Disclaimer: don't own Transformers. Don't own "Hegira," which is Dierdre's. She let me play with it. : ) Thanks Dierdre!
Summary: Oneshot. Sequel to "Hegira," with kind permission from Dierdre. An agent-turned-mech and an injured human teen have a chat.
It had been three days since Sam returned home from the hospital, and the first day since his parents allowed him to go outside on his own—even if 'outside' only meant the front yard and the backyard. The boy had gone to see Bumblebee in the driveway, only to find the scout in recharge.
Sam knew, without anyone telling him, that Bumblebee hadn't recharged properly for at least two weeks. Not since the accident. Now, with Sam home and Mikaela finally in the clear (she was expected to be discharged within the next few days), Bumblebee finally allowed himself some rest.
Sam gave a clumsy, affectionate pat on Bumblebee's hood and then headed to the backyard. Then he sat on the patio, his one good hand absently tracing the patterns on the table. He didn't notice how the wind picked up, driving off warm spring air and replacing it with evening chill. He didn't notice how the light, struggling weakly, finally succumbed to darkness. He didn't notice the slow murmur of voices coming from the front yard, the sound of Bumblebee having a curt conversation with some other being.
Sam didn't notice anything, until he felt watched.
Maybe it was because he spent more time at the Autobot base than at school and at home combined, but, somehow, Sam always knew when a Transformer was watching him—be it Decepticon or Autobot, and, apparently, when the Transformer in question was neither.
He could feel Simmons' gaze boring into the back of his head. He opened his mouth to say a greeting, but for some reason, his voice refused to come out. He briefly wondered what Simmons saw. He wondered if the agent-turned-mech saw what the Autobots saw.
A sick child.
A mass of bruises and broken bones.
A shattered porcelain doll whose pieces were hastily, desperately glued back together.
Sam couldn't bring himself to turn around.
They stayed in that tableau for what seemed like minutes and yet really only spanned a few seconds. Simmons came round to Sam's line of view, arms crossed in thoughtful manner as he positioned himself on the other side of the patio table.
Simmons was taller than he was before, and was now a malignant orange colour, the colour of iron and steel as the metal was being tempered in the forge. Tri-fingered hands were topped with razor-sharp, obsidian claws that must have been of Simmons' own additions, since they certainly weren't there when Sam saw him last. His faceplate was simple in comparison to the Cybertronians: like a permanent battle mask, where the only features that were prominent and that gave hint to any emotion were the deep optics that were now looking at him with a subtle, yet somehow malicious glow.
When he saw Simmons, Sam couldn't repress the shiver that crawled up his back. He wondered why what would look normal on an Autobot or even on a Decepticon was downright grotesque on Simmons. For all their similarities, Sam had to face the truth: Autobots were not humans in suits of large armour, and humans were not squishy versions of Autobots. Simmons was the very epitome of that.
"Simmons." Simmons did save his life, and for that, Sam was eternally grateful. However, that didn't mean that they were suddenly friends.
"Witwicky." There was a pause as Simmons looked at him piercingly, those spiteful optics bearing down at him, coldly taking into account the fractures, the stitches, the limp and the broken arm. "Took me awhile to get here," he continued conversationally. "Your buddies sure as hell didn't make it easy, especially that black one a few blocks over."
Sam nodded. That sounded like Ironhide.
"What do you want, Simmons?" Sam asked.
Simmons ignored the question, and instead asked, "So how'd it happen?"
"How'd what happen?"
"The car accident, kid," Simmons said in a patient, slightly patronizing tone. Sam got the impression that he was being interrogated, and Simmons would badger him all night if he wanted to. "Even though they have amazing fixit abilities or whatever, from his pristine condition I doubt that the yellow bug in your front yard was involved."
"It wasn't Bumblebee's fault!" Sam snapped, catching on to the condemning tone. Simmons still looked at him with that same blank stare, his optics not betraying anything. There was an uncomfortable silence, but Simmons seemed patient enough. He just stood there, arms crossed, the stubby tri-fingers on his right hand drumming slowly on his left arm, the contact sounding like raindrops hitting upon glass. The sound was quiet, but seemed to reverberate around the yard.
"Bumblebee had a run-in with Barricade during one of his rounds," Sam said finally, his tone flat. "Nothing too major. Just a couple of scratches, 'cuz Bumblebee totally owned him. But Ratchet wanted to keep 'Bee overnight, just in case. So Mikaela offered me a ride home."
There was another pause, and then Sam gave a bitter laugh. He caught Simmons' optics widen slightly, and he guessed that he was acting a little out of character. After all, he was the peppy human sidekick, right? Nothing less, nothing more. Why should he be laughing in desperation?
"You know what we told him?" Sam asked. Simmons gave no answer, and Sam waited for none. "We said, 'We'll be fine, 'Bee. You worry too much, 'Bee. Nothing's going to happen, 'Bee.'" Sam shook his head. "I can only imagine the look on his face an hour later when they got told that we were involved in an accident."
"Intoxicated driver, right? Decided to scare a couple of kids off the road?" Sam gave a curt nod. "They caught who did it?"
Sam gave him a look. "You see their bodies hanging from my roof, or Mikaela's?"
"That bad, huh?"
Sam looked away again. "For a second there, they thought that—" He couldn't finish the sentence.
"Why don't you stay with your friends?"
The change in subject threw Sam for a loop. He had an inkling of where this conversation was leading to, and he was suddenly more conscious—and he didn't think that it was possible, because really, this kind of thing was hard to forget or to ignore—of the spark that resided with his heart.
"Hospital, Simmons," Sam said with some false bravado. "Ratchet's an Autobot medic, not a human doctor."
"But you usually stay with them when you're healing up," Simmons pointed out. "Yeah, you're a little more banged up than usual, but the point is: what is it that you don't want them to see this time around?"
Sam really didn't like where this was going. "Are you going to badger me all night? Is this what this is about?" he demanded.
"No," Simmons said mildly. "Not yet, anyway." Some of his old maliciousness and bite came back to his tone. "What's your answer?"
"Look. It's not that I don't want them to see anything. It's just that—" Sam broke off. There was yet another pause as Simmons nodded, understanding.
They could bear the virtual helplessness. They could bear the Autobots' concern, the never ending concern. They could bear their own vulnerability in the face of this terror from the stars. They could bear their own fragility, and they could greet the world with wide smiles and arms wide open, fully knowing that a single misstep, a single twitch, from one of their friends would be enough to end them.
The only thing that they could not bear was their pity, because it was one thing to have to acknowledge your own helplessness, and it was another to have it rubbed in your face.
"Good," Simmons said, a bit triumphantly, as if Sam had told him all those things out loud. "Now we have some understanding."
"What do you want, Simmons?" Sam asked again. "What do you want from me?"
"I want you to think about it," Simmons finally snapped. Sam already knew what he was referring to.
"I do think about it. Every day, every hour…there's not one spark pulse that goes by that I don't think about it!" Sam spat out, his hand coming unconsciously to his heart, where he knew, where he felt, his own spark was.
"Then I want you to choose! Before they do it for you!"
"They would never—"
"Oh yes they would!" Simmons slammed the marble table with one of his fists, leaving a sizeable crack. Sam winced, knowing that he would hear it from his parents later. "If they did it to me—someone they despise, then they sure as hell would do it for you!" Simmons continued. "They'd do it because it's the way they handle things. They'd do it because they don't know how to deal with death. They'd do it because they think that this—this!—is a kindness. They'd do it because—"
The rest of the sentence, "They'd do it because they love you," remained hanging in the air. Sam knew that Simmons could not—just could not—mention the Autobots and the concept of love in the same sentence. Ever.
"They'd do it because they think they're better than us," Simmons said finally. "And, who the fuck knows, they might be right. Look at us—look at you. One of them got hit like that, they're complaining about a scratched paint job. You two barely walked out alive. If that any of them were there, you'd think that they'd wait? You'd think that they'd be all polite and 'Say, you want to become one of us now?' when you're unconscious and bleeding on the concrete?"
Sam had no response to that. "So that's it then?" Sam demanded instead. "You want me to tell them, 'No, leave me lying on the floor, let me die?'" He really didn't want to talk about this. Trust Simmons to tear open the wound, rub salt in it, and insist that it was for your own good.
"I want you to stop running away from your problems and make your choice, because if you don't, someone else does it for you. And what then? Huh? What then? Are they still going to be your heroes?"
There was yet another pause. The fire that was within Simmons, flaring for that moment of confrontation, settled now, just under the surface, content with the reaction that Sam gave.
"What's forever like, Simmons?" Sam asked quietly. Simmons pulled back, straightening up again and crossing his arms in what appeared to be the most complacent posture he could pull off. It wasn't working.
"They're gods among ants, kid," Simmons told him. "But I tell you now, this god would rather be scurrying in the dirt."
"But hey, you're not me," he continued, his tone light once again. "You're young, you don't have little ones around that you'll have to watch turn to dust. And goodness knows your parents aren't gonna blame you; no parent wants to bury their kid."
"Or their nieces," Sam said quietly, almost to himself. Simmons' optics glared at him, but said nothing. "I'm—I'm sorry for your loss." Simmons still didn't say anything. "You got any advice for me?"
"Do it for yourself. Screw being heroic. Screw sticking around to fight the good fight. Screw sticking around because the yellow bug won't be able to deal with you gone, because that's insulting both to him and to you. Both of you are stronger than that."
"I guess I gotta thank you…for a lot of things," Sam muttered.
"Actions, kid. Actions don't equal words," Simmons told him, his voice sing-song and patronizing. He turned around and walked to the driveway. Sam blinked, trying to figure out where the conversation ended, and then followed him, limping all the way.
"Didn't know you cared, Simmons," Sam said absently as he watched the orange form twist into his motorcycle alt-form. Even his transformation was slightly off.
"I don't," Simmons told him coldly as his hologram flickered to life. "You're indirectly the reason I'm like this, aren't you? I'm just making sure that you're worth the effort." There was something in his tone that Sam couldn't identify, not quite like the sad look that Bumblebee got in his optics sometimes when he had to lie to Sam because the truth was too much for either of them to bear, but there was something there... But before Sam could recognize it, Simmons was already down the road, leaving Sam only with the deafening roar of a small engine, a mouthful of dust and motorcycle exhaust, and very confused thoughts.
"Take care of yourself!" Sam called after him. If Simmons gave a reply, Sam didn't hear it.
"How much of that did you hear?" Sam asked Bumblebee after a moment of silence. The scout had done remarkably well at playing insentient car during the duration of Simmons' goodbye.
"The whole thing," Bumblebee told him honestly. "I do not trust him around you."
"He saved my life, 'Bee." Bumblebee gave no answer, save for discontented rev of his engine.
"What's forever like, Bumblebee?"
The question seemed to catch Bumblebee off guard. There was an uncomfortable pause, where Sam really, really wished he hadn't been voicing his thoughts aloud. "Sam—"
"Never mind, 'Bee," Sam said quickly. Simmons had already given him a lot to think about that day. And, really, Simmons was right: the choice had to be up to him. He had to make that choice soon.
As if acknowledging that thought, Bumblebee dropped the issue and opened up his driver seat invitingly. Sam settled in to the tune of a calming lullaby. Sam knew that, one day, Bumblebee would ask what he both wanted and dreaded to ask. And, maybe, that day, Sam would be ready with an answer. But, for that moment, as he watched the sun set on another glorious day of frail humans and powerful Autobots, of gods and ants, living and laughing side by side, Sam was just grateful for the now.