Disclaimer: I do not own "Transformers" in any way, shape, or form. They are the property of Hasbro, Michael Bay, and all the other masters of the craft. I am just a humble college student and make no money from this.
The Moonlessnight: This is my first transformers fanfiction. As such, I am really not sure if I got everyone in character or not. I have only seen a few episodes of the cartoon, and, of course, the new movie which spawned this story. Everything else, I have picked up from reading a ton of fanfiction over the last few days. That said, let me know if I venture too far out of character. Please note that I did rely heavily on the cartoon and on fanfics for the personalities of Bumblebee and Ratchet. Reviews are always appreciated, no matter what form they come in. Thank you.
It was an odd sight, an ambulance and an eighteen wheeler sitting next to each other on the shore of the lake. They had been there since late afternoon, apparently abandoned or at the very least unattended. No drivers sat behind the wheel of either vehicle. The banter of medics on their break and the chatter of a CB enthusiast were absent. In fact the shoreline as a whole was virtually deserted tonight with only a sparse smattering of people draped across the hoods and trunks of their respective cars. Few dared to venture outside these days. Their world still swayed uncertainly following the recent attacks.
A few short days ago, those people on the far side of the lake had come to the frightening realization that Earth was not the only mother in the galaxy. They had learned this the hard way with their homes, their lives, thrown into the furnace of an alien war. At least, that is what some people were saying. Others were still shouting allegations at this country or that province, fingers pointing but never coming to rest on any one subject. Not a single country had escaped the impact of this war. Not a single country had profited from it. Years would pass before the truth became known; decades melting into a century before the Earth populace as a whole would accept the presence of the aliens among them. Until then, the warriors turned refugees lay hidden in plain view.
The last of the stragglers disappeared from the far bank, leaving the two abandoned vehicles to sit in silence. That is, until one of them spoke, "They're late again, Optimus."
Shifting on his chassis, the diesel truck sighed, "Be patient, Ratchet. Bumblebee and Sam always have a valid reason. You know as well as I do, it's not easy for him and Sam to get out here…especially on school night."
The ambulance snorted, a quick rev of the engine, and the headlights blinked once in irritation. "On a school night, you say? The boy almost died three days ago, on several occasions if you don't remember. You would think his parents would give him some time to recover."
"It was his choice," Optimus sighed. "Or at least I think it was. His government is adamant about keeping our presence a secret. I'm not even sure the boy's parents know he was involved in the battle." Sinking in on his tires like a weary man in a recliner, Optimus settled in to wait. "Besides, I've heard that there are teachers keeping him late after school in some kind of lengthy debriefing meetings. Bumblebee mentioned them in his last report."
"Debriefing meetings?" Ratchet leaned towards the truck, intent on his words. "He is no soldier, Optimus. Why would he require daily debriefings?"
Optimus' cab shifted in a vehicular shrug, "Ratchet, if I knew the answer to that I would be Primus himself."
Silence descended, leaving the two Autobots to gaze idly at the lake. Starlight reflected upon the water, warping and twisting into shapes to please the finest mathematician. The fact that Ratchet had yet to comment on those fanciful twists told him that his friend was not finished with the discussion. He was not disappointed as the moment shattered a few breems later.
"Well school night or no, late meeting or no, the least they could do is check in. Being this late makes me think something is-."
"Bumblebee to Ratchet!" The Autobots in question nearly jumped out of their shells as the call came blaring from the ambulance's comm.
"…wrong…." Ratchet finished his sentence, noting the almost hysterical note in Bumblebee's voice. What trouble had that little Camaro gotten himself into now? "Ratchet here, go ahead."
"We've got a situation here. Can you come to the field about five clicks to the south?" A short pause came, the speaker filled with static and the distant sound of choked gurgling. "By Primus! Ratchet, I think Sam is having a major malfunction. He's just ejected some kind of organic fluid from his mouth by the road here. He's been hiding it for a while now, but I could tell-."
Bumblebee fell silent for a moment, his transmitter relaying the distinct click of a car door opening. The Camaro's voice came then, laced with worry, "Are you all right, Sam?" The rustle of fabric and a harsh sounding cough were his answer. "Sam?"
Words listed forth, slurred and thick with pain. "Le'me sleep, Bee. Tell Optimus 'm sorry. Not gonna be…talkin'….t'nite." More coughing emitted from the speaker before falling to static. The relative silence stretched for an uncomfortable length of time, an eternity in a few brief seconds.
"Sam? Hey, kid?" Bumblebee's voice came loud, clear, and urgent. Ratchet and Optimus both slipped into gear, backing out and away from the lake before Bumblebee even confirmed the foregone conclusion. "He's gone offline! Sam's not waking up."
Lights flickered red and blue as Ratchet shifted into drive. Gravel flew as the ambulance and the diesel tore onto the open road, sirens crying to the night sky. "Listen to me and stay calm now, Bee. We'll be there in two breems, but right now I need you to talk to me. I need you to tell me exactly what symptoms Sam was displaying before you called us."
Bumblebee answered, speaking almost too fast to understand. "They've been pushing him hard, Ratchet. I don't think he's slept since everything happened. Between dealing with his parents, the school, his teachers, and that Agent Simmons with his endless questions he hasn't had any recharge time. Then there's the fact that the boy's been hurting for days but he hasn't told a soul. The only reason I know is because I can feel him tense up while he's driving. His head, his hands, his stomach…he's a real mess." Bumblebee's voice steadily gained in pitch before he was forced to stop, having taxed his mending voice modulator. After a few seconds, he continued in much softer tones. "On the way here, he didn't even want to drive. He crawled in the backseat to lie down. I figured it was the fatigue getting to him, but then he told me to stop in this field. He said he was going to, 'toss his chips' or something to that effect. …You don't think that fluid really was his chips do you?"
Ratchet would have chuckled if he were not so worried. "No. No. Humans are not like Transformers, Bumblebee. It's likely that fluid was an organic byproduct of some kind. Waste fluid if you will."
More dreaded silence. Optimus was beginning to hate silence, so he was the first to break it, "Bumblebee?"
"It will be all right. I promise you that."
Another pause and, "Thank you sir."
Ratchet nodded wordlessly, his chassis bobbing in ways no road could provoke and lights flickering his approval of Prime's words. "Bumblebee, I have a task for you," Ratchet's words were gentle but firm, "Tell me if Sam's status changes in the slightest. I don't care if it's just a random twitch, you tell me. Do you understand?" The Camaro muttered an affirmative. "Good. I will be there very soon." With that, Ratchet muted his transmitter and Optimus followed suit.
"Do you think it's serious, Ratchet?"
"Well, it's definitely not good. Humans are not Transformers, but there are undeniable similarities in our designs. Fluids are intended to remain within the body, be that a human body or an Autobot shell." Ratchet took a few seconds to collect his thoughts and to consult the World Wide Web before continuing. "Humans are highly susceptible to damage. If you think that battle was rough on you, you don't want to know how rough it was for the humans. Did you know humans can suffer internal damage after falling no more than six feet? How far did Sam fall from that bridge, or from that building? I would not be surprised if he had a slow leak somewhere in his system that manifested itself in that spontaneous fluid release.
"Of course, having gone undiagnosed for so long his system must be near depletion by now. I would estimate we have only another breem or so before he suffers from pump failure."
If he had been in his robotic form instead of his alt mode, Optimus would have worn a look fit kill a stone. "By, Primus code…. We had better hurry, then."
The remaining minutes before the pair reached the field were spent in silence, one running through possible procedures in his head and the other preparing words of comfort. Silence ticked by the seconds remaining through her presence alone, each tick of the clock adding a new definition to the word 'tense'. That tension snapped with an almost audible sound when a familiar yellow Camaro at last came into view.
"Thank the Matrix, you're here!" Bumblebee all but trilled. Gears clicked and gyros spun as Ratchet and Optimus both transformed into their robot modes. Bumblebee remained as he was, parked sideways on an incline with his driver's side door open. He was unable to transform with Sam still inside.
Sam's feet were readily visible, ratty white sneakers hanging over the edge of the front seat. Optimus made a motion to move the boy, but Ratchet stopped him with a touch. "We don't want to aggravate his condition, Prime. No moving him." Optimus Prime nodded wordlessly, choosing instead to turn on a set of lights mounted on his shoulders. He might as well make himself useful somehow.
Kneeling with his head nearly on the ground, Ratchet extended a single finger to gently probe the boy's prone form. "Have there been any changes, Bumblebee?" Ratchet all ready knew the answer since the Camaro had not called him, but he asked anyway. It was more as a ploy to distract Bumblebee than anything else. He could virtually feel the tension radiating from the small car in waves.
"No. He's been like this for quite some time now. Is he going to be all right?" Ratchet did not answer immediately, distracted by the figures and graphs scrolling across his heads-up display. All sound lapsed for a moment, save the slow breaths of the human in Bee's front seat. Then, Ratchet tilted his head in confusion.
"I must admit this has me baffled, Prime. From what my scans are showing, there's no internal structural damage. His exterior is still a little dinged up, but he is healing nicely. Pump action normal and fluid pressure within reasonable standards. His air intake rattles a bit, but it's steady too. Save for a higher core temp than I would like, his vitals read like a normal human recharge cycle."
"Why the discharge then, and why did he go offline?" Bumblebee asked, relieved and yet afraid to hope.
"I really don't know," Ratchet replied, withdrawing his hand and switching his position. He sat for a moment in contemplation, comparing his scans to the human medical databases available online. Finally, his optics flickered as a realization struck. "He's sick!"
Bumblebee shifted slightly on his wheels and Optimus scratched the back of his head. "We know he's sick Ratchet. If he wasn't, he wouldn't be offline in my front seat." Bumblebee quipped.
Ratchet actually laughed, a deep rumble originating from within his chest. "No. He's not sick by Autobot standards. He's not necessarily malfunctioning or in need of repair. He's sick by human standards, exhausted and suffering from a cold."
"But, it's not cold," Optimus stated uncertainly.
Shaking his head, Ratchet laughed again. "Maybe Sam can explain it better." Without another word, Ratchet reached into Bumblebee and carefully lifted the sleeping human from the seat. Staying close to the ground and cradling the boy in one hand, he gently stroked his back with a finger. When the medic spoke his voice was like a summer night, warm and inviting. "Sam? Come one now. It's time to wake up."
Sam batted at the finger feebly, trying to sink back to the slumber Ratchet was interrupting. "Sam," the medic said again, his voice gaining the hint of an edge, "wake up!" Sitting up with a startled gasp, the boy complied.
Transforming to his robot form in record time, Bumblebee looked down at Sam with a huge smile on his face. Optimus was smiling too, but kept his distance so as not to frighten the groggy young human. "You're all right!" Bumblebee crowed.
Coughing harshly into his hand, Sam nodded his head. When he could at last speak, it was with a hoarse voice. "Why wouldn't I be?"
"Would you like to explain the term 'common cold' to these two, or shall I?" Ratchet asked, drawing the boy's gaze skyward. It was then that Sam realized just where he was and decided to play lichen to Ratchet's rock. The medic loosed a third peel of laughter, his antics causing Sam to visibly pale. "I'll take that to mean you want me to explain. Very well, then."
Carefully lowering his hand, Ratchet allowed Sam to jump the short distance to the ground. Sam staggered as his feet touched earth and he was surprised at the gentle hand that swooped down to steady him. "Humans and Transformers have more in common than I first believed," the medic began, hand still supporting the ill human, "yet there are several key differences. When a Transformer catches a 'virus' for example, they require a medic like me to create and initiate a special program to eliminate it. Humans, on the other hand, have 'anti-virus' encoding built in. They can heal most wounds and most common illnesses without the aid of a medic. It's quite remarkable, really."
"What's that got to do with the price of scrap in a junkyard?" Bumblebee asked.
Optimus answered. "I think I see where Ratchet is going with this. A cold is a type of virus isn't it? One that Sam can heal without help?"
Ratchet sighed. "Yes and no. It's a little more complicated than that, but you get the general idea." Turning his attention to the very confused human who was now wide awake the medic smiled, optics showing a vibrant blue. "Now you, young man, are going to go home and take some Tylenol. If you don't have any, I am sure I can find some. No shaking your head at me. You are running a fairly high fever right now and are need of some medication. If you refuse, then you will be spending the night with me."
Sam was beginning to understand what must have happened. He started to nod then shook his head. "No. I have school in the morning, and if I tell mom I was-." The rest of the sentence dissolved into a coughing fit that left the world spinning.
"That's it! You are staying with me if you like it or not and I don't give a slag if you think otherwise."
Looking back and forth between Bumblebee and Optimus, Sam silently pleaded for help. The two Autobots literally put their hands in the air and took a step back. No one dared to challenge Ratchet when he got in one of his moods, lest of all those who had once been his patients. Resigned to his fate, Sam plopped to the ground and proceeded to sulk as only teenagers can. The medic continued to kneel beside him, producing a pillow and a blanket which he proffered to Sam. "Where did you….?"
Ratchet patted the side of his massive leg, revealing several compartments fitted into the armor casing. "I am an ambulance, after all. Did you think I spent all my time waiting for you at the lake?" Sam shook his head as Ratchet carefully fished a final item from some hidden place. It was a bottle of Tylenol. "I am warning you only once, Sam. I will be checking on you though out the night and if your fever gets much worse, I will take you to the nearest E.R."
Sam nodded, amazed yet again at the dexterity and gentleness of those giant hands. Taking two Tylenol, Sam folded his arms and curled in on himself. His eyes began to droop as his body pulled him towards unconscious bliss. Servos sounded in his ear and Sam cracked an eye open to find Ratchet leaning over him. "You will not be going to school tomorrow. If someone, be they parent or agent, attempts to make you, they will have to deal with me."
Sam smiled, drifting to sleep under the watchful gaze of three, gargantuan guardians.
The Moonlessnight: There it is. Let me know what you thought by reviewing, please. I'm kinda nervous since I'm not entirely sure the Autobot-human relationship has been portrayed this way before. I just kinda figure that there would be a real learning curve between the two races. Yeah... I'm crazy. I know it.