A/N: Just a little Christmas story set in my IdF: Kaleidoscope AU. I was feeling a bit in the Christmas mood and wanted to share. Normally, I would have added it to my one-shot series, but I thought this would be better to leave on its own.

A Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all, whatever and however you celebrate.

Christmas is the day that holds all time together. ~Alexander Smith

Christmas isn't a season. It's a feeling. ~Edna Ferber

"What the frag are you doing?"

Bumblebee looked away from the large mound of snow he'd been trying to pack into a large ball towards the door of the Ark. A black jet with silver markings on his wings was watching him with a very puzzled look on his face.

The yellow minibot smiled. "Hey there, Starscream. Just building a snowman."

Starscream frowned. "A snowman? How does one create a person out of a substance made of frozen water?"

Bumblebee wanted to laugh, but stopped himself. Sometimes he forgot that the Seeker was still pretty new to this whole thing, having only been awake for about six of this planet's months. He shrugged. "It's not a real person. Just a being made for fun. Something the humans call 'playing in the snow'. Spike taught me to make one."

Starscream raised a browridge. Humans have odd customs. He shook his head and was about to turn around to go back into the Ark when the mini spoke again. "Want to come and help me work on this guy? Won't take long."

The jet gazed out onto the field of snow. It was tempting, he couldn't deny that. And it certainly wouldn't be a bad thing to learn something new, even if it was strange. A blast of wind a moment later, though, made his decision for him. He grimaced as images of a vicious storm danced across his processor.

"Perhaps another time. I have some experiments I need to get to work on."

Bumblebee frowned. "You sure?"

Starscream nodded, then turned and started to head back into the depths of the Autobot base. Before he had taken five steps in, he heard Bumblebee calling after him: "Don't forget to come to the Rec Room tonight!"

Starscream paused, and turned around, slightly irritated at being stopped. "Why should I be there?"

The yellow Camaro grinned. "Jazz is throwing a party to celebrate Christmas. And if you don't come, he'll probably drag you there."

Starscream was quiet a moment, thinking. Jazz was certainly a study in contrasts, from what he'd learned over the time he'd been at the base. Friendly on the one hand, but deadly serious and dangerous when he was provoked. He'd heard from Wheeljack some of the more lethal results of missions the silver mech had been on. The jet had long ago decided it would be a bad idea to cross him, or even bait him for that matter.

On the other hand, he also had the annoying habit of being overly friendly and persistent when he wanted something. Of late, he'd apparently decided to buddy up to Starscream and had taken to calling him by a nickname. And Primus alone only knew how he'd come up with "Screams". Starscream inwardly grimaced at the thought of that nickname and his failed attempts to get Jazz to stop calling him that. Prowl was certainly sympathetic. He'd been trying to get Jazz to stop calling him "Prowler" for vorns. They'd shared some high-grade over that. Starscream had no doubt that Jazz would hunt him down if he didn't go on his own.

Then a few more of Bumblebee's words clicked in Starscream's head. "Christmas? What is Christmas and why does Jazz want to celebrate it?"

Again, the yellow mini wanted to slap himself for his forgetfulness, but he explained anyway. "Spike told me that it was a religious holiday of theirs. He told me it has to do with their god being born on Earth in the form of a baby human. They decorate trees, give gifts, eat a lot..." Bumblebee shrugged. It all seemed a bit strange to him, even after the number of years they had spent with the humans. But some, like Jazz, were pretty intrigued by it. "And when Jazz got wind of this, well...He thought it'd be a good idea to take on some of the customs. Plus, you know he'll take any excuse to throw a party."

Starscream snorted. He'd never been a religious mech, not by any means, and the idea of a god being born as a mortal sounded even more farfetched than some of the stories told about Primus he'd heard.

"Sounds like a lot of pit-slag if you ask me," he stated tersely.

Bumblebee shrugged again. He wasn't even sure how such a thing was possible himself, and he believed in Primus. "I think Jazz just wants to try and cheer us up. Plus, it's really not a bad thing to learn about the customs here. Primus knows how long we're going to be on Earth."

Starscream pondered that last bit. He really thought that this whole thing was ridiculous, yet he couldn't help but admit that if he was going to be staying here, he did need to learn about how things worked in this world. He'd already had bad experiences with some humans, but he'd come to reconsider his attitudes just slightly after meeting the human youngling and his mech creator. Maybe it's time I did stop hiding in my lab so much. Plus, it would keep me from being pestered by Jazz. Which was always a bonus.

But he wouldn't let the mini think he'd conceded that easily. "I'll think about it," he groused.

Bumblebee grinned. "See you later, then!" He called gaily.

Starscream gave a growl and headed back into the ship. He had work to do and he may as well get it done while he had the chance.

Later that evening, Starscream walked into the Rec Room and looked around. It was a mass of noise; loud metallic clanging sounding melodies coming from the speakers, laughing, drunken mechs all over the place. Some ugly looking green decorations hung on the walls and from the ceiling. Some of it was circular in shape and had red and white circles on it and some odd red piece of cloth hanging off the top of it. Others were loosely draped across the walls and looked like shredded cloth of some sort with brown ovaline shapes dangling here and there across the room. On the farthest wall over, there was a tree looking very much like some of the ones outside. The only difference was that it had shiny bits of metal hanging off of it.

He shook his head. Somehow, this wasn't what he'd expected when Bumblebee told him it was to celebrate a religious holiday. Just looked like one of Jazz's regular parties to him. The only difference is, the room looks uglier.

Starscream crossed the noisy room, stepping over several overcharged mechs along the way. He got a ration from the dispenser and scanned the room, looking for a spare seat. He'd come, so he may as well watch for a while. After a moment, he spotted Bumblebee sitting on a Cybertronian sized couch against another wall, his two humans with him. The Seeker headed over.

"Hey, Starscream. Enjoying yourself?" The mini scooted over to allow the Seeker to sit down.

Starscream took the proferred seat. "I just got here." He sipped at his energon, scanning the room once more. "I thought you said this was a religious holiday of some kind. Doesn't seem like one to me."

The older of the two humans, Sparkplug Witwicky, shook his head. "This isn't how humans normally celebrate it. At least some humans. It's actually meant to be taken a bit more seriously. Somewhere along the way, the meaning changed a bit."

Starscream nodded. "I can see that." He gazed around the room. "What is that green stuff on the walls by the way?"

"The round things are called wreaths," Bumblebee replied. "The draped stuff is called garland."

"I see. And what is a tree doing in here with metal dangling all over it?"

"It's called a Christmas tree," Spike answered.

"A Christmas tree?"

"Yes. Humans like to honor the season by decorating a tree with ornaments and lights. That's what some of the metal things are," Bumblebee responded.

Starscream felt more than just a little bemused by the whole thing. It really didn't make a lot of sense. He inwardly shrugged, deciding not to waste any more processing power on it than he had to. He'd just finish his energon and go. He'd made his appearance, so Jazz couldn't say he hadn't taken part.

Just as he'd decided this, the lights in the Rec Room went dim, causing more than a few mechs to yelp.

"Now, the moment yah've all been waitin' for!" Jazz's jovial voice blared across the room. "Time for the Christmas tree lightin'!"

Without another word, the tree on the far side of the room lit up.

Starscream's optics widened. The tree, looking so plain and ugly a moment before, was now literally glowing. An aura of both white and colored lights surrounded it, and the pieces of metal were casting bits of light across the ceiling and walls. Just staring at it, an old memory struck him; how as a youngling, he'd flown with his creator above Vos during the night cycle for the very first time. The rings of the city had glowed in a fashion much like this tree. Back then, he'd thought it one of the most beautiful sights he'd ever seen. Starscream wasn't sentimental, not by any means, but the sight of the tree, reminding him so much of that now dead city, brought a pang to his Spark.

And it seemed he wasn't the only one who was entertaining similar memories. The Rec Room had suddenly gone very quiet. Most of the conscious mechs were just staring at the tree, and Starscream noticed that several of them had dimmed, sad optics.

Silence hung over the room for a long moment. Then one of the humans, Sparkplug, started to sing.

"O, Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining..."

There was not another sound in the room. It was as if no one dared to break the spell that the sight of the tree and the human song had woven. Even when Sparkplug finished the song, no one spoke, they just continued to gaze at the brightly lit tree.

After a few minutes, mechs started filing out of the room, some picking up their unconscious companions on the way out. Starscream just continued to sit there. After the last mechs and humans had gone, he still continued to stare at the tree. Then his gaze drifted around the room. The decorations he'd thought were so ugly at first glance seemed to have taken on their own ethereal glow. It was almost as if the tree's lights had brought them to life.

A religious celebration, Bumblebee had said. For the first time, Starscream thought he could understand. For a few short minutes, he'd felt as though there was some kind of presence in that room among them, a quiet, sad, yet reassuring presence. Starscream wanted to scoff at the notion, but something stopped him.

Perhaps some things aren't so farfetched after all.

For a few minutes more, he sat very quietly, then rose from his seat to return to his quarters.

As he headed down the halls, for a moment he could swear he heard a voice singing once more.

"O, Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining..."