Title: Forever – Dawn's Light

Author: pl2363

Series: Transformers AU/G1

Rating: M (sparkbonding), OC death

Notes: Optimus Prime x Prowl. The past and present collide in an unexpected way. Will Prowl and Optimus' love for one another endure, despite the huge obstacle that the Matrix poses for them?

Primus story is based in part from Marvel comics, but altered to fit with Regardless Universe. The concept of the Matrix making bonding impossible already used in my previous fic 'A Little Love to Ease the Pain'.

Title taken from "Wandering Star" by Portishead, but I like this verse from "Dry the Rain" by Beta Band:

"Take me in and dry the rain,
the rain the rain the rain now.

If there's something inside that you wanna say,
Say it out loud it'll be okay,
I will be your light

I will be your light

I will be your light
I will be your light…"

Also... Transformers belong to Hasbro, I am just playing with them.


Hope for stopping Unicron's rampage faded away the moment Primus watched him manipulate his body and transform it from its orb shape into a robotic form. His brother vowed to destroy Primus, but instead of crushing him at that moment he took off, disappearing into the blackness of space. Due the wounds that were slowly healing inside his new orb shape, Primus was unable to transform and give chase.

Left floating on his own, Primus grew increasingly lonely. In this form he couldn't wander the universe he loved so much to see the living creatures in it. Then a thought occurred him: I have the power of creation available to me. I could generate beings, then I won't be lonely anymore…

Using the power of light, he synthesized energy and matter from his body to create an avatar version of himself as a tool for building his creations. Long wires trailed off the smaller robotic-looking form that mirrored his own former astral appearance, linking to his memory core, processor and spark. He took his time crafting twelve beings. Each one resembled him, but each had their own characteristics and attributes. Taking a cue from his brother, he made them adaptable and able to transform their bodies. He gazed at the empty shells and realized that in order to give them life he would have to split off pieces of his spark. That was fine if all he wanted were twelve children, but he wanted more for them. He wanted them to mirror the beautiful organic creatures in the universe he adored so much. Organics procreated, combining cells that would eventually grow into brand new life forms. He needed to find a way to allow his children to do the same.

Accessing his endless memory banks, he examined his trips to organic planets, paying special attention to how they multiplied themselves and cared for one another. He took his time, determining how best to integrate the unique ability of organic life to propagate into his own creations. While he knew he would have to split his own spark to give them life, he had carefully designed their spark chambers into a shape that allowed them create new sparks by spark merging, and thus new life.

Calculating the amount of energy it would take to split his spark, he determined the physical toll on his body would most likely require him to spend a long time in stasis to properly recover. It was well worth it, though, to have his creations come to life. A database with the information his creations would need to survive while he rested was complied to hopefully provide them all they would need to know. He included instructions and schematics for everything from where to find the energon reserves that would serve to power them, to how to build and repair their bodies. Since his creations would start life fully formed and 'adult', they also needed detailed instructions on how to raise their offspring, which were designed and intended to grow much like the organic life beings.

Satisfied with the designs of his children, he used the power of light to split off thirteen pieces of his spark, twelve for his children and one for a special item he designed. Despite his careful calculations, the process took up a lot more of his energy than he anticipated. The injuries that were still healing in addition to the stress of splitting his spark greatly weakened his body. Pushing past his exhaustion, he moved his avatar to place the pieces of his spark into each being he had created.

The first one to come online gazed up at his avatar, looking confused. He then glanced around, seeing the others beside him on the long tabletop surface.

"You are the first one to come online, Prima." Primus' avatar smiled down at the newly awakened being.

Prima's optics flashed brightly. "Is that my name?" he asked.

"Yes."

Prima furrowed his brow, seemingly confused. "Who are you?"

"I am Primus, well, this is my avatar. I created you."

"Oh." Prima's optics grew wide. "My creator?" he asked in an awed voice.

Primus nodded as he smiled.

Prima sat up, quickly glancing around the room. "And where am I?"

"My body. It's been transformed into an orb. I wanted to offer it to you and the others as a home, and I have something to ask of you." Primus moved to the workbench to pick up the last item he had made, a Matrix. It was a multi-purpose device that would be powered by the piece of spark he placed inside it. He walked back over and carefully hung it on Prima's neck with the chain he had attached to it. "This is what I call a Matrix. It has a piece of my spark inside it, just like you do, although it is not sentient. I want you to hold onto to it so it can record the events that will happen in my absence."

"Your absence?" Prima fingered the Matrix as he stared down at it. "I just awoke and now you are leaving?" he asked, his voice growing quiet and sad.

"I am here. I will always be here, but due to wounds deep within my body that are still healing along with the stress of splitting my spark to create you all, I will need to go into a stasis for sometime to recover." Primus' avatar looked to the side as he watched another of the creations stir and optics light.

"I see. How will we know what to do?" Prima asked as he stared at the Matrix in his hands. "What is our purpose?"

"You are all programmed with basic knowledge, and I have created a mainframe database for you all to access. If you have any questions, it should be able to answer it." Primus felt a wave of sadness ripple through him. All this labor and hard work to make these beings to help quell his loneliness and now he would have to wait eons while his body and spark properly healed to actually enjoy being around them. The wait would be so long, in fact, he'd probably not get to see his original creations again. His time to rest would last much longer than their expected lifetimes. That thought pained him greatly. "As far as a purpose, I simply wanted you to keep me from feeling so alone. I hadn't properly anticipated the physical toll creating you would take on me, however. But you will all have each other and hopefully never feel lonely."

"Thank you." Prima said, his optics shimmering as he smiled at Primus.

"For?"

"Life."

It had been almost four cycles, and Optimus still lay unconscious in medbay. Prowl hadn't left his side, skipping recharge and only fueling if someone shoved a cube in his hand. Ratchet had been contacted and quickly made his way to Cybertron. He ran countless scans and did a very thorough examination but found no cause for Optimus' current state.

Prowl lightly ran his fingers over Optimus' hand, trying to take comfort in the fact he was still warm to the touch. How long would Optimus lie there like this? What had he meant by what he said about Primus before he touched the sphere? There was so much left unanswered. There were also things he wished he had said. I should have told him I love him back… His feelings of guilt were almost overwhelming. If he had only paid closer attention to Optimus' behavior beforehand or made them turn back as soon as he realized something was wrong. Prowl sighed air from his intakes in frustration, knowing that self-battering thoughts and 'should have's wouldn't change anything.

Glancing at the closed door to the medbay room they were in, Prowl decided he would act on an irrational desire to talk to Optimus even though he wasn't awake. He lifted the blue hand he had been lightly stroking and held it to his cheek, as he looked to Optimus' face and tried to mentally will him into consciousness. "It's me, Optimus. Please wake up for me…" Prowl whispered. "I miss you so much. I don't want to be left here all alone. Please…"

The door whooshed open, and Prowl quickly dropped the hand in his grip, which landed with a soft thud.

Ratchet stepped into the room and half smiled at Prowl before walking over the monitor and tapping the screen to quickly look over the readings.

"You know, Prowl," Ratchet said as he turned to look at him. "You need to recharge."

"I perfectly fine," Prowl replied as he frowned at Ratchet.

Ratchet crossed his arms over his chest and frowned back. "Your optics are lighter in color than they should be, and your doorwings are drooping."

There really wasn't anything he could say to defend himself since Ratchet was right. Exhaustion had taken firm hold of his entire frame, permeating every micrometer of his being. His joints ached, his vision was sometimes going out of focus, and he had caught himself nodding off two times now.

"If you want to crawl onto the berth with him, I don't care. Just get some rest. Please," Ratchet said in a pleading tone.

The idea of recharging in the berth with Optimus was both appealing as well a little embarrassing. Part of him really wanted to be close to Optimus and feel the warmth of his frame against his own, a reassurance that Optimus was still alive, even if unconscious. The other part would be mortified if anyone walked in and witnessed just how vulnerable he felt right now, especially since he was working so hard to keep up a brave front in the face of everything that was happening.

"I let Skywarp recharge with Thundercracker when he was injured. It really is okay, Prowl." Ratchet unfolded his arms and offered Prowl a somewhat sad-looking smile.

Prowl stiffened his posture and shook his head. "The last thing I need right now is for some medic to come in here and see something like that."

"Like what?" Ratchet asked. "All they would see is someone who loves Optimus."

Prowl winced. He highly coveted his privacy. Inside he was falling into pieces, but there was no way in Pit he'd ever let on just how close to falling apart he really was. Maybe he if he changed the subject Ratchet would drop it. "Any changes in the readings?" Prowl asked as he nodded his head to the monitor.

"No." Ratchet furrowed his brow and frowned. "And I'm not one of the twins or Blue. Changing subjects doesn't work on me, Prowl. You need to rest, so set your ego aside for half a cycle and recharge."

Primus, Ratchet could be really annoying when he wanted to be. "This has nothing to do with my 'ego'. I know my own limits, and I certainly don't need you treating me like a misbehaving sparkling."

Ratchet's frown deepened. "Well, I'll stop treating you that way if you stop being so fragging stubborn and recharge."

The stress of the situation and Ratchet's attitude quickly compounded with Prowl's overwhelming exhaustion, eating up what little shreds of self-control were left in him. "Drop it, Ratchet," he said in a cold, harsh-sounding voice.

Ratchet looked surprised by the curt statement but seemed to quickly recover his composure. "Look, you have to admit if you saw one of us going without recharge for several cycles that you'd tell them to go rest, wouldn't you? That's the logical and reasonable thing to do, isn't it?"

"Trying to appeal to my logical or rational side is a cheap ploy." Prowl looked at Optimus' unconscious face. "Besides, there is nothing logical about this situation so I am allowed to act as irrationally as I please." Prowl glanced back at Ratchet and narrowed his optics.

Ratchet stared back at him, looking extremely concerned. "Prowl…"

"What? You'll offer me pity next?" Prowl snapped. He was so sick of having all his transitory happiness stomped into the ground by fate. He was angry that he couldn't even have a little of the good fortune everyone else seemed to share in. "Nothing will be all right. Not until he wakes up." Prowl felt his doorwings quivering from his barely restrained emotions teeming near the surface. He wanted to scream and yell and tell the randomness of fate to shove it up its tailpipe, or else he wanted to break down and cry until he couldn't cry anymore. "So you'll have to pardon me if I can't just relax and get some recharge while hoping everything will turn out fine." With my luck he'd die while I was offline, he thought.

Ratchet's posture straightened, and he circled the berth and knelt down beside where Prowl was sitting. "Hey, I know this hard. I have been in a similar position myself, more than once I might add. Optimus is a fighter, though. Everything will be all right."

Why were mechs like Ratchet or Jazz able to be so hopeful in the face of reality? Was something broken in Prowl's processor that he could never seem to escape that feeling of dread and doom? "I wish I could see the world like everyone else seems to be able to." Prowl felt coolant welling on the surface of his optics, but by sheer force of will he held the tears back. "I wish Jazz was here…" he whispered. Of all the mechs he was surrounded by, Jazz was the only one aside from Optimus that always managed to offer comfort to him whenever he would reach a low point like this. Instead he was facing this situation all alone.

"Jazz can't be here, you know that. But I am here. You can talk to me if you want," Ratchet offered.

Prowl felt Ratchet lightly touch his elbow. "No offense, but I don't talk about this kind of thing with anyone other than Jazz."

"None taken." Ratchet's hand pulled away. "Think we could come to a compromise, though?"

"Compromise?"

"I'll lock down the room for a half cycle; no one will come in, not even me. And in return, you'll recharge."

Prowl took a moment to consider Ratchet's proposal. He knew he needed to rest. If he pushed much further he might pass out and land himself in a separate berth away from Optimus. If Ratchet was willing to give him his privacy, then at least he could recharge here with Optimus. Prowl concluded it was a good offer and nodded in agreement. "Deal."

Ratchet smiled. "You have my word no one will even get near the door. If they do, I'll threaten to remove their arm and beat 'em with it."

A small smile curved Prowl's lips in response to Ratchet's 'threat'. "Thank you." Prowl had only ever seen Ratchet's more abrasive side, so it was strange to see how tender he could be when the circumstances called for it.

Ratchet got to his feet and walked to the door where he paused and glanced back at Prowl. "See you in half a cycle." With that he slipped out of the room.

Prowl's whole posture slumped as the door slid shut behind Ratchet. His exhaustion along with the stress of everything made his body feel like it weighed twice as much as normal. He glanced up at Optimus, hearing his love's last words ring in his processor: I have to go, but I'll be back. Wait for me, okay? "I promise to wait forever if I have to."

Pushing to his feet, he carefully crawled up onto the berth and lay down across Optimus' chest, curling up against the warm broad frame. He tried to stay online a little while and focus on that wonderful warmth, but he soon found his thoughts weren't even properly forming, left hanging half-finished in his processor. It didn't take long before he slipped offline as exhaustion finally won out against his force of will.

Primus was having trouble maintaining control of his avatar. His whole body was shutting down on him. He had managed to stay conscious long enough to see all his children come online, healthy and perfectly sound, which was thrilling. He was quickly running out of time, though. He maneuvered his avatar towards a small podium and called Prima over.

"The matrix will not only record history in my absence, but it's designed to be a key to awaken me," Primus explained with his avatar as he gestured at the podium. "Once the energon reserves start to run low, it will need to be placed here to reinitiate my body and its systems. Do you understand?"

Prima nodded. "Yes."

Primus placed a hand on Prima's shoulder. "Be sure to propagate and grow strong as a new species. My slumber will last for many, many eons, much longer than your lifetimes, I'm afraid. So I expect to meet your descendants." He smiled warmly at Prima, then looked the other twelve beings who were all quietly watching. Sadness at knowing he'd never meet these particular creations again was made worse as he saw the looks of disappointment, worry and sorrow on his children's faces. One even turned away to wipe his face clean of the coolant tears that were streaming from his optics.

"We will. Rest and be well. We promise to make you proud." Prima spoke softly, but there was a distinct air of authority in his posture and voice as he stepped forward and hugged the avatar. "We are thankful, and we are all going to miss you," he whispered.

"Keep each other safe," Primus replied as he hugged Prima back.

Worry about his brother and his threat to inflict harm weighed heavily on Primus' mind. At least by going into such stasis, Unicron wouldn't be able to locate him though their split spark bond. Such a deep stasis would cause his spark to slow considerably, making it almost impossible to detect for Unicron. Primus would do anything to ensure his creations had the best possible lives, even if that meant he couldn't be an active part of them.

Primus moved his avatar toward where his creations were gathered just behind Prima, wanting to hold each of them. They surrounded him and took turns hugging him. Some openly cried; others hung onto an arm or piece of his armor and did not let go. He reveled in the affection offered, feeling his spark pulse happily, even if this was also a sad moment. Knowing he was no longer alone gave him great comfort, and he was glad that his children would have each other while he was in stasis. The effort to keep his avatar moving grew to be too much, and he had to cut power to it, allowing it to slump into his creation's arms. His straining systems were shutting down on him. He lost all physical sensation and then all visual input was cut off. Just before he lost consciousness he asked one last thing of the power of light: Protect them and give them strength, light.

xxx

The answer. The place he needed to go. The reason the Matrix was acting so oddly. Now Optimus knew how to finally free himself of his obligation and duty as a Prime. The Matrix's ability to light their darkest moment was not some metaphor or even a weapon as the council had alluded to. It was a key. A key to unlocking everything.

The closer they had got to Iacon the more the Matrix had vibrated in his chest against his spark. He worried about the possible damage it was doing, but he didn't want to pass that worry onto Prowl and kept it to himself. When they entered the tunnel, he started having flashes of Primus' memories interrupt his vision. The Matrix vibrated harder than ever, urging him towards the sphere they had all come to see. Memories and images that weren't his had filled his field of vision once they entered the circular chamber where the sphere sat. Then he heard a whispered voice inside his processor. 'It's been too long. Please wake me. Touch the sphere; it's my memory core. I will show you what to do…'

One touch to the huge sphere was all it took to transfer several memory files to the Matrix. Optimus was then immediately plunged into those memories, reliving the moments Primus experienced. He had been shown what to do and wanted to act, but found he was mired in the memories now, unable to break free toward consciousness and left drowning the emotions of their creator. How long had it been? A cycle? An orn? He realized that he had lost all concept of time… Suddenly, in the midst of experiencing Primus' joy and sadness, Optimus felt warmth against his dermal plating. He focused on the sensation, fighting past the images of a life that hadn't been his as he tried to reach that warmth.

"Please come back. I miss you so much."

Prowl… That was Prowl's voice. He sounded so sad and lost. Pushing against the tide of memories that weren't his, Optimus accessed his own memory files: Prowl curled up beside him on the couch, gazing up with nothing short of loving adoration; those pretty doorwings perking upward when Optimus would disengage his battle mask to smile at Prowl; the feeling of completeness that only came when he held Prowl close. I'm coming back to you, Prowl…

With that thought, Optimus' optics flared on.

"Optimus!"

It took a moment to get his optics to properly focus, and when they did he found himself face to face with a very worried-looking Prowl who was lying across his chest. Relief as well as joy filled him at the sight.

"Prowl. You waited." Optimus reached up and trailed his fingers down Prowl's face.

"Of course." Coolant pooled in Prowl's optics, making them look glossy. "I thought I might have lost you forever."

Smiling, Optimus cupped Prowl's chin and swept a thumb over his lower lip. "I was lost. But you helped me find my way back."

A little crinkle formed in Prowl's brow.

"I love you, Prowl."

"And I love you. I should have said it before back in Iacon. I'm so sorry I didn't. I just didn't understand what was happening. Still, that is no excuse. I should have—"

Optimus pressed his thumb to Prowl's lips, interrupting him. "You have no reason to apologize. I should have explained what was happening. I wanted to protect you from what was going on, but I can see that it upset you more than it helped." Prowl's concerned look faded a little. Optimus moved his hand, letting it slide down the graceful curve of Prowl's neck. "I am very sorry I made you worry about me."

Prowl's optics dimmed. "I worry. It's something I secretly excel at, actually. All that matters to me is that you're okay."

"I'm more than okay. After all, I have a very beautiful mech sprawled across my chest. Not sure I could imagine anything better to come back online to," Optimus replied as he smiled.

A small smile curved Prowl's lips. "Oh, really?"

"Yes." Optimus stared at Prowl's sweet face, his gaze pausing at those perfect lips. "Think I could get a kiss?"

"Anything for you." Prowl leaned down, and their lips met in a soft-mouthed kiss. The love he felt for Prowl seemed to make his spark swell in its chamber. All he wanted was to be free to show Prowl how he truly felt. And now he knew what to do with the Matrix to finally be free of the burdensome responsibility that came with it.

He broke off the kiss, and grinned at Prowl. "I have a lot to tell you."

"Oh?" Prowl faintly canted his head.

"I know how to free myself from the Matrix, and I now know Primus is real."

The crinkle in Prowl's brow returned. "Optimus, Primus is just a story we tell sparklings."

Shaking his head, Optimus smiled. "He is very real, Prowl."

"Before you tell me more, perhaps I should have Ratchet look you over."

Optimus knew Prowl's concern for him stemmed from his love and nodded. "If it'll put your mind at ease, that's fine. But I need to talk to you right after."

Prowl nodded in agreement.

"Thank you," Optimus said quietly.

"For what?" Prowl asked, looking a little confused.

"For loving me."

Prowl's optics surged brightly as smiled. "Of course."

If Prowl didn't know any better, he might have assumed a mech that told him Primus was real had damaged his processor. This was no ordinary mech, though. This was Optimus. Prowl listened intently to his love as he went into great detail about Primus and the memories he had experienced. Prowl tried desperately to wrap his mind around everything he was being told. One part of him was concerned for Optimus' mental stability, wondering if the zap of light he received from the sphere had damaged him, while the other part wanted to believe him, especially since it seemed there might be a way to finally free Optimus from the Matrix.

They had returned to their temporary quarters once Ratchet cleared Optimus. Prowl poured two servings of energon, and they sat down at a small table in the corner of the main living area to talk. Optimus had wasted no time delving into the events and describing Primus' memory files he believed he had seen.

Optimus paused after finishing his description of what Prima had looked like and furrowed his brow at Prowl as he fingered the edge of his energon container. "I am getting the impression you don't believe me."

"It's a lot to take in." Prowl wanted to believe him, he honestly did, but he simply couldn't ignore the flaws and inconsistencies. If the Matrix was a key to reinitiate Primus' systems, why hadn't it been used at the beginning of the war when the energon had started to dry up in the reserves? And a database like the one Optimus described sounded amazing, but where was it now? How had the Matrix been passed on but not something as important as such an extensive database?

"I need you to believe me, Prowl. I need you to trust in me, please." Optimus reached across the table and placed his hand over Prowl's.

Prowl looked down at the large blue hand over his. In a way, he would have to take a huge leap of faith if he was going to go along with all this. He glanced back up at Optimus' face, seeing just how desperate he was to have Prowl believe him. In all the time he had known Optimus, not once had there been a cause to distrust him. Besides, Optimus seemed to genuinely believe what he was saying. "I trust you, Optimus."

"That means a lot to me," Optimus said as his posture relaxed a little. "We need to get back to Iacon. I know exactly where to go."

That was when Prowl realized just how serious this was. Optimus truly believed everything he had told Prowl was the bottom line truth. To Optimus, Primus was not a myth. Prowl frowned slightly, feeling unsure of what to believe: Optimus or a lifetime of being told Primus was nothing more than a fairytale. If Primus were in fact real, then it did stand to reason that the Matrix would be the conduit between the past and the present, connecting its bearer to Primus in a way no other mech would be able to. It would explain why Optimus was the only one to be affected by the sphere after touching it. And it was quite possible that the knowledge of the Matrix's true use would have been lost over time, since there was nothing else on all of Cybertron as ancient. It was plausible that Optimus was right.

Prowl gazed into Optimus' optics, which were shining brightly. Optimus looked so hopeful. An emotion Prowl rarely ever felt himself, and yet there was something almost infectious about that look of hope. He loved Optimus with all his spark, and in that moment realized he'd do anything for him. Even if it turned out Optimus was wrong and had in fact fried a section of his processor, Prowl knew he was willing to follow him anywhere, fool's errand or not. He was in this relationship for the long haul. If going to Iacon was what Optimus wanted, then he would help him. "We will need to devise a plan. I don't believe after our last trip that Starscream will be willing to grant you another outing to Iacon. We will need to confiscate a shuttle to use."

"Hm, you're right," Optimus replied. "Plus, the sooner we get Primus' systems initiated the sooner the energon reserves will be replenished." Optimus gently squeezed Prowl's hand. "And the sooner we can be together as a bonded couple."

Heat rippled over Prowl's frame in response to those words. To be bonded to Optimus seemed like such an unfulfilled fantasy he had been trying to cope with. Slim chances aside, this was the opportunity they both had been hoping and waiting for. He'd regret it if they didn't at least try. "While I am securing us a shuttle to use, you distract Starscream and Ultra Magnus with a brief meeting to let them know you are fine and that you simply had an adverse reaction due to the Matrix."

"Well, I kind of did. That's not much of a cover story," Optimus replied.

"Telling them something closer to the truth while omitting the details about Primus will make lying easier for you." Prowl knew that Optimus' honesty was something that he simply couldn't help, so the best way to deceive was to give partial truth.

"All right then. I put my trust in you, Prowl." Optimus smiled warmly.

Prowl shyly smiled back. No matter how many times Optimus would say things like that to him, it always made him feel vaguely embarrassed and proud all at once. Gaining approval had always been important to him, and unlike most others in his life, Optimus had always made a point to voice his appreciation for all that Prowl did. "Then, let's set this plan into motion as soon as possible."

Optimus nodded in agreement.

Stealing a shuttle was a lot easier than Prowl expected. With the end of the war and the relative peace they all enjoyed, security was lax. Prowl hacked the database for the government building from a terminal near the shuttles' hangars and installed a virus Jazz had used many times during wartime to draw guards away from their posts. It would take over the computer terminals in the nearby area and display grainy footage of two mechs in the middle of interfacing. This usually resulted in guards being too busy staring at the screens to notice anything else and abandon whatever it was they were supposed to be guarding. While Prowl didn't approve of using such footage, he couldn't deny it always worked like a charm, and that it was a very Jazz-like distraction.

Prowl silently padded around the corner into the hangar area after activating the virus and ducked behind a piece of maintenance equipment. He carefully peered around the edge and just as he expected, the only two guards were both at the computer terminal with their optics fixed on the screen.

"You think we should report it?" one said.

"Heh, well, it won't hurt to wait until—whoa, heh! You see that?" the other replied.

Without making a sound, Prowl skirted past them and walked out onto the tarmac where several of the shuttles were parked. He quickly assessed the various options and spotted a small transport that looked like it had formerly been an Autobot medical transport. It was compact, easy to use, and above all else speedy. In no time, Prowl bypassed the engine's security locks, and it roared to life.

::Prowl to Optimus. The shuttle is secured. I will meet you at the appointed location.::

::Meeting just ended. Perfect timing as usual.:: Optimus replied.

Prowl piloted the shuttle to the edge of a residential area where several homes were still under construction and landed just outside the perimeter to wait. About a breem later, he spied Optimus on the main monitor casually walking down the street toward the shuttle. So far, the plan was going off without a hitch. That fact alone worried Prowl. This felt so easy. Too easy. Grimacing, Prowl felt the uncomfortable sensation of impending disaster creeping through his processor.

The small shuttle jostled slightly as Optimus climbed on board. "Hey there." Optimus slid into the co-pilot seat. "Medical shuttle, excellent choice," he said looking around.

Prowl watched Optimus and wondered if aiding him really had been the right choice. What if something did go wrong? They would be alone, and Prowl was far too small to drag Optimus back to the shuttle if he was injured.

"We should probably get going. The sooner I use the Matrix, the sooner I will be all yours." Optimus retracted his battle mask to reveal a bright-looking smile.

Prowl's spark quivered in his chest. He pressed his fingers to the center of his chestplate and glanced down. It was strange that it would vibrate like that now. Perhaps even the mere notion of possibly bond had been enough to set it off?

"You all right?" Optimus asked.

Prowl didn't have time to try and analyze why his spark had reacted, though. "I'm perfectly fine." He sat forward and reinitiated the thrusters, lifting the small shuttle into the air. It wouldn't be much longer before the security forces discovered the shuttle was missing, making it important to get away from New Vos in order to avoid sensor sweeps. "Let's go."

The shuttle shot forward, and Prowl took it in a wide arch around the new city, being sure to stay low and hopefully out of sensor range. As he cleared the edge of the merchant area, he pushed forward taking the most direct path he could to Iacon. In only a couple of breems the images of the destroyed former capitol played across the view screen, and Prowl set their small ship down. They quickly disembarked and Optimus for the tunnel that led deep underground. Prowl followed on his heels, keeping careful watch on Optimus for any odd behavior.

"Okay, the chamber we need is this way." Optimus made a sharp right down a very narrow corridor that branched off from the one that led to where the sphere was. "It should be just ahead." Optimus glanced over his shoulder and grinned at Prowl briefly before turning his attention forward again.

Nothing appeared out of place with Optimus' behavior at all. He seemed lucid and in good spirits. Still, Prowl couldn't shake the ever present feeling that something might go wrong at any moment and was trying his best to stay alert.

Suddenly, the darkness of the hallway lifted away. Light seemed to be all around them, but like the room with the sphere, no fixtures were visible anywhere. Optimus led Prowl to the end of the hallway where it dead-ended at a wall.

"Perhaps this wasn't the correct way?" Prowl asked, allowing his concern to bleed into his voice.

"It's the right way." Optimus sounded very sure of himself as he pressed his hand to the center of the wall that blocked their path. The wall split and parted, creating a doorway. "See? This is it."

Prowl stared with wide optics as they walked through the open doorway into a cavernous room. The ceiling vaulted upward overhead, there were ancient glyphs carved all over the rounded walls, and broken and dusty items littered the floor.

"Primus…" Optimus said in an awed voice.

Prowl's attention snapped to where Optimus was gazing. A slumped figure was seated on what might be described as a throne, with wires trailing off from each of his joints down another corridor on the opposite side of the room. This offlined 'being' looked exactly as Optimus had described. In front of the unmoving figure stood a waist-high podium with an indented shape that looked like it would perfectly match the Matrix. Prowl faintly shook his head. "This is real."

"Yes, very much so." Optimus took hold of Prowl's hand, lacing their fingers together and started to cross the large room toward the podium.

Prowl walked beside him, feeling like his processor might overheat as he tried to process what was happening. Everything Optimus claimed to have seen had been true. He felt relieved to know his love wasn't insane, and at the same time overcome by the gravity of the situation. If the avatar and podium from the memory Optimus saw were actual things, that also meant Optimus was about to free himself from the title of Prime. That thought made Prowl's spark flutter and swell in its chamber with anticipation. They were going to be together, finally.

Reaching the podium, Optimus unwound his hand from Prowl's and parted his chest plates. "This is it," he said as he gave Prowl a side-glance. "Ready?"

Prowl felt his doorwings perk up on his back. "Yes."

Optimus carefully lifted the Matrix free from his body. He made a soft grunting sound, then sheepishly smiled at Prowl. "Feels weird without it." He stepped forward and placed the Matrix into the slot intended for it. Lights that ran down each side of the podium lit up sequentially, then continued in an outward pattern along the floor. Prowl stared down at his feet where the intense lights were shimmering.

"Something's wrong," Optimus said in a rough voice.

Prowl's attention quickly shifted back to Optimus, who was wincing as he staggered backward. Any excitement or awe he felt drained away, replaced by a sharp-edged fear that took fierce hold of his spark. "Optimus! What is it?" He grabbed Optimus' arm tightly and pushed his smaller weight against the larger frame, trying to help steady him. "What's wrong?" Pain was written all over Optimus' face, and Prowl began to panic. "Optimus!"

"Prowl…I lo-" Optimus' optics went black, and he fell backwards, crashing to the ground and pulling Prowl down with him.

Prowl hit his chin hard on the edge of Optimus' chest upon impact. Ignoring his own pain, he quickly regained his bearings and got to his knees. "Optimus!" His gaze shifted to the still open chest plates of his love and the exposed spark inside. Prowl had seen plenty of sparks before. On the battlefield that was how they checked for survivors after firefight. Optimus' spark was pulsing erratically and looked faded and disorganized. "No…no!" Not again. Another one he loved was going to be ripped away from him. Why was fate so unfair to him? Anger, fear, and despair took over, and Prowl began to tremble uncontrollably. His vision tunneled as he stared at his love's unconscious face, realizing his life would be meaningless without Optimus in it. He leaned forward, grabbing tight hold of his one arm and squeezing hard. "No, please! I don't want to live without you!"

"Spark merge with him."

Prowl shook his head. "He's going to die. I can't."

"If you spark merge with him, he will live. Your spark's energy will stabilize his."

Not even taking a moment to question the voice speaking to him, Prowl parted his chest plates and moved to straddle Optimus. If there was the slightest chance he could save him, then he was going to do it. He bent down and pressed their chests flush as he tucked his face in the crook of Optimus' neck. He felt his own spark expand and send tendrils outward into the disorganized and weakly pulsing spark of his one and only love.

"Don't leave me alone. Come back, Optimus. Please." Prowl felt tears of coolant pool on his optics and couldn't hold back the need to release his emotions. This was too much to take, and he started to openly sob. Don't go! I need you. I love you. I don't want a life without you in it. Please, Optimus. Come back to me. He called through his spark as it pushed further into Optimus'.

The memory file of the only other time he cried like this surged forward in his mind.

Prowl walked into the home he had grown up in. A neighbor had contacted him to let him know his father had passed away and to come home. Upon hearing the news, Prowl left the Academy campus and hopped a tram shuttle to cross town. He practically ran down the streets to the home he had grown up in, and now here he was.

"This way," an officer said as he gestured.

He stepped into the living area to see his adoptive father still sitting upright in his favorite chair, deceased. Prowl knelt beside the chair and ran his fingers over his father's arm, which was cold to the touch. "Father?" Something inside his spark seemed to break at that moment. Pain ripped through his spark as the magnitude of the situation hit him. First his creators were killed, leaving a deep scar on his spark, and now his adoptive father was gone too.

Prowl was alone in the world again.

Tears streamed down his face as he pressed his forehead against his father's cold hand. Losing his creators had been painful enough, but now losing the only mech that mattered to him? It was so unfair. Life was so unfair.

Prowl's memory file abruptly ended when he felt large arms hug him tightly. His optics surged brightly as he tried to figure out what was happening.

'I had no idea you've dealt with so much loss in your life.'

That sounded like Optimus. Prowl then realized his spark and Optimus' were pulsing as one, steady and strong. He then spoke though their connected sparks. 'Optimus?'

'I'm here.'

'Don't you leave me!'

The large arms wound around Prowl gave him a gentle squeeze. 'Never again.'

'Optimus… I love you.'

'And I love you, Prowl.'

Energy from their joined sparks surged as their love for one another was shared in the most direct way possible. Being told he was loved was always a wonderful thing, but feeling just how deep and expansive that love actually ran felt incredible. Prowl made a soft whining sound as he pushed all the love he felt into the light of their sparks. The sensation of sharing all their pent up emotions caused both their sparks to send a huge surge of energy rushing through their systems, setting off a very powerful and unexpected overload. Prowl groaned as he heard Optimus moan. However, their shared pleasure quickly ended with explosive surge of energy that knocked them offline.

Systems slowly started to reinitiate. His spark felt lighter than it had in eons, and there was something else…an unfamiliar sensation within his spark, which he quickly identified as a thread of Prowl's energy. They were bonded. He dimly lit his optics, focusing on the weight he felt over top of him. Prowl lay curled up on his chest deeply recharging. He noticed a dent in his love's chin and reached out to lightly run his fingertips over it. Prowl didn't respond to the touch.

"He will be offline for a while."

Optimus turned his attention in the direction of the unknown voice. The Primus avatar stood looking over his shoulder at Optimus. Just beyond where his looming figure stood was the huge video screen, playing back Optimus' memories. At the moment it showed Megatron calling him weak and soft sparked as they battled one another. His former nemesis' voice echoed in the large chamber. Primus turned to look back at the screen and waved a hand in the air, which paused the video on a still of Megatron snarling.

Primus walked over to where Optimus lay with Prowl on the floor. "Please remain where you are. Your savior here needs the extra rest." Primus then carefully lowered himself to sit on the floor beside them.

"Savior?" Optimus repeated.

"I never intended for the Matrix to be carried inside your bodies. It had effectively bonded with your spark. The only way to save your life was for another to establish a new bond. Since your spark was so weakened, it took an extraordinary amount of spark energy to repair yours." Primus gazed at Prowl as he canted his head.

A surge of worry hit Optimus. "Did that damage his spark?"

"Oh, no. Sparks are quite resilient. He just needs rest." Primus smiled. "I never expected to witness my creations spark merge and overload. I have to say, it was quite beautiful."

Heat flashed over Optimus' face in embarrassment. They had overloaded right in front of Primus. At least they hadn't also been interfacing.

"Thank you for responding and reawakening me." Primus reached out and placed a hand on the top of Optimus' helm.

Despite knowing Primus was real, seeing his memories and experiencing his emotions, this moment felt completely surreal. "Thank you for giving us life," Optimus replied.

"Prima said that, too. Of course, you know that, don't you? I created you all for purely selfish reasons, though. I'm not sure I deserve praise, seeing how much you all suffered while I was in stasis." Primus vaguely shook his head. "You were almost obliterated because of my brother's vicious will."

Unicron? Optimus was confused; they had waged war against Megatron and his anti-government movement. "We descended into a civil war. That had nothing to do with Unicron," Optimus replied.

"A war precipitated by Unicron."

Furrowing his brow, Optimus tried to figure out Unicron's connection to their war. "I still don't quite understand."

"Oh, that's right! I didn't transfer all my memories to you for fear of accidentally overwriting your memory core." Primus warmly smiled. "Well, you see, the Matrix is much more than a key. It also recorded the world around it from the wearer's perspective, held a set of memories I placed in it, and identified and documented all energy signatures it was ever near. You fought with Megatron up close many times. Those insults he hurled at you sounded just like my brother's hurtful words. Out of curiosity, I accessed the Matrix's vast reservoir of information. Just as I suspected, the energy signature it recorded from Megatron is identical to my brother's, which leads me to believe that Megatron was his child." Primus looked away for a moment, gazing across the large room. "I had no idea he could create a being. It appears he only made one, so it must have been an arduous task for him. I thought Unicron wanted to destroy me. But now I think he simply wants me to suffer, which is why he attempted to annihilate you all through war." Primus turned his attention back to Optimus. "And yet you all managed to survive and end Megatron's tyranny."

Optimus dimmed his optics. "The fliers were the ones to put an end to Megatron."

"Yes, but don't discount the conversation you had with the one called Thundercracker about keeping his sparkling. Your kindness touched him. Each of you contributed to ending Megatron's rampage." Primus softly stroked Optimus' helm. "I am very proud of all of you."

Meeting Primus was already amazing enough, but to have his approval and feel loved by him made Optimus beam inside with pride. "I hope we are all what you wanted us to be a species."

"Oh my, yes. Everything I wished for and so much more. Innovative with the designs I made, and much more hearty than I imagined… Will you promise me something, though?" Primus asked.

Optimus nodded.

"I don't want to be alone. Please lead others here. I want to meet you all. I especially want to see the little sparklings."

"Of course." Optimus smiled brightly at Primus, then he felt Prowl begin to stir. Glancing down, he saw Prowl staring with over-bright optics at Primus.

'Is that…Primus?' Prowl asked over their new bond.

'Yes, it is.' Optimus briefly glanced over at Primus who sat smiling warmly at them. A sense of complete awe rippled over their bond from Prowl in response. 'And he informed me that you saved my life. Thank you.'

Prowl's gaze shifted to Optimus. 'I'd do anything to ensure a life with you in it.'

'I think life is going to be very different from this moment forward,' Optimus said as he allowed a wave of his love to pulse through the bond.

'I would say so.' Prowl silently replied with a small smile. 'It will be our life.'

Optimus gently hugged Prowl. All the pain of being apart, their past hurts, and the strife that came with war had been wiped away. To be forever linked with Prowl was more than Optimus could have ever hoped for. He knew that no matter what lay ahead for them, they would have each other to rely on. The bond they had so desperately wanted was now theirs, which meant the possibilities were wide-open now. Light had blotted out the darkness, leaving them strong and ready to face the world together.


~Epilogue~

The Golden Era of Cybertron paled in comparison to the growth and expansion that occurred after Primus awoke. Energon was no longer in short supply, allowing them to rebuild at a quicker pace. Despite the renewal that blossomed across their home planet, Optimus and Prowl chose to remain on Earth for the time being. It had come to feel like home, and Optimus, being the kind-sparked mech he was, wanted to stay and help the humans with whatever they needed while also offering them protection. Prowl didn't care where he was so long as he was with Optimus.

Most of the crew that had been stationed on the Earth base before Primus awoke now rotated between both planets. At the moment, Jazz, Mirage and Miles were on base for their Earth stay, which had turned out to be extremely good timing due to personal life issues that had come up for Prowl and Optimus. For the next 3-5 orns, Jazz had been made temporary commander.

Prowl sat quietly on the couch reviewing reports from Jazz, unwilling to completely step down from all his duties. He needed a distraction to keep from going stir crazy, since he was currently spending all his time in their quarters.

He glanced at the stack of ultra pure energon cubes that were neatly piled beside the energon dispenser. Almost time for another one, he thought as he set the datapad down and got up. He walked to the dispenser and plucked a cube from the pile, then crossed the living area toward the berthroom. Just inside was the oversized berth, with Optimus curled up on his side recharging. For such a large mech, he looked awfully adorable balled up on the berth.

Prowl quietly padded across the space, then carefully sat on the edge of the berth and reached out to lightly run his fingers along one of Optimus' arms. His mate's optics dimly lit.

"Hey, there. Time for another one." Prowl scooted closer and offered the magenta-colored energon ration to Optimus.

"Already, hm?" Optimus unwound himself and pushed to sit up. He graciously took the offered cube and downed it in a few greedy gulps. As he finished, he glanced at Prowl and smiled.

Optimus looked so exhausted. As they had found out, being a larger mech with a slower spark meant that phase two of carrying was unusually taxing for his body. Optimus required much more recharge than the average carrier, and in order to be sure he was getting enough energon, it was Prowl's job to wake him at regular intervals and give him his ration. Prowl was more than happy to look after him, though. He would do anything to ensure his mate and soon-to-be sparkling got all they needed. "Would you like anything else?"

"Hm, you think maybe you could lay here with me a little while?" Optimus asked as he lay back on the berth and handed the empty container to Prowl. "You know, if you don't have too much work to do."

"Work can wait." Prowl placed the empty container on a side table, then pulled his legs up onto the berth and moved to lie beside Optimus. His body pressed against Optimus' side as he rested his head on the broad shoulder. He gazed across the expansive red chest and couldn't resist the urge to place his hand at the center. His white fingers lightly pressed at the center seam of Optimus' chest. Once upon a time this type of touch caused both their sparks to ache, but now it made Prowl's spark flutter with excitement.

"He's moving around. He must like it when you touch my chest there. It's kinda funny; I traded a Matrix for a sparkling," Optimus said with a small laugh.

Prowl smiled. "A more than fair trade, I'd say. And Ratchet said he responds to your spark, not my touch."

"Ah, but your touch always makes my spark happy, which is why he gets riled up." Optimus rested a hand over Prowl's. "I'm really looking forward to meeting him."

"I am, too."

A comfortable silence filled the room. This was the life Prowl thought he'd never have, and yet here he was a creator with a mate he loved.

The fear that once ruled Prowl's world had been swept away once they bonded. That sense of impending doom replaced by the unrelenting love Optimus constantly poured over their bond. For the first time since the day he lost his creators, Prowl felt like hope was his to share in, that the good things in life were now available to him. He would never take what he had for granted.

Optimus' hand slid away from Prowl's, and he glanced up to see his mate had already slipped back into recharge. Prowl smiled. "Rest up. We have a lot of life left to live together," he whispered. "And a new life to look after, too."

The future was bright, and Prowl planned to enjoy all it had to offer.


A/N – Well, that's it, the end of the Regardless Universe series. Thank you to everyone that followed it along! ((hugs to you all))

p.s. I have a drawing of Primus posted to my journal here: pl2363 (dot) livejournal (dot) com (slash) 43146 (dot) html