I do not own Transformers, only my OC's.

Big thanks to all my reviewers! Not just from the last chapter, but from every chapter! It's been fun writing this story and a great pleasure knowing people have been (and are still) enjoying it. So THANK YOU! You made writing this story even better!


Depression, Tranquility. Pain, Anxiety.

I wasn't sure what to feel.

A sea of black and military dress filled the muddy grounds of a dismal cemetery, where a fine mist worked its chill into my processors. It had been three days since the Decepticons had virtually leveled the Fairchild Air Force Base. Three days since Melry had fallen deathly ill.

Three days…

Will's tear laden eyes ripped at my spark from within the crowd. I sank on my wheels. Why had I agreed to come? I wasn't ready for this. Not yet.


My pain rose tenfold, smashing into my spark with enough intensity to rival a cannon blast. It was all I could do to withhold a guilty cringe and focus on a calming pattern. Slowly, very slowly, the pain eased… and so did the fatigue.

I had awoken her.

"Slaggit," I mumbled as Melry's eyes fluttered open from the back seat. "Sorry."

She didn't speak and barely moved, only stared up the ceiling with a vacant expression. It was almost frightening. She was lost in a sea of nothingness, distant even to herself.

"Focus Melry." I circulated the gears of the seat against her back. In an instant personality flooded in and brought with it a wave of apprehension and gloom. "It's just me," I reassured.

I watched as her face contorted in confusion and crystalline eyes darted about the cabin. She was looking for something... a figure she would never again see. It was a secret. A dark one I never wished to share, at least not in full.

My secondary form was gone, destroyed in a grizzly explosion that had killed one and nearly claimed us both.

The splicing process had placed more strain on my spark than Ratchet had anticipated. At worst he thought I would have crackle out of existence. Instead my spark had demonstrated the same uncanny love for explosions my processors did. Had Ratchet been any slower or any less experienced... this funeral would have been much larger.

"Careful," I said as Mel reached for the water bottle at her side.

The explosion had left many unanswered questions and fears, none the least of which was what would become of Melry if I died in combat. Would her life end as horrifically as mine almost had? The very thought made me shutter.

Ratchet had taken it all pretty well. Any other medic would have given up after the incident, especially when human was fatally wounded because of it. But it had still taken its toll. He denied being haunted by memories but I saw it in the way he worked. It all rang too close to home.

"Hiiiigh-" Mel broke off into a cough.

My spark danced. I didn't have any idea what she had meant to say, but the thought of her trying to utter my name was… heartening, even with the serious tones hidden beneath the whisper.

Her vocal cords were damaged and there was no telling if they would ever heal. "Rest," I told her.

"A-ahr-" Her stubbornness was flaring. She had awoken only a few hours ago and, in his excitement, Will had made the mistake of mentioning the funerals.

"We're here." I still couldn't believe the brat had had the pistons to demand coming. And Ratchet left the decision in my lap. What the slag had I done to deserve the honor of pissing off a newly awakened Melry? I hadn't been left with much choice! A doctor should have been telling her to shut up and lay still, not me.

She was still so fragile…

Most of my injuries had been repaired thanks to Ratchet's diligence but Melry wasn't so fortunate. Humans couldn't be welded back together. They needed time and patience, both of which I was having issues accepting. The slagging spark-filled pacemaker might have saved Melry's life but it had required an invasive procedure. Far more invasive than normal and between the broken bones and having had her chest opened, Mel had a long road to recovery ahead of her.

"Sit still," I half barked when she tried to sit up. "I can move the seat."

She growled but listened.

Stubborn pain in my aft. It wouldn't kill her to be reliant for a week or two. My entire interior had been altered to accommodate her for that reason. It looked more like a hospital ward than a truck's cabin.

"The faster you heal, the faster you can get out."

A grunt cleared her throat.

I wasn't sure if she liked the idea or not, but it didn't matter. She was struck. "How are your eyes?" I asked once she was raised.

She only offered a weak shrug. No matter what the state it was better than it had been. Ratchet wasn't concerned enough to run a test, claiming it irrelevant compared to everything else. I knew he was right but it didn't make me any less curious.

"Will's out there," I told her, though I didn't know why.




Boo Chome…blue chrome? "Chromia?"

Mel nodded.

"She's on the far side." A sharp pain hit my spark and I flinched. The sudden jolt only brought greater discomfort… and nausea. "Ugh, calm down will you," disgust filled my words.

Melry groaned, closed her eyes and covered her mouth with a loose fist.

Never in my life had I felt the need to blow a gasket and it was entirely the fragment's fault. The thing wasn't as weak as we had believed. I couldn't control Melry, something I was entirely thankful for, but its strength was still alarming.

It had created a strong bond between us.

The link, as I had taken to calling it, was emotionally based, but sometimes acted physical. It made things very confusing. Differentiating my own emotions from those induced by her was not always easy, especially when they compounded.

I shuttered to think what would happen if my anger mixed with her PMS… or vice versa. Primus let there be a Decepticon nearby when it does.

Ratchet had found great deal of fascination in it all. The link proved something he had been mulling over for centuries; physical discomforts were, in many ways, emotionally based. Mind over matter, he claimed. The punk. That was the last think I wanted hear when I was getting nauseous.

The link wasn't completely irritating however. As much as I grumbled about it, it did help. If something was wrong I knew about it instantly and feelings of affection and comfort traveled just as easily as any.

"You'll need to focus more on controlling yourself," Ratchet had said when he learned of the link. "At least until Melry is fully healed."

My face contorted with confusion.

"You know exactly what I am referring to."

Now I glowered. "What am I supposed to do? Mute my emotional processors?"

Ratchet chuckled and shook his head. "That would be counterproductive, but," he gave me a hard look, "don't think she can hold it together if you can't. Not in her state."

"I'm not falling apart," I snapped.

"You were three days ago."

"She was dying three days ago."

"She still could."

I stiffened. The words had been spoken hours ago but they still hit hard.

"Hiigh?" Despite there being no figure to see, Melry still stared at the steering wheel. Perhaps an act of instinct, knowing my human form had once sat there talking to her.

Her worry made me feel guilty. "It's nothing. Just get well soon."

A faint smile tugged at her lips and she nodded before focusing back on the funeral.

It would be a tricky process, her recovery. One we both need to be cognizant and weary of. Melry understood how close she had come to dying, but was blissfully unaware of the most recent occurrence. Will had demanded it be kept silent, fearing the news would only frighten her. A part of me thought it foolish. It was her body, she had a right to know what trauma's it had faced while she had lain unconscious. On the other hand, I knew it would devastate her to learn she had suffered a near fatal heart attack.

Melry tore her eyes from the window as the crowd parted to reveal the coffins. Her trembling body spoke little of the anguish, fear and dread that tore at our sparks and it did nothing to cloak the moisture brewing within her eyes.

"No one will know if you cry." It wasn't what she wanted to hear but she needed to. I could easily overshadow her pains with my affection, but it wouldn't help her in the long run. She needed to express herself, not rely on me as a crutch.

Especially now.

The bond was challenging out individuality. If we weren't careful we could lose ourselves… or one of us could become too much like the other. I loved Melry but I did not want to become her and I certainly did not want her to become me.

It was one of the many aspects Ratchet hoped would calm itself with time. I had had little faith in the concept until Sunstreaker and Sideswipe noted the similarities our bonds shared. It was difficult to argue with them. They always seemed to know how the other was doing and had a knack of being able to react seamlessly to one another. Sort of like ours, except more toned down… or perhaps they were just used to it. Regardless, it didn't answer another key question.

How long would it take before we could travel away from one another?

Newly spliced sparks needed time to adjust in their new bodies, we knew this. Fragments acted like fresh sparklings, vulnerable and reliant on others. The problem was, unlike sparklings, not just anyone could care of them. It was up to the host-core to keep it lit and it could only do so within a specific distance.

And Ratchet had already miscalculated that distance once.

It wasn't entirely his fault. The fragment was smaller than what he was used to working with and it was set up in an organic. No one expected the max distance to be a quarter mile. Unfortunately that did not spare Melry the heart attack nor I the unbearable agony caused by the fragments distress.

"I yanna o oan." Melry murmered.

"What?" By Primus I hoped her voice healed. This new babbling language was difficult.

"Ome." I was still trying to figure her out when tears hit my sensors. "Home," she forced.

I fought back a cringe as her depression grew. "I can't."

Her lips twitched with an impending sob.

"Let it out. I won't think any less of you. No one will." And I had a bullet waiting for anyone who did.

She bit her lip.

"Look, I can't take you home but I can take you back to base. Is that alright?" I didn't have to ask. I was in control and could do whatever I saw fit, but allowing her some say felt like the right thing to do. "We can see Ratchet and then get some rest," I pointed out, trying to make the option sound favorable.

She wanted to argue, I could feel it, so it came as a surprise when all she did was hug herself.

My spark wrenched. "Think of it this way, we're getting to sleep together and no one is complaining."

There it was. A trickle of humor. A light chuckle mixed with the feathery feeling of love.

"See? This is better than being home. What would you do there? Stare at the television all day? Here I can drive you around, give you someone to talk to and –" the seat's parts shifted once more to massage her back, "make sure you're taken care of."

Melry cooed and pressed deeper into the bedding.

It was nice being able to interact with her like this, but I found myself missing my smaller form. I could no longer hold Melry as I once had, as someone her size. And even if I could transform, the feel would be completely different. We could no longer envelope each other in our arms and I could no longer kiss her lips or stroke her hair.

And that worried me. Mel wasn't all that accustomed to my real form. She accepted it, but our interactions had almost always been based around my human form. With its destruction I had lost my only way to slowly transition her into a less human relationship.

Was I meant to lose her? "Hey, Mel…"

A shiver rolled through my processors as a slender, fleshy hand glided up the seat. Bliss and love merged with the innocent yet tantalizing touch to create a sensation I had never before felt. It was so different from the mental caresses my kind shared through our forehead sensors and interfacing.

It left me feeling greedy… and ashamed. Melry was ill and… blushing horrifically. "Slaggit."

Whatever happened to the days of mental privacy?


"Hey! Give that back!" Melry cried after a giggling Annabelle four weeks later. The toddler-turned-kidnapper clung to a partially built wooden doll as she raced across the backyard. Melry tried to give chase but was thwarted when she nearly tumbled down the porch steps.

I cringed. How typical.

"Careful!" Sarah rushed out the back door, too late to be of much help. "Annabelle Lennox, front and center."

Melry, white faced and trembling, clung to her savior banister. It looked and felt as if she had angered every sore muscle and broken bone in her body.

Idiot. My frame shook in a motion akin to a head shake. Had Sarah not had company I would have Transformed, if only to make sure it didn't happen again.

"Annabelle." The warning tone in her mother's voice sent the toddler scurrying back and she dropped the figure into Sarah's expectant hand. "Now what do you say?"

"Sorry," Anna pouted.

"It's alright," Melry murmured. I felt the words more than heard them; she felt badly for thinking ill of the child. The deadbolt. Annabelle needed to learn how to behave.

"Now go play with your own toys," Sarah told her. There was a mild bite to the words but nothing all that harsh. She quickly turned to help Melry sit. "Are you alright?"

Mel nodded in a silent lie.

"Do you need anything?"

This time she shook her head.

"Are you sure?"

A nod.

Satisfied, Sarah re-entered the house. I took the moment to roll closer. I'd get a receptor full later for marring the garden but I did not care. "What was the point in even trying?" I half asked, half scolded. Mel hadn't been able to walk since the base attack.

She wouldn't look at me, pretending to focus on her doll, and only gave a weak shrug as a response. Four weeks of being cooped up in my cabin had allowed her to start a rough model of Avian, her Cybertronian inspired toy. Progress was agonizingly slow but that was to be expected. Her body was still adjusting to the spark fragment and the struggle constantly robbed her of energy.

I wouldn't say Melry had become narcoleptic, but when fatigue set in she was out in five minutes, regardless of location, and wouldn't awaken for two hours. If she was awake for an hour and a half at a time she was lucky. Usually it was an hour.

"I don't want to go to sleep," Melry said as if reading my mind. Her voice had returned a little over a week ago and though it was a pitch higher than I was accustomed to, I was glad it was back.

Ratchet claimed the cords were still healing and stressed the need to rest them, but Melry didn't comply as much as he would have liked. Still, I was surprised at how much she remained silent. Her real fears lay outside her voice though.

Twice since the surgery her eyes had gone blank. There was never any warning. It simply vanished. On both occasions it had returned within the hour, but why it was happening was a mystery and that alone rattled her pretty severely.

Ratchet was still running tests but he only ever found more questions than answers.

"You have seven months to get your aft back to normal." I gently nudged her shoulder with my bumper. "And no longer."

The comments earned me a confused smile.

"I told Jessica I was bringing you down at the beginning of summer."

Disbelief struck my spark as she stared at me with widened eyes.

"I'd rather not be dented because you're injured. So hustle up."

I caught her glee and humor. It would take more than a kick to dent my alloy but I'd rather not tempt her hot-headed friend. I'd evade most issues simply because my human form was gone, but Jessica knew my truck form 'belonged' to my human self, which could brew temptation.

A sudden kiss to the bumper made me jump and Melry laughed.

It was the first time she had ever kissed me in this form… and I wished she'd do it again.

The jumble of emotions kept her amused as I settled back into place. At least I wasn't feeling lustful at the moment. Cloaking my emotions wasn't as easy as the twins made it sound. I was slowly getting better but I still had a long way to go. Melry, on the other hand, hadn't even attempted to start and I wasn't going to push it. There were bigger things she needed to concentrate on.

"I won't let her hurt you." Melry patted my alloy.

It took me a moment to realize we were back to discussing Jessica. "Can I hang her from a tree if she does?"

"She hates heights."

"All the more reason."

Melry rolled her eyes and shook her head.

"Better than threatening her with my cannons… though I would enjoy that."

She swatted my frame. "Be nice."

"Why I should I?" The brat had given me nothing but agita while I was in Texas. I didn't see why I had to like her just because my spark-mate did.

"Melry," Sarah called from a second floor window, ending any further discussion. "Do you want to keep your school notes?"

Confusion pressed into me until a blue binder was held out the window.

"Are they important or can they be thrown away?"

School was a piece of history at the moment. Far too many classes had been missed to pass and with her health as it were, Mel was not going to return any time soon. Flunking her Junior year hadn't upset her as much as I thought it would.

"You sure?" Sarah asked after Melry shook her head. "You don't want to keep them for next year."

Again, a head shake.

There was a possibility she could return in time for second semester, but neither Sarah or Will felt the need to mandate it. No matter what happened she would have to repeat the year. Child Services, however, saw it differently.

The slagging group, likely called in by the school, and was trying to take Melry away, accusing us of abuse. Given her condition I couldn't blame their concern, but to make such accusations without proof was vexing. Thankfully they couldn't act without rightful cause and with an entire special ops team backing the family it was unlikely they'd ever succeed.

That didn't save the Lennox family from continued strife however. Will was under military investigation for a variety of reasons and false reports in the newspaper concerning Melry's family life had turned a critical eye upon Sarah from the neighborhood.

Fortunately we would be out of here soon. Most of N.E.S.T, the squadron to which I belonged, had already relocated into northern Quebec. It was a temporary drop point meant to get us out of the region, likely done out of spite for having destroyed Fairchild Air Force Base. There were plans to shift us around a dozen times before June, when a base specifically designed for us was scheduled for completion.

"Is it summer yet?" Melry asked with a pleading tone.

I grunted. "You aren't ready for that sort of excitement."

She frowned.

In reality Melry should have been in a hospital. She was sick and the strain of being out in the world where people were attacking her family was not helping her recover. Not to mention her ankle was broken in two places and required corrective surgery. The procedure itself was not difficult, as far as Ratchet was concerned, the energon is what complicated things.

There were so many issues and mysteries surrounding Mel's internal state that Ratchet felt uncomfortable operating on her again. Her problems spanned from high blood pressure to an autoimmune deficiency. The latter had, until a few days ago, forced me through a super heated scrub down on a regular basis.

And two day ago Ratchet's worry had turned into alarm.

Melry's entire immune system had mutated. In fact all the cells in her bloodstream had and still were undergoing some sort of change. It was the only reason she had been allowed out my cabin.

Her body was now three times as impervious to disease than when she was healthy.

The excitement it caused had been short lived, replaced by worries of malnourishment. For whatever reason, a third the nutrient she should have been absorbing went unused. Ratchet believed it had to do with a hastened metabolism, but stated it could be an energon issue as well. As of now the only way we were fighting it was in the form of supplements because he wasn't impressed with pre-existing medication.


The two of us jumped. We'd forgotten Annabelle was outside.

"Gween truck," the toddler pointed out past the chain linked fence.

Melry tried to crane her neck around to see but the porch was too big. I catch a glimpse just as a figure climbing out of an emergency vehicle.

"How's she doing?" Ratchet called.

The two-bit idiot. There were clueless humans inside the house. Did he really expect me to yell?

Melry waved when he entered her line of sight.

"Awake I see. Good." He quickly looked her over. "How long have you been up?"

She shrugged.

"About an hour," I said.

Annabelle, who had been clinging to my rear bumper since his arrival, finally ran out and hugged the medi-bot's leg.

"Hello Anna." Ratchet patted her head with a warm smile. "It's a little cold out here. Why don't you go play inside."

"No," the toddler shook her head.



The terrible two's were in high gear today.

"What if-" Ratchet pulled something from his pocket, "I gave you this."

"Lolly!" Anna tried to grab it.

"Uh, uh, uh," Ratchet held it high. "What do you say?"

"Pweeeeese." The jutting of her lower lip made Melry roll her eyes.

"That's a good girl. Now go inside."

No sooner had she the candy did Anna vanish inside.

"If that thing over energizes her, you're babysitting," I warned.

He only shrugged.

Just he wait. He'd soon learn just how obnoxious hyper active child could be. Especially at that age.

"Melry, I'd like you to give it your best effort to stay awake for another hour," the doc said.

Frustration turned to anger. Melry's emotions were compounding with mine. I forced myself to take in a slow, deep breath to cool my processors.

Melry opened her mouth to speak when a new figure entered the yard. I couldn't tell if the disbelief rattling around in my spark was mine, hers or a mixture of the two, all I knew was-

"Jolt!" Melry hauled herself up. Ratchet leapt forward as if to catch her, only to find it unnecessary.

The young medi-bot in-training offered a smile and curt nod from his human guise.

"Would you mind sitting down," Ratchet snapped.

"Why didn't anyone tell me he was alright?" Melry ignored.

I was wondering the same thing.

"Because he was offline until an hour ago."

"Some excuse," I retorted. "You could have at least told us he was alive."

"Had you used a kilobyte of memory you'd have known that yourself. He was hit by a tree, not impaled by one."

I glowered at him.

"There's still plenty of work needing to be done but as long as he remains out of battle there'll be no issue."

It was apparent Jolt disapproved of the order and I didn't blame him. I at least had a good reason to keep out of things for the time being, but I fully planned on reentering as soon as Melry was fit to be alone.

"Well, hopefully there won't be any more battles to join," Mel said softly.

I grunted, Jolt shook his head and Ratchet smiled sadly. The mere idea was unreasonable. A sparkling's dream. The war wasn't going to end any time soon.

"I spoke with Sarah earlier," Ratchet said, changing the topic. "She expects to have the place packed up by the end of the week. If Melry is still showing signs of improvement we'll head out."

"Define improvement." Considering she been hearing more about her mysterious issues than her healing qualities, the statement wasn't surprising.

"That is for me to know and you to accept."

I don't know who grumbled louder, her or me.

"I think you would do well to get inside. The temperature is dropping and the last thing you need a cold."

She was dressed for the dead of winter and had an impeccable immune system. Somehow I doubted she would catch one so easily, but I stood no chance arguing with Ratchet about Melry's health.

After giving Jolt a hearty hug and kiss on the cheek, which made him fidget awkwardly, Mel was helped into my cabin. "Try and stay awake," Ratchet reminded, much to her annoyance. "I'm nearby if you need me." He and Jolt strolled up the porch steps and into the house.

"Let's get out of here," Mel patted her bed, which was set up like a bench seat at the moment.

Somehow I knew Ratchet would disapprove and that aspect pleased me. "Where to?"

She only shrugged. Back to being mute. Brat… but I suppose it was for the better.

There was no telling how much time we had left before her fatigue set in, so I chose a secluded destination nearby – an old, rundown industrial park a few miles down the road. Mel remained awake the entire trip but was hardly alert. The pattern of emotions suggested she had wandered into some daydream. A pleasant one at that.

I decided to be a little mischievous and poked her through the seat.

"Hey," she snapped back into reality, "that's my butt."

"On my sensors."

She swatted the window frame. "You have sensors everywhere."


She pouted.

So far our interactions had been working, even after learning 'Ron' was gone.

It wasn't long before we reached and I headed into the center of the park. "Mind getting out?" I asked once stopped.

"Um…" Melry stared out the open door. "It's a long way down."

I quickly angled myself. She took her time getting out, being mindful of her lopsided injuries and I waited patiently for the right moment to transform.

The effect still left her wide eyed and she nearly toppled.

"Easy." I meant to steady her with my hand but instead she climbed right into it. She was pretty quick for someone in her state.

"I forgot how big you were," she admitted with embarrassment as I stood to my full height, bring her to chest level.

"It's been a while."

She nodded.

There wasn't much to see up here and her eyesight was still poor, but Melry took to looking around. One of these days she'd have to get glasses, preferably when she wasn't at risk of falling asleep face first into a pillow. I did had to admit though, she looked much better sitting in the palm of my hand than she did sitting on the porch. And I meant that without ego.

Her once healthy olive skin had grown pale from weeks of internal abuse and little sunlight and, when contrasted with the gray tones of my hand, she actually looked healthy. I could see the warm hues better. For too long I had been staring at the strange, deathly looking blue coloration that had taken to her skin. I knew it was energon but I'd seen far too many human corpses in my lifetime to shake the morbid feeling it gave me. In fact I had made a rather crude and overly serious remark when she joked about her color once. She had been watching too many movies and made a remark about how vampire she looked. I informed I no desire of committing necrophilia.

Needless to say, she turned a rather impressive shade of red and never broached the topic again.

"How do you feel?" Melry asked, looking up at me.

I almost cringed. "Why do you ask?" Did I fail to cloak myself again.

"Everyone is so focused on my health they've forgotten you're just as important."

"Of course I'm important," I joked, secretly relieved I hadn't screwed up. "I'm a weapon specialist. What would the military do without me?" I nudged her with free forefinger, "quit worrying and stop feeding my ego."

"I'll feed it all I want," she pushed back.

I grunted. As if she could defeat me, the little weakling. I pushed her over and scratched her side. She squirmed and laughed and tried to pry free, but she stood no chance against my relentless assault.

A sudden pang of pain ended it in an instant.

"Ow," Melry whined through the dying remnants of a laugh. She rolled onto her back and clutched her chest.

I had pressed too hard. "Sorry."

"Not your fault," she forced.

"Don't be nice about it." I scolded. "I'm four times the size and a heck of a lot stronger than my human form. If we are to interact like this I need to know my boundaries."

She smiled wearily. "Too much time with the military huh?"

Something about the comment hurt. "I know things have changed but I'm not giving up."

Melry sighed heavily, spiking the fears biting at the edges of my processors. "Ironhide…" She strained to sit up until I lent a finger. "Thanks." She gritted her teeth against the pain.

Maybe I shouldn't have said anything. "I should get you home."

I made to put her down when she said, "no."

"You were told to be indoors."

"And you told me to get out."


"Come here," she beckoned me with a single finger, displeasure circulating through our sparks.

I didn't know where she wanted me to go. I was holding her. "Come here," she stressed.

Not knowing what else to do, I half lifted her and half bowing . She came to rest at face level. "What?" It was awkward having my hand in this position.

She grabbed my nose plate and climbed to her feet. I had to resist the urge to shake my head. It wasn't painful, just strange.

Then, to my surprise, she hugged me.

"I love you Ironhide." A kiss tickled my sensors. "Just because things have changed doesn't mean I love you any less. So if that's what's on your mind, quit it." She leaned into view of one optic. "Ow," she quickly covered her eyes, "bright."

I snorted. "You're looking at something brighter than a halogen bulb. Did you think it would be dim?"

"Shut up," she rubbed her eyes, "they don't look so bright from below."

"That's because of the tint of our optics and you put your against it."

"I wasn't that close."

True, there had been a gap of at about two feet, but it hardly mattered.

"I feel like my brain was scanned." She blinked hard in attempt to refocus her eyes.

I grunted. "Yes, I saw just how shocked you were to discover the painful truth."

"You're an ass."

I couldn't help but chuckle. "If I suddenly attained an ass it's because I got yours."

She blinked in confusion until my ability to cloak emotions failed.

"Ironhide!" Her face went ablaze and she covered her rump. "Off limits!"

I snorted. "Like I want to go there." There were other places I could think of.

"Bad Autobot."

"At least I'm not a Decepticon."

"They're not perverted."

"That you know of."


"Innocent brat."

"I am innocent…" her blush deepened and her emotions made me laugh. "Shut up!"

I had to focus on holding her and not giving into my laughter. Her face alone was priceless, but the fact she knew her mind was not entirely clean made it even better.

"It's not funny," she pouted and continued to physically shield herself. Her emotions completely betrayed her exterior.

I pressed my nose plate against her. "I would never force you into anything."

"Says the perverted old bot," she pushed at my nose.

"Better than a pushy youngster."

I felt the sharp exhale and minor tremble of her laugh. "You're crazy, you know that."

I pressed my lips against her cheek in an oversized kiss before pulling her out to see. "I'm aware, but what's the claim this time?"

"One second you're all woeful and the next you're sexually harassing me."

I pushed her with my finger. "Sexual harassment my aft. How many times have I been hit from your end of the link?"

"None, I'm a saint."

"Saint of the average teenager sex drive maybe."

"Hey! I'm not that bad."

"See," I pointed at her, "you just admitted to harassing me."

"Oh shut up." She pouted and crossed her arms, knowing I was right. Injuries or not we both were guilty of having intimate thoughts. It wouldn't have mattered as much if the link was not in place, but it was and preventing reply-like signals was difficult.

"I'm not woeful either," I said seriously. There was no point in dodging it any longer. "I have no regrets about our relationship. I just know there are countless challenges ahead of us."

She opened her mouth speak but I quickly continued, "I know you will tell me you're willing to face them and I don't question that, but you're young. You've never been in a relationship beyond our own, never experienced a completely human one, and with the loss of my smaller self I can no longer act in some of the ways you are familiar with and crave. You know that just from the past four weeks."

Melry lowered her eyes and nodded.

"I knew from the beginning we would have an issue settling into this sort of relationship, but I figured if we could smooth things out using my human form we could make it work. And it was." I sighed. "But now we've lost that."

Melry shook her head. "No, we haven't."

My brow met in question.

"We only lost the easy way," she said. "The past four week have been strange, I won't lie. I mean, look at this," she motioned to my hand, "my entire body fits in your palm. It might not be the first time you've held me like this but it's… it's the first time we've never had an option."

Regret and sadness passed between us. But there were also flickers of hope and love.

"To be honest, finding out your human form was gone scared me at first," she began, knowing I was all too aware of it. "After the initial shock though, I knew it would be alright. Your body, the body I was accustomed to, changed, but not your heart."

"If I could, I would bring it back."

"I'm glad you can't"

My head tilted to the side.

"This is you," she gestured at my face. "I need to grow up and accept that. It's not fair that you have to use a smaller form to be with me."

"You realize it was my decision to make, right?"

"Because you fell in love with me."

I couldn't argue that one.

"I'm getting used to this," she said with a nod, as if proving it to herself, "I've already had four weeks of interior practice."

I snorted. "Four weeks of consistent sleeping you mean."

"Hey," she said with fake insult, "I'm awake for a few hours a day."

I smiled. "Only a few."

"I'm getting better," she rolled her eyes. "We should do this more often though."

"You're just looking for something to relate to." I meant it as a joke, but when Melry's face fell I knew I had misspoken.

"Yeah." She sighed. "It's stupid, but that's what it is."

"It's not." I had put my foot in my mouth and now I had to make amends. "What you feel is natural. We all seek something we understand and my vehicle form is not it for you. Even amongst my own kind we generally prefer our natural states over our vehicles."

"But you guys can change so easily," she said in confusion.

"Yes, but think of it this way. Do you prefer being naked or clothed?"

She blushed.

"Same basic principle."

A physical silence fell between us, but our sparks rang loud and clear. Emotions moved in and out of our spark at different velocities, some floating through slowly and others racing by. It was difficult to understand them all.

"Are you," Melry started after a time, then stopped.

I waited patiently, not wanting to press her with the stream I was feeling.

She took a deep breath. "Are you really willing to still put up with me? Being the young idiot I am."

"Are you willing to deal with an old rust heap?"

"You won't be rusty if we can get some paint." She bit her lip in a smile.

"Offering your services?"

"Eventually." She blushed.

I pressed my nose plate against her. "I can wait."

Mel grabbed my plate breaker and pushed them downward. It wasn't very comfortable and I just went with the motion.

Until her forehead touched mine.

Lightning struck. That's what it felt like. A pleasurable bolt of lightning. Not only could I feel her through my spark, I felt her through my mind. It felt as if I had been engulfed in her spiritual arms, a place where I felt loved and protected and I knew she felt the same.

"I love you," my voice wavered.

This feeling...

"And I.. and I you." It was strong, too strong for her to bear right now. I barely caught her between my fingers before she collapsed, severing the connection.

She sat within my palm breathing heavily.

"Are you alright?" I stroked her arm a little awkwardly.

"Was… was that..." she took in a deep breath. "Was that what it always feels like for you?"

I smiled softly, "only when shared equally between lovers."

An elated smile stole her face and she closed her eyes. She didn't need to say it. I understood.

"It's going to work." No longer did I doubt it.

Filled with happiness and serenity, Melry lay down.

If this was what the connection felt like now… I didn't dare think what interfacing would be like. I knew I wouldn't be able to cloak it.

Melry coughed.

"Sorry." I hadn't even been able to cloak the idea of thinking about it. Ugh, I needed more practice.

Mel reached up and grabbed one of my curled fingers. Her touch was careful and movement slow. The light push and pull kept her entertained, though perhaps that was because she could see how my finger joints functioned. Once a creator, always a creator. It was who she was.

I couldn't help but wonder what she would do two years from now, when college applications had to be filled. Where would she go? What would be her focus? There were countless options and by the time she had to pick there would be more.

I wouldn't be joining her during those years, I knew that already. I had my duties and I couldn't stray from them. If I was lucky she'd pick a school near our base, but I knew better than to get my hopes up. She'd go where she had to and no matter where that took her we'd always have our link. If she ever needed a voice, she'd have her phone.

I'd always be there for her and I had no doubt she would do the same for me. No matter what the complication, we'd figure it out, just as we always had...

And already she'd presented me with one.

How was I going to get her sleeping form in my cabin?


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That's a wrap folks! But please be sure to review!

Thanks again for the great run!