Wakes in the water

This is a bit of something I wrote and abandoned long ago for your review but I won't be finishing this piece.

What makes a mech a mech? Is it the over all passion with which he fights, the courage of his convictions, or is it the mercy granted before the killing blow. What makes him better than his predecessors, better than all who came before? I'll tell you a story of a mech I once knew, but even he himself didn't know what he could be, what he himself would find that would be the navigation of his journey.

Stepping up behind Optimus I table my personal concerns for the moment. "You alright?" I ask softly stepping behind him half a pace and back to his left.

"I am fine." He murmurs, and I wonder idly if he's lying. His optics are cast out over the edge of the balcony and he looks upon Cybertron with thoughtful optics. His expression is lacking it's normal luster. I take the chance to call him out on his lies.

"You're a lier." I mutter stepping closer "Primas knows you're not fine." I turn to face him leaning by lower back-strut against the balcony. He doesn't look at me. "Optimus what he did to you..." I venture to get him to talk.

"It doesn't matter." Optimus starts to turn away from me and I reach out a servo grasping onto his arm. "Ironhide." He mutters my name coldly. "Let me go." It's a sad little plea.

"I'm your bodyguard..." I remind him.

"Just let me go." He casts his optics down. "Please." The sorrow gracing his face-plates now is almost spark-breaking.

"Never." My conviction is strong and I refuse to let him talk to me like I don't know what's best for him. I wouldn't be in the position that I am in if I didn't know what was good for him. "Optimus stop this...Ratchet is worried sick and I'm struggling to keep up with you." I admit pushing off the railing to face him. "You need to talk to him, or Primas mech...talk to me." I say releasing his arm.

Optimus glances at my optics for only a moment and then shakes his head "I...I cannot." He pulls free of my grip and turns inside. With a sigh I settle back against the rail looking up to the sky. Stars Dot the electric horizon and I make to find a way to get him to open up. Primas knows I'm not good at things like this, but he's my best friend, but it would be wrong of me to let it continue. Shifting to stand I reach up to activate my comm. "Ironhide to Ratchet I'm headed you're way we need to talk."

The response is curt. "Understood Ironhide I await your arrival." and then nothing from the medic.

The medic stands before me as I lean on the medical berth behind me. "I just don't get it." I've said the same thing over and over for the past ten minutes.

"Prime has always been a very closed off person, there isn't much you can do Ironhide." He sets down his data pad folding his arms across his torso. "Just have to give him the time he needs."

"He's hurting himself more by not talking about it." I complain.

"That.." Ratchet counters with a thoughtful nod. "May be so, however we have to go at his pace, not yours." My plates ruffle at the assertion I'm butting in where I don't belong. "Ironhide, your concern is commendable but right now cornering Optimus is the worst thing you can do."

"I want the kid to be okay." I intone with a softness I wasn't aware I was capable.

A hand plants against my shoulder strut and he smiles at me. "You are a good friend Ironhide, and Prime is lucky to have you."

"Tell him that." I shift to stand tall and shake my head. "I want to take him from active duty."

"I agree completely, he is not of sound processor to hold a weapon let alone lead us all." I nod to him. "I'll pass it by Prowl as soon as I am able. For now tell him to take all the time he needs, to rest and recover."

"Ratch.." I pause almost afraid to ask. "How bad..."

"I'm not at liberty to tell you or anyone else that Ironhide." He's face is a solid stone, he will never tell me. The oath of the medic far out weighed the lines of this war, and he's got the experience to back him up. These questions that I have put to him, they've been put to him hundreds of times before; and still the answer was always no.

A curt nod and I step past him putting a hand on his forearm. "If you need me." I say quietly. "I'm late for my duty shift."

"Alright if I need you, I'll call." I smile and nod to him stepping away. Moving into the corridor I find it thankfully empty and I lower my shoulder struts and smile as I feel the suspension rods relax. I ache all over and this last battle, the battle to get Prime back, was brutal. The welds still aren't completely healed and I'm doing the best I can to be optimistic about our current situation.

The corridors are at best abandoned and the only few mechs and femmes I see are moving from command to sub stations within the compound. Turning a corner I'm graced by Prowl exiting a berth-room that isn't his. He hasn't seen me yet but rights himself slightly and turns meeting my gaze.

"Ironhide." It's almost a shocked statement as if he doesn't know what to make of me standing before him.

"Prowl." I smirk. "You're up awfully late in the day." I smile.

"I have the solar cycle off." Prowl said softly looking up. I smile and look to him.

"Who ya with?" I ask quietly. He turns and starts to walk down the hallway, I join him and he smiles softly.

"Wheeljack." Prowl would never lie about something like this, he'd never lie at all. Honesty is the best course of action with Prowl.

I blink my optic shutters and turn my head slowly. "Well." I am not sure what else to say.

"It is a relationship still in it's infancy." Prowl admits quietly ever stoic as always.

"Yes from time to time Wheeljack can act like a hatchling." Prowl's stoic facade drops for only a moment as he leans over to put pressure against my arm. I smirk slowly. "I'm glad you're letting your gears unwind." I smile. I'm truly happy if he is, and it's rare for Prowl to take time for himself. "Who's got your patrol shift today?" I ask unsure of the answer.

"I believe that Sideswipe took it over but I'm not entirely sure. I only glanced at the schedule before I was off for the evening yesterday." .

"Got a new love interest, slacking in your duties, what are we going to do with you?" I joke quietly as we walk.

Prowl let a smirk escape him but I don't mention I've seen it. "Melt me down for spare parts?" he chuckles softly.

"I dunno I kind of like you this way." I mention before we grow quiet.

The impending quiet we have together holds till we reach the doors of the command center. "How's Prime?" He asks with a reverence that borders on shy.

"Not good." I admit stopping before we can trigger the doors to open.

"What's Ratchet saying?"

"Not much I'm afraid...Not much at all." I lower my head "Says Prime has to figure this out on his own but I don't know Prowl. Optimus needs something."

Prowl looks and me and nods then looks up. "Before all this..." Prowl shrugged "Prime and I had gone down to the little place above Six Lasers." He says stepping aside in the hall for passing femmes going into the supply room.

"I know of it." I nod. "Got slag-infested energon."

"Yeah I know." Prowl shakes his head ignoring the fact they went at all. "But while we were there, getting over energized ..." He makes a motion of his hand and I shift to lean against the wall to listen to him speak. "He spoke of what you meant to him, being his guard and all, and he..." Prowl shrugs as if he's not sure what to say.

"He what?" I shift forward onto my stabilizers and wait patiently.

"He said he was taken with you...in so many words."

"What exactly did he say?" My curiosity is peaked now.

"I'm not repeating that." Prowl says looking utterly aghast at the thought of what Prime had actually said.

I chuckle "Well...guess I'll just have to find out for myself." I smirk and turn into the command center leaving the stoic mech to his day off. "Sit-Rep." I call as the commanding officer and wait as data-pads are handed to me one at a time from each of the five stations. "Security..." I look up "Red get some rest you've been here for ages." I shake my head. "Mirage can take your shift." I pass the data-pad back to him with my digital signature of approval. "Perceptor how are the internals coming along?"

"According to plan." he stated flatly.

"Thanks for covering for Prowl." I smile and hand him back the small pad with my signature.

"Not a problem Ironhide." he nods slowly and turns to his duel screen console he's doing double work, his and Prowls, and he's about the only one with the processor speed that could. Looking to Sustreaker I pass off a control schedule for the rest of the day.

"Why am I getting this from you?" Sunstreaker asked looking over the list. "Isn't Prime-"

Cutting him off abruptly as I had another security file over to Kup I shake my head "Prime's not going to be with us today and Prowl has the day off so just take what I give you and understand that things are going to be a bit different from now on." I nod to him and he backs away slowly before returning to his station. "Communications?"

"Green." I never understand Blurr so I told him he can only answer me in colors. Green he's good. Yellow he needs assistance, and red I should find someone else. I cannot understand him, his run-on mouth is more than I can take sometimes, so rather than eliminate him from command crew I work around him.

I nod to him "Nice work Blurr get me a written report as soon as possible." I say firmly. He nods and turns back to his console. I smirk looking to Bumblebee who sits on the far side of the command center at his console clattering away. Motioning the few others back I move to stand behind his seat. "How are you doing youngling?"

"I'm fine." He says small digits clattering over keys and switches as he tests himself on the command simulator.

"I am sick of hearing that today." I smirk leaning down beside his chair to watch his servos move across the keys and see what decisions he makes. "You're almost ready to test youngling."

"Don't call me that." He says and looks away for half a moment before returning to his work. I smile and stand patting his shoulder.

"Lets get you certified Command Crew and then I'll stop." I promise. "Take the test Bee. You're ready." I tap his chair with my servo before vanishing to the command chair. I love this chair, I won't admit it, but I love this chair.

Slinking down in the chair the rest of my day is sadly set to delegating tasks to other mechs and making sure things run smoothly. I sign off on more data-pads than I can register on one servo. After two joors the command center grows quiet. Pillowing my helm on my servos I lay back quietly and try to process the day. It comes to my attention that the world around me is once again moving without me and I have time to muse on what Prowl had admitted to me earlier in the day. He's taken with me. My thoughts fall back to Prime. I shift myself around with my foot in a slow rocking motion. I sit there just lost in the thoughts that come to mind, ones that quite honestly are best left outside the command center, but I cannot help myself.

"Ironhide." I'm snapped abruptly out of my reverie and I look up. "I'm here to relieve you." Looking up I blink slowly and stand. "You alright?"

I place a hand on his shoulder "Yes I'm fine." Turning my head to the side I glance the shorter mech. "When did you get in?"

"Only a Joor ago...I debriefed with Prowl for a moment I know he's got his day off and what not but then he dismissed me here to relieve you."

"Yes Sir." I nod and smile stepping back. "Good to have you back."

A smile as he sits down crossing his stabilizers at the knee joint resting back. He looks right in that chair. "Good to be back Ironhide. How are your welds holding?"

"They will heal fine." I step away from him slowly and look back. "Did you speak to Prime Jazz?"

Jazz looks up flashing a smirk, like he knows too much. "Nah, thought I'll leave Boss Bot alone for now, after I got the report..." he shook his head not wanting to talk about Prime further in front of the subordinates that already had begun to turn their helms to us. Nodding I turn to the command doors aiming to leave. "Ironhide..." I stop and wait optics fixed firmly ahead. "That doesn't mean that you shouldn't." He speaks to my back and I get the most unusual sensation, steaming from the fact that most of the mechs here seem to know more about Prime's personal life than me, and I'm his body guard. One that's over due a check in.

I find him in his private office looking over paperwork. He looks almost as stoic as Prowl, his lip plates form a hard thin line and he's fixed on his work. I am not sure if the work is good for him or not at this point. Letting the doors seal behind me I wait. "If you're here to discuss the topic we were on this morning." Prime is agitated you can feel it. "You can leave." I shake my head and pull one of the two chairs in front of his desk and sit.

"Just wanted to ask you to get some Energon with me." I state.

"With you?" Prime looks up slowly. "You've never asked me to rations before." He lowers his gaze.

I shrug "No time like the present." I smirk looking over at him "You're drowning in paperwork and I just got off a two Joor shift...Come on." I motion him.

Prime looks up setting down the data-pad in his hand leaning back in his chair to look me over.

"What?" I ask looking away before meeting his optics again.

"Who told you?"

"Told me what?" I sit up. "Come on...get up lets go get a ration and talk like we use to."

"I told you I don't want to talk." Prime asserts firmly.

I turn back and nod "Good then you can listen, cause I wanna complain." I smile. This statement breaks his stoic facade and he smiles back at me. My voice softens slowly and he stands slowly his servos shaking. "Come on." I extend my hand taking his servo in mine.

"Hide." He looks up at me stepping around his desks our servos still intertwined.

"It's ok..." I say softly putting my hands on the side of his helm "Mech it's ok." I force it out of myself as Prime physically quakes before me. He cannot hold back these tremors he's been holding for too long. I pull him into an embrace the best I can for the taller mech and just hold him. I don't say anything. That would be stupid of me.

"I don't know what to do..." He leans down over me as I hold him upright. "I'm conflicted." He utters "terribly conflicted."

I nod slowly and pet his back-strut. "Lets sit back down. Ratch is coming." I say as he backs down into his seat and I kneel before him letting him hold, lean, or do whatever he must to be comfortable.

"You sent Ratch a Comm?" He looks up at me meeting my optics.

"Yeah." I say a free hand rubbing over the tire on his thigh strut. "I'm here...I've always been here...nothings going to happen." I ease him as best I can as I witness for the first time my younger charge break down. "Easy."

The door chimes and I don't even look away. "Enter." I speak up and keep my servo moving over his tires. "Easy."

The door seals and Ratchet steps up. Moving back I let him closer as he hooks up his scanner to Prime. "You have to calm down Optimus." Ratchet advises. "I don't need you over heating." He murmurs quietly, soothing.

Optimus nods and seals his own optics trying to get a hold of himself. I step to the side of his chair and place a firm servo on his shoulder joint letting his main vent pipe rest between my index and middle digits.

His arm bends as his servo moves to grasp mine. I look at Ratchet. "Gotta calm down." He says softly. "Easy." He smiles up. "This is part of the healing process it's not fun nor is it easy Optimus."

"Tell him." Optimus surprises me with such a blunt statement. His face is blank "I don't want anyone else to know...but Hide...Hide can know." He utters.

"Alright...I want you to sit here and calm yourself down." Ratchet said firmly "Cycle your vents while I explain it to the lug-nut here." I scowl but out of respect for the visibly shaken Prime I say nothing.

Ratchet stands and draws me back into the corner of the Office behind Prime's desk. I wait quietly.

"What happened to him?"

"I don't want to tell you but he seems to think you need to know." Ratchet folds his arms defensively and thinks a moment. I stay quiet. "Do you recall the Femmes that you rescued from Alexia Minor?" I nod slowly that was a gruesome day. "Prime was over taken by Cyclonus and Galvatron in the beltway before we all could get to him." Ratchet says. "He was left like the femmes were on Alexia, Process that."

I blink my optic shutters and put two and two together and shake my head "Primus no."

Ratchet nods and slides away from me back to Prime and I turn my head determined to calm the rage that's starting to ebb from my body, the rage that wants me to go back into the world and find them both.

I turn back looking at Prime who's looked up at me with such sorry optics. Like he's betrayed me, but he hasn't. I kneel down beside him as Ratchet stands. "Just get him to calm down, some energon won't hurt either." He said softly. "If you need me Prime Comm." Ratchet backs away and I don't register him before he leaves.

"Prime." My deep voice feels unsettled in my vocal processor.

Looking to meet my optics he says nothing.

"I'm ...I'm so sorry." I say reaching up hands clutching his helm. "I didn't know." I shake my head but it's futile, I cannot change what's been done. "I didn't know." His vocals crack as he tires to speak but he doesn't get anything out. I nod at him but say nothing to him but I grab his servo in mine. "I will take care of this."

"No." He finds his voice. "I won't have you fighting my battles for me."

I gape at him "Prime...Optimus...this is ...wrong." I shake my head "Primus knows that this is unacceptable." I try to reason with him but his grief is more than can be reasoned with. His optics hault my denials and I wait. "What can I do." I cave to his wishes a servo leaning up to touch his helm.

"Don't go." He pleads and I fight the urge to pull him closer, because it would be terribly selfish of me to do so. I nod and keep near and wait a moment as he calms down.

"How bad?" I ask venturing my own guess.

The look in his optics makes me regret the question the instant I've asked, and I lower my optics raising a hand to his torso. "Don't answer." I murmur softly in regret of my words. He doesn't move save for his servo on my shoulder plate. "I'm ...so ...sorry." He nods marginally but hides a deeper pain than I think he's willing to register. His optics dim and shutter and he pulls his hand to the bridge between his optics and we sit like that for what feels to be hours.

He finally looks up meeting my gaze. "Think you can tank some energon? Or are your tanks still churning?"

"I can take it I think." He says calmly looking up to meet my soft gaze.

"Lets get you back to your quarters Optimus you don't need to be in the canteen like this."

He shifts to stand and tries to distract himself. "Did Magnus return?" He asks.

"Yeah he and the scraps are back from their extended stay on Lenar." I smile "Their at the space port should be in before too long and you can see him first thing tomorrow."

Prime shakes his head as he pushes back standing. "No no...you meet with him please I don't think..."

I put a hand on his shoulder strut and nod. "That's fine I can do that for you sir, no problem." I motion him to the far door in his office that leads to his room. He nods slowly turning back and I follow him.

He opens the door slowly and looks inside before looking down as he steps over the rise in the bulkhead. Entering he moves to his berth to sit. "I can bring you some energon from the Canteen...I'll be back in a bit." I say making way to turn but I'm stopped by his voice.

"Don't have to." he reaches up against the far wall and presses a button releasing a small door that houses an energon dispenser.

"Perks to being Prime eh?" I ask and step back inside allowing the door to seal us inside. I make to the device and grab two empty cubes and fill both handing him one and waiting as he tests it before taking a small sip. He's not well and it's evident. "Drink it Prime, your frame is too big to run on so little for so long." I say and find myself seated beside him.

He nods and takes a bigger drink but stops. "They uh..." he shakes his head "It's so vivid in my processor and I cannot even describe it."

"Don't try to." I say "They violated you..."

Prime shutters his optics and looks away. "Stole my code without my permission."

Looking up at him I blink. "They fused you with one of them?"

Prime nods slowly "Cyclonus carries the infant spark of my systems." he states flatly. I turn my helm to him.

"Prime...How did they get your code?" I ask "You would have to be compliant for your systems to take to his." It's a whisper of an accusation.

"They had two femme bots." He admits quietly "It was do it or they died."

"So you ...gave up your code to Cyclonus?" I sit shaking my head.

"Yes, Galvatron gave me no choice." He shudders.

"Had you ever done that...with any one before?"

"No." His answer is curt. "I didn't know what I was doing." he seals his optics. For a Prime he's young, and truth and nature are his natural enemies. "After it was over they left me ...and killed the femmes." So it wasn't as Ratchet had said exactly. The femmes from Alexia were sparked with hatchlings, but were left alive. Prime was forced to spark another and then was left alone. I can only imagine the spark-break.

"Hey." I lean over and allow him to shift his weight on me. "I'm right here." I admit quietly without hesitation. "Don't ...Don't ..." as condescending as it sounds I shake my head "Don't worry."

Prime with the strength of kings looks up. "I have to Find Cyclonus...I have to find the little one."

"Prime he'd be Vorns from hatching it. Honestly...we have time..if they wanted this youngling so terribly they won't do anything to harm it before it's time for it to be birthed." I nod "The safest place for it right now is right where it is within the con...unless you make to kill it and then-"

He looks at me shocked cutting me off abruptly. "Never...it's mine...part of myself is within it" He says with conviction befitting a Prime. "You're right." he says with renewed confidence "We'll give him time but before it's birthed I want Cyclonus in stasis lock and I want my hatchling back." He says with venom that makes me smile, I find his venom oddly handsome on him.