Another short "Transformers: Prime" fic set after the end of the episode "Scrapheap". Just a little closing epilogue scene I envisioned for Optimus and Arcee after returning from their near-fatal Arctic trip.

Note that 'mega-cycles' is equivalent to 'hours'.

Do let me know what you think!

After The Cold

It had been approximately four hours since Arcee and Optimus arrived back from their near-fatal Arctic mission. Jack, Miko and Raf had returned to their homes. Ratchet, Bulkhead and Bumblebee were recuperating in other quarters of the base from their injuries inflicted by the Scraplet infestation.

Arcee lay resting on a table in sick bay in the command hall on her own. She opened her eyes when she heard the approaching sound of heavy but deliberately soft footsteps and saw Optimus Prime walking towards her.

"I apologise, Arcee. I did not mean to wake you," he said softly.

"You didn't. I wasn't really recharging. Just resting," she assured.

Optimus knelt down beside her table.

"How are you feeling?" he asked.

"Lousy," she sighed. "The frost did a real number on me. Gonna be a few more mega-cycles before I'm functioning properly again. And you?"

"My systems are nearing full recovery," Optimus replied. "I just needed a thorough defrosting."

"Hnh," Arcee smirked. "Always the stronger one."

"You possess tremendous strength of your own, Arcee," Optimus emphasised.

She smiled appreciatively at this.

"Well, strong as we may be, hopefully we won't have to go back to the Arctic again anytime soon. Think I've had enough cold to last me a lifetime," she said humorously.

"I cannot say I am eager to return there either for the time being," Optimus agreed in similar humour.

One corner of Optimus' lips crept up as he said this. Arcee smiled mischievously.

"Why Optimus, is that a smile?"

Before one could have registered it properly, his subtle smile faded and his face fell into a calm, neutral expression again.

"Perhaps it was," he replied good-naturedly.

Arcee's smile did not fade however.

"You should smile more often. It's nice when you do."

Her face then became serious.

"Y'know...we almost went offline permanently out there."

Her optics glanced down briefly as she recalled their near-death experience in the Arctic. Optimus leaned down closer to her.

"But we did not. We survived," he affirmed, "thanks to our comrades."

In a familiar gesture, Arcee reached out and placed her hand on top of Optimus's.

"Thank you, Optimus. For being there with me," she said sincerely.

Once more, Optimus turned his giant hand over and enclosed her tiny one within his dwarfing palm.

"The situation was not one of choice," Optimus answered honestly.

"Nevertheless, there isn't another bot alive I would rather go offline alongside than you, Optimus." She said it with conviction.

Optimus paused a moment before replying. He tightened his grip of her small hand ever so slightly.

"The sentiment is appreciated, soldier," he reverberated earnestly. "I would have been proud and honoured to meet the end with you as well."

Optimus then released her hand and stood up.

"Rest well, Arcee."

She nodded.

"And you, Optimus."

Optimus dipped his head genteelly to her then turned to leave. Arcee watched him make his exit out of the command hall. When he had left the room, Arcee turned over onto her side and shut her eyes. As she fell into peaceful recharge, her hand that Optimus had held curled into her chest, next to her spark chamber.