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I and My Annabel Lee

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'Dear Megatron; if you're reading this, or listening, or - or whatever, then I've either finally become ballsy enough to slip this datapad under your door or I'm dead. Or dying. Or both. You never really know with all the weird shit that happens on this ship.'

It had been an accident. An easily preventable accident. Ultra Magnus had dissuaded him against taking you with him to the newest planet they'd come across from the start. Hospitable to your fragile, delicate human self, it was remarkably Earth-like - temperate climate, luscious in both flora and fauna, rich with vastly differentiating terrains and ecosystems. It'd been a perfect place to stretch your legs outside of the ship - or so you and subsequently Rodimus had reasoned with him. The Lost Light, while most definitely suitable to fulfill your necessities for large spaces and clean, filtered oxygen, it lacked...well, organic things. You and Drift had brought up the idea of constructing a botanical garden in one of the many unused rooms on-ship, and, with Rodimus' wholehearted approval, had sent a small landing party consisting primarily of scientists to gather lots of samples and plants so you could have a little haven of familiarity and the other 'Bots could have a place of solitude, should they be both accustomed and not averse to organic life.

It had started off as a lovely excursion, both beneficial to yours and his health as well as educational. You'd begun prattling on about botanical structures and developmental behaviors the second you'd set foot in the grass, grasping at its silky pink blades and proceeding to defer to your past profession. It was taller than you by a good few inches, but that did not deter you as you began to trek through it studiously, grasping at strands of it and kneeling to squint at the little black flowers growing beneath. Megatron had watched with complete rapture as the previously unknown wealth of knowledge you possessed resuscitated itself in the form of your lecture, partially directed towards him and the others but for the most part just blossoming forth in a rush of rekindling fire. You and Perceptor had gotten into a debate on the adaptive capabilities of such evidently frail plant life, given that the two suns in this planetary system were in their latter years and expelled much toxic radiation that should have wiped out any life within their reach - though with their initial, precursory scans it proved to be thankfully nonlethal to humans and Cybertronians. The chemical compositions within the local flora, however, seemed to act as a natural antibody and simply absorbed the radiation like a sponge.

You'd seemed to get caught up in your own head and train of thought very quickly, however, and soon were marching through the grass like a bloodhound tracking a fresh scent. Megatron had cast a faintly amused glance at the others, telling them that he would round you up after a while so all of you could rendezvous at the drop-sight again for pickup, before ambling leisurely after you. You were so small, your strides so comparatively little to his that he could easily keep up with you even if you sprinted - which you almost were. He'd heard you mutter under your breath about all the flowers being emergent from the same vine, and you had already dedicated yourself to discovering the source. So, listening to you ramble and enjoying the warmth of the twin suns on his outer plating, as well as taking in the soothingly sweet scent in the air, he had strolled alongside you, making sure to cast a glance towards the rustling grass that indicated your movement every so often so he wouldn't lose track of you. That last thing he'd needed was to fail the simple babysitting job both he and Rodimus had volunteered him for.

It wasn't babysitting, though - not really. Not when you were most definitely not a child, in regards to your age or your maturity. Rather, Megatron found that he quite liked your company, for more reasons than one.

'I'm sure you're wondering what the hell this annoying little fleshy could have to say to you. Well, let me enlighten you...'

Upon first meeting him, you had not reacted as many had before - especially not as most humans had. You'd regarded him with a carefully neutral gaze, obviously resulting due either to his reputation preceding him or a forewarning from one of the other crewmembers of the Lost Light. Or all of them. That was very possible, and upon taking into account your organic fragility and how protective the dysfunctional excuse for a crew were over your well-being, it would not surprise him one bit.

However, what had surprised him - what had immediately set you apart from the others - was that after five seconds of holding his gaze, of staring straight into his spark through his optics (or so it had felt, invasive and uncomfortable and surprisingly welcome as it had been), you had smiled at him. At him, Megatron, bringer of death and chaos and destruction. You had smiled and held out a tiny, doll-like and delicate hand for him to take or touch or do something with. And he'd stood there, dumbfounded and shocked into silence, for what had felt like a millennia before his processor had scrabbled for enough power to remind him of the horribly embarrassing gawk that he'd had on his faceplate. He'd closed his intake with a click of his dentae, feeling his frame heat up as he restarted his vocal synthesizer and awkwardly held out his own servo. Your smile had widened then, an absolute beam of light in his vision, before chuckling to yourself and taking the end of his index digit in your soft, warm palm. You'd bobbed it once, twice, then had let go and had told him your name and how you would rather be called.

He'd nodded, dumbly, his base cognitive functions still struggling to reboot as he'd managed, "A pleasure."

'I understand that our first meeting may have seemed common to most - which, probably, it is, but that's not the point...ugh, no. That's...that's not...delete. No, don't 'delete all', just - urgh, nevermind. What I'm trying to say is that I...I really appreciate getting the chance to meet you. I...I hope you...feel the same wa...oh my god, no, that's stupid. That's even worse. Let me just start this over...'

After that, things seemed to have only improved. You spoke to him in passing while you ran errands for the 'Bots, sparked conversations when you and he both had the time, and he'd soon discovered that he looked forward to getting to talk to you. You were new, interesting, a breath of fresh air - you didn't look at him as though you were expecting him to lash out at any moment, or remain tense and rigid and ready to flee or fight until he walked away. You treated him like an actual person - like a fellow human being, some could say - and it had simultaneously touched and encouraged him that someone believed in him. Someone saw something in him that wasn't greed or bitterness or desire for power, and it had felt good. So, with newfound feelings that he hadn't felt in centuries - hope, eagerness, self-love - he hadn't anywhere else to channel it but into his poetry.

The words had flowed easily, fluid and light like water as his digits had clacked insistently at the keyboard of his private computer terminal. His very spark had been sown into those words, knitted and seamless and perfect. Sonnets and free-verses and several other different types of poetry had been birthed over the course of those nights, about the stars or the ship or even the high grade he'd ordered from Swerve's. Everything was so new and beautiful and alive, and he hadn't, at first, known the cause of it. He'd pondered upon it, upon his new enlightenment and invigoration to live incessantly for two days more, still churning out poem after poem and saving them both to his backup drives and his own personal files.

The night of the second day of his introspection, the fifth day of his newfound inspiration, he'd mindlessly begun typing up yet another new poem - a sonnet, more specifically. It took him a good while and a couple of rereads to realize that his subconscious had conjured a rather lovely rendition of you and how he regarded you. And it had only been when you'd dropped by his habsuite that very evening, the chime on his door going off the moment he'd realized that you were the object of the sonnet, that he had become conscious of the fact that you of all people were the one to have made him feel this way. He hadn't told you, though - oh, no, he couldn't inform you of the drastic change you'd made in him, or that he had started writing poems about you (many more than just that sonnet, he'd realized, after having reread them all). He didn't know how you'd react, if you would think him strange or too forthcoming, so he kept his quiet revelation to himself. He'd accepted that fact despite the initial shock it invoked in him, and was quite content to further interact with his new muse.

His drastic change of mood was not lost on the other crewmembers. Even Ultra Magnus had noticed the shift in Megatron's usual grim demeanor. Rodimus, however, was the first one to comment upon it (though that was of little surprise). Rung had walked onto the bridge one morning, carrying quite the sizable stack of holopads (they concealed the entirety of his helm, and he still had yet managed to bring them to the bridge without incident) and struggling rather noticeably. Megatron had seen this and had quickly moved over to the smaller mech, offering his assistance in the form of scooping them all out of the psychiatrist's servos. Rung had blinked up at him from behind his goggles, shocked, but Megatron had simply delivered them to their intended destination. Rung had thanked him sincerely, had begun to tell him that it hadn't been necessary, but Megatron had rebutted him gently and had assured him that it was of no problem. Rung had left, bemused but smiling, as though pleasantly surprised.

Rodimus, of course, had noticed the entire interaction.

"You seem rather...chipper today, Megs," he said, when the large gray mech had returned to the captain's chair.

Megatron raised an optical ridge. "What?"

Rodimus jerked his helm towards the corridor where Rung had disappeared back into. "That. You never go out of your way to help anyone like that. Rung had it handled."

"He could have fallen. I doubt that the good doctor down below would want another one of your esteemed crew in his medbay for such a trivial injury - one that could have just as easily have been prevented."

"Mm-hmm." The smaller mech stared up at him with narrowed, curious optics. "You've been acting different lately. Care to share your secret?"

"No secret," Megatron told him, reluctant and wary. "I've just...come upon a realization recently. It has altered my views."

"Hm." Rodimus smirked. "Find a berth partner?"

Not sputtering as some might have done at such a blunt and rather invasive suggestion, Megatron simply ex-vented and turned away to leave the bridge. "No."

The captain's laughter followed him out, and he heard him call just before the hatch closed, "You're hiding something from me, Megs! I'll figure it out sooner or later!"

"Not likely," Megatron muttered to himself, smiling uncontrollably and rather like a fool despite it all and intensely disliking himself for it.

'Megatron, since I met you, so many wonderful experiences have happened to me, one right after the other. Whenever I talk to you, I feel like everything that's happened - all the bad things that have happened on this ship - all culminated into me being here. I...I've fallen in love with this ragtag team, and...you're all kind of my dysfunctional family now. But you...you remind me of home. I feel...safe, and secure, whenever I'm around you. You're so incredibly gentle with me and it reminds me that I'm worth something. That I have something to offer to the crew. It...you...you make me feel...'

He had followed you for several minutes, just enjoying the atmosphere and serenity the planet had to offer. The rustle of grass told him where you were going, and it seemed that you were headed towards the forest surrounding the edges of the meadow. The trees were surprisingly colossal, easily dwarfing Megatron. Their boughs were thick-leaved and interlocking with furry vines twined among them, proving to block most of his view of the forest floor within. He hadn't considered it to be too much of an issue at the time - he'd simply crouched and settled among the grass to watch you clamber over logs and boulders and through fern-like flora with bristles that tugged at your boot-clad ankles.

After a moment, however, when most of your body had begun to become obscured by the underbrush, he'd realized that he could proceed no further. He'd risen to his knees, optics narrowing as he tried to keep track of your form through the underbrush. As soon as he'd opened his mouth to call out to you, he'd heard you cry out in sudden surprise before falling eerily silent.

It had scared him. Never before had he experienced such whole terror. You were hurt and he couldn't get to you.

He'd commed the others in a panic while shouldering his way through the trees, oblivious to the harsh screech of bark against his plating, scratching the paint and tearing at his extremities. Desperation was the only thing fueling him, the fear of the unknown driving him to follow where he'd seen you last. He'd narrowly avoided crawling helm-first into a ravine - hip-deep to him but potentially deadly for you.

You had slipped. He could see you lying in the bottom, frighteningly still.

He didn't remember much of what happened after that. It all seemed to blur together in the back of his processor, coalescing into brief images - like snapshots. The others arriving, easily making their way through the path of rent and torn trees he'd cleared in his half-minded haste. Their alarm, shock, and concern. One of them called the ship, requesting an immediate and emergency pickup - medical emergency. One of the smaller 'Bots had crawled down into the ravine to fetch you - he vaguely recalled cradling your limp and broken form carefully against his chassis, staring down at you and wondering why you were unconscious - you looked fine. Outwardly, you looked fine - why weren't you waking up?

Somehow, they'd gotten back to the Lost Light. Someone had yelled at him to stop hovering - had it been Ratchet? Or Ultra Magnus? He couldn't remember. He'd been forcibly moved out of the medical bay, shoved into the corridor and left reeling and set deeply in a state of shock. Rodimus had showed up at some point, had sat him down against the bulkhead and tried to coax answers out of the large gray mech. He'd had none to give. Eventually, Rodimus had given up, and had once again left Megatron to himself.

He didn't know how long he'd sat there, waiting - waiting for something, anything, to happen. It had, eventually. The door had opened, revealing Ratchet's weary-looking frame and dimmed optics. A fresh surge of apprehension had cut through the numbness, and Megatron had almost been too afraid to ask of your fate. Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately), Ratchet had spared him the grief of making the decision.

"It...doesn't look good," the medic had begun, moving to sink down to the floor next to the ex-warlord. "She took a rough tumble. Sustained severe cranial damage and internal hemorrhaging. I...I don't know if she's going to wake up from this, Megatron. I've never been that talented in human medicine." He growled beneath his breath, scraping his borrowed servo down his faceplate. "Frag. If I'd studied up on it more, I would've been more prepared for something like this," he lamented angrily. "I was too stubborn. Now she might pay the price for it."

Surprisingly, Megatron hadn't been angry with Ratchet. He still wasn't. He found that he couldn't blame him for his shortcoming - Megatron himself had done things that he wished he hadn't, just in the short span of time that he'd known you.

"I forget sometimes how fragile humans really are," Ratchet had murmured after a while, voice and optics distant in retrospection. Megatron had croaked out an agreement.

Soon after, First Aid had emerged from the medical bay with two cubes of energon, concern clear in his demeanor despite his lack of a faceplate to express it. He'd insisted that they both go rest, that he'd monitor your condition for the time being. Ratchet had made him swear upon Primus and the Pit that he would call him if something were to change. First Aid, used to Ratchet's demands, agreed and had sent them both on their way.

Rest had been the furthest thing from Megatron's mind. Ratchet and he had ended up walking together quite a ways, their habsuites not being too far from each other. When Ratchet had made to turn down a separate corridor than he, he'd stopped suddenly as though struck with abrupt remembrance.

"Here," he'd said, his servo slipping into his subspace for a split second before drawing out a simple holopad. He held it out for Megatron to take. "She...entrusted this to me, should an occasion ever arise that she might not...return from it."

Megatron had, perhaps, taken too long to respond - looking blankly at the holopad, his shock-addled processor not comprehending what weight the pad carried with it, before returning his confused gaze to Ratchet's. The medic had simply waited, unwavering. When Megatron had taken it, tentatively, Ratchet had surprised him by laying the same servo against his shoulder.

"Don't grieve yet," was all he'd said before turning and moving away down the corridor.

Megatron almost wished he'd never opened the holopad's files.

'You make me feel something I haven't felt in a long time, Megatron. It...honestly, it scares me. No one has ever drawn something so...deep from me. It's all so new, yet familiar at the same time...if that even makes sense. I...I guess what I'm trying to say is-'

Megatron's digits clamped minutely down upon the datapad in his servos, his optics boring hole into the transparent screen. Your audio wavelength quivered, paused, before your voice came back over the line.

'Rodimus, no, I'm - I'm doing something right now, can it wait?' A pause, a muffled voice that must've been the Lost Light's first co-captain. He sounded rather (whiny) insistent. 'I'll...be there in a minute. Give me a sec to finish this up...yeah, I'm fine, just - go away, Rodimus, I swear-'

A distant laugh, muffled by what must've been your habsuite door. You sighed, and Megatron could see you shaking your head almost as clearly as the pad in his servos. 'I'm going to kill him one of these days, I swear.' A pause, then a soft chuckle, half affectionate and half exasperated. 'I got off track. Sorry.' For a split second, it seemed as though you were speaking to him directly, through the recording and the time since you'd recorded it. But as soon as the feeling made itself known it disappeared. 'I...I guess I should just be straight forward about this. No use in dancing around it.' A pause - or was it hesitation? 'I...love you, Megatron.'

Your voice was soft, but it strengthened with confidence slowly realized. 'I love you, and I know your first instinct will be to reject it - reject the notion of letting yourself be loved - but hear me out: you're redeeming yourself. You're working hard on bettering yourself, on making amends to the mistakes you've made in the past. So let this be a part of your absolution. I know it'll be unlikely that I can, seeing as you'll probably only get this if Ratchet thinks I won't be able to, but...if by some miracle that I do come back from whatever circumstance it is that he gives this to you...let me help you. Let me show you that you're worth being loved. Let me be there for you, hear your doubts and grievances and regrets. I want to help you. I want to love you, and...I want you to learn to love yourself again. Yes, you've done bad things - we all have - but everyone deserves a second chance. And you're earning yours - every day that you get up and go to the bridge and deal with Rodimus' crazy shit and Ultra Magnus' rules and regulations and everyone else's quirks and flaws and personalities...you're getting better. You're healing. You're actively bettering yourself every single day, and I'm proud of you for it - so extremely proud, because you're trying and it shows. You're becoming something you've never been before, Megatron - something far greater and far more powerful. You're becoming something more than Megatron - something I'm waiting to see emerge from the despair and self-hate and doubt. Keep going, Megatron. Keep striving to be better than what you are - because you're succeeding.'

The recording stopped. Megatron stared blankly down at the holopad dangling dangerously from his digits. It took him a good five seconds for him to realize that it had played through its entirety. It took him five seconds longer still to comprehend everything you'd just told him.

You...you loved him. You loved him. Him. Megatron. It seemed as outlandish a concept as jettisoning yourself off the Lost Light for belief that you could breathe in open space.

Megatron scarcely noticed the holopad had slipped from his digits until it clattered noisily to the deck, startling him. With shaky servos, he gingerly collected it from the floor, standing slowly and staring through the dimmed screen at his pedes. Only a moment longer passed before the grief hit him with its entire brute force, sobering him with its frigid and accompanying realization.

You'd said you loved him. You'd said you wanted to help him.

Now you would get to do none of that.

How cruel fate could truly be, he thought hollowly, sinking to his knees and beginning to weep.

Chapter Text

'It was many and many a year ago,

In a kingdom by the sea,

That a maiden there lived whom you may know

By the name of Annabel Lee;

And this maiden she lived with no other thought

Than to love and be loved by me.'

The medical bay was quiet, which in itself was a miracle and a relief. Ratchet was in his office, last he'd checked, and First Aid was recharging in the spare ward because he'd refused to go all the way back to his quarters in case something happened.

'I was a child and she was a child,

In this kingdom by the sea,

But we loved with a love that was more than love—

I and my Annabel Lee—

With a love that the wingèd seraphs of Heaven

Coveted her and me.'

The whole ship was quiet, now that he thought about it, and not because it was during the middle of its night cycle. Megatron had only realized it upon emerging from his quarters after a botched attempt at recharging (which mainly consisted of him tossing and turning for about an hour before he ultimately gave up). His breakdown had drawn him out of his shock, sobered him up. There had persisted a dull ache in his chassis ever since.

A somber air had descended upon the entirety of the crew. Everyone seemed affected by your dangerously fragile health. Ratchet hadn't snapped at anyone, too dispirited to gather his ire. Ultra Magnus hadn't spoken a word against the usually unruly rule-breakers on-board, who also were unmotivated to cause trouble. Drift seemed to be at a loss as to how to encourage or reassure anyone - he especially hadn't known what to say to Megatron whenever he'd passed through to bring Ratchet an energon cube. Even Rodimus had not cracked a joke or a smile in the past day, his optics dimmed and doorwings drooping low against his spinal strut wherever he went. His words had been unusually subdued over the intercom when he'd announced your condition.

Megatron hadn't realized it before - how could he, seeing as it had happened right under everyone's noses? So seamlessly you had joined their ranks - so effortlessly you had become friends with a good majority of the crew, inciting a curiosity about you and your vastly differing culture and biology. You had returned their curiosity ten-fold, and a rather educational exchange of information had occurred as a result. You had told them facts about Earth, stories about your life. Your love for learning and exploring new things had brought about a fresh invigoration in crew morale, improving everyone's moods and bringing out smiles from 'Bots who hadn't found it in themselves to smile in a long time.

You had inadvertently become the heart of the Lost Light. And the Lost Light's heart was in very real danger of dying.

'And this was the reason that, long ago,

In this kingdom by the sea,

A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling

My beautiful Annabel Lee;

So that her highborn kinsmen came

And bore her away from me,

To shut her up in a sepulchre

In this kingdom by the sea.'

Megatron ex-vented softly, shifting in his seat and raising his optics to the monitor mounted above the medical berth before him. Ratchet and First Aid had done all they could, even jury-rigging temporary devices (with Perceptor and Brainstorm's help, which they gave without hesitation nor question) to keep track of your vitals. You were, tentatively, stable. You were also unconscious. You had been since you'd fallen.

Megatron redirected his attention to the holopad in his servo, its screen glowing softly against his galvanized metal plating. Your...message had not seemed to be the only thing you'd left for him, upon further inspection. Beneath it, you had created a folder entitled simply 'For You'. Within it you had written him a brief note. ('Rung mentioned that you liked poetry once, so I picked out a few from Earth that are generally viewed as popular and that I happen to like. I hope you like them, too. Also...please start writing again. He told me you used to. I'm sure it's healthy to have an outlet - I know it is for me. I'm sure they're excellent, too.') How cruelly ironic, that he had indeed begun writing again - with you as his muse, no less. Now he could very well lose you.

Many of the poems, he had noticed, were of melancholy and poignant nature - 'The Highwayman' by Alfred Noyes, and a particular few by Robert Frost that you insisted were all favorites of yours had started off the list. 'Nevermore' by Edgar Allen Poe had preceded this one - 'Annabel Lee'. Megatron found that it resonated sorrow and brought forth the tumult roiling within his chassis - and not in an entirely pleasant fashion.

'The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,

Went envying her and me—

Yes!—that was the reason (as all men know,

In this kingdom by the sea)

That the wind came out of the cloud by night,

Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.'

A light, dual punctuated set of knocks drew his attention from the words on the screen to the door. He set it on his knee as it whisked open to reveal the familiar rusty-orange visage of the ship's psychiatrist.

"Ratchet told me you were in here," Rung said, smiling pleasantly as he stepped into the small ward, managing to sound warm and happy despite the heavy air suppressing the ward's sole occupant. The door closed quietly behind him. "How is she fairing?"

"If you spoke to Ratchet, then you are already aware," Megatron told him flatly. He straightened in his seat, inwardly grimacing at how cold his tone had been. "Would you like to sit?"

"No, thank you," the smaller mech said, nonplussed. He looked to the berth where you lay, the faintest frown adorning his face. "I read, once, that humans can hear when one speaks to them even while they are comatose..."

Alarm made Megatron's helm snap up. "She isn't comatose - is she? Ratchet didn't-"

Rung raised an optical ridge, prompting the larger gray mech to fall silent. "You didn't let me finish. She may not be comatose, but perhaps it may still apply to simple unconsciousness."

Megatron, were he able, would have blushed with shame. Instead, his cooling fans whirred softly. "I somehow sincerely doubt that."

"Merely a suggestion," Rung said lightly, moving to the opposite side of the berth to lean against the storage compartments there. He paused, and Megatron couldn't at first tell if the psychiatrist was looking at him or you. "You're blaming yourself," he observed softly, neither accusatory nor pitying. Simply a statement.

"What an astounding observation," Megatron mumbled, wishing that he could be anywhere but there.

"You shouldn't," Rung told him, "but you already know that."

Megatron knew what the smaller mech wanted. He longed to rebuke him for it, to drive him away and avoid having to speak of it at all. But something in him longed for the comfort, the solace of opening up and laying his pain bare to another. Maybe that was the part of him that you had so much faith in.

"I should've been watching," he said softly, hesitantly.

"You were, from what I understand," Rung responded. "That would not have stopped her from falling."

Megatron grimaced, gritting his dentae and lowering his helm. "I should've stayed with her."

"The trees were dense and barely navigable," Rung pointed out. "Nothing short of your worry would have allowed you passage."

The ex-warlord ex-vented deeply, sorrowfully. "I could have done something."

"Perhaps."

Megatron looked up at him, surprised.

Rung smiled gently. "Things happen that all of us are unable to control. Some things happen for reasons that we do not always comprehend at first. But, despite how we may want to deny or wish against it, those reasons often result in realizations we wouldn't have come to otherwise. It can be good, sometimes." He looked down to you, his expression turning somber. "It can also be not so."

Megatron did not respond, too rapt in absorbing the orange mech's words. He ex-vented heavily, shakily, lowering his helm into his open servos and digging the tips of his digits into his optics. "I wish that this had not happened," he said giving voice to the truth that Rung had brought out. "I would take her place if it would mean she were alive. Happy."

"She would be alive, but she certainly would not be happy," Rung told him, and paused. "Did you receive her message?"

Megatron grimaced behind his servos, his spark weighing heavily within its chamber. All he was able to croak was a hoarse, "You knew?"

"We spoke often," Rung said simply. "She came to me initially because she noticed I had not many true friends, outside of my patients. I instead ended up becoming hers. She was much lonelier than she ever let on."

"And she hid that from everyone?" Megatron asked, befuddled. He couldn't bring himself to say 'us', because that would be including himself. He was not yet a true member of the Lost Light - at least in his mind, despite what you had said. He still felt every bit the outsider as the others had thought him to be in the beginning.

"It's difficult, being the only human on a ship full of sentient, gargantuan robotic organisms," Rung replied. "It can make one such as herself feel rather small and insignificant."

"But she isn't insignificant!" Megatron rebutted, straightening and lifting his helm to stare at the psychiatrist incredulously. "She's...very important." He longed for nothing more than to add 'to me'.

Rung seemed to sense it anyway, because his expression softened into that gentle look of knowing that never failed to make Megatron shift uncomfortably, no matter how he sat. "She was aware, but she didn't wish to believe it at first. I remembered that making a connection upon common ground between two strangers helps the sense of insignificance. So I showed her some of your writings." Rung had a vaguely sheepish look. "I hope that you do not mind. I should have asked you first."

"She told me-" Megatron stopped, feeling a lump making its way into the back of his intake, and reworded himself. "She mentioned that you had. She told me I should keep writing." He paused, shook his head. He realized that that must've been the start of your personal understanding and acceptance of him. "I do not mind."

"Have you, though?" Rung inquired. "Written?"

Megatron debated upon deflecting the question, or fibbing altogether. "Yes," he ex-vented. "I have. Several solar cycles before the...the accident."

"Oh, how delightful!" Rung remarked, smiling and clapping his servos together. "I told you your muse would return one day!"

"It did," Megatron murmured forlornly. He looked to your still form, frail and fragile beneath the soft mesh sheet Tailgate had meekly offered as a gift of good will.

Rung, following the ex-warlord's gaze, become sober with realization. A somber moment of silence passed. "Did you see the poems she left for you?"

Megatron grunted in affirmation, finding that he didn't particularly want to talk anymore. "I've read some. I'm now reading 'Annabel Lee'."

"I'm rather fond of that one," Rung said wistfully. "It's very poignant, isn't it?"

Megatron hummed. He did not know if the author had truly endured such an event or if it had merely been an exploration of feeling, but he sympathized the words greatly.

"Love and loss," Rung mused. "Memory and reminiscence. It's something we've all endured, and it never fails to elicit an emotional response."

Megatron blinked rapidly, his optical feed blurring slightly.

"Did she tell you?" he whispered, a knot forming in his intake. "Was I so oblivious that I never noticed?"

"She did," Rung affirmed gently. He straightened, stepping around the medical berth to lay a consolatory servo against the gray mech's shoulder. "And I think you did, though perhaps not consciously...because you obviously feel the same, and that can often be an involuntary and subconscious response."

"It hurts," Megatron croaked, voice thick.

"And it will," Rung told him. "But we mustn't lose hope yet, hm? She's still alive, and there's still a chance that she will recover. And you know as well as I that she wouldn't allow something like this to hold her down. She's always been rather fiery, for a being so small." Rung chuckled fondly. "I think that's what has ensured her survival amongst our crew thus far."

Megatron realized that he was smiling faintly. Many a time you had scolded the rowdier members of the crew for causing trouble (namely Whirl, but Megatron certainly wasn't pointing any fingers), never once backing down despite being so small. You were a fearless little thing, living in a ship full of titans, and Megatron found it more endearing than anything else.

Primus, he had it bad.

"Do you need anything?" Rung asked him softly, drawing him from his thoughts.

Megatron was about to say no, but a twinge of pain in his primary tank made him reconsider. "...A cube, if you don't mind. But if you're not headed to the mess hall I will get it myself."

"Don't worry about it," Rung interrupted gently, waving him off. "You remain here. Someone must keep watch over our little spark."

Megatron found it odd, that particular name. But after a moment of contemplation, he decided that it suited you. You were the spark of the Lost Light, after all.

"Thank you," he rumbled, dipping his helm.

Rung smiled and patted his shoulder lightly before walking towards the door. He paused as it swished open, and cast a look over his shoulder. "Remember, Megatron," he said, "I am always here to talk. If you have anything weighing on your mind..."

"I know," he replied, smiling gently. "Thank you, Rung."

With a warm smile, Rung departed from the ward, leaving it once again in silence.

Megatron looked back to you, optics travelling slowly down your form. He then eyed the monitor that displayed your vitals, though it left him just as frustrated as before. It was like reading a different language, and he could decipher nothing from it. With a weary ex-vent, he settled back into his chair, reaching for the holopad he'd left on his knee, his optics finding where he'd left off.

'But our love it was stronger by far than the love

Of those who were older than we—

Of many far wiser than we—

And neither the angels in Heaven above

Nor the demons down under the sea

Can ever dissever my soul from the soul

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;'

How cruelly ironic, indeed, he thought, willing away the sense of helplessness that tugged at his spark. One more inclined to believe in such things might think it was preordained that he find this poem at this time, but he knew better. You had a fine taste in poetry, that much he had to admit. He wondered what you would think of his.

But not his older works, no - you'd already read those, courtesy of Rung. No, he wondered what you would think of the ones that he'd written recently - the ones you'd inspired. Would you be oblivious to being his muse, simply taking the words at face value? Or would you realize that he had woven your essence into every word, every phrase and line of thought that constituted the tapestries of his sonnets and haikus and freeverses?

He would show them to you, he decided, should you wake, and find out for himself what your reactions would be. Perhaps that, in itself, would inspire him further to expand upon his newfound motivation and outlook upon his world and life. But, for now, he would simply sit, and wait, and pray. He'd never done Primus any favors - he'd rejected him, at one point in time - but...perhaps through seeking forgiveness in light of begging for your safe return and recovery, he could, in one tiny, minuscule way, take the first shaky step towards redemption.

He owed you that much, for standing so strongly in your faith in him.

'For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side

Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,

In her sepulchre there by the sea—

In her tomb by the sounding sea.'


Megatron jerked awake, his optics flashing on as he sat up sharply. A repetitive bleep from your vitals monitor caught his attention and his optics locked onto you. You were still unconscious.

He blinked, and looked back to the indecipherable jargon that was blinking on the holoscreen. When had he fallen into recharge? It was still dark in the ward, save for the crimson light bleeding from his optics and the vivid blue glow of the monitor, so he mustn't have been under long. He knew that a few cycles had passed after Rung had brought him a cube, and that he'd been reading more of the poems you'd left for him...had he been so tired that he'd slipped off? He hadn't recharged at all the previous night, but...

"Megatron...?"

He had heard of humans getting whiplash. You'd complained about it before, when riding in Rodimus' alt-mode on a suitable planet several weeks before. He hadn't thought Cybertronians capable of it. His helm snapped over to stare at you with wide, bright optics. You were stirring, eyes squinting in the dark as you rubbed the sleep from them. Your voice was soft and hoarse from misuse. He breathed your name, barely audible over the soft beeping that he realized must've been your heartbeat.

"What...what happened?" you asked, trying to clear your throat and grimacing. "Why...why am I in the medbay?"

"You don't remember?" he asked, barely conscious of the words leaving his lips. The relief crashing over him was so palpable he was surprised that he wasn't being crushed by it.

You blinked, squinted, pursing your lips. "Uh...we were on-planet, and..." Your eyes widened. "Oh. I fell." You rubbed the back of your neck, wincing as you did so. "That was embarrassing."

"You were unconscious for twenty-two hours," he said, aghast.

"Oh." You stared at him a long moment. "My bad."

Something about the plain, nonplussed manner with which you spoke made him realize that you were there. You were very much alive, though perhaps not entirely well (yet, anyway). He blinked rapidly, sinking into the back of his chair and clamping a trembling servo over his mouth.

Your brows furrowed with concern. "Megatron? Are you okay?"

"I'm - fine." Oh, Primus, his vocalizer had glitched. Frag.

You opened your mouth as though to pry further, but your eyes settled on the holopad resting on his lap. You froze, apprehension stiffening your slight frame as you looked tentatively up to his optics. "Is that-"

"I love you!" he blurted.

A shocked silence filled the ward as you stared at him with wide eyes. He shifted anxiously, servos clamping down upon nothing.

"Oh," you said, voice worryingly quiet.

Nervousness bubbled up within him, causing his frame to shake minutely. "I listened to your message," he managed, painfully aware of your startled stare as he spoke, optics resting on the medical berth instead. "All of it. I-" He tried swallowing, and found that it was blocked by a lump in his intake. He sucked in a breath. "You don't know," he said softly, shakily, "how much that means to me."

You puffed out a breath. "Well, I'm glad that it wasn't something stupid, because I honestly don't remember half of what I wrote down. Said. Whatever." He looked up in time to see you smile sheepishly. "I...I'm sorry. I'm ruining the moment."

Megatron stared at you, silent, then felt his cheeks ache. He leaned down, reaching out to you with a faintly trembling servo. Your hands - so tiny, so soft, so delicate - wrapped around his index digit and squeezed gently, despite the integrity of the metal that you were both well aware of.

"You look tired," you said, your eyes narrowing as you studied his faceplate. "I didn't worry you, did I?"

He barked out a laugh, something hot and wet trickling from his optics. Your face was blurry.

"Okay, yeah, you haven't slept," you said, brow furrowing with concern. "You're delirious."

Megatron's frame shook, now with laughter instead of repressed emotion. "No," he croaked, voice thickening. "I'm happy."

Your expression softened exponentially, a certain warmth brightening your eyes as you smiled gently at him - the same smile he'd become so unknowingly fond of. (He'd written a poem about it, unsurprisingly.) You'd already - unwittingly - accomplished one thing you'd wished to help him achieve.

"You know you're taking on a mess with me," you told him, tone affection as you pressed a chaste kiss to his knuckle. "I'm more trouble than I'm worth."

"I am more than willing to deal with the consequences," he told you confidently, leaning down to nuzzle your hair. He ex-vented playfully, causing hot air to ruffle your hair and tickle your neck. You laughed and pushed at his faceplate, hands pressing into his cheeks.

He felt...playful. Affectionate. He felt like telling and showing you just how much he loved you with no heed for repercussions or potential interruptions. He loved you. You. A human - a fragile, tiny organic being living on a ship full of mechanical giants. Introspectively, he wondered how such a change had come upon him. When had it happened? Had he always loved your smile, your laugh, or had he grown fond of them over time?

It didn't matter, he supposed as he nudged your face with the tip of his nose and pressed a kiss to your shoulder despite your mad giggling and muffled protests. Your pulse thumped jovially from the monitor, and he smiled against the thin garment clothing your warm body. He found that he was very much willing to accept your help, your love...so long as you would accept his in return.