When Soundwave slides him a datapad, wordless and his expression-less face saying as much as his field, Megatron feels a shudder roll through him.
Part of him doesn’t dare turn it on. A larger, angrier part of him flicks the power button with a viciousness he usually reserves for the Prime’s cronies.
The screen flickers before a series of image captures comes into view. They are surveillance footage of the battle yesterday; he recognizes the date and time stamp, not to mention the landscape.
It had been chaotic. How Soundwave had managed to pluck these images from what had to be a mess of data, Megatron doesn’t know. He almost wishes Soundwave were a little less diligent. Or perhaps it’s for the best.
Megatron would have had to face this sooner or later. Better now, when he can have the illusion of privacy to put himself back together.
The datapad crackles in his grip. A hairline fracture splits across the screen, though it neatly avoids the image of his lover, of Sunstreaker, with that badge on his chest. Autobot red, so bright and fresh. He’s got his blaster raised to one opponent, while his energy sword impales another – both Decepticons. Megatron’s own troops. Soldiers Sunstreaker had once fought beside.
The anger is encompassing. The fury Megatron expects.
But beneath it is hurt. Betrayal.
The datapad cracks further. The screen flickers.
Now, Sunstreaker fights alongside his brother, for Megatron recognizes the crimson frame beside him, also marked with the badge of the Senate, the Prime. Sideswipe had never liked him. Had often sneered up at Megatron, blaming him for Sunstreaker’s choices.
Megatron hisses through his denta. He clenches his jaw, tastes fury on his glossa. His spark shrinks and contracts.
The datapad snaps in half, the split jagged and rough, bits of microchips peeking out and the glass of the screen tinkling to the floor. How appropriate.
Megatron’s ventilations are ragged. He is glad that Soundwave had brought this to him in private. In his quarters. Not the one he shared with Sunstreaker. No, he abandoned those the very morning he woke to find Sunstreaker gone. For all he knows, one of his Decepticon soldiers now stays in that suite.
Soundwave remains silent. There is no judgment in his stare or his field. He has always disapproved of Sunstreaker. He could say all manner of things, including ‘I told you so’ and Megatron couldn’t fault him for it.
Soundwave says nothing.
Megatron’s hands shake.
He turns, grabs a wastebasket, and dumps the two halves of the broken datapad into it. “I trust there was no other sensitive information on it?”
But then, Soundwave has always been.
Megatron startles. He leans forward, braces his weight on the desk. He stares at his dark screen, and his own reflection in it. He looks harsher, more severe. He doesn’t know if it’s because Sunstreaker left, or if that’s the reason why.
Soundwave shifts in his peripheral vision, barely a motion. He waits. He’s patient. He needs an answer.
“Capture if at all possible,” Megatron says. “But…”
He’ll fight, Megatron reminds himself. He will fight, and he will struggle, and he will kill anyone who threatens him. Sunstreaker is an injured predator when cornered. He lashes out, beyond reason, beyond rational thought.
Megatron’s head bows.
“I’ll see no Decepticons harmed,” he says as his fingers scrape furrows into the metal of his desk.
He can’t be selfish. Otherwise, he’ll find himself no better than the establishment he seeks to tear down. He reminds himself that Sunstreaker left of his own accord. Megatron is under no duty to keep him safe or protect him. Sunstreaker lost that right when he crept out of their suite and left everything behind without so much as a parting note.
“No,” Megatron says with another shake of his head, as if he can shake the emotions and all associated with them out of his processor, out of his spark. “I cannot be impartial in this, Soundwave.”
He turns his head, looks at his most loyal soldier. “Make the call. Do not tell me.”
Soundwave’s visor flashes. “Understood.”
It is a cowardly action, Megatron knows. But Soundwave holds no blame in his gaze, or his field. Not castigation either. Only a calm, blank slate.
How easy it must be for him.
Megatron turns away, bows his head once more. “Thank you,” he murmurs. “For the information. Now leave me. I require privacy.”
Soundwave bows, a shallow, short motion, before he spins on a heelstrut and leaves. The silence of his absence wraps around Megatron like the suffocating dark of the mines. Without Soundwave, he can hear his own ventilations, so rapid and shuddery. He can hear the clattering of his armor.
He can feel the tightness of his spark, as though it is shrinking into nothingness, and stealing the beats of life from him at the same time. His world narrows down, tunnels to a dark twirl. He doesn’t see his computer, his desk, his quarters – all grey and utilitarian, perfect for the rebellion leader who is one with his people.
No wealth. No grandiose belongings. He is as common as those he leads.
He’s alone. Abandoned.
That’s the choice Sunstreaker made.
And so, Megatron must make one for himself.
His datanet chimes. There’s an incoming announcement across the Decepticon intranet, kept secure thanks to Soundwave’s expertise. Back to work then, Megatron thinks. There are things to do.
Megatron opens the file, and the moment his processor properly registers the simple declaration, he laughs.
He laughs until he feels like he’s broken, until it turns to something closer to a sob that he’s so fragging glad no one can hear of him.
“Capture not kill.”
Soundwave knows him so well.
Too well perhaps.
He is not worthy of this loyalty.
Megatron grinds his denta until he tastes the energon. His fingers ache where he peels into the desk top. He stares at himself in his monitor, and sees the Decepticon leader who has earned Soundwave’s trust.
He is not worthy.
But he will be.
Sunstreaker has made his choice.
And so has Megatron.