Disclaimer: All together now: Wide Spread Panic does NOT own Transformers.
Author's Note: This is it. The final chapter of "Are We There Yet." I want to thank everyone who reads and my reviewers for the support; without it I would not have finished. Before you start missing Joey and the bots, don't worry. Tune in for my next story in this series: How Far We've Come.
Drift clutched Joey to his chest and a tiny whine escaped his systems. His optics flickered from face to face. Sunstreaker, now with both arms, snarled and he and Hot Rod stepped forward with little growls.
Optimus sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. "Stand down and hand over the human," he said. Ironhide raised his gun warningly.
Bluestreak trembled and Drift bit his lip. Finally, he held his hands out and opened them. A confused Joey stared up at the new bots. Ratchet held his hands out and she found herself being carefully handed over to the new bot.
She glanced back at Drift. "What's going on?" She asked.
Ratchet turned and walked back down the corridor. Joey stared up at the medic with his pale optics and the chevron on his forehead. "Where are we going?" She asked with a tremble in her voice.
Ratchet glared down at her. "You are going home."
She blinked and twisted to try and stare back at the younglings, but the medic's bulk blocked her view. "Um, don't I get to say goodbye first?"
His optics softened somewhat. "We've already meddled too much. I can erase your memories if necessary, but I'd rather not," he said. "Know that no one will believe you if you talk of what you've seen. I apologize for any trauma."
Cosmos, Ratchet called. I have a special mission for you.
Joey stared at the medic's fingers in silence. Home, she thought, but she couldn't somehow feel very excited about it.
"Ore-13?" Repeated Optimus as he sat behind his desk. Mirage, fresh from infiltrating the Decepticon bunker, stood at attention in front of him.
Mirage nodded. "The Decepticons have discovered and have begun to refine this new ore into a very potent type of energon."
Prowl, standing slightly behind Mirage, stepped forward. "This can not be allowed," Prowl said. "We must take action."
Optimus interlaced his fingers as he considered his options.
Ironhide stood at the head of the group of younglings, instructing them in proper military procedure and how to handle their weapons. Unfortunately, the younglings didn't seem to be paying attention. Bumblebee nearly shot Hot Rod in the foot with his gun. The twins were glowering silently at the ground, and Drift kept clenching and unclenching his hands.
"You see," Jazz muttered as he gestured at the younglings from the entryway. "They just… they're sulking. They can't fight like that."
Ratchet's shoulders hunched forward. "There's nothing we can do about it," he said.
Jazz dimmed his optics. "Maybe." He tipped his head to one side. "What's that thing on your windshield?"
The medic huffed as he tugged a tiny yellow piece of paper out from under one of his wiper blades. "Fragging humans. You stop somewhere in your alt mode for a vorn or two and the humans plaster you with these things."
"Yeah, humans have some weird laws. There's no understanding them," Jazz replied. He pursed his lips. "I think I have an idea."
"Where are you going?"
Jazz smirked. "I need to discuss something with Prime."
The mech named Cosmos had taken her back to "natural environment," i. e. the wreckage of the gas station and had left her there. The gas station was still in ruins from the younglings, but now yellow police tape had been wrapped around it. She glanced around the cracked parking lot and realized her car wasn't there. She stood there staring and then sighed, turned and began the two mile walk to town.
Life has a way of continuing and pulling everyone else along with it. Days became weeks and still no word from the mechs. Finally, she gave up on seeing them again. Her family had fussed over her when she'd first come back, but now things were going back to normal. There was no job now, but on the bright side, the security tapes from the gas station had been destroyed by Drift in his over-zealous attempt to catch her so she didn't have to explain about giant robots. She had had to come up with an elaborate story involving kidnapping (which was kind of true) and a freak tornado (which was utter bull).
She has passed from missing them to being angry with them. After all, they had crashed into her life and had put her in danger and had nearly gotten her killed, but she knew that she couldn't hate them.
Today was warm and slightly muggy and she had dressed in only a black tank top and cut-off denim shorts. She and her older sister had gone shopping; the trip concocted in an effort to cheer Joey up. She appreciated her friend's attempt and was trying to be happy for her. They had just exited a shopping center and her older sister, Danielle, was chatting on and on about some boy she was currently infatuated with, but Joey wasn't listening.
"Oh, wow. Who are they?" Danielle asked suddenly, startling Joey.
She glanced up and followed her friend's gaze. She was staring across the parking lot where a group of men where lounging against expensive sports cars. A red and yellow car sat side by side. A smaller yellow car, a red hot rod with flames painted on it, a white and green car, a silver sports car, a red and blue semi, an ambulance and a red and white car all sat close by in a circle. Her eyes met the unnaturally bright blue eyes of a young man with long black hair that was pulled back at the nape of his neck. The other men slowly looked up at her. She gasped.
"Joey? You okay?" Danielle asked, but Joey didn't hear.
She was dimly aware of the sound the bag she'd been holding made as it hit the ground, but she was already running headlong toward the man with black hair who leaned back against the red and white sports car. He held out his arms to her and that smug little smile danced on his lips. Without really thinking, she flung herself at Drift's holoform and hugged him.
"What are you guys doing here?" She asked. "I thought I'd never see you guys again."
A tall dark-skinned man in a suit winked at her. "Miss us, lil' lady?"
"Jazz?" She asked incredulously.
The holoform of a tall, older man with a square face and gray hair. "I have a job offer, Miss Joey," the holoform said and she recognized the voice from before. "I am Optimus Prime and if you're willing I would like to make you our official public relations representative."
She blinked at him with a frown. Wheeljack smiled. "He means that when we have questions about human-related things, you'd explain. Human laws, rituals, behaviors, that sort of thing," the engineer explained.
Drift held up a chain with a small red emblem in the shape of the Autobot symbol about as thick as a quarter. On the back were the words: Autobot Fluffy. She took it carefully from him and stared up at the holoforms. Ratchet shook his head grumpily.
"Does that mean I get to see you guys?" She asked cautiously. Danielle was slowly walking over with a puzzled look on her face.
"If you accept the job, but you must realize that it will be dangerous." Optimus explained with a serious expression. "I suggest you carefully consider this before you decide."
Bumblebee waved hesitantly at her. "We can pay you," he said. She remembered how Bumblebee had gotten money from the ATM before and smiled slightly. Her eyes flickered over the faces around her. Drift looked hopeful, Sunny looked indifferent, but he was keeping an eye on her, Sides, Jazz and Hot Rod nodded at her encouragingly, Bluestreak and Bumblebee smiled at her, and Ratchet just rolled his optics. Optimus stood patiently waiting for her answer.
She rubbed the emblem between her fingers and looked up. "I'll do it," she blurted and Jazz laughed at her.
She managed to convince her parents that she was going to college. Not a total lie, she had applied to some colleges and she would probably learn some things from the Autobots. When moving day came around, she drove out to the remains of the gas station and met Cosmos waiting nearby in the woods. She paused and stared out over the ruins and the woods, preparing to see nothing but red sandy desert for a while. She reached up and rubbed the Autobot charm between her thumb and forefinger and smiled.
To Be Continued in How Far We've Come…
Author's note: Well, Wheeljack survived the wrath of the Hatchet with just a few dents, and Joey survived being a pet. THANKS FOR READING MY FIRST STORY! Read the sequel to find out what the Autobots will do about the Decepticons and the new energy source and, as always, please review!