Megatron's optics glittered flame-red as the door to his throne room opened.

He stared ahead, his gaze fixed on the two Vehicons standing at the door and the gray mech they dragged between them.

"Starscream," he murmured, his scarred lip plates drawing back in a fanged, predatory smile.

The Seeker had clearly seen better days. His once-polished frame was pitted with scratches and dulled by dirt and grime. He bore several new scars as well, where serious wounds had clearly been welded back together. Some, he'd probably done himself, judging from the crude, weaving seams in the metal. Others had clearly been repaired by a medic.

That was interesting. Knock Out would have informed him if Starscream had come around begging him for repairs - unless Starscream had offered good enough bribes.

Megatron doubted that. As clever as Starscream was, he had nothing to bargain with. Not after spending months wandering alone.

But if the Decepticons' medic hadn't repaired Starscream, that left only one mech with the expertise to do so: the medical officer of their Autobot enemies.

That boded ill for Starscream. But no one else, given that Ratchet was dead now.

He chuckled, thinking of that final battle. The Autobots' leader had been all but lost to them, his memories erased at the climax of a mission to sedate an angry god. With their Prime missing, Ratchet had been their last hope.

And yet in the end even Ratchet himself had fallen...

Snickering softly, he looked away from the enticing sight of the Vehicons dragging Starscream in to the mech standing at his right hand.

The big mech stood vigilant as a sentinel, his battlemask drawn tight over his mouth, his azure optics bright with cold light as he stared at the Vehicons carrying Starscream. His optic ridges creased sharply as he watched them drop the Seeker, pushing him toward Megatron's throne with a harsh shove.

That came as no surprise to Megatron. Orion Pax had never liked this. He'd never liked seeing Vehicons drag prisoners in. Especially not small, thin ones who had probably spent the last few months starved for energon, hiding out in any makeshift shelter they could find.

And Orion wouldn't like the reminder of Ratchet's death either. Even now that he'd been restored to his proper place at Megatron's side, he would never have the same penchant for war as his Decepticon brethren.

And he hadn't enjoyed killing.

Starscream scrabbled to his hands and knees, muttering dire threats against the mechs who'd dragged him in. Then he raised his head, a smirk spreading across his faceplates as his optics met Megatron's.

They burned bright, as bright as Orion's azure ones. "Lord Megatron," he said, his gaze never leaving the warlord's face as he swept a spindly claw in front of him in a gesture of deference.

"Starscream," Megatron returned, his scarred lip plates drawing back in a sharp smile. Light gleamed on his fangs. "And here I thought you'd tried to leave me."

The Seeker chuckled. "Leave, Megatron? Now that the Autobots have fallen, where else is there to go?"

Then Starscream's optics widened as he realized what he'd just said. "Er - that is - now that you have finally won the war at last, I thought I would seek audience with you."

He crawled toward the throne, licking his lip plates in shameless display. "And beg a chance to - atone for my failings."

Megatron stared as Starscream crawled toward him. Battered as the Seeker's frame was, it swayed invitingly as Starscream moved, just as it always had. Seeing Megatron looking at him, Starscream fanned out his wings in a brazen gesture of display.

"Master," he purred. "I am - at your disposal."

The Vehicons looked at one another, their visors flickering, and then turned to Megatron. He snickered, nodding for them to leave. They hastened out, their feet clanking against the metallic floor of the throne room as they went.

Starscream shimmied toward the throne. Orion cleared his vocalizer and stepped forward, as uncomfortable as the guards who had just shuffled out.

Starscream's optics widened as Orion stepped into the light. "O - Optimus? Here? I know you won the war, Megatron, but shouldn't he be dead?"

Megatron growled, his frame rumbling in warning.

"Or at least locked up, if you can't bring yourself to -"

"Silence, Starscream," Megatron snarled, raising his arm. The cannon atop it crackled with electricity, the barrel glowing lavender as energy filled it.

"Orion Pax has earned his place here," Megatron said flatly. "You renounced yours."

Starscream cringed at the sight of the cannon, drawing back, his wings flicking a frantic tattoo.

"Master - I didn't - I never meant to abandon you," he whined, opening his claws in a pleading gesture.

His gaze fixed on Orion. "Unlike some other mechs I could name," he hissed, his optics narrowing and his wings flaring out again.

"Enough," Megatron roared, his optics flaring murderous red.

Orion stepped forward just as quickly to stand in front of Starscream - directly in the way of Megatron's shot.

His battlemask slid aside, revealing a deep frown of dismay. But his optics did not flicker as he faced down Megatron's massive, charged weapon.

"Stand aside, Orion Pax," Megatron snarled. "This matter does not concern you."

Orion held his ground. "Lord Megatron. Starscream is barely functional. I do not know what may have passed between you before my return. But I see no reason to threaten him when he intends no harm."

Starscream's optics widened in surprise. He stared at Orion a long moment, his vocalizer clicking with static as he attempted to speak and found no words.

Then he threw back his head and howled with laughter.

Megatron growled again, spitting sparks. His claw sliced at the air in front of him in an unmistakable command for silence.

Starscream froze immediately, a slight twitch of his wings the only remnant of his laughing fit.

"Orion Pax, is it? My mistake," the Seeker said after a moment, his optics flicking toward Megatron for confirmation.

The warlord nodded, his smile a ring of sharpened razors.

"It seems I owe you my thanks," Starscream went on, his voice smooth. "Even as a Decepticon, it seems, you protect those - less fortunate than yourself."

"Starscream," Orion responded, his voice grim. "I do not know this 'Optimus' of whom you speak. And I do not wish to see you harmed. But your fate is not mine to decide - and I am not the one you've wronged."

Megatron smiled. Oh, I'm sure he's wronged you too, Orion. But, fortunately for all concerned, you don't remember most of it.

"Understood," Starscream hissed. His optics flicked to Megatron. "And - I know that I have much to atone for. But - in the final battle, I did fell one of the Autobots for you, at least."

"Really, Starscream?" Megatron asked. "If you did not see Orion Pax fighting at my side, where were you? Skulking around the periphery like the coward you've become, waiting to prostrate yourself before the winners?"

"Megatron -" Orion began again.

"Calm yourself," Megatron returned. "If I intended to harm Starscream, I would have destroyed him already. You wanted me to hear him out, and I'm perfectly willing to indulge you."

He chuckled, looking at the silver insignia on one of Orion's shoulders - the mark of the Decepticons.

The mark of Orion's allegiance, sworn to with words, sealed with a brand, and proven on the battlefield - and elsewhere.

"I owe you that much, Orion Pax."

Orion's optics flared, bright and intent as he looked back at Megatron.

But Starscream, it seemed, was intent on ruining the moment.

"Again, thank you," came the Seeker's voice. Megatron tore his gaze from Orion to see Starscream dipping his head and stretching out his claw in an elaborate bow. "I didn't join the fray because I was injured, my lord. There was no point to attacking head-on."

"But one of them found you." Megatron laughed, his tone affably mocking.

"I found her. Arcee. I taunted her about the death of her partner at my hands. She came after me, and - well."

He held up a hand, flaring out his claws as he mimed a stabbing motion. "Suffice it to say that makes two Autobots I've personally pierced through the spark since coming to this wretched planet."

Megatron chuckled. "Well done, Starscream. But if you think that alone will restore you to my side -"

"Oh, of course not, my lord." The Seeker licked his lips, slowly and deliberately. "But what more I might have to offer you might not be the most appropriate things to discuss in front of - him."

Megatron rose to his feet, laughing as he stepped toward Starscream. Orion shot the warlord a look and stepped aside.

"In front of him, Starscream? I would say they are things he needs to hear, considering his function here."

"His - function?"

"Orion Pax is my consort, Starscream."

"Consort?" Starscream sputtered, his claws clenching, his broad smile twisting into a snarl as he rounded on Orion, pointing a ruined and bent missile at the big mech.

"You? Megatron's consort? After all you've done to the Decepticons? To Cybertron?"

Megatron stepped forward again, lightning crackling over the surface of his cannon. But Starscream had already fallen silent, his scowl replaced with an ingratiating smile.

"That is - of course you are," the Seeker purred. "I can think of no one better than to serve at Megatron's side than his faithful Orion Pax. If, as you say, he truly has returned to us for good."

Megatron's optics narrowed, twin slits of ruby flame. Starscream found all of this entirely too entertaining.

Then again, the warlord thought, an amused Starscream might prove more useful than a jealous one.

If Orion Pax will take the bait.

Megatron nodded, watching Orion closely. "Orion slew Ratchet in the final battle."

Orion looked from Starscream to Megatron and back again. Slowly, he lowered his blaster and slid his battle mask aside.

The faceplates he revealed were drawn with pain. "He threw himself at Megatron with unnatural speed and strength. His optics glowed green - I still do not know why. He vowed revenge on Megatron for what he had done to the Autobots."

Starscream's wings twitched. "Did he, now?"

"Yes," Megatron interjected, his voice a dark purr. "And to the leader they had lost."

Unable to hold back any longer, Starscream threw back his head, roaring with laughter. "And the - that is absolutely priceless!"

I thought you might think so, Megatron thought, smirking back at Starscream.

Orion glared sternly at him. "I had hoped our war might end without further loss of life. But he would have slain Megatron if I did not intervene."

Starscream's optics narrowed as he smirked. "Of course. One so - noble and loyal could do nothing less."

Megatron's faceplates shifted, twisting from a smirk to a growl and back again. Orion Pax was indeed loyal. A capricious, self-serving mech like Starscream would never know the worth of such devotion.

And yet, at the same time, it felt good to see Starscream so clearly in top form. Megatron's spark surged with another hot pulse of pride.

Perhaps Starscream's return would prove more than a mere nuisance, after all.

Orion's voice drew Megatron from his reverie, static lacing his voice as he sputtered. "What -?"

Starscream rose to his feet, keeping a wary optic on Megatron. "Oh, I was praising you, Orion Pax."

He sauntered over to the big mech, twitching his wings as lasciviously as he had at Megatron not long ago.

Reaching out a hand, he traced his clawtips over the glass of Orion's chest windows. "One might even say I was - welcoming you back into the fold."

Megatron chuckled, feeling heat flare through his systems at the wanton display. "You have no authority to do that, Starscream. Not any more."

"No, I don't suppose I do," the Seeker hissed, his faceplates twisting into a scowl as he regarded Megatron.

He turned back to Orion, his optics flickering as his faceplates rearranged themselves into a pout.

Orion shuddered under the touch. Starscream ignored it, flattening his hand and smirking.

"But I want what you have, don't I? A place here, at our master's side again. A chance for - redemption."

"Starscream -" Orion sputtered. "I have not asked you for -"

"Nonsense," Starscream hissed, sidling closer.

"Megatron -"

Perhaps Orion intended the word as a plea for intervention. Perhaps he meant to protest that Megatron would disapprove. But he got no other words out, his cooling fans stuttering to life as Starscream pressed against him.

"Orion," Megatron said sternly. The big mech turned his head.

"Starscream deserves death," Megatron continued, his frame rumbling. "Several times over. You asked me to spare his life. Very well - for the moment, he is spared."

"Lord Megatron - I - I appreciate your consideration, but this isn't about me."

The warlord grinned. "Oh, but it is, Orion Pax. For the moment, he is yours."

"Mine?" Orion's thin mouth widened in shock. "Lord Megatron - he can't - I would never -"

"Who better?" Megatron answered, his voice silken.

Starscream laughed again, a sly snicker that became a peal of giddy amusement. His claws slid lower. "Yes," he purred. "Why not? I want to."

Orion's optics flickered. He opened his mouth to speak, but little more than static came out. "But you were angry with me, Starscream. How can you -?"

Now it was Megatron's turn to laugh. "From him, they go hand in hand."

Orion found his voice, fixing Megatron with a cold stare as he shoved Starscream away. He spoke over the roar of his own cooling fans, but his voice was clear and crisp. "I do not know what game the two of you are playing, but I want no part of it."

Megatron scowled. Orion was nothing if not perceptive.

And yet - to have both of his closest companions back with him was more than a mere game. Starscream's cruel amusement at Orion's confusion could prove useful - if Orion surrendered to the desire he was fighting.

Orion and Starscream had always been different: Orion, thoughtful and conscientious, convinced of the need for revolution but saddened by the violence it required. Starscream, devious and ambitious, drawn not to Megatron's ideals but to the gladiator himself - and the chance to rise through the ranks of his followers.

They'd never confronted one another, but Megatron had heard it over and over: What could you possibly see in him?

Starscream's amiable mood now was all a lie, of course. But it ended the dissension between them - or at least delayed it. If Megatron had simply dragged Starscream to berth, he never would have heard the end of it.

If, on the other hand, they were not vying for his attentions but after one another -

"Game, Orion?" Megatron said, stepping over to his consort, his voice low and lulling. "You bought his life. Apparently, he wants to repay you for doing it."

"This - this is wrong," Orion protested. "To take advantage -"

"Advantage?" Starscream huffed, his wings clicking. "I'm climbing all over you!"

"Starscream, I -"

"What does it gain you to refuse him, Orion?"

"Megatron, I - I thought you wanted -"

"Wanted what? I've known you for centuries, Orion Pax." He smirked, feeling his spike stir beneath its cover. "Whatever you do with him, it won't threaten my claim on you."

Orion's optics flickered in embarrassment. Megatron could feel the heat coming off his frame. "Claim? You don't -"

"Don't I?" Megatron's own optics flared. "Besides, it's in my best interest to see you get along."

"Get along? This is -"

"What else do you have in mind, Orion?" Starscream teased. "That we sit around and - talk?"

"I -" Orion began, Starscream's hands still moving on him. He shot a helpless look at Megatron.

"I have no reason to spare him but the reason you gave, Orion Pax. Where precisely do you plan to send him, if you mean to send him away?"

Orion shook his head. "Maybe I am being a fool, Megatron. But this seems like - coercion."

"Everything seems like coercion to -" Starscream stopped, catching himself. "To someone like you," he finished finally.

Snickering, he pulled his claws free, and slid to his hands and knees with a smooth motion. His long months of starvation hadn't, apparently, robbed him of his gracefulness.

His claws rose again, wrapping tight around Orion's hips, digging into seams and making the big mech squirm and wince. "Starscream, I -" he began, his frame shuddering with the effort it took to resist.

Or, perhaps, with something else. A surge of desire raced through Megatron's systems, seeing Orion move like that. He knew exactly what it took to make Orion twitch – and how good Starscream's hands must feel, their pointed tips just barely digging in.

Starscream brought his head to Orion's pelvic plating, the metal of his cheek plate sliding against the cover of Orion's spike.

"Don't be bashful," he purred, whispering the words against a seam. "We all want the same thing."

Orion groaned, casting one last desperate glance at Megatron. The warlord shot him a toothy grin and nodded.

Starscream ran his lip components over the closed valve cover, then opened his mouth to lick. With a shudder, Orion slid the cover aside, letting his spike spring free.

Starscream's wings clicked as he cooed appreciatively, his optics flaring as he beheld his prize. Then his glossa moved over its length, slow and deliberate.

Megatron felt a hot swirl of envy, seeing Starscream trace his way over his consort's spike. As pleased as he'd been to reclaim Orion after so long, he'd missed the feel of Starscream's mouth, the twitch of his wings as he gave himself over to his task, no longer bothering to pretend he didn't want this, the bright optics staring up in challenge and in mockery, both of himself and of the one who wanted him.

Megatron shuttered his optics, listening and remembering, his own hand sliding down to circle his spike cover as he thought of Starscream's tongue and mouth moving on him. He did not retract the cover – not yet. Not when Orion might realize just how much Megatron was enjoying this and get distracted.

He widened his optics, letting his fantasy fade. There would be time enough to lose himself in Starscream's mouth or valve later. And the sight before him was definitely an inviting one: Orion's black hands shaking as they moved to wrap around Starscream's wings, careful as they curled over the thin plating.

That was interesting. While Megatron knew full well how to be gentle, most of the time neither he nor Starscream wanted that. But now, Starscream purred against his consort's spike, pressing his wings into Orion's hands and looking up at him with bright optics.

"Starscream –" Orion murmured, his voice shot through with static.

Starscream chuckled, opening his mouth to take Orion's spike in one smooth motion.

Megatron stared, heat surging through his interface equipment at the sight. Starscream was a small mech, dwarfed both by Orion and himself. Both Orion and Megatron, being larger models, had spikes that would be wide for someone like the slender Seeker.

But Starscream's mouth was wide for one so small, and he'd had long practice taking Megatron's spike. His cheekplates bulged as they shifted to accommodate Orion's size, but his movements were perfectly fluid.

Orion groaned again, his hand clenching reflexively over Starscream's wing. Megatron could see Starscream tense, the wing under Orion's hand freezing.

Gentle as Orion meant to be, it seemed he still hadn't quite grown used to the massive, hulking frame he bore now. Megatron gave a little growl of his own, thinking of how Starscream's wings would feel, buckling under the force of his grip.

"I - I'm sorry -" Orion began, his voice fuzzy with pleasure as he forced his hand to open again.

Starscream's wing twitched as Orion's hands moved to the Seeker's head. Orion might have thought it was relief. Megatron stared at the impression the big mech's fingers had left in the plating, and knew it was more likely indignation.

Irritated or not, Starscream had something new to contend with now. No longer able to hold back and let the Seeker minister to him, Orion was moving now, his dark hands tight on Starscream's head as he thrust deep into the Seeker's mouth.

Megatron laughed out loud. He'd done this with Orion himself more than once - but to required being terribly careful. The warlord had fangs sharp as blades, which meant that Orion couldn't drive into his mouth at will - as he was clearly discovering he could do with Starscream now.

Static flared across Megatron's vision. His spike cover slid slowly open. He let it, enthralled by the sight in front of him as Starscream began to move in earnest, his wing trembling against Orion's hand. Orion's grip tightened by reflex again and Starscream moaned around his spike.

Undone by the sight, Megatron took himself in hand, moving to stand behind Starscream. Lubricant leaked from the seam of Starscream's valve cover, dripping down the Seeker's slender thigh in a blur of silver.

Megatron's free hand reached out, his clawtips just barely touching the smooth plating of Starscream's aft. The Seeker's hips jumped in surprise, his wings clicking in a startled cadence. Orion's optics widened and he frowned, no longer moving, waiting to see what would happen now.

"Oh, come now, Starscream," Megatron purred, his claws continuing their hypnotizing dance. "What did you expect to find when you came here, hmm? You didn't know Orion would be here. You meant to offer yourself to me."

A shudder ran through Starscream's frame. Then he gave a muffled moan, lifting his aft to meet Megatron's hand as his valve cover slid aside, a fresh gush of lubricant oozing forth from the opening.

His mouth slid over Orion's spike again, intent and eager. Orion panted Starscream's name, his optics flickering. As they grew bright again, they fixed on Megatron.

The warlord needed no further cue. His spike still gripped in his hand, he stepped closer, lining himself up with the dripping opening of Starscream's valve. Then his hands moved to grab at Starscream's twitching hips, holding them fast.

Orion threw back his head, giving a staticky cry. Megatron roared, plunging deep into the tight, warm heat of Starscream's valve, the force of the movement driving Starscream hard onto Orion's spike.

Megatron felt the walls of Starscream's valve struggle to shift around him. As many long centuries as they had spent doing this, it seemed the months away had taken their toll. Starscream's valve hadn't gripped him this tightly since those long-ago days in the very beginning, when he'd had to batter his way in. Starscream's walls twitched around him and his faceplates twisted in a feral grin. He might have dented something just then too.

Either way, it must have stung. Starscream gave a choked sputter over Orion's spike, his vocalizer fritzing. Orion's growl of pleasure became a thin buzz of dismay.

Then Starscream moaned, a choked hum, forcing himself backwards onto Megatron's spike.

"Oh," Orion panted, in a tone of surprised wonder.

Megatron laughed, slamming into Starscream hard, every sensor in his spike set alight as memories flared through his mind. He'd forgotten how he'd missed this.

And yet, here were two things that he'd lost and found again: Orion Pax, his enemy turned consort, and Starscream, his deserter turned supplicant.

It was perfect.

He plunged in deep, wanting nothing more than the sensation; Orion threw back his head and moaned as if he had felt it, Starscream's body a conduit for the pleasure Megatron himself had caused. Starscream shuddered between them, his cooling fans roaring. As Megatron watched, he flicked his damaged wing again and again, no doubt so overwhelmed by sensation that he wanted anything at all, pleasure or pain or both together.

Orion cried out someone's name, Megatron's or Starscream's or some incoherent mix of both together. Starscream's valve twitched in eager anticipation, hearing it, and Megatron's claws dug deep into Starscream's hips, energon welling up where the tips of his claws pierced the thin plating.

He kept his optics trained on Orion, not wanting to miss a moment of his consort's pleasure. He opened his mouth and roared, a thunderous cry, as he drew back and rammed into Starscream with all the pent-up force of the months he'd waited, the long nights alone with no one at all and then with Orion, his prodigal rediscovered. The protégé he'd had to take under his wing again and nurture and touch with only so much violence if he hoped to win him back again.

But this was Starscream, the mech who'd survived anything and everything, the worst that Megatron could throw at him in the berth and out of it, the one that nothing could destroy. Who had left and come back to him, just as Orion had.

But who had come smiling, eager for what he knew he could find.

Megatron's spike plunged deep, tearing through Starscream's defenses, setting every sensor in the Seeker's valve alight, the friction searing his own spike as well. Orion cried out again as the force drove Starscream onto him, his frame locking up. Then he gave a long, choking sob, his frame shuddering violently with his release.

Starscream's valve twitched around Megatron's spike. That, along with the sound and sight of Orion letting go, was too much for Megatron. He pulled back once, as quickly as he could, for the pleasure of driving in again, and as Starscream's valve spasmed rhythmically around him he felt his own fluid burst free, his vision fading out in a nova of white light.

He smiled. Tomorrow, perhaps, Orion would demand answers.

Tomorrow, perhaps, Starscream would turn on him, as he always did.

But for the moment, all was well.

For the moment, both Orion and Starscream were his.