Note: This fic goes between flashbacks during RotF and the present, which is after Lines (and Call).




"I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you."

--Roy Croft


Memories haunted Mikaela the most in her dreams, and always on nights when she was particularly tired.

She found herself in a grassy alley behind dilapidated buildings. Behind her, the springs of a mattress stuck up like a rusty tombstone. Leo had gone off somewhere to panic, so she was alone.

And then her phone rang. Her old, cheesy wolf-whistle ringtone seemed loud in the quiet surroundings.

Mikaela scrambled to answer it. "Hello?"

"Mikaela..." Optimus' voice sounded wrong. Too weak, too soft. Pained. "Mikaela, listen to me. Sam is going to need your strength. You must be--strong..."

"What? Optimus..." Mikaela's breath caught. "Where are you? I'll come to--"

"I'm hit. It's fatal. I--" His signal was drifting away like a song fading out on the radio. "--I wanted to hear your voice."

"You're--no! Optimus! Stay with me!" Mikaela's cry echoed off the buildings. "Optimus! Dammit! Not like this!"

"Sam...will..." His smoky baritone, so deep and soothing, sounded anything but strong, "--need you..."

"No! God, Optimus, hold on." Mikaela pleaded. He was out there, dying, and she wasn't with him. Two years apart hadn't diminished her feelings for him, and now she couldn't even hold his hand when he needed her the most. "I'm right here...hold ON!"

"Be strong." He said, "Please, promise you will be strong."

"I-I promise." If I promise, will you live? "I promise. Oh, God."

Optimus' line crackled into a sickening crunching noise. The sound of something large and metal falling.

"Mikaela," he paused, his voice so faint Mikaela strained to hear him. Strained to hear him suffering so far away and alone. "Oh,'s getting so dark..."

"I'm right here." Mikaela sobbed, covering her face with her free hand. Her whole heart ached so much she wondered how it could still beat. "I-I love you."

"I love you, too." Optimus replied. He moaned and somehow pulled himself together enough to respond to her crying. "Shhh, it will be all right." In her mind, Mikaela could imagine his fingers brushing away her tears. "Don't be afraid. You will be...all right.'s--it's...all...right..." And then, just like someone who sometimes spoke to another person with the phone mouthpiece next to their lips, he whispered, ""


Static rattled in her phone. Through it, barely, she heard him murmur:

"--oodbye, Mik--a."

Another burst of static made Mikaela jump. She licked her lips and choked out, "'ll be okay. Just hold on. Ratchet will be there soon. Just--listen to my voice. I'm still here. I'm still here, Optimus. I won't leave you."

Mikaela could hear the static growing fainter and fainter until it abruptly cut off. Silence crystallized like a liquid lake suddenly becoming solid. She felt a thread of time break away and disappear. There was nothing on the other line. No wind, no sound, no static, nothing but a stillness as profound as death.

She stood there for a solid minute. The reality was too hard to take in, too hard to process. She did not just hear Optimus Prime die...

"Optimus?" Mikaela whispered. No answer. "Optimus, talk to me." Her fingertips turned white against the sides of her phone. "Opti--OPTIMUS!"

She yanked the phone down and redialed Optimus' number. It didn't ring. His voice wasn't on the other end. He was gone.

Her phone rang while she was trying dial again. She dazedly lifted it to her ear and pressed the green button. "H-hello?"

"He's dead," Sam's voice choked. "Optimus...he's dead..."

The reality of it all flooded around Mikaela like a rush of blood and heat. Her face contorted. She hung up and crouched down, sobbing into her hands.

"Mikaela! Are you okay?" Leo seized her shoulder. "What happened?"

"Leave me alone." She slapped his arm away.

"Mikaela!" He spoke again, his tone strangely deeper.

"Leave me alone! He's dead! Just leave me alone!"

"Who's dead? Sam?"



"Go AWAY!"

"Mikaela, it's me." Optimus' voice separated her conscious and unconscious. "You're dreaming. I'm here. I'm fine. I'm alive. Shhh, wake up. Wake up--" a cool, stainless steel hand petted her cheek, "--easy now. Easy."

Mikaela woke up fully. She was lying on her back, and Optimus stood by the bed with Elita's squirming form cradled in the crook of his left arm.

" hate that dream." She wiped at her tear-soaked face. "That phone were all alone and I couldn't get to you."

Crying made her breasts feel tight. It never failed--her own sobbing or someone else's always caused her to lactate. She automatically unbuttoned her pajama top. Optimus got the message and passed Elita to her, and she rolled onto her side while pulling the baby up to her breast. Elita made slurping noises and Mikaela felt a tugging that indicated a good, solid latch.

"To be honest..." Optimus slid onto the bed behind her, propped himself up on his elbow and cupped her shoulder in his free hand. "...that day, my pain stopped at the sound of your voice. You were with me."

"That was a horrible way to go. Do you ever get flashbacks of it?"

"Sometimes." As always, his answer was honest. "And often I regret that I was angry at my ancestors for returning me." He rubbed her upper arm. "I'm holding the two reasons why I had to return, and every moment is one I cherish."

Mikaela's heart swelled behind her sternum. She scooted back and nuzzled her cheek against the zap-zap sound of Optimus' pulsing Spark. In the dark room she saw its flickering glow radiating faintly between his chest plates.

"Oh, I think Elita is done." Optimus reached across her to caress Elita's back. "Perhaps now is the right time to show you a new song I've been singing to her. She seems to enjoy it. May I?"

"I have to see this."

Chuckling, Optimus wisely placed a towel on his shoulder before he got up with Elita. He patted her back until she burped, wiped the spit up off her chin and shifted to cup her bottom in one hand and her head in the other. It reminded Mikaela of the moment Elita was born--how they'd looked at each other like two old friends meeting after a long separation. They always gazed into each others' eyes that way--and probably would forever.

Elita babbled up at him. Lately she'd been making more sounds, mostly a soft little coo.


Optimus stroked the top of her head with his thumb. "Really? You want to hear our song?"


"All right then." Optimus made noises like he was clearing his throat, which set Elita off giggling.

Mikaela loved hearing Optimus sing. He was so good at it with his crooner's voice--reminded her of Nat King Cole--but he always sang softly, only for those he wanted to hear it and nobody else.

Drawing Elita close, he began...

"You are so me.
You are so me.
Can't you see?
You're everything I hoped for.
You're everything I need..."

Then he leaned over and finished the song in Mikaela's ear:

" are so me..."

Heat flooded Mikaela's cheeks, and Elita happily slurped on three of her own fingers.

Optimus grasped Elita gently under the armpits and lifted her over his head. His optics tilted and lit up in a brilliant smile, as if a mask temporarily slipped off his face. Then he brought her down, nose to nose, and nuzzled his mouth against her forehead. "Yes, Elita, you are the most beautiful little girl in my life...and your mother is the most beautiful woman I know. And she is blushing. Look," he turned the baby so her sleepy blue eyes met Mikaela's. "See how fast her color changes?"

"Shut up." Mikaela covered her face with one hand. "Don't forget, you're getting a tune-up and a wash tomorrow."

Optimus laughed. "Oh, my. I'd run for my life, but I'm holding a baby who should be in bed asleep."

Elita kicked her feet and grunted. Her cheeks puffed out and her little lips tightened until they practically turned white.

Mikaela guffawed, "She's pooping!"

"I noticed." He looked over and smiled, "Well, rules are rules. Whoever is holding her changes the diaper, so--" At that moment, Elita expelled watery-sounding gas. "--ew. That is an awful lot of hydrogen sulfide for somebody so tiny." He glanced down, "Elita, I thought you were a little lady. What is this backfiring? Hm? Did you backfire?"

"Like her dad." Mikaela batted her eyelashes at Optimus.

"I do not--"

"Then what was that boom the other day?"

"All right, Shell station fuel has chemicals in it that don't convert cleanly into energon. The Chevron station was packed and I had to pass it."

"I rest my case." Mikaela buttoned her pajama top and sat up to kiss his shoulder. "She farts like you."

"As if you never backfired in your life. Or need I remind you of that cabbage from--"

"I'm going to sleep!"

Elita let more gas go. The smell almost knocked Mikaela off the bed.

"Eww." Optimus' voice sounded hilarious pronouncing that word. He slowly stood up and glanced over his shoulder. "I'll be back. She's turning into Little Miss Muddy Bottom."

"That sounds like a Hobbit name." Mikaela snickered and closed her eyes.

"Tolkien would have loved that, I'm sure." Optimus snickered quietly and padded out. Then, a few moments later: "She shot me!"

Mikaela buried her face in a pillow and laughed until it hurt.


"There's nothing you could've done." Mikaela remembered saying to Sam. Her words reached out into the dark, lit only by the campfire burning in a metal trash barrel. She hugged him, feeling the tears and the guilt vibrating his frame.

That was the moment Mikaela came to understand how Optimus held it together after losing Megatron. Because people around him were falling apart, and they needed someone to be their pillar. She couldn't do anything for Optimus except to heed his words.

Sam drew back, "You okay?"

"Yeah." Mikaela lied. Seeing Sam in so much pain made adding hers to it impossible. She couldn't, she wouldn't make him feel worse.

"Bee, if you hate me, I understand." Sam sighed. "I messed up. I'm sorry..."

Bumblebee replied with a sound byte from Forrest Gump and another movie, but Mikaela didn't really hear it. She looked up at the clear night sky that seemed somehow lonely. Her world would never be the same--Optimus had always been there to talk to on the phone or by instant messenger services...and now he was gone. She'd loved for a lifetime in two years by knowing him, and just as quickly he wasn't there anymore.

And Sam had watched him die.

"I..." Sam went on, his voice choking. "I'm sorry..." And the reality of it all sank into him. His eyes were large and pale in the firelight, his face streaked in dirt and tears. "He's dead because of me. He came to protect me and he's dead."

"There's some things you just can't change..." Bumblebee's radio clicked. "...his sacrifice for us will not have been in vain. Hallelujah!"

"Hallelujah!" Ultra Magnus' drawl startled Mikaela out of her dreams. "Now, I don't want to hear any of you complaining that I don't meld into this world's culture. Observe my spinners."

"Hm...interesting choice," Ratchet sounded amused. "I keep telling Ironhide he should try a few on..."

"You would twirl them and wind him up."

Ratchet was smirking. "Mm, you know me too well."

"I can HEAR you two." Ironhide groused from further off.

Groaning, Mikaela dragged herself through the bathroom to the back deck and watched Ultra Magnus transform from a white Kenworth into a robot. The tires on his hips shimmered with three-spoke spinners shaped vaguely like ninja stars.

"Good morning, Mikaela!" He turned to give her a better view. "You like?"

She whistled, "Pretty fancy!"

Ultra Magnus smiled at her and gave his wheels a twirl. "Optimus is ready whenever you are. He said not to kill him...ran into a little mud last night."

"How did he--"

"We had a false alarm on our perimeter, likely the result of a cellular phone signal passing too close. Um..." The white mech's face melted back to a more serious pout, "He rolled off the road exactly where I did when it snowed. It took myself, Ironhide and Ratchet to tow him free. There were too many cars around, and it was a struggle to get him out of there before the sirens started blaring."

"That explains why he didn't come back to bed. Guess he really will need a wash now." Mikaela muttered to herself. "Well, I better go check on Elita."

On cue, a soft whine filtered to her ears.

"Take care." Ultra Magnus waved and transformed back into a Kenworth truck. His new spinners twinkled as he rolled to park at the tree line.

"Hey, where's Bumblebee?"

"He went back to Sam's parents' place!"

Elita spluttered again.

Mikaela just snickered and walked off to take care of her.

"El..." She cooed, peeking over the crib. "Hi there, Elita!"

Elita's eyes, so blue and pure, lit up. She gave Mikaela a big, gummy smile and kicked her feet in her pink footie pajamas. The way it bloomed on her face reminded Mikaela of how Optimus' expression shifted magically from stoic to a smile.

"Oh, who's a pretty girl?" Mikaela baby talked to Elita as she picked her up.

Elita squinted and sneezed.

"Uh oh!" Mikaela hurriedly wiped the baby's nose with a tissue. She checked to see if Elita was wet, and she was a little bit. Not enough for a change yet. She sat down in the rocking chair and unbuttoned her pajama top to let Elita nurse. "You know, maybe your daddy has something going here when he sits and talks to you. I bet you hang on to every word he says."

Curious eyes, already precious with long eyelashes, blinked at her.

"Even if it's just the sound of his voice..." Mikaela went on. "Every day, he tells me you're getting so big. He adores the heck out of you--so do I, you cutie." She tapped Elita's nose with her fingertip. "It's hard to believe I kept walking away from him. I can't imagine what he was probably going through, seeing me leave all the time. It must have--"

"--been very difficult to go against what one's heart desires."

Mikaela twisted her head around at the sound of Optimus' familiar voice. There he stood in the doorway, a bowl of Rice Krispies snap, crackle and popping in his hand. He set it down on the dresser next to the dancing teddy bear lamp. Then he leaned over the back of the chair and pressed his mouth against the top of her head. His kisses made a soft clicking sound rather than a wet smack.

"Did you sleep all right after I left you?"

"I had another dream, but it went away. Guess I was just missing you in my sleep."

"I understand," he cupped her shoulder. "Elita is sure hungry this morning. Look at her go."

"I'm letting down, that's why." Though Mikaela realized she noticed the rushes of milk less and less. Her body was getting used to it, and thus no longer treating it like a foreign sensation to focus on. "By the way, did you see Ultra Magnus' new spinners?"

Optimus chuckled in her ear. "I think they"

"I can get you some for--hey, do you guys have birthdays on Cybertron?"


"You know, celebrating the anniversary of the day you were born, or whatever..."

"Ah. Well, uh...not really." Optimus blinked slowly. "I can calculate my creation date down to the moment. It's already passed, however--the first day of December, at oh-six hundred."

"Ooh, a winter baby." Mikaela smiled at him.

"What about yours?"

Mikaela glanced down at Elita when she detached. "Should I tell him, El? Hm?" She brought the baby to her shoulder and rubbed her back. "Burp for yes."

Elita wiggled her fingers and burped.

"Okay, I'll tell him." She looked up. "May sixteenth."

Optimus' optics flickered. "Today?"

"Yup. I didn't want to make a big deal about it." Mikaela felt herself blushing.

"Well, uh...merry birthday, Mikaela."

She almost lost it right there. Optimus and his awkward moments never got old.

"Actually, it's happy birthday..."

"Right...happy birthday." He laughed gently in her ear. "Please don't become hysterical when you see the mess I've made of myself. I've already been listening to Ratchet for the past thirty minutes."

"We'll see about that when I get outside." She let him take Elita while she munched on the Rice Krispies. They were soggy now from sitting in the milk for so long. Elita whined in protest, but quieted once she realized Optimus wasn't taking her out of the room.

Optimus picked up the stuffed panda in the corner of Elita's crib. It had Velcro on its paws, allowing it to be wrapped around or hang off just about any surface. He attached it to his left ear finial, leaned over Elita and gave his head a shake that made the bell inside the bear jingle. Elita giggled and reached for it.

Mikaela barely avoided laughing milk through her nose. She still couldn't get over watching them together. The impossibility of the reality before her never ceased to blow her mind.


She could remember Egypt. Sam, with a sock full of hope in the form of dust, and herself, running for their lives amid a war older than the Earth.

Mikaela still heard the gunfire in her mind.

One minute Sam was with her. The next, the ground shook and Sam flew past her like a rag doll. Megatron's gun had electrical based weaponry, and later she'd learn that the pulse had stopped Sam's heart. He was dead before he hit the ground, but Lennox tried CPR anyway. The medics applied defibrillators again and again. Sam's hand let go of the torn sock, and the pieces of the Matrix he'd placed all his hopes in poured out into the sand.

Mikaela couldn't stop screaming. "Do something!"

Because this war couldn't take away both of her loves. Not like this.

Something cold opened in the pit of Mikaela's stomach. She no longer cared about the chaos, about Sam's parents crying or Bumblebee groaning. Sam was just laying there, bloody and dirty, his white shirt full of burnt, blackened holes.

Mikaela curled up next to Sam, pleading with him. "Sam, listen to my voice...I love you, and I need you."

No answer.

"Sam, please...come back to me!" Her throat was raw from crying and screaming, "Sam, I love you!"

But life was not a fairy tale, and her tears couldn't bring him back. They couldn't bring Optimus back.

Lennox tackled her again, dragging her away from Sam's lifeless form. She looked up and saw Optimus' fist poking out from under the parachutes covering his body. It didn't shine like clean stainless steel. His fingers were dull, dirty from fighting to protect Sam--and now it all seemed fruitless.

Reaching up, Mikaela stroked Optimus' little finger. It was warm from the sunlight. It felt alive. She kissed it and touched her cheek to it, and his hand suddenly relaxed. She lost her footing and fell against his palm as the medics slowly drew back. Sam hadn't moved.

"Oh, God..." Lennox muttered. "He's gone."

Mikaela's heart couldn't take it. She collapsed on Sam's chest, sobbing until she thought she'd throw up. She'd never heal from this. Not all at once. Not all in one day. Not with the two people she loved lying dead in front of her. It wasn't fair!

Ron and Judy screamed behind her. Their plaintive cries compounded her grief.

Sam and Optimus were gone.

Mikaela curled up with Sam's body. She was out of tears. Optimus' remains would be dismantled for study and she'd have to watch Sam's casket descend into the ground. Then, somehow, she had to pick up the pieces of her life and start over.

This isn't real. I need to wake up. It's a nightmare. Sam isn't--

Suddenly Sam jerked and choked. Mikaela leapt up and grabbed his sweaty, filthy face. "Sam!"

"I love you," Sam gasped. He clutched her face and his hazel eyes were shining hope. "I love you."

The Matrix of Leadership was whole again. Mikaela didn't know how or why. She just knew she stood on the edge of witnessing the impossible.

Sam grasped the Matrix and got up. The parachute concealing Optimus' remains blew off, exposing his upper half to the desert sun. Everyone stared in amazement as the supposedly dead boy climbed onto Optimus' torn chest. Mikaela's eyes welled over when she saw the extent of Optimus' injuries. And Sam...somehow he knew what he was doing. Holding the Matrix high over his head, Sam cried out and plunged it deep into the Autobot leader's Spark chamber.

Mikaela leapt back as blue energy washed over Optimus' frame. For an eternal second all was still, and then she heard it.


Optimus' fingers clenched into fists. His intakes hissed and he let out a very human-like cough. Dust shot from his mouth and the spaces in his face. Sam slipped off Optimus' chest. He landed not so gracefully next to Mikaela, and she helped him regain a vertical base.

Sam and Optimus...alive...

"Ungh!" Optimus struggled to sit up. His anguished face strained, his voice and groaning joints betraying how much every movement hurt. Somehow he managed to look noble despite the filth, dents and holes in his armor. He dazedly focused on Mikaela, then his eyes went to Sam.

" returned for me..."

"Boy..." Mikaela shook herself out of her reverie to behold the mess Optimus made of himself. "Oh, God, Optimus! You're COVERED in mud!"

The only parts of him that didn't get muddy were a mirror and one headlight. Green pine needles poked out here and there. Nobody who saw him now would've known he was red and blue with flame decals on his hood.

"Ultra Magnus told me you rolled. It looks more like you went mud wrestling!"

"The hillside was muddy, and an inexperienced driver cut me off. I had nowhere else to go besides the shoulder, and my tires slipped. It is fortunate you weren't in my cab. You might have--"

"Okay, maybe I don't want to know." Mikaela finished assessing the mess and uncoiled the hose. She attached a metal extension meant for spray-washing leaves out of the roof gutters, then retreated into the shed for a steel ladder, a large bucket, a mop and a sponge. "The last time you were this filthy, you were coming back from the dead."

"Yes, and the effects of Jolt hyper-stimulated my nanites to repair me in a matter of minutes."

"Yeah, and you were still a mess until Lennox and Epps hosed everybody off."

He chuckled, "Point taken."

Mikaela bit her lip. She didn't like to remember that day. It was almost too traumatic to think about without mentally flinching.

"Guess I'll just start in front and work my way back." Mikaela hurriedly tied her hair back into a messy braid. She wore ratty old jean shorts and a black T-shirt that wouldn't turn transparent when wet. Through the open back door, she could see Ultra Magnus' hologram sitting next to Elita, who was parked in her car seat. He kept making her laugh by twirling his new spinners.

Mikaela poured some California Dreamin' into the bucket and filled it to the brim with water.

"I'm gonna warn you, this water is pretty cold."

Optimus rolled towards her. "I'm ready."

To his credit, he didn't flinch when she sprayed his grill. Mikaela's first priority was rinsing away the worst of the mud. Most came off with just water. Of course, Optimus could always handle the spray. It was the actual scrubbing that he sometimes proved difficult.

Mikaela finished her initial rinse, shut off the water and dipped the mop into the bucket to soap it up. Then she lifted it up and scrubbed Optimus' left exhaust pipe. His pipes were ticklish to the point of ridiculousness. She could feel his frame shudder until laughter burst from his speakers.

"Hey!" She chased him when he rolled forward an inch. "This would be easier if you just sat still."


"Damn obnoxious trucks." Mikaela grinned, walking around to scrub the other pipe. She followed him when he jolted back a foot. "Okay, worst part's over."

"You say that like it is a bad thing," Optimus remarked as Mikaela dipped the mop again.

"Hmph. Up on the shocks, please."

The best advantage to a living truck--its ability to lift up so she could get under the fenders and wash the tires. He rolled forward a few inches at a time, turning to circle around her until she'd cleaned off his tires, rims and even the treads. Optimus' tires were important tactile instruments for him in vehicle mode, and mud clogged his sensors.

Mikaela kicked her shoes off, climbed up to stand on his back fenders and washed down the headache rack. The mop rattled the chains when she reached up to do his roof, too.

"Must feel good to get rid of that mud."

"Mud itches. Ahhh, a little to the left. Lower. There."

Smiling a bit, Mikaela spent a little extra time on the troublesome spot. Then she dipped the mop and began scrubbing Optimus' fifth wheel hitch and deck plate. The fifth wheel was a sensitive area, though not ticklish, and she didn't miss the ripples of warmth under her bare feet. She planted a cheeky kiss on the headache rack before hopping down to the ground.

Mikaela traded the mop for the sponge, climbed up the ladder and sat on Optimus' hood to wash his windshields. Beneath her, faintly, she heard the zap-zap of his Spark. She found herself being extra gentle when she crawled across the hood to wash the other window.

"Okay." Mikaela scooted back down the ladder and moved several feet away. "Transform now and I'll finish up."

Wet Transformers, Mikaela had learned, sprayed more water than a dog shaking after a bath. She knew she'd get soaked no matter how far back she moved. Closing her eyes, she listened to the clunks and clanks of a truck turning into a twenty-eight foot tall robot. Water went everywhere, and to Mikaela it felt like chilly rain on her skin.

Optimus was almost as tall as the cabin. The highest roof peak was perhaps a head higher than his ear finials.

And he somehow had mud on his feet, thighs and face.

"God, Optimus! How in the world..."

"Mud happens. I suppose Elita and I have that in common. We get muddy."

Mikaela snorted, handing him the mop and hose. Optimus washed his legs and feet by himself. After that, he popped his chest plates open and scrubbed his chassis. Then he adjusted the nozzle to a wider spray and held it over his head while he wiped his hand over his face and helm. He looked just like an average man taking a shower.

We're more alike than we realize, Mikaela mused.

"Do I still have mud on my face?" Optimus looked down. He did--a huge smear on his nose and cheek.

"Yeah. You'll need soap for that. Sit down and I'll wash it off for you."

Optimus slowly lowered himself to sit. He helped her up onto his shoulder and sat cooperatively still, holding the bucket for her while she worked the sponge over his face plates. Mikaela felt him leaning into her touch as she scrubbed the dried mud off the side of his nose and cheek. Instinctively, she tried to keep the soap off his optic, but some ran over it anyway. It didn't appear to hurt him. He spat water on her when she rinsed.


"Oops. Sorry, my bad. Could you wash my other eye?"

"Washing robot eyeballs. I should be getting paid for this." She joked.

Mikaela braced herself on the groove of his nose. The light in his optic shut off while she gave it a once-over with the sponge. It lit up again and blinked as she moved away. His optics were remarkable instruments--bright blue around the edges and slightly dimmer in the middle. Usually robotic eyes looked like flat, opaque things without emotions, but his could penetrate straight through her. Optimus' eyes consisted of two sets of pupils. The outer parts of his optics resembled large camera shutters, and they were constantly changing size according to the light. His black inner pupils were made of even smaller shutters, and acted like his mood ring. Reading his emotions was as simple as watching his eyes. When he was irritated or angry, his optics flared and his inner pupils contracted. Arousal was similar, except his pupils dilated when things got physical. Bodily pain usually left both sets of pupils constricted and bright, but emotional pain dimmed them. Changes so subtle, yet immensely revealing.

Mikaela reached up and picked a pine needle off Optimus' lower left eyelid. She loved staring into his eyes. They were bottomless oceans with something always going on just beneath their surface.

"I suppose my wiper fluid is running low." Optimus blinked and his optics whirred in their housings. "Lately, I've had trouble keeping my optics clean. It's beginning to interfere with my vision."

"Really? Wow. I'll refill it for you when I finish cleaning you up. I think I'll change your oil while Im at it. And maybe your coolant, too, if you think you need it."

"Thank you. I...really appreciate it, Mikaela."

Mikaela smiled, carefully wiping the mud from the Prime sigil on his brow. It felt different from his engravings. Like it was already in the mold he was poured into and born from. She traced its curls and lines with a fingertip. His armor flowed as smooth as porcelain against her skin. "Lean down..."

Optimus dipped his head forward.

She reached over and ran the sponge up and down the length of an ear finial. There really wasn't any mud there--she just used that as an excuse to touch it. She spent a few seconds marveling at the engravings etched into the steel. He had more on his audio cover, which whirled a bit when she scrubbed away a speck of dirt.

"Mmh..." Optimus flinched in a manner that wasn't pain. For a moment all Mikaela could hear was the slosh of sponge against metal. She let Optimus shift her to his other shoulder and scrubbed that ear finial as well. Then she gestured for the mop and ran it along the back of his neck. His servos hissed and he moved his head and shoulders as if enjoying a massage. Any tension in him melted slowly away.

Then she met his optics and rested her hand on the bridge of his nose. "I should get your chest now. I saw some spots the mop didn't get."

"Of course." Optimus' face softened into a smile.

Mikaela climbed onto his hand and traded the mop for the sponge. She boldly cleaned off the rim of his Spark chamber, and didn't miss the faint hitch in his intakes. "Oh, wait until I polish under your chest plates. You ready for a twelve inch polisher?" She smirked.

"It isn't the size that matters, it's how one uses it." Optimus looked at her. His eyes weren't dark yet, but they had that sniper's bead on her movements.

Mikaela clutched the edge of his chest plating and laughed. "Optimus!"


"Did you even hear yourself saying that?"

"Hm...yes. I'm very aware of what I said." Optimus lifted her up to eye level. There was a mischievous gleam in his optics, and his voice dropped playfully into that register. "I look forward to all twelve inches. Do your worst, Mikaela."

Then he set her down. He slipped his chest plates off with a soft click-hiss-pop and laid back in the grass. One hand found its way behind his head while he rested the other on his stomach, casually drumming his fingers on his bare chassis.

Did he have any idea what she had in store for him?

Mikaela let Optimus dry off a little in the sun while she traded in the washing supplies for the electric polisher with its long extension cord and a fluffy wool pad. She climbed onto his chest, giving the polisher a twirl. There was no mistaking the way his optics darkened, anticipating a wondrous unknown.

While standing on Optimus at his full size, Mikaela easily made out the fiber optic web of neural lines surrounding his Spark chamber. It extended all the way to the vents on his stomach where it dipped down out of view. She realized that his hologram concealed a lot of issues with his real body. Specifically, his naked chassis. It hadn't seen a good polishing in a long while. Far too long.

She stepped lightly onto the left side of his chest, knelt and set the polisher down, letting him feel the softness of the wool.

"That feels nice," Optimus said.

Mikaela smirked at him. "If you feel like getting off...let it happen."

His metallic eyebrows went up. He had no idea...

She turned on the polisher, and the buffing pad, wet with polish, vibrated as it spun.

"Oh!" Optimus jolted. His hands flew out to grip the ground, and Mikaela heard his fingers digging into the grass. He reacted like he did to the engraving of his Spark chamber, except now he writhed in pleasure and not pain. "Mikaela! Oh, wow!"

"Feel nice?" She slid the polisher in small circles, working her way towards the electrical thrum speeding up in the middle of his chest. Even over the noise of the machine, she could hear his Spark.

"Mmhmm..." He reached up and began guiding the polisher in larger circles than she was making. "Please, move it this way."

Mikaela let him lead her. She stayed focused on how his eyes squinted and his face clenched. Beneath her bare feet, his frame grew steadily warmer as the polisher buffed the remains of Egypt off his chassis. She teasingly skipped his Spark chamber, stepping over the extension cord to polish the other half of his chest.

Optimus' optics fluttered. His body quaked. Mikaela aimed for the spots that made his metal eyebrows tilt up. No matter how stoic he tried to be, she could judge how close he was by the looks on his face. Being opened him to her even more than their most personal conversations. Optimus gave his head a little shake and his newly-clean face flashed in the sun. Then he settled back, eyes closed and mouth slightly open, waiting.

Looking over, Mikaela spotted tendrils of energy dancing just inside the rim of his Spark chamber. He shifted and peered down at her, his eyes almost black with need. The servos in his neck were tightening. She smiled. Oh, he's close...

"You look just like you did in your Agony video."

Hot air blasted from his intakes. Static electricity nipped at Mikaela's toes.

"Finish me, and you will see it again in person." He said, and his voice hit a register she never knew he could reach.

Mikaela's innards quivered at the power in his gaze. She set the polisher against the top of his Spark chamber, and he let out a mechanical whine. His mouth plates pulled back and his face shifted through a myriad of emotions--and for one heartbeat she thought he'd break out in tears. She worked the polisher to the bottom of his chamber and he started to smile. Then his eyebrows went up again, he squinted and his mouth dropped slightly. Mikaela never knew he had so many sex faces. Of course, she reminded herself, during the act she tended to focus only on his eyes.

"Oh...oh..." Optimus' frame trembled.

Noon had passed. The trees were so thick they only allowed about an hour's sunlight before everything became specks and sparkles again. Inside the thickening shadows, Mikaela saw how the fiber optic web on Optimus' chest glowed in the light of his Spark.

"How's it feel?" she asked.

"Wonderful," Optimus moaned. "Ohh-oh, please, don't stop..."

Mikaela kept polishing even as the energy from his Spark began to swell out of his chamber. The spinning polisher swirled the light around. Everything he was, his dreams and hopes, were right there, waiting to be released. She met his eyes where reflections of her own face and his Spark danced about his blackened pupils. Relief was just a heartbeat away.

Mikaela dialed up the rotation rate and passed the polisher directly across the light. The energy shell practically exploded backwards into Optimus' chest.

"Ohhh!" Optimus fell back, mouth and optics wide open. He arched up, snarling--surrendering--and his pure, clean body captured every speck of sunlight filtering through the trees.

In Mikaela's eyes, he never looked more stunning...


There was something about a man's sweat that Mikaela found exciting. Thusly, on the aircraft carrier where privacy proved difficult, she found herself huddled in a utility closet with Sam. They hadn't cleaned up yet. He smelled like desert sand mixed into his own musty scent. She probably smelled much the same.

Mikaela buried her face against his uninjured shoulder and breathed him in. Sam, alive...

Next thing she knew, they were kissing. From lips to tongues to hands roaming under clothing, it soon became impossible to tell whether the heat came from the stuffy closet or their growing excitement.

Their caresses grew more fervent. Mikaela's hands wandered to the waistband of Sam's jeans. Like it always was with guys, putting her hands there brought him right to attention.

"Do you really love me, Sam?"

"Yeah," Sam panted against her neck. He was the one she should love. Him, made of flesh and not metal. Human, where she belonged. Normal.

Her heart didn't quiver. She told herself the shock of the past two days had made her numb.

Sighing, Mikaela undid the snap and zipper. Sam was intact and felt warm and smooth against her fingertips. This was the death blow for most of her relationships. The guy's interest waned. Or hers did. Usually, it was hers.

"Tell me you love me." She said. "Say it and mean it."

"I love you!" Sam gasped. "Mikaela...I love you."

Mikaela kissed him again. She moved back to take off her boots and white jeans. Then she flung off her shirt and pulled him against her. He lapped a bit awkwardly at her breasts.

"I really do love you," Sam whispered into her collarbone. He looked into Mikaela's eyes with his hazel ones and smiled. "Y-you have an amazing body."

Now Mikaela felt the quiver in her stomach. She'd seduced him by taking off her clothes, and now there was no turning back.

Sam pushed her against the door, and she let him, unaware of the destiny he was fulfilling. She waited for the fireworks, for that the clench in her heart that made everything feel complete.

He found it.

She didn't, but she pretended for him.

They said nothing more when they parted ways to shower and sleep.

Mikaela, unfulfilled, lay awake until she couldn't stand it anymore. She finally went out for some air, not expecting to find Optimus still awake. Optimus, the product of a love unfinished...

...and she stirred at the steel thumb caressing her lower lip. She opened her eyes to familiar blue optics glowing softly in the darkened living room.

"Hey...what time is it?"

"Twenty-one hundred." Optimus replied before she could twist around to look at the clock above the TV. "Elita is sound asleep, and you--" he scooped her up bridal style with no effort and ascended the stairs, "--have tired yourself out waxing me, which I do greatly appreciate."

Waxing Optimus was a huge job. After he'd collected himself, he'd transformed back into a truck and she brought the smooth shine back to his chrome. The polisher left him so relaxed he'd slipped into recharge. He slept through her changing his oil, replacing his coolant and refilling his wiper fluid. He even slept through her dusting and cleaning his interior from top to bottom. He slept through those procedures because he trusted her.

"I feel it is only right that I return the favor. But first...Ratchet told me he'll be borrowing the polisher."

Mikaela snickered. "Ratchet is a pervert."


Optimus set her down just inside the master bathroom. Mikaela disrobed as he flicked on the light and got the shower going. He knew exactly how hot she liked the water--just one of many things he seemed to know about her. She pulled out the rubber band holding her braid and shook her hair free. It fell around her shoulders in dark waves. Looking in the mirror, she could only see the annoying, jiggling mass of her six weeks postpartum belly. It made her appear four months pregnant!

Mikaela moved to cover it, conscious of Optimus' eyes on her naked body. Optimus just as quickly moved her hands aside.

"Your body spent nine months building Elita. It will return to normal operation in its own time." He led her under the shower spray and leaned down until their foreheads touched. The acoustics of the bathroom made his rumbling voice boom even at a whisper. "And even if it didn't, I would still think you look beautiful, Mikaela."

That melted her.

"Thanks." Tilting her head back, Mikaela kissed Optimus' mouth. The hot shower spray beat pleasantly on her back and plunked against his armor.

Optimus reached around her for the shampoo on the shelf. She scooted him back to get out of the spray and closed her eyes while he worked the strawberry-scented suds into her hair. He did it so gently for someone with metal hands.

"I have a question." Mikaela said when he dipped her backwards just enough that the water sprayed her hair. She ran her hands through it to help wick out the shampoo.


"Will you live forever?"

"Mm..." Optimus smiled, reaching for the soft washcloth hanging over the top of the shower door. "As long as I undergo routine maintenance and have access to fuel I can convert into energon...I suppose I could, technically. But many mechs choose to deactivate when life becomes too tiresome...or too lonely."

Mikaela leaned into him and held her hair up while he washed her back. Slow, easy circles. Her tense muscles didn't have a chance.

"So, you can just turn off?"

"Not quite that simple. I would have to cease all energon conversion in my systems. If I'm in good operating condition and don't go into stasis, it might take fifty years before my Spark extinguishes. It's a very painless way to die. Like going to sleep. One day, far in the future, that is probably how my life will end if I don't perish in battle."

"You won't die in this war."

"You don't--

"I do know, because Elita needs you. Because you have a lot to do yet." Mikaela half-glared at him, but it melted when he washed her throat. She went on, "So, how will you know when it's time?"

"When someone in your family line becomes pregnant with a male child." Optimus soaped up her lower spine. "Then I'll know my work is done." He backed her into the spray to rinse off. "Now don't you concern yourself, as I have a feeling that won't happen for a long, long time."

"Nobody likes to think about somebody they love dying." Mikaela said casually, though inwardly the thought plucked at memories she hated to recall. She let him spin her around and goosebumps broke out on her skin when he pressed his hard metal body against her back. "You've got it worse, since humans don't last very long."

"Perhaps, but one cannot live if all they think about is death." Optimus' mouth plates nipped her throat. He ran the washcloth across her collarbones and down over her breasts to her stomach. "I just choose to cherish the moments as they happen."


She reached back and cupped his cheek. He brushed the washcloth along her arm, making it glisten with soap and then water upon rinsing. It was as if he washed away her worries. They slipped off her body with the dirt. He made her feel so good, and not just physically.

"To be very honest," his voice tantalized her senses, "that night we danced for the first time..."


"I felt the safest I ever had in my life when I cried. When you held me. I hadn't felt another's embrace in so long." He dragged the washcloth even lower, and her body clenched in the familiarity of his touch. "And every moment after that, I thought about you." He shifted to rest his chin on her other shoulder. His voice was right in her ear, purring and driving her reaction higher. "I never imagined those thoughts of 'what could have been' would become what we have now."

Mikaela closed her eyes and moved with his fingers. "M-me, too..." She sputtered, unable to think clearly.

The washcloth fell and it was just his hand. His hard against her soft.

He moved his finger back slightly, "May I?"

Mikaela nodded, and felt her body accept him. He didn't have to go in far. She knew what he was touching. He knew what he was touching. It seemed like only seconds passed before she found the moment only he could give her. She gripped the tires on his hips and held on while he rocked her existence.

Optimus wasn't even bothered when his fingers came away covered in her lochia flow. He just washed his hands, helped her rinse and shut off the water. Mikaela soon found herself wrapped in a towel and his arms.

"I apologize for not presenting you with a birthday gift."

"Are you kidding?" Mikaela grinned up at him, her wet hair hanging around her face. She grabbed another towel off the folded pile and started dabbing the water droplets off his armor. In a way, she hated to, he looked amazing when wet. "I'm living the best present ever. You're right...let's worry only about now, and deal with the future when we have to."

That was the evening Mikaela discovered Optimus could grin.


"Phew! Elita! Wow! And only on breast milk!" Mikaela opened the window, fighting down the urge to gag as she cleaned Elita's bottom. "Oh, man, that's it. New rule. Only lemony fresh poop from now on, okay?"

"Ooh-ah!" Elita squealed.

"Ooh-ah right back at'cha." Mikaela regained control of herself once she dumped the used cloth diaper into the pail of dirty diapers she'd launder later. No smell meant no more gagging. She tapped powder onto Elita's butt and pulled the clean diaper up between her legs. It fastened with Velcro. Then she slid on a white diaper cover to protect her clothes from leaks. "Do you want to try that little sailor dress? You're just about big enough for it. What do you think? Do you want to be a gorgeous little sailor? Hm?"


"Okay, El. Sailor it is!"

Mikaela cleaned her hands off with Purell and kept one hand on Elita's stomach while she reached into the dresser for the proper outfit. Once she had Elita dressed, she marveled at how great her daughter looked in blue. The white collar suited her rosy cheeks and brilliant eyes. Mikaela picked Elita up and kissed the port-wine birthmark on her forehead. She tickled Elita's chin and was rewarded with kicking feet and a big, gummy smile. Elita's laugh was soft and gentle like Optimus'.

"How about some music?"



"Aah!" Elita raised her eyebrows. "Oooh-ah!"

"Okay!" Mikaela reached for the clock radio she kept by the teddy bear lamp and flicked it on.

Madonna was playing. The bouncy song caught right on with Mikaela's contented mood.

" are my destiny.
I can't let go--baby can't you see?
Cupid, please take your aim at me!"

Mikaela hugged Elita to her chest and danced to the beat while singing along. For a moment she forgot she was a mess with bed hair and hadn't buttoned her pajama top. The song reminded her of the previous day. She let it sweep her away into Elita's curious stare.

"...cherish the thought
of always having you here by my side.
Oh baby, I cherish the joy
you keep bringing into my life.
I'm always singing it!
Cherish your strength...
You got the power to make me feel good..."

Then Mikaela spun around, Elita giggling like crazy, and froze when she noticed Optimus standing in the doorway.

"Uh...hi. How long were you there?"

Optimus was smiling at her. "Since the lemony fresh poop comment."

Mikaela's face burned. She'd seen so many of his dork moments that it was only fair he see hers. Thus, figuring she already looked silly, Mikaela grinned and resumed singing and dancing.

"Romeo and Juliet, they never felt this way I bet...
So don't underestimate my point of view!"

She felt Optimus slide up against her back. They swung their hips side to side together with the beat, their arms both cradling Elita.

"That dress is perfect on her."

"Isn't it just the most adorable outfit ever? I love it. Did you pick it out?"

She felt his chin move up and down in a nod. "I saw it in a catalogue." He kissed the top of her head. "Breakfast is ready. Here, I'll hold Elita."

Mikaela heard Optimus following her down the stairs.

"In a hurry?"

"Perhaps." Optimus came alongside Mikaela, took her hand and led her into the kitchen. He had the same look in his eye he did on Christmas morning. When they entered the dining room, Mikaela saw why.

Optimus made her pancakes. In the center of the pile was a single lit birthday candle.

" isn't a cake, but...your customs do involve candles." He looked straight into her eyes and smiled a tad sheepishly. "I believe this is when you make a wish."

Mikaela swallowed hard. She turned around, kissed him and nuzzled Elita's cheek. I wish for us all to stay safe. Then she leaned over and blew out the candle. Through the smoke, she saw Optimus touch foreheads with Elita and smile.

"Elita, would you like to see something amusing?" he asked.


"Watch this." Optimus set Elita down in her car seat, which was sitting right there on the kitchen table. Then he took Mikaela by the hand and danced with her to the music still blaring upstairs. Chest to chest, forehead to forehead, one smile to another, they moved as one. Optimus twirled her and dipped her to the left. Then he spun her around and dipped her to the right. Mikaela shrieked in delight.

"See, Elita?" Optimus waggled his metal eyebrows. "Your mother's face is turning a lovely shade of red, isn't it?"

Elita laughed and smacked her lips.

"Now, watch, I'm going to make your mother very, very dizzy." Optimus went on. He danced Mikaela around the dining room table without letting so much as a fold of her clothing bump into a chair. His footwork put Mikaela's to shame.

Everything in the room blurred until his smiling face was the only clear thing she could see. He made the world okay by being a part of hers.

And she cherished him for it.

"Give me faith, give me joy, my boy,
and I will always cherish you..."