A perfect day in a perfect place. No destruction, no reminders about the apocalypse-that-almost-happened, no death. Just a peaceful evening.
Bumblebee took Sam up to the hill, but Sam needed to climb the remaining distance alone. As usually, 'Bee understood and gave him space, waiting patiently for his return and being the steady reassurance that Sam needed so much right now and that his car had provided since they met.
Walking slowly toward his destination, Sam wondered that after all these years, he still felt some irrational fear seeing Optimus. He wasn't scared of Optimus himself – Sam trusted him implicitly and the Autobot had never done anything to threaten Sam – he was scared of the change that the Autobot meant for Earth and for all the truths Sam was taught before they met.
Sam, however, never denied the new order; he embraced the change and took advantage of the secret knowledge about the powerful alien race; one of the reasons why the Autobots trusted him as much as Sam trusted them.
Sam shivered in the evening cold, but he knew there was a different reason for his anxiety. He had become a device that was used to destroy not only Optimus, but also every other Autobot who hadn't joined the Decepticons. That's why seeing his friend – standing tall at the top of the hill – didn't dissolve the fear as it normally would have, for tonight the fear was rational.
Betrayed. Optimus had been betrayed again. First by his own brother, then by his mentor, and now by Sam. It was ripping Sam apart, but he couldn't imagine living like that any longer. He had asked before, he would do it again, even if it really killed him this time.
Trust. No, it was more than Optimus' trust that Sam had misused. It was the bond that made them brothers-in-arms. Optimus had died protecting him all these years ago, and even though Sam did the same for him, now he wasn't ready for such sacrifice. When the survival of humankind was at stake, Sam couldn't find the strength to fight against the alien technology implanted into his nervous system.
Dying for somebody who was already dead – how desperate was that?Once, Sam made such choice, because seeing Optimus die had killed something in him as well. Now Sam went and betrayed him just like Megatron and Sentinel had done. And Optimus came back from death – again – and saved Sam and the rest of the human kind for the third time.
Sam hesitated when he reached his friend. How can you ask for forgiveness after committing such an unforgivable act? Except, he needed Optimus' forgiveness. He was a coward – he couldn't live without absolution. He neededit more than air. This need was the only thing that kept him going.
Optimus noticed him, but Sam couldn't look up. He didn't want to see the disappointment in his eyes, because Optimus knew. He must have known what the Decepticon had said. I thought you were working for us, boy?
"Sam," Optimus greeted him in a low voice.
Not really neutral, but Sam couldn't identify what it was – his own emotions were too... disturbing. Yet he respected the Autobot leader too much, to delay the inevitable.
"I betrayed you, Optimus." The words felt empty, but caused excruciating pain.
"You did no such thing." Optimus shook his head. "It would only be betrayal if you had a choice. Your freedom was taken and so you were given no choice."
If only it was that easy.
"It still feels as if I betrayed you." Sam admitted; his heart breaking.
Optimus shifted and knelt next to him holding his hand out invitingly and Sam climbed into his palm – he would look at him, he owed Optimus that much. He owed him everything.
When their eyes were at the same level, Optimus asked, "Did you want to do it?"
"No." Sam shook his head fiercely.
Optimus smiled. "Sam, I heard what you said by the shuttle. You chose your words carefully. Not only Ratchet has medical scanners that allow him to follow your body chemistry. I am also familiar with human anatomy and biological processes. You cannot lie to me."
"I know." It should have been disturbing, but it wasn't. It had been Sam's only hope when they were saying their final goodbye.
"But?" Optimus asked patiently.
"I couldn't fight it." He let anger seep into his voice.
"No, you couldn't." Optimus agreed. "You can't control everything."
"Theydid control me!"
"What is most important, they didn't."
Sam looked at him surprised. "How can you say that?"
"Loyalty isn't here." He touched Sam's head gently and Sam felt the weight of his deed lift a little.
"I will say it, if you really need to hear it," Optimus offered.
They both remembered the other time when Sam 'needed' to hear certain words. "No, you don't have to. I believe you."
The silence wasn't uncomfortable. They rarely needed words anyway.
"You saw me die twice," Optimus said finally. "I apologize for the pain it caused you."
Sam swallowed hard. "Just don't make a habit out of that, okay?"
"Do you ever wonder if they were also given no choice?" Sam asked after a while. "The Decepticons?"
"We all had done what we thought was right for us. History will judge us."
Sam shuddered involuntarily. "I won't."
Optimus looked at him, but didn't say anything.
"Will it ever go away?" Sam whispered.
"Feeling torn that you have killed Dylan? I hope not."
Again Sam wondered how Optimus could read him so easily.
"Me neither," he said. It made him feel that he still had a moral center.
Optimus looked as if he wanted to say something, but instead played a recorded track.
"I have been, and always shall be, your friend."
Sam grinned, feeling the forgiveness wash over him.
"It's 'Bee's quote," he pointed out.
"It's... actually not." Optimus shrugged.
Indeed, a perfect day in a perfect place.