Disclaimer: standard.

Summary: Oneshot. Bumblebee is a professional Autobot warrior. Sam and Mikaela are squishy human teenagers. Sometimes it shows.

Slice of Life

The sun was setting on the desert where the Autobots had set up a makeshift base. Already there was a chill in the air, and Sam thought that he heard a coyote howling in the distance. Beside him, Mikaela shivered, and Sam, with some stammering and awkwardness—he didn't want to offend her or anything—offered his jacket to her. She took it with thanks, and Sam blushed, quickly deciding that she was totally worth the cold.

They found Bumblebee almost immediately—it was kind of hard to miss the large yellow figure splayed out on the rocks. Well, not exactly splayed. Bumblebee was in a sitting position, his back supported by a wall of rock, one foot propped up and the other foot lying on the ground straight out in front of him. His head was tilted up, facing the darkening sky. It was a human posture that he picked up from watching the teenagers at Sam and Mikaela's high school during lunch time.

"Hey, Bumblebee!" they greeted in unison. They got no answer. They looked at each other. Frowning, Sam climbed up to where his friend was sitting and tentatively poked an outstretched foot.

"Bumblebee?" he repeated, more quietly this time. Still no answer. "Hey, Mikaela," Sam whispered, gesturing her over.

"Is he…?"

"Yep. Our scout extraordinaire is asleep," Sam snickered. "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"

"I don't know, Sam," Mikaela said amiably, already positioning herself on one side of Bumblebee's audio receptors. "Depends. What are you thinking?"

"I'm thinking that someone needs to be reminded not to sleep on the job," Sam said, his tone equally light, as he positioned himself on the other side of Bumblebee's audio receptors.

"This is crazy, you know," Mikaela said, in her obligation to be the reasonable one. "I mean, you'd think that the words 'sparked with weaponry' would mean something to us."

"Yeah, I know. Okay, one, two, three—"

"Bumblebee!" they yelled. Bumblebee jerked awake. They expected that. He got to his feet immediately, dislodging them from their respective perches on his shoulders and making them take a small tumble to the ground. They expected that too. Then they expected Bumblebee to look down at the both of them laughing their asses off, and sheepishly come to the realization that he had fallen asleep at his post.

That didn't happen.

Instead, one of his hands came down, trapping Mikaela underneath the claws that had, somehow, replaced the fingers. She shrieked in surprise and terror, and more than a little bit of pain. The other arm shifted, revealing the cannon that nestled there, and pointed it at Sam. The boy was on the ground, backing away on all fours, his horrified gaze switching between Mikaela and Bumblebee, whose face was hidden behind his battle mask.

Sam had seen Bumblebee like this before, back when the 'bot was freed from Sector Seven's restraints. But there is no Sector now, there is no threat now. There are no scientists, there are no armed agents, and there are no Decepticons. The only target that the weapon had was Sam.

And at that moment, Sam could not see Bumblebee's optics anymore. He could not see anything behind that battle mask. All he could see was darkness. And—Stop, stop, stop! This is Bumblebee you're talking about! Bumblebee!

"Bumblebee!" The name escaped his lips before he could stop it. The tone was almost pleading, almost begging. Begging for their lives.

"Sam? Mikaela?" Bumblebee looked from one to the other, as if just registering their presence. His battle masks retracted, and they caught a glimpse of a strange expression before he turned away.

He released Mikaela immediately, powered down his cannon, and backed off into the lengthening shadows. He didn't look at them. They wished he would. If they could see his optics, then they would know that he was back. The metal shifted, and the humans couldn't help but notice how effectively Bumblebee's design hid his claws, how effectively it made his weapons inconspicuous.

They didn't move for the longest time. They just stared at Bumblebee, who stared at something on the ground. Sam was the first to move. He got up tentatively, his gaze never leaving Bumblebee, and helped a still shocked Mikaela get up. She had a few new cuts and bruises, but nothing more.

Then Sam laughed. He laughed in relief, not because it was funny. He laughed hysterically, and Mikaela joined in too. They just had a bad scare. "Don't do that to us, 'Bee!" Sam managed to say through his laughter, "We're so never getting you up ever again!"

X x X

Bumblebee hadn't meant to fall asleep. He really thought that he wouldn't. He felt so restless. The Decepticons had been quiet for a long time now. Optimus, Ironhide, Ratchet, Jazz, and Bumblebee knew that that meant that they were planning something. Something big.

It was like that time, so many vorns ago. Eons ago, really. There had been a lull in battle, just like this, before the Decepticons sent out one of their most brutal strike forces in Autobot history.

Bumblebee was a youngling at the time, not yet a soldier. Yet he remembered the tension, the anxiety, and finally, the breaking point. He wasn't there for most of the battle, because he had been fighting his own.

Though they weren't worth a glitch in Cybertronian history data pads when it came to that battle, there were two Decepticons that he'd never forget. They had been so small that if they were of a more spindly design, they would have been cassettes. As it was, Bumblebee had to face off against a mech and a femme, two soldiers that Megatron had sent specifically to kill him, just to make Optimus hurt. Perhaps make him hurt enough to make him fall.

Bumblebee counted himself lucky. The mech and the femme were having too much fun toying with him that they didn't get around to doing their deed before one of his protectors came and saved him.

The two assassins, seeing that their mission was about to end in failure, or perhaps fearful of Megatron's wrath—Bumblebee didn't know and didn't care to know—self-destructed. Ironhide still bore the mark of that battle. Bumblebee was reminded of those two slaggers each and every time he saw Ironhide's scarred eye.

Perhaps he was dreaming of them again. Perhaps that was why, when he woke up, he saw those two again. Perhaps that was why he acted like he did. Even Bumblebee didn't know why he attacked his friends.

He was raised a soldier and lived a life of constant battle. And here, faced with the two younglings that were entrusted in his care, he had, somehow, become his own worst enemy.

Bumblebee looked down at the ground, because he knew that if he were to look in their eyes, he'd see so much fear. As if he was a Decepticon.

They laughed, helpless tears streaming down their faces. Bumblebee remained silent, and soon, they lapsed into silence as well. But Bumblebee noted their high adrenaline levels, their dilated pupils, their racing hearts, all signs that the rational parts of themselves were telling them to run run run. Run and leave the monster behind them.

"Bumblebee?" they finally asked, coming closer. They cling to one another. It's almost as if they are afraid of what he would do if he didn't approve of their movement.

"You're shivering," Bumblebee said quietly, ashamedly.

"It's the desert, Bumblebee," Sam said lightly, though his eyes don't quite meet Bumblebee's optics.

"It gets pretty cold at night," Mikaela elaborated in a small voice.

Wordlessly, slowly, Bumblebee sat down, back in the position that they found him in. He waited for them to do something. He waited for their absolution.

Wordlessly, slowly, Sam and Mikaela climbed over Bumblebee's legs and into his arms. He cradled them near his spark as they watched the moon rise.

Bumblebee knew that they would forget about the terror of this incident, and that they would even laugh at it later. For now, though, it seemed to Bumblebee that it was taking a long time for their shaking to stop.