This had to be some dream. Some wild and unexpected dream her subconscious was making up. Just to torture her. Again. The red mech smiled gently and lowered to one knee, becoming a little bit more level with Arcee.
Oh it sounded so much like him. It looked just like him. Not some dead thing mutated by insanity and evil she'd watched plummet to it's final demise. It hurt, oh how it hurt to see him again. This was bittersweet. Even before she'd ask, she knew what the answer was.
"We're in my subconscious. Aren't we?"
Her tone was bitter and edged with emotional static. It made Cliffjumper sigh and look down at the ground. Down at the ped that had been long gone when she found his body. He hesitated for a long moment before answering.
"... Yes, we are."
It was a good thing she didn't get her hopes up, it was less that came crashing down on her at that moment. But still, her spark lurched in undeniable pain. She managed it though, took a deep breath and swallowed it back down her throat. She was a warrior, and warriors didn't cry. They fight.
"Why are you here?"
The red mech looked back up at her for a moment, and then off to the side. It was then that she noticed where they were in her subconscious. A hill in a meadow, with the tall grasses swaying in the afternoon summer breeze. She remembered this meadow, from the times they'd lay on the soft ground staring up at the sky. Sometimes in secret.
"I... Wanted you to know something."
Memories flashed before her eyes and their conversations echoed in her audios. Sometimes serious. Sometimes random. She remembered one time when they spoke of Cybertron before the war. It was spark wrenching for the both of them in their own ways. But mostly for one thing Cliffjumper had said to her.
"I think that... If this war had never started but I still met you, I would've asked you out on a date..."
"... What's that?"
She dread what he would say next. That's all she was used to now. More disappointment, more spark break, more agony, more pretending to be fine. Even being in her subconscious she was wary. In the next moment this might be over; she would wake up and he would be gone once again. Never to come back. Just another foolish and selfish dream. That's when his optics found hers once again.
"You can let go now Arcee."
She blinked. Well that response wasn't really expected. But it wasn't as processor deadly as she had first expected. Neither was it some piece of a miracle either. Really though, what was she expecting? It was too much to hope... Let go, what did he mean let go? Arcee huffed and crossed her arms over her chassis.
"I already accepted your death."
A hint of a smile crawled over his faceplates as he stood back up, taking a few steps closer to the femme. Until they were face to face, close enough to almost touch frames. Arcee froze, looking up at him with wide optics. She wasn't used to this, not this type of contact. Not this close, even with Cliffjumper. He'd never done this during his life, why now?
"That's not what I meant Arcee. You hold onto my existence, and for it I've watched you suffer. Too much..."
His servo reached out and cupped her cheek plate. The contact was so unfamiliar it almost burned. But she didn't flinch, only staring up at him with trusting optics. Cliffjumper's touch was so sweet in it's bitterness. The touch she'd been waiting so long to feel.
"... Arcee, you need to let me go."
She leaned into the touch and brought her servos to cup his. Her optics fluttered shut as for the first time in such a long time, she finally let her guard down. Cliff knew her without the walls, he was the only bot she ever truly trusted with her spark.
"Why did you leave? Why did you have to go??"
She felt her own voice beg and plead in it's sincerity. Her grip on his servo tightened and coolant tears dripped slowly from her optics. There were no more walls to protect her now.
He watched her cry, mournful sorrow reflected in his optics. This was the truth. The agonizing and cold blooded truth. He was offline, and she was paying the price. She'd been the one ripped in half and left to fend for herself. No, he'd never meant to leave her. But fate has a cruel sense of humor.
"... It is too late for me, but not for you. You remain on Earth for a reason, you must live on... If not for your own sake, for Jack."
Once again, she froze. Jack... The human she'd come to care for so much. The human that made her feel a little less stone cold now that Cliffjumper was gone. The human she was now afraid to lose. She looked up at Cliffjumper with widened optics, letting her servos fall away from his. One last tear fell down her faceplate.
The red mech smiled at that, and moved his digit to wipe away the tear. And then, he leaned down swiftly. Arcee felt as the red mech pressed their lips together into a soft kiss. Her optics fell shut, and his followed shortly. Nothing forced, nothing hard, only something a soft and sweet offering. She was sure her spark was going to burst in enlightenment. When was the last time she had been kissed...? What felt like forever lasted only moments, and as soon as he'd come, he pulled away. But didn't completely leave.
"... Let him in Arcee. Only he can soothe the wounds I left. Give him a chance... Give yourself the chance."
A second chance... It felt foreign to her. You didn't get very many second chances in war. It was hit or miss, and that was that. But a second chance... To get it right, now that was an opportunity of a lifetime. Their forehelms pressed together, resembling their reluctance to let go. She cupped his cheek plate and opened her optics to look at him.
"What about you?"
The red mech pulled away gently, reassuring Arcee with trusting smile. The breeze around them picked up, stirring the grasses to sway in a sort of waving dance. He looked up at the bright blue sky, as if something from far up beyond the clouds was calling him. And then back to her.
"I'll do what I've come to always do. Watch over the both of you, and wait for you in the Allspark."
At that, the femme smiled. It gave her peace of processor, knowing that somewhere near in this universe, Cliff would be there. He was never really gone, just in a way, hiding. She then let him go, backing up a few steps.
"... So long Cliff."
His optics brightened as she said her final goodbye. He could now go, she would be fine. He nodded to her in a final wave, and turned.
As she watched him walk away, something lifted from her spark. Something heavy and dark that had weaved itself into her like vines. It was her grief, weighing down on her like cement, that now lifted away and disappeared. While some of the pain still remained, it was small and steady, a much littler hole that she knew Jack would come to fill. The realization suddenly dawned on her, as her subconscious world slowly faded away into the realm of the living.
.... I'm free.