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When Starscream landed, he was so far ahead of Thundercracker and even Skywarp that the entryway had time to close shut behind him, descending back beneath miles of seawater. A few droplets spattered in after it and slapped against the broad, flat entry zone.

The Victory was operating with a skeleton staff, because most of the Decepticon warriors were out covering Starscream’s retreat. He didn’t think they’d be much longer —Optimus Prime, whose optics Starscream would never freely meet again, had already called a withdrawal by the time Starscream had fled.

There was chatter on the comms. Soundwave wasn’t doing a single thing to stop it.

The Stunticons were asking a lot of questions regarding the purpose of adaptors, about the existence of which they’d only just been educated. Nobody had answered them, but Skywarp was ostentatiously pinging him in response.

:Yeah, Starscream. What’s it for?: he prompted pointedly.

Starscream closed the line and abandoned it, neatly avoiding any further commentary from the general comms.

He couldn’t avoid Skywarp on the trine channel, though, and that was much harder to mute.

At least Thundercracker was silent. Judgemental, probably. Starscream didn’t care what that meant.

Given the amount of effort and humiliation to which Starscream had been put while acquiring the—items—it seemed only sensible that he immediately ensconce himself in what passed for a laboratory space on the Victory and lock himself in… ostensibly to work on the task at hand.

The laboratory was as dim and dank and creaky as the rest of the Victory, and the lights flickered in one corner. The floors were cold. There was no berth, the furniture was bare and austere, and something dripped maddeningly in the pipes.

Starscream banged his adaptors on the nearest bench and slapped his officer’s override on the locking mechanism. There was energon in here, at least. Not much. Some. He could outlast the conversation. Maybe. Probably.

Skywarp tried to contact him sixteen times before he got bored.

Truly Starscream wasn’t sure if he could stomach examining the adaptors he’d brought back too closely right then. His entire emotional subsystem was in disarray with thwarted pride and humiliation.

How like Megatron, to make him feel degraded without even lifting a finger. He wondered if he’d done it on purpose. The Autobots had to have picked up the information somewhere…

It was unlikely that Megatron had had a hand in that, though. Even Megatron wouldn’t compromise the entire Decepticon communications system just to humiliate Starscream.

The moment Starscream had thought it, he second-guessed it. Who said Megatron wouldn’t do exactly that?

Ignoring his muting and override, a priority communication hit his system. Megatron.

:You had better not be wasting my time, Starscream.:

“How romantic,” sneered Starscream aloud. It wasn’t Megatron who’d had to get his fragging adaptor back from Optimus Prime.

He ground his teeth and picked one of them up. He’d best get started, unless he wanted Megatron barging down here to rage at him for failing to present him with a working interface adaptor in a timely fashion… Could hardly put it past him.

It took very little time to crack open the smaller of the adaptors and discover that the mechanics were actually very simple. A blessing, because Starscream had never found Megatron to be especially patient about a project he wanted to see completed.

He had, Starscream might allow privately, been uncharacteristically relaxed about this particular matter—but Starscream didn’t expect that to last, now that Optimus slagging Prime had involved himself in what would otherwise have been a personal matter only…

The threat of Megatron’s anger encouraged Starscream to work feverishly and without pause. He didn’t even put off the vile indignity of measuring his own charge capacity. At least he was doing it himself—the alternative had likely been Shockwave, or possibly the Constructicons, both on the long list of mechanisms Starscream wanted nowhere near his ports.

Despite Starscream’s fears, at no point did Megatron appear to demand results. Instead, he entered the base—setting off an alert in Starscream’s threat proximity protocols, which were already running high—and left almost immediately after. From the chatter on general comms, it seemed that the Decepticons were to take advantage of how off-balance the Autobots were in the wake of today’s ridiculous “ambush” to conduct a fast, vicious raid on a ripe target.

It was a good idea.

...It would have been a better idea had Starscream been the one to have it.

But it seemed as though he was instead destined to be the one stuck being a distraction in this case. He eyed the circuitry and metal spread out before him and wondered if his absence was conspicuous.

A moment later he decided, aggressively, that he did not care: he was staying in the damn lab.

Making his own adaptor fit for the discrepancy between him and Megatron was not difficult work, but it was tedious. The resources on the Victory were hardly what they'd had on Cybertron when such things were popular, and it seemed like a new minor frustration occurred every step of the way.

The raid was evidently a victory. It had been compromised, in the end, by the interference of the Autobots (what wasn't compromised by the interference of the Autobots, at this point?) but it was successful enough that there was a notification of relaxed rationing posted by Soundwave upon the raiding party's return.

So the ploy had worked. Even more annoying, then, that it wasn't Starscream's ploy.

Maybe he could still take credit for it—he had definitely been the one to distract the Autobots, after all... ...perhaps he wouldn't take credit for that, after all. Perhaps it was for the best that they all forget about his part in recent events, actually.

And at least, he thought bitterly, it was Megatron's victory. If this had been the achievement of some underling, Starscream would probably have had to find a reason to push them into an incinerator at the earliest possible opportunity. Megatron, he already had long-term plans for.

He chugged an extra cube of energon but kept his head bent to his work and did not deign to join what was evidently a celebration going on upon the upper decks. He could hear laughing, agonised screaming, and the screeching of tyres.

Starscream, it had to be said, only really enjoyed parties at which he could be certain to be the centre of attention—and ideally not because he'd been ambushed and mugged by Autobots for his interfacing aids.

The party was winding down when he was done. Sensible Decepticons, or at least those with real responsibilities and early shifts, were retiring. The rest were splintering into groups or pairs to carry on their revelry elsewhere.

Megatron, Starscream predicted, would be in the first group. A successful raid and a full fuel tank ought to have put him in a good mood. So now was as good a time as Starscream was likely to get.

Both predictions proved true: Megatron had retired to his room and he did not scowl to see Starscream in the doorway when he looked up.

“Starscream,” he said. His expression was composed, and his red optics were narrowed upon Starscream’s frame. “I see you’ve… recovered.”

“Ah… ha.” Starscream twitched and definitely didn’t cringe. He hadn’t been injured. So Megatron, too, would have him endure commentary on the particular humiliation of being dog piled by two Autobots and having an adaptor pried out of his hands.

As if the ongoing barrage of—now less frequent, but increasingly overcharged—commentary on the trine channel wasn’t enough.

“Yes. …Recovered.”

Megatron regarded him silently for a long moment. Then: “Well? What do you want? Shouldn’t you be working on your …project?”

Starscream cleared his vents, straightened his wings and rallied to put that whole exchange behind him. He leaned in the doorway, cocking his hip and letting the overhead light catch the edges of his armour, highlighting each plane and panel with a dull glow.

“It’s about that very ‘project’, actually, Lord Megatron.” And then he pulled the new adaptor from his subspace and dangled it from one finger, enticingly. “It’s ready for a test run.”

“Is it?” The glow of Megatron’s eyes dimmed slightly, a gratifying indicator that his power regulation systems were already redistributing energon. In response, Starscream lifted his wings in a short, involuntary little motion, subtly inviting.

Starscream smiled, a flash of very white metal in his smooth dark face.

Starscream had caught glimpses of Megatron’s cabling before—during that particularly harrowing meeting when he realised they’d need an adaptor because Megatron was, apparently, absolutely ancient and his interfacing equipment had never been updated. He knew that the cables tucked under his panels would be thick and heavy-duty, and that they would carry a lot of charge.

Now, Megatron leaned back in his huge chair and unceremoniously opened the interfacing cover that hid his cables, giving Starscream another tantalising glimpse of the thick, heavily-reinforced coils tucked deep within the casing there. They would carry a lot of charge, Starscream thought. It was information he kept coming back to, in varying states of excitement, lust and anxiety.

Now they were all bare, thick and tempting right before him. And this time he had the means to do something about it.

Starscream’s processor stalled for a moment.

“You said you’d completed the adaptor,” Megatron prompted. One heavy dark hand drifted toward those cables all on its own. Oh.

“I said it’s ready for testing,” Starscream corrected absently, without lifting his gaze from where Megatron’s hand was inching ever closer to his interfacing equipment. “It’s perfectly safe for a trial run.”

...perfectly safe for Starscream, anyway. He hadn’t paid nearly as much attention to the other end of the adaptor. He had multiple plans cooking away in the back of his processor for Megatron’s eventual demise, and this wasn’t one of them—he’d never, ever live it down if he killed him during interfacing and anyone found out—but he hadn’t exactly been taking specific care to avoid any potential damage to Megatron's systems.

Starscream’s optics were still fixed on Megatron’s hand. He couldn’t help but stare at the spooled cables buried in the shadowy recess beneath the hard armour. He licked his teeth.

“Excellent work, Starscream,” said Megatron. His voice was deep and hollow and scratchy. Then: “Come here.” He raised one hand to gesture.

Starscream didn’t often hear Megatron sound so pleased with his handiwork. He preened, just a little. He left his spot of safety by the exit and approached, step by careful step.

Megatron’s thick fingers gently rubbed over the cables as he came closer. Starscream could hear the soft sounds of metal on their thick casing. He watched them as though hypnotised by the sight.

It was the simplest thing in the world to perch on Megatron’s lap.

He had thick, strong thighs, between the plating of which glimpses of complex pressure systems and massive ropes of dully-gleaming wire could be seen. It would be nothing to Megatron to crush a mech between his thighs, but now he took all of Starscream’s not-insignificant weight upon them instead.

With Starscream on his knee, they were nearly of a height with one another. The big stretch of Megatron’s boxy chestplates met Starscream’s canopy with the ring of metal on metal. Megatron’s burning optics bored into his as his big hands slid over the red plating of his hips.

“I knew I could count on you to be efficient when… properly motivated. Is this all it takes to have you compliant?” he mused.

Starscream scoffed, even as he shivered feeling the heavy weight of Megatron’s hands climb up to his turbines. Those were sensitive—not the combustion chambers buried deep in his frame, but the protruding shaft tip and the fan around the air intakes. They were supposed to be sensitive to detect blockages, but there were …other uses, too.

Odd that Megatron would even know that. Perhaps he didn’t. Dumb luck.

“I am always compliant,” Starscream said obsequiously.

Megatron twitched, and for a second he thought he was going to be shoved out of Megatron’s lap, dumped onto the floor—which wasn’t fair, because Starscream had said exactly the thing he knew Megatron wanted.

“I’m sure,” Megatron said instead, not like he even believed Starscream at all.

His thick fingers spun one turbine fan loosely in its casing. Starscream twitched at the sudden sharp sensation. It wasn’t enough to deter Starscream from defending himself again, but a sharp bite to one of his tower vents was. There was a tiny stab of discomfort from his teeth, and then a hot wash of air from his internal vents, and slickness from his lubricants. Confused, his sensory system tried to dial up his sensitivity.

Starscream grunted and caught Megatron’s arm in his hands as he made to spin that turbine again.

He had been intending to slow him down, but in the end it was more like ‘clutching on’ than ‘pushing away’. Megatron leaned forward to kiss him, and Starscream didn’t protest that, either: he tipped his helm and melted into it. Tiny sparks leapt between their mouths as fine circuitry on their tongues and teeth and lips met and exchanged flickers of charge.

It felt good, but it wasn’t enough. Starscream wriggled closer—grunting shockingly loud when the movement dipped one of Megatron’s fingers into an air intake, a sensation that jolted right through him—and kissed him again and again. Those teasing sparks of charge turned seamlessly into a heady, dizzying anticipation.

Soon they were crushed together so closely that the heat was trapped between their frames and would not disperse. The hot air blowing from their vents was trapped, and in the cold underwater dimness of the Victory, condensation beaded beneath their plating.

Megatron had never been gentle for more than about an astrosecond in all his life, so it was no surprise that he grabbed and pawed and squeezed and scraped at Starscream like a savage. The surprise was rather that Starscream liked it, liked having his cockpit scratched up and his wings dented. It would hurt later, and the cosmetic damage would enrage him, but there was so much charge building between them that in the dark and heavy shadow beneath Megatron’s frame all Starscream could feel was the current. The charge hit his circuitry and buzzed gently beneath his armour in the wake of Megatron’s weighty, blunt hands.

Megatron. Huge, thrilling, terrible, alluring Megatron, whose touch lit up his circuits, whose frame dumped heat like a furnace. He could feel the thunderous vibrations of his powerful engine, shaking his plating all over, rattling softly. He arched and groaned and plucked at Megatron’s seams with his own, much more dexterous, fingers.

The current in his sensory circuitry was wonderful but aimless. He felt like he was nothing but tangled, sparking metal wires beneath his plates, melting hot and begging for more, more, more. He opened his mouth and expelled steam, hot and damp. He could see it gathering at the seams of Megatron’s armour plates too.

Megatron’s cables were already bare, although Starscream had not reached for them. Now, he scraped his fingers over Megatron’s port cover and he was not even slightly surprised—although, yes, hmm, satisfied—when it retracted so fast he could hear the snap of it.

“Yess,” he purred, nearly drowned out beneath the howl of Megatron’s fans and the low groan he made at the feeling of Starscream’s deft fingers delving inside.

Starscream rubbed his thumb over the tempting openings, feeling the delicate pressure of pins hidden inside. He glanced down. They hadn’t felt like modern, standard-issue ports, and they didn’t look like them either—the shape was different. The angle a cable would need to achieve was different, even.

Starscream licked his fingers and rubbed again, harder. Megatron grunted and shuddered. Still felt good though, he thought with a narrow little smile.

“Starscream,” Megatron growled, like he wasn’t enjoying it.

Starscream hummed, but he stopped teasing his ports. Unfortunately, they’d have needed a reversed adaptor to fit Starscream’s cables to them anyway.

Instead he thoroughly explored the cables now exposed to him, and made a low, approving, hungry noise at the feel of just one of them in his hands. His adaptor was finally going to make that huge, thick, overpowered thing useful to him. At last. Where would Megatron even be without Starsc—he broke off his train of thought with a loud, mindless moan.

Charge rushed across his receptors and made him feel soft and hot and foggy with a brief, beautiful bliss.

While he’d been contemplating logistics, Megatron had easily coaxed Starscream’s port covers open and now he was rubbing his clumsy fat fingers over the ports themselves. Every so often a spark would leap from his hand and stimulate all the circuitry behind Starscream’s interfacing ports, and then all of his thoughts would careen off track and dissolve into dim, murky pleasure.

He drew back and hefted Starscream up. The contact points of his hands upon his sides were rough and his grip was, just, oh, crushingly strong, and he lifted Starcream’s weight smoothly and easily and as though he wasn’t more than twenty tonnes unfuelled.

Starscream had been struck and thrown enough by Megatron that such an action ought to have set off his threat protocols—and it did, oh, yes: his systems all surged with the danger of it. Megatron, his alerts said, was too close, had too good a grip, and could break pieces off him with a flex of his arms.

But bafflingly, Starscream moaned wildly, clutching at his huge dark hands, alight suddenly as every sparking inch of circuitry came alive with the certainty that Megatron could just—snap him.

Megatron lowered his unfashionably heavy helm and laved his tongue over a port. The fluid bridge created by the lubricants in his mouth made Starscream throb, and then he licked, cautious and exploratory, deeper inside. Starscream’s head fell back, his voice crackled with static. It felt good. Oh, it felt good. Starscream was lucky all of Megatron’s terrible, threatening strength was currently holding him up, because his knees would certainly not have held him braced over Megatron’s thick, sturdy thighs.

He scraped his hand over the heavy warm curve of Megatron’s helm and delighted in the shudder it produced.

“Plug in,” he demanded hoarsely. And then, when Megatron seemed to hesitate, mouth venting warmly over his aching ports, he scrambled for the adaptor and shoved it blindly at Megatron: “Hurry the pit up and plug in.

Megatron paused to smirk at him, and Starscream kneed him viciously—it did nothing, he hadn’t the leverage to make it hurt, but it expressed his frustration just fine.

Plug in,” he snarled. Even looking at Megatron’s cables made his interfacing system throb and burn with rerouted energy.

Megatron set the adaptor with surprising gentleness against the opening in Starscream’s plating behind which his interfacing ports gleamed. His sleek, modern ports were all made to a certain standard, which had made shaping the adaptor very simple.

Now that Starscream had gotten a look at them he knew that making one fit for Megatron’s ports was likely to be be a future endeavour requiring a fair amount of coaxing. He’d need to take scans just to make it fit.

The one Starscream had made for himself did fit, however. He jolted when he felt it snap into place, magnetised to his plating and sliding deep into the ports themselves. His sensors flickered with confused pleasure. He shuddered.

Then Megatron took hold of one of those oversized, over-powered, thick cables and slid the tip into the other side of the adaptor, down until Starscream heard it click. He was plugged in—finally—and—

Sensory data rushed over him. Starscream could feel his frame tense and relax, trying to manage even the moderated data and energy of the connection. His mouth fell open, vents inside flaring to flow more air over his warm circuitry.

“Ah,” he got out.

Pressed against him, Megatron moaned, low and deep.

“Yes,” he sighed, deep and pleased and hollow. Starscream heard him, but he also felt him—in his processor, in his coding, down the flat spot between his wings, trickling like hot oil. He shivered and passed his own data back, carrying little nonsense fragments on the relentless wave of charge.

Little strings of Megatron’s code—copies of tiny pieces of his huge, complex, ancient personality—got caught up in the stream between them. They caused lurid sparks across Starscream’s visual field, and when each one crackled between them he gasped and twitched with a shocking burst of sensation.

Starscream, too, had something of an excess of personality: his processors were cramped, filled with schemes and ploys, and although whatever fragments of data Megatron received were likely incomprehensible, there were plenty of them. Starscream melted against his huge, broad chest plates, listening to Megatron grunt at a particularly powerful exchange with glowing satisfaction.

There was something dizzying and heady about having such a strong effect on mighty Megatron, who was so convinced of his own superiority. Even if Starscream hadn’t been practically liquid with bliss from the moment the circuit completed between them, his systems would have been screaming from the satisfaction of making Megatron grunt and twitch beneath his hands, and because of his charge.

The low rumble of his engines thundered beneath the heavy, burnished armour of Megatron’s chest and against Starscream’s canopy. The vibration of it shook him, just a little, and the movement made new points of contact come and go between them unpredictably. Sparks lit up in those spaces, each a bright, dangerous, energon-pink.

“You are,” Megatron rumbled, venting deeply between words—the air he expelled was boiling, wafting heat straight down Starscream’s front. He shivered.

“You are exactly as I imagined you would be,” he got out at last. Since he was so addled with charge and trembling pleasure he was struggling to make the words, Starscream assumed this to be complimentary.

Starscream moaned instead of responding, shockingly loud and shameless.

Another crackle of energy, another pulse of power between them. He was starting to shake all on his own. His sensory network, so reliable in a storm, was sending him nothing but nonsense data and errors, completely overwhelmed even as he throbbed and burned with charge.

“Ah,” he panted. His face twisted. His optics flickered out, unable to maintain their steady glow under the exchange. He clutched hard at Megatron’s armour, and his vocaliser emitted shockingly loud grunts as his insides throbbed with the pulse of Megatron’s charge. “I’m—I’m going to—”

“Yes,” growled Megatron. His voice rumbled deep in his chest plates and Starscream wondered for a moment, wildly, what it would feel like, thrumming right between his wings. “Overload. Show me.”

Starscream bared his teeth—he was naturally contrary, and he resented the very thought of overloading on Megatron’s command—but he was much too far gone. All his internal systems were flooded and overwhelmed, his limbs were shaking, and the charge between them had climbed so high that he was reading overheat warnings despite his screaming fans and yawning vents.

The overload rushed over him, a tremendous wave of bliss and heat and golden, dizzying pleasure. His frame locked up with it, clicking and shifting and emitting a long, hard pneumatic hiss while his processor stalled out completely.

He could hear, distantly, Megatron grunting in shock at the surge of charge Starscream’s overload generated.

Starscream’s limbs were trembling when his sensory system rebooted. Megatron’s helm was jammed against one of the tall vents on his shoulder, and he was venting so hard the noise drowned out Starscream’s fans. His optics were almost completely dark. He crushed Starscream’s exhausted frame closer to him, as though he could meld them if he could just have them close enough. Between them, the small shape of the adaptor dug into Starscream’s plating.

Megatron’s massive body heaved and trembled, clattering like an iron works, and he clutched Starscream ever more tightly as his much heavier circuitry crept finally toward overload.

It made him very aware of how much pure physical strength was in Megatron’s frame, when all of it was occupied in holding him close. A weak flutter of reciprocal charge flickered through Starscream, changing the tone of his fans for a second, and he felt it too in the pulse between them. Megatron moaned, strained.

Starscream passed all Megatron’s charge back through his systems—his own, much more efficient, barely knew what to do with the charge Megatron was generating, even protected by the adaptor—and every laboured gasp and grunt sent a tired thrill through Starscream’s processors. Each glorious shiver and shift of Megatron’s huge, powerful frame that he caused made him all the more self satisfied.

He felt it when Megatron overloaded—how could he not? He was still connected to him. His laser core throbbed with the strain, even with the adaptor, and his visual field cut to static for a moment. Without the adaptor, the enormous surge of charge would have burnt him right down to his laser core.

Megatron’s hands were clenched so hard on his hips he felt certain he had a dent or two. His engine was roaring, fans howling like he was about to take off. His plating clamped down with the soft hiss of releasing air. He groaned loudly into Starscream’s shoulder. If there were words in there, Starscream didn’t hear them.

At last he relaxed, plating flaring again to release all that built up heat. His optics were dim—sleepy, probably. Starscream relaxed back into him again.

There was silence for a long, ticking, settling minute. Their fans slowed, their armour shuffled to change heat distribution.

At length, Starscream leaned back and plucked the adaptor from where it was set in the port cover at his side. Megatron twitched as he pulled his cable free, sensitive despite Starscream’s relatively gentle touch.

“Careful,” he grumbled, but there was no bite to it.

Magnanimously, Starscream coiled the cable up and slid it back away. Megatron made a noise that could have been, generously, interpreted as thanks, and closed his cable cover. A moment later, he closed the port cover too, denying Starscream any further opportunity to examine his interfacing equipment.

Starscream shoved the adaptor back into his subspace compartment, next to his blaster, and got up off Megatron’s lap. His pelvic plating was dented and scuffed black, but that wasn’t why he wobbled when he tried to put his weight on his knees. His frame was tingly and off-balance—it happened, if fuel distribution was disrupted by an overload of sufficient power.

Megatron rose behind him with a creak. Standing, his shadow immediately encompassed Starscream once more, and Starscream had a short flash of fantasy—wondering, again, what his engine would feel like shoved hard between Starscream’s wings, rumbling away. He would be all but invisible beneath Megatron’s big frame, crushed into the berth…

He wouldn’t have the charge to get worked up about the idea for at least another few minutes, but it was, perhaps, a nice one to save for another day.

“I’ll count this test run a success,” he croaked.

Then headed toward the door so he could get out of there before any wild fantasies could trick him into trying to stay.