Starscream was sitting on the couch, alone in the living room, with the TV as background noise. Both sparklings were snuggled in his arms. Stars, having just finished eating, was sleeping tranquilly in Starscream’s left arm; Megs was still eating in his right.
It was a quiet, peaceful day. Birds were chirping outside, and the sun was shining. Starscream had come to enjoy this bonding time with his sparklings, and he fed both of them himself when he could. There was something about using the lactation cable that made all three of them feel more relaxed. More time had passed, and Starscream was getting better at it.
Of course, he would never go completely back to “normal”, but he didn’t mind so much, and even if he didn’t have his pre-sparkling body, he was adjusting to non-pregnancy mode, with the nursing helping it go quicker.
Stars did a little yawn and turned over, then placed one small blue hand on Starscream’s lower cockpit and snuggled up to Starscream in his sleep, his little wings twitching slightly. Goodness, his spark was beating so fast. Watching both of his sparklings, Starscream wondered how he ever could have thought, for one second, that he didn’t want them. They were perfect, slaggit, no matter what anyone else ever said! They were his little gifts from Primus. Every time he looked at them, Starscream felt something he’d never felt before for anyone—strength, unconditional love, the desire to protect.
After all, his function wasn’t just to shove them out of his body, or to be a walking cafeteria—he was those things, but he was also their Mommy. They were completely helpless beings who relied solely on him for care, support, and love. If they were ever hurt, or sick, or hungry, or needed him in any other way, he had to be there for them, and he gladly would be. There was no way he would ever let anything happen to them.
“Mommy loves you so much,” said Starscream, bending down and kissing both helmets. “Don’t ever forget that.”
Stars, still in the crook of Starscream’s left arm, grabbed Starscream’s left hand and snuggled his fingers, making Starscream laugh, just as he realized he had tears in his eyes too. What was wrong with him? The sparklings were already born; he shouldn’t be having mood swings anymore. But they were so sweet…
“Who left the TV on?!” yelled Skywarp suddenly, running into the living room, but he froze when he saw Starscream with the sparklings. “Oh—sorry.”
“It’s okay,” Starscream told him, smiling. “How are you?”
“I’m fine.” Skywarp walked over to the couch and sat down next to Starscream. “I can take Stars off your hands if you want.”
“Skywarp, he’s my son,” Starscream replied. “I’m not bothered by him.”
“But I want to hold him!” Skywarp protested.
“Well, okay, but don’t wake him up,” said Starscream, and Skywarp gently took the little one into his arms. Starscream didn’t mind holding Stars, but it was true that it was easier to feed Megs now. Just like it was recommended, he put one hand underneath Megs’ back, the other underneath his head, and lifted him so he’d have easier access to the lactation cable.
“Megs was hungry, wasn’t he?” said Skywarp finally.
“They’re always hungry,” Starscream laughed.
“Did you feed Stars yet?” Skywarp asked.
“Yes.” Starscream looked over and smiled at sleeping Stars. “I guess he’s in a food coma.”
“How do you do that without running out?” said Skywarp, looking disbelieving.
“Are you kidding?” said Starscream. “I have enough of this stuff to feed Megatron’s entire army.”
“Does it hurt?” said Skywarp.
“Maybe I’d get a little sore,” Starscream replied. “But mostly no, it doesn’t hurt, not usually. It feels kind of…relaxing. Not to mention how close it makes me feel with them.”
“Yes, you do seem to be getting more comfortable with it,” said Skywarp.
“It’s good that I’m a Seeker myself, or else we would have had to give Stars his energon some other way,” Starscream added.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, there’s an ingredient in sparkling energon that Seekerlings need to reach their full potential,” Starscream told him. “Groundlings don’t need it, but they wouldn’t be able to produce it, either.”
“So how are you able to feed a groundling, then?” Skywarp asked.
“Seekerlings need extra ingredients, not different ingredients,” Starscream replied. “But I don’t have to worry about that.”
“I had no idea,” said Skywarp, fascinated.
“This is Biology 101, ‘Warp,” Starscream told him. “You should know this.”
“I didn’t major in Biology like you did!” Skywarp protested. “In fact, I failed it.”
“No, this is the kind of thing we learned in Seeker School, in health class,” said Starscream.
“Oh. I guess I shouldn't have slept so much in health class," said Skywarp. “But anyway, I wanted to say that you yourself look better too."
“Well, I know it takes a bit of time for your body to adjust after you have sparklings,” Skywarp explained. “So I guess you must have been pretty tired at first. But now you look great.”
“Thank you,” said Starscream. “I feel great, too.”
“I’m sure you do.” Skywarp smiled. “You could win a dogfight again for sure.”
Dogfight…that word rang a bell in Starscream’s head. It reminded him of something…something important…but what?
“Moonbeam, I know you think you’re better than everyone else,” Starscream told her angrily. “But you’re not. I don’t appreciate how you’re treating my brother, or your high-and-mighty attitude.”
“Big deal,” she said back. “What are you gonna do about it, huh?”
“I’ll be the judge of that.” Starscream glared at her. “I challenge you to a dogfight.”
“Are you nuts?” Moonbeam yelled. “You can’t do that! You could give birth any day now!”
“Fine, then, as soon as I can, we’ll have a dogfight outside,” Starscream snapped.
“You’re on!” Moonbeam shouted.
“May the best Seeker win,” said Starscream calmly. “And I think we both know who that is.”
That was right. Starscream had challenged Moonbeam to a dogfight.
Starscream walked into the med bay, glad to finally catch Moonbeam alone, without Skywarp clinging to her side. Megs was resting in his arms and Stars, as he had taken to doing lately, was hovering in the air, making little squealing and chirping sounds. Stars didn’t even know how to roll over yet, but his Seeker instincts had already kicked in.
“What do you want now, Starscream?” Moonbeam asked. The tone of her voice made it clear that she didn’t want to waste her time on him.
“I believe I have promised you something,” Starscream replied. “Do you remember?”
“You couldn’t keep a promise for scrap,” Moonbeam sassed. “What could you possibly be referring to?”
Starscream grinned. “I challenged you to a dogfight.”
“Your arrogance is showing, Screamer,” Moonbeam said flatly.
“So you’re throwing in the towel?” Starscream taunted. “I knew you’d see reason.”
“I’m a Seeker too, you know,” Moonbeam told him angrily. “So I’ll accept your little challenge—and I am going to win.”
“You’re going to eat those words, Moonbeam,” said Starscream. “Flying is what I’m good at.”
“Let’s go, then, big-shot,” said Moonbeam sarcastically. “You, me, outside—right now!”
“Works for me,” Starscream replied, walking out of the med bay, Moonbeam angrily following behind.
When they got to the main monitor room, Skywarp looked up, noticed the look on Moonbeam’s face, and asked, “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing’s wrong, sugar daddy,” Moonbeam said stonily. “Starscream just challenged me to a dogfight, and I’ve accepted his challenge.”
“No bets refused,” said Starscream.
“My money’s on Starscream,” Thundercracker blurted out.
“Oh yeah?” Skywarp stuck his nose in the air. “Well, my money’s on Moonbeam.”
Of course, if he hadn’t been in love with Moonbeam, Skywarp definitely would have bet on Starscream…but his tremendous love for her overrode anything else.
“This should be interesting to see,” said Megatron, setting his data pad down. “I’m not placing any bets, though.”
That was when Gemstone walked into the room, holding a cube of energon, a smile on her face. “Hey, everyone, what’s up?”
“Starscream challenged Moonbeam to a dogfight,” Thundercracker told her, walking over and putting his arm around her. “No bets refused.”
“I’ve never seen a dogfight before!” Gemstone looked excited as she followed everybody else outside. “Can I watch?”
“No way, you whore,” Moonbeam snapped, scowling. “You’re not a Seeker, are you? What’s your vehicle mode?”
“That is no business of yours.” Gemstone crossed her arms and turned away.
“You’re probably something stupid, like a data pad or something,” Moonbeam taunted. “Maybe I can let Megatron and Soundwave watch, but why should I let a filthy little hooker watch too?”
“Now, Moonbeam,” Thundercracker said gently, resting one hand upon Moonbeam’s shoulder. “Just because Gemstone used to be a prostitute doesn’t make her any less of a Decepticon. Let her watch.”
“Why don’t you want her to watch?” Starscream chimed in. “Afraid your enemy will see you fail?”
“All right, I’ll let the little piece of trash watch!” Moonbeam shouted.
“Remember, though, this is WITHOUT weapons,” Skywarp reminded them. “I don’t want anyone getting hurt, understand?”
“Fine, fine,” said Starscream. “Will you hold the twins, Skywarp?”
“Of course,” Skywarp replied, taking them into his arms.
“Contestants,” said Megatron. “Take to the skies!”
Starscream and Moonbeam both turned to jet mode and soared into the sky.
This was the first time Starscream had been able to fly since the twins had been born, due to their taking up all of his time. That, added to the fact that he hadn’t been able to fly the last two months he’d been carrying them, was only helping him win. Flying was coming naturally again, and it felt great to have all that extra weight gone. This wasn't just a competition; it was a wonderful reunion with the sky.
Moonbeam was right on Starscream’s tail, so he fired up his thrusters and increased speed, leaving her to choke on his exhaust fumes. Obviously steaming with anger, she sped up too and bumped his wing, trying to throw him off course.
Starscream just did a barrel roll and went out of her way, then reached a higher cruising altitude, doing a few extra curlicues as a taunt. Moonbeam shot straight up in the air and rammed Starscream from behind; taking it as a challenge, he rammed her too. The dogfight was getting rougher by the minute, and Starscream was ecstatic. The sky was his home, and he loved a nasty fight.
And so the dogfight went on, with Starscream and Moonbeam trying to outdo each other, showing off every move they knew. Starscream, of course, was winning, with Moonbeam falling further and further behind. It was clear that she was angry and frustrated, unable to keep up with her opponent. All the Decepticons had gathered outside to watch, and they were cheering every time someone got bumped, scratched, or outdone.
Finally, though, the dogfight had to end. When Starscream and Moonbeam heard Megatron’s gun going off—the signal that time was up—they both had to return to the ground. Moonbeam, looking exhausted, turned to robot mode and touched down slowly, but Starscream (just to show off) stayed in jet mode and executed a perfect nose dive, touching down as gently as a leaf.
“Hah!” said Starscream, turning to robot mode and walking over to Moonbeam, who was leaning over, panting, hands on her knees. “Not a scratch on me!”
“Are there any impartial judges here?” asked Thundercracker wryly, knowing that everyone had some sort of bias. Skywarp, for example, would have voted for Moonbeam, even if she hadn’t been able to fly at all, and even if Moonbeam had won, Gemstone never would’ve voted for her.
“Well, what do you think?” Starscream asked baby Stars, taking him out of the air for a moment to hold him. Stars made a sort of whimpering noise and floated back up, wings twitching. “Do you think Mommy won?”
Stars squealed again, turned himself into a little jet, and descended onto Starscream’s palm.
“So, he can turn into a jet now?” said Gemstone. “Interesting.”
“You moron,” Moonbeam snapped. “Transformation is instinctive. They both knew how to do it from the moment they were born—actually, before that, even.”
“Well, excuse me, Miss High-and-Mighty,” Gemstone said sarcastically. “What, am I not allowed to talk now?”
“Actually, it would be better if you just left forever,” Moonbeam said back.
“Now, we all know that you can lose a dogfight in the most humiliating way possible,” Gemstone taunted. “But can you lose a catfight too?”
With an angry scream, Moonbeam attacked Gemstone, knocking her onto the ground. Gemstone, as always, was tougher—she took advantage of the already-weakened Moonbeam and proceeded to mercilessly beat her to a pulp.
“Bring it on, slut!” Moonbeam screeched. “Bring it on!”
“No, no!” Skywarp waved his hands in the air helplessly. “Let’s be smart and bring it off!”
Neither femme was listening, though. They continued to fight, moves including but not limited to biting, scratching, kicking, and punching (mostly on Gemstone’s part).
“You’re dead, Moonbeam!” Gemstone hollered, sinking her teeth into Moonbeam’s wings.
Thundercracker was biting his lip as he watched them fight. Dear Primus, was that hot. Femmes fighting. HOT. Of course, Thundercracker was already rock-hard and trying to hide it—if anyone saw, he would never live it down…but when the fight started to get worse, he was horrified to find that his interface panel had opened by itself. In public.
“I-I think I have to go inside for a moment,” Thundercracker said anxiously, rushing back into base. Meanwhile, the fight continued on.
“Please, just stop!” Skywarp was insisting, trying to pull the two of them apart. “I can’t let you get hurt, kissy-wissy! I would never forgive myself!"
Starscream, watching the fight with interest, was wondering why Skywarp insisted on protecting Moonbeam, even when she seemed to enjoy tearing his spark to threads. It was clear that his love wouldn’t let him stop, though—to everyone’s surprise, he jumped right into the catfight and held the two battling femmes apart.
“Let me at her!” Moonbeam screamed.
“Yeah, let go!” Gemstone shouted.
“No! Stop it right now!” Skywarp grabbed Moonbeam’s arm and teleported her back into base, leaving all the other Decepticons to follow. Megatron, Gemstone, and Starscream walked into the main monitor room, where a scratched, bleeding, exhausted Moonbeam was sulking on the couch. Skywarp was trying to comfort her.
“Well, Moonbeam,” said Starscream smugly. “You lost.”
“Yeah, twice.” Gemstone shot Moonbeam a nasty smirk.
“Oh, shut the slag up,” Moonbeam growled. “I hate you both.”
“What a sore loser,” said Starscream, and Gemstone giggled. The two of them left the room, followed by Megatron, leaving Moonbeam alone to pout.
Thundercracker held Gemstone close on the cold repair table. Skywarp was helping Starscream with the twins tonight, so Thundercracker was able to spend the night with Gemstone. They were all alone in the med bay, and normally they would've interfaced, because not only were the two of them a fake couple, they also seemed to have become "friends with benefits". For some reason, though, Gemstone hadn't initiated anything, and Thundercracker was confused.
"Gemstone, hon?" he asked, squeezing her tight. "Is everything okay?"
"Yes, I'm fine," she whispered, but her tone of voice disagreed with this statement.
Oh, scrap, I hate when femmes do this, Thundercracker thought to himself. That was what frustrated him most about femmes--they never told you exactly what they were thinking.
"Mechs aren't any good at guessing," Thundercracker told her. "Talk to me."
"You just want to 'face," Gemstone mumbled.
"Well, usually, you do too," Thundercracker pointed out.
"I'm too tired, okay?" Gemstone turned away from Thundercracker and let out a long sigh.
Every mech hears THAT in his lifetime, Thundercracker thought, rolling his eyes. Femmes were so beautiful, yet so dangerous. The perfect femme could make even the strongest warrior weak in the knees.
"I wish you would tell me what's bothering you," said Thundercracker. "You know I don't like playing games."
Gemstone looked angry and growled, "It's Moonbeam. I wish you'd abandon her."
"Why?" asked Thundercracker.
"Are you slagging blind?" Gemstone demanded. "Moonbeam is the most VILE femme I have EVER met! I never get any respect from that bitch! I never get respect from ANYONE! Never! That's all you want, isn't it, TC? Interface? Is that the only thing mechs want?"
"Um...pretty much, yeah." Thundercracker had the feeling that there was no right answer to that question.
"Moonbeam gets tons of respect," Gemstone continued sarcastically. "But why not? After all, she's a purebred Seeker and a trained medic who even went to a first-rate university in Vos! She doesn't charge mechs for a cheap sexual thrill, does she? Instead, she just picks one and plays with his spark, enjoying it the whole time! How could you possibly love someone like her?"
"Listen, hon, she..." Thundercracker paused. "Hold on a minute. Are you...jealous?"
"Jealous!" Gemstone backhanded Thundercracker onto the repair table. "Of her? What's wrong with you? Do you think I'm not happy with who I am? Of course I'm not jealous! I'm anything but!"
"No need to get violent," said Thundercracker, sitting up again and rubbing his cheek.
"Leave me alone," Gemstone told him, scowling.
"I'm sorry," Thundercracker mumbled.
"Don't worry about it." Gemstone looked down at the floor; her voice wasn't angry any more, just shaking, like her persona was about to crack. Thundercracker reached out and gave her a hug, hoping she wouldn't pull away from him. Luckily, she didn't.
"Tell me what's on your mind, hon," Thundercracker whispered. "Please."
Gemstone lifted up her head, and Thundercracker was kind of horrified to see tears leaking out of her eyes. Oh, no. What had he done? It was true that he loved it when femmes fought, and of course he loved it when they 'faced with him, or when they faced with each other, but he did NOT like it when they cried. It made him feel helpless, and he never knew what to do. How to comfort them.
"Oh, Thundercracker, I'm not always as confident as I look," Gemstone told him, her voice quavering. "I-I hate to say it, but Moonbeam was right about one thing. One important thing."
"What? What was she right about?"
"She was right that I'm not a true Decepticon." Gemstone wiped her eyes, trying to stop tears from flowing down her face. "Not worthy."
"Of course you are!" Thundercracker was a little perplexed. "You don't have to be a Seeker like she is! There are plenty of grounders just like you--just look at Shockwave, Soundwave, even Megatron! And the little twins, they only have Seeker CNA on Starscream's side."
"No, don't you get it?" Gemstone cried, then burst into tears. "It's...it's n-not that I'm not a flier. I-I'm not a purebred Decepticon!"
"What?!" said Thundercracker. "What do you mean?!"
"I'm only a Decepticon on my father's side," Gemstone sobbed. "I'm a car in vehicle mode. I'm a CAR!"
Thundercracker was so shocked that he didn't have anything to say, but maybe it didn't matter, because Gemstone just barreled on.
"Remember how I told you my mother abandoned me because she couldn't afford to support two?" Gemstone asked. "Well, I know the real reason. It was because I was becoming too much like my father, she said. My father I never knew and who hurt my mother. The red eyes, the ability to fly in robot mode, I got it all from him. So by the time I reached my mid-teens, I was left on my own, with nothing to do but sell my body to sleazy mechs looking for a quick fuck."
Thundercracker remembered how he had met her the same way. How he asked her if he could call her "Moonbeam".
"I don't even know the mech who took my virginity, Thundercracker. I don't know what he looked like. What I remember is that he tied me up, slammed my head into the headboard, made me bleed." Gemstone swallowed hard and wiped her eyes. "I was only sixteen."
"Gemstone," said Thundercracker, desperately, holding her hands. This was becoming a disaster. Gemstone always seemed so strong, like she could protect herself; he figured she'd developed her violent streak simply because she grew up on the streets of Kaon. But seeing her acting like this...
Maybe it was more than that. Behind Gemstone's steely exterior, was there really a broken femme who reacted with violence because she didn't know another thing to do?
"At the same time you were getting ready to graduate Seeker School...when Moonbeam was writing college essays to begin her ten years of medical training...that's what I was doing. Now you know. I know we're a fake couple," she said tearfully, "but I can't possibly think that no mech could ever love me for real. Why would he? How could he love a rape baby, a half-breed hooker? I used to cry myself to sleep every night until...until I realized that this was the only way I would ever be able to keep myself alive."
With that, Gemstone fell backwards onto the repair table, crying like she would never stop. Thundercracker stroked her back, listening to her shattered spark, beating in time with his, trying to get her to calm down. When the sobs finally began to subside, he hoisted her up, letting her lean against him.
"Listen, Gemstone," he told her gently. "Your parents, the mechs at the club, they aren't the ones in control. Don't let them be."
"What do you mean?" she asked.
"I mean that you have a choice," Thundercracker told her, taking her hands in his. "Your life doesn't have to be like this. You can be anyone you want to be."
"It's not that simple." Collasping into Thundercracker's arms, Gemstone started to cry again.
"Gemstone, look at me," Thundercracker said seriously. When she lifted up her head, staring into his eyes, he let his spark speak for him. "I don't see you as a filthy half-breed, Gemstone. I see you as a beautiful, intelligent, strong femme who's just had a lot of life's curveballs thrown her way. Someday you'll find a mech who loves you for who you are. You're one of the best Decepticons I've ever known, and I can't let you go thinking otherwise."
"Thank you, TC," Gemstone mumbled. "Nobody's ever said that to me before. They really haven't."
"We don't have to 'face tonight, hon," Thundercracker told her, gently lifting her pearly white head up. "We can do what you want."
"I-I don't..." Gemstone stammered.
"I'm going to give you the respect you so deserve," Thundercracker whispered, placing one arm behind her back, the other behind her neck, and he closed his eyes. Gemstone, figuring out pretty quickly what was going on, closed her eyes too, draped her arms around her fake boyfriend's neck, and joined him in the deep, beautiful kiss.
It was happening. This was happening now. Thundercracker's spark was racing, his hands were shaking; a strange but wonderful feeling coursed throughout his entire body as he continued kissing Gemstone right there in the med bay. It was like nothing he felt when they were interfacing, something he had never felt before, and he didn't know what it was, but it was nothing short of amazing.
The nervousness, the shakiness, the worry, it all passed as Thundercracker and Gemstone lost themselves in the kiss. To Thundercracker, it was almost like the feeling he got when he was flying, the same exhilaration and pure joy, knowing he was where he belonged.