Painted Sandscapes: Stars and Midnight Blue

The Last Time By Moonlight
 by Moonfire


The snow had stopped falling after what seemed like forever even though it had only been three days. Three long days having to stay indoors that had seemed like forever to a child of ten. Rusti's breath came out in a puff of misty vapor as she stood next to the slide at the park at Fort Max and gazed at the frozen wonderland before her.

She had been sound asleep when something had awakened her. Rusti didn't know what it had been that had nudged her from dreaming but now that her eyes had adjusted to the darkness of her room she sat up in bed and looked around. The clock on her nightstand put the hour at a little past one in the morning. It wasn't as dark as she had thought it would be at that late hour as moonlight, the color of milk spilled across a corner of her bed and ran over her bedroom floor. It gave the room a kind of bluish hue.

Rusti climbed from her bed to gaze out her window, her breath making foggy circles on the glass. There shinning high in the darkness was the beautiful face of the full moon. The ground below, what she could see of it, was covered in white snow that sparkled as though someone had accidentally spilled a bottle of silver glitter. It had finally stopped snowing.

Rusti weigh her options. She could climb back in bed and try to go back to sleep or she could go outside for just a few minutes, just to look at the snow and the moon. Rusti thought about all the events of the past few months and decided that she could use just a moment to herself. Just a moment of pure simplicity without grown-ups or rules or school work or parents that should have… The little girl bit back on that thought and made her way over to her closet.

What had intended to be a short walk outdoors had turned into a walk to the closest park. The snow drifts were higher than Rusti's head in some places and so she was careful not to try climbing on them. The air was cold but it seemed so pure and clean as everything laid still and quiet. Her little corner of the world had been wrapped in a soft white blanket and gave the impression that everything everywhere around her was asleep and dreaming.

Rusti was lying on her back looking up at the shimmering stars making a snow angel in a patch of snow when a familiar silhouette appeared on her left. Rusti braced for being in trouble but Optimus Prime said not one word as he sat quietly next to her.

"Aren't you gonna tell me that I shouldn't be outside at this hour?" she asked after a few minuets had passed in silence.

"I could do that but …I don't want to," came the quiet reply. She thought it was an odd thing for him to say but perhaps he needed a moment just as she did.

Rusti stood and gazed down at her angelic imprint. For a single second she wondered what it would be like to have wings. To rise above the ground and soar like a real bird. She stumbled forward, her thoughts scattering as a small snowball crashed against her back blowing snow dust around her body. She whirled around to face Optimus who sheepishly tried to look away.

It was a rare occasion but Optimus let out a laugh as Rusti gathered a snowball of her own and launched it through the air. It crashed against his leg as Optimus gathered another very small handful of snow. Giggles from Rusti broke the stillness of the night like pebbles skipping across the surface of a pond as she dashed behind the slide.

The winter sky above us was shinning in moonlight

And everywhere around us the silence of midnight

And we had gathered snowflakes

Remember the soft light of starlight on snow

Oooh, remember this, for no-one knows, the way love goes

Oooh, remember this, for no-one knows, the way life goes

"Optimus, do you like snow?" Rusti asked breathless as she gathered snow for the biggest snowball she could possibly make.

"It serves a purpose I suppose."

The Autobot Leader watched as Rusti reappeared with the snowball behind her back. He allowed her to get close enough to him to throw the snowball at his chest at which point Optimus fell back against the ground as though struck by a defeating blow, the back of his hand against his helm.

"Oooh, you got me. I'm done for." Rusti laughed so hard she had to sit down. Then she asked Optimus if he could make a snow angel like she had done because she wanted to see how much bigger his would be. Minutes later sitting high on the senior Prime's right shoulder Rusti gazed down at two snow angels the one on the left much larger than her own.

The brilliance of the diamond covered ground dimmed in its glow and both of them glanced skyward to see wispy clouds sail past the face of the moon. With a nod, Optimus and Rusti turned and headed back.

"I'll always remember this moment," she whispered to Prime as they walked. "Always, always, and always."

We walked the road together one last time by moonlight

As underneath the heavens, the slow chimes at midnight

But nothing is forever, not even the starlight at midnight

Not even the moonlight

Oooh, remember this, for no-one knows, the way love goes

Oooh, remember this, for no-one knows, the way life goes


Rusti awoke from dreaming and found tears on her cheeks. How long ago that memory seemed. In the blink of an eye everything had changed. Cybertron was gone and the Matrix had been shattered like so much broken glass. Memories of a happier time seemed like they belonged to someone else, not to her and the Autobots that she once knew.

She sat up from her cramped position of having fallen asleep at her desk, wiped her eyes and pushed her blood red hair back. The small circle of soft yellow light shined down on the files that lay open before her. It was long after everyone else except the night staff had gone home. When had being chained to a desk become her life? Wasn't that the job description of someone else? When had she gone from bringing him pictures (which she still did) to being his psychiatrist?

Rusti turned out the light over her desk and grabbed her white lab coat. She walked down the halls of the psychiatric ward illuminated by the soft fluorescent overhead lights away from her office. When she was a little girl Rusti had never dreamed that she would ever want to work in a place like this but that was before the two beings that Rusti loved with all her heart came to reside for the rest of their lives behind these walls.

It was not an easy life watching Optimus and Roddi sink into madness like quicksand but she had to be sure that they were cared for and treated with dignity and kindness. It was a thing she could not do unless on the inside with them. No one would ever understand the former Autobot leaders like she did. They had been such a part of her life that it was impossible to think about a life without them.

But often she could decide if being on the inside was a blessing or a curse.

Rusti paused outside Rodimus' cell door but she dared not enter. She peered through the small viewing window to see that he was in fact sleeping as per her orders for sedation. Rodimus had gone somewhere in his mind that she could not follow and as much as she didn't want to believe it, the day he had lunged at her clearly not knowing or caring who she was, Rusti knew he had left her for good. If it hadn't been for the restraints Roddi might have actually really hurt her. At best he had only knocked her off her feet and scared her almost into a heart attack. She was permitted to come no closer than the window and only did so when she knew he was sleeping. His often screaming fits cut through her soul like a hot knife through butter and she fought the urge to scream right along with him.

Optimus had gone the other direction by being almost catatonic the majority of the time but Rusti knew that her true love would never hurt her.

The door opened with a small hiss in the quiet. Rusti stepped through and allowed it to slowly shut behind her. He sat in the corner alone as he had done for the last several days, not moving, not talking. It was dark in his room…except for the moonlight falling softly across the floor. Rusti's memories rushed back like the ocean breaking against the shore.

She whispered his name in the darkness but Optimus didn't indicate whether he was listening or even aware of her presence. For all Rusti knew in his mind he might not even be on the same planet. He might finally be gone but Rusti had to believe some part of him could still hear her.

"I remember a time when we stood in the moonlight together, having a snowball fight, making snow angels." Her quiet voice did not betray the pounding of her heart as she moved from the doorway and stepped into the moonlight.

Memories we share together, moments no-one else can know

I will keep them close to me, never let them go

Once you filled my hands with roses, then you gave your heart to me

When a kiss had followed this, love was meant to be

"I told you that I'd always remember that moment. I still do and I'll remember it for both of us." Optimus sat as still as stone.

"I wish I knew how to help you, to reach inside…and fix whatever's broken. You're still mine." Rusti turned her back and stared through the bars on the window to the moon outside so he wouldn't see her tears. She couldn't let him know how seeing him like this broke her heart, how it sometimes made her so angry followed by guilt of being angry toward someone who had lost everything. Optimus couldn't help what he had become but that did not make reality any easier.

A moment of clarity, of whispered words and the sound of beating wings that might be angels taking flight, Optimus' optics seemed to blink and he registered the world around him for the first time in years. A little girl stood before him, someone he had given his heart and a ring a lifetime ago. Someone that still loved him, needed him, and saw something inside of him beyond what he could not see himself but he had no more words. They were all gone, just like everything else, vanished into smoke. Light and color shifted and Optimus fought to hang on to what he really saw before him but it was a losing battle. It would not be much longer before like the bird Rusti had found as a child, he too would fly away.

Still in the silence of the moon's soft glow mixed with tears and memories, Optimus gathered whatever strength he personally had left and crawled on his hands and knees and lay down on his side in the moonlight next to his Rusti who would find out in the weeks to come that that would be the last time he would ever move again of his own accord. The tall, red headed woman knelt by his right shoulder and ran her hands over his helm and down his face plate. She continued to caress his face with her fingertips, needing no words until his optics dimmed and she knew him to be sleeping at last, something he rarely did anymore.  

Time goes by and the snow is drifting, slowly in the sky

Cold, cold night as you lie beside me, I can hear your heartbeat

As she knew she would do, Rusti stayed by his side as the moonlight shifted across the floor until it faded altogether from sight. She thought how easy it would be to put an end to all this suffering but love stayed her hand.

"I'll remember everything for the both of us. I'll stay by your side so you will never be alone or forgotten." Rusti whispered into the stillness and set her sights on what lay ahead.

Perhaps tomorrow they would paint a picture together, of someplace far away from all that had become of their world. But that was tomorrow…

You have lost yourself in dreaming and I have lost myself in you,

Now we lie beneath the sky, stars and midnight blue.

* The lyrics are taken from two songs by Enya off of her latest CD titled And Winter Came. The first song used for the dream is titled The Last Time By Moonlight and the song for Rusti and Optimus in his cell is titled Stars and Midnight Blue.