There are times when I wish that I had a great and epic story to tell. That the answer of “There’s not much to tell” was a lie and that I was hiding a deep and richly storied past. Sadly some of us were sparked to be cogs in the greater machine. We are created. We do our assigned tasks. We rejoin the Matrix when our sparks extinguish. And between creation and destruction we travel along our designated routes.
The funny thing is I should have more of a story. After all, I've been nearly everywhere in this vast universe and I've seen nearly everything, but when I come home and my fellows ask me where I was and what I saw … Somehow a brand new planet, life forms developing sentience for the first time, even the birth of a star all seems to be very boring when the listener wants to hear about epic space battles and narrow escapes.
That’s the problem with being one of the smallest of the small, isn't it? Even the enemy never notices you. There are no grand adventures. Not really. And the few stories I do have, well I've told them all before and I can see optics glaze over when I start to talk about that one time I crashed behind enemy lines.
“So?” Bumblebee asks, drawing me out of my depressive musings. “Can you tell me what happened while you were out there, Cosmos? Or is it above my pay grade?”
I can feel my optics cycle in a blink as I look at him. This isn't the response I'm used to from my fellow Autobots. I run all the possible meanings of the request through my processor and try desperately to find the trick before I fall into what’s either a trap or, more likely, a well-meaning yet insincere conversation-starter. In the end the fact that I know Bumblebee and he’s never been anything but kind to me wins out.
“I saw a star being born,” I say in a low voice. I don’t expect a response. As kind as he’s been, he isn't likely to be interested in something like that.
“Really?” Bumblebee replies in a whisper that’s both awed and conspiratorial. He leans in close and looks me in the optics. “Did you get pictures? Or video? Because I was thinking that maybe we could get together for some fuel later or something and you could tell me all about it?”
From anyone else the line would be sarcastic and cruel, but from Bumblebee ... I'm surprised to find myself believing that he’s in earnest and that he really is interested.
“I, uhm, I wouldn't want to bore you,” I stammer. On one hand I'm cursing at myself for not jumping at this offer, and yet on the other I know deep down how this will end. Boredom and glazed optics and slowly but surely I will never see this mech again.
A smile, a large, genuine smile pulls at Bumblebee’s lips and he reaches out to cup my cheek gently. He’s always tactile with everyone so I try desperately not to read too much into the gesture and fight to avoid leaning into the touch. After all, it doesn't mean anything.
“If I thought it would bore me I wouldn't have asked,” he says kindly. “I want to hear about all the places you've been. It’s all just so exotic.” He says this last with a small shrug and a grin.
For a long moment I'm completely speechless. Then I finally nod; I don’t trust myself to speak.
Bumblebee’s smile widens and somehow manages to become even more brilliant, completely and genuinely pleased.
“Great! I should be out of my debrief in two joor. I’ll meet you at the commissary and we can go from there!”
And then before I can say or do anything he leans in and places a soft, chaste kiss to my mask right over where my mouth would be had it been uncovered. I am so shocked that I almost miss the blush rising in his optics before he turns away and heads down the hall, humming happily to himself.
And I’m left in the hall with my fingers over where his lips had just been trying desperately to process what just happened. He wants to hear my stories. He’s actually interested in learning about me.
Beneath my mask my face is aching I'm smiling so very wide.