Payback Time

The Lost Boy

A/N Thanks to BloodShifter for the original idea I have adapted for this chapter.

Bumblebee looked all set to chase Barricade down, but Ratchet put a restraining hand on his arm.

"No, Bumblebee, if you back Barricade, and particularly Frenzy, into a corner, then Sam might get more badly hurt.

"But-Why did he run away from us? Why did he defend Barricade? Why did he go with him?"

"You heard him." said Ratchet "He said Barricade saved him from Frenzy. Its not uncommon, according to Earth literature, for someone with Stockholm Syndrome to try to defend their attacker, or refuse to help in any way towards ensuing punishment-be that imprisonment or death. The sort of situation Sam is in creates a dependence on the abductor, and even what may seem like a small kindness, without a comparative frame of reference, can be blown up by the captive into a big thing. Provision of comforts or food, or a privilege at first denied-the victim feels gratitude to their abductor, because they are utterly reliant on their captor for everything."

"He could have come to us. We would have rescued him!" Bumblebee said.

"Maybe Sam fears retaliation if he tried to and something went wrong." said Ratchet. "Who can say what Sam is thinking at the moment. Being captured is a very stressful situation, as you should know, Bumblebee, we've all been through it at one time or another. Were you not ever scared a rescue attempt might force your captors to kill you?"

Bumblebee shuddered, remembering all too well.

"I see your point." he said. "But that doesn't answer the question of how we get Sam back to us and his parents."

Ratchet transformed.

"I suggest we tail them at a distance, and take any opportunity we get. That is all we can do. At least we have those at base who can update us on their location."

They headed off.

"We made it" Sam said. "They're not following!"

"I do not understand." said Barricade. "They are your friends and one is your mate. Yet you chose to come with me. Why?"

"They were going to hurt you!" Sam said.

"Why would you care?" asked Barricade.

Sam didn't answer, because Barricade putting it that way actually made Sam stop and think. Why did he care? Finally, he answered.

"You've made threats, but you haven't hurt me. You've put up with my needs as an organic being, and you saved me from being killed by Frenzy. You probably had your reasons, but for those ones, and a dozen more I can't even put into words, I do care about you." He laid a hand on Barricade's dash. "I can't explain it, but I do."

Barricade was silent for a long moment, and then he spoke.

"I received a communication from Starscream an hour ago. He wants to rendezvous with me tomorrow, I won't say when or why." Sam's stomach did a flip-flop. He had gotten altogether too close to Starscream in Mission City. Since then, he had heard from the Autobots that Starscream bore a heavy grudge against humans. He wasn't sure why, at that time he hadn't asked, but he certainly wasn't looking forward to see the jet-robot again.

"Starscream doesn't like humans, does he?" Sam asked.

"Not at all." said Barricade. "He sees you as insignificant insects, like a plague or an infestation that must be wiped out. He's my superior, and if he tells me to kill you, then I must." Sam shuddered again, but Barricade had not finished.

"I care about you too, Sam, and I like you, I can't say why. Understand, Sam, that the next time we meet, it will most likely be as enemies. Starscream would not understand the concept of "friendship" with a fleshling such as yourself. He would see it as a dreadful betrayal. He might end up killing me for it."

"You care about me?" Sam said, surprised.

"Yes, and I want you to understand, Sam, that it is because I care for you, because I do not want Starscream to order me to kill you, that I do what I must, for both of our sakes." Barricade said.

He stopped, very abruptly, pulling up to a grass verge while there was a clear spot of road. The seatbelt undid and retracted of it's own free will, and Sam suddenly found himself and his possessions thrown out of Barricade's car form and onto the grass. Before he could even get up, the door shut again.

"Goodbye, Sam Witwicky. I would like to think that we could meet again as friends, but that possibility seems highly unlikely." Barricade told him. Then Barricade took off at top speed, and although Sam screamed his name and tried to keep up, Sam quickly lost sight of him.

Dejected and scared, Sam went back to his possessions. Picking them up, he once again struck out in the direction Barricade had gone in. Maybe he'd change his mind, or maybe he could track him down. Deep down, Sam knew that both of these possibilities were remote.

Bumblebee , Ratchet, and Michaela found him walking along the verge. Bumblebee was totally shocked. Sam looked so dejected, and completely lost. Mikaela got out and walked along by him.

"Sam?" she asked, putting out an arm. Sam stopped and looked at her. Then he moved into her embrace.

"He left me. He threw me out. Because he cared about me, because he didn't want Starscream to order him to kill me." He burst into great sobs. Mikaela put her arms around him and shushed him, led him towards where Bumblebee was waiting with both doors open. Sam didn't resist.

Bumblebee's Spark felt as if it was ripped apart, seeing his Sam like this. Barricade, he reflected, had wanted to hurt Bumblebee by hurting Sam.

As Mikaela got Sam into the passenger seat (he was in no fit state to even pretend to drive) Bumblebee reflected that although it was probably not been how he'd planned to do so, but Barricade had succeeded in that objective.

Bumblebee, at that point, had never hurt so much in his life as he did now.