It was so very quiet here, almost disturbing to someone so now unaccustomed to the nature of silence. Even deep within the Autobot bunkers and underground bases, the explosions from the surface would still be felt and heard however muffled. Cybertron itself almost seemed to shake persistently. The echoes of war were near as constant as was their drive to keep fighting. There could never be a silence like this, not anywhere else but here.
Though almost as soon as he had become aware of this soothing silence, his relief at what it stood for was gone again. Peace could also come in death, silence from the absence of life, and this was not what he had travelled so very far -even lying to his own soldiers- to find. His scanners picked up only the cavern's arched ceiling, optics staring blearily up at it before the aching circuits throughout his overtaxed form saw fit to heed his commands.
Optimus pushed himself up to sitting slowly, cautious with his actions even now as he grew further and further anxious over the thought of what he was not hearing. He immediately noticed that his spark chamber and chest plates had reflexively sealed themselves sometime after he'd been forced into stasis-lock. It would have been a mildly comforting thought to know he had not been lying utterly vulnerable for the indefinite time his processors had been cut off, but thoughts about his own well being were still far from important considering the problems at hand.
With great trepidation already in his tragedy laden spark, Prime looked down to the near insignificant weight still lying across his lap where it had fallen. But the little form remained undisturbed even as he'd sat up again, unmoving and wholly unresponsive.
The immediate sense of failure overwhelmed him like so many times before. It would never become any less painful no matter how many times he may have had to endure the sight of another body lying functionless before him. Another lost life, perhaps even made worse here by knowing it had never gotten the chance to live at all. But why? Had he not given enough? He had offered all he had, and his own body was now a sluggish mess because of it. He could feel plainly how many of his systems were now redirecting themselves due to short-circuits or outright failures in some of his less-vital workings.
But perhaps it was all only damage from daring to interact with any of the Allspark's limitless energy. Anyone else should have been lucky to still be aware at all after such a stunt. Yet Optimus was wholly focused beyond himself as his large fingertips touched across the tiny chest, then up to the face to pass near the darkened optics.
He could not even recall the last time he had been able to hold a sparkling. His lieutenants had always been so very proud whenever they first sired younglings. And before the war, when it was still safe enough to bring the little ones out into public, they would eagerly show them to their comrades.
Prime was always reluctant to touch the children himself, preferring a more distant appreciation as he feared their delicate natures wholly incompatible with his own powerful form. His attempts at discouraging having them offered up into his arms had always been half-hearted at best though, himself finding that new life fascinating and knowing it would honor the family should he show his equal interest as their leader.
Even before the war he had never openly considered becoming a parent himself though. Being responsible for an entire race had seemed challenge enough really. But he was sure Elita would have been a worthy mother. If peace had ever reigned again, maybe they would have tried…
But now? Now there was nothing, nothing but one last failed attempt to make any difference in the crippled morale of his people. The Autobot leader lowered his head, optics dimming as he raised the small body to himself, feeling utterly helpless for what was not the first time. The resolve to finally give in could only come when faced with a complete lack of options. For the Autobots there was always one more thing to try, one more battle, one more chance…but now even that was slipping away from him. The final chances were quickly disappearing.
His body seemed to react at his own accord, arms tightening gently until the other form was held to the warmth of his chest. Perhaps the move was only instinctive, even to one who had never been a parent. But there may also have been something too soft for his own still recovering sensors to have noticed, the smallest hint that went easily hidden until he felt his own weakened energy again growing restless.
Prime's optics focused again as he stared downward with no inkling as to the source of the strange pull upon his spark. He did not need to stare long however before there was another abrupt pulse, enough to startle him as he saw a light blue bolt, thin and almost imperceptible even to his advanced perceptions as it instantaneously transferred across from one body to the other. There was even a slight feedback as well. He felt something trying to reach out to him.
It was now so foreign to him to try and connect to another Cybertronian on this level. His spark was far too many years deprived of any real intimacy to know what he should do, especially when the other energy was so frighteningly miniscule. Optimus feared overwhelming it entirely even as he tried to keep it with him.
It was just barely there, flickering as he tried to contain his own rising hopes. It was a crippling mixture of emotions, himself teetering at the dividing point between jubilation and devastation. He could not let that small aura fade.
"Please," He asked again, pride utterly forgotten as the tiny form remained motionless in the protective circle of his arms. Moving it in the slightest seemed so dangerous, but he could not restrain himself from at least cradling its head more fully with one wide palm.
The future lay literally within his hands, so fragile and wavering.
The stark line between life and death was one he'd thought he'd known all too well. But on this most basic level, watching the fragmented little bits of energy in the tiny body struggle to form their very first pulse at all was so much more profound.
The fight for survival was the most common part of any Cybertonian's life in this day and age. But survival was for those who were already alive. It just meant to keep living rather than to begin to.
Surely this was the harder battle.
And for all Prime's strength, he could do nearly nothing to assist the little one in achieving this first crucial victory. Nothing but hold the sparkling close in some instinctive attempt to sync its energy with his own spark's aura. He couldn't tell it to be brave, or to have the hope to persevere on in order to instate itself within this world. He could not even explain to it why he was asking so much from someone so small.
Was their world even worth being born into any longer? Truly…he did believe so. Though Optimus was under no illusion that this new Autobot charge -should it survive- would have an easy existence. But he knew that they would do all in their power to protect and care for it. He would do all in his power even if he could not truly be a parent to it.
No, he couldn't claim it as his own. No matter how much he might want to as he realized its optics were beginning to get the slightest tinge of blue around their edges.
He could never describe to anyone what it had felt like in those next few moments to be the very first being the little one would ever see. To know it had acknowledged him as its creator when he could never admit that aloud.
As an infant, Bumblebee had been so very frail and it had taken days before most could allow themselves any real belief that the "abandoned" sparkling would survive in their substitute care.
But the years would come and go, and they would all find that the orphan could indeed flourish within a base full of foster creators. And Optimus would keep true to his original intentions, never being selfish with their time together. Though the little one might always favor running to him regardless whenever most needful. And Prime would take him in then, for perhaps a night or so to curl against his chest until the little bit of loneliness in Bumblebee had passed again.
Optimus' own loneliness had never abated of course. But he could always remember the first few hours he had spent with the sparkling alone beside the Allspark. That day he had actually gotten to act as Bumblebee's sole creator. When he'd held him and fed him his first small tastes of energon before soothing him into recharge.
It would be so easy to feel pain at remembering how he'd given that bond away, and how Bumblebee would likely never even realize what a sacrifice that had been for him. But seeing the others take such equal pride in the youngling, raising him collectively into the brave soldier he became, Optimus really couldn't regret it.
Bumblebee didn't have the knowledge of being loved by a true creator. He didn't need it. His family was everyone. And to them he had been their sparkling when fate had allowed them none of their own.
The Autobots gave so much credit to Prime for a myriad of victories and accomplishments that ultimately meant so very little in the end. He doubted few, if any at all would ever even realize what his true greatest gift to them had been.