[IDW] The Measure of Strength

“It’s lonely at the top, isn’t it?”

Starscream stiffened, and then concealed his reaction by flicking his wings. That was one of the last voices he expected to hear.

“I don’t know what you mean,” he drawled as he turned around. “I am exactly where I want to be.”

“Of course you are,” Optimus Prime replied as he came to a stop beside Starscream. He leaned against the rail which had previously been hosting Starscream’s weight. “Far be it for me to assume otherwise.”

Starscream arched an orbital ridge. “And yet here you are.”

“Here I am,” Optimus agreed. He stared out over New Iacon, hands braced, shoulders tense. He looked as though he carried the universe on his shoulders. And of course he did. He was Prime. Everyone’s favorite savior.

Had he come here seeking company? With Starscream? With the mech who was in charge of the planet he’d abandoned?

“Maybe you’re the one who’s lonely, Prime,” Starscream said as he circled to Optimus’ other side. “Or did you just want something from me?”

“I would have thought you’d be angrier,” Optimus replied, an odd segue, as his fingers tightened on the rail.

Starscream snorted. “Honestly, Prime, I’m used to Megatron disappointing me. I wasn’t surprised he couldn’t even do me the courtesy of dying.”

“Mm.” Optimus’ non-committal reply was telling.

“Besides,” Starscream continued as he leaned on the rail next to Optimus. “That speech was almost enough to make up for it.”

“Then you’re not angry he left?”

My, but such pointed questions tonight.

Starscream stared out over his sleeping city. “Everyone leaves, Optimus. The trick is not minding that it hurts.”

He hadn’t meant to admit that aloud, but it was too late to take it back. So Starscream pretended it was on purpose.

“Then that would make you a stronger mech than I am,” Optimus replied and turned away from the rail. “Megatron never deserved you.”

“Of course he didn’t.” Starscream inclined his helm, still curious about Prime’s presence here. “I’m worth more than everything he ever gave me.”

Optimus paused to look back at him, something unfathomable in his optics. “Yes, you are,” he said. “Goodnight, Starscream.”

He watched the Prime leave, still confused. “Goodnight, Prime.”

Starscream’s orbital ridge lowered. It must have been an Autobot thing, to be so cryptic.

How annoying.

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