Song to the Siren: Memorial Arc I
Here I am, here I am waiting to hold you.
Did I dream you dreamed about me?
Were you here when I was full sail?
He realized it had been years since he had set foot in a hospital as the front doors swished open upon his arrival, buffeting him with that sterile, unique smell. Walking through the quiet halls, his footsteps echoing dully, he found that it really didn't bother him like it used to, the scent. Right now it seemed nothing more than a faint mark on his memory.
He gently shifted the vase of lilies he carried in his arms to press the button on the elevator, sighing to himself as the doors closed and he was lifted to the fourth floor. Stepping out, he turned several corners before finally arriving at the room number that he had committed to memory. The door was open slightly, dim light filtering from the room and into the hallway and he stepped in, knocking softly so as not to disturb the room's occupant.
A frail looking woman, close to the age of eighty with snow white hair, brown eyes and a mischievous grin looked up at the sound. When she spotted him, she smiled broadly, and he could not help but smile back as he stepped completely inside.
"You came," she said.
"Of course," he responded, placing the vase of lilies he had been carrying on the table at the end of the bed. He had picked them specifically and the look of utter gratitude that she gave him only further reminded him that they were her favorite.
"You haven't changed at all," she said, almost wistfully.
"Neither have you," he said softly, sitting in the chair beside the bed, careful to avoid all the machines and cords that created their own maze in the small, private room.
"Oh, now don't you start with the flattery," she chuckled, her voice cracking slightly. He was alarmed by how weak it sounded, but he could easily recognize her own timbre through the feeble overtones that shadowed it. She patted him on the hand, careful not to dislodge the I.V. in her vein. "The last time you saw me, I had about fifty percent less wrinkles and still had color in my hair.
"You are as lovely now as you were then," he said softly.
"You always were a ladies man."
"I'm afraid I don't know what you mean," he responded, smiling slightly.
"Oh, come on," the woman responded, laughter in her eyes. "You can't tell me that you don't know that all the women on base were swooning over you constantly."
He feigned surprise, his eyes wide, and she smacked at his arm weakly, laughing.
An hour later saw them carrying on in much the same manner, exchanging stories and memories, catching up on recent events. He was much pleased to see that even though her body had succumbed to the call of old age, her mind was as sharp as ever. She told him all about her family, her children, grandchildren, great grand children, dozens of great nieces and nephews. He listened raptly, a soft look in his eyes as she pointed them out in the many photos that sat in frames upon the various tables in the room. He told her of his comrades, how their antics had not changed, told her of those who had come recently to join their ranks and their long, slow progression along the road go regaining everything they had lost.
"Can I ask you something?" she asked, after several moments of companionable silence.
"Are you afraid of death?"
He supposed he was not surprised by the question, although he had to think about it for several moments before he answered. "I do not fear death," he said honestly, meeting her eyes. "I only fear what I might leave behind."
"That is wise," she responded, coughing slightly. The sound, though subtle, alarmed him for an inexplicable reason. "Why am I not surprised, coming from you?"
He shrugged, looking slightly embarrassed. It made her giddy to know that, for all his wisdom and knowledge and stoic demeanor, she could still make him blush.
"Are you afraid?" he asked, sounding sad for the first time since his arrival.
"No," she said. "I am not afraid to die after a life so well-lived."
A sad smile dawned across his features and he ducked his head for a moment. "Well lived, indeed."
"I should thank you for that."
"You have lived long," he whispered, "You have seen much, accomplished much in your life. You have every right to be proud, with or without my presence in it all."
She folded her hands in her lap, rolling his words around in her mind. With laughter in her eyes, she replied finally, "Don't ever get old, Optimus."
"I am already old," he reminded her with a small smile.
"I suppose you're right. But you know what I mean."
"Will you stay? Just for tonight?"
If he was surprised by the question, he hid it well. "If that is what you desire."
"Please," she smiled, and he could tell that she was fighting the sleep that had wanted to creep up on her. "It's just that getting old can sometimes be lonely. Tonight is... not the night for loneliness."
"Alright," he said. "I will stay right here. Rest well."
"Optimus," she sighed, her eyes fluttering closed as she fell into sleep's warm embrace. "Thank you."
Optimus smiled softly, wrapping gentle fingers around her hand and squeezing it comfortingly. "You are most welcome, Mikaela."
After she had fallen silent and her breathing became shallow, Optimus stood from the chair, walked quietly to the large window and allowed his thoughts to drift. He thought heavily on their human comrades, mostly of Sam and Mikaela, and their bravery in the battle at Mission City, Egypt, and beyond. Through everything, the humans of N.E.S.T. had stayed by their side, risking life and limb to help them, never wavering in their support. They had forged a strong bond over the years, and had become something of a multi-species family, relying on each other, trusting each other. He could never forget the trust that Sam and Mikaela had placed in him every day, from moments as ordinary as driving them to school to those as extraordinary as falling off of a building into his waiting hands. He could never forget, and he never wanted to.
"Thank you," he whispered into the pale light of the room. A response did not come, and he had not expected one. He turned back to the window, gazing out upon the streets below, shimmering beneath the street lights. He watched the humans walking to and fro and could not help but smile sadly to himself.
The human life was a short, fragile and yet brilliant thing all at once, filled with strong emotions, spontaneous decisions and personal wonder. There were times when he envied how fiercely the humans lived, how passionately they loved, how adamantly they defended and how gracefully they died.
Settling his holoform back into the chair, he held Mikaela's hand, the monitors announcing that she had fallen into slumber through the even beats of her heart. Leaning back slightly, he shut his eyes and allowed himself to fall into recharge in his holoform.
His fluxes were slow, and more peaceful than they had been in many cycles. They were filled with images of many years past, when they had first arrived on Earth. Mikaela and Sam, still younglings… the look of wonder upon their faces when they met for the first time. The slow progression of friendship…The innocent smiles they had offered him, their overdramatic exasperation at his lack of knowledge pertaining to their culture, their laughter.
He saw Mikaela, as she was when she was young, and as she always would be; fiery, sharp-witted and caring with a keen sense of right and wrong. She had persevered through a hard adolescence and had not let it dictate her path in life. Fierce and beautiful, even as she aged, she had never changed, had never let her beauty go to her head, had been one of the most selfless beings that Optimus had ever known. He admired her, perhaps more than anyone, and also perhaps more than she would ever know. A small smile stole across his features, even in recharge, unknowing that a similar smile had spread across the face of the woman who lay in the bed next to where he sat.
She was at peace.
He awoke the next morning to find that something precious had slipped gently away in the night.
Author's Note: The title and the bit of lyrics at the top are from the piece Song to the Siren by This Mortal Coil. The overtone of the song was key inspiration in this story. If you are interested, here is a link to the song; youtube. com/watch?v=SmZ5HEaVMjA