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WHY COULDN’T YOU BE ME ?

 

The words roared into the emptiness. 

 

Dark mud grasping at his limbs, while the towering figure, whose voice echoed in the void surrounding him, stood tall right in front of the sinking mech, weak, gasping to stay afloat.

 

WHAT HELD YOU BACK?

 

Megatron didn’t know how to reply, staring up at the shadow shaped to resemble his most hated enemy, as an unnatural fear began stinging in the back of his processor. The silhouette slowly moved his right arm in an unnaturally slow manner and the recognisable shape of a fusion cannon propped on top of it was now clearly visible. A long finger pointed towards Megatron’s sinking frame, the mud entering his mouth as he tried to scream for it to stop.

 

WHY COULDN’T YOU BE ME ?

 

That question shrilled into his audials, as both his optics were fixed on the ghostly figure.

 

Megatron, staring at himself, imposing, dark, powerful. 

 

The Megatron who murdered Optimus Prime and held the Matrix of leadership in his chassis. 

 

The usurper. 

 

The other one. 

 

The Megatron who won. 

 

As soon as the light cast behind the figure grew harsher, Megatron’s left eye was seized by an incommensurable pain, so much that both hands spasmed to it, covering the injury, trying to soothe the pain. 

 

This time, another voice filled the impossible space, his own, screaming. 

 

And a gush of warmth engulfed his optic, leaving on his hands only bright marine blue energon stains, that lit up the darkness he was sinking in.

 

Megatron’s frame felt the need to faint, as if his spark was suddenly beginning to dim, getting dragged down in the deep, cold mud.

 

And a voice echoed in his processor, loud, clear.

 

You are not the one I chose.

--

Megatron came to with his battle protocols ready to fight an immediate enemy, but as he jumped to a seated position, his body noticed the mud was gone-- and so was the other one

 

But the terror. That remained. 

 

Swiftly, Megatron turned his helm around his room, his eye wide, bright, his mouth agape. A slight tremor, a slight ache ran through his entire frame, as he hopped down from his berth. 

 

Yet, his guard was still up and high, sweat running down his back in the same fashion a sick mech would be fighting off an illness. But his frame was sure, it was ready to attack, to kill, just the same as when, on the battlefield, Prime would charge onto him with all his might.

 

However, such a familiar feeling was nowhere to be found-- the enthusiastic wait for a fight, the excitement for a challenge, the sweet taste of victory. It was gone, taking its place was another beast. 

 

Something different, something brewn deep down in his spark, something his processor had never encountered before.

 

Prior to that odd encounter, Megatron had been suffering a couple of unsettling nights, passed rolling around almost awake, unable to recharge properly, which had been the reason for his foul mood. 

 

But that dream… that nightmare, it felt wrong . It left Megatron battling with a primal fear in his spark, an unconventional horror his mind had never encountered before, not even the few times he had been actually scared and not just stubbornly stupid.

 

His steps were damp of careful panic, as he inched towards the light switch. Every time his foot landed on the solid, cold floor, the grey mech’s frame was shaken by the idea of something suddenly catching him, pulling him down, the idea of a vicious enemy taking him and destroying his whole body like a lifeless toy. Tearing him apart, sliding in from the darkness to snuff him-- but when he frantically clicked the switch on, the room appeared as just that. A plain, empty recharge unit. 

 

The powerful light of the neons hurt his broken optic, and the vivid memory of energon pouring freely from it had his arm spasm again to cover it, while the other hand curled into a fist. 

 

He heard a distinct clang, a fist against the wall, and in a moment, sudden pain registered in his processor, meeting the air of the silent room with a roaring yell, with the same unconscious stupor one meets an unaccounted for injury. As if his body wasn’t his own. 

 

His frame, dead cold. His spark, firing up, pulsating, terrified.

 

Megatron thought, for a moment, that he was going to die.

 

When a ping saved his brain from burning all his thoughts around that, as he checked his private com, showing a message from Soundwave,

:Lord Megatron, what’s happened?:

 

The constantly angered voice of the other mech had Megatron force his battle protocols off, trying to calm down by venting in. His mind howled at how absurd and idiotic the whole situation, his feelings were-- but even with his higher senses back from the torpor, he couldn’t stop the overwhelming sensation of dread. 

 

He cleared his voice box, focusing on the real, actual boiling pain radiating from his fist, and gave Soundwave a husky reply, to avoid his second stomping down the hall to barge into his room himself.

:I’m fine, Soundwave. Had a rough night.: , he paused, as if he had to keep himself from throwing up-- but the words came out, boldly, forcibly, from his mouth, :I’m going to meet Prime before scheduled:

 

There was no room for further responses from the other mech, except for a displeased sound before the connection ended. The truce Megatron and Optimus managed to create  had been a long time coming, and it had always been Megatron the one that demanded and demanded, without ever being satisfied. But in the end, meeting the other one had made him realise that, somehow, a peace could exist-- starting with the even division of the planet, and now with what could be called “communal living”. Autobots and Decepticons could choose whether to drop their insginiae and live without affiliation, as both parties were trying to create a new, solid leadership. 

 

It had been a while since he had shook hands with his enemy, but Megatron wasn’t able to trust the Autobots fully-- nor any Decepticon to be fair, but he held Prime at a higher standard; those morals of his were too rooted in absolute good and absolute evil to allow him breaking into war once more, and Optimus seemed wholly content with the fair results they had to come up with.

 

Then, the ache in his chassis broke the shock of his will to meet Prime, as the stinging sensation kept him alert, while walking in the artificially lit corridor. 

 

It was still dark outside. 

 

Such surreal darkness to Megatron’s feverish optics, dread boiling in his spark, a dread of the sun failing to rise. Eternal blackness, perpetual mist. 

 

He gave paranoid looks to his surroundings, favoured by that feeling of being open, vulnerable nagging at his processor -- such a foreign devastation of a terrified mind, scared of dying, of becoming powerless. The nodes on his knuckles sent out pained signals, as his fists felt like they had permanently frozen in place because of the stress his frame was currently suffering. 

Megatron, the mighty winner of the gladiatorial games, the leader of the Decepticon movement and, later, of its army, was now tiptoeing in a well illuminated area he had walked many times, as if he was bound to encounter his fate, then and there. But that doomed meeting wasn’t for a regular cybertronian rival of sorts. That fear had never been felt, not ever, not even for someone like the Prime, not even for something as alien as the Quintessons were. 

 

His frame was screaming for something more perverse, more terrifying. 

 

The image of his alternate self flashed before him, as to abruptly interrupt his train of thoughts, to which his legs had the impulse to leap to the side, clashing his whole body to the wall, back pressed against the metal in an attempt to seek protection, before realising that the hall he had arrived in was just as the room had been prior. 

 

Empty.

 

His comms activated, and his mind had him say,

:Prime.:

 

The name felt almost sacred, like a word one would whisper in a desperate prayer to save their soul. Megatron couldn’t even recollect his thoughts before realising he was calling his nemesis, as if speaking his name would make the terror sizzle out and die.

 

If the figure of Optimus Prime were to appear, his spark hoped, loudly, disgustingly, if Optimus Prime were to appear, I will be spared. 

 

It made him feel sick. It hurt his pride, a wound so deep, he thought, so deep he would have preferred kneeling to Starscream-- but that was a lie, something in his helm suggested. Quietly, unfaltering. 

 

That is a lie. You know, that is a lie.

 

:Megatron?: 

 

Optimus replied swiftly, but Megatron could feel the tinge of sleep in his tone, still. 

 

:How come this early? It’s not even sunrise.: 

 

The casual way Prime asked such a mundane question made Megatron’s processor snap-- a voice in his head kept yelling about a looming threat, somewhere. 

 

Something was coming. 

How could Prime be so calm?

 

And yet, his wounded pride couldn’t allow him to utter any of those frightened words, not even if the voice was pushing it. He could not beg to meet, he could not tell him the truth of such unshaken fear; he could not allow Prime to know about the voice, the nightmare, his fear. There was no way on Cybertron that Megatron was going to show him such weakness, such a disgraceful display of weakness, at that.

 

:Our meeting.:  

 

Megatron managed to spit out, as his blinking grew more frantic, and yet again, his venting became deeper, longer, as to calm down. 

 

:Yes…?: , Optimus replied, confusion clear in his voice. :What of it?:

 

:Let’s have it, earlier.:  

Megatron’s frame felt heavy, like stone dragging him down, his panicked state not helping with the dizziness running through him. As soon as his audials heard Prime attempting to formulate a reply, the com shutted down. 

 

And the urge to flee outside became overwhelming. So much so that his strength seemed to come back, all at once, just to comply with the pure, clear desire to run away.

 

From what?

 

From who ?

 

Megatron didn’t know the answers, barging outside, to the empty streets. 

 

But, he met the darkness of the sky. It was not a normal night sky, his primal mind yelled. His helm, nose up to it, staring at the lack of stars, of lights-- it made the energon in his body freeze.

 

The intrusive thought clawed again to the side of his brain module, like a parasite, a sickness. 

 

Run.

 

Run away. 

 

Flee the danger. 

 

Flee!

 

Megatron knew tears, he knew when he could cry, when his pride allowed him to. But that, that voice alone, had Megatron on the verge of tears so easily that he couldn’t stop his hands from beating his helm, the word pathetic slithering out his lips like a snake. 

 

His venting became more and more panicked, with his head moving around like a mad mech, looking for anything. 

 

Anyone. 

 

A shaky sound came out from his mouth, quiet and scared, 

“Flee from what?”

 

He kept walking in the silent streets of New Iacon, all the mechs recharging calmly as one does  in the middle of the night, but he kept checking his surroundings. 

 

“Flee from WHAT ?” he demanded to the air, to the darkness, to the voice, with his hands clasped on his helm. 

 

Shaking.

 

Then a reply came to him, in his own voice, but with a tone he did not recognise.

 

I don’t know.

 

Megatron’s intake clenched, while he stood there petrified, looking down at his feet.

 

I don’t know. What are you fleeing from?

 

The ache in his chassis grew, like a pulsation. His venting hiccupped at that, when he placed a hand above the suddenly liveliness in him. Right where the Decepticon insignia once stood, now a hand shaped scar spread across the chassis like a cancer.

 

His own hand, but a different one. 

 

A surge of pain, like a shot, from his eye-- “No, no, no!” he begged to the deserted streets, pride hoping no one was there to look at pitiful him, fear, on the other hand, waiting for someone to save him from his own mind. 

 

He turned one of his palms away. Marine blue energon on it. 

 

A shadow casted upon his figure, the artificial light of the street lamps above him.

 

Megatron gasped, mouth agape, moving his only good optic up, to look. 

 

In front of him. 

He stood there, but it wasn’t himself

The other one pointed to him, he shouted.

 

WHY COULDN’T YOU BE ME? 

 

--

Megatron woke up in his berth, with a groggy processor and sore limbs. The sun, afterall, was up. He could see it from the window, the bright light cradling the whole room to safety, while his frame laid there, shocked and confused. But mostly, achy.

 

The fear had not vanished, still there, but seemingly more subdued, like a constant pain that one gets used to feel. After managing to clear his mind enough to sit up, Megatron checked his logs to confirm the nightmarish night had actually happened; the call he received from Soundwave was there, logged in with the cycle and all-- but the one with Prime was not.

 

His brows furrowed in horror, when he realised a couple more calls had appeared into the list. 

 

Calls spanning throughout a whole day. 

 

Calls he had no memory of, calls he didn’t know had happened. A whole day was gone, erased from his mind forever. And a new, different fear assaulted him. 

 

Something had tampered with his mind. 

 

Someone.

 

The voice, his voice but with a different tone, suggested him. 

 

Megatron jumped up on his feet, looking around himself in fear of being spied. This was not normal . A mech shouldn’t be afraid of his own thoughts, he tried to reassure himself. 

 

So, Megatron decided he was not going to acknowledge that-- be the voice, be the fear. 

 

He was not going to be toyed with by whatever was going on inside his brain module. His whole being had risen up to inequity, to abuse and scorn, he had fought with teeth and claws, against everyone. Against Optimus. Whatever was happening right then would not be an obstacle to his plans for the future.

 

His hands trembled into fists, his brows knit together, his stance straight.

 

:Soundwave, respond.:

 

The echo of his feet was the only sound he allowed his audials to catch, storming down the now busier hall of the building that hosted many Decepticons and some Autobots. His frame was barely keeping it together, and the fear was boiling at the back of his helm. 

--

“You managed everything as usual, Lord Megatron.”

 

“So I did call you last night.” Megatron was moving back and forth in Soundwave’s habsuit, trying to maintain his usual practical, bold demeanour. However, his optic was spotting, every so often, the wavelength on his Second-in-command’s shoulders faltering with small, concerned hints.

 

“Yes, precisely at the fourth cycle of the morning.” Soundwave crossed his arms, studying his leader’s nervous movements, “Why?”

 

“Then,” Megatron waved at him without really looking, “Then, when did we meet?”

 

“At the meeting with Prime. We anticipated it like you ordered.”

 

Megatron’s plating gave him a pang of disgust, as if it wished to curl up, to break off his metallic inner frame, like a cold shiver crossing him. “Prime.” he muttered, before turning to face his second, “Prime was there.”

 

A statement, not a question. A terrible, terrible statement.

 

Megatron's expression was now lost in thought, pensive, trying to recollect the emptiness of memory. But there was nothing. No image of the day prior appeared in his data files. None. 

 

Soundwave clearly squinted behind the visor, “Yes. Of course he was there. It was a meeting with Prime .” The exasperated and mildly confounded pitch in Soundwave’s voice had Megatron howl at him, insulted, belittled by that clear lack of respect.

 

“Do NOT use that tone with me, Soundwave!” Megatron barked, fist clenched, stalking forward. The sudden surge of rage had been so surprisingly quick that the blue mech had to take a step back, almost releasing both arms resting on his chassis. 

 

“I know it was a meeting with him, but what happened there?” Megatron’s arms shook forward, his tone now betraying him,  “Did he behave oddly ?”

 

“He-- he was normal, the usual fool. You were a bit quiet for your standards, though.” Soundwave added, recovering his lost step and tilting his helm a bit to analyse what he had just seen. “What is this about, Lord Megatron?”

 

Megatron bit his lower lip and placed both hands on his face for a moment, his venting yet again trying to save him from a raging panic attack, ready to happen, but just that motion was enough to dig deep into the soft metal of it. 

 

Soundwave’s lines dropped to static silence. 

 

The terror, the terror was coming. 

It was rising, boiling deep inside. 

 

“Lord Megatron.”

Soundwave called out, but Megatron’s mind was too focused on how to stop hyperventilating in front of his Second-in-command.

 

“Lord Megatron, what’s wrong?”

 

“Nothing!” He shouted as a response, “I’m fine!”, his optic couldn’t seem to focus anymore, meeting a blurry, distant blue and white shape staring at him, deep red visor judging. Looking at him as a failure, as weak, as a coward.

 

Between disgust and fear, he couldn’t stand it anymore. His feet moved away from the frightening, judging shape the blue mech had become, back against the door until it opened behind him, as he fled the room. Soundwave tried to reach out for his leader, but he missed, only grasping air. 

 

Soundwave stood there, promptly opening a com link. There was something sick going on. 

 

:Hot Rod, keep an eye on Prime.:

 

:Hey, not even a good morning?:  

The reply was almost immediate, as the rather cheerful tone of the younger mech came from the other side.

 

:Don’t waste my time. Megatron is acting… oddly.:  

Soundwave announced, lapidary. 

--

Optimus gazed over to the workers he had been lending a hand to for the morning, supervising the construction of a new building that was going to host a branch of the newly founded hospital. Fuel in his hand, he was resting on the bench next to Bumblebee and Grimlock, who were chatting amicably about something he had lost track of a while ago-- too focused on admiring the structure coming together, as if his mind had been roaming to more physical tasks.

 

He had woken up with a slight ache passing through his entire helm, nothing too unfamiliar.

 

Taking a sip out of his energon cube, he coughed it almost all out, as out of the blue, his spark flickered, like a mild nuisance. He reassured the young scout next to him that nothing was wrong, but his immediate reaction to the surge was to scratch the middle of his chassis. 

 

And again, that odd com link with Megatron went online. 

 

: Prime!:

That voice, Megatron's voice, suddenly flurred his audials. 

Megatron was scared. 

Clearly, undoubtedly scared. 

 

:Megatron?:, the Prime rose up from his seated position, making Bumblebee turn his helm once more to stare with curious optics. 

 

:Prime, it's gonna kill me!: the grey mech sounded alarmed. In all of his lifecycle, that was the first time Optimus had ever heard his friend crying out for him like that. The lines on Optimus’ faceplate turned severe just as quickly as the call began and he moved away from the group he was resting with, off to get more privacy, while Bumblebee’s voice called for his mentor, "Optimus?" 

 

:What is?:

Silence. The laboured venting of the other as the only response and Optimus felt the urge to press on with an uncharacteristically harsh voice, :Megatron, what is?:

 

Then the reply came with such defeat, such terror in it, that the energon lines in Optimus' frame froze. 

 

:I don't know!: he heard Megatron shout. 

 

:I don't know.:

 

:Where are you?:, the Prime clenched his fists, :Megatron, where are you? Answer me!: , his voice so oddly commanding fell to flat static. The same pang as before echoed from his spark and the communication dropped into nothingness. 

 

And Immediately, Hot Rod buzzed at his coms.

--

Megatron shook his head. This was so wrong, all of it was! He found himself in his room again, but he didn't know how he had returned there. To add pain to injury, his first instinct had been to call Optimus Prime, which, he thought, was even more absurd. 

 

Was it really so absurd? 

His voice, with a different tone, suggested.

 

"SHUT UP!" he, himself, yelled with full air pumps, crashing both his fists on the berth, the pain vivid in his hands, "SHUT UP!" he repeated. 

 

The excess of such reaction had all his energy escape his frame, and he just slumped over the berth, sliding down, until he ended up on the floor, shaking. 

 

Pathetic. His face hidden under the shadow of it, to hide his body, like a coward. His optics, still unable to focus, were wide and desperately frightened. 

 

And at that time, what leaked from his optics was a different type of energon. Still hot, still vivid in its marine blue, but definitely hurting his pride more than any spill. A sequence of loud, terrified sobs filled the room-- curling down at the feet of the berth, ignoble, disgraceful, wounded. 

 

"Prime…" 

Megatron managed to utter in his dazed state, and he was disgusted again by that. He knew he had always harboured a certain type of fixation with the red and blue mech, memories of him flashing in front of his gaze as if the room was suddenly lit up to show Megatron a movie of how much Prime , how much Optimus had been carved into his spark with flame and fury. With friendship and warmth.

 

Calling him while in actual or even perceived peril… It was ridiculous. Preposterous.

 

But you did call, again and again. Countless times, you called for him. Why?  

 

"Stop…”, his voice came out like a whine, his helm sinking lower into the now flickering light of the room, “Stop asking…", he hated that squirming, desperate self, so weak, so defeated. 

 

Feeling powerless and insane, terrified, begging for help. 

 

Begging for his help. 

 

Those moments alone felt endless, with the images still rushing in the room like flying cards, when the dark mud became rising from the floor, to capture him. 

 

To seize him in place. 

 

From the door, the sound of metal banging against metal, scraped, scorched, it roared from behind his door, monstrous. Someone calling his name. 

 

It was coming. 

 

It was coming. 

 

The enemy, the threat. It was there, and Primus, Megatron was on the verge of ripping his limbs apart out of the sheer horror he felt in his spark, so much so he had to cover his mouth with a hand to avoid throwing up. 

 

His optic was barely able to stay open, and all images mixed in a blur of lights, until the darkness and the noise from the door began inching in, an axe cutting through it with ease. 

 

He was going to die. 

 

He was sure. Megatron was sure that he was going to die in that exact moment. 

 

And it would not be a death as a martyr, as a winner, as a warrior. It would be death as a coward, a pitiful being, curled up under a berth, yelling. Asking for his help, asking him to help, to save him.

His own screams filled his audials, the dark being disrupting the door, moving in. 

 

The voice, his own voice, but the one of a winner. 

 

WHY COULDN'T YOU KILL HIM? 

 

The looming figure was now on him and Megatron was crying, oh Primus, the tears were rolling down his cheeks-- he was terrified. 

 

Please, he thought, please, help me, he shouted. 

 

But the blue hands on his faceplate moved his helm up, his crimson optic shining bright at the sight of such a familiar face. 

 

"Ah… " Megatron wheezed, his hands finally able to move away from his own chassis, almost catching the other mech, as if moving would mean falling into the mud below, "Optimus!" 

 

Optimus' face was clearly torn in worry, his lips moving but nothing Megatron could hear came out. The grey mech moved closer, holding onto the Prime for dear life. 

 

Then, it all went black. 

 

--

Megatron came back to his senses, but he was alone. Completely, utterly alone, besides for his thoughts; or what he believed were his thoughts.

 

He tried moving his knees close to his chassis, frowning, his stare void, dropped towards nowhere in particular. There was no real intent in moving from that position, in the emptiness of his mind-- he felt alright , for once, and the worry of kickstarting another panic attack or something alike was pulling his strings.

 

Are you worthy?

Megatron squeezed his optics in suspicion, tired of these games, as he sleuthed his still pretty bare surroundings.

 

Are you worthy of me?

“Shut up.” , he lamented out loud with no real energy, resting his helm on his knees, “I don’t want to hear it.”

 

Why didn’t you kill him?

Megatron closed his optics, bringing his hands to wrap around his head, “I don’t want to hear it!”, his teeth were tight, “Stop asking me! I don’t care!”

 

“You have to listen.” Optimus’ voice suddenly emerged from the darkness, making Megatron desperately shuffle around to find him, his spark reclaiming the Prime as the only safe beacon, “You have to listen to me!”, the echo got closer.

 

Megatron turned.

 

In front of him, the scene of so many millennia ago, memories that had begun to rust. The two of them, talking-- Megatron, so bold and proud of his incredible ideas of conquest and power, and Optimus still so naive and so indoctrinated by the Senate, the puppet of propaganda. 

 

“Think carefully, old friend.” His self from the memory uttered, a dangerous hint into it, “And if you do not join us, you are against us.” the Megatron pointed towards his nemesis.

 

Optimus spelled out, slowly, much slower than he remembered, “Then, I will not join you.”

 

The other one , the other Megatron charged his fusion cannon and the Megatron watching, the failure, stood up, trying to run towards Optimus. 

 

“OPTIMUS!” he shouted, but he was subjected to the vision, the vision of Prime’s windshield falling into pieces, his friend’s frame, heavy, capitulating to the ground. His pained yells as the other one opened him up and ravaged through him, devastating the corpse, destroying everything that had made Optimus, Optimus-- and the Matrix was brought out from the chosen’s body, its light blinding everything out of sight.

 

“No!” the failure cried out, “I didn’t want that! Why did you make me see it?”, the failure was back on his knees, fingers grasping the mud forming under him. He punched the mud, again, and again, and again, and the tears rolling down his cheeks once more, and the terror warped into agony, loss.

 

“Why did I have to see it?” he breathed in a whisper, curling up, letting the mud to slither over him. 

 

Are you worthy of me?

--

“Come back to me.”

 

Optimus was holding Megatron’s fainted body in his arms, when he came to be. The grey mech blinked a couple of times to signal he was awake, but he couldn't feel much.

 

“Look, Optimus.” Ratchet’s bothered voice came in before Megatron could turn his helm around, “His values are absurd . He should be offline by now, with these energon levels!”

 

The room started to come together, Soundwave and Shadowstriker stood at the end of the berth, “What are you trying to say, medic ?” he heard his Second chime in, with an accusatory tone.

 

“Nothing, I’m just doing my job and saying that these values aren’t for a healthy mech to have.” Ratchet retorted. Hot Rod appeared to Soundwave’s right, “Meaning, you don’t know what’s wrong with him?”, his face turned to Optimus’ side, whose expression Megatron could not see, but the way he was held by his firm arms was comforting, “He’s been kind of weird since you gave him back the other Matrix, hasn’t he?”

 

“I think he’s always been a weird one, but his values have been kind of strange since that, yes.” Ratchet corrected the young speeder, “But these are just… insane.”

 

I don’t want them to see me.

Megatron thought, faintly. His chassis hurt for a moment and then he caught Optimus adjusting closer to him, his hand scratching above the Autobot symbol.

“Please, everyone.” Optimus spoke gravely, “Leave us. I’d like to talk to him alone.”

 

I don’t want you to see me.

The doors slid closed behind the worried mechs.

 

“Why don’t you want me to see you?”

 

Megatron shook in surprise, as he moved his helm up to meet two bright blue Optics and a concerned face.

“I wasn’t…”, his voice faltered, the words stuck in his throat, “I wasn’t speaking-- how…”

Silence fell upon both of them, until Optimus whispered something, like an apology, before caressing Megatron’s chassis, as if he was checking something. The terror, it was subdued again, far away. Present, still, but hidden under Prime’s hand. 

 

It was all calm now.

 

“Megatron.”

The cosy embrace had left the gladiator under a blanket of tiredness, and his processor running on the same energon for two days in a panicked state surely hadn’t helped.

“Has the Matrix been talking to you?”

 

“What?” was the only reply he managed to let out, before his optic went wide and he pushed Optimus away, sitting up with a heavy, sluggish movement. Brows knitted, his spark bright in anger. “The Matrix ?”

 

“Yes. It tries to communicate with the host, sometimes.”

 

“Nonsense!” Megatron clenched his fists, “It’s been damn quiet for a long, long while-- why would it start now, barging into what it’s clearly not its business?”

“Technically, it is its business.” Optimus pointed out, rising to his full height, just to meet the very familiar and angered face of his friend’s faceplate, shouting “Shut up!”

 

“You have to listen to it.”, the Prime placed a kind hand on the grey mech’s shoulder, making Megatron’s spinal strut shiver with warmth, “What is it telling you?”

 

“I don’t listen to you, why would I listen to a magic glow ball in my chest?” he said, with no actual spite in it, just-- uncertainty. He looked down, his hands relaxed on his lap, his expression a mix of confusion and concern.

“Give it a chance.” Optimus sighed and tightened his grip on the other’s shoulder, almost like a massage, “The Matrix can give life, immense knowledge and power, but it can also take what it has given. I don’t want it to take you away.”

Megatron looked back to those blue optics waiting for his response and the same warmth he felt running through his spine had now moved to his whole faceplate. His frown deepened, turning back to stare at his hands, closed into fists.

 

“It…” he stumbled, biting his lower lip in the strenuous attempt at sharing such weakness, “It keeps asking me things I don’t know the answer to.”

 

“Is it that or maybe you don’t want to answer them?” Optimus was leaning on the berth in a rather smug pose for him to have, Megatron noticed. And Megatron was not going to have that kind of mockery on him, when he was having a hard time pouring his spark out to him. 

 

“See, this is why I don’t want to talk to you about these things!” he crossed his arms, and Optimus quickly quirked his brows up in immediate regret, “Sorry,” he crouched a little lower to catch the clearly embarrassed red optic of his friend, “I just wanted to push you a little bit. You are very stubborn.”

 

Megatron huffed, turning his helm a little more just to make Optimus crouch further to catch him. 

 

He’s making fun of me, of course! Megatron frowned, You fool of a Prime.

The ache in his chassis acted up again, making him squint-- and Optimus instinctively brought a hand over his windshields, curling his nose up for a moment.

“I’m not making fun of… you…”, they both shared a mesmerised look, before the Prime moved his other hand on Megatron’s chassis, again.

“Hey!” he yelped, demanding Optimus some sense of personal space, but the grey mech was greeted with Prime making the face of someone trying to translate a foreign language. 

 

“They’re communicating.”

The statement sounded so surreal and yet, quite plausible. Afterall, that Matrix in Megatron’s chest was the same Matrix Optimus was hosting in his frame, except it wasn’t really the same exact one.

 

“Since everyone’s clearly into this little scheme except me, can’t you tell it to leave me alone?” Megatron suggested with a mellow voice, before looking down at where the hand shaped scar was, touching it with the tip of his fingers. 

“You’re the one who’s good with words.” Optimus seemed to choose carefully what to say, sliding one hand down the other’s arm with the intimacy that only familiarity could concede, “You should tell The Matrix yourself.”

 

Megatron’s faceplate felt hot again, his gaze now fixed on Prime’s hand. “I think I’ll rest, now.”, his voice came out with the pitch of an order, but the execution had him fumble on his words.

 

“Of course.” Optimus nodded, “If you need me, well…” he seemed to turn as awkward as Megatron had been for the whole time during that talk, “I was going to say ‘call me’, but now I can say, ‘think me’, too?”

 

Megatron hunched down, his expression of pure disappointment for that terrible, terrible last sentence, as he curled up his brows. “Primus, get out before I punch your stupid face.”

Optimus gave out a nervous chuckle, stepping towards the door, “Look, I did tell you you’re the one who’s good with words, didn’t I?”

 

And he was out.

 

Megatron, alone again, but instead of terror bubbling under his plating, there was warmth radiating from within. His head felt heavy with tiredness, and he laid down, curling up to the side, looking at an unspecified part of the wall in front of him. The peace Optimus’ presence had brought to his spark was almost vilifying, and it surely was embarrassing. It was like scraping back ancient memories of days with laughters and talks, nights of drinking  and recharging together-- those, Megatron had come to miss, all of them, all in a moment, in a wave of pure longing.

 

Then, a familiar thug to his processor and darkness covered him.

--

Why couldn’t you be me?

 

Megatron stared at the other one, still towering over him-- he, the failure, head deep into the mud. But his determined frown was not the look full of horror he had held before.

 

Why?

 

The voice echoed into the emptiness, until he recollected his strength and shouted,

“Because I didn’t kill Optimus Prime!”, a dark, muddy wave pushed him under, but he resiliently resurfaced.

 

Why didn’t you kill him?

“Because--” Megatron felt the warmth rise up in his body, and he had to admit that, actually, the bravest thing he could do in that moment was to share what he had felt for so long and kept well hidden in a part of his brain module. 

 

“Because I loved him!” he shouted, pointing a finger to that ugly bastard of himself, but a different one. The looming dark Megatron kept silent, motionless, while a storm was roaring in the sea of dirt extending before his optics.

 

“Because I love him, and you fool--” 

A wave. 

 

“--Never!”

Another wave, the dense waste was making it hard to speak. 

“--Truly did!”

 

And Megatron looked into a light he had never witnessed before, so safe, so kind and reassuring that he wept, he wept trying to cover his faceplate from it. The mud holding him down had vanished into thin air, leaving him to float, weightless, in a space that slowly turned into a deep, calming blue.

 

You are not the one I chose.

 

His voice, but with a different tone, said, solemn, and Megatron couldn’t help but to stare at the light, the aura surrounding him.

 

Yet, I saw something worthy in you. 

 

And for now, I will be at peace.

--

Megatron woke up, alone again, but this time he was still in the berth he had previously fallen asleep in. His frame was still a bit tense, but he felt fully rested, as he rolled in the berth to assess that was reality and not a Matrix created illusion.

 

Then, he sat up.

 

“I love him.”, his lips moved in disbelief, optics staring down on the berth. 

 

Hiding such a feeling had been the work of a lifetime, carefully blocking every moment that could have led up to such realisation, to such honesty . For years and years, eons and eons, Megatron had deliberately stowed away his own emotions, so that they couldn’t be a nuisance to the Decepticon cause. 

 

But Megatron was also a damn fool himself, seeing how his love for Optimus had been the most prominent nuisance for the Decepticon cause.

 

There was nobody in the room, but the mech suddenly felt both stupid and flustered by that.

 

Megatron?

Optimus’ voice echoed in his helm and, oddly enough, that didn’t trigger any unpleasant emotions, no anger, nor harshness towards him-- just, longing.

 

“Were you listening to my thoughts ?”

I can’t do that. I just tried to call for you.

 

“I know you’re standing outside. I feel it.”, Megatron smiled at how persistent that mech was, when he looked up towards the door, “Come in, before I change my mind.”

The Prime walked in, imposing as always, but with a little, worried frown on his faceplate, inching closer to the berth.

 

“How… how are you feeling?”, Optimus asked, while sitting on the edge of the berth, clearly studying his friend. “I’m fine.” Megatron replied bluntly, meeting those blue eyes.

 

Actually fine.”, he repeated, before touching his broken optic with a thoughtful expression, “I realised it would be stupid not to change this, uh.”

 

“I mean, I wasn’t going to put it in those terms, but…” Optimus attempted humour and Megatron shook his helm, with a faint smile appearing on his mouth, “Look, I know I’m dense, you don’t have to pretend.”

 

The red and blue mech’s smile grew a little wider and scooted closer. The warmth radiating from Optimus’ frame was as reassuring as the one he felt coming from the Matrix, but that was all Optimus’. All his.

 

“Did you make peace with the Matrix?”

 

“You make it sound like I had any choice but to make peace with it.”

 

“But did you?”

 

Megatron fell silent, understanding how that conversation, so old and scooped up from the dirt of his processor, was needed to be had. His mind now set on it, for how uncomfortable it could make Megatron feel.

He should also stop being so incommensurably stubborn, he noted to himself with much regret. 

“I did.”

 

“And?”, Optimus was clearly trying to give him space, but prying every single word out of the most notoriously loud leader was a task that was stinging him.

 

“I love you.”

 

Primus help that long glossa of his, as Megatron immediately regretted saying that, out loud, without a plan. Just  throwing himself into a pit would have been more calculated than that mishap. Perhaps, that was just how he should have been-- acting straightforward had always been a quality of his, after all. And yet, Optimus had been wide-eyed, mouth-sealed for at least a full minute and that was making Megatron less and less keen on listening to the warm sensation and his feelings.

 

Then, Prime’s face mask snapped close.

 

Megatron’s first thought was Optimus’ battle face. For a moment, Megatron had been ready to fight the mech he had just confessed to. And then, he noticed those blue optics avoiding his look, as if they were trying to recollect his thoughts, with clenched fists and finials lowered.

 

Optimus Prime was fully embarrassed, right there, right in front of him. That vulnerable expression reminded Megatron the last time he had the pleasure to see it, so long lost in his memories.

 

“You don’t have to reply.”, Megatron added, with Optimus’ gaze immediately back to stare at him, “I just had to tell you, for my sanity.”, a little, disappointed smile crossed his faceplate. He thought, how could Prime harbour the same feelings, now?

 

He did once, maybe.

But now? It was debatable. He shouldn’t have been disappointed, the meager consolation was that, at least, he was at peace with himself. His frame was ready to lay down and go back into recharge, for maybe a couple of days, at least. Just sinking into the nothingness once again and maybe disappear for a little while.

 

“I love you, too.”

 

Megatron shot his red optic to the now bared faceplate of the mech sitting awkwardly in front of him. Frowning, the same expression he wore whenever someone had disrespected him.

 

“You do?”, he spat out, incredule, moving on the berth to find himself closer to Optimus, close enough that the other mech had to avert his eyes again. 

 

They could feel each other’s ventings.

 

“You do.” Megatron said, again, as to confirm it and seal it in metal-- but his frame was treacherous, making him flush up, with cheeks glowing of marine blue. His frown deepened when Optimus tentatively placed a hand on Megatron’s shoulder and cleared his vocalizer. 

 

“I’ve always loved you.”, Optimus’ faceplate was now slightly flushed just the same, but a sombre expression quieted the embarrassment, “Except I thought our flame had long been extinguished.”

 

“This is why you’re a fool.”

Megatron couldn’t stop his hands from reaching out and catch that saddened faceplate, staring directly into the Matrix blue optics so dear to him.

“And don’t make me repeat it.”

 

He moved in to press his lips on the Prime’s, a desire so long hidden, so long ignored, blooming out as Optimus’ arms embraced Megatron’s frame.

 

You are not the one I chose.

 

However, you will help carry the weight.