AN: Vague spoilers for both movies. As usual, I own nothing. All feedback is welcome and appreciated. Enjoy.
Olive's voice rang clear through the empty twilight, startling the scout out of his perusal of the stars. He shifted slightly, adjusting his position against the large tree he was leaning on. It had been almost a whole Earth month. Surely someone would have heard Prime's message by now. But for the moment he let himself forget about that. His littlest human sounded distressed. On reflex, he stretched out his sensors, forcing himself to relax when he found no threat. But the unhappy tone in Olive's voice still left him strangely on edge.
Large blue optics fixed on her as he tilted his head down towards his canon-free arm, where she was curled into a small, warm ball against his palm. Bumblebee guessed her dark jeans and green shirt would have made her all but invisible to humans, but he could see her with perfect clarity. Her waist-length brown hair spilled unbound down her back, and he had to take extra care not to pinch any of it between his fingers. He much preferred when she bound it into some sort of ... ponytail, the humans called it; it was much easier to deal with. Oblivious to his scrutiny, she absently adjusted the corrective lenses she wore over her optics. His features twisted into a small smile; her family had finally become comfortable enough with him to leave her in his care. He was glad. From almost the very beginning, he knew he would do anything to protect the Hoover younglings, even if he had to rip out Megatron's spark chamber himself. It had almost come to something just as gruesome when Sector Seven had attacked them. No use dwelling on that.
"What's bothering you, sparkling?" Bumblebee asked softly. His restored voice was still scratchy and deeper than it used to be, but it no longer hurt to speak. He still grimaced. I sound older than Ironhide now. If it stays like this, the twins will never let me hear the end of it.
Olive blinked up at him and tilted her head slightly, as she always did when he used his favorite nickname for her. Precisely because he thought this expression adorable, Bumblebee had so far put off explaining exactly why he called her that. After a long moment, she shook her head. "Today at school, Tommy Wilkins said I wasn't very pretty," she whispered, looking away from him.
Bumblebee winced, disturbingly strong anger at the boy surging through his spark. His youngest human was very sensitive about her appearance, even if she tried not to show it. As a Cybertronian, he didn't really understand her culture's fixation on physical beauty, but that didn't mean he wasn't aware of the effects it could have on those who did not view their chassis as sufficiently pleasing, especially younglings. Ratchet had been happy to provide him with pertinent materials on human psychology when he had chosen to stay with the Hoovers. "Olive," he finally said, "you didn't believe him, did you?" But she did on some level, and that was the problem. He frowned. He did not like the sensation he now felt--the desire to inflict harm upon another sentient simply for carelessly insulting someone close to him. In the absence of any physical danger, violence should never be even jokingly considered. Not for the first time, Bumblebee recognized the symptoms of over protectiveness where his youngest humans were concerned, and wondered yet again if this was the kind of sensation that had led Jazz and Optimus and the others to treat him as they so often did.
Olive, skilled as she was at reading his facial expressions, seemed to remain oblivious to his thoughts. "Well," she said, drawing the word out in a way that made him sure she was stalling for time, "Mom and Dad and Dwayne and Uncle Frank tell me I'm pretty, and Grandpa said so too," she blushed, "but they're my family. I think they're supposed to tell me that."
Bumblebee frowned. "So you think they're lying to you?"
Her eyes widened, and she shook her head furiously, hair flying everywhere. Bumblebee thought it cute when it did that. "No! But, I had a bigger tummy than anyone at Little Miss Sunshine, and lots of people looked at me really funny. I don't think a lot of people liked my dance, either. I pretended not to notice. I don't like all the frilly stuff lots of other girls do, either." She pressed her lips together. "I think I may be weird."
Bumblebee had to try very hard not to laugh, even though he saw clearly Olive was distressed. Still, he couldn't help feeling some relief that it wasn't something worse. "No," and he did smile, "you are just unique."
She scrunched up her nose in confusion. "Doesn't that just mean I'm different?" she asked, her tone making it clear she, like most younglings, wasn't happy with the idea at all. Just as he hadn't been, not so long ago.
"It's not such a terrible thing as you think, sparkling." He smiled, and decided it wouldn't hurt to share just a bit of the past with her. "On Cybertron, I was often ridiculed; many didn't think I had useful skills or a chassis as strong and versatile as they did. Some were very loud with their criticism."
Olive's jaw dropped, and she sounded alarmed. "You mean ... you mean they made fun of you? But why? You're ... you're wonderful!"
Bumblebee warmed at the affection in her voice. "Because I was different, Olive. Many thought I was useless because my small size makes me weaker. But that didn't stop me from trying my hardest at whatever assignment I was given. I kept looking for something I might be good at, but for a long time I was ... frustrated."
As he spoke, Olive had crawled closer to his face and was crouched there, gazing at him. He knew he had her undivided attention. "So what happened?"
"Eventually, Prime noticed my dedication, and offered me the chance to become his scout. It was an important job, and dangerous because I would be alone for long periods of time. Many older, more experienced Autobots thought he was making a mistake. But he saw how hard I worked, and thought my small size and speed would be excellent advantages. My uniqueness that made me the best choice to send to Earth alone to find the Allspark, and you and Dwayne and the others." Of course, it wasn't until Bumblebee had proven himself at Tyger Pax--and in the aftermath--that Prime thought he was ready to journey into deep space on his own, but he would not tell Olive of such things until she was older. Perhaps never. "Do you understand?"
Olive nodded slowly, grinning at him in what he identified as a shy manner. "I shouldn't let what other people say about me bother me, because their opinions don't matter if I'm trying my best and happy. Right?"
Bumblebee brought his free hand up and used his index finger to slowly, carefully rub her back. "You're perceptive, sparkling. What matters is you. Do you want to be in more of those pageants?" I hope not. The entire procedure seemed ... creepy. I think that is the human word. He almost regretted watching the recording he had found in the Rodondo Suites' security system, but he had been curious.
Olive shook her head. "No. I'm glad I did it but ... I didn't really seem to fit, and it wasn't as fun as I thought it would be. I want to try something different now."
Bumblebee nodded. "I look forward to watching. You always put great effort into whatever you do." He paused. "And Olive?"
She tilted her head again in that way he found so endearing. "Yeah?"
"The other younglings at the Little Miss Sunshine pageant were covered in very thick layers of paint and other materials. It was," unnatural, "overdone, and anyone who would prize that kind of fake appearance over yours should have their circuits checked. Anyone who sees you smile can't help but feel a huge warmth inside. No amount of chassis paint could ever duplicate the kind of beauty you have, the kind that comes from deep in your spark."
Olive's grin had grown even larger, and she hugged his thumb. "That's what Grandpa said," she whispered, and he wished he could see something beside the back of her head so he could figure out why her voice seemed to waiver.
"He was wise, then," Bumblebee whispered back, stroking her hair. For a long time, they sat in companionable silence. After a few minutes, though, Bumblebee remembered a festive song he had stored that seemed to fit their conversation well.
"All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names. They never let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games.
"Then one foggy Christmas Eve Santa came to say: 'Rudolph with your nose so bright, won't you guide my sleigh tonight?' Then all the reindeer loved him as they shouted out with glee, Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, you'll go down in history!"
Olive giggled loudly, and Bumblebee joined her with a raspy chuckle, feeling very accomplished. "Bumblebee," she said after she had caught her breath, "if you're Rudolph, does that make Optimus Santa?" Her grin was so wide he thought it had to be hurting her face.
Bumblebee laughed until birds flew from the trees. His sparkling was definitely feeling better. "I wouldn't try sitting in his lap." He winked. "You could probably get away with it, though."
Olive shook her head, poking at his finger joints. "I like it here."
The scout smiled. "I'm glad." I like you here too, sparkling.