Title: Lazy Summer Sunday Afternoons
Species: Transformers & humans
Warnings: Interspecies dating
Summary: Bumblebee's sure that someday they'll have a nice, quiet, em peaceful /em day off...
Lazy Summer Sunday Afternoons
"I can't thank you enough for getting me em out /em of that house, guys," Carly said cheerily, reaching up through Bumblebee's open window to pat the edge of his frame. "I was going to go completely raving crazy if I had to put up with one more day of nothing to do."
"What about dishes?" Spike asked, his foot tapping along Bumblebee's floorboards. "There's always the dishes!"
Carly laughed. "Silly! Dishes aren't half as interesting as you and Bumblebee."
Bumblebee chuckled and said, "I hope not!"
"Of course not," Spike said, "You're fascinating. Anyway, the river's the best place to spend a day like today."
Bumblebee sped up just a little. There was the old dirt road to focus on, the long, somewhat unstable curves of it not a particularly great challenge, but a welcome one. "It sure is," he said, "Why're you stuck at home anyway, Carly?"
"Oh, that," Carly said, "Well, you remember how Shockwave vaporized my car?"
"Yeah," Spike said, the vibration of his shudder firm and clear, "How could I em forget /em ?"
"Oh," Bumblebee said, slowing slightly for a particularly sharp curve, "Is that what happened?"
"It is!" Carly said, and Bumblebee could feel the shape of her hand change as she curled it into a fist, the pressure of her knuckles digging into his upholstery. It didn't hurt. It was distracting. "That son of a spent fuel rod, it was just a defenseless car and he shot it! He shot my car – that's like shooting a – a – I don't know, it makes me that mad – !"
"Yeah," Spike said, "But what's that got to do with being stuck home?"
"Oh, right. Mom says if I'm going to use my spring break to drive my car into the lair of an evil alien robot scientist, I need to deal with the consequences. So I don't have a car anymore, and you know how far out we are. It's not really a distance I can walk, and since Mom's off in Germany this month…"
"You're stuck. Gotcha." Bumblebee slowed further, ambling along, and said, "Look at that in the river – is that a beaver dam?"
Carly leaned out the driver's side, and Bumblebee slowed still further. There was gravel here, and some of the rocks were the right size to seriously hurt a young girl halfway out a window. "Yeah! Hey, Spike, look at that! They must have been working like gangbusters on that thing to get it done so fast!"
"You're right," Spike said, scooting to the center of the front seat. (Bumblebee adjusted his balance and made a mental note to watch the corners until they were both back where they belonged.) "Bumblebee and I were up this way not so long ago."
"About a month and a half," Bumblebee said, "Sunstreaker and Sideswipe have been patrolling out here since."
Carly laughed. "What do you want to bet they never even noticed?"
"Oh, I never bet on a sure thing, Carly," Bumblebee said, "It takes all the fun out of it. How about that grove right up ahead? It looks like the bank's lower there."
"That's great!" Carly said, "Thanks, Bumblebee."
"Hey, no problem. What're friends for?"
If Bumblebee were someone like Cliffjumper, or for that matter the aforementioned Sunstreaker and Sideswipe, he probably would have pulled up to the little copse of older cottonwoods with a gleeful shriek of brakes and a spray of gravel, but Bumblebee was, in general, inclined to theatrics that made somewhat less noise, and he settled in precisely, neatly, coming to a full stop without a wasted bit of motion.
"Nice drivin', Bumblebee," Spike said as he hopped out. He beamed up at Bumblebee as Bumblebee transformed, and Bumblebee, watching his smile, was aware of every joint and small bearing snicking and sliding into place, easy and solid. He felt light, suddenly, as if he ought to be uncertain of his footing, even though he knew his balance was just as solid as it always had been.
From further into the cottonwoods Carly laughed, her high pitched cheery little giggle that generally meant she was about to rig explosives in midair or go hurtling past Devastator's knee in a convertible or something similarly insane, and they both turned to watch her. Maybe, Bumblebee thought, to catch her, if she needed it.
Carly toed off her shoes and stepped up into one of the cottonwoods, her bare feet gripping the nearly vertical trunk as if it were solid, level ground.
Bumblebee stared at her, entranced with the way she twisted backward under one branch and caught herself on another, standing with one foot loose on the air, her body swung out to the full extension of her arm.
"Oh," Spike said, beside him, and stepped back. Bumblebee could feel him move, the soft wash of shifting ambient temperatures brushing at his surface sensors. He looked, and Spike's skin was bright pink under light summer brown.
Carly laughed above them – three, four times her own height, terribly far for someone who couldn't fly, whose structure was thoroughly unshielded, whose only protection was the strength of her hands and the tree's long experience at remaining upright. "You two should come up!" she shouted down, "It's beautiful!"
Bumblebee looked at the tree. "I don't think I can!" he called back up, "I'm not even sure how you did some of that! I mean, I saw it - !"
"Oh? Oh! Right!" Carly said, "I'll come down!"
"No, you don't have to!" Spike said. He raised his voice, but Bumblebee was fairly sure Carly couldn't hear him, because he was staring fixedly at Bumblebee's feet and sound didn't generally carry that way unaided.
"Spike?" Bumblebee asked him softly, torn between wanting to watch Carly's easy organic grace and wanting to watch Spike to make certain he was all right, "Is something wrong?"
"Nooooo," Spike said, and tugged at his shirt sleeves, "It's just. She's wearing a skirt. A short skirt."
Bumblebee knew there was some sort of cultural significance to this statement that he was missing, but he had no chance to ask about it, because Carly dropped backward from the branch she stood on, caught it with the backs of her knees, and turned a neat flip off to the ground. She grinned at Spike and Bumblebee as she straightened up from the crouch she'd landed in, her arms flung wide open in a gleefully dramatic pose.
Bumblebee laughed. "You can do anything!"
"Flatterer!" Carly said, still beaming, and stepped forward to take one of Spike's hands and one of Bumblebee's.
Spike blushed deeper and stepped closer to Carly, to Bumblebee's shoulder. "He's not. You're amazing."
"Pff!" Carly said, and shook her head. "You boys are amazing. Come on, let's go find somewhere to get in the water."
"Are you sure?" Bumblebee asked, as Carly led them both along the bank. Her hand was small and holding it felt different, strange. He was being very careful, but he could feel the differences in resistance between the places where her bones were near the surface and the places where they were under muscle. "It looks pretty deep."
"It'll be fine," Spike said, "I mean, it hasn't rained in a week – the water's pretty low, right, Carly?"
"Right!" Carly said, "I do this all the time. It's fine so long as you don't go too deep."
Bumblebee laughed. "If the natives say so!"
"We do!" Spike said, and gestured downstream, "It looks like there might be a good spot there, don't you think Carly? By the big tree?"
"I think you're right," Carly said, and bounded forward, moving fast enough that Bumblebee had to take a full step to keep up.
It was a good spot. Some spring flash flood had carved out a sandy semi-circle in the high bank, and the big cottonwood's roots twisted near the surface of the ground almost like steps down to the little beach. Carly let go of Spike and Bumblebee to dance down the bank, her pale feet flashing against the dark roots and red earth. Spike and Bumblebee followed, Spike at a run, sliding and stumbling, letting his momentum set him right again. Bumblebee simply jumped, bracing himself on a solid bit of the bank with his hand and swinging past the slope to land, crouched and grinning, on the sand. It wasn't an especially acrobatic stunt, but it kept him from having to deal with all the worries that went with putting his weight on the often thin tree roots.
Spike grinned back at him. Carly, already standing ankle deep in the water, clapped.
"Thank you, thank you!" Bumblebee said, and made a deep, flamboyant bow.
Carly laughed. "Come on in, boys, the water's fine! Snowmelt cold, but fine!"
"Coming!" Bumblebee said.
Spike stopped at the edge of the water to take off his shoes and roll up the cuffs of his jeans. Bumblebee waded backward onto the sandy bottom so that he could watch him. It never stopped being fascinating to him, the way that the textures of human skin contrasted to the textures of clothing. Human skin was so different, matte and muted, even when the colors were flashier than Spike or Carly's (really, there were a lot of colors skin came in that were prettier than either Spike's or Carly's, but Bumblebee would never say so), but Bumblebee wouldn't say it was dull, exactly. It was just wasn't the same, with the subtle ways it caught the play of light, quieter than a Transformer's coloring, requiring more effort to notice.
Bumblebee liked it. He liked watching Spike roll up his cuffs. Spike rarely did anything of the sort. He wore his shoes and he wore long trousers, and he did not take them off. It was different, seeing Spike fold back the heavy cloth, a few bare inches of skin even paler than Carly's showing underneath the rising brim of the roll.
Spike tied the laces of his shoes together and slung them around his neck, brisk and practical, and waded out into the water.
Carly was striking out further into the current, the water rising up around her shins, her knees. She took a step, and landed deep, water nearly at her skirt.
"Maybe I shouldn't have bothered with my pants," Spike said, and smiled sheepishly, "Looks like I'm just going to get soaked anyway."
Bumblebee chuckled and struck out after Carly. "Hey, I won't kick you out just for that!"
"Good to know I've still got a ride," Spike said, and followed.
They wandered downstream, wading through the water, sticking near enough to the bank that they didn't end up in past their waists – that, Spike said, would be pushing their luck more than he wanted to.
"I'm sorry I missed your birthday, Spike," Carly said eventually, as they rounded the edge of a turn.
"It's all right," Spike said, warm and easy, "Anyway, you sent a card. It was just finals."
"I hate finals," Carly said.
"I think we all hate finals," Bumblebee said.
"Yeah," Spike said, "But this is good. This makes up for it."
"Good," said Carly, in tones of profound satisfaction.
Bumblebee had been watching the conversation, happily absorbed in the way that Carly leaned towards Spike when he spoke – just a very small sway of her shoulders – and the way that Spike leaned towards her when she spoke – only a slight inclination of his head. He looked up, at its conclusion, to see the way ahead, and stopped.
Ahead of them, where the water was low, there was a shining steel platform in the riverbed. Some sort of metal framework – a complex, twisting triangle – was being built on top of it, and there was, sadly, no mistaking the familiar green and white lines of the builders. His systems shifted up a notch as he realized that Spike and Carly, being significantly shorter, weren't at an angle to see it yet, but the Constructicons could certainly see him.
"Guys," Bumblebee said, in a low, urgent tone, "We need to get back around the bend. Fast."
Carly and Spike turned to him, nearly in unison. Their eyes were wide and puzzled, but they didn't argue, only splashed back towards him, against the current.
"What is it?" Spike asked, a bit too loud, and wavered, his balance suddenly uncertain.
"Shhhh," Bumblebee hissed, and caught Spike by the forearm, careful but firm, stopping his wobble on unstable ground in fast current. Spike stepped closer to him, fast as he could without splashing, as Carly reached out and steadied herself off Bumblebee's elbow. "Easy. It's the Constructicons. They're setting something up up ahead in the river."
"What're they doing here?" Spike hissed back, holding firmly onto Bumblebee's wrist. "The middle of the riverbed has got to be a lousy spot for a megalomaniacal plan."
"Whatever it is," Bumblebee said with a little shake of his head, "It's not good news."
"This close to the base do you think it's some sort of weapon?" Spike asked.
Carly shrugged. "Probably. This isn't a good spot for the wham bam sort of energy collection Megatron likes, and with longer term stuff they have to know we'd find it."
Bumblebee grinned at them. The situation might be bad, but Carly and Spike's analysis was pretty good, especially for amateurs. "Sounds about right," he said.
They looked at him, earnest and expectant. "What're we going to do about it?" Carly asked.
Bumblebee considered for a moment.
"I'll bet a flash flood right now would put them out of business," he whispered.
"Well, sure," Spike whispered back, "Where're we going to get a flash flood on this kinda notice?"
Carly was glowing. "Oh, Bumblebee," she exclaimed softly, "You're a genius! The beaver dam?"
"Beaver – oooh," Spike said, "You ar a genius."
"Thanks," Bumblebee said, grinning. He felt like Carly'd turned off his internal equilibrium regulators again. "Let's go back up and break a dam."
Carly muffled a laugh behind her hand. "What a switch!"
"Yeah," Spike said, "That's usually their plan!"
Bumblebee cupped his hands and let Carly and Spike scramble up his frame onto the bank. They were careful about it, stepping where they both knew from experience his structure was strongest, neatly avoiding the places near joints where his frame was more lightly constructed to allow for free movement. It was a strange feeling, his friends' bare feet settling firmly in his palms and on his shoulders. There was give to them too, and it was almost like holding hands, only firmer, steadier. Bumblebee liked it.
Then they were up, and he clambered up after them, glad of the agility he shared with Jazz – useful as it had been on Cybertron, it'd still never been as useful in day to day life there as it was on Earth.
Carly and Spike were kneeling together on the edge of the copse of trees on the top of the bank, leaning around the trunks to see down the river. "I think I see it," Spike said, "A… glint on the water, see? It's hard to tell."
Bumblebee went and crouched next to them. "Yeah, they're there," he said, "I can see them."
"You must have something like twenty two vision, Bumblebee," Carly said, turning to smile at him, "Like a hawk!"
Bumblebee laughed, softly. "Mine's a bit better than normal for a Transformer. But the Constructions can see us, if I can see them."
Carly sighed wistfully. "What I wouldn't give for sight like that! Let's get going."
"Yeah," Spike said, leaning back and landing on his hands, "I can't tell anything from a glint. Let's go ruin some Decepticon schemes!"
"Right where we left it!" Carly said, as Bumblebee unfolded himself beside them.
Spike grinned at her. "Worried it might've grown legs, huh?"
"You never can tell," Carly said, lightly, "We know a lot of masters of disguise, after all." She put her hands on her hips and leaned forward, craning her neck to see the dam properly. "So," she said, "How are we going to do this? We don't want to let much water out before we break the dam."
"Yeah," Spike said, leaning around Carly, "There's got to be a good way."
Bumblebee put his hands out to catch them if they slipped. It was, he hoped, a fairly discreet gesture. "I think maybe if we just jostle things around. Don't pull them out all the way, but twist them around so they're not in quite the right places…"
"Enough of that and the dam won't be strong enough to hold back the water," Spike said, and nodded. "That's a good plan."
They both looked at Carly, to see if she agreed. She shrugged and grinned at them. "Sounds good to me," she said.
They splashed down into the water. It went up to Carly and Spike's chests, and hit Bumblebee at the waist. "They really did do a good job on the dam," Bumblebee said.
"Uh huh," Spike said, as he found a spot and beckoned Carly over to help him push, "I feel kind of bad, breaking it up like this."
"I know," Carly said, "Oof! At least real beavers don't build their dens on their dams, like in the Narnia books."
"That's true," Bumblebee said, "That is good. Still, we probably shouldn't mention this to Beachcomber."
"Or Hound," Spike said.
"Or Hound," Bumblebee agreed, and they fell quiet, absorbed in the task. It stole Carly and Spike's voices, Bumblebee knew, along with their breath.
He fell into the work, rise and fall of it, all the small movements and tiny geometries of the dam. He'd never worked with a structure like this, something made by organic beings, guided by a kind of intelligence he knew he didn't fully understand. Even Spike and Carly, who were members of the dominant sapient species, were strange to him at times, and a beaver was stranger by far. How did they think? How did their minds work? How did they plan their dams, what was the world like to them? It couldn't be like what the world was like to him. Was it like what it was to Spike and Carly? Did he really understand things the way they did?
"I think that's just about done it," Spike said, straightening and rubbing the back of his hand across his forehead.
"Yeah," Carly said, her hands on her hips. "One good jolt should finish the job."
"I'll get it," Bumblebee said, "Get back up on the bank again, you two."
Spike slid a bit climbing up again, but he caught himself, and Carly, already at the top, reached down to him. Her weight balanced his and he took the last few steps easily, confidently.
Bumblebee took a quick look at the current logistics and followed them up. "I think I can just shoot it from here."
"Probably safest," Spike agreed.
Bumblebee took out his gun, steadied himself for a shot at the center of the dam, and fired. Several branches cracked, the structure swayed, and the dam burst outward. Carly whooped as the spray splashed up towards them, and Spike, after a moment of startled silence, joined her, laughing. Bumblebee grinned.
The water that had been contained behind the dam swept forward down the narrow riverbed in a bright, gleaming surge, nowhere near as impressive as an actual fast flood, but high enough that it should successfully damage electrical systems and open supports. "That ought to take care of that little plot!" Bumblebee said, "But we'd better go back and report, just in case."
Carly nodded. Spike did too, but neither of them made a move from where they stood, watching the water run down river. Spike was half doubled over, his hands braced on his knees, and Bumblebee could hear him breathing hard. It was a surprisingly warm sound, and it made Bumblebee feel almost as if various important internal components had been rearranged and now he couldn't stop listening, careful and close, even though he knew that all it indicated was a combination of physical exertion and emotional over excitement.
He wanted to listen more, but there was work to be done, so he twitched, sparked sequences that folded his form back in on itself again, back to being a comfortably compact car. "Coming?" he asked.
Spike unfolded himself and Carly brought her hands down from shading her eyes, as they turned to him.
Bumblebee popped both doors for them with an easy little bounce on his shocks. Spike laughed. "Eager to get the soaking of your upholstery over with, huh?" he asked.
"I'll just make you help me wash up later," Bumblebee replied.
"Oh, hardship!" Carly said, a barely contained laugh in her voice as she settled lightly into the left hand seat. "Making us give you a bath."
"I know, I'm hopelessly particular about them," Bumblebee said.
Spike settled down on the other side, easy and gentle. They were both always considerate and careful of him. He liked that about them, liked that they were mindful of him, liked that Carly patted his dashboard and Spike ran his knuckles along the edge of his door handle in a quick, friendly caress.
"Yeah," Spike said, "You're worse than Tracks." Bumblebee could feel the shifting of muscles from Spike's suppressed chuckle against the back of the seat.
"Infinitely," he agreed, feeling the click of Carly shutting his door with just enough force to be firm. Down went the windows. "Come on," he added," Let's go see if we can scandalize Sunstreaker!"
Carly giggled, Bumblebee executed a precise, graceful three point turn (he had, he would have had to admit if anyone had asked, transformed facing the bank only to provide a handy excuse for the maneuver), and away they went, over the dusty earth back to the road.
"Oh!" Carly said, sitting bolt upright as they zipped toward the last rise before the Ark, "I left my shoes back on the bank!"
"Well," Bumblebee said, and sped up, just enough to press Carly and Spike back into his seats, as firm and gentle as a touch from his hand, "If you're going to use your summer break to thwart the plans of evil giant robots…"
"You're horrible!" Carly exclaimed, and they all three laughed as Bumblebee brought them over the last rise to home.