A/N: This fic is based on Kidu's story "Adapt", which is in turn based on Wayward's "The Human Condition", both of whichyoushould really read because they are so damn good. (Wayward's is easy to find, just check my favourite authors; Kidu's is a little trickier, but if I find a link I'll connect it through my profile.) The basic backstory is that the Transformers have been turned human en masse (this fic branches mostly from "Adapt", whereby their humanity is a by-product of one of Megatron's plots and the Decepticon fanction splits up because of it), and are now having to deal with life from the squishy side of things. Wayward's centred on the Decepticons, and Kidu's altered the context and universe and branched outto includesome of the Autobots; "Running" is much more narrow in scope, focussed entirely on the Stunticons, who were touched on in "Adapt" as having gone to L.A. to work as, of course, stunt drivers. That little mention was enough to spawn a plotbunny which grew to Godzillian proportions...and from it we have "Running", not as good as its precursors, but hopefully enjoyable nonetheless. Constructive criticism is my oxygen.
Chapter 1: Truck Stop
Nobody at the truck stop paid them any mind when they walked in, sweat-soaked and dusty, and for that Breakdown was thankful, at least. Anyway, even after nearly six hours of walking through blazing desert heat in a new, fragile, and above all unfed organic body, Motormaster still swaggered in like he owned the place and everyone in it, and apparently this was good enough for the dozen or so humans inside, who turned back to their coffees or sandwiches with studied attentiveness.
"So far so good," Breakdown muttered to Motormaster, his words covered by the screeching of chairs on linoleum as Wildrider and Drag Strip made a production of taking their seats and glaring around at the backs of various heads. "Apparently your brand of attitude is common in this culture," the ex-Decepticon couldn't help adding nastily, "so we should be able to blend in alright."
"Blending in is the only reason why I didn't just reach out and break your arm for that little remark," Motormaster hissed across the table at the smaller man. "I think I'll save that for later."
Breakdown shivered and pulled away from his leader, certain that he meant it...and then realized why Motormaster was so touchy. For some reason, his own human form, which was dark-pigmented, had endured the heat better than Motormaster, whose face was drenched and even redder than it had been hours before within the base. The bigger Stunticon had noticed his own weakness in comparison to Breakdown's endurance of the sun, and he hated it. Breakdown, now curious and feeling more confident than he could remember being in his whole life--these humans had always been a source of envious fascination and astonishment to him, and now he was one, anonymous, not worth a second glance, glory be!--looked over at Wildrider and noticed that his teammate, slightly lighter than himself, also seemed less susceptable to heat. He couldn't stop himself from staring at his own fingers, held out in front of him, and then at Dead End who sat across the table from him. The former Porsche, for his part, was staring at nothing, the neck of his turtleshirt pulled up over his nose, his almond eyes strangely peaceful behind clear industrial yellow glasses.
"I stink," announced Drag Strip to the universe at large, as if it were interested. "I need to wash."
For a moment the Stunticons froze, and it was horrible for them to realize: alien bodies in an alien culture, with no idea as to the mundanities of life that every human knew...
"Bathroom's right over by me, pal," said the human--female, Breakdown noted with a degree of uncertainty, short hair, chubby, glasses, wearing a big brown sweater and faded blue jeans--who had been sitting at the counter obviously since well before the Stunticons came in. She appeared to be over-energized, and her plate of scrambled eggs and sausages was untouched. Drag Strip got up and started for the rightmost door of the two the female had indicated, only to be stopped by a passing waitress.
"Honey, that's the little girl's room; unless you some kinda trans-whatsit, you want the other one."
Drag Strip snorted and acted as if he hadn't heard her, but went into the room indicated. He was out again in nanoseconds and skidding into the Stunticons' commandeered table. "I can't go in there," he spat, eyes wide with revulsion. "It stinks worse than this stupid body does!"
"Nothing stinks worse than you do, "honey"," Motormaster sneered up at him. "Suck it up."
"You talk to me like that again, I'll smash your fa--"
"I'll go with you," Breakdown said pointedly, because one or two people were starting to stare at them. "I'm sure it's not that bad. You're always so hypochondriacal..."
"Hysterical," Dead End corrected him automatically.
"Oh, so you are alive," Motormaster growled at him. "Got any human money? They'll probably try to kick us out unless we order something, and I don't want a body count this early on, or that slagger Onslaught will make fun of me."
Praying to Primus that Motormaster would remember to keep that blasted voice of his down, Breakdown lead Drag Strip back into the truck stop's washroom, which was, in fact, that bad. Nose crinkled, Drag Strip idly pulled off his thick yellow logo-decked jacket and the white t-shirt underneath, and started washing his arms and shoulders off in the bathroom sink. Apparently he wasn't nearly as interested in his new form as Breakdown was in his, but all the same, in the middle of splashing water on his stomach, he paused and looked over at Breakdown curiously.
"Hey, you squishy-watch sometimes, right?"
"Sometimes," Breakdown admitted cautiously. "Why?"
"Just stuff about these new stupid bodies, really...I mean, what, for instance, is this for?" Drag Strip fiddled with the zipper on his pants for a moment, then produced something of vague interest.
Breakdown inspected the item in question. "Um, I'm not really certain. From what I've seen, it's a dual interface/waste-expulsion port."
"It looks like a pain is what it is," Drag Strip complained bitterly. "Plus, it's not even remotely aerodynamic! Can't I just cut it off?"
"I don't think that would be a good idea...but then again, when has that ever stopped you?"
"Feh, I suppose I can just have that done when we find Scrapper and his team."
"I dunno," Breakdown said, inspecting some of the inscriptions on the bathroom wall. "Apparently the humans attach great importance to those things."
"Yeah. Humans that have them recieve higher social standing than those without them."
Drag Strip's annoyed expression melted into one of disbelief. "You're kidding me? Social superiority among humans is awarded based on a seven inch hunk of meat inconveniently stuck between your legs?"
"That's the impression I got from watching them, yes," Breakdown said, wondering idly who Killroy was. Drag Strip rolled his eyes, zipped his pants back up with some difficulty, and pulled his t-shirt back on.
"What a stupid culture. As soon as we turn back into our old selves, I say we get Astrotrain to blast this dumb planet to shards; no one would miss it, I'm certain."
Someone with fists the size of a computer monitor was banging on the bathroom door, making "someone" probably Motormaster. "Oi, you two done in there yet? Dead End ordered something called 'coffee' for us."
"That's if we get back to our old selves," Breakdown said with a moment of moroseness as Drag Strip dried his hands off and opened the door.