of sight around the edge of the doorway. Some of the Autobots nearest the door had turned their scowls on the flight models undoubtedly hiding just outside the common room. Silverbolt had noticed as well, head still pillowed on his arms and an unreadable expression on his face.
"I'll leave you to get things worked out," Skyfire said, rising from his seat. He paused for a moment, then laid one hand on the smaller aerial's shoulder. "Don't be too hard on them, but don't let them walk all over you." Silverbolt nodded slightly.
Skyfire exited the room, ignoring the glares he was still receiving for daring to sit down and talk with a 'traitor'. If he were another 'bot he might have been concerned about what said actions would do to his already shaky reputation amongst the Autobots, but social standing mattered little in light of scientific pursuits. And he never did care much for the opinion of ground frames. He nodded to the little clump of Aerialbots furtively whispering amongst themselves just outside the doorway but didn't stop to stay anything to them. They could sort things out with Silverbolt on their own.
He did pause, however, as the Prime emerged from an adjoining hallway. He couldn't help the slight downturn of his mouth nor the flaring of his wings as the Autobot leader drew closer. The Prime didn't say anything, but did quicken his step. As he was about to pass the shuttle Skyfire put out an arm, temporarily blocking the way and forcing the Prime to look up at him. When Skyfire spoke, his voice was low enough to be considered a growl.
"I was right."
The Prime's optics narrowed ever so slightly, and Skyfire removed the obstruction from his path. There was a moment of hesitation, as if the Autobot wanted to say something, then a minute shake of his head and he was on his way again without a backwards glance. The shuttle watched him walk away, then sighed and continued towards the depths of the Ark.