Stumbling upon Optimus Prime staring soulfully out into the night sky was the last thing Skyfire expected when he retreated to the apex of the volcano that the Ark called home. He thought he was the only who came up here, even amongst the other flyers, but there was no mistaking that tall frame and those familiar colors.
He looked like a statue. Something to inspire and admire. He was proud and strong. His gaze focused on the distance.
But mostly… he looked lonely.
Skyfire coughed a ventilation to announce himself and popped his thrusters to complete the rest of his ascent. He might not have been as graceful as Starscream, but he could manage a decent landing without tumbling from the mountaintop.
“Good evening, sir,” Skyfire said with a smile as Optimus turned to acknowledge him. “It’s a beautiful night for stargazing.”
“That it is.” Optimus’ optics brightened, his field reaching for Skyfire with warmth and welcome, without a trace of disappointment in it. “I keep thinking if I look hard enough, I might see Cybertron, despite knowing otherwise.”
Skyfire came to a rest beside the Prime, but then lowered himself to sit. This way, for once, he would have to look up to a mech. “I find myself doing the same,” he admitted. “But no matter how many calculations I’ve done, I am still disappointed.”
“Because it isn’t there?”
“Because we are still too close for me to see the past,” Skyfire said with a little sigh. “If I could go further, if I could travel faster, I might be able to see Cybertron as it was. But I wasn’t in stasis long enough to have that mercy now.”
Optimus inclined his helm in understanding and rested a hand on Skyfire’s shoulder, a chaste touch but one that spoke a wealth of comfort. “Do you ever wish Starscream had not found you?”
“More often than I’d like to admit.” Skyfire’s spark squeezed tightly. He cycled a ventilation to hide the sharp stab of pain in his field. “There is nothing familiar to me here. Not even the echoes of the past.”
Optimus squeezed again and then lowered himself to sit next to Skyfire. Their thighs touched and somehow, that light brush was a source of comfort as well. “And it is a greater pain to see Cybertron as it is now. I am sorry for that, Skyfire.”
He sighed. “You did what you had to do. I can’t blame you for that. The onus is on me to accept that this is my life now.” As unappealing as it might be.
“Even so, you are a stranger in a strange land. I can understand that pain.” Something in Optimus’ vocals darkened, turning to grief. His helm tilted, his gaze shifting to the sky. “Once upon a time, a lowly dockworker named Orion Pax used to do this very same thing we are doing now. Looking above and imagining what else was out in the stars.”
Skyfire smiled a little himself. “It is kind of peaceful, isn’t it?”
“Very much. I can see why you come here so often.”
Skyfire startled and swung a look toward his Prime. “You noticed?” Skyfire often felt he went unnoticed if they didn’t have need of him for their air taxi, so this was a huge surprise. But a welcome one.
“I do pay attention.” Optimus Prime’s battle mask slid open, revealing the gentle smile he had underneath. “I hope you don’t mind that I keep you company.”
Skyfire felt his faceplate heat. He ducked his helm.
“No,” he said. “I don’t mind at all.”