It was just one of those days when Red Alert just couldn't be happy.
Basically, all she did was ask for someone's opinion. She had grown tired of her odd way of life; switching between one area of expertise to another. In general, she was still just a medic, but her talents were put to use in two distinctly different surroundings. One was a Space Bridge maintenance team on the Autobot-Controlled meteor city of Iacon.
Sure, Iacon wasn't a bad place to be. It was a quaint little mining town just outside of the Cybertronian star system. If anything, it was the people that she worked with that she didn't like all that well. Sure, there were people in her team that she managed to tolerate. There was Rodimus Prime, who occasionally made her smile with his antics, what with him trying to be the best he can even though he has no idea how things are really supposed to work. She really didn't have an opinion on Ironhide; honestly, there were times when she even forgot he was part of her team. He was really just the kind of guy that stayed in the background, not really wanting to take charge of anything.
Then there were the two that she just couldn't stand.
There was Hot Shot, for one. If there was anyone more annoying in the entire universe, Hot Shot was probably going to top them in some way. He could never talk to her about something that even remotely made sense, and often when he did talk to her about something that she could actually follow as a sensible conversation, he'd over-do whatever act he was doing to get a specific answer out of her, and then get into a fight with Brawn. It never really felt like he cared about her in any way other than a target. If he did, he had an absolutely horrible way of showing it.
And then there was Brawn, the catch-all cause of her woes. He was the most stubborn, thick-headed, and inflexible 'bot she had ever had the aggravation of meeting. If there was anyone in the universe she outright hated, it was definitely Brawn. If he was any more sour and pessimistic, she thought her head would explode. It was his fault that the entire Space Bridge Team (Rodimus Prime had taken to calling it 'Team Rodimus') was generally a displeasure to be around. And she dearly wished he'd stop talking about the government as though it were the worst thing to ever be spat out of the Universe's nonexistent backside.
Her best friends were involved with it.
All she had to do was ask the team in general an important question. Did they want her to stay or did they want her to go? She couldn't just keep going back and forth between stations for the rest of her lifecycle, but she needed time to analyze things a bit. When she was unable to come to a conclusion on her own, she had decided to ask the people readily available to her at the time; Team Rodimus. Brawn had answered her sincere question rudely and heartlessly.
So she left.
Now she was walking through the halls of the Ministry of Science, knowing exactly where she was going in terms of physical direction. But on the inside, she still wasn't sure where to go. It was kind of hard to do this now, even with the 'permission' of one side. How would they really know how she felt? After all, she was the only one in that team that actually had a positive experience with the government. She didn't mind the government, really, but she also didn't mind the Space Bridge on Iacon.
To be honest, it almost felt wrong to go this way. Almost as if she were spitting in their faces doing this, and that was really the last thing she wanted. But when she thought about it, none of the people there really seemed to care all that much about her. Rodimus appreciated her, Ironhide couldn't care less, Hot Shot would probably cry for a bit over his favorite target not being around anymore, and Brawn? Brawn was probably drowning in oil right now, pretending he didn't care at all about her leaving. Either that or he genuinely didn't care. He didn't sound like he cared when he basically told her to 'go ahead and leave, why should you care what we think?'
At least in the Ministry of Science, Wheeljack and Perceptor appreciated her being around.
Well, he knew Wheeljack would anyway. He was always the kind of guy that could make her laugh. Sometimes he actually set out to be funny, though usually it was by hurting or embarrassing himself. He always seemed willing to do stupid things just to put a smile on Red Alert's face. He said he appreciated her smile, which she noticed she did much more of around Wheeljack and Perceptor than on Iacon.
The only thing Red Alert didn't like about him was his creator's rather idiotic idea to mold his body with experimental metals. She wasn't exactly sure what type of metal they were, since it was a secret, but she knew it was problematic. Whenever it came into contact with another substance, it would become unstable and explode. This made it difficult for him to work on project that involved chemicals, since it was nearly impossible for him NOT to touch the chemicals. That was the upside of his armor plating; it was essentially indestructible. Though it did end up with his limbs snapping off often, which really just led him to be more appreciative of her being around to put him back together at the end of the day.
But what about Perceptor?
Red Alert couldn't discern if Perceptor wanted her around or not. He was difficult to understand. Though she was getting closer to the lab, so if he was there, then she'd just ask, right? It shouldn't be too hard. Knowing Perceptor, he'd give her a straight answer even if it was the most illogical question ever. He didn't avoid questions; he more so attacked them head-on with as much detail as he could define. If you asked him why a pineapple didn't wear bathrobes, he'd answer your questions as seriously as though you were asking him a question about the quantum mechanics of a Decepticon's invisible force field.
Soon enough she found herself opening the door to the main laboratory, and Perceptor was there. He seemed to be working on something inherently trivial to what she was doing; it apparently involved a bit of chemicals and fancy beakers that needed to distill the specifics of each element. Some were labeled with chemicals she could recognize; Para-Dichlorobenzene, Nitrogen Oxide, and one with a dangerous chemical used to enhance reaction time in a mechanical body. Wheeljack had jokingly named it 'Blur', after its censorship and the fact that it was first successfully used upon the creation of Blurr, the current go-to agent for Cybertron Intelligence. Unfortunately he ended up being a bit difficult to stand, since the chemical ended up enhancing everything about him.
Perceptor stood up a bit straighter, apparently not expecting her there so quickly. Red Alert didn't blame him. She never really did say that she was coming here earlier than usual.
"Red Alert?" He turned to her, and adjusted his glasses a bit. It was a leftover habit from before he deleted his emotions; he always moved them in some way when he was contemplating. "You are not due to return to the Ministry of Science for another deca-cycle. Why have you chosen to come earlier than usual?"
"I needed to ask you an important question."
"Very Well." Red Alert paused a bit, figuring out how to word her sentence. She didn't want to explain everything that had happened in Iacon; he wouldn't understand her easily, what with his lack of emotional understanding. She finally settled on the direct approach.
"If you could choose between having me around full-time or not having me around at all, which would you choose?" Red Alert gave Perceptor some time to think about his answer. He took his glasses off his faceplate and thought a bit, occasionally tapping the side of his head with the glasses, before adjusting them and putting them back on his faceplate.
"Your services would be much obliged. You would be a useful asset to the team, especially concerning Wheeljack and his unfortunate tendencies toward having accidents on a regular basis." That wasn't exactly the answer she wanted. She knew she was an important asset in practically everything; she was a medic, after all. There wasn't anybot in the universe that didn't need a medic at any point in their life. She decided to try again.
"No, that's not what I meant."
Red Alert started thinking for a bit. Maybe she needed to be a bit more clear on how she wanted him to answer. She came up with another sentence.
"Do you want me to be here?"
"Do. You. Want. Me. Around?" Red Alert restated, this time a bit more forceful. She didn't know how to get any more clear than the word 'want'.
"What's there to elaborate!?"
"Define the word 'want'."
"Want? I can't really get any more specific than want." She said. This was starting to get on her nerves. How could she get any clearer than the word want!? It was times like these that she wished Perceptor didn't delete his emotions. Because then he'd actually understand what she was actually trying to say. She really didn't like how she always had to be logically direct with him. Though when she thought about it, that was the only thing she didn't like about him.
How would she feel about him if that weren't an obstacle?
"You are incorrect. Want is a very vague term. It could mean the illusion of necessity towards something trivial, or the unbearable feeling of wanting to touch another through intimate passion. Define the specific intention of the term 'want', please."
"Whoa whoa whoa—what do you mean by 'intimate passion?'"
"I believe another term for it is lust."
"LUST!? I don't mean that! Of course I don't mean that! How could you think that?"
"I told you; want is a very vague term that could very well be taken far out of context, and yet still be what was specifically said."
"Then how am I supposed to ask you a question when I'm not sure about my own feelings!?"
Red Alert caught herself. What did she say? 'My own feelings'? What did that mean? With the direction this conversation was going, Perceptor could easily take it out of context to think that she loved him! Red Alert caught herself again. Did she… If anything, Perceptor was right; even if it was brought out of context, it could still be true to what was said.
But was that really out of context?
"Sorry, I'm not sure what I was saying there…"
"That is impossible. What is said is often wholeheartedly intended by the speaker at the moment, though there have been records of people stating things that they later regretted." Red Alert didn't know how to answer. But she didn't worry too much. After all, Perceptor rarely spoke unless either spoken to or he wanted to state or question a fact. She doubted he had anything to add to this conversation. She hoped he didn't have anything to add to the conversation.
"Do you regret what you said?"
Red Alert bit her lower lip, and brought her modified hand up to her dental plates to chew on. How was she supposed to respond to this? Did she regret what she said? Didn't she enjoy his company?
"You seem apprehensive. Please, tell me; what is making you so uneasy?"
Slaggit. She may as well be direct. It's worked for her before.
"What do you think!? This whole conversation is making me uneasy!"
"Why? WHY!? Because this is an uncomfortable situation for me, because I need to make an important decision and I couldn't figure it out for myself, so I decided to ask permission from the team on Iacon to leave freely as my own choice, and ended up being rejected! So I just thought that I'd come over here and ask you guys for permission to either stay or leave. And what do I get? And uncomfortable conversation about lust of all things!" Red Alert huffed, angered. Perceptor shifted his glasses a bit, and then responded.
"I do not understand; if you were rejected from leaving, then why did you come here?"
"You said that you asked the maintenance team located at Space Bridge 687-030 to leave, and were rejected. That implied that you were not allowed to leave you station."
"That's not what I meant!"
"What do you mean elaborate!? I asked my team the same question I asked you, and then everything got all quiet, before Brawn up an told me to 'do whatever the slag I wanted' and that they were 'in no place to tell me what to do'. So I left."
"But in that context, it sounded more as though he was merely giving you the freedom to choose for yourself."
"But I don't want to choose for myself! I wanted the opinion of the people I asked! I got a half-hearted and rude comment clearly stating that he didn't want to take any part of my inner conflicts and just wanted me to shut up and make a decision on my own because he frankly wasn't in the mood to put up with my femininity and inner conflicts!"
"And you read all of that within a simple phrase?"
"Are you sure you do not have a major in psychiatry?"
"What are you talking about?"
"Let me elaborate: you managed to get to a presumed root of what your teammate Brawn intended with his statement through means of what I perceive to be intuition. What I would like to know is; if you were broken by the statements made by Brawn, what made you seek me out instead?"
Red Alert wasn't sure how to answer that one. Perceptor had used the term 'broken'. Did that mean he thought that she was falling apart because of what a teammate said?
Was she falling apart because of what a teammate said?
"Look, I… I just wanted to know who wants me more; the Ministry of Science or the Space Bridge team on Iacon."
"Unfortunately this only leads us back to an earlier dilemma: you have yet to define your use of the word 'want'."
"SLAGGIT! I mean it in a way concerning a relationship, okay?"
"Platonic or romantic?"
"Are you referring to a platonic relationship or a romantic relationship?" This was getting out of hand. Red Alert decided to give him a taste of his own medicine.
"What do you think I'm talking about?" Perceptor did not hesitate.
"I think you are referring to a romantic relationship."
Red Alert did a double-take. Romantic? Why Romantic? Quickly realizing that questioning his logic would be futile, she decided to think in terms of a romantic relationship. May as well figure out his point of view, right? So, how would she relate to a romantic relationship with Perceptor?
Somehow it didn't seem that hard.
She had known Perceptor since the beginning of forever, to be poetic. When they were younger, they used to share secrets randomly with each other and talk about things that other students at the Autobot Academy didn't care about because they wanted to be soldiers or Primes. Red Alert never wanted to go to war. She would much rather be in the Ministry of Science, safely within the confines of a physical structure. In here she could tinker with things all she wanted; she could find a cure for cosmic rust, or discover a way to make an Autobot faster, or bring life back to those who were nearly offline.
She loved science. She loved being a miracle worker; discovering new ways to mix chemicals, figuring out the side effects of energy and learning to avoid them or use them to a more productive manner. She remembered a time on Iacon when Hot Shot had played with her chemicals and an Energon Cube and accidentally created an edible substance he subsequently named 'JaAm', which he said had the second 'a' being larger than the other. Later she found traces of sulfur, an unstable energy signature emitting from it, and distinct traces of Para-Dichlorobenzene. Those things, combined with Energon, created an edible, highly addictive, and essentially mind-scrambling energy source. Lucky for Hot Shot she managed to find a way to cure it.
"Huh?" Slag. She drifted off-topic. Now what was she going to say? That it was hard to talk about love when she wasn't even capable of thinking about relating it to him? Why was it so hard to relate to him like that? What was it that made it so hard to project emotions and feelings onto him?
"I can imagine this is difficult for you to comprehend. It must be difficult for you."
"Why do you think that?"
"From what you have told me, you are attempting to make a decision between staying at the Ministry of Science or Space Bridge 687-030, but are unable to come to a conclusion on your own. As such, you wish to find bias between the two parties, in order to assist in making your decision."
"Yeah, that sounds about right. And them Brawn up and practically says he couldn't care less."
"Then why come to me?"
"I don't know. Why do you think I came to you?" A short pause…
"I have two theories; one is that I was merely the first of the Ministry of Science to catch your eye, so you decided to question me. The other theory is that you value my opinion over others."
"Well, mister 'I know everything', if you can figure all that out then why don't you figure out why I value your opinion over others?"
"This is just a theory, but I believe there might romantic feelings involved."
"You tell me."
Red Alert thought for a bit. Did she really love Perceptor? There really wasn't much reason to love him; it wasn't like he could reciprocate the feelings. He couldn't reciprocate hate or sorrow or happiness, so why would he reciprocate love? It would be a waste of time to love someone who was the equivalent of an inanimate object, when it came to emotions. It was useless to love Perceptor.
And yet, she did.
"…I don't know." That was all she could say. She didn't know where the feelings sprouted up. She didn't know why she was bothering with having them. If she so chose, she could very well be rid of those emotions and be able to get on with her life. But something nagged at her that no 'bot in the universe needed another emotionless shell to deal with. No one else would take the time out to care for her if she did what Perceptor did.
But what was she doing right now?
She was trying to numb her emotions on her own. She was trying not to feel anything. She was trying not to grow attachments to the Space Bridge team. she was trying not to let herself suffer. She was trying to keep herself from being angry. She was trying not to love Perceptor. She was such a hypocrite. She supposed there would be no better time than now to just feel. Do the one thing Perceptor could never do.
She began to cry.
It wasn't really crying. It was just coolant leaking out from underneath her optic sensors and dripping down her face. There was coolant everywhere when a Cybertronian 'cried', which often left a very wet mess and, occasionally, a bout of laughter from an onlooker.
But no one laughed at her. No one tried to stop her this time, not even Perceptor. She wasn't sure why he wasn't trying to stop her. He didn't like it when emotions came into play for someone's judgment. But for whatever reason, he didn't try to stop her. She wasn't sure what happened next, it was all just a blur of blubbering and yelling and talking and saying whatever popped into her head and it hurt so much to be in love with someone that couldn't love you back, no matter how hard they tried. So she just kept crying and found herself on the floor somehow.
What did you call it when your emotions were so strong you ended up on the floor?
After she cooled down a bit, she found Perceptor kneeling down in front of her. What was he doing? Trying to comfort her? Why would he want to; he couldn't feel anything. He couldn't feel her sorrow or her anger. He couldn't tell that on the inside, she just wanted to be with someone who would love her. He couldn't even feel what was displayed on her face, which she thought might have been a mixture of sadness and frustration. But when he opened his mouth, she had finally made her decision.
"Shut up and let me love you."