Title: The Worst Birthday (or not so much)

Summery: Optimus preferred low-key, quiet on-lining sols. He wasn't going to get one.

Rating: T
Words: 2,914
Includes: embarrassment and FAIL!gifts, slight bit of romance at the end
Disclaimer: Only the demented plot, what there is, is mine

Happy birthday, Tashu! Hope you enjoy your pressie!

Optimus had long ago stopped celebrating his on-lining sol. As a sparkling there had never been a big celebration, his creators rarely having much to spare, usually it was just small servo made gifts. After his creators off-lining there wasn't much point to celebrating. The orphanage was always running short of energon on a regular basis, and it only seemed to upset the caretakers to not be able to make a bigger deal about it. Some of the other orphans didn't even know their on-lining sols, so it was simple enough to ask to be included in the small gathering of sparklings and younglings and blend in. The small extra bit of ration given to him was passed on to a littler bot that needed it more and he was content.

This changed when he entered the Autobot Academy for the first time. When the Autobot recruiters came to Haydon IV for the first time, when he was old enough to go talk to them anyway, his first thought was that the orphanage would have one less mouth to feed. Maybe he could earn enough to send back for the others to not always be so hungry. So he worked hard and studied to get in on a full scholarship.

He really wasn't expecting to make friends there or that those friends would want to celebrate what was to him almost just another sol, but they did. Sentinel and Elita-1 even got used to his requests for practical or small gifts. Well, after the first time Elita-1 gave him a gift anyway. She threw a campus wide party and presented him with a set of crystal armor decorations and a request to wear them for her. Them and nothing else. After he hid in his dorm room for the rest of the sol, that never happened again. Her gifts became more toward things such as spa passes, and detailing sessions.

Sentinel's gifts were more simple, but still not always what you would call 'practical'. Optimus still didn't fully recall how a trip to the closest oil bar became a bar crawl that ended up with them on the other side of the town in the small of the morning, sporting matching protoform tattoos saying "brothers for life," with little sparks surrounding the words, on their afts. They never talked about it again, but after that Sentinel's gifts were much more restrained. Rumors passed for decacycles after about the two of them fragging, not helped by the fact they both had a hard time sitting down.

After losing Elita-1 to Archa Seven, and the dissolving of his friendship with Sentinel it was actually... rather hard to go back to his singular celebrations. He'd been with the maintenance bots for a little over two vorn when they crashed on Earth and had never mentioned his on-lining sol to the other bots. It passed without comment but for the usual anonymous package of high quality candies he received.

They never came with a note, so by this point he'd decided they were automated to be sent to all Academy bots and graduates. He'd started to receive them shortly after he joined up, and thought they were a nice gesture. He always looked forward to receiving them, and was glad they didn't stop like he'd expected when he left the Academy in disgrace.

Is it any wonder he was forced to reboot his optics when he opened his door his first on-lining sol on Earth to Bumblebee spraying silly string in his face plates and Sari setting off a party popper?

Blinking his optics Optimus stared at the two standing in front of him in confusion.

"Hey, Bossbot!", Bumblebee grabbed Optimus' servo and dragged him down the hall talking the whole time, "Happy on-lining sol! We got lots to do today! We have games and snacks and music and presents and...!"

Optimus cut Bumblebee off, confused, "How did you know about my on-lining sol? I never mentioned it to any of you."

Sari piped up, "Sentinel, if you can believe that. The tightass asked us all yesterday what we were planning to do for your birthday. I can't believe you didn't tell us! I remind people of my birthday for weeks leading up to it!"

Optimus frowned, "Language Sari. And I didn't tell anyone because it's not that big a deal, it's just another sol. It simply means I have to go in for my once a vorn medical checks soon." Ignoring the looks of horror on the other two's faces he tried to think through his just on-lined from recharge state, not easy when he'd come in late from patrol to the night before. They were saved from him demanding answers by them reaching the common area and Bumblebee shoving him though the door. Immediately a shower of sparkly confetti and streamers rained down on him.

Optimus rebooted his optics yet again, looking around the room as Bumblebee put Sari on the floor and moved over to Bulkhead in the corner. His entire team along with the crew of the Steelhaven were crowded into the room. A table was set up with energon and edible crystals along one wall, and... what the frag? As Jazz turned it on he rubbed his helm above his nasal ridge. Who's idea was a fog machine with strobing lights across the front?

Walking into the room further he stepped around the pile of crumpled wrapping paper in the floor, only realizing in time not to step into it (it wasn't just crumpled, but crumpled around things and decorated with ribbons) only to smack his helm on a disco ball hung from the ceiling. When Jazz started loud music with a thumping rhythm and incomprehensible lyrics he vaguely recognized as something Bumblebee owned a copy of, he knew for sure this was not going to be his sol.


Six hours later, after playing pin the tongue on the Blitzwing, smacking a pinata Megatron filled with cloyingly sweet flux candy, a disastrous few rounds of spin the oil drum (he never wanted to get that close to kissing Ratchet OR Bulkhead again) and several other party games while wearing the silly wire and scrap metal crown Sari had presented him with he knew he'd been right. At least now it was present time. He might be able to sneak off after this. So far Prowl had frustrated him at every turn with Jazz's help. Stupid ninja bots.

Sitting on the crate next to the pile of gifts he'd avoided stepping on earlier, he tried to look like he was enjoying himself. Waiting while everyone gathered their presents he pasted a smile on his lip plates and mentally practiced acting grateful. When Bumblebee bounced forward he firmed his struts and held out his servos.

"You are just going to love this Bossbot! It is just the most awsomest, coolest thing ever!"

Tuning out Bumblebee's rambling Optimus pulled off the wadded up paper to find, "Mega Mutilator Ninja 4: The Brutality?", his smile went a little sickly around the edges, "Bumblebee, you shouldn't have."

"Isn't it just too cool? It just came out! The blood splatter is supposed to be really, really realistic, and the weapons you can use range from traditional to things in the environment! I heard you can even beat you opponent to death with mixing spoons and shoot chicken guns!", Bumblebee bounced up and down on his peds.

Optimus' smile was more then a little sickly by now, "Well, isn't that something? Why don't you go set this up and play it for me first before I try? So I can", he searched his processor, "see what kind of combination moves you can make?"

The wordless cheer and the speed with which the game was snatched from his servos let him know he'd made the right choice. With any luck Bumblebee would never notice he never laid another finger on the game if he could help it.

Bulkhead came forward next, servos empty, "I didn't have time to make you anything, but I figured I can give you an IOU for a painting sitting?", the large bot shuffled his peds.

Honestly, that was one of the last things he wanted, but he wouldn't say that, "That's an excellent present, Bulkhead. Why don't you go play with Bumblebee and we can talk about setting up a time later?" He smiled shyly at Optimus and hurried over to his little buddy who was already filling the screen with virtual gore.

Smiling at the next bot, he held out his servo for the disk Prowl was offering. Turning it over in his servos he asked what as on it.

Prowl stood straight with his servos behind his back, "There wasn't much time between yesterday and today to come up with an acceptable gift, so I made something I myself would enjoy. There are 4 hours of birds visually recorded on that disk. I was especially happy to record half an hour of seagulls at the lake shore. It's very restful and educational."

Optimus hated birds. Especially seagulls, ever since a group of them decided to let out their wastes on him one sol when he recharged for a short bit outside in the sun. The other kinds weren't so bad when they were singing but he somehow doubted Prowl would think to make it just songs. Particularly if he was including seagulls. Gingerly he subspaced the disk like it was one of the 'flying vermin' as he heard a human call them. A very appropriate name in his opinion.

"Thank you very much, Prowl."

Jazz stepped forward next and offered a Cybertronian music player, "It's just a spare I had laying around OP, but I put a good selection of fun and inspirational songs from around the universe on there. It has 83 different songs, one for each stellar cycle in the vorn. I didn't know your tastes in music so it's more then a little eclectic, but what you gonna do? You can also keep the player."

Connecting the player's jack into one of his arm ports he signaled for it to start to play. An odd look went across his face plates and he looked at the glyphs displaying on top, "The Sounds of the Quintesson Mating Dance?", he checked the next song, "And The Courting Song of the Junkion?"

Jazz rubbed the back of his helm sheepishly," Yeah, some of it's an acquired taste. Still there's enough on there that you should like some of it."

Taking Jazz's word for it he unplugged the player and stowed it in his subspace for later perusal.

Sending a reassuring smile at Jazz, he looked at Ratchet as he shoved a package in Optimus' servos. Opening it he found a data pad. After turning it on, he blanched then turned it off quickly. "Ratchet!", he waved the ambulance closer for a hissed conversation, "Why did you give me a copy of 'My Spark and Me: Sparks, Spikes, Valves and Growing Up' with the rest of the datapad looking at a glance to be full of porn?"

"What?, Ratchet scowled at the younger bot, "Sentinel said your creators off-lined when you were only a sparkling, and that's why you didn't make a big deal about your on-lining sol. You're still a virgin and a prude besides. I figured your creators never got the chance to explain the nuts and bolts and charge exchanges of it all."

Ratchet patted his shoulder armor awkwardly, "Don't worry, kid. Just read the datapad and try out what it says and I'm sure you'll be fine. I'm here for any questions you might have. I can even see about getting you some toys, though I'm not sure what I can get a hold of on this mud ball."

Optimus buried his helm in his servos as Ratchet walked away. Sari's present couldn't possibly be as bad as that was. He watched confused as the girl walked towards him carrying a baggie of zip ties, a car circuit breaker and an arm load of fairly thick, for a human, plastic tubing. Setting down her cargo she waved him over.

"Transform for a sec, would you Optimus?", transforming down he tried to hold still as she crawled under him and started zip tying the tubing and the circuit beaker to his underside. It tickled. He yelped as he suddenly felt whatever she was doing patch into his electrical circuity. As soon as she'd wiggled back out he transformed and froze when Ultra Magnus, nearly forgotten till this point, drew up a sharp in-vent. Looking down at himself he blushed furiously. Glowing out from behind his armor for his lower chassis, hip paneling and legs was a spark blue light.

"They're called ground effects. Cool, huh? And with the circuit breaker I put in, if they ever get too much energy it'll pop and reset once it cools! That way you don't have to worry about fuses.", She looked so proud, how could he tell her her gift was obscene.

This was more something you wore for your lover! Bots didn't wear things like this turned on in the streets unless they were selling themselves. This went even beyond protoform lights, this was visible with his armor on!

"Sari... Is there any way to turn them off?", he refused to meet anybots eyes, glad only Ultra Magnus, Sentinel and Sari had seen him like this, the others long since bored and distracted.

"Sure, right after the circuit breaker is this little remote starter thing. I give you the frequency and you can turn it on and off like a remote car lock.", Oh, Primus. He took the little device from her servos and gently pressed the button, intercepting and copying the frequency. When the lights went out he subspaced the controller, just in case, and ushered Sari to go play with Bumblebee and Bulkhead.

Cringing, he turned to his commanding officer and his once friend. Surprisingly, Sentinel didn't say anything, optics firmly turned away. The look in Ultra Magnus' optics though, it made the energon flood back to his cheek plates. Ignoring his unprofessional thoughts with the ease of long practice he calmed himself and cleared his intake.

"So, I'd understand if the two of you don't have anything. I wasn't expecting everything I received in the first-", Sentinel cut Optimus off.

"Stop with the goody-goody slag. I know you well enough to know what you thought really about those gifts. Here. I know it isn't much, but you always preferred simple gifts. I'm going back to the Steelhaven. I need a disinfecting.", a box was pressed into his servos.

Watching Sentinel transform and drive off he opened it and smiled the first real smile of the day. Inside the box was a delicate, stunning silvered-blue sculpture made of non-edible grade crystal of a turbofox. Maybe their friendship wasn't as far in the past as he'd thought.

Still smiling, he subspaced the statuette and looked up at the Magnus.

"Seriously, I'm not expecting a present. While it's not the on-lining sol I would have chosen for myself, I was very kind of everyone to think of me."

Ultra Magnus waved a servo, "I have a gift for you as well Optimus Prime, as well as a confession. Would you consent to talking about this in the hall away from prying optics?"

Confused by the request, Optimus none the less nodded and followed Ultra Magnus away from the gathering. Turning to face the taller bot he was surprised to see him looking nervous.

Seeming to gather himself, the Magnus reached into his subspace and pulled out, "The candy I receive each vorn?", Optimus asked startled.

Shifting the Magnus lifted his servo with his own and placed the box in it, "Yes, I saw you at the Academy and I was intrigued. I looked up what was in your public files and just became more so. I sent the gifts originally as a token, in hopes that when you graduated I could pursue a courtship with you."

Ultra sighed, "However, the timing was never right. First you were only in the Academy and it wouldn't be proper, any rank or accolades you achieved would have been suspect. Then after you were... removed from the Academy I did what I could for you despite, not just because of, my feelings. I honestly felt, and still feel you have potential. And I wanted you to become your own bot. Since finding out that not only were you off-lined for over half a vorn out here on this planet where I'd probably never have found out what happened to you, but that you were almost permanently off-lined less then a stellar cycle ago, I believe the time to tell you is now. "

Stunned Optimus reflexively subspaced the candy, "Sir-"

Ultra Magnus placed a digit over Optimus' lip plates, "When it is just the two of us, if you accept my feelings, please call me Ultra."

Optimus swallowed hard and paused, "Ultra, then." The smile on the older bot's face plates and the feel of that larger bot gently pressing him into the wall for their first kiss was the best present he'd ever gotten. Details could be talked about later. Bringing his servos up to clutch at Ultra's back as the kiss deepened and his knees became weak, he decided he'd definitely had worse on-lining sols.