NOTE: This story has been given an edit, then re-posted up on my AO3 account at archiveofourown_org/works/620559/chapters/1119797 as well as various other Sparks-related pieces I've written more recently. So feel free to head over there if you want to read an edited version (there's no REALLY major changes, just fixes in characterization), and if you want to discover the cracktastic pairing of Alex/Megatron (which totally wasn't my idea, for the record).
Summary: It started with a broken down truck, carried on with giant robots, got twisted up with some Allspark energy, and now the who thing's gone to the Pits. Alex's life has never been more out of her control...literally.
Pairing: None mentioned until the epilogue, then Optimus/Elita, Ironhide/Chromia, and implied Prowl/Jazz
Rating: T (language and character death)
Official Disclaimer: I don't own Transformers, they belong to someone else. I don't even try and delude myself into think I own them.
Author's Disclaimer: My total experience with the Transformers dates back only to July 7th of this year. I did not play with the toys as a kid, and my mom wouldn't have let me watch the shows as a kid even had I been interested then. I've tracked down a few episodes of the original Transformers series, and the Energon series, since I saw the movie, but by no means do I claim that's enough for me to know the characters as well as those who have watched the shows all their life and played with the toys since they were two. I haven't even read the prequel comics to the movie (I'd like to, but the first two issues are sold out). So, go easy on me if I make a canon mistake, alright?
- Chapter One: Monster Mothers and Peterbilt Trucks -
Alex let out a loud swear as she landed on the ground, then spun around and high-kicked the door to the truck cab she'd just exited, sneding it flying shut with a loud bang. She heard a chuckle and turned to find the depot manager, George, standing a few feet away.
"The piece of junk finally give up on you, darlin'?" he drawled, his accent pegging him for a southerner even if the cowboy hat, jeans, and boots didn't give it away. George was the only one, period, who could get away with calling Alex 'darlin' - or with using her full name.
"It's not a piece of junk, and obviously not, since it got me here!" Alex snapped back, as protective of her truck as always.
"If you say so." George said, arching an eyebrow and quirking his lips slightly as he tried not to laugh again.
"I do." Alex snarled. "Now can you go get someone to get the trailer unhooked?"
"Only if you promise not to come back half-way through and snap at them for scratching up your truck." George said sternly.
"They had it coming!" Alex retorted. "Did you SEE the tool they were using?! That thing had to have been an illegal weapon!" George shook his head.
"They were two of the best employees I'd found since your last visit, and you pissed 'em off so much they went and quit!" he said. "So unless you can promise me you won't be chewing my staff out, you'll be unhooking your truck yourself." Alex sighed.
"Trust me, you don't have to worry about that. I've got a pretty tight schedule tonight." she said.
"Doin' somethin' with your sis?" George asked curiously.
"Apparently her newest boy's 'rents just happen to be in town tonight, and she wants me cleaned up before they get there...which'll be in about half an hour." Alex said, glancing at her watch. George whistled.
"Our Alex, cleaned up? Makes me wish I was invited so I could see this novelty." he said with a grin, and Alex rolled her eyes. She wasn't exactly dirty or unkempt, but in keeping with the lifestyle of a trucker, it was rare to see her in anything but jeans and a t-shirt, with her blonde hair pulled back in a severe ponytail - and cosmetics were things she just didn't have time for. She didn't own even a bottle of nail polish - as far as she was concerned, people could accept her as she was or not at all.
"Yeah yeah yeah. Just get your men out here and call me a cab, willya? Beth is probably already cursing my name; I was supposed to be there an hour ago." Alex replied, and George nodded before heading off. Alex walked around the front end of her truck, glaring balefully at the grill, before opening the passenger door and hauling her bag out of the seat. She kicked the door shut again and headed up to George's office, where she knew he'd direct the cab to come. She sat with her back to her truck, so she wouldn't have to see what George's employees were doing to it. The previous two HAD been scratching up the truck, but she hadn't meant to curse them into quitting.
George came out of his office after a bit and sat down on the curb next to her, pulling out a cigarette and lighting up.
"Smoking kills, you know." Alex said out of habit.
"Hasn't yet." George replied, and since he, as usual, had sat downwind from Alex, she didn't say anymore. "See your mom?"
"Yeah." Alex answered.
"And?" George prompted.
"The usual." Alex replied with a shrug. "Couldn't remember what she was doing two minutes ago, let alone my name or the fact that I'm her daughter."
"I'm sorry darlin'." George said sympathetically, and Alex shrugged it off. Her mother's Alzheimer's had been a part of her life since she was 18 - it didn't really hurt anymore, except for when she wanted the type of comfort only a mother could give. Beth, her sister, couldn't handle it, which was why she never visited, preferring to stay out here, in Tranquility, trying to find happiness in 'the perfect man'. If their father had been alive, he would've talked some sense into Beth, but he was long gone - a heart attack while resting in the back of his truck during a cross-country trip, the very truck that Alex now drove.
That was another thing Beth couldn't handle - Alex driving their dad's truck after he'd died in it. Beth seemed to think the truck should've been scrapped, or buried with him or something - which was stupid, considering the truck had only been two years old when he'd died. Now, of course, it was much older, and showing it. Alex wasn't going to replace it unless it absolutely positively would not work anymore, though. George - and most of the other truck depot managers along Alex's usual routes - knew it, but were always pushing Alex to at least get a secondary truck to take some of the strain off her dad's. She always ignored them. With her CB and cell phone, it wasn't like she would get stranded somewhere, anyways.
"Cab." George said, pointing and startling Alex out of her thoughts, and she looked where he was pointing to find a cab pulling into the lot.
"Thanks." Alex said, and risked a glance back at her truck, only to wince as she saw one of the men unhooking the trailer slam his fist down on the fifth wheel puller. She couldn't really say anything, either to George or the man, though, since not only was she in a hurry, but she'd had to get a little violet when unhooking her a few times herself. She was just glad they weren't using whatever the hell the last guys had been to work it loose.
"Have a good time, Alex." George said with a nod as she stood and headed for the cab. "And if you end up chewing anyone out, be sure to bring back tales!"
"You may even get a recording, depending on whether or not Beth allows me to keep my cell phone on me." Alex replied with a grin, fondly remembering the last time she'd met one of her sister's boyfriends, who she'd reamed out for being a spineless sycophant. Needless to say, Beth had stopped inviting her boyfriends over when Alex was around, until tonight, when it was just bad timing.
Of course, this resulted in Alex receiving a lecture in what she could and could not do or say as soon as she arrived at Beth's house, which went on all throughout Alex getting cleaned up - even when she was in the shower, she could hear her sister talking through the door - until finally the doorbell rang and Beth scurried off. Sighing, Alex gave herself a moment glance around 'her' room, letting the attentiveness needed for driving an eighteen-wheeler across country melt out of her.
While Alex didn't, strictly speaking, live in her sister's house, since she paid none of the bills and spent no more than one night every month in the place, she had no other permanent place to sleep (though by some sort of fluke she did keep getting the same room in one hotel out in New York), and her sister had agreed to hold onto her things for her when Alex had taken up trucking. At first Beth and Alex had both tried to keep the spare room as a neat little guest room in case Beth ever had over-night visitors that she wasn't sleeping with, but eventually they'd given up on it, and now the spare room was thoroughly designated and decorated as Alex's.
Beth still insisted she had the right to clean the room up and put Alex's things back in the closet in case she needed the room for its original purpose, but she had yet to do so. So every time Alex returned, she found her room exactly as she'd left it. It was...reassuring, to know she had someplace to come back to, even if she did love the road.
Hearing voice downstairs, Alex stirred herself, taking one last glance in the mirror and pressing down a fly-away piece of hair before heading down. Pausing half-way down the stairs, where she could just see her sister's guests, Alex surveyed them critically. Beth's boyfriend - Josh, if Alex remembered correctly - wasn't hard to pick out: tall, dark, and handsome, just as Beth had described him over the phone, he was also holding Beth close to him, an arm looped around her waist. His body language seemed a bit possessive, but given the way his mother was looking down her nose at Beth, Alex suspected his possessiveness might've been more defensive than anything else.
Alex didn't really blame his mom for looking down her nose at Beth, though - from the looks of Josh's parents, they seemed to be rather rich. Diamonds and gold glittered on his mother, and his father's wrist was adorned with a gold watch, while his pants and casual shirt were pressed neatly. To such as them, Beth's small suburban house must have seemed quite beneath their son - or at least the mother seemed to think so. The father seemed to be reserving judgment, which Alex took as a notch in his favor. The real test, Alex knew, would come when they inevitably asked what she did for a living, and that led to the explanation that her and Beth's father had been a trucker. If they could handle that, Alex would be impressed. And if they didn't, well, at least their son didn't seem too bad.
With a nod to herself, Alex headed the rest of the way down the stairs, where Beth introduced her officially to Josh, and then to his parents, Gary and Christine Vanderboten. Alex smiled pleasantly, said the right things, and acted lady-like, for her sister's sake. Christine, however, was already looking down her nose at Alex the same way she'd been looking at Beth. Gary was still reserved.
They chatted pleasantly for the next little while, until Beth decided it was time for supper, and Alex, as was proper, followed her sister to the kitchen to help.
"I don't like his mother." she said in an undertone.
"Shh." Beth replied, glancing over her shoulder, and then made a face showing her agreement as they continued to set out the supper Beth had prepared ahead of time. They finished quickly, having developed a routine for setting the table and serving food when they were children, and then invited the guests into the dining room to eat.
Supper went smoothly. Gary seeming to warm up once he'd tasted Beth's cooking, and Alex decided that this evening was going much better than the last time she met one of Beth's boyfriends. Josh's parents hadn't even asked about Alex's job yet. Beth seemed to have decided that the evening was going well, too, and was relaxing a bit and laughing more. Which was, of course, when Christine decided that looking down her nose at the two sisters wasn't enough and had to comment, instead.
"Excuse me?" Alex asked in the uncomfortable silence following Christine's remark, thinking she had heard the older woman wrong.
"Well of course one can't expect gourmet cooking, but it is more than I would have expected." Christine elaborated instead of repeating, and Alex blinked, then glanced over at Beth, who was quiet obviously trying very hard to keep the smile on her face. Josh was hiding his expression behind his glass of water, while Gary seemed to be ignoring the whole discussion.
"That's certainly...nice to here. Do you cook yourself, then?" Alex asked, trying not to break any of the rules her sister had set out for her.
"Me? Goodness, no. That's was chefs are for." Christine replied with a smug smile. Alex glanced over at Beth with a pleading look - but it was Josh, teeth clenched, who saw Alex's look and nodded, while Beth sat there, looking miserable. Not caring anout how Josh knew what she'd been asking, Alex returned her attention to Christine almost gleefully.
"Well then I don't really see how you have any right to complain about the quality of the food, since my sister made it herself, with only the teaching of our mother to guide her, instead of several years of school." Alex said stiffly.
"Of course, of course. As I said, it was better than I expected to be eating in such a common place." Christine said dismissively. "One can only blame your mother for not teaching her children proper cooking skills." And Alex truly lost it.
Later, she had no idea what she said, only knowing what Josh laughingly recited back to her in-between trying to soothe Beth, who was intermittently crying, thanking Alex, and swearing at Josh for having such a horrible mother. From what Josh said, though, Alex had done a repeat of what she'd done with Beth's ex-boyfriend before - picked apart every single flaw she could find in Christine, not giving her a moment to get a word in edgewise, and then instructing her to leave and not return unless she came armed with an apology. Gary escorted his wife out at that point, and Josh confided that his father had expressed admiration that Alex spoke her mind, and that Beth was smart enough to let her do so.
"Actually, tonight went a lot better than I expected." Josh admitted after his mirth at Alex telling his mother off had calmed down.
"Oh really?" Alex asked, arching an eyebrow.
"I know my mother can be difficult, and I was sort of dreading her meeting Beth here, because - no offence, hon - Beth tends to let people talk down to her without defending herself." Josh replied.
"Not my fault I had an older sister ready to beat the snot out of anyone who insulted me, whether or not I wanted her to." Beth mumbled, her face hidden in her arms.
"Hey, the beatings came after I realized you didn't defend yourself, not the other way 'round." Alex said defensively, and Beth looked up long enough to give Alex a watery smile.
"Regardless, I'd been anticipating another shouting match between mother and me, with Beth in the middle and Dad awkwardly trying to get her out of it, but you neatly avoided that, Alex." Josh said. "Thank you."
"Anytime." Alex said with a smirk, and then turned to Beth. "And hey, be happy Beth, at least I didn't ream out your boyfriend this time, hey?" There was a brief chuckle from Beth's arms, and to Alex's surprise, from Josh, as well. Remembering that he'd also been the one to give her the go-ahead nod, Alex shot him a questioning look.
"Beth did warn me about her sharp-tongued trucker sister." he said with a grin, then looked down at Beth consideringly. "I think for now I'd better take this sister up to bed, though."
"Agreed." Alex said as she observed Beth, who had gone from tense and distressed, to loose and relaxed over the course of Josh's recounting of Alex's explosion. Without another word, Josh scooped Beth up in his arms, causing her to yelp and grab onto his neck, before saying goodnight and heading upstairs to Beth's bedroom.
"So help me, if I hear anything coming from that room, I WILLstart throwing things at the door, up to and including glassware!" Alex called up after them. In response, just as he headed out of sight, Josh flashed his middle finger at her. Alex laughed, then stood up and began clearing the table, putting away the food and putting the dishes in the dishwasher and starting it before settling in to watch a bit of the news before going to bed herself.
There were the usual pieces about the war in the Middle East, the robberies, thefts, and other crimes around the city, and a brief note about the on-going reconstruction in Mission City after whatever the hell had happened there a few months ago. The reporters and government were saying that some experimental technology had been stolen by terrorists, but Alex wasn't buying it - from the stories she'd heard, a few first hand, and the damage she'd seen, not even the American government could have technology advanced enough to cause the chaos in Mission City. Since she didn't have any other explanation, however, she said nothing.
Alex woke the next morning to the smell of coffee and bacon, and stumbled downstairs, barely remembering that there was a man in the house and dressing decently before doing so. In the kitchen, she blinked as she found Josh standing in front of the stove while her sister sat at the table, sipping coffee.
"You cook?" she asked Josh incredulously.
"Yes." he said with a chuckle.
"His roommate in college was there for his Chef's certificate." Beth mumbled over her coffee.
"Though bacon, eggs, toast and coffee aren't exactly hard to make." Josh admitted as he flipped several pieces of bacon. "Oh, you left your cell phone on the table in the living room. It rang about half an hour ago, but Beth told me not to get it or wake you."
"Too early." Beth mumbled, and Alex grinned at how much of a morning person her sister was not. She remembered how the one and only full-time 9-5 daytime job that her sister had gotten had almost killed her. It wasn't even Beth's fault, either - she just couldn't fall asleep before 3 in the morning, unlike Alex, who could sleep anytime, anywhere.
"Better go see who it was, then." Alex said, making a brief detour to ruffle her sister's hair - which Beth literally snapped at her for, trying to bite her fingers - before heading for the living room. Her eyebrows raised as she saw it was the depot that had phoned, and used her sister's land line to call them back.
"Hey George, what's the news?" she asked as George picked up on the other end.
"Got a shipment that has to go out right away, frozen produce, and you're my only trucker in town that doesn't have a load." he replied without any preamble.
"How right away?" Alex asked with a grimace.
"As in now." George replied.
"Aw crap, guess I don't get to taste how good a cook Beth's new boy is." Alex said with a sigh, and George let out an appreciative whistle.
"Wow, this one cooks? Now I feel real bad for stealing you away." he said.
"Yeah, you'd better." Alex shot back. "Alright, give me twenty and I'll be down there."
"Sooner is better, darlin'." George replied. Saying goodbye and hanging up the phone, Alex poked her head into the kitchen.
"Sorry you two, looks like I gotta run. You owe me breakfast next time I'm in town, though, Josh!" Alex said with a grin, then called a cab and hurried up the stairs to get ready. Within ten minutes, she was out the door and on her way back to the depot, arriving a full minute before she had told George she'd be there. He was obviously arguing with someone on the phone, so Alex headed over to her truck and jumped in, throwing her bag in the back, ready to drive it over to George's office while she waited for him to get off the phone.
That was not to be, however, as the engine coughed once, then fell silent, the wheezing of the starter trying to catch something the only noise. Alex cursed, then popped the hood. She climbed out of the cab and peered inside the engine, trying to spot what was wrong.
"Alex! Get that truck moving! The guys're getting nasty!" George's voice came from across the depot, and Alex looked up to see him striding over, a scowl deeply ingrained on his face. Frowning, she looked back down at the engine. Nothing struck her as immediately wrong, so she jiggled a few connections, trying to tighten them. She hopped down and closed the hood just as George came up, then climbed back into the cab and tried to start the engine again. This time the engine didn't even cough, leaving her with only the wheezing starter.
"Don't tell me this thing finally gave up the ghost?" George said dangerously as she popped the hood again.
"Give me a minute, I'll get it running." Alex said dismissively as she took a closer look at the engine. George pulled himself up on the other side of the truck and eyed the engine critically.
"Alex, that trailer needs to get moving yesterday." he said after a moment, looking up.
"Yes, well, it's kind of hard to get it moving without a truck to pull it, now, isn't it?" Alex snarled in response. Inwardly, where nobody else could hear, she cursed the truck. It had been shaky for awhile now, but nothing had ever gone wrong with the starter...until today, when she absolutely needed the truck. Of course. "Shut the hood for me, willya?" Alex asked as she hopped down, having poked around a bit and checked various fluids and parts. George sighed and did as she asked while Alex returned to the cab and turned the key in the ignition again. The starter wheezed, but nothing more.
"Goddammit!" Alex cursed out loud this time, slamming one fist into the steering wheel.
"Look, darlin', I know you prefer to drive this truck, but it obviously ain't goin' anywheres this morning." George said, coming around to the driver's side. "The depot has a truck 'round back that we got awhile ago, you can use that for this run while I get your truck sent t'the shop to be fixed up. When you get back here, you can return our truck and pick up yours." Alex frowned down at him.
"What about your mechanics?" she asked. "Aren't they around to do a quick check? It's probably just some small thing..."
"Or it could be the entire engine with a truck this old, and you know it, Alex. Besides, my mechanics aren't in for another hour, and that trailer is waiting." George replied impatiently. Alex snarled, then grabbed her bag and hopped down out of the truck. Slamming the door, she let loose a string of curses, finishing by kicking the front tire of her truck.
"Alright, lead the way." Alex said finally, sighing in frustration, and George set off at a brisk walk, leading Alex around to the back of the depot, near his office. Alex stopped in surprise as she saw the truck that was waiting for them there.
It was a Peterbilt, a 379 model no less. A little old, but it looked like it was in prime condition, even if it did have a tacky red-and-orange flame decal over the dark blue body. Dropping her bag on the ground, Alex walked up to it slowly, and then began inspecting it. It hardly looked like it had been used - there was barely any grime on the engine, the fifth wheel looked like it had never been used...Alex frowned and looked up at George.
"Where on earth did you get this?" she asked. "This is good. And expensive."
"Well, it was kinda strange." George said, scratching his neck as he frowned. "This guy - older, grey haired, 'bout my height and caucasion - drove up in it about a month ago, said he was retiring and wanted his truck to get some use, instead of just sitting around in his driveway until he died and his kids sold it for a quarter of its worth. Then he handed me the keys and walked off. I went after him to tell him it wasn't that simple, papers needed to be signed, but he was gone."
"Weird." Alex said with a frown as she gave the truck another once-over, contemplating sealing the fact that she'd be driving it soon by getting into the cab.
"Yeah, really. I phone the police, naturally. I expected them to, I dunno, impound it or something, but the next week they came by with this guy in a suit, carrying the ownership papers for the truck and wanting me to sign." George replied. "Funny thing was, there was no previous owner listed on the papers. When I phoned the station, though, they said it was completely legit, and, well, I figured the whole station couldn't be in on some kind of truck racket, so I signed. It's been sitting here since then."
"Definitely weird." Alex repeated, then gave in and climbed into the cab. She tried not to notice how comfortable it was as she inspected the CB, air conditioning, lights, the sleeping space in the back, anything that could possibly give her a reason to complain about this truck. If she couldn't drive her father's truck, she at least wanted to be able to bitch about the one she was driving. But the only thing she'd found to complain about was the tacky paint job.
"Here, I'll go get the keys and the address." George said suddenly from Alex's elbow, and she started, looked down to see him holding up her bag. Sighing, she took it and tossed it in the back before taking a close look at where the shifter, brakes, lights, and various other controls were positioned, so she wouldn't have to go fumbling for them later. George returned quickly, handing her the keys and the address where she was to pick up the trailer.
"Thanks." Alex said, and then sighed. "Promise you'll have my truck fixed by the time I get back?"
"If it's at all possible." George replied solemnly, and Alex smiled her thanks before sticking the keys in the ignition and starting the truck. It roared to life with a satisfying sound, and Alex couldn't help but enjoy the sound for a moment - her dad's truck hadn't sounded like that in years. George gave her a knowing look before shutting the door and stepping back, waving her off.