I deeply thank you for all your sweet comments. Now, on with the story! :D
A week passed.
Slowly, but surely, Agathos got used to their new life. They were still not allowed to go out, but for now all they wanted was spending as much time as they could with the little one and his friends. Every time Raf came to the base, they would happily greet him, and both of them would chat for several minutes. It was adorable to listen to the little one, who animatedly chirped about his day at school, about video games and car races, his new favourite movie, small meaningful details of an everyday life — a foreign conception for the Vehicon, which intrigued them.
Sometimes Bumblebee joined them, talking about the outside world. Agathos would listen in awe as the Scout described the wonders of Earth, along with Raf's knowledge. The yellow bot and the young boy were more than glad to show to a (former) Decepticon that this planet was more than a dull mudball, but instead a place full of treasures. Bumblebee was touched to see Agathos sharing his enthusiasm about this world. He promised them that, as soon as they could leave the base, he would take them to all his favourites areas — and seeing the Vehicon so ecstatic about it made his spark sing.
Agathos appreciated Bumblebee. It was strange to have someone making such earnest efforts to spend time with them, and they often wondered why.
Maybe… maybe someday, they would try to ask. For now they just wanted to enjoy his company.
The same thing could not be said with the motorcycle and the former Wrecker. Arcee was very cold with them, and sometimes acted as if they were not here. But they did not mind. Being one of the ruthless and ferocious Autobot warriors, the blue bot was extremely feared among the Vehicons, and Agathos knew they had to be wary when she was around… At least she had not try to kill them.
As for Bulkhead, the big bot did not really know how to act with the Vehicon. From time to time, he would give them a small wave from afar, or an awkward smile — which was more than enough for Agathos, who would gently return the gesture.
They were more comfortable with the other humans, Jack and Miko, who would often talk to them. The Japanese girl was excited to speak with a big bad bot, while the black-haired teen was rather intrigued by a Deception able to display kindness.
As for Agent Fowler… the fuss he made when he discovered the presence of Agathos scared the poor Vehicon enough to make them cower in a corner, much to everyone's surprise. Under several glares Fowler quickly apologised, but also demanded to the Prime to warn him before converting the base into a "kindergarten for Decepticons." Agathos could not help but giggle once they learnt that a kindergarten was a place where human sparklings were watched over. They did not know they looked that young, which was flattering to be honest.
No one dared to correct them when they voiced their thoughts.
When they were alone, Agathos spent most of their time reading, surrounded by high piles of bound sheets, a fort of paper and leather. Such unusual architecture came alive thanks to the children: when they noticed Agathos' passion for literature, they decided to provide them as much books as they could.
The librarian of Jasper was rather surprised (and glad) to see three teenagers carrying high piles of books, coming back every day to give back those borrowed the previous days to choose new ones. Agathos was extremely touched by the humans' attention, thanking the three of them deeply as they discovered that they really enjoyed Earth literature. They could spend hours sitting in a corner, tiny books delicately handled by careful claws. Every now and then, when they did not catch the meaning of a word or a sentence, they would ask the children for clarification, discovering new idioms and more information about humanity, and their odd but funny way of thinking.
Ratchet had forbidden Agathos to overwork themselves, so they could not do much else to occupy themselves. A few times the medic allowed them to fix the defective vents or pipelines, under his strict supervision, but Agathos was more than glad to give a hand to the people who had welcomed them into their home. As for Ratchet, he could not say he enjoyed the company of the Vehicon, but their quietness and their politeness were something he appreciated, and, when it was only the two of them at the base, he sometimes forgot that the Cybertronian settled between three walls was a former enemy.
Since they had more free time, Agathos let their mind wander every so often, and more than once they reflected upon the fate of their fellow comrades. The Vehicon held no illusion; they knew the others soldiers had forgotten about them. That was how things worked within the troops: people noticed someone was gone, quickly mourned their loss, then moved on. Thinking about the dead was a dangerous activity, because soon they wondered when their turn would come.
Praying to Primus was a cold comfort, but it was still one.
Besides, it was not easy to remember a nameless person. Vehicons were nobodies — and nobodies vanished from one's mind in no time.
Agathos knew they were not missed, knew they should not dwell on it — but it still hurt.
At least there were people here that seemed to care about them.
Agathos also kept thinking about Pride and Prejudice — they had finished the book within two days — and about the fact that the human Miko had issues about working on it. At last, after several days, they gathered enough courage to shyly ask Raf if they could help Miko with it. The young boy made no effort to hide his huge smile, then dragged the reluctant girl until she was in front of the Vehicon. For a moment Agathos shifted uncomfortably on his feet, under the human's questioning gaze, then finally asked why she had trouble reading Pride and Prejudice.
"'Cos I just don't wanna?" she said, shrugging. "Whenever I try to read I lose my concentration within seconds and I just wanna do something else, the story annoys me to no end."
"Well, um, on the contrary I-I find it very interesting? Of course that, that's just my opinion, but, uh, I can try to show you why I think so by reading it aloud?"
"Sure, go ahead big bot," she said as she sat on a chair, ready to let her thoughts wander as soon as she would lose interest.
Agathos awkwardly reset their vocaliser, then opened the book.
Words came alive, and nothing disturbed the smooth reading.
For a while it was as if Agathos and Miko had forgotten about the world around them — and when the robot checked their chronometer, they were astonished to discover that half an hour had passed. Then they faced Miko, who was staring at them with her mouth agape.
There was a moment of silence, and Agathos began to internally panic. Oh Primus, did they do something wrong?
"Dude," she managed to articulate, and they were confused to hear awe in her voice, "you have a freaking talent for storytelling."
"Er," they scratched their nape, at a loss for words, "thanks?"
"Continue, please!" she exclaimed, taking them aback. "I wanna know what happens next! Is Elizabeth gonna be alright?"
That was… well they did not expect this. But they obliged her, and another hour went by. And when Agathos paused again, they were surprised by the sight of the three human, along with Bumblebee, intently listening to them. Their optics were shining, as if they were beholding something wonderful, and when Agathos realised it was thanks to them that their audience was having a good time, they felt something they had never felt in a long time.
They felt proud. Proud and happy.
But then they shifted and their prosthetics creaked, breaking the spell, and their back slightly hunched.
How long would this peace last?
How long indeed…
Once more Death walked by his side while he struggled to survive.
Shooting and dodging, running and sinking his blade through living metal, those were movements Optimus did countless times before, and was still doing.
War was ruthless and heartless, something he learned a long time ago.
Still, such knowledge did not make it less painful.
As he could see life vanishing within his foe's visor, he believed for a very, very short time that it was Agathos he was slaying.
He froze for a fleeting moment, pandemonium raging around him. Then he remembered that Agathos was safe at the base.
What was wrong with him? He had no problem killing Vehicons before.
Of course, taking someone's else life always tormented him, but at least it had been less difficult with Vehicons — they were mere drones, basic machines without any awareness.
Or so he thought until recently.
Was Agathos the only one with a personality, the only sentient being among Vehicons? Maybe, maybe not, but doubt still plagued his mind as he made his way through the battlefield.
And then, at last, it was over.
They started collecting the energon they had found along with the Decepticons, and sometimes his optics glanced at the corpses on the floor.
What would Agathos think, if they stumbled upon such scene?
One thing was sure, it would not be pleasant.
He tried to push the thought aside as he and his team took the groundbridge, but it went back in full force when he spotted Agathos sitting next to Rafael, the little boy explaining with excitation the new program he was studying and the Vehicon intently listening, curiosity pulsing in their EM field.
He waited for them to finish, then he approached the mech, asking them, as they saluted him, if they had a moment to talk.
"Of course, sir."
"Then follow me."
While he led them to a more private room, he noticed that Agathos was wringing their hands, their posture stiffened.
"Have I done something wrong, sir?" they shyly asked once the both of them were alone.
"No, of course not, do not worry. I just wanted to inform you that, soon, you will be allowed to go outside."
A mixed field of glee and anxiety filled the air.
"I shan't send you to the battlefield yet, because of your injury. You will mostly accompany us to look for energon, or to patrol. But you have to know that maybe, you will face your former comrades at one moment or another. Thus I need to know: are you comfortable about fighting Decepticons, and more importantly Vehicons? I will never forgive myself if something happens to you, because I didn't take your opinion, your feelings, into account."
Optimus went silent, his bright blue optics softening, his frame relaxed, as he let his words dissipating into the air. He wanted to give Agathos space and time to answer. The smaller robot had lowered their head and was now hugging themselves, seemingly lost in thoughts, reflecting upon the Prime's speech.
For a minute neither of them spoke. Then Agathos sighed.
"Do I only have a choice?" they mumbled, as if they were speaking to themselves.
They looked up, scarlet visor meeting cerulean optics.
"It is unlikely that my faction is aware of my treason. But, as soon as they will see me by your side, I will be nothing but a target. And it is entirely normal. We are at war, sir. And during war there is one only universal law: surviving. It is kill or be killed. Them, or me. Of course it deeply wounds me to point my gun at people I maybe knew before. But them, they won't hesitate to shoot me down. They probably do not even remember me. For them I am just a mere Vehicon who betrayed Megatron. So yes, I will fight, because war do not give me — or any of us — any choice."
Even if Optimus was pained to hear such thing, he knew that Agathos was simply enunciating the truth. However, one thing was bothering him.
"You speak as if you have no identity among your own kind."
Agathos rested their cheek on their servo, as if their head was suddenly too heavy.
"No, I mean, yes, I have — we all have, but… not entirely. Each and every one of my fellow Vehicons had a different personality — I remember well, one was goofy and always ready to give an hand, another was shy and spent their time daydreaming, another again was energetic and a music-lover… Our bodies are all identical, but our mind are diverse. The problem is, we cannot show it clearly to the world — after all, we are sparkless, we are not whole. We all are the same nameless, easy-to-forget soldiers, made to follow orders — but our spirit is the only thing that is ours."
The last sentence resonated within the Prime's head. He was so busy repeating it again and again that he did not immediately noticed that Agathos had shifted, and was now bowing.
"However, sir, I am deeply grateful that you cared about my opinion."
Was it just Optimus, or was their body slightly shaking?
"It is something entirely normal among us, Agathos. I hope that someday, you will get used to it."
He put a hand on their shoulder, as careful and slow as he could, so Agathos could back away if they wanted to. He gently rubbed the metal, a gesture that he hoped would comfort the smaller one.
"For now, I wish you can enjoy your liberty as a person."
Everything was ground to an halt when the last word reached Agathos' mind.
Was it really how Optimus Prime saw them? Even after all they just said? Suddenly something resurfaced within their mind, words said a week ago by the same person standing in front of them.
"You are an individual just like us."
Had the Prime been serious? Back then Agathos had not really paid attention, but now the meaning of the hit them with full force, and they almost faltered.
Why? Just… why?
Why did he think of them in such a way?
Why did it take a weight away from their shoulders?
Why did it feel so… nice?
Why why why?
They would have been lost in their inner turmoil if the Prime was not looking at them. These soft, soothing optics were like an anchor for them, preventing them from drifting, and they clutched it with all their strength.
All of this was so unfamiliar… yet they realised they cherished it.
"Thank you," Agathos murmured, trying to keep a steady voice
It was a pity they could not physically express their emotions; but they nonetheless hoped that the Prime would catch, by their tone, what they truly felt.
Apparently he did, because Optimus gave them a bright smile.
A serene silence settled, and neither of them was willing to break it.
Then Agathos remembered something.
"Er, sir? I do not want to sound rude but… how are you and your team going to be able to differentiate me from the other Vehicons?"
The Prime's optics slightly widened. Oh. He had not thought about that.
"Then we will talk with Ratchet about that matter."
Agathos rose their hand, like a child would do when they had been struck by an unexpected thought.
"I think I have a suggestion? If that is alright?"
They began their explanation, and as soon as they were finished, Optimus nodded, confirming that indeed it was a good idea, and both headed toward the medibay.
It would not be a major difference, but still. Agathos hoped that blue would suit them.
If you want to know what Agy changed, go to my tumblr cao-the-dreamer and look for the tag agathos :)
I hope you liked it! See you!