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~Author's note : This short little scene was written with the kind permission of T L Arens. It takes place in the time between T L Arens' Silent Scream and Dark Storm Rising epic. As always, all Transformer character copyrights belong to Hasbro and it's affiliates.~

The night dragged on like molasses in winter. Rusti tossed and turned for what seemed like hours. As worn out as she was, sleep remained elusive. Her mind stirred restless, invaded by fragments of thoughts and images that were not her own.

The nightmarish visions of devastation and pain railed in her head, and she could stand it no longer. She sat up in her bed, throwing off the covers as she swung her legs down over the edge. For a moment she sat there in the darkness, bent over with her head in her hands. "Max", she called quietly. "Night-light please." Instantly a dim, warm glow lighted near her bed. "What time is it?"

"It is 1:37 am."

She sighed in weariness. What was going on here!? She could not recall ever having dreams or visions like this in a normal, conscious state of mind. She was awake, wasn't she? Rusti actually pondered that thought a moment until she realized just how tired she really felt.. yep.. she was definitely still awake. So why couldn't she stop this? Only one answer made any sense at all.

Instinctivly she Reached for him only to be repulsed by the nightmare itself. {{Optimus}} , she Called softly. She sensed confusion, but received no real response from him. Now she began to worry.

Almost without thinking, she darted out of bed and swept on her robe. But as she pulled on a pair of socks, she stopped cold. "Max?"


"Is Optimus sleeping?"

"Yes Rusti, Optimus is currently in recharge."

Discouraged, she slumped back down on her bed. What the heck did she think she was doing?! Who was *She* to think she could barge in and disturb him just because *She* couldn't sleep. She flopped back on her pillow. It's going to be a long night, she thought grimly.

Rusti turned and lay on her back, staring toward the darkened ceiling high above. The unwelcome visions continued to invade her mind, despite her attempts to shut them out. The fragments of emotion began to reach into her own soul, rage, guilt and crushing sorrow. Her heart ached for him, and she wondered what tragedy he must have suffered to bring about such intense emotion. Instinct begged her to get up and go to him. But she fought it off thinking she could really do nothing for him. Until, she remembered how she would wake from her own nightmares to find him there beside her, offering comfort that only he could give. Somehow, he always knew..

That settled it. Rusti complied to the prodding of her heart, sliding out of bed and into the darkened hallway. Her stocking feet made no sound as she scurried her way through the huge corridors. To her relief she encountered no one, only distant voices and sounds of a living city.

Rusti gently pressed her hands against the cool, smooth metal of the doors to Prime's own quarters. And she suddenly realized she had never actually been inside this place. His office was like a second home to her, but he never brought her here. Her insides knotted with anxiousness . Would he be upset if he knew she was here? She turned to walk away but found she couldn't leave, not now.

She decided it didn't matter, he needed her. And that was more important than . . anything.

She held her breath, trying to calm her pounding heart. "Max", she could barely even whisper. "Doors please". Her voice seemed so tiny she wondered briefly if Max heard her. But the doors immediately slid apart without a sound.
The coolness of his quarters drifted over her as she carefully stepped through the doors. She never even heard them close behind her.

Rusti's eyes strained in the darkness. The only light in the room filtered in from the city lights outside his rain streaked window. She soon recognized the outline of Prime's form laid out on his flat at the far side of the room. Lightening flashed in silence, revealing harsh glimpses of the world around her. The sight sent a chill through her soul. She didn't like the way he looked, his upper body draped in the cold, rippling light of the window. He almost looked- dead.

She could not bear the sight any longer. Silently she moved across the floor. She approached the flat and noticed she could hear him breathing, slow and labored. Though relieved, it struck her as odd. They didn't need to breath during recharge- under normal circumstances. But Optimus was far from normal.

Rusti gazed up toward the flat, over 15 ft. above her, and groaned within. Now what.. she thought dismally.She searched the darkness around her until she caught sight of three faint, green-LCD lights near the head of the flat . The monitoring console, she assumed. As she came close enough to see it more clearly, she noticed that it had an uneven, staggered construction. She smiled slightly to herself and began her climb. For an instant she felt like scolding herself for trying to pull such a childish stunt. She quickly banished the thought, mischief had nothing to do with it.

Very slowly she inched her way up the side of the console, taking great care not to disturb any of it's functions. Within a few minutes she reached the level of the flat and cautiously maneuvered onto it's surface. Should have worn her suit, she mused darkly. At least then if she fell, she would only be in trouble -and not dead. Well, too late for-

Movment startled her and she turned to see Prime slowly shaking his head. His right hand flexed and then clenched into a fist. Rusti caught her breath,fearing she may have woke him. Then she saw his optics, narrowed and dark. He was not awake. Not even close.

Rusti sighed inwardly. Her mind settled somewhat now that she was near him. Though the torment of his remained.

The upper portion of the flat set at an incline which made moving along it's edge a bit tricky. But Rusti's mind focused solely on him, her body moving on instinct. In one smooth motion she slid over his hand as lightly as she could. She took one step and gently pulled herself up onto his grill and chest area. It was a beautifully familiar place, where he held and carried her so many times. There she lay on the warm metal surface, her legs drawn up and nestled against his lower chestplate. She lay her head and upper body along the midline of his chestplates. For a long moment she simply listened to the delicate sounds of his inner workings.

Cautiously she Reached out to Touch him, and she found herself faced with terrible anger, sadness and an agonizing sense of betrayal. The intensity of his emotion reached far beyond what she could handle, and she dare not let herself be pulled into it. Refusing to mentally abandon him, she remained at the edges of his mind.

{{I'm here.. }} Her Whisper emanated more as a Touch than spoken words. {{ you're not alone anymore..}}

Slowly her distant Touch filtered into the currents of rage and sadness. Optimus felt that gentle Presence, like the most tender kiss upon a painful wound. He reached out to it, focusing on her rather than the nightmare. Drawing himself to her, he slowly left the nightmare behind.

Her eyes closed, Rusti didn't see his optics light dimly. Nor did she see him slowly lift his head to gaze at her. He sighed, long and heavy as he lay his head back down. Rusti's eyes snapped open, worried of how he would react to her sneaking into his quarters uninvited.

"I'm sorry Optimus" she quietly offered, "I didn't mean to wake you."

He said nothing. Rusti wondered if he might still be dreaming. She lay her head back down on his chest.

".. I.. should have known.. Rusti", he slowly stated. His voice resinated soft and deep through Rusti's body as she lay against him, and she smiled in the pleasure of it.

".. should.. have stopped it.." he quietly added. His words trembled with emotional overload and Rusti realized he spoke of the events in the nightmare. Her smile faded. "'S ok.." she soothed, hugging her arms against his center chestplate, "'s over now." His optics darkened, as the simple gesture sent a calming warmth through his body and soul.

"Maybe" he sighed,"for now.."

Rusti hugged him once more and moved to sit up , "And you should rest-"

"No.. don't-" He paused as if ashamed of his response. "Don't go.." he added softly.
His gentle plea took her little by surprise, and for a moment she felt unsure of what to say. He sensed her uncertainty and Surrounded her with tender warmth. "You won't be in trouble, I promise."

{{ Please stay.. }}

She smiled again and slowly laid back down, so very glad he didn't want her to leave. Sleep beckoned her as Optimus Embraced her soul, surrounding her in currents of immense gratitude, love, and fleeting traces of something she did not fully understand. But she could not think about it for long, sleep gently enticed her and she was far too comfortable to resist it. The last thing Rusti felt was the warmth of his hand as it settled over her.

Optimus brought his hand up and covered the Treasure that lay contentedly on his chest. Something flashed through his soul, and he caught his breath. It lasted only a moment, the spark of a desire that had died a lifetime ago. In that brief moment, the longing to take Rusti in.. into himself, to draw her deep into the very core of his being, it nearly overwhelmed him. The desire to open his soul to her ached, almost physically, within him and it left him feeling disturbingly vulnerable. He quickly buried the unrealistic- impossible.. dream as deeply as he could, and chose to concentrate on reality.

He had a little more than two hours before he would have to take her back to her room and return to his work. Two blessed hours of quiet to spend with the one he loved more than life itself. The fact that she slept made no difference to him. She was here. He knew that contact like this between them to be a rare and cherished thing. He felt the warmth of that contact all over, like a gentle summer rain.

His body relaxed almost to the point of slipping back into sleep. But he refused to yield to it. Instead he lay awake, sensing her every breath and heartbeat. His mind Embraced her and mentally kissed her.

{{.. I love you, Rusti.}} he Whispered,

{{.. more than you may ever know.}} In that instant, he decided that he would let nothing- not even sleep- rob him of these precious, fleeting moments.. not one.