TITLE: Snowbound
Imperfection Deviation
SERIES: Imperfection
AUTHOR: Macx
RATING: PG-13
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...
FEEDBACK: Loved

Requested by Laura B who wanted Sam and Bee in a snowstorm. The bunny dropped on fertile ground :)

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"Just our luck, hm?"

Sam watched fat white flakes of snow blow by the window. The sky was a leaden gray and it looked like it would get worse before it might get better. The forecast, just before the radio signal had died, had been rather vague. The snowstorm had come in unexpected and it had gained in strength in the last two hours. It would reach its peak tonight and should be over by tomorrow.

"So much for weather," Sam muttered. He knew forecasts weren't always precise, but there hadn't been so much as a snow warning, let alone storm.

"I think it was a change in the winds, Sam," Bumblebee tried to explain helpfully.

"Whatever it was, we're stuck in it. Man…"

It had been his idea to take Bumblebee for a cross-country drive, show his friend the countryside and visit some of the places Sam had always wanted to see for himself. Winter break had seemed like the ideal time. Recovering from the stress of exams, having some alone time with Bumblebee, working on his technopathy, had sounded great.

So on December 13th, they had set off for ten days of vacation, to be back in time for Christmas at the Witwickys. The plan had been to go north, head for Portland, then Seattle, then cross the border for a few days in Canada, and return via San Francisco.

No one had expected the snowstorms to hit so fiercely and so suddenly. The Seattle area was issuing warnings where Sam and Bumblebee currently plowed through ever-thickening snow. They had just passed Olympia when the weather had turned from simply depressing to dangerously white and stormy.

Roads were closing down fast and they had already been detoured so often, he no longer had an idea where exactly they were. They might already be in Canada for all he knew.

Bumblebee had never seen snow before. At least in such amounts and in person. In his time on Earth he had learned a lot through TV and the internet, but he had never battled gales and thick snow. Sam could feel the fluctuations in his friend's mind. He wasn't consciously keeping tabs on him with an open uplink. It was by now simply natural.

"You okay, Bee?" he asked.

"Yes. I seem to be losing traction sometimes, though."

"It's the snow and the icy roads. I think we should take it slow, maybe find shelter," Sam suggested, squinting through the whiteness to find the tail lights of the vehicle in front of them.

There was nothing.

"Bee?"

"Yes."

"Are we still following the guy before us?"

There was a momentary silence as Bumblebee scanned. "No. I think he drove off somewhere. I can't find anyone either before or behind us. The snow is starting to block my scans, Sam. It seems to be the molecular make-up of the frozen precipitation. The hexagonal ice crystals apparently reflect my own emissions."

"You can't see?" Sam translated.

"Not well," was the confession.

He groaned. "We better stop somewhere. Do you have any idea where we are?"

Another momentary silence. Then, "We have apparently left the main road three miles back and have entered a small forest. The road beneath me is no longer paved."

Sam felt first flickers of panic. "W-what? Bee, stop! Just stop! We have no idea where we're driving!"

The Autobot obediently stopped and Sam watched the whiteness outside. He could make out tall trees to his left, but only just. Ahead and behind him was nothing but whiteness.

The panic started to grow.

They were lost. In a snow storm.

He knew what happened to people who got lost. He had read about it in papers, he had heard and seen it on the news. People got killed in snow storms! Just last year…

He pushed away those thoughts, but they returned unbidden.

"Sam? Are you all right?" Bumblebee sounded worried.

"No," he whispered truthfully, hands clenching around the steering wheel. "We're lost in a snow storm, Bee. This is really, really bad."

"We can outwait the weather," the mechanoid suggested.

"You maybe. But it's going to get really cold…"

Sam felt Bumblebee's presence through the uplink and he grabbed for it, his panic having him cling to his only support.

::Sam? Why are you worried?::

::Because people freeze to death in snow storms!:: he blurted.

The wind was howling outside. It was a rather unsettling sound. Sam would have loved to sit in a cozy little cabin or motel room, with some hot chocolate or a tea, watching the storm. But sitting in a car in the middle of it? He shivered. Not in cold, but in fear.

::You won't freeze:: Bumblebee interrupted his thoughts.

He swallowed. "We don't know how long this'll last."

"I'm not a car, Sam," Bumblebee gently reminded him. "I can sustain the heat inside me without using up fossil fuel."

Sam blinked. "Oh…" he finally said slowly, understanding dawning.

Not a car. Of course Bumblebee wasn't a car! He was an alien life form that transformed into a car shape!

"Bumblebee…" he stuttered, embarrassment rising. "I… I didn't mean… it's just…"

"I know, Sam."

Through the uplink he felt something akin to a hug and he returned it. They had taken huge steps with this form of communication and Sam had found it easier each time. His technopathy was working very smoothly when it came to Bumblebee.

"So… how long?" he probed carefully.

"Judging by the outside temperatures and adding a safety margin, bringing in your relative size and weight and the space that needs to be heated, I'd estimate several of your planetary months."

Sam gaped. "Really?!"

"Yes," came the patient reply.

"Wow. But… what about you? Won't the cold hurt you?"

Bumblebee chuckled. "We traveled through space, Sam. Nothing is as cold as space. My body can take this."

"But Megatron was found frozen underneath the ice," he argued.

"According to the data from Sector Seven, Megatron had spent all his energon on reaching Earth, shielding himself from the heat stress of atmospheric entry, and he couldn't recharge fast enough to ward off the effects of the ice. He chose to protect himself by going into stasis lock. He froze because of a critical failure in his systems."

"But you won't?"

"No."

"But when they caught you…" Sam stopped, still somehow distressed by those memories. Bumblebee's cries had been heart-wrenching.

"It wasn't the same as caught in this cold," his friend told him calmly.

Sam snuggled a little into the seat, hands playing over the steering wheel. ::Good to know::
::I doubt we'll be caught here for long. And you still have sustenance in your travel bag for yourself.::

That was at least something.

The wind hadn't lessened and Bumblebee's car form was shaken by gusts, but he still stood firm and the warmth inside was nice. Sam watched the snow outside. Sometimes he thought he could distinguish the forest outside, but mostly it was just a mass of flurries.

°°° °°° °°°

They passed the time playing games. It was actually a training program designed for the young mechs entering the academy and Bumblebee had great fun explaining it to Sam. The technopath found it challenging to his mind and he happily immersed himself into the surreal world of Cybertron academy training. It wasn't about fighting, it was a strategy game, challenging the mind.

And he learned fast.

Bumblebee had as much fun as Sam and the time passed quickly. It was getting darker outside and while the snow was still driven across the land with immense force, it was kind of peaceful.

"You didn't know about snow?" Sam asked as he leaned back, the game for now paused.

"No. It's an interesting new experience."

"But you were here on Earth for years, Bee."

"I followed the traces of alien sightings all across this continent. For some reason it never took me into snow storms." There was a teasing note to Bumblebee's voice. "I had a lot of wheat fields and very empty country-sides instead."

"It's hard to imagine what life's like on other planets," Sam mused. "I always thought there'd be weather like here. Snow and sun and rain…"

"There is, but not like on Earth. Every planet, inhabited or not, is different. Different circumstances led to its existence, to how it was shaped, and whether life developed or not. There is life out there in the universe, but it's not like here on Earth. You'd find it as alien as it would find you."

"Probably."

"I'm alien," the mech reminded him. "And I had difficulties getting to know your kind, growing used to it."

Sam nodded. "I thought you were really strange when we met. I couldn't really think 'alien', more like 'strange machine developed by, say, the Japanese'." He patted the dash. "No offense, Bee."

"None taken. Your kind can at least reference our makeup to Earth machinery. We hadn't met human life forms until we discovered the Ghost 1."

Sam slid deeper into the passenger seat, feet up on the other. He had stuffed his jacket behind him as a pillow and taken off his shoes. It was actually quite comfortable in here.

"Tell me about it," he requested softly.

"I could show you," Bumblebee offered.

Sam hesitated a moment, then nodded. While invading another mind had backfired several times, sharing memories with a willing 'host' was something very pleasurable. Even violent images weren't so scary when he wasn't an invader, tearing through memories.

::Relax:: Bumblebee only said as Sam linked.

And then he was fifty years in the past, in another galaxy, aboard the Ark, and watching everything unfold.

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Sam had fallen asleep and Bumblebee had started to work on his radio system, boosting reception through the interference, picking up all kinds of news on the weather while keeping an eye on his charge. There was talk about arctic fronts and more than two feet of snow in the northwest area of Washington State. There was no end in sight for now as a new low pressure front was moving in.

Throughout the night the snowfall lessened and the howling winds and rattling gusts calmed down. Sam had woken throughout that time, sleepy and still frightened, but Bumblebee wouldn't let him fall toward panic. He would protect Sam with his life and keeping him warm and safe was easy enough.

It was when the snow finally stopped and the winds were down to a for human bearable level that Bumblebee gently woke his friend. Sam yawned and stretched, hands banging against the roof.

"Bee?" he mumbled.

"It stopped snowing. I think we can now start to ascertain our position."

Sam rubbed his eyes and yawned again, then peered through the side window. The driver's side was mercifully uncovered, but all he could see was snow.

Grabbing his coat, Sam started to dress. He was already wearing two sweaters and had thick boots. He added a woolen scarf and gloves, then unlocked the door.

Icy cold air had him yelp and shiver. "Man!" he exclaimed. "It's like the Arctic out there!"
Bumblebee chuckled and waited until his charge was outside, then transformed smoothly.

It was what humans called a winter wonderland. Everything was underneath a thick blanket of pristine white snow. Bumblebee's scans informed him about density and makeup of the cold mass, but the part that had been and was still influenced by Sam appreciated the beauty. He had never seen snow like this before. Cybertron had no weather to speak of and other planets hadn't been like Earth.

Sam stomped his feet. He was knee-deep in snow, but his eyes were alight with the same appreciation of what the snow storm had created around them. For a moment he seemed to forget that this beauty was also deadly, had killed people caught unawares, had plunged others into darkness as electricity failed and heaters died.

Bumblebee got his bearings and calculated the best way to get back onto the road, though reports coming in over the news channels showed little to no hope of traveling anywhere any time soon. Conditions were bad and it would take a few more days until normalcy might return.

He informed Sam of that.

His friend's face reflected his indecision, shadowed by renewed fear. "So what do we do now?" his charge asked.

"We'll find you a warm place to stay," Bumblebee only said. "Then we wait this out."

"But with power down and the possibility of a state-wide state of emergency… there might not be anywhere to stay."

Bumblebee knelt down and gently touched his friend. ::Let me do the looking. You just sit back. If all else fails we just continue driving as best as possible. I won't let you come to harm::

Sam closed his eyes, shivering again. Bumblebee understood the need to know about food and shelter. It was survival instinct and Sam, despite being in the company of someone who could actually protect him from the cold, still feared what might come.

::Sam…:: he probed.

Brown eyes looked at him.

::We'll make it back, okay?::

::Okay. You know, as a kid I would have loved to be in snow like that, have a snow ball fight, build a snow man…::

The mech regarded him curiously. All of that was alien to him, like so many things. Sam laughed and shrugged.

::You never outgrow those things, but I'm not really in the mood. It's too damn cold anyway::

Bumblebee rose and scanned the area. "I can't drive in these conditions. We'll have to walk until we get to a clear road."

"Sounds like a plan."

Sam wasn't surprised when Bumblebee opted to carry him. Being much smaller than Optimus Prime, Sam's perch on his friend's shoulder was different. Bumblebee adjusted for the human's position and easily strode across the wintry landscape. Sam mused about the easy but strange trail they were leaving behind. Anyone finding these footsteps would probably think prank or alien invasion.

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Their first stop after getting back onto the road was a small town called Forks. It showed Sam just how far off course they had been. Snow plows were everywhere. Snow piled up left and right and people were trying to free their homes from the excessive white mass. Sam's first hot shower was bliss. He had found a Bed&Breakfast place where a nice woman called Carol was only too helpful. She had only one other guest, a tourist from Canada who had become stuck in the storm as well. So Sam slept in late, had a hearty breakfast, then set off toward Portland.

He was glad to finally cross into less snowy countryside as he came closer and closer to San Francisco, and when they were on their last leg of the journey, about half a day away from Mission City, he breathed a sigh of relief.

Sam had called his parents after the storm, calmed his mother and reassured her that he and Bumblebee were fine, that everything was okay, that he wasn't about to freeze to death. Bumblebee had given her his oath as Sam's guardian that he wouldn't let anything happen to him. His father had suggested come home. The area was expecting more bad weather. It had sounded like a really good idea.

So now here they were, almost home, and Sam watched the landscape fly by. There was more traffic than he had seen all day yesterday and he actually enjoyed being back where there was no snow anywhere. He had had enough of that for long time.

At least they were on time, so to speak. Tomorrow was Christmas and it was a tradition in the Witwicky home to spend it together, have too much food, even more dessert, watch old movies, get all nostalgic, then fall into bed and sleep until almost noon the next day. While Bumblebee had read everything there was about the traditions on Earth, especially in this country, he didn't get into the spirit of things. It was hard to explain to an alien life form, Sam had found out. This was a matter of being raised with these traditions, not just knowing the hard facts and the myths surrounding Christmas.

Like Halloween. That had been hard to get across to his friends, too, and while the Autobots understood tradition, it wasn't that they joined in the celebration. Which was fine with Sam because Ironhide playing trick or treat was really not something he wanted to experience.

°°° °°° °°°

They arrived in Tranquility in the late evening hours, three days after their snow adventures, and after Sam had stopped by his apartment in Mission City. He had showered, changed, and packed some fresh clothes. Bumblebee had waited patiently, then they had finally concluded their ten-day trip in Sam's hometown.

"It was fun," Sam said as they parked next to his parents' house.

"It was a new experience."

He chuckled. "Yeah. Thanks, Bee. For everything."

"You are welcome. I enjoyed it. We might want to take another trip some time. "

"In summer," Sam said quickly.

A chuckle. "Agreed."

Sam patted the hood and grabbed his bag, walking up to the house. He felt Bumblebee power down into passive mode. Smiling, Sam pushed open the door and was engulfed in a motherly hug.