- Conceptions of the Self -
By: ChangeisJustifiable, aka Meicailya
Disclaimer: I do not own Transformers, or the 07/09 movies, or any variation thereof, nor is any profit being made (except the profit which is my own inflated ego). Liberties have been taken with the common laws of physics, culture, language, history, and all that good stuff. Not entirely compatible with RotF. Like. At all.
Warnings: Cybertronian!Sam, mech on mech romance, badly written action sequences, and Prick!Prime. Whoo.
Genre: Angst and crack and angst. No really.

Chapter One: Home Again
"I want," he said -- softly, as to avoid agitating his throat ... but the tone still scrapped and grated like broken glass or twisting metal -- "to see my car."


Entry Word: human
Function: adjective
Text: relating to or characteristic of human beings. "It's human nature to care about what people think of us"
Synonyms: mortal, natural
Near Antonyms: angelic (or angelical), divine, godlike, superhuman, supernatural; immortal, omnipotent, omniscient; animal, beastly, bestial, brute; inhuman, rOBotiC
Antonyms: NONHUMAN



(What did it mean?)
In a relatively short amount of time, words took on an entirely new meaning. Or a lack thereof. Take, for instance, the inquiry of well being -- 'Are you okay?'. It didn't really mean anything ... it was all just noises arranged in a certain pattern that people assigned a meaning. It wasn't the ... noise made that was important -- it was the quality of that sound. Because as stupid as it was, killing an evil genocidal wannabe-dictator alien robot from outer space did not come with an 'escape detection by the government free' card. Emitting alien radiation identical to the All Spark? Well, it didn't seem to help his case, either.

So, words. Words were just ... nonsense, really. Words and tone could change the entire meaning, and people were fools if they didn't know it. High school, after all, taught them everything about tone. Who doesn't get that reprimand from some authority figure: 'Don't take that tone with me!'? And wasn't every teenager super sensitive to the tones of his peers, to know how well received he was?

Case in point --

A young government official, perhaps late twenty's or early thirties, faced the three of them and gushed. He'd been gushing for a while now, and basically all of it could be summed up as: "We're so sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Witwicky."

Sam had to hand it to the government. The guy had genuine blue eyes, and hair that could have been brown, but was inky black and neatly combed and wet with water, or gel. He had a very American face with a slight flavor of farm boy good manners and courtesy. Hell, he could have been Clark Kent, he was so wholesome. Parents dig that kind of stuff, right? Right. Hey, his parents probably grew up on Clark Kent, and so much the better, eh?

Then again, the Witwicky family? Always had been a little weird. Ron, for example, started blustering the moment the first apology had left the official's mouth, since that was what Ron did when he was bewildered and at a loss. Judy, on the other hand, was stiffly and silently furious, though Sam had the feeling that she might soon attempt to turn a piece of furniture into a weapon and hit someone. Seeing as how they had been kidnapped out of their homes late one night, slightly drunk, held captive, and then learned that their son had been held separately for even longer than they had ... they were understandably very angry parents.

Sam, on the other hand, had been through the emotional wringer this week, and didn't feel much of anything. Well, that wasn't exactly true ... he was sure he felt at least a little furious, right now, but mostly he felt tired and distrustful. Not of the official, of course -- just, generally. It -- just ... he was just ... he didn't trust that it was over. He'd thought it was over once, and it hadn't been, so now ... he just couldn't believe it. No amount of medical attention, hot showers, or new clothes could change that (maybe especially because they were exact replicas to those he'd been wearing during Mission City, though not those since he'd seen them cut up and analyzed and destroyed for science -- and he didn't particularly care to ask where or why or how they'd found the ones he was wearing now)

His body was still tight and stiff with agony, and he felt exhausted and out of place (out of joint, out of rhythm, out of this world and alien like the real ones outside this very building), and he seriously doubted that he'd ever reach the point that he'd be unwary every again, feeling the scratch of the bandages under his clothing (binding him together like pieces of shattered ceramic bowls and so much glue and tape).

Enough -- just. Enough. His racing thoughts were leading to uncomfortable places (the feel of cold hands invasive scans ) so he just ... stopped. Made himself feel the painful stretch and binding of his ribs as he breathed. After all, one doesn't get thrown around onto cars or caught by metal hands from heights and remain unscathed.

Around the fourth time the young bureaucrat said that the government was oh-so-blessedly sorry that their rights had been trampled, Sam decided that he'd heard enough and that they might as well get something useful done. He broke in over his father's newest round of blustering, and asked for something very simple. It was something he'd been asking after for a while now, and he was becoming tired of repeating him. He looked directly into Clark-Kent-blue eyes, and said: "I want to see my car."

Of course, he had a throat so sore it was an agony to talk, and he was tired and wary so he wasn't blinking much -- so it came out less as a request and more as a demand, and it sounded hard and unforgiving the way a soldier's would (or a killer's, and hadn't they said he was both?). And that was when Sam discovered that he was very okay with making demands right now.

(What was so fucking difficult about letting him have his car, dammit? What was so fucking difficult to understand about him wanting his car back?!)

"Of course," the bureaucrat said, the supposedly genuine worry and regret crystallizing on his face and crackling like plastic. The tone was fluorescent (too bright and fake and cold) as he echoed: "Your -- car."

It took Sam a split second to realize that his loose hands had twitched, even as his straight stare tightened into a strange focus -- maybe he was just sick and tired of being sick and tired, but it was the same kind of singular attention he had paid Megatron, right before he shoved the All Spark into the molten hole in his chest. "I want," he said -- softly, as to avoid agitating his throat ... but the tone still scrapped and grated like broken glass or twisting metal -- "to see my car." There wasn't quite a need to finish the sentence with 'try to stop me, I fucking dare you', as it was understood.

It had been a long week for Sam -- a long week with no Mikaela and no Bumblebee and no Autobots at all, and -- well, that wasn't completely true. He'd been in contact with Bumblebee through a phone, texting back and forth with the mutual understanding that Bumblebee's vocalizer was still a little messed up and Sam's throat was raw enough to make him sound like that guy who'd been smoking since he was twelve. It was Bumblebee's job to look after Sam, after all -- even if it was a job he had asked to do. Like Sam would argue with giant alien robots with cannons? Well, he wouldn't have said no even if they weren't so threatening -- first of all, that was his car, and he had worked hard and put honest money out on it (okay, maybe not so honest, but how was a teenaged boy supposed to get that kind of money so fast?), and secondly ... there was a five year old gibbering in glee over his very own alien, and a teenaged boy gibbering in glee over his very own super advanced robot.

But it had been a long week, and Sam had little else to do but to think and look ahead and think about what was to come. It was -- well, just a week and a half ago, his biggest concern was his plans to get The Girl. And -- um, wow. Aliens. Robot aliens, and intergalactic wars, and the All Spark (that was gone). And, well ... it would take some getting used to, having a robot pretending to be a Camaro sitting in his front yard. It would ... well, robot aliens. That was awesome. On the other hand ... robot aliens. Aliens. As in ... yanno, not human. Their minds wouldn't work like his did, and while his nightmares knew the difference between Autobot and Decepticon, his waking mind might not be so ready. (And it hardly helped that the government had tried to get him a psychiatrist until he was resistant to the idea ... if resistant meant punching the sunnava for implying the Autobots weren't friendly. If resistant meant nearly getting violent with the next one for implying he punched the first because Sam was worried the Autobots weren't the 'good guys'.)

It had been a long week, but Sam had settled into a sort of numb haze just to get by -- until then, until he was staring at this sunnava bureaucrat who was clearly one of those idiots who didn't understand that the Autobots were more than just machines, that there was an intelligence to them. His twitching fingers jerked and clenched into a fist as he stared at the man, and his bruised bones and fractured ribs grated against one another, and Sam thought: Just give me a reason. The tape stretched across his blistered knuckles pulled painfully, and --

The bureaucrat looked away. "This way, please."

and Sam was numb again.


How are you? Are you okay? Are you okay, Sam? How are you feeling?

He was sick of hearing the same question over and over again, and it was getting to the point that he was going to start being honest, to look at them and say: no. No, I'm not okay. Deal with it.

His mother's heels and the bureaucrat's hard soled shoes click-clacked against the linoleum floor and the harsh fluorescent lighting overhead glared with sickly belligerence, and it gave Sam flashbacks to horror movies with scenes in hospitals. Then the comparison broke there, because they hadn't gone far enough to turn a corner when Mikaela appeared before them, with her own 'genuine American' government employed guide. It only took the two of them long enough to recognize each other, both obviously still a little disoriented and feeling unreal, to react with enthusiasm.


For the first time in what seemed like forever, he felt a smile appear on his face. It felt wrong and awful and not the kind of smile that he'd like to give Mikaela, but it was a smile that he meant anyway, and she rushed him, and gripped him so tightly that his vision went black briefly and his ears rang, but he couldn't exactly protest -- it felt too much like she was grasping him like he had grasped that statue on top of the roof, and he wanted that sort of contact with a ravenous fervor that made him weak in the knees. (Or maybe that was the pain, the brittle snap-crackle of that delicate bone cage around his lungs and heart --)

So he hooked his arms around her shoulders and leaned against her as she leaned against him (and together they might hold up the world, the two of them), and it felt so good to have some simple human touch again. It was warm and soft and solid and reassuring after nearly a week of only seeing strangers and having nightmares and having been through a battle. It was so soothing, so relaxing, so sweet and undemanding that it made up for all the discomfort of cuts and bruised muscles and bruised bones and fractured ribs. It was such a relief to touch another human who had been there from the beginning, who knew everything and had been there and fought, too.

(She would never ask him what was wrong because what was wrong with him was wrong with her, too.)

"What have you been up to?" he asked, because he didn't want to ask her the same stupid question they'd been asking him for days. It was a little like waking up -- he'd made some sort of note of how bad his voice sounded, but it was only now, trying to speak with Mikaela, that he realized that he sounded like he'd been deathly ill for weeks. It was hardly surprising, though, right? He'd inhaled so much dust and debris that germs could build a miniature New York in his lungs if they got it into their head ... or whatever germs used to think with. If they thought. Hell, if there were 'autonomous robotic organisms', why couldn't germs think?

"Oh, you know," she sighed, "hanging out with aliens. The usual." She sounded so relieved, and he heard the silent 'I'm fine -- now that you're here and you understand and you're not going to ask questions and oh: this is nice'. Finally, she relaxed her arms and it was a new agony again, but he let her draw back. Still, neither of them could quite let go because they were still too busy trying to steady the tremors of relief and blissful understanding. "You?"

"Being kidnapped by secret organizations and having people doubt my sanity -- you know," he rasped, "the usual."

The moment stretched crystalline and glassy sharp, neither breathing as if the slightest movement would break it and they would be sliced to ribbons. Then Mikaela said, "Ah. Well, would you like to do something a little less usual, then?"

"Sure," he said dryly, "I'd like to see my car."

As if that explained it. As if it explained everything going on inside him. But it was a driving demand, like something terrible would happen if he didn't.

She looked up at him intently, her eyes dark and deep and fathomless, studying him like she was trying to read his brain, and a little tremor of uncertainty wiggled beneath his aching ribs. She glanced down briefly, and when she looked back up, she smiled and her gaze was gentle and sweet. "Alright," she said, a wry little twist to the corner of her smile, "alright, Sam. Let's go see Bumblebee."

He relaxed, dismissing the odd moment. Mikaela sounded like she understood, that she knew what he was saying. They'd only known Bumblebee for days, perhaps, but that didn't change that he had driven wildly for nearly an entire day with them, being chased by that evil cop car and fought the bastard to protect them. That couldn't change that when Mikaela had roughly insulted him in a frightened attempt to tease and gain some sort of understanding where they all stood or that he had kicked them out just to chase down that Camaro and show her up -- thumbing his nose, so to speak, in response (and if he was human they would know it was alright, that he was their friend). They might have only known each other for a few days, but for humans, at least, that built bridges that could only be burned through being abandoned.

"That sounds like the best thing I've heard in a while," he said.

She smiled bobbing her head -- not quite a nod, almost a kind of 'yeah, yeah, whatever' kind of motion but without the dismissal, and she said, "I know, Sam. We'll see him."

It was reassuring -- Mikaela made it okay. Because she didn't let anything stop her or get in her way, and she was fearless with a saw and in face of battle. So she might be beautiful and she liked to dress so that it showed, but she still knew her way around an engine and knew the way life worked and she made it work. Nothing would get in her way or make her back down -- unless it was Bumblebee that first night, when he'd had to coax her into understanding that his car might be a little mischievous, but he was still an alright sort of guy. It sort of amused him when he thought about it, that she's been frightened of Bumblebee who was friendly and bright and bubbly and approachable, just as his name and paint job and chosen camaflogue hinted.

Then again, he had to think that if she had an Autobot that she'd be comfortable with, it would probably be Ironhide. Any problem in the way? Shoot it. Why he thought such a simple approach to things would appeal to her, he didn't know.

Maybe she liked explosions? He bet that Ironhide liked to blow things up.

He bent in for another hug, just because he needed one, and it felt just as reassuring as the first. "Let's do this," he said, not sure why he felt he had to prepare himself for what was going to happen. Maybe it was because every time he thought it was over, it started all over again, but --

Mikaela shifted, stepping to the side and keeping her arm around him so that she fit right there next to his side like it was supposed to be that way. He relaxed again, reminding himself that he could be sure of Mikaela -- she was certain, she knew what she wanted and she got it. She made it happen. And between the two of them, they could face alien robots and the government and not let anything stand in their way. Together, looking out for each other, they were unstoppable. Together, they could move the world, and nothing could challenge the bond that battle built between them.

Their two escorts had them all the way to the front of the building before the next interruption came -- this time in the form of Secretary of Defense Keller, and Captain William Lennox. Sam and Mikaela were less enthused about meeting them than they had been with meeting each other again, but it didn't change the weirdly warm-polite smile Keller shot them as he approached with determination.

"Hello, Sam, Mikaela," he said, reaching out to shake both of their hands. "You've done a fine duty for your country --"

Mikaela preemptively set her elbow warningly against Sam's ribs, and he had to wonder how she knew he would have objected to the statement of for whom he had done all of that running and screaming and defying.

"-- and as the Secretary of Defense, I personally thank you for it. We haven't had a chance to be properly introduced before this, have we? My name is Keller, and this is William Lennox. He actually does things other than sticking guns in people's faces." Keller laughed at his little joke, and Will grimaced a smile.

Sam's face didn't twitch, and Mikaela mouthed 'yeah' as she ducked her head a little to hide it. Neither of them were exactly eager to make good with the man. Oh, sure, Sam had really appreciated it when Will had got in Simmons' face, but that had lead to guns, and that was somehow more frightening than getting chased by the monster cop car. And he didn't appreciate the way that Will had seemed to be under the impression that he was some sort of coward, or that 'no man left behind' excluded giant robots trying to help save the world. If it hadn't been for him saying 'or a lot of people are going to die', which sort of clued Sam into the fact that the All Spark was the target and he needed to get it as far away from Mikaela and Bumblebee as soon as possible to draw the Decepticons away, it was very likely Sam would just have to be arrested or whatever after the battle was over.

Battle was ... just, confusing. All of the eye-blinding explosions and the invisible force of missile blasts and the sharp pain of shrapnel and the dull roaring that filled his shocked ears. Sam still didn't really know what he was thinking throughout the entire thing ... really didn't know what was exactly going through his head when he decided to screw the rest of the battle, or trying to survive, because Bumblebee was wounded. All he knew was that with such simple blinding certainty, he had to stay there. To see any thinking creature as upbeat and helpful as Bumblebee had proven to be in just hours of knowing him, laying there ... legs blasted off ... it had just seemed so impossible. It had seemed like that if Bumblebee could just stand up, it would all be fine. And Sam honestly hadn't wanted to leave the robot behind, didn't want him to be alone, didn't want to ... just didn't.

"Hey, kid," Will said with a tired grin. "Nice to met you in less dramatic circumstances. Good job getting the cube up there ..."

For what good it had done, because the men he was trying to get the All Spark to had been killed. "Yeah," he said, "well, when I start running, it's kinda hard to get me to stop."

Will bobbed his head like it was okay. "Didn't run from the Big Bad One, though."

"Megatron?" he asked reflexively. "I guess. You weren't sitting around, either."

"Nah, I don't know anyone in their right mind who was." He shifted his attention to the other half of their two-person bubble of space. "Ms. Banes, right?"

"Yeah," Mikaela said, looking as tired as Sam felt. "Thanks for your help with Sector Seven."

"Fate of the world, you know? I like serving my country, but its not often you get to save the entire world."

Keller beamed, obviously pleased they were all getting along. "Come on, Lennox, the Autobots want to meet the man who took out one of the enemy practically on his own."

"Oh," Will said with surprise, looking unsettled already. "Well. Ah -- alright."

"Don't worry," Sam said blandly as he hooked an arm around Mikaela's shoulders. "They're a little strange, and Ironhide likes his cannons -- but they're good people."

It was impossible to tell if the carefully lack of emphasis on the word even registered with Will. Mikaela snorted, though, digging her elbow a little into his ribs, so he cut a sly look at her all the same to share the dig at Will's ignorance.


It was as they were heading toward the door that Sam was finally pried from Mikaela's side by none other than Keller. The old man took him a bit to the side, speaking to him in an oddly personal way -- after a second, Sam realized that Keller was meeting his eyes, head ducked toward him in a secretive way, as if they were --

... as if they were adults. It made him feel self-conscious, and he took extreme care to listen carefully.

"Sam, listen," Keller bid him, "the government ..." he made a sort of wishy-washy what-can-you-do motion with his head -- "was panicking, a bit, when we were drafting the treaty your friend might have mentioned."

Bumblebee had, in fact, mentioned something about an alliance being made between the American government and the Autobots ... a sort of understanding, a bit of mutual uninvolvement. "Yeah," he responded with a nod, "alright."

"It seemed like a small thing at the time ..."

That wasn't sounding good, he reflected, a feeling of dread causing that terrible numbness and singular focus to rise again. "What seemed like a small thing?" he inquired, not bothering to voice the warning that nothing ill should befall his friends or allies, or there would be Hell to pay.

"Well, it seems -- after all that was happening, they asked for you. What I mean is, the Autobots requested jurisdiction over you and Ms. Banes. As in, for now, you have the same sort of citizenship as a diplomat. That's not what you are, of course, but ... well. You're both wards of the Autobots. They aren't citizens, and they certainly don't have a passport, or visa, so this is a bit of a sticky situation ..."

It took a few moments to sink in, after which Sam wryly brought up his hand to rub it nonchalantly over his nose, feeling that focus fade into a bit of a responsible expression. "Ah -- well. We all have to serve our country, right?"

It was clearly not a way to keep the serious adult atmosphere that Keller had crafted, since the old man was now looking at him like an adult does, tolerantly, at a teenager. "As long as you see it that way, son," he said dryly.

Sam couldn't find it in him to morn the loss of that regard, though, still trying to come to terms with ... everything, now. Being wards of -- oh wow. He, like ... wow. They really wanted ... they asked for him. And, well, Mikaela, too, which only made sense, but ... wow. Teeth bared in a smile he couldn't restrain, he shifted uncomfortably, still young enough to be aware of the sheer differences in his status and Keller's. "Yeah, well, you'd just better hope that Mikaela takes to it as well."

"You think she won't? She seems pretty comfortable with the Autobots."

"Yeah, but I don't think she'll like being told what to do. God forbid she and Ironhide ever become friends."

A long pause, and finally the old man looked a little like he had some apprehensions. "Let me guess: ka-boom?"

The rusty barking laugh escaped Sam before he even realized it. "You'd better hope it's only kaboom! Did I tell you about the time she took an electric saw to one of those things while it was attacking me? She cut its head off."

"... Dear God," Keller wheezed, sounding the age he looked, suddenly. "What have we done?"

He broke away from the Secretary, still grinning a little goofily, and just about caught up with his parents as they went out the door. He was treated to the immediate vision of all of the Autobots, standing around and waiting for them, and his eyes caught on Bumblebee, finally, and -- and ...

Sam wanted to hug his car. Was that weird? It was just -- he saw Bumblebee (finally upright, finally standing) and he was waiting and when they came through the doors, he made one of those chirp noises that wasn't that far from a car locking by remote (or that different from a car alarm, either), and the urge just appeared. In that very moment, more than a soft chair or his comfortable house or a hug from Mikaela, he wanted to just be able to touch his car. Maybe lay on the hood, or even just relax against the side, or whatever -- and it was such a strange thing, and it was just so sudden and intense that he actually hesitated for a split second ... and the chance was lost.

Mikaela, five feet ahead of them all, abandoned her government escort and beat him to the punch, stepping right up close to the robot and flinging her arms around his leg. Bumblebee peered down at her with such a perfect expression of bemusement (though how he managed that without any real facial features ...?), and Sam ended up just standing back and fixing the smile that had started to slip at his sudden crazy urge. Mikaela must have been isolated as well, and Sam remembered too well how she was the one who had rescued the injured robot, so it wasn't any real surprise, right?

(... right?)

Sam glanced over to where Keller was introducing Will to the Autobots, overhearing Ironhide's gruff questions about ammo and Ratchet's chastisement and the black robot's defensive remark that no one else was talking. Shaking his head slightly, he turned back and wandered over to meet up with Bumblebee ... again. Mikaela had finished her greeting, and he was pretty sure that he could now restrain himself from hugging the robot himself ... or trying to climb him like a giant jungle gym, or any other numerous strange things that he wanted to do just to shake off everything that had happened since he got in the car and leave it all behind. It was over. He just -- he just needed to make sure that it was all over, and he could move on and do ... boring, everyday normal things again.

Then again, how could he ever look at anything the same again? (It felt like walking on an Abyss that he might tumble into if he only looked down ...)

"Hey ... Bumblebee," he said when he was in comfortable speaking distance. He was still trying to get used to the idea that the Camaro he had bought and been chased by was something with it's own mind (that wanted to stay with him!) and was named ... Bumblebee. Not that it wasn't appropriate, really; he was yellow and black and friendly and really liked the radio. It was just that the kick ass alien robot was named Bumblebee. It was kind of like ... Strawberry Shortcake or Sunshine the Care Bare, and he really didn't want to make that sort of connection least he start laughing at inappropriate times. Comparing Bumblebee to Strawberry Shortcake would be like ... like Strawberry Shortcake suddenly pulling out an Uzi, right?

Mikaela released the yellow leg and stepped back to make room as Bumblebee moved carefully around her. Sam was distantly aware of her giddy smile and the way she put her hands in her pockets, but most of his attention was fixed on Bumblebee, stepping back to make room as he settled down into a crouching kneel so that the people didn't have to yell up at him.

"Hello, Sam," he said, sounding strangely hushed. It was amazing that robots could sound so concerned. "Are you alright?"

For a split second, the unmentionable subject hung in the air with a choking tension, each of Sam's damaged ribs grinding against one another as he inhaled ... like the air was molasses, thick and cold. "No," he rasped, and the tension broke like fine china, and he waved it away. "No, no, no -- I mean, yeah. Yes. I'm fine, you know -- fine." Thrusting his arms out, he turned as if showing his mother his tuxedo back in junior high when he'd been one of the percussionist in the band, going to Sweepstakes. "See? Fine. Not even --" the words caught in his throat, on the twisted metal and broken glass, but he choked them out. "-- not even enough for an iPod, you know?"

The bot's gears shifted to make a quiet groaning noise, and he had the distinct feeling that was the Autobot equivalent of a frown. "But I had chosen to extend my duties," he said softly, as if they were trying to have some strange sort of secret disagreement in whispers, except for the fact that Mikaela was obviously following the conversation easily. "I am your guardian -- I was supposed to be protecting you."

Dropping his arms against his side with a quiet 'whump', Sam hung his head. "Listen, no harm no foul, okay? I'm fine, so -- drop it, alright?"

Bumblebee drew back slightly, a slightly familiar noise whispering out. He looked back toward the other Autobots, who seemed to be paying absolutely no attention to them, then stood, moving as carefully as ever. Sam scrubbed his scalp with rough fingers, feeling awkward and stupid. There was nothing wrong with what Bumblebee was asking ... nothing at all. It was just ...

("You can't do this to me! Let me out of here!"

"Scream all you want, Mr. Witwicky. You're probably going to die in a few hours, so it doesn't really matter, does it?")

... two days was a long time. Really. In a few days, he had suddenly been swept into an intergalactic war with robot aliens, found out his car was one of them, and been chased by the largest, nastiest one and killed him. Perhaps they had reasoned that anyone needed space after that. Perhaps he had needed space, but ... he was sort of relieved that he didn't have to find out on his own. The government and certain rogue agencies had made him have some space and come to terms with Autobots and Decepticons.

Maybe too much space. A week apart and he didn't know what was going on or why he was being the way he was.

Inhaling deeply, he avoided Mikaela's accusing gaze that told him straight up that she'd been lied to for too many years not to recognize a secret when she saw one, and focused on the dazed and somewhat frightened expressions on his parents' faces.

When he had been reunited with his parents, it had been so easy to sink back into that perspective of being a part of them ... being Samuel Witwicky, son of Ron and Judy. It was them against the government in that tiny debriefing room, but then they had met up with Mikaela and now the Autobots and ...

... and Sam wasn't so sure that he was ... that he was that Samuel Witwicky. Not anymore. Not since -- not since Satan's Camaro. That had been the defining moment. When he had seen his car stand up, that created a singular experience that had cut him off from everyone he knew ... and when his father came in the morning to bail him out of jail, and Sam didn't even try to explain what had happened, it was because the idea had set in ... that he had witnessed something that no one had and no one else would. From that moment, something separated him from everyone else.

And if that set him apart, then what did everything else that had happened to him (and him alone) mean? Because right then, looking at his parents, he felt as if they ... it was hard to figure out how he felt, but it was like ... they were so out of place. This wasn't their world -- this intergalactic war and aliens who spent most of their time looking like cars ...

Clearing his throat, he glanced back toward the Autobots and saw that they were all pretty busy except for the three of them, so he awkwardly looked up. "Um, so, hey ..." he said uncertainly. "Ready to go meet my parents?"

Bumblebee looked slightly taken aback. "But I have met your parents."

"Yeah, but they thought you were a car back then."

There was barely an remarkable hesitation, but it was likely that any internal debate had been so quick that Sam could hardly notice it. "Very well."

Sam cleared his throat again, even though it hurt like hell, and started to walk toward his parents. Behind him, he could hear the massive amounts of machinery working -- and unable to help it, he had to glance back and make certain that it was Bumblebee who was making it, and not ... not ... well, one of the Decepticons, because ... he just had to. He had to check, just to make sure. It was Bumblebee, though, who walked so silently except for the quiet noise of his joints swiveling.

It took his parents moments to realize that one of the giant alien robots were approaching them. Judy had a hand to her throat, white and wild eyed, and Ron just had a look of dull surprise. Sam could sympathize, somewhat ... it had taken his car saving him from killer dogs and killer cop cars and all of that good stuff before he accepted that it might be on his side. Somehow, when that Decepticon had pounded on the hood of the car and Sam understood a little of what such massive beings could do if they got it into their head, all of Bumblebee's attempts at interaction had seemed downright harmless.

"Mom," he called, trying to pull their attention down -- he'd had to smooth the way for Bumblebee before, with Mikaela, and it was better if they just focused on him, not on the alien. "Mom, Dad," he repeated, stopping a safe distance away and turning to gesture up. "I'd really like you to meet Bumblebee -- he's, uh, sorta saved my life. A lot. He's been pretending to be my car, you know, and he kinda wants to keep the job ... you know, to keep us safe. And -- um, please say yes, or otherwise we might have to something, like, really rash. And right now everyone really agrees that it's best if I keep living with you."

Bumblebee glanced down at Sam, but bent all the same, one hand on the ground and extending the other as if his parents could shake it. Or maybe the gesture was more symbolic; Bumblebee had already surprised him with the sort of extensive research he'd been doing while Sam had been restricted to texting him over a phone. Maybe Bumblebee had already ... you know, watched first contact movies, to get like ... pointers.

"Greetings, Mr. and Mrs. Witwicky," he said gently, and he definitely had been watching too many alien movies. "It's a pleasure to finally meet you."

"Oh," Judy said faintly, holding a shaking hand to her pale throat. " ... my God. Ron?"

Ron just stared blankly, mouth hanging open. Sam was beginning to worry that his father had actually passed out standing up, and that this whole ... 'sure you can keep ET' thing wasn't going as well as he had hoped.

"Ron!" Judy hissed frantically, glancing sideways and hitting his shoulder with her knuckles, eyes flickering between Bumblebee and her husband. "Say something, won't you?"

He jerked slightly when she hit him, blinked slowly, and swallowed. Speaking with a sort of dazed expression, he said, " ... we got a damn good deal for four thousand dollars."

"Ron!" she exclaimed in the high scandalized tones of a woman wronged. It was probably not very nice of Sam to laugh quite so hard, but it was too hard on his ribs not to laugh. While Bumblebee made softly distressed noises and gave Sam accusing looks for being much too amused with the situation, in the background it was hard to mistake Ron's defensive tones when he protested: "What! It's true!"


- In case I should say this flat-out, this is a Bee/Sam fic. Also, saying this fic is "angst and crack and angst" is accurate. Absurdity abounds, but mostly Sam is a traumatized little woobie, so ... lolz.

- LOLZ. Sam and Mikaela meet up and she's all like "KISS TIEM NAO?" and Sam is all like "LOL WUT IS KISS TIEM? WARS MAI CAR?" I didn't even do that on purpose, though I glossed it up to make it more clear once I realized what I did.

- Chances are that if you discover what you think might be references throughout the story, they were entirely intentional. 8B