By Sapphire

Rating: PG or younger

Summary: Bumblebee rans away from the Academy, but soon gets found.

Comments: When I wrote the story, I hadn't seen any of the original cartoons, all I knew was the 2007 movie. In the mean time I've seen several different theories on where little Transformers come from and some sort of fit mine. So basically, I went with the idea that the body and knowledge is there from the beginning, but that personality and how to use that knowledge, as well body control need to develope over time. That's were the Academy comes in: a place where to train and develope your skills.

Warning: English is my second language. I did have a beta reader (thanks Macx) If there are mistakes left, it's all my fault and I do apologize for it.

Bumblebee wished he was dead.

Thrusting himself deep into his hiding place, he strained his audio receptors to the limit, listening if somebody had been following him. But everything seemed to be quiet, and he allowed himself to relax a little bit.

All he had ever wanted to do, from the moment he had come online for the very first time, when he had had that first sense of himself, was to go to the Academy. He had asked, had begged and wheedled, and finally his wish had been granted, and he had been allowed to go.

Now, however, he thought it might have been too soon after all, that he should have waited longer. Or maybe, that it had simply been a bad idea to begin with and that he just wasn't cut out for the Academy.

He was after all still a very young mech, still not quite in control of all his functions. He knew that it was only a matter of time, that he would get better command with practice, but at the moment he felt clumsy, as if half of his parts were in places were they didn't belong.

This afternoon his class had had transformation practice, and to put it mildly, it had been a disaster. The others in his group had laughed at him, and then one had started calling him 'Stumblebee' and now he couldn't get rid of that stupid name. Wherever he went, one or the other would suddenly show up and would do something that would make him lose control and again and again he made a fool of himself. Finally he had left the Centre and had found a place to hide, a place where nobody would find him. Or so he hoped.

It was time for the recharge cycle, but Bumblebee didn't dare to go off line. He was scared somebody would find him.

Maybe he simply should run away for good. But where to could he go? Cybertron was a dangerous world and he was just a small mechanoid and alone. Joining the Decepticons was not an option either. No matter what, he would never go to them.

Going back to the factory was also not possible. Once you leave there, you never could come back.

But what was he to do?

He started when he suddenly felt a slight vibration in the ground. As he pressed backwards, his back encountered a metal wall, and he tried very, very hard to be as still as possible, to disappear.

Still, the tremors came closer and then he heard them, like deep rhythmical thumps that made the ground shake. Something large covered the entrance of his hiding place and suddenly the inside was flooded with light. A bright beam shone directly into his optics and he raised his hands to cover them.

"Ah, there you are."

The voice was deep and friendly, but Bumblebee was not fooled.

"Leave me alone," he said defiantly. Maybe, if he was rude, the other would leave him alone and go away.

"Sorry, I don't think I can do that," was the reply from the other mechanoid.

There was a whirring sort of noise and then the light went away. Bumblebee was grateful for that. He hadn't liked it to be so exposed, in the spot light so to speak. There was a thumping sound and the opening in the cave got almost dark, only a small gap was left. The other must have settled down in front of the way in. Bumblebee could tell that the other one was several times larger than him, which, all things considered, wasn't a big surprise. Most mechanoids were larger than him. That was the reason he had chosen this particular cave left over from a collapsed bridge. Nobody of the larger 'bots would fit in there.

"So, why are you hiding?" The other mechanoid's voice sounded gentle, almost as if he really cared, but Bumblebee wasn't ready to trust him.

"No reason," Bumblebee said defiantly. Go away, I want to be alone, he thought but didn't voice it.

The other one chuckled, but quickly grew serious again. "There's always a reason."

Something in the other mechanoid made Bumblebee want to trust him, want to tell him, but he stopped himself in time.

"No," he said, quietly.

There was a sigh from the other mechanoid.

"You're Bumblebee, right?" he not so much asked but stated gently. "I think it's only fair I introduce myself, as I already know your name. I'm Optimus Prime."

Bumblebee whipped his head around, looking at the entrance to the cave. What?!? This was Optimus Prime, the famous Autobot leader? Every sparkling in existence knew about him, knew about his deeds. He was a hero.

He had been the reason he had wanted to go to the Academy so badly.

He pushed his receptors to their highest sensitivity, but he still couldn't see much. It was too dark, and the other 'bot was blocking most of the outside light. All he could make out was a vague shape, nothing really defined.

Was the other mechanoid lying, was he trying to draw him out into the open? For Bumblebee couldn't quite fathom why the Autobot leader would care about one small, fresh cadet, who so far had only shown how utterly unsuited for the Academy he was; would want to spend any time with somebody as incompetent as he was?

But who would dare to pretend Optimus Prime?

A Decepticon? Bumblebee felt his spark grow cold. Were the Decepticons after him? Did they know about him leaving the Centre and were they trying to use their chance to lure a young, inexperienced 'bot like him into a trap?

For a moment, he almost panicked, and his gears whirred as he tried to scramble even further backwards. Why did he have to hide in a place were there was no second exit? How stupid was this?

"Are you all right, Bumblebee?" Optimus Prime, or the mechanoid who pretended to be the Autobot leader, sounded honestly concerned. "Do you require help?"

There were noises of movement, and the lights were back on, illuminating the smaller mech.

With an effort Bumblebee calmed himself down. He turned his face away, his optics hurting. After a moment, the lights were switched off again and the other one shifted into a standing position.

"I think I should get some help," the larger 'bot said with a sigh. "You need to get out of there."

"No, please," Bumblebee said, quickly, then added, just to be on the safe side, "Sir."

Optimus Prime hesitated for a moment then asked, "You're sure?"

"Yes, sir. Please."

"As you wish," he said, though he didn't sound too happy about it. Again, the larger 'bot sat down, blocking the light from the cave's entrance.

Bumblebee felt his pounding spark calm down behind his chest plate, as he settled back into his original position. For some reason he didn't think that any Decepticon would ever show so much concern for a small mechanoid as he was.

This would mean that this was indeed Optimus Prime.

His idol.

For a few long minutes they both waited in silence.

"You want to tell me what happened?" Optimus Prime probed carefully after some time.

No, Bumblebee thought. But there was something in the other's voice that inspired confidence, and before he knew it, he blurted out, "I don't think I'm good enough for the Academy."

The moment he said it, he wished he could take the words back, but it was too late. And besides, he needed somebody to talk to, even if he hadn't realized this until now.

At least the Autobot leader didn't laugh at him. Instead, he shifted in place, then asked, "And why should that be?"

Once he had started, Bumblebee couldn't stop himself, even though he hated to sound like a whiner. "I'm clumsy, I'm not as good as the others and I'm really bad at transformations. Everybody is laughing at me."

"Ah," the larger 'bot said, "I see."

Again there was silence and Bumblebee wondered what the other one was making of his stupid confession.

"I've talked to your instructors and they tell me that you are doing good work. You've been at the Academy only for a short time, but already you show quite the aptitude for tracking and data retrieval. This is something that can be trained only to a certain degree. To be really, really good, you need the gift, and your instructors think that you have it. One day this might prove to be very useful. All transformation needs is practice, and maybe some good advice from friends, something I have no doubt you can easily become skilled at in time."

Bumblebee listened with rapt attention. He was a little stunned at his trainer's high opinion of him. When he had taken the tests, it all had seemed so easy. The answers had been just logical, and he had been surprised when he had realized that the others had far more problems with solving the questions. But then he had concluded this was because the others had been built more for strength. They were simply good at other things than him – like transformations.

When they had started teasing him, it had hurt too much for him to think clearly. He should have realized that this was the way of the others to pay him back for showing them off before. They probably hadn't meant it, really. They were Autobots after all.

If Optimus Prime was right – and who was he to doubt the Autobot leader? – his problems could be overcome in time, if he just worked hard enough on them. And in order to please Optimus Prime he was willing to do everything.

"Sir?" he ventured carefully, as the slowly got to his feet, "I think I've made a big mistake."

The Autobot leader chuckled softly. "We all do make mistakes once in a while."

"Not you," Bumblebee blurted out with conviction.

At that Optimus Prime laughed out loud. "Bumblebee, I've made many mistakes in my time and my friends will be the first to tell you this. What counts," he went on, serious again, "is what you do after you have made them."

The larger mech rose and stepped back from the entrance of the cave and Bumblebee followed him back outside, blinking at the sudden brightness, until he managed to dim his receptors to the sun light.

With shock he saw that Optimus Prime was not alone. There were several of his instructors, and next to them stood every single one of his class mates, each one looking as though they had gotten a thorough tongue lashing.

The leader of the Autobots moved aside and allowed Bumblebee to step forward.

His spark hammering in his chest, Bumblebee tried to smile.

"I think I should go back," he said, looking to Optimus Prime. "And then," he turned to his class mates, "I could use some help with transformations. I do believe I pretty much suck at those."

With a roar of laughter his class mates rushed forward and enveloped him, and Bumblebee knew that he would never lack friends – or help – ever again.