The Mech Code

12. Tension

The next morning, Thundercracker awoke to Gemstone. He had taken her home with him last night, as she had agreed to stay at base for a couple of days. When they'd gotten home and entered the Seekers' room, Starscream was there, fast asleep. Since the last thing they wanted to do was wake him up, and Moonbeam and Skywarp were in the guest room, they headed to the 'facing hideout of choice, the med bay. They were both tired, and Thundercracker had finally run himself dry for the night, so they both ended up just slipping into stasis, without anything really steamy happening between them.

So that was how Thundercracker ended up on the repair table that morning, with Gemstone, still asleep, wrapped up in his arms. He was thirsty and wanted some breakfast, so he gently shook her awake to see if she wanted something too.

"Good morning...handsome," Gemstone whispered, as soon as her eyes opened.

"Have a good sleep?" Thundercracker asked.

"Oh, yes, TC," said Gemstone smoothly. "I was dreaming about your big throbbing spike all night long."

"Thank you," Thundercracker said proudly. "Now, do you want to go and get some breakfast? You can meet my brothers, and everyone else."

"After living at that Decepticlub so long, I've always wondered what it would be like to be amongst actual Decepticons," said Gemstone, "rather than just charging them for a quick frag. And now I'm with Megatron's team! I mean, I'm not a part of the team, but just to be with you guys...it's just so amazing for me."

"Wait, what do you mean, living at the club?" Thundercracker was curious. "Don't you have a home of your own?"

"No." Gemstone shrugged. "So I spend my time in the Decepticlub, looking for clients. It's...it's how I pay for fuel. You're the only one who's ever brought me home."

"Well, I'm sorry to hear that," said Thundercracker. "Staying here will be better than living at the club, though, believe me."

"I'm sure I will, TC, and I think you have a valid reason for bringing me here." Gemstone smirked. "We'll make that Moonbeam femme seriously jealous, won't we?"

...

By the time Thundercracker and Gemstone entered the main monitor room, Starscream was already on the couch, watching the blaring TV and snacking on a huge pile of ruby red crystals, the rarest kind of energon. Megatron would scarcely let anyone consume it unless it was for a very good reason. Starscream, however, appeared to have the whole stash next to him on the couch, and cravings did not justify it.

"Oh hey TC!" said Starscream, and shoved another handful into his mouth. "Who's that?"

By Thundercracker's side was a pretty young femme, perhaps around Moonbeam's age or slightly older, a teasing smile on her face. Almost all of her was a pearly white color, although she did have black embellishments here and there. She was clearly a heavyweight and a grounder as well, although Starscream couldn't figure out at first glance what she might have as her alt. mode. Maybe a gun, like Megatron? The bottoms of her feet looked like high heels, and (especially in contrast to the waifish Moonbeam), she had an hourglass figure any mech could love, both curvy and durable. Starscream noticed Thundercracker running his eyes all up and down her body; the blue Seeker was probably visualizing taking all her armor off, piece by piece.

"This is my new girlfriend, Gemstone," Thundercracker replied proudly, slipping his arm around the voluptuous femme's thin waist. "I met her at a club last night."

"Nice to meet you." Starscream's voice was a little muffled as he struggled to swallow the enormous amount of crystals he had just shoved into his mouth.

"Where did you find our red ruby crystals?" Thundercracker asked warily. "You know Megatron doesn't like us to eat it on a regular basis."

"Yeah, I know, that's why I had to wait until today, when that jerk was off on a mission. I've been craving them like you wouldn't believe this whole past week," Starscream said colloquially, flicking one of the little red pieces over to Thundercracker. "Do you want one?"

"I'm good." Thundercracker caught the fuel in his hand and gave it to Gemstone. "Would you like one?"

"Thanks, honey bunch," she cooed, and popped it into her mouth. "Mm...no wonder these things are so rare! They're delicious!"

"Aren't they, though?" Starscream didn't even bother to chew his next handful.

"You know, Screamer, just because you're pregnant doesn't give you the right to sit on the couch all day hogging the TV and inhaling our entire fuel supply," Thundercracker said matter-of-factly, sitting down next to Starscream.

"Um, yeah, it does," said Starscream.

"You're pregnant?!" shrieked Gemstone, sitting down on Starscream's opposite side. "That's adorable! When is your sparkling coming? What will you name it?"

"They'll be here in a little over four months," said Starscream, devouring yet another handful of red energon, "and we haven't decided on their names."

"THEY'LL be here?" Gemstone repeated. "Multiples?"

"Yes, twins," said Starscream, smiling a little. Luckily, he seemed to be in a good mood today. "In fact, they were kicking for the first time yesterday...and a little bit this morning too. It feels kind of weird, but in a good way, I guess."

"Oh, congratulations on your new little ones!" Gemstone squealed, and gave Starscream a big hug. "Can I rub your tummy?"

"Uh..." Starscream didn't want a stranger to have her hands on his sparklings, however nice she may seem. "I don't know about that. They don't really kick that much yet."

"Sorry," said Gemstone, leaning back. "I know it's still your body. It just sounded so exciting when you said they were actually kicking now."

"Well, it is exciting," said Starscream. "I don't think I'll ever forget it."

That was when they heard familiar voices coming from around the corner.

"Thank you so much for that box of candied cyberberries, sugar daddy," Moonbeam was saying flirtatiously as she and Skywarp entered the room.

"Not a problem at all, kissy-wissy," Skywarp said back, but then his attention was drawn to Gemstone. "Hey, who's she?"

"Is that Moonbeam?" Gemstone whispered to Thundercracker.

"That's her, all right," Thundercracker replied.

"Okay," said Gemstone, winking. "Watch me put my hooker skills to good use."

"I'll be here." Thundercracker smirked.

"Call me Gemstone, hon," said Gemstone sultrily, walking up to Skywarp and rubbing his cheek. "I'm Thundercracker's new girlfriend."

"TC has a girlfriend?!" Skywarp gasped.

"Didn't think I was capable of that, did you?" Thundercracker said smugly.

Moonbeam walked up to Gemstone and quickly shook her hand, but it was obvious from the way her wings twitched slightly and the poorly disguised look of revulsion on her face that she didn't think very highly of Gemstone. Once the handshake was over, Moonbeam wiped her hand on her leg.

"Nice to meet you," said Moonbeam. Her greeting included all the businesslike politeness due a new acquaintance, but it definitely wasn't sincere kindness.

“My, my, Moonbeam, might I compliment you on that lovely paint job?” said Gemstone. “The dark black does contrast quite amazingly with the beautiful blaring gold. Bold, yet understated.”

“Yours is so much better," Moonbeam said back. “Only that pearly white, with no bright or lively color? Effectively minimalist.”

“And your interestingly small size!” Gemstone continued. “Why, I’m quite jealous. You must be an amazing flier.”

“Oh, it's not all about speed or silly tricks,” said Moonbeam, shooting a mean glance at Starscream, who narrowed his eyes. “Besides, these wings just get in the way. You noticeably don’t have any, so I’m sure any mech you want could scoop you into his arms and carry you away!”

“Don’t be silly.” Gemstone grinned and shook her head. “I admire your willingness to stand by only one mech…no matter how much of a blundering fool he is.”

“Well, I try not to lower my expectations to the point where they’re already met.” Moonbeam laughed again. “Silly me, working so hard every day.”

“I have the opposite problem!” Gemstone let out a loud laugh too. “You don’t know how right you are. I’m always reaching for the stars, never giving up hope on those dreams of mine!”

“Oh, don’t worry, I’m always being an idiot too.” Moonbeam smirked. “For example, when I was treating one of my patients yesterday, I almost gave him the wrong diagnosis!”

“You’re a medic?” said Gemstone.

“Yes I am,” said Moonbeam. “What do you do?”

“Well, I’m kind of in-between right now,” said Gemstone. “You’re so very smart! You know how I am, always waiting around to find my calling, instead of sticking with the same job for years like you do.”

“I could never do what you do!” said Moonbeam enthusiastically, a smile on her face but her eyes flashing red. Undoubtedly, she had figured out by now that Thundercracker had brought home a prostitute. “I so admire you for just waiting for the right job to come along.”

Gemstone and Moonbeam continued their “conversation”, while the Command Trine shot looks at each other.

“Are they arguing or bonding?” Thundercracker whispered.

“I don’t know, but this room feels awfully...tense all of a sudden,” Starscream whispered back.

Thundercracker shrugged, then got up and walked over to Skywarp and the two femmes. “Now, now, that’s enough, ladies.”

“I’ve got a lovely partner,” said Gemstone.

"Well, we're headed for the bedroom." As Thundercracker swept Gemstone away, he shot a satisfied glance back at Skywarp, whose mouth fell open. "Don't wait up for us."

LATER THAT DAY...

Starscream had been taking another stasis nap in the Seekers' room (carrying did exhaust him so), and since they definitely didn't want to wake him up, Thundercracker and Gemstone did their 'facing in the med bay again.

Since he had only been in a light stasis, Starscream jerked awake when he heard his brother coming into the room. Thundercracker looked very satisfied with himself, so the first words out of Starscream's mouth were, "Thundercracker, how could you?!"

"What are you talking about?" Thundercracker snapped. "Just go back into your stasis nap, Screamer."

"Thundercracker, I cannot believe you picked up a random hooker at a club and brought her back home just to spite Skywarp and make Moonbeam jealous!" Starscream screeched, all in one breath.

"That's a lie, Starscream!" Thundercracker shouted. "Gemstone is my new girlfriend and I love her!"

"It was so obvious!" Starscream told him, frustrated. "She was even in on it, wasn't she?"

"You know what your problem is, Starscream?" Thundercracker said angrily. "You claim you're so happy for everyone, and that all you want is for everything to be fine, but as soon as somebody besides you gets a chance in the spotlight, YOU can't handle the pressure!"

“So now we’re reducing ourselves to grandiose generalizations again, huh, TC?” Starscream got out of bed, flexed his wings (however pained they were) and approached Thundercracker. “You were always the brooding, pondering one, weren’t you? I was all spontaneous, always getting into trouble, and Skywarp was never smart, but you were always above us, weren’t you? The one who always knew how everybody else operated? You think you know me so well, don’t you?”

“I do!” Thundercracker shouted at him. “You’re just an annoying piece of scrap, and you always were!”

“It takes one to know one, fool!” Starscream screamed back.

“WHAT THE SLAG IS GOING ON IN HERE?!” Skywarp hollered, slamming the door open.

“Oh, nothing, Starscream’s just demonstrating his horrible personality to everyone again,” said Thundercracker.

“Why, you!” Starscream shouted another obscenity at Thundercracker and tried to attack him, but Skywarp held him back.

“Please, Starscream, don’t,” the purple Seeker insisted. “Stress is the last thing you need right now. If you’re stressed, the sparkling will be too.”

“I guess our mother must have been under a lot of stress when she was pregnant with us,” said Thundercracker scathingly. “Starscream just had to act in his usual selfish way and take all the bad side effects for himself.”

“That’s hurtful and you know it, Thundercracker,” Skywarp reprimanded him.

Thundercracker expected Starscream to try to hurt him again, but instead Starscream just put his hands over his face and sunk down helplessly onto his bed. Thundercracker was still angry with him, but he felt his spark soften just a little as he watched Starscream trying to hold back a fresh wave of bitter tears.

“Oh, Starscream, I didn’t mean what I said.” Thundercracker sighed and sat down next to his brother. “It was mean. I’m sorry. I really am.”

“Please, you two, just leave me alone,” Starscream mumbled. “Please.”

“Aw, Starscream, you shouldn’t have to go through all this scrap when you’re trying to grow a sparkling,” said Thundercracker. Skywarp raised an eyebrow at his choice of words, but didn’t say anything. “You just need a hug, don’t you?"

“It’s true, TC.” Starscream leaned into him, sounding heartbroken. “I need lots of hugs. Everything is just too much sometimes.”

“Just let it all out, Starscream,” Thundercracker whispered, giving Starscream the much-needed hug. “It’s okay to cry.”

“That’s not what Megatron said.” Starscream wasn’t crying, but his voice did sound choked up.

“Well, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” said Skywarp, sitting down next to Starscream and joining the group hug. “The absolute worst thing you can do right now is keep all these bad feelings bottled up inside of you. If you want to scream or cry or break some things—”

“Or even talk, like a civilized being,” Thundercracker interrupted.

“Starscream doesn’t have to act like a civilized being.” Skywarp glared at Thundercracker reproachfully. “All he has to do is let us be here for him whenever he needs us.”

“Thank you,” Starscream told them, sniffing, hot tears dripping out of his eyes and onto Thundercracker’s chassis. By now, he had started wearing his contacts again, and they were itching like crazy—contacts had been uncomfortable to wear all throughout his pregnancy, and this constant crying didn’t help. “My eyes itch.”

“Want us to help you take your contacts out?” Thundercracker offered.

“No, you guys have done enough.” Starscream’s tears fell faster, itching his eyes even worse, as he started off on a tangent. “Sometimes I don’t even know why I have to act like this. I can go from happy to sad to crazy all in one minute and I’m just so slagging SICK of it! I have all these stupid temper tantrums and then I realize I took everything out on everyone like you’re my personal punching bag or something and then I start craving those stupid ruby red crystals and I feel bad because I know I shouldn’t be eating them and then it starts ALL OVER AGAIN! I…you all just hate me, don’t you?!”

With that, Starscream was bawling again. Skywarp stroked his wings, tracing little circles with his fingers for a calming effect; Thundercracker just held his brother tight, whispering things like, “That’s it…let it out…we’re here for you.”

Finally, Starscream had cried himself out…for now.

“Listen, Screamer, nobody hates you,” Skywarp soothed. “We love you and we love your sparklings, and if anybody tries to hurt you, they’re going to have to answer to us. Ain’t that right, TC.”

“Right,” Thundercracker agreed. “Everything will be okay.”

“Remember what I said earlier?” said Skywarp. “No matter what your sparklings are putting your body through, they’re going to be worth it. You’ve only got four more months to go, and then they’ll be here with you, your little angels forever. Many carriers say they’d do it all over again in a spark-beat, that's what Moonbeam tells me.”

“Moonbeam also says I have to stay grounded for the last three months,” Starscream told them miserably.

“It’s because you won’t be able to fly correctly with all that extra weight,” said Thundercracker. “It messes with your aerodynamics, y’know, it kind of puts your point of balance off. Not to mention it’s probably dangerous to fly when you’re really close to giving birth. Imagine if you went into labor while out flying.”

“That would be a disaster,” said Starscream. Of course, he hadn’t experienced labor yet, but he’d heard it wasn’t fun, and it would probably be even less fun if it involved crashing and burning.

“Don’t worry.” Skywarp smiled. “TC and I will only go out flying when we need to, and at all other times we’ll stay with you. Trust us, we’ll make sure you don’t miss out on anything.”

Starscream, having calmed down, leaned back into his bed and prepared to go back into stasis. Thundercracker and Skywarp stood up; Skywarp tenderly tucked Starscream in.

“Tell the sparklings we love them both and can’t wait to meet them,” said Thundercracker, squeezing Starscream’s shoulder.

“I will,” Starscream whispered, and peacefully drifted off into stasis again.


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