Things felt strained at the Ark after Optimus returned to duty. Nearly everyone acted the same around the leader, treating him as if the whole Sparkling incident never happened. The twins still pulled their pranks on Ratchet and Prowl, Jazz was still easy going during their down times, and even if Optimus had to apologize to Ironhide for how he acted as a Sparkling, they were back to their old friendship.
The only one who showed that they were affected by the entire incident was Bumblebee.
The yellow scout attended any meetings that were called along with the others, accepted his orders with no complaint, worked on his training, and did everything he was supposed to do. But it didn't take more than a day for the others to pick up on a sense of sadness that radiated from him. When ever Optimus would enter the rec room when Bumblebee was in there, the Camaro would quickly find an excuse to leave.
Optimus also seemed disheartened when this happened but the stoic mask of a leader would always smooth out his features and no one dared to question it.
Worried and knowing that he wouldn't get an answer from both mechs, Jazz went up to Ratchet and asked him about it.
"Bumblebee took care of Optimus. Now that the connection that was created during that time has been broken, Bumblebee will probably act this way for a short while before healing."
"A short while? Ratch, it's been a month! Bee's never acted like this! Not even when his vocals were damaged."
The medic sighed softly and shook his head. "I'm a medic of the body, Jazz. Matters of the Spark is entirely different. There is nothing I can do. Only those two can work it out between them."
Jazz left the medbay in no better mode than before, but this time with the thought of going up to Bumblebee and talking the scout into confronting Optimus. Or Optimus into talking to Bumblebee about what was happening.
It never came to that, though. The next chance Jazz had to go up to either mech, alarms sounded and the Autobots at the Ark responded to the distress signal Bluestreak sent out, him and Sideswipe caught up in a confrontation with a few Decepticons
It tore at Optimus to see any of his crew stuck in the medbay for repairs. It was worse when it was Bumblebee that had the most damage, taking the shot that was aimed for Optimus without complaint only to fall into stasis halfway back to the Ark. Optimus had nearly panicked at that, the mere thought of losing the scout pulling the ground from under him.
He didn't dare try to force his way into the medbay to see how Bumblebee was doing. He feared that it would show favoritism to one 'Bot, and even his leader status didn't protect him from wrenches.
The only thing that broke up Optimus's time in his office was a short message from Ratchet telling him that Bee had waken from stasis, and after being checked over, was released from the medbay. Optimus thanked the medic before turning back to the reports he needed to send to the U.S. government, but those were only finished through a hazy of worry that clouded his processors.
After getting the reports sent off, much later than he planned, Optimus left his office and went outside, deciding that fresh air was going to do him more good than just sitting inside. It was cold when he left the Ark, and dark enough that stars were starting to show in the sky. No matter how hard he tried, his processors always went back to the time he spent with Bumblebee.
He remembered everything that happened when he was a Sparkling, from the moment Ratchet had given him to Bumblebee to when he was back in his own body. His processors were finally repaired the night before when the twins and Bluestreak were watching him. Optimus knew that he shouldn't have let Bumblebee falsely believe that he wasn't repaired, but he couldn't help it.
For the first time in many vorns, he felt safe. Except for the one night he got lost in the Autobot base, his only worries were that of Can I play? and Where's Bee? He didn't have to be the leader of some of the toughest, rowdiest mechs that the galaxy has ever known. He was just a Sparkling that they cared for and made sure was safe.
Optimus smiled at one of the more recent memories. The one of Bumblebee telling him stories. The ones where the scout painted the Autobot leader as someone who was fearless, caring, strong, and indestructible. It took Optimus a moment to realize that this was how Bumblebee saw him when the scout was young. And it didn't take long after that for the larger mech to realize he was now seeing Bumblebee almost in the same way. That was why it hurt to much to see the Camaro get hit and injured.
Sighing softly, Optimus pulled himself out of his memories and went back inside before it got much colder, deciding that he should try to recharge before tomorrow came too early. His way wasn't hindered by anything and he only passed Ironhide when the weapons specialist was on his way to duty before he reached the door to his office.
After checking to see what was left to do tomorrow and setting his internal alarm, Optimus lied down on his berth and prepared himself to go into recharge.
Optimus stared at the ceiling, at the wall, and at a random datapad before he decided that he wasn't going to get any recharge until he actually checked in on the scout personally. He got up and left his room, heading towards the quarters on non-officers but paused when noticed the door to the rec room still open and the light up to full strength. He looked inside and wasn't really surprised at what he saw.
Bumblebee sat on the large, mech size couch, datapad in hand, and looking utterly tired. It was hard to tell when a mech wasn't getting enough recharge, but there were still signs of it. Such as the way Bumblebee's hands trembled minutely and the way his doorwings drooped slightly. His optics didn't have the same bright colors of an alert mech, and his entire posture just spoke of wariness.
"Bumblebee?" Optimus said quietly, wincing when the scout shot to his feet. Now it was easy to see the scorch marks on his side from the earlier injury. "Please sit back down. I want to speak to you."
Bumblebee sat down and Optimus could easily see how tense he was, almost ready to bolt if Optimus made one wrong move as he walked over to sit down. They were quiet for a moment before Bumblebee said, in a voice that hurt Optimus, "I'm sorry for whatever I may have done. I didn't know how to care for you and—"
The scout's vocals stuttered to a stop when Optimus reached up and gently traced a finger against his yellow helm. "You should be resting."
"I can't recharge well after…" Bumblebee trailed off, looking away for a moment. Silence prevailed in the room for a minute before he said, "I love you, sir. I know I shouldn't be saying this but I do. It developed when you were a Sparkling, a love that a Creator would have for their Sparkling, but it has become more than that. It hurts now that we've been distanced once again and I would do almost anything to—"
Bumblebee was cut off as Optimus leaned forward and gently kissed the scout. When he pulled back, the leader said, "If you're willing, we can try. This might not work out. I might be offlined in any battle. You might find someone to give you the attention you deserve. But I am willing to give this my all and be worthy of this love you have for me."
Wordlessly, Bumblebee slid over so that he was pressed up against Optimus and wrapped his arms around his waist. Optimus returned the embrace, feeling the almost unnoticeable connection between them flare up once again. The one that nearly died when Optimus returned to his normal body and both mechs stayed away from each other.
"And to be honest, I haven't been recharging well either," Optimus said, delighted to hear a laugh from Bumblebee.
"Well, if you want, you stay with me as I try to get through this datapad. It'll be fairly boring, just to warn you."
"That won't be a problem."
When Jazz walked into the rec room, he was pleasantly surprised by the scene he found.
Bumblebee still sat on the couch, but he form was hunched over slightly in recharge and the datapad in his hand just inches away from falling onto the floor. Optimus was there with him, but while Bumblebee sat at one end of the couch, Optimus was laying on it, his dark blue helm resting on the scout's yellow thigh armor as he was stretched out.
But seeing as how the couch wasn't long enough for the larger mech, even if he might be the only one on it, Optimus had draped his legs over the arms of the couch, the limbs bending at the knee right after the arm and tips of his feet nearly touching the floor. And while it was rather amusing, the only thing Jazz could think of was About time!
After getting his energon, the saboteur debated whether to warn Ratchet that their leader might be coming in with some stiff joints but decided against it. It would be kind of cute to see Bumblebee fret over him later, after all.
Author's Note: And thus this is the end. I know it's not very good, but this was the only way my mind would allow me to write this! Thank you everyone who stuck with this with me!