Thanks go to my friends Charlotte Brogden and V.H.Spah for their help, suggestions and direction with this fanfic. Thanks guys!
Optimus Prime swept his hand across his optics, trying to stay awake. On the desk before him were numerous reports; energon consumption, casualty lists, recruitment logs. He had to read them all, had to know as much as possible of what was going on. Whether he understood them or not, he had to at least know them.
His thoughts wavered and he sighed. Elita. Whenever he approached the limits of his exhaustion he could not shut her out, she filtered into his consciousness until he was forced to grapple with their currently unstable relationship. He did not want her involved in this civil war, he could not make himself assign her to any task which might involve risking her life at the wrong end of the enemies rifle. Yet she was good...a capable, efficient, warrior. And why shouldn't she be? She was built as one he told himself forcefully.
He leant his forehead in his hands and again tried to read the article on the table, narrowing his optics in earnest concentration. Instead his vision began to dim, his upper torso tilting forward as his body began to inadvertently commence its sleep cycle. Shaking his head from side to side, he stood up and turned his gaze to the chronometer on the wall. 12.14 ; past midnight. Deciding to get some sleep, he exited his office and headed for his private quarters.
Waking just before 6am, he rolled over onto his side, thankful for the quiet night. No messengers banging down the door alerting him to some Decepticon attack or other. In another half hour the night shift would be changing over to the day shift but there was no hurry for him to get up right now. He listened to the far away sounds of the base around him beginning the new day.
A hard knock at the door caused him to turn his face into the pillow and groan quietly. The knock was repeated, this time harder. Already knowing who it would be, he dropped his legs over the side of the recharge bed and stiffly stood up, moving to the door. he thought and touched the control pad on the door frame. The door glided open to reveal a glowering, thin-lipped, arm-crossed Elita-1.
"What the hell were you thinking?!" she ground out, a corner of her mouth twitching to lift up into a snarl.
Optimus glanced swiftly down the hallway at the security guard posted near his door, who was looking interestingly in their direction
"Not here," he said in a forced neutral tone, and pulled her by her folded arms into his room, the door sliding shut.
"How the hell could you assign me to sentry duty, of all things?! Maybe you haven't noticed but I have a rank, a rank you assigned me, and this rank does not.."
"Elita, please," Optimus cut in curtly, but Elita kept going.
"Do you know how I felt?! Standing with a raw recruit, raw recruit, when I'm a Lieutenant?!"
Optimus briefly shut his optics in pain, then realised she had stopped her tirade and opened them again. If she expected him to bark back like he had regretfully done the last couple of times they had talked about this, he wasn't going to. Not today.
They looked at each other for a moment. Optimus struggling to know what to say; Elita feeling some of her anger and frustration drain away as she watched him.
"You know why I assign you to trivial duties," he began, "We've talked about this before."
Elita nodded briefly and unfolded her arms. "Yes. I do. And I believe it will never change as long as we continue in this relationship. It does not stop me from feeling this way, you risk your life for this cause every day, I face every day thinking 'is this it? Is this the day you die?' yet you do not let me help you," She threw up her hands as she felt her anger coming back. "We have to do something about this, it can't go on this way!"
"I know! Don't you think I've thought about it? Maybe if we.." He was interrupted by the frantic beeping of his comlink. Reluctantly, he answered it. "Yes?" he said gruffly, wishing this did not always happen.
Prowl's voice practically leapt out of the comlink, "Sir! We have a breach of security at the east gates! Several Decepticon squadrons are attacking and more are on the way."
"Keep the gate forces where they are and send all available troops in the outside area to harass the invaders from behind, I'm on my way." Optimus turned to Elita, "Look, can we discuss this tonight? In the command centre tower?"
"Fine." She responded, seeing the flash of relief in his optics at her answer as she watched him run out the door. Their relationship was tearing itself apart. This was a truly unique situation that she had never dreamed of happening when they had first become 'involved' as their former selves; Orion Pax and Ariel. Back then they had just been ordinary citizens living very ordinary lives, whatever happened to that? This, she thought bitterly, Megatron, war, destruction. Even if the fighting stopped now, they could never go back. They had new bodies, new abilities... new but not necessarily better. At first they had trouble coming to grips with their remodelled physiques, they had been alien to them, feeling awkward and self conscious; each not knowing if they would still find each other attractive or if they should continue as partners or just friends. But that stage had passed quickly and now they were facing a new problem. Something which they might not be able to resolve. Why could he not see that she cared for his welfare as much as he did for her? Yet she understood his obligations and did not seek to hold him back like he did to her, however much it tore her apart to think of him on the battlefield. Instead, in their private moments she showed him how much she loved him, as he did her.
Elita-1 walked through the blast doors of Iacon's command centre, having thought all day about her and Optimus's conversation that morning. She felt all the male optics in the room follow her as she approached Optimus Prime. She was very aware of all the male attention she received but she never acknowledged it; they could look but never touch; that privilege was reserved for one male only.
Standing silently, she waited for Optimus to finish his discussion with a technician, her mind churning over all the things she was thinking of to say. Optimus finished with the 'tech and turned to face her. He smiled slightly behind his face mask and gestured for them to go upstairs. Elita led the way as they climbed upwards to the small shielded balcony on top of the command centre. She leaned on the railing, looking out at Iacon and it's surrounding suburbs as Optimus stood with his hands clasped behind his back, head facing out to the view but his optics turned towards her.
"Elita, I think we should consider... that maybe,..." Optimus sighed and looked down at his feet, hands twisting behind his back, "I mean..." he stalled again, not wanting to say what he considered to be the inevitable; the break-up of their relationship, the sending of Elita to somewhere; anywhere in the galaxy where she would be safe until he could come for her.
"There is another way," Elita said quietly and turned to face him, pulling at his arms until his hands were in hers. She looked up into his optics, "If I can accept you out there, on the field, you can accept me to."
"No!" he said violently, shaking his head, trying to pull his hands from hers.
Elita held on, "Listen to me! You cannot try to shield me from what is going on, I could just as well be shelled sitting at a desk or standing on a lookout wall as I could leading a Decepticon raid! To me the risk is the same but the benefits are more. This is what I was constructed to do, please, for Primus' sake, let me do it. It would kill me to not be here for you, I will not be sent away or assigned to menial tasks."
She looked at him, optics blazing, daring him to say that what she said was not true.
"Optimus, I love you, as you do me. Don't destroy what we have."
He struggled to respond to her, his mind screaming at him to save her; send her away and hope that they could reconcile later. His heart was saying listen to her, keep her. Groaning, he bowed his head, trying to come to a decision. Nothing he had done before had ever been this hard.
"I...I.. " he started, but was stopped by Elita reaching up and grasping his mask. With a gentle twist it came loose in her hand and she let it fall to the ground as she wrapped her arms around his waist. Embracing him, she stood on tiptoe and pressed her lips to his, kissing him softly. He responded and held her tightly. At the back of his thoughts he wondered what her reaction would be when he told her of the decision he had just made.
Chapter 2 coming up!