Continuation of 'What Love Means'
Title: Tell Me Why
Summary: Sam's life was superb. All had seemed perfect, after all. But now...from one realization, everything has changed.
Sam was mulling over the strange conversation he'd had with Bee earlier that night, as he lay waiting for sleep. Summer nights like these always made it hard to sleep. As it was, he was sprawled on his back, one pajama-covered leg draped over the side of his bed, and the warm haze of the night air drifting through his open window feeling like a blanket on the bare skin of his chest.
What sort of person needs to ask about love? It may be difficult to define, but isn't the sentiment an instinct that everybody knows? It's not just a facet of humanity, after all. Every conscious creature knows it. Every sentient being. So why would Bee ask? And if the Autobot really had been after a comprehensive analysis of the word, he could have researched all sorts of writings by philosophers, and drawn conclusions from those.
So why did he need the answer of a teenage boy?
Sam pulled himself up and sat on the edge of the bed. He had the puzzling feeling that he should know something. Something was just...there...and he couldn't name it. He almost had it, on the edge of his mind, but...no. Was Bee alright? Was he depressed? Can robots even get depressed? Maybe not typical robots, but perhaps the Autobots could. After all, they weren't electronic computers. The spark wasn't electricity. Something like it, sure, but not per se...
It struck Sam just how little he really knew about his robot friend, and in curiosity he crossed the room to sit on his desk and lean out the window. He looked down.
There was the yellow Camaro, faithfully parked in the same place he always was. Bee was the most dedicated friend Sam had ever known. Who else would put everything on hold just to make sure he was always protected?
Again Sam felt the outlines of an answer dancing at the edge of his mind. What was it...?
"Dammit, Bee," Sam whispered, "What aren't you saying?"
Bumblebee remained still and silent. Was he sleeping? How can you tell if a car is sleeping?
This wasn't much different from what he's often like now, Sam mused. Something must be wrong. Why was Bumblebee so...pensive, all the time? And of all things to talk about tonight when he finally does speak, it's sacrificial love and selfless priorities-
"...that is love..."
His breath hitched. All thought seemed to stop as the pieces fell into place with such neat simplicity that Sam wondered how he could have taken this long to see it. But...it was just so unreal. Surely not possible. His car?
Of one thing he was sure: sleeping was now absolutely out of the question.
Without stopping to think of what he was going to do when he reached his destination, Sam hurriedly padded down the stairs and out the back door, closing it quietly behind him. Walking around the side of the house, the grass a warm mat under his feet, he drew near to Bumblebee.
The car didn't seem to register his presence.
Sam walked around the Camaro until he faced the darkened headlights. Slowly backing up, eyes never leaving the car, he felt a sharp sting in his left foot, and he hissed as he lifted it to see the dark outline of an embedded thistle. Dad missed a spot in his meticulous lawn treatment, Sam thought bitterly as he pulled it out, and rubbed the tender flesh.
Still nothing from the Camaro.
Sam released his foot and folded his arms across his chest, staring solemnly at Bumblebee. He narrowed his eyes.
"You're not asleep."
His words were met with silence, but it definitely seemed heavier than the silence before. Then, "...No."
Now what? Sam toed the grass, feeling the softness beneath his skin, and wondered what came after this. What do you say to a car who just might...love you? He doubted anyone in history had ever had to ask themselves that question.
"And you already knew what love is," he said. "Or as much as anyone is able to know."
"So why did you need to ask me?"
"I knew what philosophers and poets think," Bee said. "I wanted to know what you think. I..."
It appeared he wasn't going to finish.
"You, what, 'just want to understand'?" Sam fired Bumblebee's earlier conversation back at him, his tone growing heated in confusion and frustration. "Understand what? How did my answer matter more than what wise old men say? Tell me! Go on, tell me why-!"
Sam was cut off by the whirring and clacking of mechanics in motion, and he couldn't help but step back in awe of the droid forming in front of him. It had been so much easier to yell at a car. Now he was standing at the foot of a giant alien monster, and the words died in his throat.
No, not a monster. This was still his Bee. His best friend, right? Then why was he so scared?
I don't know, his mind replied. I'm scared because I don't know. Anything.
Under the scrutiny of the towering robot, Sam suddenly felt very under-dressed, his over-sized pajama pants puddling at his feet. He reached across his chest to rub the side of his arm nervously.
The Autobot knelt down in front of him, and Sam took another step backward.
"Sam," Bumblebee started. "Please don't be afraid..."
Sam opened his mouth to comment on the absurdity of the request, but all that came out was a rather unmanly squeak.
"...nothing's different," Bumblebee was saying. He cocked his head to the side in a distinctive gesture of contemplation, before he asked, "What upsets you more - that I love you, or that you know?"
Well then. That removed all lingering doubt.
"I- I just-" Sam stuttered. "It's not...normal!"
"Life stopped being normal long ago, didn't it, Sam?"
He had a point there.
"But- how- how can you love me?" Sam asked. "I mean, why? We're different in every sense of the word! Really, every one! Well, except the one..." ...the one where we're both guys...and that doesn't make it any clearer.
"Sam," the robot began, and Sam marveled at how the voice of a towering machine could sound so gentle, "I know you. I'm with you every day. I know what angers you, what saddens you, what makes you happy. I'm there for all of it."
"Because it's your job."
"Yes," Bumblebee admitted. "It is. But it's a calling that has grown to mean more. It is not just the will of a leader. It is a wish of my own."
Sam swallowed. "Well," he said shakily. "Reasons for your silence whenever I'm with Mikaela suddenly became a lot more clear. Oh, God, Mikaela... What am I meant to say to her?"
"You don't have to say or do anything. Who or what we hold important is our own choice. We each have made them." Bumblebee stood, and within moments had transformed back into his Camaro form. "Nothing has changed."
Sam shook his head slowly and began to walk back to the house. It appeared the conversation was over. For now. "No. No, everything has changed."
Bumblebee said nothing. Surely he didn't expect Sam to still take Mikaela out in the Camaro as if nothing was wrong? Now that Sam knew how Bumblebee felt, he'd be acutely conscious of every word they said around the Autobot. And would it be even possible for Mikaela to never know? Surely it would be inevitable. These things always do have an irritating way of coming out eventually.
Sam had reached the door, but before he went inside, he thought of one more question. "Bee...?"
The car was quiet. Waiting.
"...What did you want to understand?"
Bumblebee was either refusing to reply, or was taking a while to formulate his response. Sam had opened the door to the house and was about to step inside when Bumblebee's voice sounded, "I wanted to understand why, when Mikaela told you she loved you...you didn't say it back."