AN: Omg guys, I'm not dead! I've just been supremely lazy but thank you all so much for everyone who kept sending me nice messages on my mini-hiatus and being so patient in waiting. If there is any major spelling, grammar or plot mistakes it's because I sort of rushed the editing process in an attempt to stop my lazy self from delaying posting. Please fell free to point out any major mistakes and I'll fix them right up.

Breakdown couldn't help the terrified hiccup that escaped his vents when Megatron left. Knockout snorted at the sound.

"Look whose teacher's pet," the grounder said in a tone that was far more friendly than his words made it seem.

"Jealous?"

A sneer passed across the handsome face briefly, "You wish. Why would I be jealous of having to watch a squalling, messy, disgusting –"

A burst of static cut Knockout off. Everyone turned to the direction of the noise. Soundwave stood, silent and unmoving as a statue, his blank faceplate reflecting their faces back at them. Knockout, realizing exactly whose spawn he had just been calling disgusting quickly backpedaled.

"-Er, that is to say, naturally I volunteered first to care for our most glorious leaders heir. Of course I don't think he's messy or disgusting. Just look at the little scraplet, he's so … so … clean and … cute?" Knockout trailed off, realizing not a single mech present was buying it. "Oh you can all just throw yourselves in the scrap heap."

Soundwave merely gave Knockout a very long look and turned to leave. No words needed to be said, they all heard the silent threat.

The three remaining mechs all breathed a sigh of relief when the Communication Officer was gone. Though it might have made sense for Soundwave to be the mech to care for Megatrons spawn his duties were too important and numerous to spare him for long, to the relief of all present.

Now that they were free from scrutiny all three mechs turned their attention to the mechling who was oogling up at them.

Three pairs of optics stared down at one tiny pair of optics.

"Megatron and Optimus Prime," Knockout said.

"Yeah," Breakdown agreed.

"How does one even begin to imagine the ways that this is wrong?" Knockouts voice was hushed, as if in awe of the sheer wrongness that the mechling represented. "Have you seen how organics procreate?"

Starscreams facial plates twisted in disgust. Breakdown shuddered. They had all seen the vids.

"Can you even imagine Megatron ... thrusting?"

"For the love of Primus, Knockout, stop," Starcream shouted.

"I will, I will ... but from a purely medical standpoint I'm curious. Are there fluids involved? Bodily fluids? Like lubricants or-"

Starscream lunged forward and slapped his servo over Knockouts mouth. "If you say one more word about thrusting or fluids I will murder you in the most painfully imaginative way I can think of. And we all know how imaginative I can be."

Starscream removed his servo and took a step back, staring at Knockout pointedly.

Knockout rubbed his face and grinned. "You're thinking about it, aren't you?" The seekers optics narrowed and he flexed his claws. Knockout held up his servos in surrender. "Ok, I'll stop."

"Please do," Breakdown said, "there's a mechling present."

The two mechs as one turned to face him, zeroing in on the mechling who gave a happy shriek at the sudden attention.

"I want to hold him," Starscream declared. Without asking he scooped the mechling out of Breakdowns servos and brought him up close, eyeing the little features of Orions face with a critical optic, turning his little face this way and that and poking at his wing nubs with a thoughtful hum. "I think he looks like me." Breakdown nearly laughed but Starscream shoved the mechling close to his face and put his own face right next to it. "Look."

Knockout moved around to get a look. Both mechs compared the two.

"That's creepy," Breakdown finally said.

"Uncanny," Knockout agreed.

Though the mechlings features were much softer and rounder and he was lacking Starscreams distinctive chin and crest, he did seem to bear more resemblance to Starscream than to Megatrons admittedly less than graceful features. But Starscreams facial plates had always maintained a wide-eyed, mechling-like appearance even after a millennia so Starscream was likely to resemble any mechling to a degree. Just another reason most mechs and femmes hated Starscream, no one that looked like that should be so crazy. It just wasn't right.

"Anything you want to tell us, Starscream," Knockout asked, implication clear in his voice.

"If you're implying that I've been fragging around with Megatron-"

"Well you did say he looks like you. And we all know how eager you are to, er, please Megatron."

"What," squawked Starscream, face gone slack in shock. "How dare you imply that I, that Megatron and I, THAT WE - UGH!"

"I bet you're into some really kinky slag," Knockout commented with far too much glee in his voice.

"Thank you for that, Knockout," Breakdown said. "I don't think I could have lived the rest of my life without that processor image."

"Sarcasm doesn't suit you."

"What doesn't suit me is imagining Starscream and Megatron -"

"Don't you even finish that thought," Starscream shrieked.

"-Thruuuuuusting," Breakdown said, drawing the word out.

"Ew," Knockout murmured after a moment of appropriately horrified silence.

"I know."

"I HATE YOU ALL! I HOPE YOU RUST IN THE PIT, SLAGGERS! TAKE THIS THING, I DON'T EVEN WANT TO LOOK AT IT!"

Starscream shoved the mechling into Breakdowns servos and stalked away. Breakdown and Knockout watched him go with equal expressions of amusement. Orion seemed happy to be in Breakdowns servos again, leaning down and biting him with as much force as his little mouth could manage, which wasn't much. Breakdown frown at the mechling.

"You know," said Breakdown, "we're probably going to pay for that later."

"It'll be worth it. Starscreams the most obnoxiously vain mech. To think the mechling looks like him. Please. The little fragger obviously looks like me, my features are far more refined and, look, he has my optics."

"Starcreams not the only vain one."

Knockout gave him a pained look and shook his head as though pitying the state of Breakdowns mental processes. "Firstly, I'm not vain. Secondly, even if I was, I'm most certainly not obnoxious about it."

Knockout continued on but Breakdown was already turning him out, long since used to the grounders self absorbed rants.

Sometimes Breakdown thought he was the only one on board who could objectively see the insanity that was their command crew. His leader spent half his time tweaking on dark energon and the other half alternating between trying to kill Prime and kill Starscream. Now it seemed his spend the better part of his days getting organic with the leader of the Autobots. Starscream spent most of his time plotting to overthrow everyone and anyone, alternating that with bemoaning the lack of respect given to him. Knockout, was a vain, petty little thing with an ego that, if given physical form, would probably end up with a few planets orbiting it. Soundwave was just ... Soundwave. And then there was him. The only shining light of sanity and responsibility on board. He suspected he was the only one aside from Soundwave who actually did their job and didn't actively try to find new ways to disgrace the title of Decepticon.

"Are you even listening to me?"

Breakdown just sighed and hiked the mechling up. "Of course, Knockout."

"Good because I'll have you know-"

RED ALERT

The two mechs jumped. Orion gave a startled cry as red lights began flashing through the room and the intruder alert sounded.

Knockout and Breakdown looked at each other.

"Autobots," they said as one.


Megatron flew fast and hard through the skies as though he was being chased by the specter of Unicron himself. He pushed himself to his limit and when he reached that point he flew faster until every part of his being was focused on moving.

The wind at these speeds was a physical force keeping him from achieving true perfection and so he left the planet, rising high into the atmosphere and past until the whistling of wind on his wings was replaced by the burn of the atmosphere and then the cool silence of space. The darkness greeted him. He greeted it back in the language of fliers, powering his thrusters and flipping himself end on end until he was spiraling almost out of control, reveling in his freedom.

He performed acrobatics until his body refused to continue.

It was the curse of his frame type, he was a mech built for sudden bursts of speed and power, spare and efficient and that was it. It had not been an issue he had concerned himself with in the past, his frame had served him well, it was only when he left Kaon that he became truly aware of his frames ... disadvantages. In Kaon he had been the envy of all, powerful, strong, dominant, mechs and femmes looked at him with varying degrees of want. Some wanted to be like him, some merely wanted him. He was the lone mech who wanted for nothing. When he had left the mines and made a name for himself as Megatronus he had thought himself among the most desirable of mechs, and nobody in Kaon seemed to disagree.

Then he left and saw for himself a world outside of the great city of filth and violence.

He saw the Praxians with their monochromatic colours and unique doorwings, so small compared to himself and with a frame complexity he found intriguing. He saw the magnificent towers of Vos and the seekers that inhabited them. He had made the acquaintance of a seeker by the name of Starscream and was struck with the sleek beauty of the mechs and femmes that inhabited the towers. He could recall with perfect clarity the first time he had ever truly realized he was ugly. It was the first time he had ever met Starscream, seeing the mech strutting down the hall towards him, thrusters clicking delicately against the polished metal of the floor, long willowy limbs moving so gracefully. He was so beautiful it was almost painful to look at him and Megatron was intensely aware of how clumsy and monstrous he must appear to such a pretty mech. Then Starscream opened his mouth and ruined the moment but Megatron kept that initial impression with him, having been exposed to what true beauty was he was all too aware of how short he fell.

Then he want to Iacon, a city so unlike Kaon it was almost beyond comprehension.

There he met another mech, not a true beauty like those he had seen in Vos but he compensated in demeanor and mannerisms what he lacked in appearance.

If he felt ugly in Vos then he felt truly hideous in Iacon. He was not a mech to care what others thought and he conducted himself with pride and confidence but he was all too aware in his dealings with a certain young data clerk that he must appear an uncultured brute. Orion Pax was too good a mech to judge him for it and Optimus Prime was no different, a mech so good he truly did not care about appearance.

Primus, his past was determined to haunt him, every action and feeling he had left unresolved or unacknowledged was coming back to haunt him. Every deeply buried feeling of inadequacy was now rearing its head and he hated himself for it.

No, what he hated wasn't anything rational like that. He didn't hate that he was ugly, he didn't even hate that others thought he was ugly. He hated that Orion Pax and then Optimus Prime were such good mechs that they didn't care about his appearance. Prime was such a sickeningly good mech he would honestly look past appearances to a mechs deeds and actions and judge them accordingly. And Primus help him, he had looked into Primes soul when they were bound and saw only goodness in the mechs spark and he couldn't feel glad, he felt only ... ugly.

It was as if the taint and ugliness of his soul had manifested in his physical appearance. It was inconceivable for a mech to care for someone who was so thoroughly corrupt in both deed and appearance but Prime did and Megatron couldn't even work up the will to feel triumphant.

He hated that Prime could do this to him, make him want to be a better mech.

He was Megatron, a mech whose name carried such weight even the mention of it struck fear in the sparks of foe and friend alike, if anyone should have transcended wanting to be more than they were it was him. And yet here he was, flying in the blackness of space because he couldn't even bear to be on the same planet as Prime, a mech who could, simply by being himself, make Megatron feel so wholly inadequate.

Pathetic.

He transformed.

Staring at the lovely orb of blue and white and green of the planet called Earth he reflected that the planet was truly a thing of beauty, particularly the way the light entering the planet's atmosphere fell so favorably on Prime.

Megatron knew it was futile to deny it to himself anymore. He cared for Prime. No. It was worse. He loved Prime. Loved him so completely it was as though he was half a mech without Prime. It was like a disease ravaging him, one that he had left untended for so long that it had consumed him from the inside out. He could blame the bond, could say that the feelings were fabricated and in a way he would be right. He hadn't felt this strongly for Prime before the bond and yet ... a bond could not create feelings, a bond could not even be achieved if the two parties were incompatible. He had loved Orion Pax so strongly that when Optimus Prime took his place it was as though Orion Pax had ceased to be so thoroughly he may as well have been murdered by Prime.

It was untrue but he had carried the resentment with him for so long that any feelings he may have had for Prime were buried under layers of hate and loss so deep any other feelings seemed not to matter. The bond took those feelings and brought them to the forefront. Fleeting thoughts and secret wishes that might have remained unfulfilled. The bond allowed him to see Optimus Prime for who he truly was.

Orion Pax.

Megatron could feel himself shaking.

He couldn't do this now. He couldn't face vorns worth of buried emotions when there was so much else to occupy his processor.

His mental self flagellation might have gone on had he not received a ping form his comm. link. Soundwave was calling him with a secondary message that labelled the communication as urgent. He allowed the link to open.

"Orion: missing. Autobot: designation Bumblebee sighted on board. Lord Megatrons intervention required immediately."


Optimus's plan, upon arrival back to the base, was to relax.

His team had been on him for as long as he could remember about that very subject. He worked too hard, they said; they all seemed to be under the impression that he took no time to himself. On the contrary, he found adequate time for reflection and contemplation in the breems before he went into recharge. It was a peaceful time and allowed him to look back on the events of the day with a clear processor, much like the human practice of meditation.

He knew his idea of relaxation wasn't the same as the rest of his team but, as a Prime and their leader, he felt he had to set a good example, regardless of if they followed his lead or not.

Today, however, was different. He wasn't going to reflect or meditate.

No, he was going to do something Miko referred to as 'R&R'. Rest and relaxation. Today he planned to do nothing but lay on his berth and possibly stare at the ceiling until his processor stopped reeling from the events that had just taken place.

His arrival back to base was met with no ceremony or fanfare, merely a curious glance from Ratchet which he shook his helm at, indicating he was in not prepared to talk.

Ratchet respected his wishes and turned back to his console.

A part of Optimus wished Ratchet had asked him where he was, what he had done. Something.

It didn't feel right that he could return to base after something so momentous with hardly a glance from his friend. He wanted to do something uncharacteristic, like grin and shout to the heavens or fall to his knees and cry out in agony. He didn't know what his own emotions were. It hurt that his bonding was one of obligation and duty. Had he the choice his bonding would have been with one he loved. There were those who accused him of being a sentimental mech but he didn't believe wanting such a thing was a sign of sentimentality. Wasn't it only natural to want such a thing? His life was one filled with obligation and duty and though he did not regret the path his life had taken he often found himself wishing for something of his own. In a life spent in dedication to others was it so much to ask that he be able to bond to one of his own choosing? Such a small thing and yet he was denied it.

His spark ached for the loss.

And yet, in some strange way he had gotten his wish.

It was a cruel twist of fate that he was to be bonded to a mech he once fancied himself in love with. Though their history was greatly marred with conflict and death on either side he could still remember those many ages ago in the Hall of Records, seeing the tall mech for the first time and being so in awe of him.

Even thinking of their past relationship brought him some measure of happiness. His blatant infatuation must have been laughable to a mech such as Megatron, but he had been so young and in his optics Megatron was nothing less than a warrior of legend brought to life.

Megatron was not always the mech he was now. Once he had been just as idealistic and foolish as Prime knew himself to have been and, Primus, but he loved him for it. Orns spent sharing their ideas for the future in quiet corners, then sharing stories of their own lives. Megatron cast no judgment when Orion Pax described his privileged and sheltered life and Orion Pax was sympathetic when hearing of the hardships Megatron had experienced. Hardships that made Megatron even more magnificent in Orion Pax's optics.

That was a time when he would have given anything to have a bond with Megatron.

Now, to finally have a bond with him, after the vorns had eroded awe into fear and infatuation into regret ... it was unspeakably cruel.

Optimus made his way to his quarters and quietly closed the door.

He walked to the berth and gingerly sat, mindful of the pain radiating through his lower parts.

To have not only bonded to Megatron but to have physically interfaced.

It seemed as though his body was trying to punish him for performing such an act. He ached terribly, a steady throbbing that he could do nothing to alleviate.

Perhaps it was for the best. Their union was not to be one of love and it was wise not to indulge in fantasies. The pain was useful, it grounded him.

Optimus lay on the berth, moving himself into a comfortable position and found himself staring at the grey ceiling above him.

He felt lonely.

He was lonely and had been for some time.

A mech eternally set apart from those he called friends and family. Now, bonded to a mech he could call his equal, he was even more alone.

The small part of himself that was Orion Pax cried. Optimus Prime did not cry, outwardly he was calm and composed, staring at the plain ceiling with no discernible expression. No mech looking at him would know that a hopelessly romantic data clerk, buried so deep within that tranquil mech on the berth, was weeping.

He wallowed in his thoughts for a time when a tapping on his door roused him.

Duty called.

With a grimace he slowly rose, acutely feeling his frames protestations at the movement and went to see who was disturbing him.

The mech on the other side of the door was Ratchet.

"Is everything ok," Optimus inquired politely, fervently hoping Ratchet would say yes so he could lay down. He truly despised the deviant mech who had ever thought up the idea of physical interface.

"Er ... you could say that. It's not not ok."

Optimus' optics narrowed in suspicion. "What has Miko done this time?"

Ratchet actually scratched the back of his helm. Slag, he wasn't going to like this. "No, nothing like that. It's just, well, yes it involves Miko - and Raf - but it was mostly Bumblebees fault."

Even better.

"This is about losing Orion to the Decepticons, isn't it," he said flatly. Ratchet nodded his affirmative. Optimus could guess where this was going. "They staged an unauthorized rescue mission ... didn't they."

Ratchet cringed slightly under his Primes eerily clam optics. "You might say that."

"And would I be correct in assuming they are now on board the Nemesis?"

If the situation wasn't so serious Optimus might have found Ratchets expression funny. "Not exactly. Maybe even the opposite."

"Ratchet, I am weary of word games. Tell me what has happened."

"Yes, well, we may be playing host to a Decepticon or two at the moment. Here. In the base. Specifically Breakdown, who seems to be living up to his designation, and Knockout ... who is also living up to his designation ... currently ... on the floor," Ratchet said, his word slowly trailing off into an awkward mumble.

And really, all he could do was sigh.

"Very well. I will contact Megatron and inform him of the situation."

Ratchet shook his helm and muttered, "Never thought I'd live to see the day when we're giving Megatron, of all mechs, status reports."

Optimus secretly agreed but, for the sake of consistency said, "If we are to build good diplomatic relations it is prudent to -"

"I know, I know. Slag it all, I'm an old mech, I don't take well to change."

He couldn't help but smile and reached out to place a servo on Ratchets shoulder plates. "It is an adjustment for all but I find it preferable to fighting, my friend. We're all of us old mechs and I think it's time for a rest."

"You're telling me, I can barely roll out of my berth in the morning without my struts aching, but nevermind that. I'll leave you to call up old buckethead."

Optimus laughed, a loud bark that took him by surprise. Ratchet grinned up at him. Optimus tried his best not to grin back. It was inappropriate to laugh at an insult to his bondmate. "I have not heard him called that in a long time."

"Don't tell him I called him that."

"I will try to refrain."

Ratchet left and Optimus opened up his personal comm. link to Megatron.