Author's note: This pairing fantasy would NOT leave me alone and I am a hopeless romantic, so I acted on those feelings and this fic is the result. Let's assume Mikaela is 18 here, mmkay? Also, despite this story's seriousness, I KINDA-SORTA tied this in with another fic I wrote called Sand and Vacuum Cleaners. I say kinda-sorta because Jazz is alive there, but in this story it's mentioned that he isn't.

Anyhow, this story contains angst and moments where Optimus is a huge dork. Enjoy!

.o

A Dance to Remember

.o

Mikaela Banes angrily flung her corsage down in empty street. Then she unbuckled the straps of her uncomfortable high heels, transferred the shoes to her left hand and reached up to tug the bobby pins holding her hair up in bun. Finally, after shoving the pins into her purse with a disgusted growl, she resumed walking.

Prom night was supposed to be a joyful event. She spent more money than she'd like on her dark red halter gown with a slit up to her thigh and matching ruby earrings. Sam's mother kindly offered to pay for her hair and makeup. She was all dolled up for the perfect night.

But no...instead of a special, peaceful evening...she got Sam and Trent having a fist fight in the parking lot. The cops took them both away in cuffs even though Sam didn't start it.

She never got inside the high school gym.

Mikaela let another sigh pass her painted red lips. Tears threatened her perfect makeup. She tilted her head back and looked up hard until the lump in her throat dwindled enough to let her swallow.

Headlights lit up the otherwise noiseless road. Mikaela instinctively moved over to the shoulder.

The rumbling diesel engine was unmistakable. She knew that Peterbilt was no ordinary truck. Turning her head, she glanced at the painted red and blue flames sprouting from a silver grill.

The truck rolled to a stop and swung its passenger door open. No driver, but the cab was too dark to see from the ground. It wasn't until she climbed in and the door closed that a familiar, deep voice spoke to her from the radio speakers:

"You shouldn't be walking around alone. Crime rates suggest young females such as yourself are targets for--"

"I know, Optimus," Mikaela sighed darkly, upset at herself for being angry over her plight. This was always the luck she had with boys. Then she felt guilty for snapping at him. "...Sorry. It's been a piece of crap night."

"I heard. Bumblebee radioed me when he could not locate you. He can't risk driving around with Sam's parents in his vicinity, so I came."

"Thanks. It's just--argh--I'm sorry--I had to get out of there." Mikaela leaned back in the leather seat and gazed forlornly at her red manicure. Damn Trent and his flock of followers! "Sometimes, I swear guys only want to go out with me because they think I'm pretty. Like I'm some trophy to show off. All I wanted was to dance with a nice guy--is it too much to ask? Just one minute of peace after..." She couldn't bring herself to say Mission City. It still gave her nightmares.

Optimus, bless him, stayed focused entirely on the road. For several minutes he didn't utter a sound beyond his engines. At first she thought he'd drive her back to school, but he turned left at the cross-street, taking them in the opposite direction.

"Hey, where are we going?"

"Somewhere quiet," came the cool reply.

He rolled to a relatively deserted part of the city and pulled into an abandoned field. Mikaela remembered this grassy space. Optimus landed in it. The scar of his descent still marred the grass and trees.

"I'd like to make up for your ruined evening, Mikaela." Optimus swung his passenger door open for her.

"Huh?" How the heck would a giant robot fix my prom night? "Why?"

"Uhh...I wish to perform an experiment with my hologram, but my main priority is solving your problem."

Mikaela smiled at his kind offer. How could she refuse? Optimus wasn't asking because he'd gain prestige amongst his buddies--and that made all the difference. She climbed out, leaving her purse and shoes on the seat. The cool grass was soft against her bare soles. She rubbed a hand down her backside to make sure no part of her dress had caught on the side of the truck.

"Forgive me if this doesn't work--I haven't tested it."

And then, with a soft zapping noise, Optimus' image wavered into reality on her left! He still looked as regal as ever--but he stood exactly six and a half feet tall.

Optimus glanced at his hands and his face plates shifted subtly into his version of a smile. "Well, what do you know...it works."

She gasped. "Optimus?"

He fixed her in his shining blue optics. "Human holograms feel so false to me. Useful as a disguise while driving in daylight...but when I'm alone, I'd much rather experience your world as myself."

It was strange to see a human-sized Optimus Prime. In many ways he reminded her of a glistening metal sculpture, his body so intricate and his face so perfectly formed with humanoid, yet simultaneously alien features. The spaces between his facial plating weren't as pronounced at this size. She stared at him. Was it possible for a robotic alien to be...handsome?

Something about his eyes was sad...mired in the guilt of losing Jazz, seeing his own brother--his very evil brother, she noted silently--die, and the knowledge that all hope to restore his world seemed lost. She wondered if he ever spent his recharge hours going over it again and again in his mind, seeing what he could have done different. Could Transformers cry?

Mikaela realized she was staring. She looked down, pretending to examine her fingernails.

Optimus extended his metallic hand, his optics softly glowing in the moonlight, "May I have this dance, Mikaela?"

Mikaela blinked at him.

Wait, how does he...oh, of course--the internet. He probably downloaded dance steps. Please, please, please don't try and do something complicated like the tango...

"Um..." For once she was the nervous one whose mouth ran dry. First, she worried about him stepping on her feet and breaking her toes. Then she worried about someone seeing them. Then she worried she'd enjoy it...

His radio whirred to life and strains of Mikaela's "guilty pleasure" music rippled into the air. Berlin, Take My Breath Away.

"I noticed a few songs from the nineteen-eighties on your Ipod."

That made her chuckle. He caught her, but he'd never make her admit to liking eighties songs in front of anybody else. She breathed a silent thank you because he hadn't put on something crazy--like tango music. Phew. "Okay, I'll dive in."

She took his outstretched hand. It was as solid as the truck behind him and cool to the touch. Not cold, just slightly cooler than her skin. He drew her close, interlocked their fingers and wrapped his free arm around her waist. She placed a hand on his chest plate. Her head fit perfectly under his chin. Surprisingly, his metal body felt warm like a car left all day in the sun.

Optimus swayed her gently to the music. She could hear the hisses and clicks of his joints as he moved more fluidly than a human with bones and ligaments. His rhythm was perfect. She didn't need to worry about him stepping on her feet.

"Wow," Mikaela whispered.

He spoke, his low, powerful voice vibrating through his armor and making her cheekbone tingle. "Wow?"

"You're so warm. I...thought you'd be--ah--cold."

"I raised my surface temperature to one hundred-point-five degrees Fahrenheit for your comfort." One of his optics tilted up, mimicking an arched brow. "Am I too hot for you?"

His question was innocent, but she snickered at the unintentional double meaning. "You're fine--and...you're pretty good at this. How'd you learn?"

That smile again. "Youtube."

Notes and chords continued to float in the still night air. Optimus led her in slow, swaying circles.

"This is rather relaxing," he mused.

"Yeah." Mikaela let her cheek rest against Optimus' shoulder. "Here...let me show you how they do it at a prom." She pulled her hand out of his grasp, wrapped his arm around her waist and cautiously placed her hands on the back of his neck joints. "Now, don't move your shoulders so much...just your hips and feet."

Optimus adjusted himself accordingly. His large, metal hands cupped the base of her spine. "Like this?"

"Yeah," Her heart pounded behind her ribs. Why this reaction? "You're a natural."

His chrome body shimmered under the moon.

"I believe, going by the etiquette of your world, my next statement should involve mentioning that you look..." He inclined his head to look her in the eyes, quirking his mouth plates into a small smile, "lovely?"

...Watching, I keep waiting,
Still anticipating love.
Never hesitating
To become the fated ones.
Turning and returning
To some secret place inside.
Watching in slow motion
As you turn my way and say,
My love,
"Take my breath away
..."

Blushing, Mikaela tilted her head to the side. She'd been called many things: hot, sexy, gorgeous...but lovely was a new one. At least he acknowledged her appearance--Sam forgot. She didn't blame Sam, he always got nervous around her. Most guys did.

"Thanks, Optimus. I kinda wish I'd asked you to the prom," she mused.

"Somehow, I think your peers would have a problem with that. And there is also the issue of finding a tuxedo in my size." Optimus chuckled and...winked at her. It looked a little dorky, but his gentle laugh made the gesture charming in its innocence.

She barely concealed an unladylike snort. "How about I spray paint you black and white and wrap a tie around your neck?"

"Ratchet would love that." He laughed again and twirled her. Then he pulled her close and bent forward in a graceful dip. "Is my dancing sufficient?"

"Better than 'sufficient.'" Mikaela replied. Again, she felt her face growing warm. She leaned on Optimus and wrapped her arms around his neck. "Everybody else I dance with shakes like a leaf." She averted her eyes for a moment, sighing, "It's nice to finally have a dance partner that knows what he's doing."

She swore she saw faint purple creep into the edges of his blue optics. The mechanical equivalent of a blush?

One of his thumbs stroked her lower back. No, not stroking her, just feeling her dress, but it felt too wonderful to make him stop. Besides--she became suddenly aware of her own thumbs repeatedly tracing a vent on the back of his head.

The silence mixed with the music became suddenly suffocating. Mikaela refused to think about Mission City, so she filled the emptiness with her voice, "Are there women where you come from?"

"Ah," his voice rumbled almost directly into her ear. It came from his mouth, but carried no breath. "Technically there are no males or females...but we refer to each other as 'he'. It is only coincidence that I have the traits you consider 'male'."

A cold answer. His tone wasn't cold--the ideas behind it were.

"No women..." The icy space inside her grew. They were machines, not men. Tears sent hot pokers prickling in the corners of her eyes.

Optimus switched to another song. Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler, and adjusted his footwork to match the new tempo. He seemed to know every eighties piece Mikaela kept on her Ipod.

He also guessed exactly what she was thinking.

"On this planet, people of the same gender fall in love and chaos ensues. I don't understand why it's considered wrong. Love is love, it should not be based on gender or reproductive capabilities." He leveled his eyes with hers, "My people love deeply. We 'make love'--as you humans call it, and we mourn for lost lovers. So, fundamentally, we are not so different, are we, Mikaela?"

"I guess not." She slowly became aware of heat coming from somewhere between his chest plates. "Do you...have anyone?"

He lifted his gaze to the sky--

...once upon a time there was light in my life,
but now there's only love in the dark.
Nothing I can say--
A total eclipse of the heart
...

--before dipping his head in a quiet nod. "Once, many millennia ago, I loved Megatron."

Mikaela barely suppressed a shudder. She expected him to say yes or no, not name that horrible thing from her nightmares!

"Megatron?"

"He was--beautiful--before he discovered the All Spark." Optimus looked to the side and lasers issued from his optics. The light beams coalesced into a mech whose silver body reminded Mikaela of a medieval knight. The image turned its head and shockingly familiar red eyes tilted in a warm smile. Then it faded as Optimus shut off the hologram.

Mikaela could hardly believe that was Megatron--he looked gorgeous!

"But you called him 'brother'..."

"That is a rather loose term, actually. Two mechs who gain consciousness in the same moment sometimes call each other 'brother'. Ten billion years ago, Megatron and I...we came into being facing each other. My oldest memory is his face. I loved him before I cycled my first intake, Mikaela," he trembled, "and I will love him after my last exhalation."

His words made her ache inside. Her mind produced a clear picture of a battered, dented Optimus gently, ever-so-gently, gathering Megatron to his chest and loading him onto the aircraft carrier. She remembered how he remained on the dock long after the aircraft carrier had vanished from view.

That day, he lost his world in more ways than one.

It hit Mikaela all at once and her mind struggled to comprehend the depth of his words. She almost couldn't fathom loving someone that long.

Optimus and Megatron were in love longer than her oldest ancestors' lifetimes. They loved before the nebula responsible for the sun, moon and Earth existed. Their love almost spanned time itself.

"I'm sorry." She swallowed hard, her innards quivering. "Sam, he--"

"No," Optimus cut her off. "Sam did what I could not."

Then he cycled a deep sigh and his blue optics dimmed a half degree. It was easy to see how much he grieved for his lifelong mate. And he endured it in silence because he was the foundation of the Autobots. If he cracked, they would fall. The pressure had to be maddening.

Inklings in the back of Mikaela's mind told her this conversation was getting far too personal, but she couldn't pull herself out.

"Do you cry?"

Soft music. Swaying. The faint whoosh of a zephyr stirring tree leaves.

"My people can cry, yes," Optimus whispered.

"No, I mean...do you cry?"

He lifted his head and blinked. "Crying won't bring him back."

"Maybe not, but sometimes a good cry makes it easier to stand your own skin...armor...whatever."

Optimus' sad blue eyes focused on her face. For a moment the pupils in his glowing irises appeared to quiver.

Again, she found herself realizing what a burden he shouldered. What she saw in Mission City...she experienced only a single day of what he endured for millions of years. That annoying hot potato sensation returned to her throat. Memories flooded her mind. All the chaos, Bumblebee trying to crawl on shredded legs, Jazz torn in half, people dying, being shot at and how she found the wherewithal to drive back into all that so Bumblebee could help his teammates.

She often had nightmares where Bumblebee didn't survive. Nightmares about Sam's bleeding remains dangling from Megatron's claws. Nightmares of the All Spark turning her household appliances into killer robots that shot everyone she loved.

Her vision blurred. It was too late to stop the tears as they overflowed in hot trails.

"Shit," she muttered, which prompted Optimus to stop dancing with her. He frowned--or did something that looked remarkably like a frown.

"Your eyes, they're leaking! Mikaela, do you need medical assistance?"

"No," she averted her eyes from his comically concerned expression. "This is how humans cry."

For a moment the only sounds were music and the little clicks of his eyes blinking.

Mikaela glanced at one of the mirrors on his chest, and to her relief she didn't have long black streaks on her cheeks.

At least my mascara's holding up, she thought ruefully. It gave little comfort.

Optimus guided her face back towards him with two gentle fingers.

"And why..." He spoke even softer, "...are you crying?"

Good Lord, why did his voice have to be so alluring?

Mikaela sniffed, clinging tighter to the back of his neck. Her lips trembled. "Everything. Everything! I almost died--I-I have nightmares about it and I can't even tell my mother why I wake up screaming in the middle of the night. I can't let Sam see me crack...dammit, Optimus, I just want to be held by somebody who understands. I just want someone to say it's over and it'll be okay so I can get on with my life!" She let go of his neck and clenched her fists on his chest plates.

Shimmering optics regarded her with utmost empathy as music from the radio rushed to fill in the silence.

...and I need you now tonight.
and I need you more than ever!
and if you only hold me tight--
we'll be holding on forever
...

Mikaela felt strong, protective metal arms slowly wrap around her shoulders and gather her close. "It's over, Mikaela..." Fingers stroked her hair, "Everything will be okay."

Something broke inside her. Heat swelled from her throat to her eyes. Dropping her cheek against the windshield on his chest, she clenched her fists and wept. Makeup be-damned, she cried for everything. Her father, the events in Mission City, everything Optimus lost, everything she lost, her ruined night that wasn't so ruined anymore and everything in between she couldn't think of right then.

"It's...going--to...be--okay..." Optimus' face pulled in a mechanical grimace. Dewy condensation formed on his optics--too fast for him to blink it away. The droplets dripped straight off his optic lids and made two plop-plop sounds on his armor. A display of vulnerability as rare and brief as the sun between storm clouds.

Mikaela cupped his face and wiped her thumb across his cheek, only to find no tear streak. He blinked and two more drops fell like rain on her forearm.

For that moment, Optimus Prime wasn't a leader. He was a lonely being trembling under the burden of his grief.

Warning alarms blared in Mikaela's mind. This was getting too intimate--yet she couldn't stop and leave him like this.

"I'm sorry for--"

"Shh," Mikaela ignored her own tears and held his face in both hands now, looking him square in the eyes. "I'm glad I'm not crying alone."

Smooth steel fingertips brushed away her tears. For every tear he wiped off her cheek, another fell from his eyes. They were pure water, not salty--probably wiper fluid.

Optimus cycled a long, noisy sigh. "I miss him. Even when--when we were apart I--could feel him...now there is nothing. It...it hurts, Mikaela. It...just..." His cheeks clenched, "...hurts!"

He clapped a hand over his eyes and made a whining sound similar to Bumblebee during his capture. A mechanical sob?

Mikaela figured so when it happened again.

"C'mere," she sniffed, wrapping her arms around his neck and holding the back of his head like he did for her.

His entire frame quaked in her embrace. "I--"

"It's okay." She gave him a light squeeze, "Let it out, Optimus. Let it all out. I won't tell anyone."

...turn around--bright eyes,
Turn around--bright eyes--
Turn around
...

"Bright Eyes..." Optimus lifted his head at the last lines of the song. "Bright...Eyes..."

There was a hiccup as his intakes hitched. Suddenly his vocal processor groaned, screeched and shuddered like an engine that wouldn't quite turn over.

Optimus' walls had crumbled.

He cried.

Hard.

Mikaela felt his warm teardrops drip onto her head and back, sometimes tickling all the way down her spine. She could feel every shudder, breath and vibration of his metal body. For a heartbeat he looked like he'd shatter without her arms there to hold him together.

Despite his tears, Optimus' voice remained level when he spoke, "I--haven't done this--in eight million--years..."

Of course his voice wouldn't shake. He didn't have a larynx prone to giving away the fact that, yes, he was crying his eyes out.

"That's way too long." Mikaela started to sway again, picking up where their dance left off. He followed her lead and they revolved slowly through their shared pain. She rubbed the back of Optimus' neck, soothing him through his grief. His movements were heavy at first, but as he released his tears they slowly grew lighter, regaining their previous fluid grace.

Optimus gradually quieted down. He drew back enough to reveal the grimace distorting his robotic features. All his pain lay naked before her.

It looked strange...but it wasn't ugly.

She studied his flickering eyes, lost in the world behind his mantle of leadership. He did not discourage her thumbs from feeling the angles and grooves that broke his face into a living mosaic. If anything, the plates grew warmer. She touched his metallic lips and his head dipped suddenly forward, so close that a mere inch of air separated their mouths.

His optics asked a silent question. The moment had her entranced. It existed somewhere above the universe and she didn't want to leave its presence.

She offered an almost imperceptible nod.

Optimus closed the last distance. He brought his mouth into contact with her parted lips and released a tingling static shock that shot straight down her body like an arrow.

Sparks literally flew.

You've lost your mind! You're crying and making out with an alien robot! You have LOST your mind!

Mikaela shut out her conscience. This moment was too pure and perfect to ruin with guilt and dread. She had never been around anyone who saw her for her and not as a the pretty girl to show off as a sign of their masculinity.

Her arms instinctively wrapped around his neck, eliminating the last inches of space between them. She exhaled on his mouth plates, her breath fogging the metal. He trembled--his face seemed sensitive--so she breathed again on his cheek. She noticed his hands moving up and down her back, cool fingers going from pressure through her dress to icy flames across her bare shoulder blades. Goosebumps broke out all over her skin.

"Your skin is so soft," he rumbled, one fingertip tracing her spinal column up to the base of her neck. His touch played her like a fine-tuned instrument.

Mikaela's breathing deepened. She was heating up fast...and she didn't stop him. If he undressed her, she'd let him. There was no world beyond his arms.

"Is this how you touched him?" Mikaela whispered.

Optimus answered by lowering his lips to her shoulder and delivering tiny shocks across her skin. Mikaela trembled in ecstasy. She let him pull her harder against him. His engines revved, sending vibrations into the hottest part of her body.

"Optimus..." She swallowed a moan, "What do I feel like to you?"

He chuckled against her throat. "Your dress is velvet and your body temperature is exactly ninety eight point six degrees Fahrenheit. Your blood pressure, heart rate and respirations are increasing as I speak. I can feel the blood roaring through your circulatory system. That sensation...you feel like life, Mikaela."

Your sense of touch is more sensitive than a human's... Her damp eyelashes fluttered and her pupils dilated in arousal that invited him into her soul. When she looked up, she noticed his lens-like eyes appeared darker as well. Evidence of his crying glistened like dew all over his mechanical eyelids.

"Then...what if I..."

She freed a hand from his cheek and caressed the side of his head. His whole body shuddered. She trailed both hands over his ear finials, fascinated by the waves of warmth following her touch. There was no mistaking the buildup of heat and energy in his electrical system.

"Unh..." As always, he was absolutely frank, "Mikaela, you're electrifying my...you're--arousing me."

"I figured as much." Mikaela half-smiled, "Do you want me to stop?"

He brought their foreheads into contact, his eyes burning into hers. When he spoke, it came from the deepest register of his voice and sent vibrations across her breastbone. "Do you want to stop?"

This should have made her uncomfortable...but it didn't. Nothing could stop the gravity of this rapidly growing passion forming between them. They were orbiting it like two neutron stars on a collision course.

"No."

He ghosted a fingertip over her lips. "Then don't--" he froze, "...uh, oops...I think just ruined your paint job."

Mikaela giggled and wiped her lipstick off on the back of her hand. It left a red mess on her skin, but at least it wasn't on her face. Then she softly pecked his mouth plates to get rid of the tiny smear marring the metal. "There."

That quiet laugh again. For the first time Optimus actually looked a little embarrassed. "Mikaela, I--have a bit of a confession to make."

She cocked her head and raised both eyebrows, "Yeah?"

"I'm sure you recall that night involving the vacuum cleaner..."

"Oh, yeah. Hey, I'm sorry about bumping that sensitive whatever-the-heck-I-bumped. I know that really had to hurt."

Optimus blinked. "I wasn't in pain, Mikaela."

A momentary lull settled as Take My Breath Away began playing again.

"Oh, my God." Mikaela blushed, grinned and let her head rest against his chin. "So...you mean to say...you--you got off on a vacuum cleaner?" It was too funny for words. "But I wasn't even on your crotch! I thought--"

"You placed the vacuum unit on my Spark chamber," he spoke into her hair, "The vibrations provided just the right stimulation and, well...I 'got off' as you put it. It felt wonderful. Uh..." He scratched the side of his head with one finger and that strange purple sheen briefly flickered across his optics. "I--apologize if this makes you uncomfortable. My people are rather open about desire and sexuality, but here everything is completely the opposite." His eyes refocused on her, "At the time, I didn't want to say something and breach cultural etiquette."

Initially, the revelation did embarrass her.

"Well...that explains why Ratchet and Ironhide are always doing 'experiments' with that stupid thing..." She cracked a half-smile.

"They're bonded...something similar to marriage in your culture." Optimus chuckled, "Though, sometimes you wouldn't think so...Ironhide loves to rile Ratchet's temper."

"So when they go sneaking off together, they're...you know..."

"Yes."

She raised a brow, "I see. But you said something earlier about not feeling Megatron anymore...what was that all about?"

He seemed surprised that she'd asked, though it only lasted a second. His fingertips traced her jaw while he answered, "When two mechs fall in love, they merge their Sparks during a sexual encounter. It is the ultimate act of love." He looked up, apparently trying to translate his explanation into understandable English. "When Sparks touch, they swell and melt together, and at the moment over overload they transmit emotions, memories...it is a trade of selves. Then, when they part, both parties are able to sense their partner's emotions." He smiled down at her, "Your culture exchanges rings...mine exchanges souls."

Mikaela's embarrassment dwindled as Optimus' words seeped into her consciousness. Having a bonded mate die meant pain like having a limb ripped off, judging by how hard he cried a few short minutes ago. She put that out of her mind, focusing instead on her new epiphany.

Optimus and his kind were truly feeling beings--not just machines who walked, talked and fought. They were alive. They laughed, they cried...they had souls.

She thumbed the corner of his mouth, "So...you guys...you have orgasms?"

He nodded. "We call them 'overloads.'"

Mikaela could not believe what ran through her mind.

"Optimus?"

His gaze never left her eyes. She refused to think about anything beyond those two azure pools of thought and wisdom.

"Yes, Mikaela?"

"Touch me."

"I am touching you."

"No...touch me..."

Optimus brought his nose inches from hers and whispered, "You wish to escalate this?"

God, his voice drove her insane. "Yes, sir."

His optics flickered the way they did each time he ran an internet search. Then he smiled slightly, lifted his hand and, without looking away from her eyes, splayed his fingers over her right breast. She trembled as his thumb moved back and forth across her nipple, touching her through the fabric of her dress. He moved over to the other breast, repeating the gesture, and Mikaela gasped through clenched teeth. Her reaction drew his fascination. He shifted back to the right breast, only this time he slipped his hand gently inside her dress. She pressed herself to his chilled fingertips. It stung in a good way until he pinched a little too hard.

"Ah! Gentle, gentle," she panted.

He pulled back. "My apologies. My search said they produce milk...I was curious."

Mikaela blinked once. Twice. She burst out laughing. "I'm sorry--it's just...I have to have a baby first."

"...oh."

She leaned back, "Breasts are the weirdest things. They're capable of hypnotizing human men. All you need to do is go like this..." She wiggled her upper body side to side, causing her breasts to jiggle back and forth, "...and they stare like fools. They even look at them when they think a woman doesn't notice. It's hard wired into their brains or something."

"From a technical standpoint, breasts signify fertility. Therefore, the larger they are and the more they move..."

"Yeah...you're right. But if you want to know a secret," she leaned towards his left ear finial, "Big boobs are a real pain. They're heavy, they get in the way and they cause back problems."

Then she took the tip of the antenna into her mouth and suckled.

"Oh!" Optimus jerked and tilted his head like a cat being scratched in just the right spot, "M-M-Mikaela...that...oooh!...it's very...mmh...wet!"

"We're very wet creatures," She smirked and gave his other antenna an encore performance, her tongue sliding all the way to its base. "Get used to it."

"I'm not complaining, just stating a--f-fuh-aah-ct."

God, Optimus, do you even know how sexy you sound? I don't think you do...

"If you really wish to grind my gears..." Optimus grasped her wrist and guided her hand to the side of his throat. "Feel the wire?"

"I think..." She found it, "Yeah."

"It's a neural line. Pinch it."

She did so. He jerked his head back and made a sound of pure, unabashed desire.

Backing off a little, Mikaela gave him a moment to recover. Seeing him so open felt strange at first--she was used Optimus being a stoic mech that placed his job before his emotions. And now he stood before her--feeling, vulnerable and needing to be loved.

"I'd like to try..." He took her face in both hands, leaned forward and touched their mouths together. Despite its awkwardness, his attempt at a human kiss was actually pretty good for someone with metal plates for lips.

"What does an overload feel like?"

Optimus spoke against her mouth, "The Spark becomes overcharged and expels the excess energy across all neural lines. It's similar to an organic orgasm--where congested blood is suddenly released in a rush. So, fundamentally, we experience nearly the same sensations." He leaned close, talking directly into her ear, "Aching..." He lightly squeezed her breast. "...tingling..." his lips generated a charge that made her earlobe prickle. "...and..." Lastly, he grasped her backside, causing her to stiffen, "...tension in the extremities."

"God," Mikaela bit her lip. For an alien who learned about sex via Google, he sure knew what he was doing. She slipped a hand between his chest plates as if they were the flaps of an unbuttoned shirt and touched his bare components. Gently thrumming metal greeted her palm.

Machines, her first love...nothing beat the sensation of something so complex and powerful right under her fingertips. By touch alone she was able to identify several motor parts despite his alien body displacing them. Every so often, she nudged a cable or bolt that made his engine knock against her fingers.

Then, recalling something Ratchet mentioned, she tickled the exhaust piping on Optimus' side.

"Mikaela!" he flinched.

"Oops...I guess I forgot about that." Mikaela flashed an innocent smile and attacked his other side. He instantly broke into snickers, his laughter rebounding across the grass. She tickled him until he laughed as hard as he cried.

"Say you surrender," she giggled.

"Never!"

Her fingers ghosted up and down both sets of exhaust pipes. He arched his back in a failed attempt to escape. The moonlight flashed over his body.

"Mercy! Mercy!" Optimus grabbed her wrists. "Not!"

Mikaela shrieked as static attacked her side like a thousand tiny fingers. Sam always goosed her there--drove her nuts! What Optimus was doing excited her...she felt as if he'd electrified her entire nervous system.

But there was only so much she could take.

"Uncle!"

"...uncle?"

Mikaela squeaked, clinging to him, "I give up! Ack!"

The static stopped. Optimus slipped his arms back around her shoulders, smiling. "That was...refreshing."

"Heh...yeah." She relaxed, her brow slightly sweaty from laughing so hard.

They settled back into a slow dance. Always moving, riding the rising and falling notes in the still night air.

Mikaela's hands resumed their exploration under Optimus' chest armor, palms gliding against chrome so smooth it almost felt like porcelain. She was leaving fingerprints--marks to remind her this dance with Optimus really happened, but, like footprints by the ocean, they wouldn't last.

Where's that sweet spot of yours? Is it... She remembered the vacuum and rubbed her fingers over the middle of his chest. ...here?

"Mikaela," Optimus practically growled in her ear. He gripped his chest plates and pulled them open to expose his silver engine parts. Something in the center parted. White light illuminated Mikaela's face. So bright, yet the glow didn't hurt her eyes. "This is my Spark...my soul...you can touch it."

Reaching out, Mikaela carefully inserted her index finger into the light.

Optimus moaned, a low sound Mikaela felt more than heard. "Please, Mikaela...let's...let's fall in love for tonight."

She quaked as his words wrapped around her heart. He wouldn't give himself to anyone he didn't feel for, and he expected the same from her. She'd never replace Megatron--but...she knew that right now, Optimus needed someone to help him hold up the pain pressing into his consciousness.

Her mind drifted to something her father used to say:

"When the time's right, baby, give all your heart. Doesn't matter if you love somebody for a minute or forever, give 'em everything and sort it out later."

Who would've thought she'd share her heart with an alien robot ten billion years her senior?

Exquisite almost-pain surged through her chest. She painted that emotion on her lips and kissed him between the optics. "Okay."

Everything became a fluid stream of action mixing into music and sensation.

Mikaela's eyes remained locked in Optimus' gaze. His cool fingertips slipped into slit on her dress, smooth steel gripping her bare thigh. She felt him pull the skirt completely out of the way and instinctively wrapped her legs around his waist, surprised to find a space seemingly meant just for that purpose. God, he was so warm, the cold night air couldn't touch him.

Optimus knelt, laying her down in a soft grass patch.

"I kinda forgot my vacuum cleaner," Mikaela joked.

"We won't need it." He flashed her that little smile as he braced himself on one elbow, his hand coming to rest on the top of her head. Unlike a flesh and blood being, he would not tire if he held this position for too long. "Your heartbeat will be sufficient."

She tapped one of his antennae, "So will your engine."

Chuckling, Optimus brought their chests together. He shuddered, his engine revving even harder than before. Its vibration filled the core of her desire.

She could almost see the piston in his engine working...

Its cycle began with the piston at top dead center. An intake valve opened, creating a passage from outside through an intake port in the cylinder head. As the piston shifted to bottom dead center, a partial vacuum sucked in fresh air. Heat caused slight thermal expansion, making the cylinder "knock"--like a heartbeat. His heartbeat...

"Mm," Mikaela brushed her lips against his chin plate and pinched the sensitive wire in his neck.

...all the collected air rammed into the cylinder at higher than atmospheric pressure, slamming the piston to bottom dead center so hard it pushed on the connecting rod and turned the crankshaft...

"Unh," Optimus grunted and twisted his head to the side. Mikaela felt heat hissing out of his intakes. The air smelled like diesel and hot oil, the scent of alien, yet universal desire.

...the piston passed through bottom dead center and started its ascent...

She smiled as he nuzzled her cheek with his mouth plates. He shifted his position a half inch and she writhed in delight.

...at the end of the compression stroke, the gas tank ejaculated fuel into the cylinder, resulting in combustion and raw power...

Optimus' motor roared and Mikaela thought she'd explode, and she hadn't even reached orgasm yet.

...the exhaust valve in the cylinder head blew open when the piston revolved back up. Spent gases exited, allowing the cycle to start anew--

Hot mechanical breath blew gently across Mikaela's ear. Like a heart, his engine worked like a heart...like blood filling the atriums, being pushed down into empty ventricles and forced back out again while neighboring lungs strained to keep the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide equal.

She was so highly conscious of his jagged face inches from her cheek. Each rotation within him repeated until the vibrations became continuous. It was not idling--it growled, shuddered and knocked as it heated.

Even more incredible--Mikaela felt Optimus grind his hips against hers. He did it for her, a movement not natural to him, because he wanted to bring her the most pleasure he could. She ground back, unashamed. The pressure changes and the rushing and retreating of his purring motor did fantastic things to her nervous system.

"Mm, Optimus," Mikaela drowned in feeling and flexion. This wasn't wrong, it was never wrong to feel like this, to love like this...

Optimus moaned right in her ear. A sound so simple and clear in the emotions it entailed. She pressed closer to him and panted into his neck joints. The hand on her thigh--that incredible five-fingered thing with sensors telling him all her secrets--moved up to cup her face. His optics held a new softness when they searched her eyes. Whatever he wanted, he found.

Mikaela felt the hairs on her arms stand up. Optimus' face started to scrunch. She heard his mouth plates clattering against each other, trembling, straining.

His internals juddered, knocking on the door of her desire. She answered and he set her on fire. Her toes curled at the hot, tickling ache burning deep in her pelvis. Her face and chest flushed, glowing in her nearing release.

Optimus watched her closely, fascinated.

"Mikaela?"

God, his voice! He couldn't pick a more perfect time to speak if he tried again a million times.

Mikaela arched her back, whimpering as the roiling conflagration reached her chest and exploded through the rest of her body.

"Unnnh...oh, God! Optimus, don't stop, Optim-mmmooh, God!" She clawed at his neck and wailed at the starry sky as his incredible four hundred and twenty five horsepower engine drove her over the edge.

Optimus' chest plates pulled themselves further apart. Static snapped around his Spark chamber. Mikaela pushed him onto his back so her full weight rested across his torso. Aftershocks made her body twitch in delightful spasms, but not nearly as delightful as seeing the mech spread out beneath her.

Optimus tried to bury his face in his hand--exactly the way he had during the vacuum incident. Mikaela grasped his wrist so he wouldn't.

"Don't hide," she whispered.

"Mikaela..." He whimpered. "My love..."

For the millionth time that night, Mikaela wondered why this didn't make her uncomfortable.

She kissed Optimus' chin and adjusted herself so her heartbeat thudded inches from his naked Spark. His essence had swollen in circumference since he first exposed it for her. How strange that it didn't zap her...the electricity remained connected only to his body.

"Ooh, you look pretty close to the edge," she mused.

"Very," He moaned, clawing at the grass. The headlights on his body flashed. His Spark stopped crackling and started to pulsate.

Tears welled in Mikaela's eyes. She wanted this moment...she wanted to see this ten billion year old warrior bare his soul.

"What are you feeling? Tell me."

"Tingling...hot...unh..." His head turned side to side, optics steadily gaining luminosity. Suddenly, he smiled at her. His engine guttered, stalled and burst into a full-out roar. "It's happening..."

"You're--"

"Unh!" Optimus arched towards her. His Spark flared and collapsed in on itself. Spasms rocked his chassis. He clutched her in his arms, holding her heartbeat against his Spark, and she felt waves of static energy rippling over his metal frame. He scrunched his face, shivered and groaned--all without breaking eye contact.

Suddenly, powerful emotions washed over Mikaela. A sensation so huge its mass stretched horizon to horizon like an expanding bubble in the middle of her chest. It was a universe in itself--complex, changing and ageless. Images followed--a million lifetimes of devotion and smiling red optics. The love Optimus and Megatron shared for ten billion years bombarded her senses in rainbow waves. A gift from his soul to hers. She took it into her heart and hugged it as close as she hugged his body.

Bright Eyes... Optimus' voice echoed in her mind. I used to call him...Bright Eyes...

Then it all slipped away, a passing tornado of him retreating behind his guarded Spark chamber doors.

"Oh," he moaned again, using the back of his fingertips to pet her cheek. Leftover static attracted her hair to his fingertips.

She smiled. He'd gone from stiff to looking almost drunk. "Feel better?"

Optimus' optics flared blue-white and faded to black. His head lolled sideways. The radio and hologram kept running.

"Optimus?"

Mikaela's stomach dropped. She glanced down to find his Spark still glowing in its chamber. It pulsed like an ethereal electric heart in the center of his chest. How could someone mired in a war for so long have such a pure spirit?

Optimus' eyes blinked and regained their normal blue glow. His chest plates slowly clicked back into place, prompting Mikaela to sit up. He looked dazedly at her and frowned. "You didn't off-line?"

Mikaela bit back a giggle, "If a human passes out during sex, it's cause to worry."

"Oh..." He shifted his lower body. "Uh...I think you leaked lubricant from your--"

"That's normal." She cut him off. And a sign that I've totally ruined this pair of underwear...

"Are you sure?" The worried look on his face nearly made her break out in laughter.

"Mmhmm, yeah..."

Having a cold, wet piece of fabric against her body didn't mesh with Optimus' warm exterior. Mikaela lifted her bottom up enough to remove her thong. She used it to wipe herself off and tossed it into the bushes.

"Are you okay?"

"I feel much better than I did five minutes ago," Optimus replied, pushing himself to stand. "It is getting late, Mikaela."

He just had to break this bubble in time, didn't he? She didn't blame him for it--how could he have known she wanted to pretend away reality for a few more minutes?

Mikaela shot a self-conscious glance at one of the mirrors on Optimus' chest plates. To her surprise, her makeup hadn't suffered too terribly--or at least not enough to notice in the dark, and her hair wasn't a total disaster. She smiled in relief and looked up. "One more dance?"

A smile tugged Optimus' metal lips. "If that is what you want. However, I would like to reveal one of my musical guilty pleasures..."

She shrugged, "Knock yourself out."

His radio clicked. He held out his hand as the music started. She took it, smiled and let him twirl her gently towards his chest. Every motion he made seemed lighter, just a little less burdened than before.

The vocalist started singing--darn it the song hung just on the edge of Mikaela's memory. She knew she'd heard it before. Recognition hit at the chorus--

...The lady in red
is dancing with me--
Cheek to cheek.
There's nobody here--
It's just you and me.
It's where I wanna be.
But I hardly know
this beauty by my side!
I never will forget
the way you look tonight
...

"Chris De Burgh," Mikaela linked her fingers together on the back of Optimus' neck, "Lady in Red."

Optimus nodded in that sagely manner he did whenever something pleased him.

"It seemed appropriate, considering your attire," he tilted his head, "You match the imagery of the song."

"I didn't know you had a romantic side."

"I haven't had the opportunity to display it in a long time."

Too long...way too long.

Mikaela's smile trembled. Suddenly, she found herself glad she never made it to the prom. She wouldn't have seen this side of Optimus. She wouldn't have discovered that, underneath all the metal, the mantle of leadership and his brave face--he felt. He wasn't just a smart machine, he was truly as alive as anything flesh and bone.

She laid her cheek on his chest and closed her eyes, letting the music seep into her consciousness. I refuse to feel guilty about this...I can't after a night like this...

It'd be easy to love him after tonight--so easy...but what about him? Her life was a lightning flash compared to his. Wrapping love around him meant causing more heartbreak when her natural lifetime ended. She couldn't burden him that way. Not when he'd already lost practically everything he held dear.

But her feelings towards him were different now. She just couldn't put her finger on--

"Mikaela." Optimus' voice broke into her thoughts.

"Hm?"

"The air temperature is reaching a level detrimental to your state of dress."

Until then she didn't even notice her own shivering.

"I should return you to your house."

"Guess so," Mikaela sighed. She stood on her toes and touched her lips against his warm mouth plates. "Thanks for tonight, Optimus."

The slightly sad glow returned to his blue optics, a sign that he, too, wished this night didn't have to end. "I owe you my thanks, too. I...needed that."

She smiled, "Anytime. You can still look me up if you need to talk."

He echoed her expression, a strange robotic grin that just looked so oddly perfect against his jagged features. "I'd like that."

Then he helped her up into the cab of his real body. His hologram vanished as the door swung shut. No more music, just the rumble of his engine. He turned the heater on full blast. The warm cab and soft vibrations quickly put Mikaela to sleep. She dreamed pleasantly for the first time in months.

Next thing she knew, she woke to his air breaks hissing. They were outside her house.

Mikaela gazed forlornly at her home. Tonight was so perfect...why did it have to end?

Being the gentleman he was, Optimus utilized his hologram once more and walked her to the door.

"Hey, Optimus?" Mikaela dropped her purse and shoes on the front step.

Glowing blue pools fixed on her as if she held the universe in her hand.

For some reason she felt herself blushing. "Megatron was a lucky guy."

Optimus' face melted into a soft, metallic smile.

Mikaela kissed him one last time on the doorstep. His real self pulled away slow, letting his hologram kiss back until he moved out of range. Mikaela hugged herself as the memory of his gentle touch hung in the suddenly empty air.

.o

Sam's parents bailed him out of jail. Mikaela found out when he sent flowers to her house--cheap flowers because he was so broke--but he wrote a sweet note apologizing for ruining their prom. Her heart swelled. The gesture showed her he saw her as more than just a pretty thing to decorate his arm...he had genuine feelings for her. Maybe he just had trouble expressing them--like Optimus and his pain.

Come Monday, she was waiting on the curb when Bumblebee pulled into the school parking lot and let Sam out.

Naturally, the second he was in speaking range, Sam started to ramble.

"Mikaela, I'm so sorry about Trent. I told him to shut up for calling you a slut a-and he slugged me. I knocked him against his truck--gotta pay for the window, so I kinda--"

"Sam." Mikaela pressed a finger against his lips. He really was cute when he babbled. "It's okay."

"You're--you're not mad?" His eyebrows went up.

She slipped her arms around his neck the way she did with Optimus and lightly kissed his lips. "Nah."

Behind them, Bumblebee's radio let out a cat call that caused a few people to mutter about the jerk in the car. Mikaela pressed her forehead to Sam's chest and giggled.

"Mind your own business." Sam lightly kicked the Camaro's rear tire. He grinned, muttering, "Pervert."

Mikaela smiled as the bell rang. She took Sam's hand and led him towards the school building. Over her shoulder, she said, "See you later, Bumblebee."

.o

"...so Miles' date stood him up and he ended up walking home in the dark."

Beads of sweat formed under Mikaela's hairline as she worked a push broom across the warehouse floor. Optimus sat nearby with one leg pulled to his chest and his forearm resting across his knee. His radio played music--Fleetwood Mac at that particular moment--while he gazed through the large door at the horizon. Watching...always watching. He sat so still that he'd pass for a sculpture to the casual observer. Not that there would be anybody. Hardly anyone paid attention to a run-down warehouse.

"Doesn't surprise me one bit." She commented between broom-scrapes. "Rachel's nasty like that. She calls me a slut when she's the one that goes on dates with one guy and comes back with somebody else."

Optimus turned his head, "So this Rachel is rather promiscuous?"

"You could say that," Sam replied, "She probably gets more than truckers do..." His eyes widened, "Uh...no offense, Optimus."

A small, barely concealed laugh, "None taken."

Two vehicles pulled up outside. One a yellow Hummer H2, the other a black GMC Topkick. They parked so close together their doors touched.

"Clear!" Optimus called.

Ironhide and Ratchet transformed quickly into their robot forms. Nothing seemed special about it, just two Transformers changing shape. Then Ratchet looked Ironhide square in the eyes, gave him a little bump with his hip and slipped inside. It was quick, but Mikaela saw the whole exchange.

A love millions of years old... She leaned on the broom handle. "Have a good time?"

"Mmhmm," was Ratchet's cool reply. "I think I finally fixed that loose bolt in Ironhide's suspension."

Ironhide flicked his cannons. "After I tweaked his axels."

"Don't mind him." Ratchet made a dismissive gesture, "He's just upset because I landed on top."

"Ratchet, so help me..." Ironhide's face scrunched in false anguish, "you're asking for it."

The medic whipped around, "Try me, you rust-bucket!"

Ironhide took a step forward.

"Ratchet, Ironhide!" Optimus snapped. Mikaela saw his optics flick to Sam, who was digging in the tool pile for a dust pan. "You know the rules, you two."

"Sorry, sir," both mechs replied.

Ratchet made his way towards a tarp in the back. He moved it to expose part of Jazz's torn torso, transformed his hand into a multi-tool and went to work cutting wires.

"I can't find the dust pan. Maybe it's in the--" Sam straightened and slapped his forehead when he saw the scratches on Ratchet's armor. "Oh, God! Not again! I just waxed you two! What the heck do you do to get all scratched up?"

"Stuff," was Ironhide's gruff reply. The weapons specialist parked his hulking black form by the wall opposite to Optimus. Just a little further off, Bumblebee's Camaro form kept guard over the driveway. Should anyone come by, he'd honk his horn and any Autobots in the warehouse would transform into vehicle mode. They performed guard duty in shifts.

Grumbling, Sam trudged up to Mikaela. He looked cute with a dirt smear on his left cheek. All he needed was a checkered flannel shirt instead of a gray pullover and he'd look like a real grease monkey. "Guess I need to save up for more wax. Seriously, my parents are starting to worry that I'm too obsessed with my car."

"How about I get it this time?"

Sam's blue eyes brightened. "Oh, man...Mikaela, you--you're totally saving my life...I'll pay you back in a week! I swear!"

Optimus' radio cut off, switched to another station and turned up. Familiar music reached Mikaela's ears and filled her with memories of cool fingertips, crying optics and a love older than the solar system. At the same time it was also funny--usually Bumblebee pulled things like this!

She reached up to wipe the dirt smear off Sam's face--

...watching every motion
in my foolish lover's game.
On this endless ocean,
Finally lovers know no shame
...

--and watched his cheeks turn cherry red at her touch.

"Pay me back with a dance."

"Dance?" His eyebrows went up.

Mikaela slipped her arms around his neck, aching to feel the closeness she experienced two nights ago. The short hair on the back of his neck felt like velvet.

Naturally, Sam shook almost as bad as Mojo, but he recovered quickly and slipped his arms around her waist. The hands resting on her lower back were the same hands that pushed the All Spark into Megatron's chest. They were hands that saved the Earth. Hands that could protect her.

I bet you have nightmares too, Sam...I bet we all do...but we also have a lot to dream about...and you're the reason we're still here to dream.

Their dance sent them revolving over an invisible point on the floor. Mikaela laid her cheek on Sam's shoulder. She felt tears well in her eyes when she saw Optimus fix her in his steady azure gaze.

A part of her would always love him after last night. At the same time, she realized Sam's arms were just as warm. They didn't need to be covered in metal armor to make her feel safe.

"Thank you," she mouthed over Sam's shoulder.

Optimus smiled softly and tilted his head just long enough to wink at her.