They merged for the first time a few days later, and to both of them, it was like coming home. They found acceptance, love, and understanding in each other's spark. They saw a future togethe. Children, perhaps. Someday, a retirement from politics. Perhaps that someday might even be 'soon'. They saw the rest of their lives intertwined together. It was a compelling vision of a future that neither had dared dream of alone, but together, they both knew they could make it happen.
They bonded then and there, tying their sparks together on a quantum level forevermore.
Perhaps they should not have acted so rashly, but both agreed they needed and wanted each other.
Ratchet woke the following morning to the awareness that he was not alone, and that he was deeply loved. He'd spent a lifetime being respected for his work, but rarely getting close to anyone. It was a revelation. Optimus woke to the awareness that he no longer needed to shoulder the burdens of leadership by himself, and that someone loved him for himself and not for what he represented.
"I'm going," Ratchet said. He stood in the middle of Optimus's office.
"No," Optimus said, as he rose from his seat at his desk. "I need you here on Earth."
"First Aid's competent enough." Ratchet folded his arms across his chest and glared up at his lover across the desk's wide expanse. Lover. Bondmate. He still hadn't gotten used to that, three days after the night that had changed everything in his life. He was also determined to fight to keep that relationship. The thought of trusting Optimus's care to one of the other medics terrified him. He was the best, he damn well knew it, and he'd never forgive himself if something happened to Optimus because he wasn't there.
"I don't need you in the med bay so much as I need you keeping an eye on the politics." Optimus frowned back down at Ratchet.
"Starscream's going with you, and Soundwave's about as apolitical as they come. Prowl can handle the Autobot side of things." Ratchet wasn't swayed. "The politics will keep until you come back."
Optimus quirked a corner of his mouth up in an amused smile. Very few people were honored with that expression. He saved it for his closest friends. "Very well."
"And furthermore, you need a qualified field medic with you, and ..." He stopped arguing, realizing Optimus was conceding.
Optimus felt wryly amused. He said, over the bond, ~I agree. We do need a field medic. I didn't want you to come because I wanted to protect you, but I must consider the bigger picture. You are the most qualified field medic we have, and we will have multiple high ranking officers on this mission. I would prefer not to lose anyone.~
~Yeah.~ He sighed. Their numbers as a people were so low -- by some estimates, only a few thousand Cybertronians remained alive in the whole universe-- that they had to send their command staff on missions like this. Both Starscream and Jazz were utterly critical to the peace process, but they were going. So was Optimus, and losing Optimus didn't bear thinking about. It was why he wanted to go; Optimus was his first concern, but he was worried about the whole damn mess.
Optimus stepped around the desk and pulled him into a hug. ~Ratchet, I love you.~
~Love you, big guy.~ It was a hollow victory. He didn't want Optimus going at all. He had a sick feeling about this mission. But what could he do? Absolutely nothing, except go along and try to pick up the pieces after the damage was done.