When Swerve found him, it had been by complete chance, a one-off late night wander about the ship that was meant to be a trip to a storage room to drink himself silly and forget his life's woes for a while in a haze of overcharge and his own misery.
He had the cube out- something cheap, sweet and home-brewed- when he realized he wasn't alone. He let out the briefest undignified squawk before he could help himself and he froze in place as a mass shifted in the dark room. Very suddenly, he found himself face to face with another mech.
It took him an astrosecond, but he realized it wasn't just any mech. Of all the mecha he could've stumbled upon on a night where he was low, it had been Optimus Prime himself that he had come across.
It was Optimus Prime and he looked....Upset? His helm had been in his hands. His optics looked weary and... and Oh Primus he was looking right at Swerve. He was looking right at him and looked suspicious and Swerve's mouth ran right away without his brain module behind it.
"Ah... Uh.. Are you okay?" The suspicion turned to confusion but Swerve's mouth kept going, and he padded closer, offering the highgrade he had gotten for himself. "Because you don't seem okay... I Uh... If you want to talk about it, or just talk in general! But...It can be pretty hard to live here you know, sooo.. yeah..."
Optimus' gaze softened and after a moment of deliberation, he took the offered cube. Swerve's mouth clicked shut, and left his arm awkwardly hanging in place for a moment, watching as Optimus' battle mask retracted back with a soft click. He took a small sip of the cube, and stared down into it for a moment.
"Thank you Swerve." His voice was that same tone he used talking to anyone; softened for their close quarters, and for a moment Swerve thought he had assessed wrongly. "But I do not wish to burden you with the frivolity of my issues of confidence and failings." Optimus might've thought that would drive Swerve off, might've thought that like many a bot, the threat of a Prime's issues would send them running to the figurative hills. But Swerve- the stocky little minibot's expression shifted into a sad little smile. He made his way to him with halting, half-sure steps... that surely made their way to Optimus' side.
Swerve hauled himself up onto the crate where Optimus sat, his pedes didn't reach the ground, where Optimus' knees bent high on his perch. He left a respectable distance between them, where even their EM fields wouldn't mesh without intent behind it. "You know, my nickname in my academy days was 'Shut the hell up.'" It's said with such casual regard that Optimus couldn't help but look at him dubiously, unsure of where he would go with this line of thought.
And then, he opened himself. In a quiet tone- friendly and personable, like how he spoke to his customers- he spoke about himself.
He spoke about himself and Optimus could feel his spark constricting in its chamber. In that quieter version of his personable voice- a now very obviously fake brightness to overlay the slag- he recounted an abridged version of his life.
Partway through, Optimus realized what he was up to.
It was the start of an exchange. It was the start of a possible exchange, and this little Autobot that Optimus knew only by name and quick-talking reputation was opening up to him. Trying, in a roundabout way, to help him.
Swerve's body language said more than his actual tone did, as he regaled Optimus with event after event that had him flat on his tires, so to speak. While his tone remained carefree, light, personable, His shoulders had him just hunched in on himself just that little bit. His digits laced together and apart over and over in a fidgety pattern, and his legs swung below his knees just a bit in that same pattern. His gaze remained locked to some spot on the floor in front of them.
The minibot was uncomfortable and had probably come in to do the same thing that Optimus was, and instead he found a bot in need and was trying to help out.
The gesture warmed Optimus' spark, and he took another sip of the potent highgrade. For a bot his size, finishing it would be easy, and produce a pleasant overcharge. A bot Swerve's size though... A small worry wormed into Optimus' processor, and he realized how he could help in turn.
When Swerve finished, he put on a bland fake smile and turned his gaze towards Prime's general direction, though he couldn't look at him directly. "So you see, OP, we a-"
"Communing with the matrix was very unpleasant.... It hurt." He cut him off ever so gently with that closely held fact. Swerve's words cut off, he gaped up at him with his visor bright. Optimus felt a touch of trepidation, and wondered for a moment if it was the wrong thing to say, if he had just perhaps should have just accepted the comforting roll as was expected of him. ".... That was the first time I felt like I had failed, and I had just become Prime."
When he has learned Rodimus' ecstatic communion with the relic, his mood had instantly plummeted, but he schooled himself into that practiced roll of the wartime politician, and schooled himself though to when he could be by himself and digest the bad feelings. It was an old hurt made new, and the raw feeling of being Orion Pax freshly made Prime fell back on his shoulders in full force.
He brought himself back to the present in full, and spoke again. "Life was a lot simpler being Orion Pax the enforcer, the soldier. I felt right leading my station. I could lead a squad. But a whole people?" He paused in his musing when the sensation of a small hand rested on his arm.
"I might be a bit biased, Prime, but I thought you did pretty well." If the room had been illuminated, Swerve's Autobrand would be bright and shiny visible against his pelvic armor with the way he had changed positions to listen to him. Optimus cycled his optics at him in a slow blink, and after a silent microklik he let out a few soft chuckles.
"Yes, I suppose you would be." Swerve beamed at him in turn.
Optimus felt just a bit of the planetoid-sized weight lift from his shoulders. He decided that this wasn't such a bad idea after all.