Optimus Prime drove to the coordinates alone, in the dead of night.
He had woken up earlier that day with a dull pain in his spark—something he had gotten used to at this point. As he onlined his HUD and went about his morning routine of mixing cobalt flakes into his energon and going through the messages he had received during recharge, he noticed a new one pop up, flagged as urgent, from a very familiar ID.
He had opened it to see a set of coordinates and a time to meet.
He was running a bit late, unfortunately, duties had to be fulfilled and there had been a heated argument between Jazz and Prowl during a meeting that dragged it on a bit too long but—he was here now.
His feet hit the ground and kicked up dust as he folded out of his altmode. He had driven through the ruins of South Iacon—where he used to work, as a dockworker, with Dion and Ariel, where he used to go to bars, and danced with his soon-to-be conjunx—to get to this place, at the border of Iacon and Rodion. As he stepped forward towards the dilapidated building, his optics lit up in recognition and horror.
This was a Relinquishment Clinic. Or rather, one of the Institute's facilities disguising itself as one. He recognised it, this one specifically.
He entered it warily, only to find another set of doors, heavily reinforced and relatively recent, compared to the ruins around him. He stared at it, looking for a keypad, a console, anything.
The door opened on its own.
Optimus felt the pain in his spark intensify, the everpresent strain turning into what felt like a stabbing. He powered through it. He knew what lied beyond those doors.
His steps were heavy, his vents became laboured. The clinic turned into a lab, a makeshift one, not meant for permanent use. The lights were overly bright, looking down at various pieces of equipment that Optimus wouldn't even be able to name.
And in the center of it all, with their back turned to him…
“Optimus. You're late.”
“…Is this your new lab?” Optimus asked.
The console in front of the Decepticon scientist continued to flash numbers, images, incomprehensible to Optimus in his current state. If there was any data to gather in this place, he'd have to do it when Shockwave wasn't around.
“No. It is not,” the scientist said, finally turning around.
Even now, in this awful place, with their one optic and the faded scars on their neck cables (it was so gruesome, so needlessly cruel, and he had watched it all, couldn't tear his optics away even as they filled with coolant), Shockwave was still beautiful.
Optimus felt the remnants of their bond pull on his spark. He took a step forward, then two more, until he came face to [not-face] with Shockwave. His hand reached out subconsciously.
The sharp and bristly edge of Shockwave's electromagnetic field suddenly stopped him.
“Don't,” Shockwave said, moving away quickly, their optic flaring. “Don't touch me.”
The air between them was still charged, but Optimus willed himself to step back as well.
He crossed his arms.
“Of course,” Optimus vented out a breath, “So. What did you call me here for?”
Shockwave stood for a few seconds. Optimus knew, even though outwardly the scientist's body language was as neutral as always, they were trying to compose themself. Eventually, Shockwave took out a data chip from their subspace.
“Megatron is planning something. He is targeting you, and Central Iacon, specifically,” they said, looking down at the chip in their hand.
Optimus blinked. “That's nothing new.”
“No, it isn't. But there are certain things you should know anyway,” Shockwave said, holding out the chip towards Optimus.
Static crackled and jumped between their fingers as Optimus gently took the data chip. He lingered, but Shockwave pulled back.
Optimus didn't hesitate to open a wrist cover and insert the chip. He sifted through the information quickly, trying to understand why Shockwave gave him this. He'd take a look at the finer details later.
As data scrolled through his HUD, he could hear Shockwave mutter, “Still so trusting of me, even now.”
Optimus paused on a set of coordinates, one of the areas the Decepticons planned on attacking. He knew this place.
This was the park where they met.
(A cold-constructed dockworker and a professor at the prestigious Iacon Academy of Science and Technology, meeting and falling in love—could you imagine that?)
“Shockwave…” Optimus said, ejecting the chip now that he had all the data inside it, voice quivering.
The scientist had their back to him, again.
“I've given you what I have. Now leave.”
Optimus shook his head, opening his mask to reveal his face.
“Why? Why do you stay with the Decepticons? You could come with me and join the Autobots, you could even go Neutral, I'd hide you somewhere, I'd—”
“Nothing you do or say will make me change my plans,” Shockwave said, moving further away.
Optimus chased after them. “Please, let's have a discussion, at least. Maybe I can help you.”
Shockwave turned, sharply. “No.”
“This is non-negotiable.”
Optimus suddenly felt the warmth of Shockwave's gun pressed against the glass of his windshield. He felt the low hum as it powered on; a relatively small charge, a shot to incapacitate, not kill.
“Please,” he whispered.
Shockwave's optic dimmed. A pulse of—something, a garbled mess of [not-emotion] that could almost be interpreted as sentimentality—was sent through the bond, reigniting it for a split second before it went dead again.
“Good night, Orion.”
And then the world went black.