It was quiet.
Optimus Prime walked through the halls of the Autobot base, checking over each of the Cybertronians residing inside. Bumblebee was watching Rafael as the boy drove his remote controlled car around the room. Smokescreen and Jack were discussing some human customs, the new recruit cracking jokes when he deemed fit. Optimus had yet to see the other Autobots, though he was more concerned about one of them.
Bulkhead had left suddenly, disappearing into the farthest corners of the building. That had been expected, as the former wrecker was upset earlier that day. A larger concern was that his human partner had vanished as well.
Optimus stepped into the main chamber, where two other Autobots stood. Optimus greeted Ratchet with a nod, which the medic returned, before Optimus walked over to Arcee. Arcee heaved off of the wall she was leaning on at her leader's arrival. She waited for Optimus to speak, and he did so. "Arcee, do you know where Miko has gone?"
"She's up on the roof." Arcee replied, her calm expression quickly shifting into a frown at the mention of the child. She had noticed Miko's absence before the others did, and attempted to coax the child back into the base, but it was futile. Arcee crossed her arms. "I tried talking to her again, but she won't listen to me."
Optimus nodded in acknowledgement, optics scanning over the area before he turned back the way he came. Both Arcee and Ratchet returned to what they were doing before their leader had entered.
Optimus made his way towards the giant elevator, which the Autobots used to get to the top of the cliff their base was built in. Optimus stepped inside, and the view before him quickly switched from a rocky interior to Jasper Nevada's light orange sky. Optimus exited the elevator, walking out into the open.
The night was approaching fast, stars flickering in the distance. The evening air was rather cold, evident by the small human child seated at the edge of the cliff, knees tucked into her chest, wearing a sweater over her normal t-shirt. She was slouched forward, her back facing the Autobot leader, and her non-existent shaking proved that she wasn't crying, or that she had stopped a while before.
Optimus took a few steps closer to the girl, but stopped at least a meter away. He kept his voice low, as to not attract any unwanted attention to his being. "Miko."
Miko didn't move, not even turning at the sound of the Autobot leader's voice. Miko said nothing for moment, taking a slow breath. "...Hey."
Optimus debated internally about which course of action he should take. After a moment, he walked next to the child. He took a seat next to Miko, legs hanging over the side of the cliff. The two were silent for a few minutes, then Optimus gazed down at the human beside him, allowing his stern persona to temporarily fade. "Are you alright?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. I'm just..." Miko paused to think of an appropriate word, still not looking at the Cybertronian next to her. "Thinking."
Optimus waited, but Miko said nothing further. She curled even further into a ball, arms resting on her knees. She pushed her bangs out of her face, which had almost begun to stick to her.
That action allowed Optimus to see Miko's tear stained cheeks, eyes red from crying for a long period of time. Optimus said nothing, however. If Miko wished to speak, she would, and she did. "...I know why you chose them now."
Miko finally glanced up, face completely blank. At Optimus' confused expression, Miko elaborated. "Why you picked Jack to get your memory back, why you picked Raf to help with the GroundBridge."
She let out a breath that would have been considered a sigh, if it wasn't so quiet and calm.
"And why you didn't choose me." Miko placed her head in her hands, shaking once again, though Optimus couldn't tell if it was from the cold, or if she was trying to stop tears from flowing again. "I can't do anything right."
Optimus frowned. "Miko-"
"No, listen," Miko said forcefully, turning to face Optimus fully. "I can't help you."
Miko rapidly got to her feet, arms practically flailing around to express her panic.
"I'm useless! I can't help Bulkhead!" Miko cried, hands placed firmly at her sides, balled into fists. "I went to New York, and now he's hurt because I abandoned him! Then, I went with Wheeljack, and I even killed Hardshell, but that didn't change anything!"
Optimus watched Miko, attempting to calm her down. "Miko, Bulkhead's current state is in no way influenced by your actions."
"Yes it is! It wouldn't even be this bad if I could just help him!" Miko yelled, voice cracking, tears threatening to resurface. "I can't even help him get better! Ever since Smokescreen came...!"
Miko trailed off, looked down at the ground. She sat down, once again curling into a ball. Optimus' concern was clear in his optics, having never seen the child so distraught.
Miko's voice was barely above a whisper. "...Bulkhead won't even talk to me now."
Optimus frowned. No matter how Bulkhead felt, he had no right to treat others in such a manner. Bulkhead was upset with the team, not the humans. Miko had done nothing wrong. She had nothing to do with Smokescreen's recruitment.
Miko took a deep breath, then spoke again.
"Don't tell him about this, okay?" Miko said quietly, the tiniest hint of a laugh in her voice, but it quickly disappeared. "He doesn't need my whining to distract him from getting better."
Optimus watched Miko for a moment longer, then he nodded. "I will not."
Miko looked up to the sky, watching it's twinkling lights, being thankful that none of the lights she saw were the spark of her partner, and for the next few minutes, no words were exchanged between the Autobout or the human.
Optimus slowly reached out, placing a hand next to Miko for her to get on. Miko blinked, then crawled onto the hand. Optimus stood, bringing Miko to eye level as she stood up as well. Optimus spoke. "When Smokescreen was to be given a tour of the base, you seemed enthusiastic to guide him, but you stepped down and let Jack assist him instead."
Miko nodded, unsure of where the conversation was going.
Optimus waited, then he continued. "Will you tell me why?"
Miko's mouth opened, but she closed it when she realized she hadn't formulated an answer. She unconsciously rubbed her arm as she thought, closing her eyes.
"... Bulkhead needed me."
Optimus said nothing, and Miko went on.
"He thinks he's useless now. I overheard him say that he thinks you're replacing him." Miko looked up at Optimus. "I know you're not, but Bulkhead needs help understanding that. I'm not going to abandon him again, not when he needs me most."
The silence returned, both soldier and child thinking over what had just been said. Miko still blamed herself, that was obvious. She knew that there was no way she could have prevented Bulkhead from getting injured, but she felt that there must have been something she could have done different to change what had happened.
Optimus looked back to Miko, voice soft. "You have grown since I first met you."
Miko looked back up at him like he was insane, as a height increase at her age was expected. She placed a hand on the top of head to check how tall she was.
Optimus slowly shook his head. "Not in height, but in spark."
Miko's hands slowly returned to her sides, eyes clearly showing that she didn't understand.
"Your loyalty to the ones you care about in unparalleled. You have given up something you enjoy to aid your family." Optimus said, a small smile appearing on his faceplate, though it vanished as quickly as it formed. "That is very mature of you. You did very well."
Miko's mouth hung open slightly, before she swallowed. Her demeanor hadn't changed from when they first started their conversation. She shifted her footing, not meeting the other's optics. She nodded, voice very quiet. "...Thanks."
Optimus knelt down so Miko could hop back onto the ground. She walked over to where she was before, sitting and tucking her knees into her chest once again.
Optimus watched Miko for a moment longer. Apparently, his words had not aided the child in any way. His persona went back up again, his usual frown reappearing on his faceplate. He nodded farewell, though he knew the child couldn't see, making his way to the elevator. Miko paused, then turned to look at the Autobot walking away from her.
"And, Optimus?" Miko continued, said Autobot turning back to watch the child. Her tone was completely serious, and her face was devoid of emotion. "You're wrong."
Optimus' head visibly tilted, and a confused expression reappeared on his faceplate.
A laugh was clear in Miko's voice. "I'm pretty sure I've grown at least a few inches since we first met."
Optimus blinked, then allowed a small smile to form, which the child returned.