September 22, 2011, 5:39 PM
(Main Roadway, Iacon)
Optimus Prime is making his way to the refectory during a break from his schedule of meetings. Prowl is focused on the mission planning for extracting Lifeline and First Aid from Polyhex, but the daily issues of running Iacon and the Autobot army still need attention, and the more of those issues that Prime can address is more time that Prowl can focus on the immediate mission, although no one on the command staff is running on anything like preferred levels of recharge at the moment. He shakes his head, realizing he's been standing at the entrance to the courtyard between the barracks buildings and the refectory for almost a klik. Obviously, the next shift must include at least a small amount of time for recharge and defragmenting his processors...
Of course the one time Groove really needs to find someone, he can't. Flashover isn't answering his comm, he can't seem to hunt down any of his brothers or Elita to tell them, and he can't figure out who else /to/ tell... Wait. He stops in the middle of the main roadway (and almost making another mech walk right into him) after catching sight of a very recognizable form. Glancing around nervously, he debates bothering the mech with it, before deciding this might actually be important enough and hesitatingly approached Optimus. "Um... Sir?"
"Groove? Good cycle to you," Optimus Prime says, looking down at the smaller mech. "I was on my way to the refectory. What can I do for you?"
Groove shifts uncomfortably for a moment, offering a quick, respectful bow. "Good cycle to you, too, sir. Um... Could we perhaps speak somewhere a little more private?" He glances over his shoulder at the main roadway, obviously nervous.
Optimus Prime inclines his head in a respectful nod, acknowledging the bow. "Of course- will the courtyard do, or would you rather go to the war room? I'm afraid there is no new information which I can tell you about your brother yet." He puts a hand kindly o Groove's shoulder.
Groove's vents hitch for an astrosecond at that, and he drops his optics to the ground. "T-the courtyard works fine, sir." He answers quietly, "And what I need to talk to you about is about him."
"After you," Optimus gestures to the walkway, gently encouraging the young mech to start walking. "How are you managing? I know this must be very difficult for you- to have a loved one in danger never is."
Groove nods a little shakily, making his way carefully down the walkway. "I... I don't know. I'm terrified but I don't know how much is me and how much is..." He trails off, vents starting to work a little harder as he starts edging toward open panic.
"Easy, Groove- vent." Optimus frowns behind the mask. He hadn't intended to upset Groove with that question. "Here, sit-" He steers Groove gently twoards one of the benches in the courtyard, urging the younger mech to sit and going to one knee next to the bench to put himself more or less at a height where he can look directly into the other's face. "Is this to do with what Hot Spot wrote to Prowl and I about? You are able to communicate with First Aid somehow?"
"I /was/." Groove barely manages to keep his voice down, curling his hands into fists. "That's what I wanted to talk to you about. I-I can't reach him anymore, not even a little. I can't feel him, I can't hear him, and... And..." He lets out a quiet noise of distress, pulling his knees up to his chest. "What if he's dead?"
Optimus emits air slowly from his vents. "I won't lie to you, Groove, and tell you that he /must/ be fine. I am so sorry. All we can do is have faith. How long has this been going on? Have you been able to reach him the entire time he has been gone?"
Groove tries to force himself to calm down and think. "U-um... I didn't try to reach him until Streetwise got here. I could feel him the entire time, I think, but I didn't really realize what was going on. I haven't felt him for... Maybe a joor? I don't know, it took me a while to notice." He admits, shame obvious in his voice. "I should have noticed sooner."
"Don't blame yourself, Groove- no one could have anticipated this- any of it." Optimus says. He squeezes the shoulder he still is resting his hand on gently. "Hot Spot's message said you believed that he was injured- his optics? Are you feeling sensation, or simply emotion?"
"A-a little of both, I think? It's normally not real strong, but when Streetwise helped me I could tell..." Groove leans into the grip a little- most of his training and general attitude is screaming that he should be treating the other mech with more respect, but he can't stop himself. "I can tell he's hurting, and if I focus enough I can tell where it's worst and sometimes what h-h-h-happened." His vocalizer hitches more severely for a moment before resetting.
Optimus Prime bows his head and sighs, wishing he could do more for the younger mech. "I am sorry, Groove. I will relay this to Prowl, though, in case it may alter any of the plans he is working on." He releases Groove's shoulder and shifts to sit next to Groove on the bench, replacing his hand on Groove's shoulder gently to continue offering what support he is able to. "And you cannot reach him at all any longer?"
Groove shakes his head, unclenching one fist to scratch absently at the paint on his thigh. "I can't feel him at all. He's just... Not there. I can feel the others but not him. I don't know what to /do./ He can't be..." He trails off, vents hiccuping again. "Primus wouldn't do this to us, would he?"
Optimus Prime says, "No one can say what Primus would or would not do, Groove- at least, that is what Solarix tells me. I have never had the chance to study the precepts like you have, though. I choose to believe that he would not do things like this to anyone, though- that everyone has the freedom to choose their own actions, for good or evil." Optimus sighs. "Primus watches over us, but he doesn't control our actions- and our actions /will/ bring First Aid home. Have faith in Prowl, and the Autobots, and that First Aid himself will do everything he can to come back to us.""
Groove flinches a little at the words, offlining his optics like that would help. "...Primus isn't cruel." He whispers, pulling his knees closer to his chest and wrapping his arms around them. "That was one lesson they always taught us over and over. Primus isn't cruel for no reason, and to let us all find each other again and then..." He can't hold in a quiet whine at the unfinished thought. "There's no reason for that. It's just wanton cruelty."
Optimus Prime shakes his head. "I don't believe he is, either, Groove. We'll get First Aid back." He squeezes Groove's shoulders gently. "Your belief in Primus is strong. Have faith."
Groove leans into the other mech unconsciously, starting when he realizes exactly what he just did and who he did it to. "S-sorry sir." He mumbles, dropping his legs back down and scooting to the side slightly. Slag, that was stupid...
"It's quite alright, Groove." Optimus Prime says, releasing his hold on the young mech's shoulders. "There is no shame in being upset or afraid." He sighs. "I am sorry that you and your brothers are going through this, and I am afraid I must ask more of you. Will you continue trying to get a more immediate sense of First Aid, and let Hot Spot, Prowl, or myself know immediately if you are able to do so, or if anything else changes?"
Groove onlines his optics and looks over at Prime, nodding quietly. "Of course, sir. I'm sorry to have bothered you with this, but I thought it was important..."
"It is, Groove, very much so." Optimus Prime hesitates, torn between maintaining operational secrecy and reassuring Groove that a plan to rescue First Aid is in the works. Security wins. "I will pass this information on to Prowl. It is no bother, and you did right to make sure that we knew this as soon as you were able. Are you managing alright?"
"...Not really." Groove admits, dropping his gaze and kicking at the ground without any real force. "They're all hurting, even though they try to hide it from me. I'll be better once Aid is back. We all will be."
"If there is anything that we can do to help you, please let us know." Optimus Prime's voice is quietly sincere.
Groove nods, looking back the Prime and giving him a weak smile. "I will, sir." He answers, even though he's not entirely sure he's telling the truth.