Some four months ago, I became ill (a rare occurrence for me) and ended up writing a trippy little one shot in the middle of the night involving—among other things—Ratchet and the Doctor arguing over the proper treatment of a stomach bug. (If someone would please tell Ratchet that "rebooting" a human doesn't work, that'd be nice)

So, as I said when I made the last one, I am here with a sequel. I didn't pay the reality bill again, and here comes the insanity.

I am not responsible for any madness or confusion that may result from reading this. I hope.


When one is ill, that is an unfortunate thing. When one is ill abroad, it is doubly unfortunate, because everything suddenly seems strange and unfriendly. When one is ill at home, it is considerably less daunting. The bed is one's own, the blankets are one's own, and there is a cabinet full of tea and honey if one's throat begins too feel too much like sandpaper. However, it must be agreed upon that when one is sick, there can follow a tendency to forget things that have not been prioritized. Such as the Reality Bill. Ardent Aspen lay curled up in an untidy heap of blankets and socks and bathrobes, wholly unwilling to move and wholly unmotivated to do much of anything. "I really oughtn't be so lazy," she sighed to herself, "I was going to try and write a chapter of something today, wasn't I?" A round of coughing soon reminded her precisely why she wasn't getting out of bed. "Well don't you sound lovely?" someone said, rather sarcastically.

Aspen peeped out over the quilt and glared at the crocodile in the reading chair. "Oh, why don't you make yourself useful, 'Risto? Go and make some tea, why don't you?" The large reptile blinked severely at her over his pince-nez until she muttered a sullen, "Please." He grunted and shifted his heavy bulk out of the armchair. "Just because you're sick doesn't mean you can't mind your manners," he sniffed as shuffled out the door. Wide-eyed, one of her elder brothers poked his head around the doorframe moments later. "Aspen, was that a crocodile in pince-nez and an Oxford suit I just saw in the kitchen?" Oh. Then he wasn't just her imagination after all. "Maybe?" she grinned guiltily. There was a loud sigh. "Never mind! It's not the Apocalypse, guys!" Thomas called down the stairs, "Aspen just forgot to pay the Reality Bill...again!" Various sighs and groans of protest floated up through the floorboards. Aspen was about to apologize when she saw her brother's eyes narrow for a second. "Aspen, why is there a Decepticon in your room?" he asked calmly.

"Oh, mind your own business, human!" Starscream snapped, crossing his arms. Aspen blinked. "Well hello there! What on earth are you doing in here?" The Seeker pouted enormously. "Your author friends told me to stop pestering them." Thomas and Aspen glanced at each other. "Well, he is a bit of a pest," Aspen conceded. Thomas pretended to be scandalized. "No he's not! Starscream is the best Decepticon ever!" Flattered, Starscream posed dramatically. "Well, I see the little would-be writer does have some positive influence in her life after all! Maybe she's not a total loss." Thomas rolled his eyes and grinned. "I'm going back downstairs to make sure that crocodile doesn't set the kitchen on fire," he announced, "No destroying the upstairs, got it?" Aspen tried to stick her tongue out at her brother, but started coughing again. Starscream edged away. "Human? This writer is defective! There's something wrong with her engine!"

"Oh no there isn't," Aspen growled, "I'm just a little under the weather, that's all!" The Decepticon made a horrible face at her. "Blech! Humans, so squishy and diseased!" The human shook her fist at the Cybertronian. "Clear out! Don't make me come over there and infect you!" A girlish shriek let the whole house know precisely what Starscream thought of that idea. "Now look, you've gone and gotten her all riled up," a disgruntled tone sounded from the closet. A grumpy looking man with a close haircut and rather large ears stormed into the room. "Miss Aspen, I seem to recall prescribing rest for you, and no excitement. Didn't I specifically say no excitement?" Aspen ducked down under the covers. "Yes, Doctor," she squeaked. Starscream raised an eyebrow at the newcomer. "What are you doing in a place like this?" he asked. The man cracked a grin for a moment. "Well, there are some eleven or twelve of me running about. Makes house calls so much easier, you know." The Doctor opened a bag and fished out a small bottle. "Now here's what I was looking for earlier! Cough syrup: just for you!" He left it on the bedside table with sternest instructions that she was to drink the recommended dosage and go straight to sleep.

"I hate cough syrup!" Aspen declared as soon as the Doctor had vanished out of Reality again. "Oh really?" Starscream looked interested. "Well, always do what the doctor ordered!" With a menacing smile, he held up the bottle. "Come come, drink up!" The sick woman leveled a glare at him that would've turned a basilisk to stone. "Sometimes, I hate you." She pulled the covers up over her head, fully intending to ignore the Seeker until he lost interest and wandered away. "Aspen," a deeper voice spoke from somewhere over her head. "Are you being stubborn again?" "Yes!" she answered peevishly, "But only because Starscream is being a pest!" Said Decepticon made as innocent a face as he could manage. "What? Me? Well if I am, it only serves her right! She makes me look like an incompetent fool in her stories!" One eye glare balefully out from the blanket fort. "What about The Tragedy of the Decepticon? You're the primary antagonist!" And Starscream said, "Oh," and, "I'd forgotten about that."

The deep voice spoke again as the quilt was gently tugged away from Aspen. "Now then. Your family sent me up here because they thought perhaps you were avoiding your medicine. I see that they were correct. Starscream, give me the cough syrup." Reluctantly, the Seeker handed the bottle to Optimus, slightly nonplussed that his chance to torment a human had come and gone so quickly. "Now Aspen, are you going to take your medicine, or must I call Ms. Song again?" Optimus asked. Faced with the prospect of being force-fed cough syrup by the formidable River Song, the patient dutifully—and with many a grimace—drank the noxious substance. "Why is it always you guys that come when the Reality gets shut off?" Aspen sighed, trying to ignore the nasty taste. "Probably," answered Starscream, "Because you seem to like us. I happen to know that your friend Lilly from school doesn't pay her Reality Bill sometimes either, but she ends up holding arguments with a certain detective from Baker Street!" So then, perhaps it depended on the individual what appeared or did not appear when the company shut off Reality.

Optimus pushed Starscream into the closet and shut the door, silencing him. Out of sight, out of mind, you know. "You ought to go to sleep," he scolded quietly, "And when you wake up, what are you going to do?" "Pay the Reality Bill," Aspen grumbled. The Autobot nodded. "That's what I thought." Then he too vanished, leaving Ardent Aspen (blessedly) alone in her room. That is, alone until the crocodile came bustling back in with a tray and a teacup. "You didn't specify what you wanted, so I experimented with mixing several teas at once!" he said cheerfully. Aspen moaned and pulled the pillow over her face. There was a reason for Reality Bills...

Kinda trippy and confusing, just like the last one I guess. But hey, it's late, I'm tired, and my giant Optimus is glaring at me. I need to move that thing.