Disclaimer: not mine the end.
Props to those who can pick out the references to two separate series (a video game and an anime) hidden in here. Even if you can't find them...I hope you enjoy. Never written a holiday fic of any kind before so let's see how that turns out.
Comments are always welcome.
It's Where You're At
By, Nicole Silverwolf
Mikaela had taken a very part time job working for a local garage as a mechanic. It was more freelance than anything to keep from interfering with schoolwork. The guys genuinely enjoyed her company and they were willing to teach her what she hadn't picked up as a child. Many of the employees had known her father.
Since the disaster in Mission City (as the papers proclaimed it), she'd been around more regularly. She confessed that when she had been dating Trent she'd been embarrassed to come by. An argument over whether it was cool for his image of her seemed to be more effort than it was worth. So she'd snuck in on Sunday afternoons during football season and the playoffs when Trent wasn't much interested in anything other than ESPN.
Sam was almost every opposite to the football player, honest, supportive and just a bit too skinny, like a beanpole. Though he got a ribbing from everyone about how his girlfriend knew more about cars than he did, he took it in stride. It didn't phase him like such a comment would insult most teenage males his age. Sam was making an effort to catch up with his girlfriend and he was quick to try anything with her there to guide.
Howard, the head of the garage, heartily approved.
It was a little surprising to see him pedal up on a beat up 10 speed several days after Halloween. He'd seen Sam's car. The machine was a work of art and the boy had never been without it since he'd acquired it late this past spring.
"Hey Howard," the kid greeted casually, leaning the bike against a wall of peeling navy blue paint and scrubbing a hand through his hair.
"Hey Sam. How're you doing?"
"Oh you know...not bad...yourself? How's Sally?" the boy inquired meeting his eyes for a moment, glancing over one of his many too bright Hawaiian shirts (this one featuring palm trees and lots of pink) then letting them search over the shop.
"She's doing well...looking for Mikaela?" Howard wiped his hands on a oil stained rag sticking from the pocket with a chuckle. Ah to be young and in love.
Sam nodded sheepishly.
"No car?" he asked as he gestured towards the back and a beat up looking Ford that she was probably underneath.
"No...it's...it's in the shop..." he responded distractedly.
"Which shop?" Howard questioned sharply over the pair of sunglasses he perpetually wore and only then did Sam realize that the lie he'd crafted while Bumblebee was away on recon missions wasn't going to work.
"Ummm...Mikaela's! She's been fixing him up for me. Said she wanted a challenge," he shouted, nervous in a way Howard suspected he wasn't trying to be. The old man shot him a look Sam didn't catch that clearly wondered why such a statement would cause so much concern.
The young man turned the corner escaping the man with his grizzled white hair and too sharp eyes. Berating himself under his breath he ducked around various parts he couldn't name and spied his girlfriend's legs halfway underneath a Ford Mustang that had seen better days.
"Hey," he plopped to the ground leaning back on his hands and searching her face out in the dim light.
"Hey yourself," she responded without meeting his gaze. It wasn't a mean gesture to guess by how she was concentrating, eyebrows furrowed together and arms tensed against something that looked important to the car's functional ability.
"Things going okay?" he asked as he watched her fiddle.
There was a distinct clank and she smiled, pulling a ratchet out from where it had been obscured from his view.
She turned bright, enthusiastic blue eyes on him. "Yep, things are going awesome. Finally figured out what was wrong with this." She proceeded to detail what she'd done and Sam was only able to understand about half of it.
They scrambled out from under the car and when he offered his hand to help her up she took it. It was the end of her shift so to speak and they wandered slowly out towards the waning sunlight chatting about potential plans for the rest of the night.
"Where's Bee?" she asked quietly when she spied the distinct lack of bright yellow Camaro in the lot and its accompanying gawkers. Secretly the two of them thought that their friend liked all the attention though he often chose lyrics to the opposite effect.
"Recon. But officially he's at your house for repairs."
She gave him a look that was particularly confused.
"Howard wanted to know what shop he was at. You know he'd kill me if I didn't bring my car here if something was wrong." That was true she conceded to his very Sam styled response, all high speed nervous chatter like she wouldn't believe him.
"So no ride home?" she teased.
"Sorry," he genuinely apologized as they waved to Howard and he slung the bike around to walk it with her. Mikaela gave him a smile that said 'you're being ridiculous'. Both of them understood that Bumblebee had a job to do even while he was Sam and by mutual extension Mikaela's guardian.
"Well it's a good thing I don't mind walking. Besides, it's a nice night."
Indeed it was a perfect fall evening the air crisp but not biting cold, a light breeze and no rain.
They made their way down empty streets, the hour enough before mealtimes to clear out most shoppers but not so late as to draw out the Saturday night dinner crowd just yet.
Sam debated his words for a moment. Wondering if she'd understand what he wanted to ask and then berating himself because she probably would be the only person on the PLANET who'd understand this kind of request.
"Hey Mikaela? I need your help with something..."
She wondered at his earnest almost embarrassment but kept her eyes encouraging.
When he'd finished his slightly stilted and rushed proposal she grabbed his hand, enthusiastically agreed and kissed him soundly.
He should have known she'd understand.
Their son was a strange one at times.
They loved him.
Unconditionally, as any good parents did.
But that didn't mean that they weren't also slightly concerned about his behavior. Still, he was a teenager and teenagers were prone to doing things that made little sense to anyone but themselves.
For instance, Judy Witwicky could not understand how Sam could spend so much time with his car. She could understand men's obsessions with vehicles on some level; Lord knew Ron spent nearly as much time cleaning and polishing his roadster as he did working on the yard.
But with Sam it seemed to be different. He and Mikaela would spend hours sitting out in the yard with the bright yellow Camaro. If the weather was seasonable enough they would do their homework out in the driveway. Often she would find them curled up on the hood, chatting away like she imagined other kids did in front of televisions with friends. The malfunctioning radio often made them laugh and for a malfunctioning piece of equipment the lyrics were eerily on target with what they were discussing. It just seemed a little strange that was all.
She had decided not to comment on it with reassurances from Ron that asking the boy was only going to make him evasive, defensive and angry.
And now their son was fixated on the garage.
Judy was of course exploiting this new interest to the fullest and having him clean the entire thing out. Who knew when that interest might inexplicably wane and she almost wondered if he would turn such fervor towards the gutters before winter set in.
Sam was pulling boxes out and sorting them with vicious abandon.
"You're doing a wonderful job dear. I never expected you to get this so clean so quickly."
Indeed, he'd only been given the task three days ago yet the entire place had been emptied, swept and organized to levels she didn't think possible for a teenage male to achieve.
"Something you're not telling me?" she needled a bit from the frame she leaned against.
Mikaela had been over to help a few hours earlier but was off to visit her father now before Thanksgiving. Judy had insisted she shouldn't lift a finger, but the girl had been stubborn. Happy to be lending a hand even.
"Mom," her son started with such a straight and serious face that it was immediately suspicious. "Can't a son just do something nice for his mother every so often?"
"You want something." The response was so quick because it was clearly so right.
"It's not something bad mom. Trust me," he proclaimed as he shoved another box to the donation pile that would be heading to the local Salvation Army later this weekend.
"But you do want something," she deduced.
Sam stopped where he knelt and had she seen it, he knew his mother would comment about rolling his eyes. Still, this plan couldn't be kept a secret forever even if they weren't allowed to know about its most vital component. He chanced a quick glance out to the driveway. It was hard to tell whether Bee was listening closely to this conversation. Sam hadn't yet been able to figure out how much his guardian had taken to his duty when he was also pretending not to be a sentient vehicle.
Better not to risk it.
"I'll have to show you mom. It's inside," Sam replied firmly. He pulled out a dust covered box he couldn't even guess at the contents of. "Later?"
Judy didn't seem one hundred percent satisfied with that explanation. But it was clear she was torn by the desire to get a straight answer out of her son and the desire for him to finish this chore he was excited about completing.
"Well," she drew that out to make it seem like she was debating. "Since you're so busy, I guess it can wait till later."
"Thanks mom, you're the greatest!"
Her face was pleased as most mothers' were after hearing such a child's endearment.
Yes their son was a strange one. And after hearing his detailed explanation several hours later at the kitchen table over dinner, she still wasn't convinced that there wasn't something to worry about. But he wasn't doing drugs or anything else parents were supposed to worry about with their kids and that had to count for something.
Sam also took this opportunity to get his father's approval for the project, being sure to couch it in terms of what a benefit it would be to the older man. It hadn't taken much convincing even if there was a brief fear in his fidgeting that he'd actually overdone it.
If he had, his father let it slide.
Bumblebee had of course gotten wind that something was going on, and Sam had only half hoped he could get away with his preparations without the Autobot's questions. But really, Bee was a soldier--one who'd been trained in spying and was an expert in information gathering. Not asking would have been even more odd.
Especially with the trips he was taking to the hardware store and the library in sharply increased amounts. Google personnel were surely having a field day mocking his weird search inquiries.
"It's a surprise...and no you can't ask me to explain more than that or it will ruin that surprise," Sam had explained on a ride home from the base towards the beginning of December.
There were a smattering of lyrics after that, a sure sign that Bumblebee wasn't particularly satisfied by the response.
Mikaela was a tremendous help, especially as neither of them had ever attempted something like this before. Her natural talent with mechanics and deeper knowledge base gave her insight that Sam didn't quite have. His enthusiasm and willingness to look outside the box solved problems when it became clear that the best options on the market were FAR outside the price range of two mostly unemployed teenagers. And though they were both in new territory, it wasn't so bad because they were in it together.
Sam supposed he could ask the government for help. A benefit of saving the world and now being on a somewhat first name basis with the secretary of defense saw to that. But early on in their plan he and Mikaela had agreed it wouldn't mean as much. This was a gift they wanted to give.
One thing the town of Tranquility was known for; when it decided to get cold for the winter...it got cold. Temperatures dipped quickly from a reasonable 60 to that line that stood between snow and rain.
Snow wasn't particularly common in their town, but the occasional storms were not unheard of. And so one unsuspecting Saturday about two weeks before Christmas Sam woke up to the muffled silence that could only come from snowfalls.
It wasn't a huge amount, barely an inch that he couldn't even shovel but rather had to use a broom to remove from his father's precious walkways as requested (firmly...with a threat to take away the car keys if he didn't perform this task).
"What's going on?" hummed Marvin Gaye from the radio when he made his way out after donning a hat and a coat on the orders of his mom. Keeping up the pretense just in case his parents were watching they'd agreed a malfunctioning radio was much better than an autonomous voice.
The young man couldn't quite decide whether the car looked miserable or not, but it wasn't hard to see that the yellow Camaro had hunkered down on his shocks and might be doing the Autobot equivalent of shivering.
"Look up snow on google. That's what this is," Sam smiled with hands stuck deep in goose down lined pockets. He waited patiently while his friend absorbed the images, definitions and examples the word snow had probably deluged him with.
When the car sunk further down on the shocks hugging to the pavement Sam stifled a laugh, pulled out the house broom and began to work.
"It doesn't snow all that much Bee," he spoke conversationally as he swept. "Nothing like those pictures you're looking at. At most we get a couple inches all winter. I can't remember when we might have had more than a foot or two except when I was way little."
"Ya cold?" he asked. Though Bumblebee had been on Earth for several years before finding his way into Sam's life the young man knew he had to have known something about weather. Supposedly Bumblebee had started his search in South America before making his way north. Maybe he'd never experienced snow before.
Bumblebee didn't respond in words, just settled more firmly on his shocks and stilled. Sam had to wonder if it was his friend's way of saying he was going to suck it up and deal. Stubborn to the very end.
Sam continued to sweep nonchalantly, talking about the meager funds he'd saved for a gift for Mikaela. It wasn't going to be something big, but he was certain she'd appreciate it. Or maybe he wasn't by the way he described it in extreme detail and seemed to be fishing for reassurance. Bumblebee had to ask about why he couldn't spend more though it had taken several yes and no type questions as he couldn't find an appropriate radio equivalent to the question. Sam had been slowly selling off random things in his room on ebay for extra cash. By Bumblebee's calculations he should have had more than enough for a generous gift for the girl.
"Just working on that surprise. What's left is gonna go towards her present." Chores were finished and Sam dragged out a few towels to dry off the Camaro even though the car clearly didn't seem interested in admitting the comfort of being dry.
He suspected this surprise had something to do with the eagerly anticipated holiday. As Bumblebee had spent several earlier opportunities attempting to trip an answer out of Mikaela that had ended in disaster he'd given up pressing the issue. They'd explained Christmas, its associated celebrations and decorations so the Autobot was not alarmed when Sam's father brought out the ladder and a pile of lights one weekend.
The yellow Autobot was nothing if not patient when a situation called for it. He could out wait two teenagers who weren't doing the best job at concealing their eagerness.
It was bitter cold on Christmas eve though it wasn't likely to snow according to channel seven's weatherman. Sam's family was small and most of his relatives celebrated with the other halves of their family on this night. Tomorrow they were off to his grandmothers and the more traditional family celebrations.
Mikaela and her mom had come for dinner instead, and though both teenagers dreaded how poorly the meeting might go the adults were getting along fabulously, helped in part by several bottles of wine. The two of them were also ecstatic to be escaping with minimal embarrassing questions regarding their relationship.
They'd been patient most of the evening, but eventually Sam and Mikaela seemed unable to sit still and with a quick nod to one another made efforts to appear like they weren't simultaneously trying to escape to the kitchen.
When they slipped out to the backyard, yanking on coats, boots, scarves and hats they ignored the catcalls of their parents misinterpreting their goal.
"Ready?" Mikaela whispered.
Sam gave a nod and they attempted to be as nonchalant as possible as they strode into the driveway and waved forward the bright yellow sports car sitting closer to the street.
The car rolled forward silently and there was no masking the Autobot's unease and almost reluctance. He'd suspected this surprise might have something to do with him, and searches of "surprise" on the internet were often linked to words like "prank". Though Bumblebee doubted his two young human friends were planning something, it didn't hurt to be cautious.
"Merry Christmas Bee," Mikaela beamed. She was grinning from ear to ear shifting eagerly from foot to foot. Sam too seemed barely able to contain his movements. He could see the brand new Leatherman sticking from her pocket which had been Sam's ingenious gift on a budget so it probably didn't have to do with the gifts they'd gotten each other.
"We got you a present. That's what this surprise thing was all about for the last month and a half." Sam declared.
The car didn't respond but they could imagine the questions he'd have if he were out of his vehicle mode and not twenty yards from the Witwicky's dining room.
"It's not the most ideal setup, but we got the impression you weren't exactly thrilled about the winter," Mikaela started.
Sam's voice got quiet as he continued. "I know you're tough man, you're probably tougher than anyone we've ever met. But you've done so much for us, stuff we'll never be able to repay you for..."
He didn't know how to continue without bringing up painful moments like the Autobots encounters with Sector 7 and those Nitrogen based guns that induced stasis locks. Those memories were still fresh to Sam and Mikaela and while Bumblebee had never seemed very concerned, they still weighed on the two teenagers.
Mikaela's hand reassuringly sought Sam's and squeezed when he didn't continue. It gave the young man the confidence to tap the button in his hand.
Raising up slightly on his axles Bumblebee affected curiosity at his friend's nervousness. It wasn't like Sam to be so reluctant.
As the garage door squeaked open, the first and most prominent thing he noticed was the gust of warm and dry air that wafted out. The double garage had always housed Ron's classic on the left, but the space on the right--once home to various boxes of storage--had been cleared and cleaned to leave adequate room for a car.
The lights had been repaired; the heating system was newly installed. Suddenly the lack of funds, trips to the hardware store, awkward boxes delivered from the internet and research expeditions to the library fell into place. Bumblebee suspected Mikaela had contributed to the funds and installation of the wiring and ducts to guess by her knowing grin. If Optimus found out that he'd been outsmarted by two kids he'd never hear the end of it.
"Merry Christmas Bee." Sam spoke sincerely as they backed into the garage, letting the Autobot roll forward to investigate.
"We figured out a system to access the door opener to get out if you need to. You know, if you've gotta go meet the others or something and we're not around." Mikaela proudly showed him the trip wire that was connected to the garage opener they'd jerry-rigged as well as a temperature control that could be manipulated by one of his inbuilt sensors.
Sam's idea and Mikaela's lessons from Ratchet had inspired that one.
Through this entire explanation the car didn't make a noise, not even a choice of lyrics nor movement.
Hoping they'd got it right, Sam put a warm hand on the hood.
"Ya like it man?"
The response from the car was immediate and though Bumblebee couldn't risk a transformation so close to the house and now covered by a roof, Mikaela and Sam didn't think it would make a difference. The car bounded forward for lack of a better adjective, scooping the two of them onto the hood in a startled laugh. There was the distinct crackle of radio stations shifting until it settled.
"...we all got to have some place
that we come from
this place that we come from is called home
we set out on our travels
we do the best we can
we travel this big world and we roam..."
Both of them concentrated, knowing that if Bumblebee had found a song it was for a reason. Balanced on gloved hands and knees they didn't dare to move off the hood. Instinct though had them smiling in satisfaction.
"we all got to have some place
that we come from
this place that we come from is called home
and even though we may love this place on the map
I said it ain't where you from
it's where you're at..."
There was Christmas music after that and they could pick out the Beatles getting by with a little help from their friends and a ton of songs with the words thank you in them that swung by so fast they couldn't identify all the artists.
"Guess that's a yes huh?" they asked between laughs and settled down for conversation with their friend.
The lyrics and the title are from 'Habitat' by Mos Def from the album Black on Both Sides.
So comments, criticism, praise, flames...anything you'd like to throw at me? Please do so now.
Thanks for reading and have a great holiday and new year no matter what you celebrate!