Their arrangement left no room for romance. Not when Megatron had a habit of summoning Skywarp to his quarters with the same authority - one devoid of something as antithetical to Decepticon values as emotion - that he employed when ordering his troops to prepare for battle.
He would stand from his throne, causing the floor to quake beneath the weight of his imposing frame and his very presence alike, and his hawkish gaze would pluck Skywarp out from the masses with an ease that spoke of repetition; though Skywarp, always loyal, always unwilling to acknowledge the cold sterility of a simple pattern, would attribute it to Megatron’s iron grip over his army, and his ability to recognize the best and brightest as more than simple cogs in a war machine.
Megatron’s optics would narrow by a margin indiscernible to anyone outside of the intended recipient of such a signal, and his jaw would remain square and taut as he’d tilt his head at an angle that had meaning only for one.
And each time Skywarp would make his way to Megatron’s quarters with haste in a display of punctuality that he rarely reserved for something as trivial as flight maneuvers or command meetings. He would refrain from using his warp drive to do so, though it would crackle with charge and anticipation and his desire to please and impress. Instead, he would savor the journey on foot with a spring to his step that left no doubt as to his destination.
He arrived to find Megatron already waiting, his expression as stoic as it had been as he’d debriefed his troops after their latest raid. Before Skywarp could utter an apology Megatron opened the door and gave a curt nod before gesturing for him to enter.
Rinse and repeat. The steps in this dance of theirs were all too familiar by now, but Skywarp still held onto the vague hope that this rendezvous would involve more than simply a tumble in the berth that left his paint scratched and a dull ache between his thighs that never felt like quite enough to quell whatever it was that kept driving him back.
“The operation went well today,” Skywarp said as he scanned their dim surroundings. The berth was something he was well acquainted with, but the rest of Megatron’s lodgings were still something of an enigma. His optics zeroed in on a cabinet that contained several bottles of what appeared to be high grade, and he approached it with a mischievous smile. “That calls for a little celebration, don’t you think?”
He reached for the cabinet, already envisioning how a couple glasses of energon wine would help to ease away the tension that still existed between them despite how many times they’d interfaced. They’d sit on the couch, one that looked as if it had been tragically neglected, and the occasional brush of a knee against a thigh and increasingly lowered inhibitions would organically lead into something intimate in its own way.
A hand on his shoulder halted him in place, and he turned to see Megatron regarding him with that same scowl he always seemed to wear nowadays.
“That won’t be necessary,” Megatron said, his voice a low rumble of disapproval. “Our arrangement is still the same, Skywarp. One success doesn’t change that.”
“Right.” Skywarp shrugged off such frivolous ambitions with a grin, the kind that he knew was expected of him. As he made his way to the berth he gave a sensual purr of, “Just can’t wait for it, huh? Not that I can blame you. Victory can be a real turn on.”
Skywarp hopped onto the berth, more playful than graceful, and sprawled out on the sheets in a pose that never failed to be seductive: wings fanned wide, hands slowly trailing down the swell of his cockpit to come and rest just above legs that were spread somewhere on the border between tantalizing and scandalous.
His optics were half-shuttered, and his tongue swiped out for just a moment to wet his lips as he prepared to beckon Megatron to the berth with the sultry speech he’d prepared for a private moment between them such as this, but his plans were quickly dashed.
“There’s no need for the theatrics,” Megatron said tersely, with none of the arousal that Skywarp had hoped to inspire. “You know how I like you.”
He sounded more exasperated than anything, much to Skywarp’s dismay, and the Seeker was eager to remedy it by rolling over onto his front. He leaned forward, cushioning his head on one of the pillows that still bore clawmarks from their last tryst, and presented his aft.
The berth sank beneath Megatron’s weight as he climbed on behind Skywarp. One hand worked a spike that was already half-pressurized while the other gave Skywarp’s aft an appreciative slap, accompanied by a single word that had long ago ceased to have any real sort of meaning.
Two coarse fingers that had known the toil of hard labor and the horrors of war split Skywarp open, twisted and curled in what felt more like a formality than foreplay. Yet his valve clenched, desperate for more - always something more with him - and his could hear the whispers of easy as they would look to the lubricant running down Megatron’s hand as condemnation.
Skywarp sucked in a breath of anticipation when he felt Megatron’s broad spike nudge at his entrance. “Mhm...Megatron...”
“Don’t speak,” Megatron said, giving his wing a reprimanding pinch as he filled him, always just a touch below too much. “Just enjoy it.”
The physical pleasure was undeniable. Megatron’s pace was relentless as the ridges of his spike repeatedly raked over clusters of nodes, and the apex of Skywarp’s channel was pounded to the same rhythm as the scrape of metal on metal that was Megatron’s pelvis brutalizing his own. Each jerk and roll of Megatron’s hips spoke of an experience that was forged in the alleys behind the gladiatorial pits of Kaon; no sentiment, just a carnal desire that could only be satisfied by a hard fuck.
Skywarp moaned, and the sound was muffled by the pillow that his face was unceremoniously shoved into with each thrust. Megatron was an artisan, taking the charge that was rapidly accumulating throughout Skywarp’s array and molding it into what would have shaped up to be an incredible overload.
But there was a dissonance between the almost mechanical motions of their interface and the unpleasant cocktail of emotions brewing in Skywarp’s processor, and it ebbed away at the sensation in his valve until he last left with nothing more than the sound of Megatron letting loose a satisfied grunt alongside his release.
At some point that had stopped being enough.
The concept of the walk of shame had initially been lost on Skywarp.
He had never been one to sneak out of Megatron’s quarters in the dead of night, crimson optics scanning the corridor with a thoroughness born from paranoia before finally braving to venture out. His steps were always bold - a strut, not a shameful trudge as if he were mourning the loss of his dignity - and he would regard any onlookers with a smirk and a haughty flick of his wings, as if declining an invitation to stay the night were a point of pride that he was all too eager to flaunt.
Megatron, of course, never extended any such offers, but Skywarp never dared breathe that truth to a single soul.
There would be contempt directed his way, naturally, but the murmurs of admiration and envy that swept across the Decepticon ranks stoked his ego by providing the validation that he was denied elsewhere.
But it was only a matter of time before quiet resentments turned into outright hostility, and in hindsight he wasn’t surprised that Deadlock was the one to confront him.
“Ever get tired of playing berth warmer?” Deadlock drawled.
He was leaning against the wall not far down from Megatron’s quarters, ankles casually crossed as he examined the dagger-like tips of his fingers with an air of nonchalance that was belied by its performative nature.
“Piss off,” Skywarp snapped, wings hiked at an angle that any flier would recognize as a warning against further provocation.
Deadlock, neither a flier nor someone willing to back down, squared up in front of Skywarp, his sharpened denta bared in something between a grin and a sneer. “Hit a nerve, did I? And here I thought you were proud of being the faction’s whore.”
Skywarp’s hand twitched at his side as he tried to calculate the risk and reward of sending a fist directly through Deadlock’s abdomen; not through the spark, but a far less merciful kill of letting him bleed out through severed fuel lines.
“Like you’re one to talk. We all know about what you did in the Dead End.”
“To survive,” Deadlock said simply, far less fazed by the retort than Skywarp had been hoping. “I don’t need to base my entire self worth around how many mechs I can spread my legs for.”
And then Starscream was there, because of course he was. He had a penchant for sniffing out drama with a pinpoint accuracy and efficiency befitting his title of Seeker.
“Feeling neglected, Deadlock?” Starscream’s voice dripped with derision and amusement alike as he sauntered over to the confrontation with all the ease and comfort of someone entirely in their element, as if Deadlock and Skywarp’s fields weren’t an absolute maelstrom around him waiting to erupt into something ugly. Or perhaps that was truly where Starscream felt at home. “It must be hard, seeing others get a little attention when you used to be Megatron’s favorite lapdog.”
“Hardly,” Deaadlock scoffed, but there was a noticeable rigidity to his frame that betrayed the truth behind Starscream’s words.
Unlike Skywarp, Starscream had Deadlock cowed. He turned to leave, but not before casting a final smug look at Skywarp.
“Enjoy being Megatron’s flavor of the month. He’ll get tired of you soon enough.”
Starscream watched him go with no shortage of condescension, as if he’d just watched a child - not one of the deadliest warriors on the side of the Decepticon cause - lash out in a tantrum. “Pathetic, isn’t it? They’re all so eager to grovel for Megatron’s approval. Deadlock, Tarn, Overlord. They’re all the same.”
The cruel irony of the situation made Skywarp’s tank roil and his plating itch as if something rotten were festering beneath it.
He warped back to his quarters each time after that. Not for fear of conflict, but of an inability to stomach being rescued by the one person whose aid left his already wounded ego bloodied and raw and ready to be cannibalized by the vultures that were his fellow Decepticons.
The mess hall was rarely harmonious, just as likely to be the sight of a brawl as fueling, and it carried with it a palpable tension that was just waiting for the slightest spark to send it erupting in chaos.
Skywarp saw himself as a potential catalyst at all times. He’d always had a habit of being at the center of things, of being somewhat of the life of the party among a militia that so desperately needed those small moments of levity, but now settled for being on the outskirts of all the action.
He could feel their optics trained on his back, their gazes - many antagonistic, others admiring - boring holes through his armor to the protoflesh beneath.
His wings flicked, as if doing so would brush off the scrutiny.
Thundercracker, his sole companion, gave him a sympathetic look. “Don’t let them get you down, ‘Warp. It’s just - it’s petty, is what it is.”
Starscream slid onto the bench beside Thundercracker then, a cube in hand and his usual sneer in place as he regarded their not-so-subtle onlookers with contempt.
Speak of the petty devil and he shall appear.
Starscream immediately began prattling on about whatever was currently keeping his mood sour. He did so while examining his talons, as if his presence were a privilege that his own trine should be grateful for.
Skywarp and Thundercracker both knew he had no friends elsewhere.
“Ugh.” Starscream suddenly paused mid-rant, his lip curling with disgust as he looked at something over Skywarp’s shoulder. “Even he’s staring. Old fool really thinks he has nothing better to do than spend his time ogling you and that’s exactly why we’re losing this war.”
Skywarp didn’t need to look to know that it was Megatron who had stirred Starscream’s ire. If he had, though, he knew that he would find the almost suffocating weight of that gaze trained not on him, but on the figure sitting right across from him.
Thundercracker kept looking long after Starscream had lost interest. There was something in his stare that Skywarp couldn’t quite place: jealousy, perhaps, as many of his fellow soldiers tended to regard him with nowadays; but concern also came to mind, and for a moment Skywarp was tempted to believe it before the insidious doubt that had always polluted his relationship with Thundercracker whispered those poisonous words wishful thinking in his audial.
He berated himself for still projecting warmth when he knew he should have given up on such a pursuit long ago.
Skywarp was on his knees as soon as the door had shut behind them, his hands roaming Megatron’s codpiece with an insatiable hunger - no, desperation.
It was not a feeling that Megatron reciprocated. He peered down at Skywarp, expression far more baffled than filled with lust, and placed a hand on Skywarp’s head that neither encouraged him nor pushed him away.
“You’re not satisfied with our usual methods?” Megatron asked, and the way his words reflected the sterility of it all dampened what little arousal Skywarp felt.
“Just let me do this,” Skywarp insisted, and he knew how he must have looked right then, on his knees and practically pleading for Megatron to fuck his mouth.
Perhaps his title of the faction’s whore carried more truth than he would have liked to admit.
Megatron relented, and as soon as his panel had retracted Skywarp fervently licked at his spike housing to tease out his length.
Whereas Skywarp usually prided himself on the wicked talents of his tongue, he now saw them as nothing more than a means to achieve an end that he knew would be as fruitless as all his other attempts at inspiring something more with the pleasure he so readily provided.
He took Megatron’s pressurizing spike into his mouth, relaxed his intake and held it deep as he tightened Megatron’s grip and encouraged him to use him, defile him in a way that the one Megatron yearned for never would allow.
Megatron kept the lights off as always, leaving him with nothing more than the vague outline of a pair of wings that he possessively ran his hands over. With Skywarp’s silence and the power of suggestion, he was allowed to fully indulge in his fantasy and breathe the name that was always on his lips in moments such as these.
The designation was a prelude to his overload. His spike twitched before it pumped his release into Skywarp’s mouth in several thick pulses.
Megatron gave a few more lazy thrusts before pulling out and tucking his spike back into its housing, leaving him free of any evidence as to what had just transpired between them.
Skywarp resisted the urge to gag as the bitterness of the situation left his mouth tasting foul. He considered swallowing, accepting the reality of this arrangement of theirs -
and he was no longer naive enough to think of it as a relationship, not when it had the same level of detachment as a business transaction, of using the other party to achieve some sort of goal that had stopped being mutual somewhere along the line
- and trying to forget, as Megatron seemed so keen on doing. But he recalled that look on Thundercracker’s face, that cryptic expression that the optimistic part of him insisted on filling the blanks of with a stubborn sentimentality that he’d never brought himself to let go of, and he rejected his own complacency.
He spit Megatron’s transfluid at his feet, wiped what remained of it from his mouth, and offered Megatron a look of defeat as he left the room with an air of finality.
Thundercracker had managed to muster up an authority that he rarely utilized in order to vacate the air barracks, leaving Skywarp to sulk in silence while he quietly looked on and diligently waited for a request for something more than just his companionship.
Skywarp was curled up on his berth, knees cradled against his chest, optics glazed as they stared blankly at the wall. He could hear the gentle cycling of Thundercracker’s vents and the occasional rustle of the sheets as Thundercracker shifted his position on his own adjacent berth, but he never forced the conversation.
It was one of many qualities that Skywarp had come to respect in Thundercracker; even more so because he knew he could never expect the same sort of consideration from their trineleader.
“I wasn’t just using him for the ‘facing,” Skywarp murmured, and his chest tightened at the thought of Thundercracker of all people believing the same falsehood that others were so quick to tout.
“I know,” Thundercracker said gently, and there was a conviction to his response that had Skywarp’s frame feeling just a little bit less leaden.
“It’s funny, you know. I really thought I could make things work,” Skywarp admitted. His fingers tightened around the covers, threatening to shred them as he’d done so many times in Megatron’s berth. “Guess I’m as dumb as everyone thinks, huh?”
The berth sank suddenly, and then there was a hand rubbing his wing with a tenderness he’d once let himself fantasize about Thundercracker possessing.
“You’re many things, Skywarp,” Thundercracker said as he kept up that same soothing pattern that quickly had Skywarp melting into the berth. “You’re loyal. Fiercely protective of the people and things you care about. You’re just about the only person who can make anyone in this army crack a smile, let alone laugh.”
Thundercracker paused. Skywarp glanced back to see him biting his lip, looking down with uncertainty as if asking permission to do something more.
Skywarp arched back into his touch, more than happy to oblige.
Arms curled around his waist as a warmth settled against his back. Thundercracker buried his face in his intake and inhaled, as if savoring his scent, before speaking into his audial.
“Dumb isn’t one of them. And I never want you to view your ability to love as a weakness.”