From the Bottom Up.

Summary: Starscream now owes Sam a life-debt he must repay. However, the way he sorts out some logistical issues leaves Sam with even greater problems. Sequel to "Code of Honour."

Rating: M for language and threatened violence, and mikd torture in Chs 5 and 6.

Disclaimer: Transformers belongs to Hasbro and Dreamworks/Paramount, it is not and never will be mine.

A/N Thanks must be given to those I bounced ideas for this story off before I wrote this. These people are Cazcatharsis (from LiveJournal community tf2007fun), plus Soaringphoenix, Novamyth, Skyhighfan, and Murder Junkie (all from .) I have looked at the ideas, and believe I will be using at least one idea from each of the people I asked in this story. Thanks again!

As always, thanks to my beta, MeowthTwo (Livejournal)/Anne Clothier () for also allowing me to bounce ideas off and, of course, beta reading all my stories.

From the Bottom Up.

Prologue-F-22 on the lawn.

Sam awoke to find himself cradled in Starscream's big hand, and he could hear shouting, a lot of shouting. It was not a place he relished being, but seeing as Starscream had removed his hand, with Sam still in it, from Sam's bedroom, and was holding his hand out behind him, Sam could not merely step back into his room. In fact, when Sam realised how far off the ground he was, he grabbed onto the finger most conveniently close to his hands and hung on for dear life.

Starscream barely noticed: his attention was on Sam's bedroom window, or more precisely the two forms framed by it. Sam groaned inwardly. He wondered what the neighbours were thinking of his parents having a shouting match with a thirty-foot robot at seven-thirty on a Sunday morning. If he was lucky, the neighbours would think they had had too much to drink the night before, or decide that they should never have had cheese for supper.

Ron and Judy were shouting at Starscream.

"Put my son down and get the Hell off my flowers, or else!" screamed Judy, brandishing the baseball bat she had bought to replace that which the S-7 agents had taken.

"Put Sam down and get off my lawn!" yelled Ron. Starscream tried to explain his situation, but Sam's parents were not in a listening mood. Sam saw Starscream frown, and his other arm-the one with the gun on it-twitched.

"No, please, nononono!" begged Sam. "They don't understand! Don 't shoot them!"

Starscream seemed to notice that Sam was awake for the first time, and turned his fearsome head and glowing red optics Sam's way.

"Those fleshy insects are shouting at me and threatening me. They are not a serious threat to me, but they are annoying. Why should I not eliminate them?" Starscream said.

"They're my parents! They've got a temper and you've destroyed the flowers and the lawn and they see you as a threat to me! Please! They're like any parent – um – parental unit protecting their –um – sparkling." Sam said, remembering some phrasing he'd once heard Bumblebee use.

Bumblebee, obviously having decided that the neighbours could cope with seeing one more giant robot if they were watching all this had, by now, transformed.

"Starscream, you are permitted to appoint a proxy for a short time if logistical problems arise, the Code does allow for that." Bumblebee said. "If you don't leave soon, one of the people in the nearby houses is going to call the law, or worse, the Military, and if they attack you here, you will be putting someone who you are sworn to protect, in danger, contrary to what you promised when you swore by the Code." Sam saw Bumblebee's optics dim as he databurst something to Starscream. Starscream's head jerked down in a nod, and his own optics dimmed for second. He carefully stooped and placed Sam on his feet on the ground, which was now looking not so much like a lush green lawn as like a freshly-ploughed crop field.

"Your Autobot companion is correct. Another solution must be found, and I shall devote time to thinking of a suitable one. My proxy is on his way. Back off, my engines can burn very hot, and it would not do good for my propulsion units to incinerate you."

Sam backed off with Bumblebee to a good twenty feet away, and Starscream considerately stepped away from the house before executing a graceful take-off, transforming mid-air from robot to jet, and screamed off, disappearing into the sky, leaving what little vegetation that had been left in the garden as shrivelled black stems, some continuing to burn for a few seconds after Starscream's departure. Bumblebee carefully converted back into car form, and took his usual position on Ron's drive.

"My flowers!" yelled Judy, shaking her fist at the direction Starscream had flown off in. "I just planted those new ones after those Government freaks pulled up all the other ones!"

At that moment, Starscream's proxy arrived. Sam had been worried about what sort of Decepticon Starscream would send as a proxy, but as the familiar black-and-white Saleen purred up the drive and pulled over onto the blackened dirt, Sam sighed in relief. He knew where he stood with Barricade, and when he had last seen him, they had parted as friends, of a sort.

"Oh, look, it's that nice Officer Cade." Judy said as the holoform stepped out and walked over to them.

"Mr and Mrs Witwicky, we think we've apprehended all those involved with the incident your son heard about, but until we are certain that we've got all of them, I will be required to keep an eye on your son for some more time. However, we expect to have the problem sorted in no more than fourteen days and we hope it will be dealt with in less time than that."

"What about that monster robot?" asked Judy. "It threatened my son and ruined our garden!"

"Mrs Witwicky, I am sure that you will understand that this matter is part of the National Security incident you and your son were involved in earlier. My direct boss is personally investigating this incident, and I assure you, the situation is being watched, all possible angles are being considered, and the finest minds in this country are working on this problem as we speak."

Once again, Sam was impressed with how Barricade could tell the truth without revealing a thing. Ron and Judy's faces showed that they had been convinced enough to let the matter drop. They watched as Barricade's holoform reached into his alt-mode, popped open the glove compartment, and pulled out a very thick billfold. He approached, counting off several notes of a low-enough denomination to be not too unusual, but high enough to make the amount he was now holding out and offering to Ron a sizeable sum.

"As to your garden, I believe I promised you reimbursement from the Government, that should cover new seed or turf for your lawn, Mr Witwicky, plus any more needed statuary or ornamentation." He peeled off a similar sizeable sum, and pushed this into Judy's hands. "That should cover more decorative plants to your liking." He said. Judy's hands, clutching the notes, were shaking as she stared at them, as Ron said "Several times over, Officer." in a stunned tone of voice.

"Of course, that money also covers the disturbance caused by my presence here and the inconvenience of today's incident, after all, loyalty should be rewarded, don't you think?" Barricade asked. Sam's parents agreed, thanked Barricade, promised not to mention this morning outside of the family, and retreated indoors to count the money Barricade had given them.

"Where did you get that from?" Sam whispered to Barricade.

"Oh, I regularly find cash dispensers and use my hacking skills - which are not as good as Frenzy's were, but serve to get through the primitive defences your banks use – to obtain money in case I am away from the police pound and have to get fuel, or in case I need to bribe humans, or indeed keep them quiet and happy so I can do my job, as I have done by giving your parents several thousand of your American dollars each. They will know it is what you humans call 'hush money' but they also believe their Government is trusting them to be loyal to their country, and both those factors will give them peace of mind and they will, in all likelihood, happily not speak of today to anyone else."

Sam nodded: he knew the human mindset, and particularly knew his parents. He decided not to point out that it was stealing, for he knew that Barricade probably knew, and didn't give a rat's ass.

Sam wondered if there was some way that Barricade could permanently be appointed as a proxy in Starscream's stead: after all, Barricade's superior was Starscream, so maybe Starscream could delegate the job to Barricade? After all, Sam knew that there was no way either his parents or the American military would permit Starscream to sit on Ron's lawn (or what was left of it) for one day, let alone how long it might take for Starscream to repay his debt to Sam.

Sam just hoped that Starscream would understand this, and factor this in while working out what he could do to fulfil the obligation he had to discharge in order to keep his word, and thus fulfil the promise he had sworn to keep by the Code of Cybertron.