Sex, Lies and the Autobot Leader
(or The Crush)
The room was dark and very quiet. Anyone would assume that it was empty -- it would certainly be fitting, for that was exactly how the mech inside felt. Empty, hollow, drained. The forlorn figure sat on the edge of his recharging berth, head in his hands. The only light in the room shone in from a crack underneath the door -- all other sources had been ruthlessly extinguished.
Author's note: BEWARE: this fic contains a lot of innuendo, though the explicit description has been removed. This story takes place after Rebirth, where the Decepticons are more or less defeated and a new Golden Age is brought about on Cybertron. Optimus Prime is once again in command, and things are as close to idyllic as possible for the war-torn race. Each story I write is set in a completely different universe and has no bearing on any story that I have written before. Crystal is my character, but unlike in Darkest Hour she is not pregnant or involved with Thundercracker. Each of my stories are based on a What if question, and since each question is hypothetical, each of my stories is different and unrelated from the one before or the ones to come. Thus, you can read this one and understand what is happening without reading any other fics. And if you have read the others, they have no bearing on the events in this one. A quick note: Phoenix (Nixie) is Fiona Walker's character. I am using her with permission. I've also chosen to resurrect Ratchet for my own purposes. If Optimus could be resurrected, perhaps the funeral barge containing the others could be salvaged and the other deceased Autobots restored.
What is love anyway?
Does anybody love anybody anyway?
What Is Love? -- Howard Jones
The large mech sighed wearily and flopped onto his back, staring morosely at the ceiling. He couldn't remember the last time he had felt so rotten. He was no stranger to agony, to stress, to heartbreak, but this was more than he was used to bearing. It took all of his strength just to drag himself through the day. He resented the sympathetic glances from passersby -- his private problems were none of their business! He wished he could just crawl under his recharge berth and hide there, alone and safe, wrapped in the darkness.
'How could this happen?' he asked himself, the same question that had nagged at him all week. 'How could I let this happen?' It was the mark of a good leader to accept responsibility when something went wrong, but this time it was personal -- it affected his private life, or what little there was of it. Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots, guardian of the Matrix, paragon of virtue and compassion, who could hold together through any attack or energy shortage, no matter how severe or drawn-out, now found himself sinking into a vortex of depression and despair. Ironic how one slender pink femme could make so much difference in his life. She had always kept him going when things seemed bleak; the gentle touch of her hand was enough to still his darkest fears, and a light kiss would sweep away the strongest anxiety. Many times the fear of losing her had spurred an earthquake of agony in his heart, but he never thought it would happen this way. Their relationship had always been intense, but it had been tinged with his guilt and constant terror that Alita One would be used against him as a bargaining chip for the Decepticon army. She had convinced him that the risk was worth it.
The war had claimed so many lives, the death toll rising every day. Optimus and Alita both keenly felt the specter of Death hovering over them, and though their time together was brief, snatched in between the demands of their leadership positions, the fleetingness of it all made it that much more sweet and intense. Their relationship was a safety valve for the stress and anxiety created by the war, worsened by the fact that they were both leaders in their own right, holding the lives of their soldiers in their hands. They were dependent on each other for comfort as well as love, but Optimus had long suspected that he was much more needy of his ladylove than she was of him. In fact, he knew that her loyalty to him caused her suffering and anguish. He couldn't afford to give her what she deserved -- a lover who would be by her side any time she needed him, who had the time to lavish attention upon her, take her out dancing or dining, and provide the things a femme deserved. He had always marveled at his good fortune, for she had remained by his side through thick and thin. How ironic that she should be lost to him now, through the most mundane of circumstances.
Indeed, that is what stung the most. Long ago, when the civil war was just beginning and the two had assumed their roles as leaders of the Autobots, they had made a pact with each other. Life was too fleeting, even for a robot, and if one of them should fall fighting for the Autobot cause, it was the other's duty to carry on, to sustain the flame of hope for peace that burned within the heart of every Autobot fighter, and, on a more personal note, to seek another lifemate. Although both of them had thought the other to be dead once the Ark was lost, they had never been able to bring themselves to act on the promise, to forget what they had had together and start anew with another lover. Despite some myriad affairs, they had remained true to each other in their hearts. All those years that he had thought his lover to be dead, Optimus had felt a private pain, the sense that he had lost something precious. That pain was dulled and distant, so perhaps a part of him knew that Alita still lived and there was a small possibility of their reunion. Still, it would have been easier for him to accept her death than the way he had lost her now. He had steeled himself against the day that he would receive the fateful radio message, that Alita had been killed in the line of duty, but at least he had grudgingly accepted it as a possibility. He had never dreamed that things would work out this way. That he would have everything he ever wanted, and then lose it all. And it would all be his fault.
A ragged sigh escaped Prime's vocal unit as he thought back to the many times that he and Alita had clung to each other at what qualified as night on Cybertron, seeking mutual comfort when things seemed bleakest. It was then that they would murmur to each other about how things would be when the war ended: how they would be able to live in peace without fear of dying the next day, of being able to savor each day as it comes, of being able to just lay back and enjoy each other's company, to enjoy life itself. He snorted, the sound echoing in the tomblike silence of his quarters. And what had become of all those dreams, all those desperate hopes for a better life? The irony cut him to the quick. All that they had fought so hard to gain was finally at their feet. The Autobots had essentially won the war. Deep inside, Optimus knew that Galvatron and Scorponok still survived and would stop at nothing until they had achieved their twisted objectives, but for the moment they were stranded on the far side of the galaxy, low on ammunition and power, essentially harmless. Not only was the threat of the Decepticons nullified, but their home planet of Cybertron was reborn into a second Golden Age. It was as close to paradise as this band of ragtag warriors could ever hope to come, and none of them could ask for any more.
So, after nine million years of war, Optimus had achieved all that he had fought for. Peace for his planet, prosperity for its citizens, leisure for himself and his mate. And yet, somehow, it had all crumbled to dust at his feet. He and Alita, despite their elaborate plans for a life together in a time of peace, never figured in a crucial factor. Their relationship was so strong because it was based on a mutual need for comfort. Not only that, it was filled with such passion and tender love because they both felt in their souls that it could end at any moment. When they were together, they lived for the moment, relishing their stolen moments and dreading the time that they would have to part. Their relationship never became mundane, never became routine. They rarely had to deal with the day-to-day conflicts of a normal, healthy relationship.
Once they had the peace and time together that they craved, their lovingly crafted relationship collapsed like a house of cards. Each discovered that they had spent so much time apart that the images they carried in their head of the other were mostly fantasy. The saying absence makes the heart grow fonder was all too true in their case -- the time apart only caused them to create an idealistic version of their lover that the real thing could never measure up to. It was unfair to expect so much of each other, and soon they both began to resent the expectations that were put upon them. Little habits that had seemed so endearing during the war soon became tedious and annoying. Alita had always admired Prime's efficiency and organizational skills, but it became too much for her to bear when he straightened up her side of their quarters. She had her own system of organization, and how could she find anything if he moved it? In turn, Optimus was irritated by Alita's habit of leaving bottles of polish open and cleansing rags scattered on the floor. He'd had no idea how she managed to survive underground for so long in cramped quarters when she made such a mess!
At first they hadn't been able to spend much time together, due to all the demands placed upon them with the rebirth of their native planet. There was so much to do; so much that demanded their attention. They had managed to grab a few spare minutes together during that time, and their passion for each other seemed to ensure a strong relationship. But alas, it was not to be. The newness of the situation soon wore off, and reality sank in, slowly but surely. The passionate embraces soon cooled to a stiff peck on the cheek, and the loving words murmured at the cusp of recharge deteriorated to formal politeness, with a smattering of fiery arguments. The arguments were the worst part. They had had disagreements before, certainly, but never like this. During the war they would argue about their responsibilities to the army versus their responsibilities as a mate, and other sticky problems, but nowadays they fought about silly, petty things, like who had forgotten to cap the waste extractor. Life together was quickly becoming unbearable. Optimus had hated to even consider it, but the concept was staring him right in the face -- he and Alita weren't suited to live together. Lately they couldn't even come to a compromise over what vid program to watch in the evening. They had taken to spending late nights at work just to avoid each other, only to return and confront each other when both were tired and irritable.
One unforgettable night, during an argument that Optimus couldn't even remember what the subject had been, Alita had yelled, Well, maybe we should just call it quits then! In a rare fit of temper, Optimus had snapped back, Well, maybe we should! Clearly this isn't working out between us. I'm sick of dealing with you! As soon as the words had left his mouth, he had wanted to take them back, stomp on them and tear them into non-existence. But of course it was too late -- the words were out, and in a way, it was a relief. Despite their arguments, they had never discussed the core of their problems, the possibility of their incompatibility. The war had changed both of them, perhaps so much so that they were no longer suited for each other. They were both different people now, and instead of seeking comfort when things were at their worst, they tore each other down when life couldn't be better. Once the fateful words had been uttered, it was as if a Pandora's box had been opened, and Alita had moved out in a matter of hours. Unable to watch, Optimus had gone to the local dive and done something that he had only done a handful of times in his comparatively long life -- gotten completely smashed on high-grade energon.
A bitter laugh exploded, once again shattering the tomblike quiet of the room. So this was a peaceful life? If so, the Pit could take it! Optimus was miserable. Instead of holding his ladylove in his arms, his quarters were dark and lonely. And where was his beloved now? No doubt in the arms of some other receptive mech, vigorously asserting her newfound single status.
Optimus groaned, flopping backwards onto his recharge berth, lying across it lengthwise. He knew that he'd have to get up tomorrow and face the world again, pretending that nothing was wrong while his world was unraveling at the seams. The more things change....
Optimus jumped, instinctively materializing his rifle from subspace as he whirled to face the intruder. After a tense second, his body relaxed, and he returned his weapon to storage. Hot Rod! he snapped irritably. Just what do you think you're doing?
Paying you a visit, the 'teenager' grinned cheekily. Figured you'd need a bit of cheering up. Or a change of setting, at least.
How did you get in here? Optimus growled, a bit more crossly than he intended. He'd been on edge lately, true, but that was no reason to snap at Hot Rod, who'd no doubt suffered much more from recent events than he'd had.
Roddy shook his head mockingly. You're getting careless in your old age. You never changed the access code on the door. He chuckled as Prime struck himself on the forehead. Don't beat yourself over the head with it. You've had so many other things to worry about lately that I'm not surprised it escaped your attention.
Hot Rod could almost see the frown that creased the Autobot leader's face underneath his mask. Still, that's no excuse for neglecting security matters, he rumbled, sounding upset.
Come off it, Op! Roddy laughed. I came in here to get your mind off of such matters. You need a night away from all of this. He gestured widely, encompassing the entire room, with its neat stacks of disks and paper. While the piles weren't nearly big enough for Prime at the moment, Hot Rod was determined to distract the Autobot leader by forcing him to have a good time instead of letting him drown himself in work.
And what if I refuse? Optimus asked, sounding a bit irritated.
Then we'll just have to drag you kicking and screaming, said a smug, self-satisfied voice.
Prime groaned as the bouncing green terror known as Springer poked his head into his office. There was no way out of this now. He was doomed to spend the night doing whatever it was his so-called friends wanted.
Low grumbling could be heard from behind Springer's massive frame, which took form as Ultra Magnus was yanked into the room by the arm. I see they got you too, Optimus said with a touch of humor.
Magnus made a face. I see no reason to participate in this farce. All I want to do is go back to my quarters and rest.
Brood, you mean, Springer chided him. You've been moping around ever since Nixie was sent on that mission. It's time you saw someplace other than the inside of your quarters or your office.
Optimus smiled slightly under his mask, getting into the spirit of things. Have fun, Magnus! That's an order! He choked back a snicker at Magnus' shocked look.
That goes double for you, mister! Hot Rod said in a deep, mock-authoritative voice. Now march!
Optimus shook his head good-naturedly as he shut down his laptop and deactivated various other devices. All right, I'm coming already, he groaned as he activated the security system. Let's get this torture over with.
'This is torture indeed,' Optimus mused as he cupped his canister of high-grade energon, his third of the night. He was not normally a big drinker, but tonight it seemed to fit his situation. While he had not been exactly chugging down the strong brew, the level of potent liquid in his canister had slowly dropped throughout the night.
He cringed as the pounding techno beat of the audio-splitting music threatened to short-circuit his audial circuitry. Why anyone would find this abomination enjoyable was beyond him. Hot Rod and Springer sought to introduce their two stiff friends to one of their favorite pastimes: clubbing. Optimus sighed, staring at the dregs of his beverage. Around him, bodies cavorted wildly, the dancers surrendering themselves to the pulsating, driving beat. Hot Rod and Springer had hoped to distract him, draw him out of himself, but such revelry had only served to further depress him. At first it had almost been enjoyable for the Autobot leader to step out of his usual routine. A night out on the town seemed to be the perfect solution. He had to confess that he did not know Hot Rod or Springer very well, but their good humor and enthusiasm had been infectious, and in spite of himself, he had found himself chuckling at his young friends' antics. And, of course, goading Magnus into having a good time was far too enjoyable to resist. Too bad it had worked.
The dejected Autobot shook his head wearily as he surveyed his friends. It had been a nice distraction to sit and joke with them, but unsurprisingly, Hot Rod and Springer had gotten swept up in the pulsating rhythm of the music and had wandered off to dance. He and Magnus had both rolled their optic points at their young friends and chatted for awhile about how it was a miracle that those two foolhardy youths were still alive. Then, of all the bizarre things to happen, *Magnus* had started to tap his foot to the beat, and finally, with a sheepish look, had announced his intentions to dance. He tried to get Optimus to follow him, but the Autobot leader had refused to have any part in the awkward gyrations going on around him. Let the others make a fool of themselves.
And yet, Prime felt a sting of jealousy as Magnus threw back his head and laughed out of sheer joy. And, by Primus, he had not one but *two* women bumping and grinding alongside him. Of course the city commander was faithful to Phoenix, his bonded mate, but it couldn't hurt to dance a bit with a beautiful femme or two. Optimus was suddenly flooded with guilt. He had no right feeling jealous over Magnus' high spirits. The old Terran saying was true -- misery loves company, and Optimus wanted someone to be miserable with. He knew full well that Magnus had never had much luck with femmes until Phoenix had come along. He should be pleased, not hurt, that his old friend had finally loosened up enough, courtesy of the high-grade energon, to have some fun.
Hot Rod nudged Springer and pointed out the amazing spectacle of Magnus dancing wildly with the ladies, and the two shared a triumphant grin and slapped each other a high-five. Optimus slouched lower in his seat. They had forgotten all about him. Part of him was hurt, while another part was relieved. He didn't want anyone fussing over him. I'll go after I finish this glass, he promised himself. He could feel sorry for himself just as well in his quarters. Not that they'd notice he'd left, of course.
Excuse me, is this seat taken?
The voice snapped Prime out of his reverie. He jumped in surprise, his beverage sloshing in its container. He opened his mouth to quickly dismiss the intruder, but as he looked up, the words froze on his lips. Before him stood a beautiful femme that could have just stepped out of any guy's fantasy. Her finish was red and blue, and her head was framed by a curving piece of armor that almost resembled a human hairstyle. His gaze locked with hers, and he cleared his voice box nervously, realizing that she was still waiting for a reply, smiling patiently. Uhh... no, of course not. Have a seat. It wasn't as if the other party animals would be back soon.
Oh, good, the beautiful femme breathed, promptly settling herself across from him. My name's Crystal.
Prime's optics narrowed at the recognition of the name. He had never been formally introduced until this moment, but this femme's reputation preceded her. He had heard many rumors about her behavior -- most of them derogatory comments about her tendency to play the field. Optimus had never understood the reasoning -- he'd have thought that the males would have appreciated such an adventurous spirit. He strongly resolved not to let such harsh gossip influence his own judgment.
I'm Optimus Prime, he replied, holding out his hand, palm straight up. Crystal mimicked the gesture, the palms of both of their hands meeting in the traditional greeting.
Oh, I know who you are! the femme laughed merrily. Everybody knows the illustrious Autobot leader. I've always wanted to meet you, she said playfully.
Really? Prime asked in mild surprise.
Oh yes, she smiled. Who wouldn't want to meet the kindest, wisest, most powerful, and of course, cutest Autobot?
Oh my, Optimus whispered, unsure how to react. Do you -- do you really think that? He cursed himself inwardly. What kind of a stupid question was that? Must be the liquor talking.
Encouraged, Crystal leaned forward. Oh, all the girls think that. Alita was lucky to snap you up right away. But she was foolish to let a catch like you go. If you were my guy, I'd never let you go. I know a good thing when I see it.
Prime was fervently grateful for the faceplate that concealed his visage as his jaw dropped with an audible thunk. His alcohol-fogged CPU struggled to process this mind-boggling input. No femme except Alita had ever spoken so boldly to him! If the ladies found him attractive, he had never noticed. But then again, as his ladylove had been so fond of saying, he wouldn't know a pass if it came over and kissed him.
I hope you don't mind my straightforwardness, the lovely femme continued. You just looked so sad that I had to come over. Don't let Alita get you down. There are plenty of femmes that would love to go out with you.
Like you? The words were out before Optimus could stop them, and oddly, a part of him didn't even want to. He was sick of censoring his desires.
The wide smile that answered his question sent shivers down his exostructure. By the Matrix, could this really be happening? Was he really flirting with a desirable femme, with no shadow of fidelity to Alita to hold him back?
Crystal leaned back in her seat, enjoying her new beau's admiration. Let's dance, she purred. Optimus stood up slowly. Surges raced across his synapses as she grasped his hand. Almost in a trance, Optimus allowed her to tug him on to the dance floor. She elbowed dancers out of her way to create a small dance space of their own. She noticed Prime's nervous posture and smiled encouragingly as she began to move before him.
Self-consciously, Optimus began to move to the beat of the music. At first his motions were hesitant and jerky, but soon he forgot about all the pairs of optics around him and concentrated on the gorgeous sight before him. He almost never danced in public for fear of making a fool of himself, but the heady combination of high-grade energon and the femme's forwardness turned his head enough to dispel all his inhibitions. His slight scorn for the dancers changed to passion as the driving beat swept him away to a place that knew no cares. Crystal grinned widely, pleasantly surprised at her partner's dancing flair and sudden abandon. She stepped closer, noting the warm glow that came from Prime's optics. Never had he seemed more handsome to her.
Optimus allowed a small smile to flit over his covered face, surprised at how much he was enjoying letting go, becoming a part of the music. He groaned softly as the tension drained out of him, leaving him feeling loose and relaxed. What had he been stressing about? Nothing mattered in that moment but him, his partner, and the music.
By Primus' afterburners! Hot Rod yelped in astonishment, mouth agape. His processor struggled to make sense of what it was receiving. Springer, look!
Springer, who was busy flirting with a pretty femme, waved away the racecar like an annoying insect. Go away, he growled. Can't you see I'm busy?
No way, you've got to see this! Hot Rod cried insistently, tugging on his friend's arm.
All right, then will you-- By the Matrix! he gasped, all thoughts of fembots flying from his CPU at the mind-boggling sight. Is that for real? That *can't* be Optimus out there!
I don't know who else it could be, Hot Rod said numbly.
Springer quickly recovered his wits. Well, he certainly seems to be enjoying himself, he snickered.
Oblivious to the shocked stares and growing whispers around them, the pair moved hypnotically together to the driving beat. Crystal grinned to herself- at long last, the Autobot leader was within her grasp. Now that he was hers for the taking, she wanted him all to herself. Let's blow this place, she murmured in his audio.
As if in a trance, Optimus nodded, optics looking past the throng of astonished onlookers to find the exit. Crystal spotted it first and eagerly hauled her catch after her. Optimus practically had to run to keep up with her, but he was not about to complain. He wanted to get out of there as desperately as she did. Phew, she breathed as they rushed out the door, into the inky blackness of eternal night that passed for Cybertron's sky. I thought we'd never get out of there.
She turned to him, and Optimus was struck by her beauty. Her lips were parted, the lights from the club streaking her metallic form with ribbons of light and shadow. 'I think I really like this femme!' a small but insistent voice spoke within. There was an awkward pause, then Crystal stood on tiptoe and planted a passionate kiss on his faceplate, in the approximate area of his lips.
So, what do you want to do next? Optimus asked curiously. This was shaping up to be a fascinating night.
Crystal merely smiled and tugged on his arm. He allowed himself to be led to whatever the night held.
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