When Seekers Protect.

Chapter Four.

"Ron, quick, there's the turning!" Judy cried. "Where?" asked Ron. "Behind you, you just missed it you idiot!" she said. Ron blew air through his nostrils and managed to get back around.

This time he saw it: a road entrance so cunningly positioned you wouldn't have seen it unless you were looking for it, and even then blink and you'd miss it. Ron supposed it made sense: knowing about the Autobots carried an automatic gag order. He and Judy, Mikaela and Sam, and even Miles were in the know, could talk about it amongst themselves in private, but not to anyone else or even each other in a public place.

Judy remembered the two soldiers who had come to make them sign, one white and one black, both stunningly handsome, who admitted to the Witwickys that they too had already signed it in the interests of national security. After that admission, they had both signed without complaint, although Judy didn't let it stop her from flirting with both of them, much to Sam's embarrassment.

"Mum!" he had hissed. When they had gone she said

"Sam, I'm a red-blooded women with normal feelings and they were drop-dead gorgeous! Anyway, with this we have something in common," she had said, primping her hair a little.

"Yeah, and I'll tell you something else you all have in common!" he had retorted. "You, and them, are all married! So keep your hormones down next time, wouldya?"

"Do you think those two nice men will be there?" she asked Ron, who, because he was concentrating on the road answered with a grunt. He as wondering why the Autobots wanted them in person instead of telling Sam and Bumblebee, who would then relay the message. His jaw tightened as he recalled some of the stuff they had been told: Sam was mixed up in dangerous situations, and he hoped Sam wasn't badly hurt or worse.

Then the Base was ahead of them, and as somebody hidden from view registered their car as authorized and let them in, he drove forward. Once inside the gates he turned to park in one of the few visitor's parking slots, and as they got out he spotted Ratchet, who had just walked out, waving to them.

"Ah, Mr and Mrs Witwicky, would you please come with me?" the medic asked. He lowered himself to a crouch and put his hands open invitingly. When they looked at each other and then at his hands with a 'what gives?' glance, he sighed. "It would be faster and safer if I carry you. There are a lot of mechs in the Base at the moment, I don't want any accidents." The two humans looked at each other again, and then Judy put a tentative hand on his thumb, then looked back at Ron.

"That's right, just climb up, don't worry about hurting me, I'm no Ironhide but I'm tough enough" he encouraged. Judy turned back, grabbed his index finger with her other hand, tightened the grip on his thumb and climbed in with surprising agility for her age. She turned and said "Come on, Ron, don't be a wuss, it's fine!"

Grumbling under his breath, Ron repeated Judy's action with a bit more effort and a lot less grace, sprawling face-first into Ratchet's palm. The Autobot medic politely waited until Ron was in a more comfortable seated position next to Judy before standing and walking in, heading for one of the smallest conference rooms. He knew Prowl, who had recently arrived, had prepared the room for their human guests to Ratchet and Bumblebee's specifications.

He took them in, where he saw that a human-sized small table plus two overstuffed armchairs had been set up on the big conference table, and he noticed that a selection of glasses and some bottles of alcoholic beverages had been set out next to the smaller table. As Ratchet set them down, Judy's eyes lit on the selection.

"Why thank you Mr Ratchet, how very kind!" she said. "Here, Ron, they have your favourite rum and my favourite brandy, and a bucket of ice!" She poured out a glass of each and handed the rum to Ron, and sat down, urging "Come on, Ron, sit down!"

Ron looked at his rum, then at the chair and shook his head. "We haven't seen or heard from Sam since yesterday. You call us in to talk about him, and offer us alcoholic drinks, and comfortable chairs. All this is suggesting to me that whatever news you have is going to be bad. Where's Sam?" Judy looked at her husband, and at the brandy, and then looked stricken. "Yes, where is Sam? Where's my boy?" she asked, her eyes suddenly wide, unshed tears welling up and threatening to overflow.

"Please, Mr Witwicky, sit down, and I will explain everything. The situation is complicated but I can assure you that he is alive, and at the moment he is resting. However, he is different, and you need to know what happened before I take you to see him."

"Is he severely hurt? Disabled? Blinded? What's happened to my son?" Judy cried.

"He is – different, but to understand what has happened to him, I must tell you how it happened," Ratchet told her. "Please, let me explain and save any questions you may have for later.

He carefully detailed the battle for them, although he did leave out the fact that Sam had been killed by being stamped on, mentioned only that he was 'severely injured' – and then explained how he had changed into a young flier. He explained about Sam's missing and disjointed memories, and the presence of the Seekers, and that they were teaching Sam how to fly. Throughout his explanation the two humans sipped their drinks, occasionally held on to each other, and once or twice Judy had uttered a little cry. Her cheeks were now liberally coated with tear fluid, and as he watched she fumbled in her handbag for a tissue and blew her nose.

"So, he is alive, but it seems the energy from the AllSpark Cube, an energy even we've never fully understood, needed to change him in order to heal him." ratchet summarized. "As it is used to creating mechanical life on our world, we must assume it was unable to repair his organic form in time. He has lost a few memories but I can tell you that he does remember you. He's had a flying lesson today and is sleeping, but I surmise he will wake soon."

"Can – can we see him?" sniffled Judy. Ratchet briefly commed the med bay, to be told that Sam was awake by now, and nodded at Ron and Judy. He lowered his hands again and they both got in without complaint, and he took them in to see Sam.

He was walking, being held up by Bumblebee, and tottering his way across the med bay floor when they came in. "If you notice, the leg joints and mode of walking are different in his new form, so he has to learn to walk again," Ratchet explained. Bumblebee glanced over, then turned Sam back around and lifted him back on to a nearby work table. Ratchet approached, and again deposited the two Witwickys in front of their now-mechanical offspring.

"Mom? Dad?" Sam asked, and Ratchet blew a silent sigh of relief, Bumblebee had taught Sam well.

"Sam?" Judy asked, reaching her hands over to his face, for when he was seated his face was level with hers. Sam reached his arms out touched her arms, pulling her hands to here they could touch his metal cheeks.

"Mom?" he repeated, and at that moment Judy burst into tears again. Sam's response was purely instinctive, but under the circumstances, the right thing to do, He pulled her closer, holding her against him, patting and stroking her a bit awkwardly. "Don't cry, Mom, I'll be okay, I just got a few things to learn. I'm still Sam, it's okay."

Judy's tears dried up as she looked up and patted first one cheek and then one of his wing-shoulders curiously. "You're warm, warm to the touch, it's not really like touching unreactive metal," she said in surprise. Sam nuzzled her briefly, another instinctive reaction.

"Um, yeah, that surprised me with Bumblebee at first. It's nice, it makes you realise they really are alive." He nuzzled her again. "You're warm too, all nice and warm and – soft."

"Hey, son, back off, she's my wife and your mother," Ron said. Sam let go, looking as embarrassed as a robot could.

"I didn't mean it like that," he said as Judy straightened up and moved back, wiping her tear-streaked face. "How's Mojo?"

"Oh, Sam, he's absolutely fine," Judy said, as Ron approached and like Judy, bestowed curious touches to Sam's new face and body.

"Well, okay, I guess it's you, Sam, just with a different look," he said. "It'll take some getting used to, but I guess we'll have the rest of our lives for that?" His voice rose at the end turning the statement into a question.

"I guess so," Sam said, "and I guess I'll live a bit longer than usual, Bumblebee was Sparked before life –plant or animal - arose on Earth, so they're pretty long lived."

"Oh Sam, please don't forget you were human once. Don't look down on us or despise us for being shorter lived, please," Judy cried. "Mom, how could you think that? I'll never do that. I can still remember what it's like to be human, and those memories won't fade."

"Well, that's a good thing, son. I know you'll be a bit big to come home now, but do you mind if your folks drop in on you and see how you're doing?" Ron asked. "We'll bring all your possessions over from your room, you can keep what you want, we can send the rest to a charity shop or something,"

At that, Judy burst into tears again. "It'll be like he's died or something!"

"But I haven't, Mom, Dad, you can come see me any time," Sam said.

"I could do with a drink, and so could you, Ron," she said. "Could you take us back to that room, Mr Ratchet, so Ron and I can talk over that brandy?" Ratchet lowered his hands, and Ron climbed in as Judy stretched up to kiss Sam on the cheek."We'll see you again later, Sam, but we're going to need a bit of time to take this in."

"Sure, Mom, that's fine," Sam said, and waved and watched as Ratchet took them out.

"Well, I think that went well, as well as we can expect," Bumblebee said, "in fact better than Ratchet was expecting, I think."

"Well, I'm still getting used to it myself," Sam admitted, "and I'm still very tired. Could I have another rest, please?" Bumblebee nodded, picked him up and put him in a recharge chamber.

At that point, Optimus and Starscream walked in, looked at where Sam was quickly going to sleep, and then Starscream asked Bumblebee "Where's Ratchet?"

"Taking Ron and Judy to a room to talk. He should be back soon." Bumblebee said. " "Good, because we may have need of his skills as a negotiator," Starscream said. "If this is going to be a long-term arrangement, we will at least need some sort of formal ceasefire."

"I would be happy to for us to hold talks to that end, and maybe build on it to attempt some sort of lasting peace." Optimus said.

"We also should discuss Sam, or rather, the presence or otherwise of the AllSpark within him." Starscream said. "More to the point, was his re-creation a last burst from it, or is it still present in him? If it is still present, can he use it, will he use it, and in what way? If so, will the division of its fruits be fair?"

"Such talks should, by necessity, include Sam," Bumblebee pointed out.

Optimus gave a small smile. "Such a three-way negotiation will present something of a challenge for even Ratchet," he commented. "However, if he manages it, if he helps brings lasting peace, I think he will for once be truly happy."

(A/N: If anyone else can think of a productive way to take this forward from here, please let me know.)