Title: Four Conversations William Lennox Had With the Autobots - and One That He Didn't (Yet)

Summary: Sequel and conclusion to the first 'Four Conversations'. Will tries to deal with his situation. Ratchet and Ironhide help, in their own way. Slight AU.

A/N: I'd planned it as a one-shot but mmouse15 on LJ wanted to see the result of the last conversation between Ironhide and Optimus. The bunny bit and it ended up as a sequel/conclusion.




It took William Lennox a few moments to wake up enough to realise that his military-issued cellphone was ringing and another several moments to remember that it had actually been turned off. That narrowed down the identity of the caller considerably, and a still-groggy look at the display confirmed his suspicions even as he answered.

"'Hide? What happened?"

Ironhide, calling at oh-four-hundred. They were in the middle of the ocean, on one of the most advanced aircraft carriers in their navy, and Ironhide was calling him in the middle of the night. Just like that, Lennox's tiredness was gone. The Pit-spawned 'Cons were still out there, and they had all learned the ineffectiveness of human weapons when Megatron was brought back, and he knew damn well that if the 'Cons really put their minds to it, there was a slag lot of good that even an aircraft carrier could do against-

"We are not under attack, Major Lennox. There has been no sighting of our enemies. Your presence, however, is required in other matters."

It didn't sound like an emergency, Will could read his guardian's voice that well, and a bit of the tension left his body again. Some, but not all. It didn't sound like an emergency, but that didn't change the fact that everything about the situation felt off. No debriefings scheduled for another four hours. Everyone human who had been involved in the battle in Egypt were, presumably, asleep, which left only their alien allies to be the cause of it.

"Let me get dressed. Outside in ten?" he asked, even as he was still trying to get his bearings and locate his uniform. At least he had the room to himself.

"Acceptable," Ironhide agreed. The connection died and the sudden sinking feeling in the pit of Will's stomach grew stronger.


The uneasy feeling and the echo of Ironhide's sparse words stayed with him and added an urgency to his movement and he was on the deck eight minutes later, fully dressed and breathing hard from his run up the stairs. Ironhide was there but it was the Topkick waiting for him, one door open in a silent invitation. Will hesitated for only a moment and then he crossed the flight deck and slipped inside the massive truck, soft leather seat creaking softly as he sat down.

The door closed beside him of its own accord and he ruthlessly killed the sudden apprehension he felt at the sound it.

"Soundproof," he concluded, and the truck gave an affirmative rumble. "Privacy, then," Will continued, and that explained why Ironhide was in his alt-mode. Will was good at his job and he wouldn't be if he didn't have some well-developed instincts and right now every alarm in his mind was going off.

The Topkick stayed silent and Will carried on.

"Could be a couple of reasons for this that I could think of, but I'm going to guess that you've got some bad news and you don't want it public knowledge just yet." He hesitated for just a second and then voiced the dread that still left a knot in his stomach, "You're leaving."

"We are not. This planet is home now," Ironhide stated and his voice left no room for doubts - and still it did nothing to make Will feel any better about the situation.

Ironhide fell silent again and Will watched the world through the windshield as he waited for his guardian to get to whatever point he wanted to make. It was dark outside and while there were always people on duty on an aircraft carrier, none of them were out on the flight deck at the moment. They were busy inside, he knew, with the threat of the 'Cons still hanging over them, but outside it was silent.

"The command structure between NEST and Autobots is complicated," Ironhide finally began and drew Will's attention back at him, eyes narrowing slightly at the truck. It could have been just an observation, but Will doubted it. Ironhide had his reasons for everything he said, and command structure had never been much of a topic between them before. While it did put the large mech as Will's superior, it had never been needed – it was Ironhide, and he didn't have to give orders to be obeyed. It was a strange topic to bring up and there was something about the way he said it that put every instinct in Will's body on edge. It was Ironhide's voice but something sounded... off. Optimus Prime could give even a casual observation all the weight of a supreme commander of an alien species through his voice alone. Ironhide could, too, but normally didn't, because he worked with beings who were used to following directions and his cannons alone were intimidating as was. Right now, though, even with no one around to need to intimidate, Ironhide's voice still held an echo of that commanding presence, and Will's reply was more cautious than it would normally have been.

"It is. You pulling rank on me, 'Hide?"

"Do you acknowledge that I can?"

That question was easily answered, at least. It didn't matter that those particular regulations had never been necessary to use. They were still there and there wasn't a single person in the NEST team who wasn't willing to take orders from the Autobots if needed, Will had made sure of that from the start.

Ironhide was waiting and Will nodded in response. "Yes... sir. As long as it doesn't go against human interests, NEST protocols put you as my commanding officer."

The 'sir' was added almost as an afterthought. He knew the mech undoubtedly had its reasons for that question and if that was how Ironhide wanted to play...

"You know you don't need to, 'Hide. Whatever it is, all you have to do is ask."

Something in the truck made a soft sound, and if it wasn't because this was Ironhide, Will could have sworn it sounded almost regretful. As it was, he was willing to chalk it up to the large mech still not being completely back to normal again after the massive beatings he'd taken in the final battle.

"Based on your behaviour, I assume you intend to take full responsibility for not taking us to Diego Garcia as your orders were." It was not a question and even if Will had intended to answer, he had no time before Ironhide carried on. "We will ensure that the evidence shows you provided your men with falsified orders."

Because yes, whatever happened, he was royally slagged, and he had managed to forget that for a few blissful hours of sleep. He hadn't mentioned anything to Ironhide, because it wasn't the Autobots' problem, but it seemed that the weapon specialist had figured it out on his own. Will wasn't surprised to find that he was actually relieved at that. At least he would have someone to talk to about it now. It wasn't something he was going to burden his team with, although he had no doubts they all knew.

"I'd appreciate it," he finally said, and the words were sincere even as he pushed aside a fleeting feeling of nausea at the thought of someone essentially setting him up like that. It was his team. He hadn't lied to them and part of him resented the implication that he had.

Not that it mattered. Planting evidence would keep his team safe, and that was his prime concern right now. The fact that he was going down did not mean he wanted to take them with him. If increasing his sentence a little would keep them out of it, he was more than willing to play that game. "If that was your concern, 'Hide, you didn't need to pull rank. I mean it. I'd be grateful. It'll keep them out of the line of fire, and we need a veteran team right now. We don't have time to train a whole new team."



Oh, slag it all. Will took a breath and steeled himself for what was to come. The whole thing was getting ridiculous and whatever was going on, Ironhide's behaviour did not help. It would be easier for everyone to just get it over with.

"Whatever it is, 'Hide, just tell me."

"Optimus Prime agrees with you. As do I. We can not afford to lose allies. We have few enough as it is and Megatron's revelation to the world of our existence will not help things."

Another slow breath and Will closed his eyes, putting words to plans he had already mentally made himself but not been willing to speak out loud until now. "The term is 'scapegoat'. It's okay. I don't mind. I know Galloway wants my head for this. I knew it when I did it, and I'd do it again. It got us Optimus back. I'd say that's worth it."

That silence again, and suddenly Will wanted nothing more than reach out and shake the Topkick, but it wouldn't do him any good and instead he grasped his last few straws of patience and tried again. "Just... tell me, 'Hide. Fine, I'm screwed, I know that, but the way you're acting, I wonder if you plan to wrap me up and dump me with Megatron as a sorry-for-ruining-your-plan, let's-interface-and-make-up gift."

Was that a growl? It was a reaction, at least, and finally Ironhide spoke again. "We intend to make you a citizen of Cybertron."

And whatever Will had expected, that most definitely wasn't it.

"... I'm human," he said in lack of anything better, because his mind had ground to a halt, and whatever parallel universe he had just found himself in, it wasn't welcome.

"Optimus Prime tells me we are a tolerant species."

Was that amusement in Ironhide's voice? It was too early for that, or too late, and all Will really wanted was to sleep and wake up in two days, finally rested and able to deal with it all again.


He wasn't begging but it was close and his guardian must have noticed that as well as he continued. "You are right that we cannot afford to lose any allies now, and that includes you, Major Lennox. For that reason I brought the suggestion to Prime and he gave his blessings. The court-martial will take place as you already knew. You will take full responsibility as you had planned, but the sentence, whatever it may be, will not be carried out. As a citizen of Cybertron, on Cybertronian soil, you will remain with us. We have no extradition treaty with human governments, nor do we intend to sign one."

And, Will's mind realised, if that had been solely good news, Ironhide wouldn't have been so reluctant to tell him. He was about to ask when the penny dropped and the sinking feeling in his stomach turned to nausea that made him grip the armrest tightly in a desperate effort to make his vision stop swimming.

"I won't be able to set foot in the States again." It wasn't a question, because Will had already concluded that much. "I have a wife there, Ironhide. I have a daughter."

"Families can be relocated," Ironhide replied, and Will wasn't sure if the faint regret in the voice was real or nothing more than a figment of his imagination. "Perhaps when this situation has calmed down enough, it will be possible to gain a pardon from your President without making your team a target in the process."

Hands clenched, unclenched, as Will tried to get his emotions back under control. This was insane. Whatever the hell his allies were up to, it was absolute insanity, and they couldn't be serious. Optimus Prime had come back from the dead. Everyone's brain would be rattled from something like that, and maybe Ratchet missed some vital injury in Ironhide's processor, because if they thought he was just going to accept this-


"You told me I did not need to 'pull rank on you'." Ironhide cut him off before he could get any further. "I was aware of that. However, it would be... unkind to expect you to agree to this out of comradeship alone. It is a position we do not wish to place you in. Therefore, this is not a request."

-They were absolutely insane, and the dread took a tight grip around his heart as the mech's words registered and he realised what would come next. Ironhide was a warrior, Ironhide had commanded troops, and Lennox knew that tone when he heard it, unyielding and deadly as a blade.

"I am your commanding officer. Do you understand your orders, soldier?"

It was his voice that answered, but he wasn't even aware of speaking, years of habit and routine taking over when his mind could not and the voice was weak but steady where he hadn't thought he would even be able to speak. It wasn't an order Ironhide could have forced him to follow, it went against any number of regulations, but it didn't matter. NEST had never been a normal organisation.

He closed his eyes.

"Yes, sir."

And his world collapsed.




There had been a note on his bed when he got back, neat handwriting letting him know that he was exempt from his scheduled debriefing on account of health issues, and a text message on his phone from Ratchet to clear up his confusion.

'I let your General know that your concussion still troubles you. It would not be conductive to your health to be forced to behave as if all is well.'

Thank you, Ratchet, he whispered soundlessly, and then sent the same in a reply to the mech, because that was one small concern less to shoulder, at least. Trust the medic to think of details like that. Of course, it also meant that all of the Autobots likely knew what was going on by now, but that wasn't really a surprise. Ironhide had made it an order. There hadn't been any doubt about the outcome of the conversation, then.

It was only half an hour since Ironhide had pulled out of bed, and he knew he should try to sleep but knew just as well that he wouldn't be able to. His head was overloaded, too many thoughts to keep track of, too much he didn't want to consider about all of this, and he stared unseeing at the small clock on his cellphone. Epps would be asleep. He couldn't call his wife about this, not when he didn't even know the details. Ironhide would have been an option once, but not tonight. He knew - and on some level even appreciated - what the mech had done for him in making it an order, but it didn't change the fact that his anger and fear and nausea needed someone to blame and Ironhide was a convenient target.

He wasn't even consciously aware that he had moved until he was standing outside an improvised door that towered above him and he hammered firmly on one of the support frames in greeting.


The voice sounded gruff but not snarly enough to be in the middle of an emergency and Will stepped inside and was met by the familiar appearance of their medic in the middle of his makeshift and temporarily empty infirmary.

"Do you... need a hand with anything?" he asked.

He looked like scrap and he knew it, but he didn't particularly care. Medic. Medic was good. Anything to get him away from Prime and Ironhide and humans who didn't know a damn thing about what was happening right under their noses. Mikaela might have been there with Ratchet to learn from him, but right now she was asleep, like a sensible, normal person, and so for the moment, the infirmary was populated only by an Autobot... and one lost human.

If Ratchet had had eyebrows, Will would have said the mech had arched them at that, but he didn't. Instead the medic gave him a thoughtful once-over before he responded.

"You do not look well, Major."

"Not 'Major' for much longer," Will said quietly, because it made it a bit easier to accept every time he repeated that to himself. "I won't get in your way. Anything I can give you a hand with, let me know. I learned the basics from being around Ironhide and you look like you need a break, too."

Ratchet watched him for a moment longer and then he nodded and held one hand down to Will. Used to Ironhide, it was always an interesting experience to be this close to the rest of the Autobots. Like humans, they had their own particular looks and mannerism and even the short lift from floor to Cybertronian-sized table felt different – gentler, almost – than when Ironhide did it.

"Some of my instruments were affected by the sand and dust," Ratchet said and pointed to a crate-sized piece of machinery next to where he had placed Will. "They still function but will need to be cleaned to avoid any unfortunate breakdowns."

There was a human-sized box next to it, and Will saw several rags sticking out from it, along with a variety of human-sized tools. Mikaela's toolbox, probably. With the many debriefings going on, he wasn't surprised she hadn't had time to start yet.

He nodded, his gratitude genuine, and not just for the distraction he had just been given. "Thank you."

Ratchet made a small nod of acknowledgement and went back to his own tools and continued the careful sorting of them that his human visitor had interrupted. "Arcee is in recharge," the medic continued and answered Will's unspoken question. "Bumblebee is due for his second round of repairs in twelve of your earth minutes. Small breaks, I suppose, keep all of us marginally sane in these circumstances." One large hand touched a delicate tool affectionately before he continued. "Sorting my tools brings a bit of order to this chaos. It is all I can ask for at the moment."

There were a couple of clean rags in the toolbox and Will picked up one of them and carefully started on the complex piece of machinery. He didn't know what it did, but that didn't really matter. He trusted Ratchet to know that it was both turned off and harmless to humans, and dirt was something he was used to dealing with, whatever it might be stuck on. The only difference between cleaning this and his weapons was the purpose and complexity of it.

"It may not be forever, Major. Things change."

Soft words, for a mech, and not what he was used to from Ratchet, but then he usually only happened to talk to the mech in the middle of emergencies and not all of their allies were cooperative patients.

"Ironhide told me as much." A deep breath, his fingers gripping the rag tighter than needed as he worked on the machinery. "Thank you, though. I just... I'm used to being away, Ratchet. I miss my wife and my daughter but it's my job. It's just different when you don't know it's only for half a year, or nine months, or however long it may be. Maybe everything will be back to normal in a few years and I'll have a nationality that originated on Earth again and this whole mess will have solved itself without landing me in jail or something. And you know, maybe it won't. Maybe Galloway's types will always be in control, and next time it's Epps or whoever takes over that needs to take the fall, and we'll always be stuck in exile because we did what we had to do to keep the planet in one piece."

He was silent for a moment and then continued as the medic just watched him. "I appreciate what you're doing for me. I appreciate that my team won't take the scrap for this. I just... need some time."

"I would be surprised if you did not," Ratchet said quietly. "Did Optimus consider all the consequences before he agreed? Yes, he did. He's too compassionate of a leader not to. It does not change the fact that you are the one who will live through those consequences, not him. You do not need to be present for the negotiations. You know the outcome already. Rest if you need it. Stay here and help, if that's what you need – the worst of the emergencies are over and you do not make a pest of yourself here as some patients I know."

Will's lips twitched in pale amusement at that. "Patient, huh? Work's the prescription, then?"

Ratchet just nodded. "I believe it's the right one for you. Leave when you feel tired, Major. Until then, I would welcome a helping hand."




The morning after they returned to Diego Garcia, Will caved and found Ironhide at the Cybertronian-sized training ground in one of the more secluded parts of the base. He had been stunned the first time he had seen Ironhide's cannons in action outside of battle and even now they didn't fail to impress him.

Ironhide, with his usual uncanny awareness of Will's whereabouts, lowered his cannons and turned to look at his human change. "Major."

"Not anymore," Will replied and his voice was a lot calmer than he felt. "Optimus is still working out the details, but it's pretty much official now. I'm still a Major in human terms, but that's gonna go in the court-martial, I'm sure. If Optimus wants me to have an official rank, he'll have to figure something out."

"He will," Ironhide stated with no doubt in his voice, and Will wondered for a moment what a rank like that might be. It wasn't an area he had talked much about with Ironhide at all.

"You came here to find me," Ironhide continued, and it was not a question. "Your heart-rate is elevated, as is the level of adrenaline in your blood."

"Fight or flight, 'Hide, but there's nothing here I can beat up to make everything better again and running won't do a damn bit of good." He took a deep breath and steeled himself, because he knew Ironhide well enough to know that he would not approve of what came next. "You've trained Autobots in close combat."

Ironhide nodded and the pair of blue optics narrowed on him, silently prompting him to continue.

"Then train me, too."

Blue optics locked with brown eyes and William Lennox didn't back down. The mech wasn't going to like that, he had known that the instant the idea had appeared to him. It didn't change a slagged thing to him.

Ironhide made a sound Will couldn't quite interpret. "You're human."

"I'm Cybertronian, Ironhide," Will snapped back. "You and Prime took care of that. I'm one Autobot tattoo on my aft short of being one of yours. Fine, I can't pick up your weapons. I can't tear out some 'Con's throat with my bare hands. So teach me stuff I can do. You made me a target. You think Megatron's going to be happy a pathetic fleshling was legally made a Cybertronian? Like it or not, 'Hide, I am a target now. I'm not just some random allied squishie anymore. I'm an actual member of your fraction and they will target my aft for it the moment they find out. If I'm going to be targeted as an Autobot, you damn well better train me as one, too."

This time the sound from Ironhide was clearly identifiable as a snort. "You'd be stomped on. There is a reason why you use ranged weapons."

"Not if I move fast enough." Low voice, deadly serious, and Will crossed his arms. "You're fast when you move but you're not that accurate. You can't change direction in a split second with that much mass, no matter how strong you are."

He paused and closed his eyes as he took a deep breath to steady himself before he continued. "Fight or flight, 'Hide, and I have nowhere to run. Teach me. Please."

If it was the tone of voice or the words or something else entirely, he would never know, but with a slow nod Ironhide's stance relaxed slightly and the massive cannons were powered down completely.

"You have one of your hours to convince me, Will. We start now."




Ratchet had a list of things a mile long to lecture Will on, he was sure of it, but the medic had yet to say anything about it and Will submitted to his examination with the cooperativeness that he knew from experience was the way to go around Ratchet. The long abrasion on his left side from a close encounter with the ground should have hurt to clean, but didn't thanks to the miracle of alien medicine, and the broken arm he had suffered was already healing under Ratchet's competent care. Alien robot or not, he had still learned human medicine fast and added his own technology to the mix. The broken arm, Will knew, would take a week at the most to heal completely. The abrasion wouldn't take much longer to be gone completely as well.

"Can I expect Ironhide in here as well?" Ratchet finally asked and broke the silence. They were alone in the infirmary again – the proper one, this time – and while there were still injured Autobots to handle, there were no longer any emergencies on the list.

"Possibly," Will replied and carefully did not shrug to avoid aggravating his wounds and the medic. "He was limping. I can't reach that high, but a couple of sliced fuel lines and wires in a foot is still going to slow a mech down in battle."

That could-have-been-an-arched-eyebrow expression appeared again, and Will continued, expecting an angry lecture at any moment. "I'm not sure if it's something he can fix himself, if that's what you mean. I don't know that much about your anatomy. It wasn't a fight. 'Hide told me I needed to convince him if he was going to train me, so that's what I did. I know it was stupid, Ratchet, and I don't count on showing up twice a week with broken bones, I just..." He trailed off and sighed. "If I'm going to live like an Autobot, then let me at least be trained like one. Am I ever going to need it? Probably not, that's what ranged weapons are for, but you never know. It keeps me busy."

And right now, busy was what he needed and Ratchet had pointed that out himself.

"You've spent too much time around Ironhide. His masochism is rubbing off on you," the medic huffed, but there was no real heat behind it. "You're a human, not a weapon specialist with armour for processors, and you better not be here twice a week like this if you know what's good for you."

"Yes, sir," Will said, and there was genuine amusement behind that even if he meant it, too. He had never quite worked out where Ratchet fit into the cross-command structure between NEST and Cybertronians before – he was a medic, and people were going to obey him no matter what – but with his new citizenship, he knew for a fact that the grouchy medic outranked him and after that many years in the military, the response was instinctive.

Ratchet nodded and looked satisfied with that, and he returned to his careful examination of Will's shoulder to remove the last few bits of concrete that had dug themselves into the wound there. "You should contact your mate."

The massive hands worked with a gentle grace that never ceased to amaze Will, and his hesitation before he answered was purely at the thought of his wife – the wounded part of his shoulder was numb and Ratchet, for all of his size, was the most competent medic Will had ever met.

"I should," he finally agreed. He still didn't have all the details but he had enough to contact her, at least. She deserved that much. She would need time to accept it, too, and with Soundwave out of orbit again, he could even talk with her without seeing 'Con interference in every bit of noise on the line.

"She would be safe on this base," Ratchet continued, and his voice was unusually gentle. "Your sparkling as well. It is young and does not yet need the services of an educational facility." Will opened his mouth to reply and then closed it again as Ratchet continued. "The base is a potential target, I am aware of that, but your family would be as well. With you as part of our fraction, they would need to be put under protection, too, in the event that the 'Cons decided to target them. I know you have thought about it, Will, and you are too similar to our Prime not to be beating yourself up over it. This is my professional advice: Bring them here. With some luck, it should be a matter of a few of your human years before this situation can be settled in a more satisfactory matter. Until then, they can be safe here."

"They'd be the only family on base," Will said quietly. "Sure, there's not a neighbour within two miles of our farm, but there's still a town nearby and there are people. There's no one but mechs and soldiers here."

"After all that has happened, Samuel will likely settle here for a time as well," Ratchet noted. "At the very least until the interest in him fades a bit. He does not need to, I am aware of that, but although his former nation would still welcome him home, it would be better for him to stay out of sight. Miss Banes would be likely to do the same due to their bond and her interest in Cybertronian medical science."

There was the familiar smell of a disinfectant even if Will couldn't feel it at all when Ratchet applied it, and then he sighed. "I can't ask that of her. She has a family back home. A few states over, sure, but not halfway across the world like this would be."

Bandages and a final, careful adjustment of the thin cast around his arm, and Ratchet returned his ruined shirt to him. "Would you have to?"

Will could think of no reply to that, and just watched the medic as he put him gently on the floor again.

"See me again tomorrow. I would like to see how the fracture heals. Refrain from training with Ironhide for a week, or next time I see you won't be nearly as pleasant. Now out, I'm busy."

Will nodded and had already taken several steps on instincts alone before he paused and turned to look at the giant mech again.

"Ratchet?" Blue optics focused on him and Will nodded again. "Thank you."




He hadn't been able to think of a single good way to broach the topic and in the end he hadn't needed to. Sarah knew him and had been able to draw some further conclusion based on the time of day he called – time zones could be a slagging pain sometimes, they'd learned that long ago – and she had known something was wrong even before he could tell her.

After that, it was only a matter of explaining. Slow, even hesitant sometimes, but if their allies were going to strand him on base, at the very least they could put up with the phone-bill from a long-distance video call that stretched out to past midnight back home, where his wife was patiently listening and their little girl was long asleep.

Done ranting, done explaining, he finally trailed off and let the silence hang between them.

"I'm sorry," he said softly, because even without the Autobots being helpful on his behalf, he would still have been court-martialed, could still have ended up in jail for it, and when it all came down to it, it had been his decision that had screwed up their lives.

"Don't be," Sarah said just as softly and wiped away the dampness in the corner of one eye. "How are the base facilities?"

"Okay. Pretty high tech. Meant for long-term living, you know? Plenty of funding for this place, at least." Will was confused but answered as much as he could, anyway, because this was his wife and she deserved to know, whatever the reason for her question might be. "It's not a bad place. Nice climate. Green – got lots of plants. Awesome beaches."

On the other end of the line, with the tiny delay caused by distance, Sarah Lennox nodded slowly and then again, more determinedly. "Good. It might be nice with a garden I don't have to water all the time."

Finally catching up with her himself, Will blinked. "Sarah-"

"No," she said firmly, and even across half a world, her voice left no room for arguments. "Don't even think about it, Will. I already thought I lost you once. I'm not staying behind this time."

"The base is a target," Will objected. "They know we're here, they know it's the main base – it's already been targeted once. It could happen again."

"Our home is a target now," Sarah snapped back, but he knew it was anger at the situation more than at him. "That base has giant, alien robots. I'd say that's a damn sight safer than anything the government here could manage." Then, softer- "Annabelle still has a few years before she's supposed to start school. Oh, I know it's all classified what you do, but did you really expect her not to realise Ironhide wasn't just a truck? It would have happened, anyway. Does it matter if she meets those things at home or on that base? There, at least, she won't have to worry about who she can and can't talk to."

"There'll be no other kids on base," Will tried, but it was a half-hearted argument and they both knew it.

Sarah huffed. "How long do you think that will last once Sam and Mikaela really get settled? Annabelle will be fine. I'll be fine. The house, whatever they look like over there, well, that'll be fine, too. Besides, your metal friends got you into this situation to begin with, and I intend to make it very clear to them just what I think of that. I married you because I love you, not because of what your stupid passport says. If you're staying there, then I'm going with you."

On the other end of the line, Sarah was smiling – pale, shaken, but definitely a smile – and Will found himself doing the same in return. He hadn't even dared to hope, because living on a base in the States was one thing, but this was an island in the middle of nowhere, and he hadn't even intended to bring up the possibility of moving there, because he loved her and wasn't going to put her in a situation like that. Sarah, knowing him as well as he did himself, had obviously realised that, too, and just like Ironhide, she had taken the decision out of his hands.

"I'll let them know," he promised.

And for the first time since Egypt, something went right.