Author's Note: This story is the brainchild of a twisted mind. Just so you know, yes, I am insane. And yes, this is a slash story. You know the drill. Don't like, don't read. Simple as that.

Disclaimer: Yeah, yeah, you know, I don't own the Transformers, yada yada yada... I'm just borrowing them.

Optimus to Rodimus

Rodimus to Optimus

Trials of the Heart

In his office in Metroplex, Optimus Prime was neck-deep in paperwork. His desk was hidden underneath stacks of datapads and files, and the stacks were so high Prime had to stand to see over the tops of them. He'd delegated half of his workload to his partner-in-command, Rodimus, but the work still piled up, and there was very little he could do about it, except sit there for hours on end and try (often in vain) to make a dent in it before the next load came in. He was seriously considering pushing about half the pile onto Magnus. The worst part of it was that while his body was working away at the piles, his mind was elsewhere.

Rodimus.

For some reason he couldn't quite figure out, his younger co-leader was on his mind, in his thoughts. He didn't know why he couldn't stop thinking about his young friend, or why he couldn't help observing him covertly during conferences or command staff meetings. He just knew he was somehow hooked on Rodimus. There was something about the other Prime that kept Optimus's eyes fixed on him, something in the way he moved, the way he talked. Optimus couldn't figure out what it was, or even identify the signals that drew his eyes to his friend. But it was there, and it was potent. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't push Rodimus out of his thoughts. It was very frustrating.

He reached for another report, thinking about the look Rodimus had given him when he'd found out he had to finish half of that massive workload, and the thinnest tendril of remorse crept up his spine. For some unknown reason, he didn't want Rodimus to be angry with him. He hated seeing Rodimus upset or angry.

Optimus groaned, shook his head, and tried to concentrate on his work.

Across the city, Rodimus Prime sat behind his own desk, scowling at the stacks of reports piled on its surface. He decided he'd get his older friend back for dumping it on him all at once. Already he was brainstorming on ways to get his revenge. Sighing to himself, he reached for another report and began to read.

He couldn't deny that he was close to Optimus. They were good friends. But now Rodimus felt something that went beyond friendship. He had a sneaking suspicion he knew what it was, but had no way to tell for sure. So he tried his best to ignore it until he figured out what it was.

Elsewhere...

"What's up with those two?" Ultra Magnus asked, looking at Kup, confused. "Both of them are acting rather odd."

Kup grunted. "I know. And I think I know what's causing it."

"Oh, really?" Jazz tilted his head curiously. "What?"

"During conferences and command staff meetings, I've noticed that Optimus spends a lot of time studying Rodimus, just watching him from the corner of his eye. And Rodimus also watches Optimus, just more discreetly. Their minds are definitely miles away when they're like that."

"What are you saying?" Blaster wondered.

"I'm saying they've fallen head over heels for each other, but they don't know it yet."

A grin spread across Jazz's face. "How about we give them a little help?"

The rest of the group agreed. Then they put their heads together and began plotting ways to get their two leaders to realize their feelings toward each other.

"And what are all of you up to?"

Heads shot up at the sound of Rodimus's voice, and the group turned to see the junior Prime standing in the doorway, hands on his hips, watching them. The group members struggled to find an answer, but failed. Then Jazz raised his head.

"Oh, hi Rodimus. We're just discussing music. Kup here was telling us how music has changed since his time."

"Ah." Rodimus regarded them, then turned to leave. The group watched him walk away, then heaved a sigh of relief.

"Nice save, Jazz," Springer commented.

"Thanks. Now, where were we..."

Eventually, Metroplex found out what they were up to, and wanted in on the plot. He helped them with their plans. Quickly, 'Operation Matchmaker' was well underway.

Without either of the two Primes noticing, the other Autobots manipulated their actions slightly, making sure they passed each other in the corridors, getting them into the same place at the same time, making up private discussions, and other things. Neither Prime noticed anything. All they noticed was that they were drawn to each other in a decidedly more than friendly way. It was Rodimus who first realized that he was in love with the senior Prime. For Optimus, realization took longer, but eventually he figured it out as well. Both knew they were in love, but both were too shy or nervous to actually say it. And neither was sure if the other returned their feelings.

Optimus peeked around a corner and saw Rodimus talking to Magnus. The city commander was chuckling at whatever Rodimus was saying. For the first time, Optimus wondered if Magnus and Rodimus were a couple. Embarrassed by spying on what he thought was a private moment, Optimus crept away. For a moment, the thought of fighting Magnus for Rodimus popped into him mind. Shocked at the very idea, he forced it out.

Believing that Rodimus already had a lover, Optimus began avoiding Rodimus.

"What's going on?" Jazz wondered. "Why is Op avoiding him? This isn't right."

"I'll talk to him," Kup decided, rising to his feet and walking down the corridor to Prime's office. Prime admitted him on the first ring of the chime. The door slid silently open, and Kup walked in.

Prime looked up from his work. "Hello, Kup. What can I do for you?"

"You can start by telling me why you're so miserable, and why you're avoiding Rodimus all of a sudden," the older bot told him.

Prime waved him off. "It's nothing."

Not deceived for a moment, Kup placed his palms on the desk and leaned over to stare Prime right in the optics. "It is something. Tell me what it is. If you don't deal with it soon it will start to affect your behavior in a negative way."

The senior Prime sighed and relented, knowing from experience that once Kup latched on to something, there was no shaking him off until he'd gotten what he wanted. "What is Magnus's relationship with Rodimus?"

"Magnus?" Kup thought for a moment. "They're friends. Magnus and I were his advisors when he was the only Prime we had. So Magnus and I are close to Rodimus, but we still respect the barrier between him and us. They're close friends, nothing more. Sometimes Rodimus will ask Magnus for advice on where to place a building or where to shift loads of supplies. Normal everyday city business."

Prime thought that over, realizing that what he'd seen had been a perfectly innocent conversation about the way the city was run. Once he realized that, he relaxed.

Kup saw him relax, and suddenly he couldn't resist. "How long have you been in love with Rodimus?"

Optimus's head shot up, his optics widening so much Kup thought they would shatter. He was utterly speechless, caught off-guard by the blunt question. "W...w...what?!?!"

"Don't deny it, Prime. It's obvious when you know what to look for. For example, the way you watch him every opportunity you get. The way you started avoiding him when you thought he was in love with Magnus. The way you relaxed when you found out otherwise. If you connect the dots, it's clear."

With a groan, Prime slumped forward, hiding his face in his hands. "How many people know?"

"Not many. And those who do know keep quiet about it."

"What am I going to do?" Prime wailed.

"You could try talking to Rodimus about it," Kup pointed out. "He'll find out sooner or later, so it's better he hears it from you and not from the rumor mill. And there will be rumors flying hell, west, and crooked once the gossip generators get wind of it."

Prime looked like he was carrying a mountain on his shoulders. "I'll think about it."

"Do that. But talk to him soon, before he chooses someone else." He wouldn't, Kup knew, but the mere mention of that possibility made Prime's spine stiffen in alarm.

"Well?" Jazz asked when Kup rejoined the rest of the matchmakers.

"He'd seen Rodimus and Magnus together and thought they were a couple," Kup explained. "I assured him otherwise."

"Me and Rodimus?" Magnus frowned. "Wouldn't work. He's not my type."

"I told Optimus that there was nothing but friendship between you and Rodimus, and advised him to go talk to Rodimus," Kup finished.

"Good thinking. So what do we do now?" Sideswipe asked.

"Now we wait and see what happens."

Optimus leaned back in his chair, staring thoughtfully at a long scratch on the top of the desk while he pondered Kup's advice. The older bot had a point, he realized. If he didn't make a move soon, he might lose Rodimus to someone else. But he had no idea how to tell the junior Prime.

Just then, Rodimus walked in, carrying an armload of reports. "These reports from Perceptor just landed on my desk, and I figured you should take a look at them. Maybe you'll have a better time trying to read Perceptorese." He dropped the reports on Prime's desk and turned to leave.

"Wait."

Curious, Rodimus turned to face the desk. He regarded Optimus for a long moment, then sat down in front of the desk, moving a heap of reports so he could see the older Prime. To his surprise, Optimus walked around the desk and took the other seat, turning it to face Rodimus. He was trying to say something, but couldn't seem to be able to spit it out. Rodimus remained silent, giving the older bot time to gather his thoughts.

"There's something I've been wanting to tell you for some time now, but I couldn't find the nerve to say it," Prime finally got out. "I... damn, why is it suddenly so hard to talk to you?!"

"Just try," Rodimus encouraged.

"I..." Prime tried. He stared at the floor for a long moment, wringing his hands nervously, then blurted it out. "IthinkI'vefalleninlovewithyou."

Rodimus frowned, trying to work out what Prime had said. Fortunately, he had enough experience deciphering Blurr's speech that he managed to make out what Optimus had told him, and his optics widened.

"You're in love with me?" he breathed, startled.

"Yes," Optimus answered, looking away. "I had to get that out."

A gentle hand cupped his chin, turning his head so that his optics met Rodimus's. The look in the younger Prime's optics was of pure joy.

"You know," Rodimus began conversationally, "for the longest time I've been wanting to tell you the same thing."

Now it was Optimus's turn for his optics to go wide with surprise. "You feel the same way about me?" He hardly dared to believe it.

Rodimus nodded, and Optimus's entire body was bursting with happiness. He reached out and embraced Rodimus, hugging him tightly. Rodimus returned the embrace, making a humming-rumbling sound low in his throat. It sounded like he was purring.

"That sounds so nice," Optimus whispered.

Contented blue optics blinked up at him. "I make it when I'm happy."

"It's a sound I look forward to hearing more of."

"You will."

When the two emerged from Optimus's office, they remained close to each other, their fingers entwined. They walked into the recreation lounge and stopped dead at the chorus of wolf whistles, cheers, and applause that greeted their appearance. Bewildered, they stared at the crowd waiting for them in the room. It was Rodimus who first realized what was going on.

"Metroplex, you snitch!" he yelled.

The huge city chuckled. Rodimus kicked the nearest wall, getting a yelp from Metroplex and laughter from the other Autobots. Kup, chuckling up a storm, stepped forward.

"He was just helping us. Don't take it out on 'Plex," the old Autobot commented.

"You set us up, you old coot!" Rodimus accused.

"Nonsense. We just helped you admit your feelings to each other. Primus knows we've been trying for months."

Rodimus, unable to think of anything to say, glared at the old bot. Optimus, realizing that Kup had been pushing him to admit he loved Rodimus, added his glare to the one Rodimus was shooting at Kup. The old warrior only laughed.

"Hey, it worked," Kup pointed out. "You two have admitted that you love each other. So our mission is complete."

"Who else was in on this?" Rodimus demanded.

"We all were," Springer answered.

"The entire army?" Optimus blurted, stunned.

"Yep," Jazz chirped. "Every last one of us. We all had a part to play in getting you two together."

"I don't believe this!"

"Believe it," Blaster advised.

Optimus placed a hand on his agitated lover-to-be's shoulder, drawing the slightly taller younger bot's attention back to him. "Let him live, Red."

Rodimus made a sound that might have been a snort of irritation, or a noise of surprise at the unexpected pet name. Optimus smiled at him, the smile visible in his optics. Rodimus slowly relaxed.

"'Red?'" Magnus repeated curiously.

Rodimus instantly shot him a glare that could melt durasteel. "Don't you even start."

Magnus held up his hands in surrender. "Easy on the looks, Roddy!"

"If looks could kill you'd be a sizzling pile of scrap," Arcee observed.

"If I catch him spreading that particular nickname around he'll be in even worse trouble when I get my hands on him, so he'll keep his big trap shut." Rodimus nailed Magnus with his most piercing glare, making Magnus squirm nervously. "Won't you, Magpie?"

"'Magpie?'" Jazz chuckled. "That's one I've never heard before."

"You'll be hearing a lot more if he opens his mouth," Rodimus promised.

Magnus squirmed. "Rodimus!" he wailed.

"Consider it payback," Rodimus told him with an evil grin.

"You're evil!"

Rodimus preened.

Optimus chuckled. "That's the most professional payback I've seen in a long time. Now, if you'll excuse us..." He took Rodimus by the arm and led him away.

They ended up in Rodimus's quarters, which were closer that Optimus's. Rodimus fingered Optimus's battle mask.

"Like this." Optimus reached up, took his new mate's hands, and guided them to the hidden clamps hidden under his helmet. Rodimus applied pressure to the clamps, and the mask popped free, landing neatly in his palm. Optimus took it from him and placed it on the nearby table. Then he turned and smiled at the junior Prime.

To Rodimus's surprise, Optimus's face was actually very handsome. Rodimus reached out and traced his features gently with his fingertips. Optimus leaned into his touch, almost purring himself. He loved the tender touch of Rodimus's hand.

He raised his own hands, placing them gently on Rodimus's shoulders. The younger bot's eyes narrowed in pleasure at the gentle touch, then he began purring as Optimus's hands began running across his shoulders, down his sides, and along his upper back. Optimus's hands found the base of Rodimus's spoiler, and began kneading it. Rodimus leaned into his caress, his purring increasing in volume. Optimus smiled at him, gently drawing him close. Rodimus eagerly leaned into him. The older Prime drew him down onto the bed.

Hours later, Optimus looked at his sleeping mate, filled with joy that the beautiful creature next to him was all his. Rodimus was deeply alseep, his optics closed, a tiny, tender smile on his lips. His head was pillowed on Optimus's chest, one arm thrown across the senior Prime's torso, one long leg pinning Optimus's to the bed. In slumber, he looked even younger than he did when awake. Optimus knew that Rodimus was only a teenager by Autobot standards, but he didn't care. Rodimus was old enough to make his own decisions, old enough to decide for himself what he wanted to do with his life, and if he wanted to take a bot more that twice his age (sort of) as his lifemate, Optimus had no intentions of stopping him. He knew that living with Rodimus would be good for him, and would keep him on his toes.

As if Optimus's thoughts had alerted him, Rodimus stirred and woke, lifting his head from Optimus's chest to look his older mate in the optics. "I can hear the wheels turning in your head. What's on your mind?"

"Nothing you should worry about," Optimus assured him.

Rodimus frowned, not believing him for a second. "I know you better than that. Nice try, though."

"Just thinking that you'll be very good for me. I'm so used to the old state of affairs. It'll be nice to have someone around who actually knows what's going on."

Rodimus snorted and cuffed him gently. Optimus laughed and caught his wrist, and they play-wrestled for a few minutes. When they finally settled down, Optimus began stroking Rodimus's back.

"I'm also thinking that my quarters are more than large enough for two," he added.

"Are you asking me to move in with you?" Rodimus asked.

"Yes."

A grin touched Rodimus's lips. "I'll have to recruit Mags to help me move my stuff."

"How did I know you were going to say that?" Optimus queried, and Rodimus laughed.

The two became a close couple, sharing quarters and even an office. Silverbolt soon commented that nobody ever saw one without the other, and asked if they were considering a formal bonding. The two exchanged glances.

"I don't see why not," Optimus responded.

The bonding ceremony was an ancient ritual that could be compared to the wedding rites of the humans, but was far more complex. A bonded couple became connected through a tight mental bond, what they called a lifebond or soulbond. They could sense each other's emotions, read each other's thoughts, communicate mind-to-mind, even think and dream as one. After the ceremony (and the inevitable party), the newly-bonded couple spent several days alone with each other, exploring their bondmate's mind and tightening the bond between them.

The ceremony took place on a beautiful summer day. Every Autobot on Earth attended, and more arrived from Cybertron to take part. Only those humans who worked with the Autobots were permitted to be there, and the media was barred from entering the city during the ceremony. Metroplex saw to that. The reason, Jazz explained to the city's human inhabitants, was because of the way most humans felt about same-gender couples. Those humans who worked side-by-side with the Autobots were already over that, knowing that the Autobot males outnumbered the females by a huge margin, so most couples were male-male.

The ceremony took three hours to complete. Metroplex's main hall was decorated for the occasion, and both of the new mates had also been cornered by a female, most likely one of the humans in the city. Their armor had been polished to a high shine, their helmets ringed with white crystal flowers and silvery metals from a distant world. A priest from the temple of Primus had arrived from Cybertron to perform the ceremony, and would leave as soon as it was over.

The ceremony ended when the priest said the ritual words to bond the minds of the two Primes and they shared their first public kiss, which resulted in a general "Awwwww" from the crowd. Then they turned and descended from the temporary platform, which was the unofficial signal that the party was about to start.

Within minutes, the hall was a riot of loud music and raucous voices. Everyone came forward to congratulate the newly-bonded couple. The party lasted all night, then the new bondmates retreated to their quarters.

In their quarters, they curled up on the bed as they began to explore their bond. Slowly, their minds began to merge. Their memories began to drift through the link.

Hours passed while they explored each other's minds, learning everything there was to know about each other. Once they emerged from their trance, the link was tighter that any previous bond either had ever heard about.

Not even a week later, the Decepticons appeared out of deep space.

"Attack!" Galvatron bellowed.

The Decepticons descended on the city. The Autobots poured out of the city and returned fire. Then the Decepticons landed, and the battle became close combat.

Rodimus yelped slightly as a shot from Cyclonus singed him armor.

Are you all right? Optimus mind-sent.

Yeah. Only my pride was hurt, Rodimus responded. Ooh, he's gonna pay for that!

Optimus sent a chuckle of amusement along the link, and Rodimus told him to get his mind back on track. With another chuckle, Optimus returned his attention to the battle.

Rodimus turned to pounce on Cyclonus, and they grappled. Magnus and Springer kept other Decepticons from interrupting them while they fought. Rodimus was gaining the upper hand when Galvatron took off, took aim at Rodimus, and fired his fusion cannon right at him. Cyclonus leaped clear instants before the shot hit.

The shot hit Rodimus in the back, finding one of the seams of his armor. It tore the seam open and burned deep into his circuitry. He screamed in pain as his delicate internal systems were ravaged by the shot.

Optimus jerked as his mate's pain flooded him through their bond. Hot rage swept through him. With a roar of fury, he turned and opened fire on the Decepticon leader.

Galvatron yowled as the shots hit, blasting holes in his armor. A moment later, other Autobots also opened fire on him. By the time he managed to scramble out of range, he'd taken heavy damage, and had flown into range of Metroplex's heavy laser cannons. The behemoth city opened fire on him. Galvatron managed to dodge most of the shots, but some still hit, and they made the damage worse.

"Decepticons, retreat!"

The Decepticons began to pull out. The Autobot fliers took to the air, chasing them down. Badly beaten, the Decepticons ran as fast as their thrusters could take them. The Autobot fliers hounded them until they were out past Earth's moon, then circled around and returned to the city.

Optimus dropped his rifle and ran toward his fallen mate. First Aid, the Protectobot medic, was already there. He was running a med scanner over the gaping wound in Rodimus's back. Rodimus was unconscious.

"How is he?" Optimus asked, his voice thick with worry.

First Aid looked up. "His wounds are severe. We have to get him to Medbay now, before he loses any more fluids."

Optimus nodded. He stood back as First Aid transformed, and Magnus lifted Rodimus into the ambulance. First Aid drove through the city as fast as he could. Metroplex opened every corridor he could to get the badly-wounded young Prime to the repair bay as fast as he could. Once there, Rodimus was lifted onto a table and hooked up to the machinery. First Aid grabbed his tools and began to work, ignoring Optimus, who stood in the corner, watching.

It took hours to repair Rodimus, and First Aid kept him in the Medbay for an additional three days to make sure he was fully recovered. Then he was released.

"I'm so glad you're all right," Optimus whispered in his ear.

"It was close, though," Rodimus told him, sitting on the bed. "I'd lost so much fluid that First Aid was in a race against time to repair me before I bled out."

"I'm glad he made it."

"So am I."

Optimus sat down beside his mate, wrapping his arm around Rodimus's shoulders. "I was terrified. I thought I might lose you."

"You'll never lose me. I'm not going anywhere. First Aid upgraded my armor while I was recuperating, and he covered all the seams to prevent something like that from ever happening again. So don't worry. You aren't going to lose me. 'Cause I plan on hanging around for a very long time."

Optimus laughed with relief. Rodimus smiled at him, leaning over to kiss him. Then Prime pushed him down on the bed.

First Aid said you have to rest," Optimus reminded him.

"I know. But only if you rest with me."

Optimus snorted and lay down beside his younger mate. Rodimus curled up next to him contentedly, and they both fell into a deep sleep. The last words Rodimus whispered before sleep claimed him were:

"I'm right here, and I will always be with you. I'll be by your side forever."

Fin.

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