Disclaimer: do not own Transformers.
Summary: Oneshot, 07Movie. When you're young, you tend to think you'll live forever. A tiny moment with Sam, Bumblebee, and lights.
In Sam's opinion, though Bumblebee was amongst the youngest of the Autobots, he was by no means a child. There was a reason, after all, that he had been one of Optimus' most trusted officers and a leader of his own squadron for longer than the human race had been around. So Sam understands why Bumblebee does a lot of things.
Why he disappears, sometimes for days at a time, always telling Sam that he would be gone but not what he would be doing.
Why, when he gets back, he acts as though he'd never been gone, or had just been out on a leisurely stroll.
Why he plays Big Brother to every new radio, car, and even iPod that comes into the neighbourhood.
Sam understands. Bumblebee is a soldier, through and through, and nothing would change that. But all the same, Sam enjoys those peaceful moments when Bumblebee lets his guard down.
Sam is an only child, but Bumblebee feels like a brother to him; an older, condescending, teasing, extremely protective brother. He kind of acts like a know-it-all sometimes, but Sam has to allow that, since he is attached to the Internet all the time.
But for all of Bumblebee's age, maturity, and highly advanced-ness, he still asks the strangest questions sometimes.
Where have all the butterflies gone?
Why do the seasons change?
Where do the flowers go in winter?
Why is daytime so short?
Why do humans have to sleep?
And other things like that. And even though he can always look up the answers himself, he asks Sam anyway, because, in Bumblebee's words, he "likes how Sam words it."
Sam just thinks that Bumblebee enjoys putting him on the spot and watching him squirm.
Today, Sam's parents brought out some fireworks. They're not celebrating anything in particular. Like a lot of things he and his family do, they're lighting up the skies for the simple reason that they feel like it. And if someone wants to join in on the fun…well, the more, the merrier.
Sam saw Bumblebee's questions coming.
How do they work?
What's inside them?
How high can the lights go?
How many colours can they make?
Where do the lights go when they fade?
Sam and Mikaela answer the questions patiently, and have a good-natured laugh at Bumblebee's childlike wonder at things that are so innocuous to them.
Mikaela stretches, smiling with satisfaction, as the last firework goes out. Stifling a yawn, she says, "I better get home."
Bumblebee nears them, looking all the world like a large, metal, sad puppy. "Stay a bit longer?"
Mikaela pats his hood. "Sorry, Bumblebee. Got to get up bright and early tomorrow. Opening day of my dad's new shop."
At Bumblebee's forlorn silence, she adds, "Don't be so sad, 'Bee. I'll come back tomorrow after we're done. You know I always do."
Bumblebee kind of cheers up at that, and he and Sam take Mikaela home as Sam's parents head off to bed.
It's on the return trip that Sam remembers that they've still got one other thing to light.
"Stay right here, 'Bee," he says, rushing inside the house.
"Oh no," he hears Bumblebee reply dryly. "How about I just go for a nice jog around the block?"
Sam chuckles at that, and digs through the drawers in the basement until he finds what he's looking for.
He steps out onto the driveway, fishes a sparkler out of the packet, and lights it.
"What is it?" Bumblebee asks, his attention focused on the spark at the metal rod's tip, already burning at the wick and travelling downwards, sending a little shower of lights on its way.
"Look," Sam says. Slowly, he moves the sparkler through the air. This way, that way, a little circle here, a little loopy figure-eight there. He can feel Bumblebee's amazement and delight at the little light trail that the sparkler leaves behind.
"How does it do that?"
"I don't know 'Bee," Sam says, laughing, his attention on the little light show, too. "You like it?"
Bumblebee doesn't answer. He doesn't have too.
All too soon, the sparkler reaches the end, and the light goes out, and the last of the little light path fades.
Sam gets the feeling that Bumblebee is looking dejectedly at the spent little rod, and so he puts that sparkler aside and takes out another.
Bumblebee cheers up again at the sight, and Sam twirls it energetically through the air, making erratic shapes and sharp angles. No set pattern, no set path. Just whatever random shape or turn he felt like.
Sam can feel Bumblebee's attention shift between the light at the tip and the quickly fading trail the light leaves behind, torn between which one to focus on.
Sam laughs. "Fun, huh 'Bee?"
"Beautiful," Bumblebee replies.
But, like the other one, that light eventually went out, too.
Sam doesn't hesitate before fishing out two more, and lights them both.
"What are you doing?" Bumblebee asks, as Sam moves away from him a little, taking a deep breathe, as if preparing to do…well, something.
Then Sam spins and twirls, leaps and bounds, waving the sparklers above his head, then beside him, then making large circles to the sides and then any and every shape, the little lights at his hands and the little light trail marking each and every spastic, joyful movement.
The neighbours, if they're watching, probably think he's doing some strange ceremony, calling the shadows of the deep to raise up for him his dead Uncle Andy.
That's a ridiculous thing to think of, of course. Sam never had an Uncle Andy.
Sam hears Bumblebee laugh, and he laughs too.
The sparks reach the end of the wick, and they fade yet again. But Sam's still laughing, bent over and trying to catch his breath.
Bumblebee waits until Sam straightens again, and, almost timidly, he asks, "Light another?"
Sam grins. "Sure, 'Bee." He turns, holding the light in his hand for just a moment, wondering what to do with this one. Bumblebee nudges him very gently, right at the knees, and Sam takes that as permission to sit on Bumblebee's hood.
They just sit there, for awhile, watching as Sam uses the sparkler's light trail to spell out names in the air, clumsy letters written in lights.
"Write yours," Bumblebee says.
Sam tries, and is on the final stroke of the "m" when the sparkler goes out.
Sam half-grins, looking at the burnt-out sparkler. "Aw," he says, shaking his head. "Maybe I'll get all the letters in next time."
Bumblebee stays quiet, and then asks, "Light another?"
Sam carefully gets off of Bumblebee, and reaches for the packet. He looks inside. Frowning, he looks again. He flattens the packet, just to make sure.
He turns towards Bumblebee, and it's with a strangely heavy heart that Sam tells him that there are no more to light.
Bumblebee is silent, and something prompts him to say, "We can always get more."
"It won't be the same."
Sam looks at him curiously. "What do you mean?"
But Bumblebee doesn't answer him. Instead, he says, "It's late. You should go to bed, Sam."
"Well, if you want, I could—"
"Bed," Bumblebee says again, his tone leaving no room for argument.
And the shields are up, and Bumblebee is much older again.
Even though there wasn't any logical reason, Sam is saddened when he sees Bumblebee do that. But he knows that this, too, will pass, just like all things.
Sam, in what he hopes is an inconspicuous fashion, glances a bit to the left, and a bit to the right, just making sure that no one was around.
Then he rests his arm around Bumblebee's roof in a clumsy, one-armed hug. And, though it makes him feel very childish and very silly, something prompts him to blurt out, "Love you."
He glances, more conspicuously this time, to the neighbours' houses, hoping that no one heard him talking to his car.
Bumblebee gives an amused rev of the engine. "Goodnight, Sam."
Bumblebee's scanners are on the road again, and Sam goes inside. He goes upstairs, brushes his teeth, changes into his pajamas, and hops into bed.
As Sam pulls up his covers, he absently wonders why Bumblebee seemed so bothered by the sparklers. Sure, it bothered Sam too, that the sparklers could only be lit for such a short amount of time, but it was more annoyance than anything else. But Bumblebee…he seemed bothered on a different level.
But Bumblebee has always been like that about a lot of things.
Flowers and butterflies.
Clouds and rainbows.
Firelight and birdsong.
Sam just tells him that part of their beauty lay in the brevity of them.
That explanation didn't satisfy Bumblebee in the least.
Sam brings the covers up under his chin, and, for some reason, he thinks about certain things.
How Ironhide would comment, almost every day, how much Annabelle was changing and growing, even after Sarah had laughed gently and told him, "Babies can't stay babies forever."
How Jazz would complain about the abruptness of a song, saying, "I was just getting into the rhythm!" while Mikaela would, time and time again, lightly remark, "About time that awful song was finished," before showing him where to find the song on the Internet.
How it was inevitable that Ratchet would, at some point during the evening, grumble at the lack of daylight, one time even saying that the Earth should have no right to rotate so quickly. Then Maggie would poke fun at his "science" and then help him with the lighting so that he could finish his work.
How Optimus would glance upwards into the sky, surprised, and then say, "Winter already?" Glen and Will and Epps would sneak behind his back, and then, when they were sure he wasn't aware of them, threw snowballs at him.
How Bumblebee would—if it wasn't a school night and if Sam wasn't sick or anything and if his parents let Sam stay up late that night—beg Sam to stay awake, for just a little while longer, until it was well into the wee hours of the morning and, try as he might, Sam just couldn't fight off sleep anymore.
Sam chalks it up to an Autobot thing. After all, by the end of the day the Autobots are nigh immortal, and are probably shocked at the rate of change around them. Sam thinks that, since the Autobots last forever, they probably assume that the rest of the universe will follow suit.
An uncomfortable feeling comes to him, lying heavily on his chest. He shakes his head.
It's late. He should turn in. He'll think about it tomorrow.
Sam shrugs, turns out the lamp light, dives deeper in his covers, breathes in the darkness, and, under the watchful gaze of his guardian, falls to sleep.