Outbreak, part 1
DISCLAIMER: None of the characters belong to me, sadly. They are owned by people with a lot more money
Author's Voice of Warning (aka Author's Note):
English is not my first language; it's German. This is the best I can do. Any mistakes you find in here, collect them and you might win a prize The spell-checker said everything's okay, but you know how trustworthy those thingies are...
All right! Something new, while staying in the Imperfection storyverse (and don't you worry, Barricade and Jazz will come up later, too). This is, as you can probably see, a multi-parter, and I was mostly done when something hit me and wanted to be added, so it'll be in chapters and I'm still busy writing some scenes :)
My thanks to Sapphire for pointing out a few details that needed to be changed. I changed them :P
°°° °°° °°°
He hadn't really felt all too good for the past week, but with a physics test coming up and his work in fundamentals of mechanics, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, combustion, and materials science, Sam had had no time to think about being sick, let alone be sick. College was demanding, especially since he was demanding all by himself, and his free time had shrunk down to the occasional weekend. When Mikaela had broken off with him, Sam had started to spend even more time at the Autobot base to immerse himself in another study course that wasn't offered by the college: Cybertronian technology.
Blowing his nose, Sam muttered a curse at the pounding ache in his head. He had already taken two Tylenol and still the ache persisted. Flu season hadn't even started yet and here he was, the first to come down with symptoms.
°°° °°° °°°
The physics test went fine, as did the homework assignment, though he was landed with two more assignments to complete by the end of the next week and his professor requested him to add a few lab hours.
But his grades were good, which was what counted.
The weekend went by with sniffles and headaches, his Mom's chicken soup, her insistence he stay warm and drink lots of herbal tea, and Sam moaning and groaning about it to Bumblebee.
With no friends to come and visit – Miles had moved to Las Vegas and he had been his only true friend anyway – and with no girl friend, Sam stayed home, eating Skittles and Mars bars smuggled by his Mom, watching TV and reading up on his subjects.
It wasn't too bad, he mused. Nothing much had really changed, aside from the months he had enjoyed having a hot girl by his side that didn't think he was a trophy. Not that he had ever qualified as one. He was more of the geeky side of life, not the brawns. Not that his brain was all that remarkable either.
Mikaela had been an experience and he had chalked her up to heat of the moment, life-and-death situation. His Mom had mourned her more than he had, and his father had just given him a manly clap on the shoulder and told him there were more girls out there.
Of course there were. Sam was just not interested in one right now. He had too much else in his life.
°°° °°° °°°
Monday brought with it the usual college routine and Sam was glad Bumblebee drove him to Mission City, not expecting him to get together the necessary brain power to keep the Camaro on the road. He had his own little apartment place in Mission City and only came home every other weekend. For laundry, his father joked. And to cure the cold he had apparently caught. Maybe he should have returned Sunday night, gotten some more sleep in his apartment, but it had been really, really nice to get pampered, have Mojo cuddle up to him, and to be in his old room.
Actually, it was always nice to see the family after two weeks with nothing but college people. Other weekends were spent with the Autobots. Sometimes, when his parents were away for the weekend, too, Sam either stayed in his apartment or drove to the base with Bumblebee.
And he knew how to do his laundry all by himself.
"Shouldn't you see a doctor?" Bumblebee inquired as they pulled onto the street that led to Sam's place.
"I'm fine, Bee. Really."
"I've scanned the internet, Sam, and there are all kinds of terrible disease that start with headaches and sniffles."
Sam smiled a little, feeling tired from his day at college. "It's a cold. Maybe the flu. Nothing that won't be cured. We humans tend to be able to take care of small stuff ourselves. Our bodies have antibodies."
Bumblebee was silent, mulling it over. "Okay," he finally said.
"I'm really, really fine," Sam repeated.
"You know, there's a name for that," he teased. "Hypochondriac."
He could almost see Bumblebee's electronic mind whirring, accessing the internet.
"Hypochondria refers to an excessive preoccupation or worry about having a serious illness," the mech finally said. "I don't think I'm suffering from any illness, Sam."
"You're just obsessed about me coming down with something. What's that then? Transferred hypochondria?"
A chuckle could be heard. "Maybe. I'm just worried about you. You're my friend and there is so much about humans I don't understand. You're very complex beings."
"Well, thank you, but you really don't have to be a worry wart." Sam yawned. "And I'm dead on my feet. Why is it that professors insist on piling work on us when there's a perfectly nice day outside?"
"I think it's called college, Sam."
Bumblebee pulled up in front of the apartment building. "Maybe you should get some sleep?"
"Take a nap in the afternoon? Bee, I'm nineteen, not ninety!" Sam exclaimed, slightly shocked.
He pulled his backpack from the passenger seat and heard Bumblebee laugh with amusement. He waved at his friend and went inside, heading for his room.
Against all protests, he did drop off into a doze almost right after he lay down on the bed. He really was tired.
°°° °°° °°°
The flu symptoms abated by Wednesday and Sam was glad that was over. Sitting underneath the large tree on campus, eating M&M's by the handful, he read through the required chapters of thermodynamics the professor had asked them to, making notes. He sometimes compared what he learned about mechanics to what Ratchet had already told him about Cybertronian inner workings, and while it was different, Sam could see that there were similarities, too. He could work with that, whatever he planned to do with his degree later on.
It was fascinating, it was fun, and even the boring lectures were easier to suffer through when he reminded himself that this was for a specific purpose.
He would go through with this, whatever it took. He would be useful.
Sam was invited to attend the promotion ceremony of Captain William Lennox a few days later. He took two days off from college and Bumblebee drove them to the ceremony. Everyone was there, the whole team, the Autobots, Secretary of Defence John Keller, and Sam was slightly awestruck by it all. Lennox looked smart in his uniform and everyone beamed when his promotion was made official. Epps elbowed Sam, proud like a father himself that his captain had been promoted.
The Autobots were in their car forms, unobstrusively in the background, mainly because some of the people present didn't know about their existence.
Afterwards, Keller took them for a more or less casual dinner in a private restaurant that allowed them to talk openly, and Sam was introduced to the alcohol-steadiness of the US Military. He didn't touch anything, mainly because he still didn't feel well enough after his cold, and snuck out around midnight. Bumblebee was parked outside, waiting patiently, and he opened the door for his charge.
"Man, they don't even show signs of winding down," Sam muttered as he slipped out of the black jacket. "I'm dead on my feet."
"Do you want to go to your hotel?"
Keller had booked them all into one of the really pricey hotels. The ceremony had been held in Las Vegas, of all places, because it was closer than, say, Washington DC, the Autobots could drive there easily, and there were several dozen hotels to choose from. Sam had been to Vegas twice before. Once with his parents, once before Mikaela had broken up with him. Actually, she had broken up with him right in front of the Excalibur after the dragon show. Now his hotel was the Bellagio, and he had a truly nice and big room with a view of the fountains and a loudspeaker system that played the tunes the people at the lake could hear when the fountains were 'dancing'.
"No, not really. How about a midnight drive?"
It was a nice ride. Sam let Bumblebee chauffeur him and he didn't have to think about watching the road while gawking at all the light shows. They made it all the way down into the old downtown area, Sam watched the Freemont Street Experience, then they took a few side roads back to the Strip. He just enjoyed it. The muted sounds of the cars outside, the darkness, the lights, the sights.
It was nice.
It was actually peaceful.
Bumblebee parked around the back from the Bellagio and Sam stretched.
"Washington would have been nice, too," he remarked. "Never been there."
"Neither have I," Bumblebee told him.
"Did you have a capital city on Cybertron?" Sam asked.
"Yes," was the soft answer. "It was beautiful. With monuments and museums and the Academy. I went there for training. It was huge. The war destroyed most of it because when Megatron couldn't take it, he sent his drones to tear it apart."
Sam nodded, feeling sad for no other reason than the tone of voice from his friend.
"Do you miss home?" he asked.
"Every day," was the honest answer.
Guilt welled up inside Sam again. Without the Allspark, the Autobots were stuck here and there was no telling if any survivors would find them. They might very well be the last.
"But I would miss this world, too," Bumblebee interrupted his morose thoughts. "I've come to love it very much."
The words touched something different in Sam and he smiled a little. "Really?"
"Yes. I will gladly stay here."
Sam touched the Autobot symbol on the steering wheel, brushing his fingers over it. "I'm glad you are," he murmured.
The headaches started again three days later – with a vengeance. Sam and Bumblebee were on their way to the lake when Sam cried out in pain as a sudden spike of agony lanced through his head. Bumblebee swerved off the uneven dirt road and came to a stop.
The engine pinged in the sun.
Dust settled around them.
Sam lay across the front seats, clutching his head, crying softly in pain.
"Sam?!" Bumblebee called. "Sam? Answer me! What happened?!"
"Head!" the young man gasped. "Oh gawd…"
Bumblebee felt panic rise inside him. He had never handled an injured human. Sam had come out almost unscathed at the end of the last battle and those injuries had been taken care of. Now his friend was almost screaming and tears were running down his face.
He did the only thing he could think of: he called for help.