Okay, this fic was mostly inspired by a few extended scenes in the novelisation that didn't make it into the movie. For those that haven't read it, here's the three most important ones.
While explaining what the matrix and harvester are, Jetfire mentions that the original war on Cybertron that was started by the Fallen was orchestrated to kill off every direct descendant of the Dynasty of Primes…except for one orphan who was hidden away, unaware of his destiny. No prizes guessing who that was.
When Sam is visited by the Dynasty of Primes, they say, and I quote: "You do not yet know the full truth of your past or your future." - Future I get, but past? Hmmm…
In the novel, one of Megatron's greatest drives is to given the title of Prime by The Fallen. Which he discovers is impossible via Optimus, who tells him that "Primes are born, not made."
"Dude!" Leo moaned. "Do you have to do that in here? We share a bathroom with 50 beautiful girls, and you're one of the most appealing guys on campus. Go and 'request' some help."
Sam threw him a look, and dropped the cloth with antiseptic before picking up the new bandages.
"Hey, I'm almost done. And you're the one who's milking being on the most wanted list. Why don't you leave?"
"Hey, man, I'm still recovering from last night. Number 44, 21 and number 13. At this rate I'll be through the Hot Hunny 55 by the end of the semester.
Sam rolled his eyes. "You're pathetic."
Two weeks after the battle in Egypt, and he was healing faster than the doctors had expected, if still too slowly for his liking. Admittedly, given that his injuries had been strong enough to initially kill him, he probably shouldn't complain.
Taking another look at the marred flesh, he frowned at the black mark inside his elbow. The symbol he'd penned in black marker was still there, marked into the skin. The doctors couldn't explain it, but the blast appeared to have burned the symbol into the skin, like a miners coal tattoo. Made absolutely no sense scientifically, but it was the best guess anyone had.
Well, he could have worse souvenirs of that battle. A tattoo was better than an alien encyclopaedia that made him go crazy at random intervals. Thankfully, ever since Egypt, there hadn't been a single episode – the symbols were gone, and much to his relief, showing no signs of returning.
Just as he started applying the bandages, he heard a familiar horn sound from outside his window, and slammed it open.
"Just a sec, Bumblebee!"
The horn sounded again, but this time was accompanied with his mobile ringing.
'Check on the rep, yep, second to none. Check on the re-'
He picked it up and headed out the door, grabbing his book-bag along the way. "What's so important, Bumblebee?"
Sam wasn't entirely sure how the Camaro did it, but he had arrived at the hospital door the day Sam was to return to university, and 'informed' him through various movie quotes that he was accompanying him to campus for the rest of semester, and there was nothing school could do about it. Oddly enough, nobody had, and neither of them was complaining.
'Good morning!' came the phone's reply. 'We interrupt this broadcast with late breaking news,' 'message from Starfleet captain,' 'He's here…'
It took a few seconds to translate Bee-speak. 'Optimus is here?'
That would be an interesting sight on campus.
As if to reply, he heard the distinctive sound of a truck horn coming from outside, and quickened his pace.
Outside, Bumblebee's chrome was gleaming in the dying sun, but, for once, he wasn't the one drawing the crowd. Instead, people were crowding round the Peterbuilt truck that was taking up most of the road.
"Ooh, he is not going to have fun finding room to turn," Sam mused, giving Bumblebee a pat on the hood as he walked past. "Guess I'll be back later."
Optimus' hologram nodded as he spotted Sam, and jerked his head in the direction of the passenger seat. The crowd began to part when Sam made an obvious beeline for the door.
"Dude!" one of the students moaned. "How many kickass rides do you need?"
He had to smile at that. Maybe next time he could talk Sideswipe into coming to visit – the Corvette would probably send the admirers into a euphoric coma.
"Hello, Sam," Optimus greeted him as the teen jumped into the seat, bag dropping to the floor half open.
"Hey, Optimus," Sam replied. "Not that I don't appreciate you picking me up instead of dragging me to a graveyard, but you might want to move before the co-eds start drooling on your paintwork."
The hologram smiled. "Duly noted."
The truck's revving engine was enough to get the road clear, and the Peterbuilt headed out of campus.
"So…there a reason you showed up?" Sam asked after they'd been on the road a few minutes. Once Optimus was clear of most of the traffic – pretty quickly considering the late hour - he'd deactivated his hologram, leaving Sam to talk to the dashboard. He didn't really have a problem with this though – talking to the holograms always felt fake, there was nobody really looking through their eyes. "I'm kind of skipping some much needed catch-up studying."
"I wanted to know how you were doing," Optimus replied, his voice echoing in the cabin. "You were only released from hospital a few days ago."
The truck seemed nervous for some reason – Sam figured he was probably more worried than he let on, and smiled.
"Well, I still can't sleep on my side worth a damn, but the docs say I should recover without needing any plastic surgery. How about you? You weren't in much better shape by the end of it either."
"Ratchet gave me an audial's worth" Optimus replied. "But our injuries are easier to fix than organics. I was fully repaired within a few days."
"And the others?"
"Everyone but Arcee is fine. Two of her units were damaged – it will take longer to repair her."
"But she'll be okay?"
"She'll be back on all wheels by the end of the month."
They both fell into comfortable silence, getting further out of the city.
"I have something I need to give to you."
Sam's eyes flicked back down to the dashboard.
"In the glove box. It's something you left behind in Egypt."
The small door popped open, and Sam tensed when he spotted a familiar light.
"You've got to be kidding me…"
Slowly, he pulled the Matrix out of the glove box, holding the metal cage in his lap. There was a slight buzzing in his ears when he held it, just dim enough not to be irritating.
"I thought this was destroyed – you blew it up."
At least, that's what he'd thought. The world's mutual governments were still going crazy trying to hide half the missing pyramid and the alien rubble poking out of it.
"No," Optimus replied. "I managed to remove it from the machine once it stopped functioning. And it probably for the best it was not. The knowledge you obtained from the Allspark was transferred inside when you received it."
Oh. That was why he wasn't going crazy anymore. Good to know.
"You earned this in your quest to save me," Optimus continued. "And now I'm returning it to its rightful bearer."
Frantically, Sam tried to put it back in the glove box, only to have the door snap shut.
"Big guy, seriously, you need to keep this," Sam stuttered. "It belongs to you."
"Actually, the Dynasty of Primes entrusted it to you," Optimus reminded him. "As much as I would like to keep it near, its place it not with me."
Which was completely the opposite of what Sam had gathered from the experience, and he certainly wasn't giving up yet.
"Optimus, come on," he tried again. "A college dorm room is not going to be a safe enough place for it. If the Decepticons decide they want it – and given our track record they probably will - not much is going to be in their way."
The truck was silent, leaving Sam to watch the roads.
"I will take it back, Sam," he finally replied. "On one condition."
The teen frowned. "Which is?"
"Talk to the Primes," Optimus requested. "They want to speak to you. If you still wish to give it back, then I will respect your wishes."
Sam sighed, holding up the Matrix in both hands while the buzzing sound got louder. "So how do I talk to them? Last time they kind of dragged me to wherever they were."
"Do you feel anything when you hold it?" Optimus asked, sounding nervous again.
The teen's eyes narrowed. "A kind of buzzing in my head."
"Try to focus on that," Optimus offered.
Holding to eye level, Sam stared into the shining centre, and tried to bring the buzzing to the surface.
"Here goes nothing."
The buzzing grew in intensity, and Sam realised he'd closed his eyes. Immediately opening them, he jerked back in shock.
He was standing, surrounded by cliffs, with six very large mechs staring down at him.
"Samuel James Witwicky," one greeted him. "We are glad to see you have recovered."
"Why did you want to talk to me?" Sam asked, voice slightly lower than a yell with his head craned at an awkward angle. "And why Optimus so insistent on me keeping the matrix?"
The first speaker crouched down, so that he could meet Sam face to face on the cliff's edge. "Sam Witwicky, when we first met, we told you that you did not know of your true past. At the time you were in no condition to receive the truth, it would have distracted you from your mission. But now, you are."
Not one part of that sentence sounded good, and Sam swallowed in apprehension. "I'm not going to like this am I?"
"When The Fallen left," the first continued, showing no signs of hearing him, "we used the Matrix's power to watch over the planet – seeing every possible future, all of its potential. It was only when the Allspark arrived that we realised we had to intervene in whatever way we could."
"If the Allspark was here, then Cybertron had no future," a third continued. "Our race would inevitably come here – they would need to cohabit with humanity. And we would need someone who could bridge that gap."
The first started up again. "We had little power within the Matrix, but enough to contact the Allspark. Less than two decades ago, when we realised our children were getting closer, we pushed it to release one more spark. One. More. Prime."
"Wait, wait, wait" Sam interrupted. "There's another Prime? Here? On Earth? Where the hell is he? Hiding like Jetfire was? Did Sector 7 kill him?"
"No," came the reply. "We had a Cybertronian Prime. One that could easily be ambassador for his people. We needed a Prime that could speak to humanity."
"We did not give it a body, but instead, set it loose among the souls of earth. Growing as one of its own."
"An ambassador for Earth and Cybertron. A human Prime."
Sam took a step back as the first Prime leaned closer to him, optics shining a light on his elbow where his new tattoo was highlighted.
"To earth, you are Samuel James Witwicky, but to us and to Cybertron, you are Samuel Prime."
Sam turned and ran.
The boy in his passenger seat had been still for several minutes, focused on the artifact in his hands. To keep himself from being distracted, Optimus had pulled off the road, parked in a suitably sized spot.
It had been humbling the first time - to stand in the presence of the original Primes. To hear their voices, the affection and genuine happiness they had to see him. It had been all Optimus had dreamed of once - back when the concept of war never entered his processor, growing up alone with no knowledge of who and what he was. However, it had also brought sadness, realising that his only ancestor, his only living relative was the one he would be brought back to kill.
And then, the second time in their presence, they had told him Sam's secret. Like Optimus himself, his heritage had remained hidden from him, to keep him safe while he grew up on a planet so unlike the one where he would have otherwise been sparked. Brothers in spark if not form.
He hadn't believed it at first, but he couldn't deny the sense that it made. Sam's immediate connection with Bumblebee, his actions at Mission City, his downloading of the Allspark without going irreversibly insane as Ratchet had feared. Sam was special, unique among his fellow humans – but completely unaware of it. Now, all there was to do was see how he would accept it.
Sam gasped, and the Matrix dropped from his hands. A jerk when it landed in his lap quickly dropped it by his feet. Optimus immediately scanned the boy's vitals, noting the increased heart rate and panicked look. Clearly, he hadn't taken the news well.
"What. The hell!"
He immediately went for the door, only to find it wouldn't budge.
"Open the door, Optimus," Sam interrupted.
"We need to talk about this," Optimus urged.
"No. We don't," Sam replied. "I listened to their crazy talk, now I'm leaving."
"You're not going anywhere until you've calmed down," Optimus warned.
Which was the last thing Sam wanted to hear.
"Dammit, Optimus! I'll break the window if I have to!"
He kicked the door to make his point, only to have Optimus immediately lurch forward, without the use of his engine, almost dislodging Sam from his seat.
"Sam," Optimus tried again. "I understand your apprehension. I refused to believe my own heritage when I discovered it, but it doesn't change the fact that it's true."
There was a sadness to Optimus's voice when he said that, but Sam could, just slightly, sense a small amount of joy coming from the truck. Enough that his immediate panic seemed to ebb, and he sank into the seat.
"They've got to have made a mistake, Optimus," he sighed. "They've got the wrong guy."
"I seem to recall you telling me that not too long ago," the Peterbuilt replied. "And I must agree with our brothers – you have helped save this world twice, spoken on our behalf, and have been blessed, however temporarily, with the knowledge of the Allspark. There is no mistake."
Our brothers? God. Not his, ours. Optimus really believed this.
"Look, I could, possibly believe that your" (and he really made sure to stress the 'your') "ancestors managed to create some kind of spark-soul-thing for a human. I might even, at a stretch, be willing to accept that I have it. But I can't be a…a human equivalent of you!"
"And you're not expected to be," Optimus replied, firm while sympathetic. "All you need to be is you, and you will be fine. As I've said before, your only shortcoming is your lack of self confidence – you have performed miracles more than once, all you need is more faith in yourself."
Sam was starting to hear buzzing again, and looked down to see the matrix flaring brightly. Rather than pick it up, he hit his head on the dashboard.
"Urgh…what do they want now? To tell me Megatron is my long lost second cousin?"
Optimus was quiet, and the buzzing ebbed away, much to Sam's relief. A few minutes later, Optimus spoke again.
"You ran out on them?"
Sam winced. "It was an instinctive thing! I freaked out."
It was amazing how well a truck could sigh. "Sam, take the Matrix, and let them teach you. They cannot tell us the futures, but they can prepare us for them. It would be foolish to ignore the help they offer."
The truck revved back into life, and pulled back onto the road, heading back to the campus. Sam barely noticed, already hearing the buzzing again.
"They don't give up easily do they?"
He could practically hear Optimus smile. "I don't think they're used to being ignored. They need you to listen, for your own sake as well as others."
Sam didn't answer, instead choosing to pick up the Matrix and study it again. The buzzing was gone, as if it was satisfied by just being in contact.
"I can't keep it, Optimus."
Had Optimus been in his true form, his shoulders would have sagged. The boy still had no faith in himself. What it would take to finally make him see…
"Please, big guy," Sam urged. "Just…give me some time to process this, all right?"
"…All right" Optimus replied, and the glove box opened again, allowing Sam to store the matrix away just as they pulled up to the campus gates. Apparently Optimus wasn't going to risk the narrow streets again.
Sam jumped out. "See you around, Optimus."
He stopped and turned. The hologram was activated, holding something out the window.
"You forgot your bag."
The teen grinned, walking back up and slipping it over his shoulder. "Thanks, Op."
The hologram continued to stare at him. "Sam, promise that you'll think about what happened tonight. You won't be able to ignore this forever."
Sam's smile dimmed and he shrugged. "I know. And I won't, I promise. But I need to think about this. What it means. Let me do that, please."
Sam waved and headed off again. "Night, Op."
When the boy found out, he was not going to be happy. Optimus' hologram closed the glove box, now suspiciously empty as Sam walked further and further out of sight. When Sam forgot his bag, Optimus had dropped the Matrix into the deeper recesses of fabric and handed it over. The human Prime would find it much harder to run out of the Matrix if it came to him while he dreamed. He could only hope that Sam wouldn't spot it before he fell asleep.
He hadn't wanted to resort to this – in a perfect world Sam would get the time he needed to accept the truth. But the Primes within the Matrix had been adamant. Sam's role on this planet, in this war, was just beginning. He needed training, teaching that Optimus had had time to learn. The boy's own lifespan wouldn't give him the same choice – the Primes needed to aid him as soon as possible.
And, somewhat selfishly, he wanted…needed Sam to acknowledge who he was. Optimus had lost his family before he could even remember them. The only other being he'd ever been close enough to give that title was now a crazed mech…and the only relation he had was now dead, by his hand.
As selfish as it was, he'd wanted to say something else in farewell. And when Sam was finally out of sight, he whispered it into the wind.