Drifting Without Destination
The ride to Diego Garcia was long and boring. He'd been shuffled into the human cargo area as soon as he stepped foot on the large, water-born metal shuttle, and saw neither tailpipe nor optic of any of the Autobots until they landed on the ground nearly five hours later. Sam had no idea how Optimus had gotten there so fast in the first place. Maybe he'd already been in the country due to Decepticon activity? It seemed the most likely reason.
"Excuse me, Mr. Witwicky, but I've been ordered to show you to your new rooms for your stay here on base."
Sam shot the suit a glare before following him without a word, watching the Autobots as they disembarked from the shuttle and drove in a completely different direction. He caught sight of Bumblebee, scratched up and a bit bent out of shape, and waved his hand at the Autobot before he was ushered inside. The yellow bot flashed his high beams, and instantly Sam felt a little better.
He kept his eyes wide open as he started memorizing the layout of the base, lining up approximate distances with what he'd seen from the air through his tiny window. Once they made their way underground, however, he realized exactly how expansive the base was. From the air, you'd think it was nothing more than a regular air base.
"Here you are, Mr. Witwicky. Please stay here until someone comes to retrieve you."
Glaring at the door, he opened it and went inside, ignoring the suit's existence out of spite. His foul mood didn't last long, however, when he caught site of the contents of his new room.
'Holy slag' didn't even begin to cover it. He had a single bed in the corner of the room, but that was quickly ignored in favour of the large entertainment system set up on the far side of the room, directly across from the bed that was to the left of the door. Not only did he have a gigantic TV screen, but he had five of the latest game consoles set up on shelves of the unit, and a hi-tech computer to his right.
He immediately went for the computer, wondering if there were any cool gadgets on it worth exploring while he killed time.
He spent the next hour on his new, awesome, super fast computer, and nearly had to be dragged away from it when a soldier in fatigues came by to pick him up for a debriefing. Irritated at being pulled away from his computer, he wondered if he was finally going to get some answers from Optimus. He'd been trying not to think about it on the flight, as the more he thought about it the more pissed off he got that Optimus had gone behind his back like that. Logic insisted that Optimus was in the right, but his heart was angry that the bot hadn't just told him in the first place.
The soldier showed him into a room full of a variety of people, from bureaucrats to generals to suits. He was shown to a seat at the side of the oval table opposite from the majority of people, making him feel like this was an interrogation.
"Mr. Witwicky, we'd like to hear your side of things concerning the recent attack of a Decepticon called Starscream."
Sam gave the politician that was leading the interrogation a stony look. "You've already heard what happened from the Autobots, I'm sure, so why is this necessary?"
"It is always best to hear all sides of a story in order to get the most complete and accurate picture of events," the politician said patronizingly, as if Sam couldn't have figured that out.
Sam was feeling less intimidated and more irritated. "Really. And what could be more accurate than the story of an Autobot? Human memories become dull, inaccurate, and skewed over time as the brain goes over retained information. It's at its most inaccurate during times of shock."
The politician kept his face mostly smooth, but Sam could easily see the way his pupils dilated with emotion. Probably anger. "Regardless of your opinions on the matter," which Sam thought was utter shit, as what he'd said was basically scientifically proven fact, "this is standard procedure when soldiers and civilians are involved in any combat situations."
Sam stared down the politician for a good while as he gathered his thoughts. The memories of the attack were crystal clear in his mind, contrary to what he'd said earlier about the way human brains worked. It made him wonder if he was beginning to tread the line between human and something else.
Annoyed, he took in a deep breath and did as instructed. "Bumblebee and I left my apartment at approximately lunch time and spent the next few hours driving to the beach, where we were planning to spend the afternoon sunbathing. Instead, after we were there for only half an hour, Starscream crashed onto the beach and I started running like hell for cover. I got tossed by a concussion wave of an explosion once, but was uninjured besides a couple bruises. I found a rock in the forest and hid behind it as I made the call to NEST headquarters to ask for assistance. The Autobots were already on their way, though. Somehow Bumblebee managed to fight Starscream off, because the Decepticon made a run for it, and then the shuttle showed up."
Some people across the table from him traded looks while others kept scribbling things down on their pads of paper or typing on computers. "Did you notice any suspicious activity in the area? Anything that could have informed Starscream of your location?"
Sam shrugged. "I didn't notice anything." Well, there had been that headache before Starscream showed up, but he didn't really know what that was about, and he wasn't about to tell the US government about it either. "Now, when do I get to talk to the big red and blue?" he asked, tapping his fingers against the table in agitation.
"When the proper procedures have been followed."
Sam's eyes narrowed. "And what are the proper procedures?" The suits said nothing. "So, do you work for the US government or the Autobots?" More silence, besides the tap and scribble of typing and writing. If Sam had a lap top on him, he was so be hacking into their computers at that moment to figure out what the hell was so fascinating on their screens.
Words started scrolling across his vision, except no matter how he focused his eyes they never blurred and they were in English. Frowning, he started following the glitchy line of text, wishing it were more like a computer screen instead of this messed up-
It snapped into focus, and he could see the little Windows 'start up' menu in the bottom left hand corner. He stared. The words scrolling across the screen lined up with the clacking of typing fingers exactly. Each time he blinked, the screen remained superimposed on his eyelids.
Not wanting to look suspicious with his eyes twitching out reading something that didn't exist, he closed his eyes and propped his chin up on his hand in 'boredom'. Reading the text rapidly, he saw what appeared to be a psych profile on him. He barely resisted the urge to snort at some of the crap written there. Sure, some of it was true, but that didn't mean it was completely accurate. The psychologist apparently thought he had an issue with authority (correct), was in shock from recent events (not particularly), had a nervous tick where he'd scratch one of his fingers with the other on the same hand (wait, what?), and was over all completely unprepared for his future role as… an ambassador? What? This was an interview to see if he could become a human-Autobot liaison?
Why the hell hadn't they told him? Currently he wasn't doing a good job of convincing them he could handle it (if he even wanted to), if the psych profile of him being twitchy, hard-headed, and unlikely to deal well in a diplomatic scenario was any indication.
He sighed. "Do you think I could get a glass of water?" he asked, dredging up every ounce of politeness his mother had beat into him as a child. Okay, not beat, but have you ever had your back strapped to your chair while your mother dangled ice cream in front of your face while the air conditioner was broken to train you in table manners? That woman could be a tyrant when she wanted to be!
Neither of the suits reacted, and the one with the computer kept typing away things not in favour of Sam. Getting annoyed, but doing his best not to show it, he leaned back in his chair and stared.
The one with the note pad glanced up after a full minute of it, only to turn back to his paper quickly. Sam had to keep the smirk off his face and upped the intensity. Paper glanced up again five seconds later, before hastily returning to his notes when it was obvious Sam was watching him.
The amusing staring contest continued for a half an hour before Paper broke and went to get himself something to drink. When he came back, coffee in hand, Sam stood up with polite smile.
"Thanks so much for getting the drink for me. For a second there I thought you'd forgot I asked," he said smoothly with a smile, slipping the cup out of numb fingers as he fixed that intense but friendly look on his face. Coffee secured, he made his way back to his seat and sat down as if he were comfortable and willing to be there.
Sam: 1, Suits: 0
It was on.
"Mr. Witwicky. I have a few more questions for you," the guy in the center said, flipping some pages in the report in front of him. Paper kept scribbling away, too flustered to go get himself another cup of coffee, and Computer kept typing things and remained oblivious to the fact that Sam had somehow pirated his computer screen.
No need for them to know that, of course.
And Sam ignored the little voice in the back of his head that said this was beyond just the weird ability to remember shit after only reading it once and learning how to hack computers during his free time with Glen on the weekends when he had the time to drive eight hours to where the friendly geek lived.
"During your stay in Diego Garcia, do you have any plans to interact with the Autobots on a regular basis?"
Sam tried to think of all the reasons why Suit would be asking that question. "I think that would depend on whether or not they had the free time to do so. Fighting off Decepticons doesn't allow for much vacation time, I hear."
Uses humor to deflect questions and avoid details
Recognizes that aliens are soldiers and not here for personal amusement
Sam felt like smacking Computer. Well DUH the aliens weren't here for his personal entertainment. They had a war to fight for chrissakes. Any idiot knew that.
"I was referring in particular to the one designated Bumblebee."
Sam kept his expression placid. "What about him?"
"He is an asset to this operation that you have been keeping as a lift to the beach."
Sam couldn't keep his eye from twitching in annoyance at the insult.
Unable to hide signs of annoyance from educated eyes
"First off, Bee asked to stay with me for my protection."
"But you don't deny that you have been using him as a convenient ride to the beach."
"He's been camouflaging himself as my car. Wouldn't it be rather odd if I took a taxi around instead when I have a perfectly good car? Not to mention the fact that that would separate me from Bee, which would render him incapable of defending me if the need arose, as it did at the beach."
Reacted well to implied insult; inconsistent with past records; responded politely and with logical reasoning
Sam: 2, Suits: 0
Suit said nothing for a moment, looking over his forms again as if trying to pick the most annoying question he could think of.
"If there was a break in on base, and you were near the disturbance, what would you do?"
Okay, that was odd and totally off track of what they'd been talking about so far. It threw Sam for a loop. "Well, that would depend on the scenario. If it was a Decepticon attack, I'd go find Bumblebee or one of the other Autobots."
Lack of survival instinct; would choose to approach disturbance instead of calling for help
How the- that asshole! He wasn't even listening to what Sam was saying! He said he'd go get one of the Autobots!
Sam: 2, Suits: 1
"What if the disturbance was merely two soldiers fighting one another?"
"Well, I'd try to find out what the problem was and resolve it before someone got shot."
Reckless and tries to deal with situations himself instead of seeking help
Okay, this was starting to piss Sam off.
Sam: 2, Suits: 2
"If you had the choice of staying in your room, playing video games or the chance to help an analyst with something, what would you do?"
"Well, I'd see if I could help."
Education may be above estimated parameters if he thinks himself capable of helping an analyst working here
This was just going farther and farther south.
"When do I get to see Optimus?" he asked, cutting off Suit halfway through his next question.
Suit looked annoyed. "After we have finished here."
But Sam refused to answer another question, staring instead at the security camera in the corner. He didn't even know if Optimus had allowed this. He'd just been ordered here with no explanation except to give a 'debriefing', and now it was looking to be much more than just a debriefing. Technically, he was under Optimus's jurisdiction now, so if these A-holes worked for the US, which they probably did, this meant they didn't have the right to keep him there unless Optimus had allowed it. But he had no way of verifying if Optimus had allowed it or not because they wouldn't let him speak to the man. Er, Autobot. Whatever.
Well, if his brain could hack a computer, could he perhaps send out a message to Optimus?
Not like it would hurt.
Closing his eyes, he focused every ounce of his mind on getting a message out to Optimus, or Bumblebee.
Fifteen minutes later, nothing had happened. Still ignoring the suits across from him, he drank the rest of his cold coffee and got up to put it in the trash can. Just for the hell of it, he tried the door while he was at it.
It was open.
Grinning, Sam opened it and slammed it closed behind him, quickly, locking it from the outside. There. Take that, assholes. Wandering out of the hall, he headed back to his room. He was going to email Bee if it was the last thing he did.
Once he got to his room, he locked the door and stuck the chair under the door knob in case someone came beating down on it in the next few minutes. Going to his computer, he clicked on the internet and sent to send an email.
Except it told him he didn't have the password.
And so he spent the next five minutes hacking into the internet before he could send off his message.
Hey Bee. I just got interviewed by three ugly suits for the past hour or so before ditching. Who the hell were they? And can you tell Optimus he owes me a talk? I want to be filled in on all this shit happening to me.
Almost immediately after he sent it, Bee had answered.
Suits? Why would they interviewing you? Stay in your room, Optimus is sending Captain Lennox to pick you up soon.
Sam frowned. So it hadn't been sanctioned by the Autobots?
I've locked the door and stuck a chair under it. Hopefully anyone coming by will get the message. And I have no idea why they were interrogating me. They said it was a debriefing, but then the questions started getting… weird.
See you soon
When Bee didn't respond for five minutes, Sam sent another message.
Bee? What's up?
Two seconds later, he got:
Will is on his way. ETA two minutes. Don't answer the door unless it's him.
Okay, that was a little… disconcerting.
Sam waited patiently for five minutes, and Will still didn't show up. Knowing that Bee, being far superior to any super computer a human could conceptualize, was incapable of making mistakes unless a new factor was involved didn't make him feel any better. Getting frustrated, he started tearing apart squares of toilet paper.
He'd made a good mess of the floor by the time a knock finally sounded on the door. When a moment later he heard a familiar voice yell at someone to 'back the fuck off', he grinned. Will was there. Kicking the chair out of the way, he unlocked and opened the door.
"Thank God you're here, for a second I thought-" He stared at the sight of the three suits on the floor unconscious. "What happened to them?"
Will looked furious. "What they had coming to them. Assholes have been here long enough to know the rules." He motioned Sam to follow him, and the young adult did so, closing the door behind him. One of the things he really liked about his new room was the fact that it had a hand scanner for a lock. No way for anyone to steal his shit!
He really wanted to see Bumblebee.
"So, what are the rules, exactly?"
Will glanced over him at him and grinned. "Well, there's a nicer way of saying it, but we usually just call it the 'Don't touch the Boss's shit' rule. They shouldn't have been asking questions without Optimus there."
Sam frowned. "But that doesn't apply to most people, right?"
Will shook his head. "Just people under Optimus's direct command or jurisdiction – which includes you, I just recently found out. Congrats, kid, you're one of the most valuable ambassadors on the planet."
Moss-green eyes widened. "Huh? Ambassador? Since when?" He wasn't technically supposed to know anything about that, after all. The little he'd gleamed in between the lines of shit on Computer's report had led him to assume he was something like a diplomat or an ambassador.
"Since Optimus had to put a label on you. He couldn't call you a pet, after all, and everyone on his team has a certain purpose or role to play. And you're the most valuable because while the Autobots have liaisons, you're the first to officially get the term 'ambassador'."
Sam frowned. "Don't you need training for that?"
"Probably." Will grinned at him. "Welcome to the club, kid. There is no school on the planet that teaches us how to team up and fight with giant alien robots, and yet here we are. Figuring new things out every day. For example: Did you know that putting the Twins anywhere near something explosive results in severe property destruction? If they ever ask you to help them experiment with fireworks, SAY NO."
Sam tried to imagine the Twins getting their hands on some of the jet fuel inevitably lying around on the air base and grimaced.
Finally, they arrived at what appeared to be a deep underground hangar, and Sam couldn't help but stare at the sight of so many Autobots transformed into their bipedal forms. It looked as if they were… talking.
A yellow Camaro screeched away from the group and came flying towards Sam at dangerous speeds. The human just grinned, though, happy to finally be reunited with his Camaro. The yellow bot skidded to a stop right in front of him, door already opened and welcoming him back. Sam hopped in without a word.
~"Thank you, thank you very much"~Elvis Presley said from Bee's speaker, eliciting a chuckle from Will.
"No problem. Tell Optimus he needs to get those three idiots fired, okay? They were trying to hack into Sam's door."
Sam, who hadn't known that, gasped in surprise at the combination of that information as well as Bumblebee's abrupt and angry revving of the engine. The Camaro bounced on his shocks once before speeding off to join the rest of his comrades. Sam leaned back in the leather chair and sighed happily, running his fingers over the steering wheel. "It's good to see you again, Bee," he said quietly, closing his eyes.
In response, a song started playing on the radio.
~ "Stay with me
Don't let me go
Cause I can't be without you
Just stay with me
And hold me close
Because I've built my world around you
And I don't wanna know what it's like without you
So stay with me
Just stay with me"~
Sam blinked at the uncharacteristically sappy song coming from the speakers. "Aw Bee, did you miss me that much?" He smiled, petting the leather. "I missed you too, buddy."
The engine purred before idling. When the door didn't open, Sam assumed that the discussion still wasn't going to involve him, so he leaned back in the chair and sighed happily when Bee automatically reclined it for him. Closing his eyes, he absently thanked Bee when the bot tinted the windows to decrease the amount of light being let into the cabin and increased the temperature so he was comfortable.
When the chair behind him started massaging his back after he tried to roll the knots out of his shoulders a few times, he chuckled. "Careful, Bee. You might spoil me."
The chorus for Mika's "Relax (Take It Easy)" started playing on the radio for a few moments before it was switched to some smooth jazz. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, Sam did as instructed and just enjoyed the massage, groaning softly when a particularly hard knot was heated and massaged into submission.
Of course, he hadn't planned on falling asleep.
Song used in this chapter: "Stay with me" – Danity Kane
Note: Thanks to the people who told me about Optimus's face in the interview. I made a change and forgot to take out that sentence. So sorry for the confusion! :)