A/N: Okay, the rating has officially changed to 'M'. There is plenty of stuff in this over 11,000 words chapter, so I hope y'all like it. Wow, 22 pages… Btw, don't expect these updates to keep happening so quickly. College starts up again next week, so updates will fluctuate as well as the length of each update.

Warnings: There is torture and some, er, smut in this chapter. Torture scene has a notice before it begins in case anyone wishes to skip it.


Chapter Three: Symbol

Sam knew he wasn't in his cot on the ship when he couldn't feel the hard, scratchy texture of the bedding. He slowly opened his eyes and blinked in surprise at the obvious darkness; he had been expecting to be met with bright light like the last time he had fallen unconscious in the presence of the autobots. Sitting up, he looked around to see that he was in a small room with what looked to be thick metal walls. There was the bed he was laying on as well as a desk across from it which was holding his laptop and a lamp, a small, uncomfortable looking chair in front of it. A small metal locker (for his clothes most likely) was next to the door and he pushed himself off of the bed, losing his balance and falling back down on it, which caused it to groan at the strain.

"I'm not that heavy!" His body sure as hell felt heavier though. His limbs felt like lead, half of them at least, but the other half of his body that didn't feel as if it had gained a lot of weight was sore. "God, Ratchet, what did you do to me…?" Sam paused as he realized something; his throat wasn't hurting even though he was talking. He looked down at his left arm, which had started feeling heavy before Ratchet had even given him that medicine, and saw that it was healed with only some scarring and that damn symbol in the prime language that wouldn't come off, which has had a silver sheen to it ever since he had been revived. He could only feel the slight raising of skin to show the scars on his neck and from what he could see in the mirror on the inside door of the locker, his body was fully healed as well with just some scarring. Although he didn't know why he was only in his boxers

Mikaela was right; he was going to have a lot of people checking out his scars. H turned around and traced the bumpy pink and white lines running down his tanned back and side. Those were caused when he died and now it seemed as if they had happened so long ago when he could remember getting them as if it was just yesterday. Even his own body was forgetting stuff he would never be able to. The scars from when Ratchet had healed him after Optimus' death, which he had gotten from Grindor's blades when they had been cut off by the Prime and had rolled over his leg, they were even more faded as well despite the fact that his leg had almost been severed. He had been told it was because of shock that he didn't react to the pain when he was running… They were still rather dark because it had been a quick, poor sewing up of his leg before it was bandaged and he was handed over to Bumblebee with some medicine, but they were faded nonetheless and he quickly pulled on some pants to cover them up. He would never forget that day no matter how quickly his scars faded because Optimus had died for him, because of him, and he couldn't forget something like that.

He heard the clicking of the door as it opened and he grabbed the lamp on instinct, prepared to hit whoever it was over the head with it. Sam knew he was most likely at NEST headquarters, but until that was confirmed he was going to be prepared. A familiar figure walked in and he quickly set the lamp down before he could see it, but see it he did and he rolled his eyes before speaking. "You have too much of your mother in you," His dad grumbled before he seemed to realize who he was talking to. "Sammy! You're awake! God, son, you had us worried when you wouldn't wake up."

"I'm sorry?" Sam said unsure as to what his dad was talking about. Surely he wasn't out long enough for them to worry.

"You don't even know, do you? You were asleep for two, almost three, days." Sam blinked at his dad's words, surprised and a bit worried himself.

"I'm sure Ratchet probably put too strong of a sedative in his medicine, that's all," He finally responded after overcoming his shock, reaching into his locker and pulling on a black t-shirt. "I'm fully healed though, so you shouldn't worry."

"Fully healed, my ass. Have you not seen those scars you have?" Sam shrugged before he walked to his dad.

"It's war, dad, and I'm a part of it no matter what any of us do," His voice was weary with resignation, but he had to fight in this war, and his dad needed to let him. "You have to let me go, dad. I love you, but you have to let me fight."

"The last time I let you go, you died. I'm not going to let you fight alone, son; your mother and I can't do much, but we'll sure as hell try." Sam pulled his dad into a hug, relieved that his parents loved him so much that they would fight gigantic alien robots with him. "There's no reason to be worrying about all that right now though, you're going to get something to eat before your mother starts forcing her cooking down your throat." They both winced at that and Sam let his dad lead him to the cafeteria, his eyes wandering the huge metal and concrete hallways with awe. They had to have designed the place with the autobots in mind since it looked like they would easily be able to walk through it.

"Sam!" He heard as soon as he walked into the large room and he somehow managed to keep his balance as Mikaela practically tackled him with her hug. "Ow, you're too heavy…" She mumbled into his shirt as she hugged him and he chuckled before giving her form a quick squeeze and letting his mom check him over as Mikaela stepped back.

"Sam, what did I tell you about scaring me like that?" She asked as she pulled his head down to check the back of it.

"Uh, not to?" Sam responded as he pushed her hands away and stood back up, a blush on his cheeks as he heard laughter from some of the soldiers. "I'm fine mom, better than ever."

"You'd better be or else I'm going to hurt that psychotic robot doctor even more once he stops hiding behind Ironhide," His mom said and Sam raised an eyebrow because he really couldn't see Ratchet doing that. Maybe it was Ironhide hiding Ratchet behind him instead? That made a bit more sense; Ironhide was very protective of those he cared about, but he usually showed it by blowing the offending being to smithereens. Sam was glad he didn't do that in this situation.

"Hey, momma's-boy! You want some food or not?" He heard Leo shout from a couple tables down and he grabbed a nearby muffin and threw it at his roommate, hitting his forehead with surprising speed and accuracy.

"You shut up or should I remind you about your bawling in Egypt?" Sam shouted back and Leo went back to his food as Simmons sat down next to him. Mikaela walked over and sat down across from the two and Sam joined her, leaving his mom and dad to go and eat. He picked up another muffin, blueberry, and started eating as the others started talking.

"Man, you shouldn't scare us like that, were you having a really good wet-dream or something that you didn't want to wake up from?" Leo asked and Sam rolled his eyes as Mikaela kicked the boy under the table. "Ow, if you want to play footsies senorita, you shouldn't wear steel toed boots."

"I doubt she was playing footsies, soldier. Now eat so I can get you out to the shooting range, I have to get you prepared now that the decepticons are after you," Simmons said and Leo looked at him with growing horror. "You think it was over? No, it's never over for these guys, not until NBE-1 is dead for good with no way of coming back."

"I'm not a soldier, so stop calling me that!" Leo said, finishing his food quickly and gulping down his orange juice in seconds. "Sam, you have to help me out here, take me with you to see your robot friends or something. Please, you have to save me!"

"No can do, not unless you want to help me wash them all. You can take the Twins…" Leo contemplated for a moment before glancing over at Simmons, who was sharpening his butter knife, and quickly agreeing to help. "Hey, Simmons, you can help too if you want, we can all go to the shooting range later since I need to learn too."

"You're sadistic Sam," Mikaela said with a grin as she placed a glass of orange juice in front of him. "Now eat and drink until you're full, because you're not getting out of here otherwise." He knew that smile, it was the smile that promised pain if he ignored her orders, and he knew better than to ignore her when that smile came up.

"You know I haven't eaten anything in almost three days, right? I'm not gonna be able to eat a lot…" Sam said as he forced himself to eat a banana and drink the orange juice.

"That's why I said until you're full, not until you're sick," She responded evenly and he shrugged before standing up.

"Well, I'm full, so let's go. I have to talk to Ratchet." They all ran off to get changed into clothing they didn't mind getting dirty and wet as he walked over Will Lennox. Sam would meet them in the hangar. "Hey Will, you know where any cleaning supplies are? I'm gonna go wash the autobots." Now that didn't sound awkward at all.

"Sure I do, Sam, there's a cleaning supply closet right down the hall from your room." Will paused before holding out his hand. "You owe me money kid, you lost that bet."

"I was hoping you would forget…" Sam grumbled as he pulled a twenty out of his wallet, which his dad had given back to him, and handed it to the Major.

"Have fun!" He shouted as he turned back to eating and Sam walked away, waving over his shoulder as he headed for the supply closet. Sam liked the soldier, his wife was also very nice, but he now knew to never bet with him again because the pity card didn't work. 'I've been killed, electrocuted, knocked on my ass by robot medicine (twice), and I haven't eaten in three days.' Nope, that sentence wouldn't have worked on him, he'd just laugh, but bring up his daughter and he turned into a pile of mushiness.

Sam gathered a bunch of supplies once he reached the closet and walked to where the autobots' hangar was located according to everyone he passed, dragging a huge bucket filled with the supplies behind him. It was heavy, but he could move it easily enough, using his left arm more than his right since it was part of the sore half of his body. He heard the familiar revving of a certain engine as he pulled the bucket in and he turned around quickly as Bee's bumper touched his legs. "Hey Bee, I bet you were worried…"

"About time you woke up," Ratchet said as he walked over and started scanning him before Sam could even say hi.

"You were the one who put too strong of a sedative in that medicine." Sam retorted as he watched a pretty blonde woman walk towards them from where she had been speaking with Optimus. "Who's she? She looks familiar."

"Samuel, the sedative was out of your system after the first day, we are unsure as to why you were asleep for so long." Sam forgot all about the woman for a moment as those words processed in his mind. Surely it was just the exhaustion, but he had felt strange this morning… "Impossible!"

"Wh- what is impossible?!" That was not a good thing to hear when Ratchet had just scanned you. Be suddenly transformed and scooped him up before he started scanning him as well. Ratchet had probably alerted him of whatever it was via a private comm. link and had wanted a second opinion. The serious look on Bumblebee's face made the panic grow. "C'mon, you have to tell me the impossible, what is the impossible?!"

"Hmm, we cannot get readings on most of the left half of your body, Samuel." Ratchet finally said after he had scanned him again.

"That's not good, is it?" Sam asked as Bee placed him back on the ground, his large hand staying next to the human boy to help him keep his balance because Sam was close to falling to his knees.

"I am positive that I would get readings if I used my normal scans…" Ratchet mused and Sam shook his head. He was terrified of what could be wrong with him, but he just couldn't risk dieing again. Not yet, not when it's not too serious. Sure, the left half of his body felt heavy and his heart couldn't be read by some of the best human scans possible, but it wasn't hurting him or anyone else as far as he could tell.

"No, I'm sure it's nothing… I'll be fine and I'll let you use your scans if it gets much worse. I just want to hang out with you guys and not worry." Sam said and Ratchet reluctantly nodded. Sam patted Bee's hand in thanks as he stopped leaning on it and instead looked up at his best friend. "Thanks for worrying but I'm sure I'll be fine." He wasn't sure, not at all, but he didn't want them worrying about him when they had more important stuff to do, such as hunting decepticons.

"You're Sam, right? I knew I recognized you." Sam jumped at the voice that spoke from behind him and he belatedly remembered the woman who had started approaching when Ratchet had begun scanning him. He looked at her and realized why she looked familiar. She had been there when they had found the cube two years ago, but he couldn't remember ever learning her name. "I never got to introduce myself: I'm Margaret Madsen and I'm here to replace Galloway. Call me Maggie." Sam shook her hand and grinned at her words.

"You're replacing Galloway? That's awesome; at least you understand that the autobots are here helping us." He said and Maggie nodded. She really didn't look like a government agent with her tan skin, honey-blonde hair in a messy bun, the nose piercing, and her casual clothing.

"I was just being informed by Optimus Prime about the recent situations since I figured I would get a more honest and thorough answer from him and any of the autobots. Politics involving humans is way too complicated as of late." She said, her Australian accent strong, and Sam nodded. He knew that the autobots valued honesty and would inform her accordingly. "So, what's going on with you?"

"Just some medical complications, but I'll be fine." Sam replied with a shrug. "Right now I'm gonna give all of them a good washing, you want to help? Mikaela, Leo, and Simmons are going to help too."

"Sounds like fun, let me just get out of this jacket and these heels." She removed her tan jacket to show a brown tank top underneath before removing her heels and wiping her hands on her blue jean capris, before walking, barefoot, over to the cleaning supplies. "Do you know where a hose is?"

"There are hoses outside the entrance to the hangar," Sideswipe offered and Sam thanked him. "Bumblebee has informed us of these car washes and I was just curious regarding his excitement…"

"Have they never given you guys washes?" Sam asked, curious, and Ironhide replied.

"We keep ourselves maintained on our own." Sam could understand that. Most people would feel too awkward, but he was used to washing Bee so he really didn't mind. Plus, Ironhide (and most of the other autobots) probably felt uncomfortable asking someone to help wash areas he couldn't get to. Matter of pride be damned though, they were filthy.

"Well, you are all going to get a good washing whether you like it or not, you're filthy. Why haven't you guys kept yourselves 'maintained' while I was out cold?" He asked as they all moved towards the outside because getting water all over the hangar was probably not a good idea.

"Worried about you…" The Rolling Stones sang from Bee's speakers and he blushed as he realized that they all had been worried about him; enough that they didn't feel it important to take care of themselves, but he really didn't understand why.

"Shut up, Bumblebee. I just had some decepticon remains to tear apart and haven't had enough time to get clean. Ratchet wanted some materials." Ironhide argued and he heard the medic autobot chuckle from behind him.

"Uh, thanks…" Sam mumbled in response to Bee's worry before waving to Optimus when they reached him. "Hey Optimus! C'mon, me and the others are going to give y'all a good washing!"

"You wish to…bathe us?" Optimus asked from his speakers and Sam shook his head, his blush returning at the words.

"No, I'm washing you because you are all filthy and deserve to get a good washing after saving our world again," He used that sentence as a reason while all of the autobots that weren't in their alt modes transformed into them once they were outside. "Where are the Twins?"

"Hey Sam, look who we brought!" Skids shouted as the two zoomed outside and he let out Leo.

"Pussy," Mudflap introduced and Leo glared at him. "And Crazy." Simmons stepped out of the car when Skids opened the door for him and he, too, glared at the red Twin.

"I'll have you know that you would be dead if I hadn't have blasted that giant alien robot to smithereens." Simmons argued and Mudflap responded with a hologram flipping the ex-government agent off.

"You's still crazy." Simmons was about to argue before he shrugged, he had freely admitted to sounding crazy. "Now, who's gonna be bathing our sexy bodies? 'I'm bringing sexy back…'" Justin Timberlake blared from Mudflap's speakers and Sam laughed.

"They're a bit eccentric, aren't they?" Maggie said with a grin from where she was standing next to Bumblebee. "I'm guessing those are Leo and Simmons? Nice nicknames, boys."

"Who are you?" Simmons demanded and Maggie walked over.

"I'm the new National Security Advisor, in other words the liaison for national security between this base and the president." Simmons blinked at her words before shaking her hand.

"Oh, nice to meet you then." He responded and she smiled before looking at Leo.

"You must be Leo, I remember you from the wanted reports." She shook his hand, having to pry his hand away when he wouldn't let go.

"You are one hot senorita; you wanna go out with me?" Leo asked and Sam rolled his eyes. Trust Leo to hit on any pretty girl he saw. Sam decided to ruin the awkward situation as Mikaela walked over.

"Okay, Leo and Simmons, you guys are assigned Mudflap and Skids. Once done with those two you can move on to whoever hasn't been cleaned yet." He paused and looked at Mikaela. "I was wondering if you could wash Chromia? It would feel awkward if I did it since she's a girl."

"She's a robot,' Mikaela responded as she grabbed up some cleaning supplies and a hose of her own (there was five hoses hooked into the wall).

"She's still a girl robot," He replied and Mikaela nodded.

"True," She agreed before walking over to the blue motorcycle whom had been isolating herself recently. Losing her sisters had really been a toll on the femme. "It's nice seeing you again, Maggie. We'll talk later!"

"You know each other?" Sam asked Maggie and she shrugged.

"We met when everyone arrived at NEST yesterday, so I guess we do. So who do you want me to wash?" Sam looked around before deciding on the one nearest them.

"How about you help me wash Bumblebee so that you'll know what to do?" He offered and she agreed.

"I've been itching to get a good look at Bumblebee ever since I first saw him at sector seven headquarters. Did they do any damage to him? No cutting into him for the sake of reverse engineering, right?" She asked as they walked over to the bot and Sam shook his head no.

"They only got as far as doing passive scans," He replied, remembering Bee's screams and terror, those had become some of his nightmares.

"That's good. I love technology, and it's truly fascinating how the autobots actually exist, but harming them for our own advance in technology? That's not right." She paused as they gathered their cleaning supplies. "Even NBE-1 didn't deserve that. Doing what they did is probably what made him hate us humans so much. We caused the fighting on our planet just as much as the presence of the autobots did."

"Yeah…" Sam agreed as he hosed Bee down, who started playing 'car wash' on his speakers. "Okay, let's get scrubbing." They washed Bee down, who occasionally interrupted the song playing on repeat on his speaker with warbles and clicks as they scrubbed his exterior. Sam made sure to use an old toothbrush to clean his tires and grill well, showing Maggie the technique, before he hosed his friend down again. He started drying the camaro with some towels as Maggie wiped down the interior of Bee with a soft cloth.

"Nice decorations, Bee" She said, poking the 'Bee-otch' air freshener hanging from the rearview mirror. "Very classy."

"Aw, shucks," He replied with a clip from some movie or show and Sam could hear Maggie laughing as she continued to clean. When she started using a hand-vacuum to clean his floorboards Bee started making more noises and Sam grinned. He knew the autobots could feel what they were doing and he was wondering if he should tell Maggie that, but since Bee was enjoying this so much he decided not to. Bee needed more friends than just Sam, so why should he interrupt?

"Hey, Maggie, I'm done drying, do you think you could wax him? I'm going to get started on Optimus." Sam said and Maggie nodded.

"Sure, I'm having fun; haven't been able to do anything like this in a long time. Although Glenn does sometimes get me to play video games when I'm not working…" She trailed off as she leaned under the seats to vacuum there and Sam nodded.

"Be nice Bee," He said before he moved and walked over to Optimus with cleaning supplies in hand, passing Mudflap and Leo as they argued over why his roommate was/wasn't a pussy, or a Chia Pet.

"I like my hair long, that doesn't mean it grows by putting mineral water stuff on it!" Leo shouted, scrubbing a particularly dirty spot on Mudflap's hood.

"So you's enjoying having a rat's nest on your head?" Leo kicked one of the tires and regretted it as he held his foot, whimpering. "Dumbass. That bush on your head just gives us more reason to call ya a pussy, ya know." Sam sniggered as the conversation fell out of his hearing range (for the most part, he could still hear some of Leo's indignant shouts) and he stopped in front of the Peterbilt semi that was the disguised autobot leader. It was truly an intimidating and comforting site, because he knew that although Optimus could easily hurt him, the prime wouldn't and was instead his protector.

"Hey Optimus, your turn," Sam said as he grabbed another hose and started spraying the truck down.

"Thank you, Sam," Optimus rumbled from the speakers and Sam nodded absentmindedly as he started scrubbing.

"I don't mind, you guys are my friends. I like to see y'all happy, even if all I can do is wash you," He washed the hood, climbing on top of one of the wheel to reach farther, but he still couldn't reach all of it. "Um, you don't mind if I climb up here, do you? I can't reach and I won't scratch you or anything, I promise."

"I do not mind." Optimus responded and Sam clambered on top of his hood, crawling on his hands and knees. "Sam, you have done more than enough to help us and that in itself has made us happy. I am sorry if you feel inadequate, however, you are not and never will be."

Sam smiled, patting the hood below him in affection. "Thanks, big guy." He started scrubbing again, his hands moving the sponge across the surface gently and he could feel the purring of Optimus' engine and feel its vibrations beneath him. It was almost as if Optimus was…responding to his touch. Bee had told Sam that he could feel it when he was washed, but he had never told him what it felt like. The boy had just assumed that it was like being tickled or being hugged or patted on the back by a friend. Comforting touches like that; he avoided thinking what other kind of touches they could be felt as, and instead focused on his scrubbing with a burning face.

"Your temperature has increased, is something wrong?" Sam started cleaning the window of the truck as he shook his head.

"No, it's just the heat combined with work, it's perfectly normal." He was getting better at lying, but he supposed that was a good thing considering he was going to have to do a lot of it when he went back to school; he just didn't like lying to Optimus. He finished cleaning the hood and the front window and kicked off his shoes as he stood, his socks getting wet but not ruining the just cleaned surface. "Can you roll down your window?" Optimus did as asked and Sam used the window sill as a boost to get on top of Optimus so he could scrub up there, telling the autobot to close it afterwards. He supposed he was quite the sight, crawling all over a semi in order to get it clean, but Optimus was his friend and he deserved to be cleaned well. He lay down on his stomach to reach the back window, but he didn't feel uncomfortable at all, rather comfortable actually despite knowing that his crotch was currently against Optimus. That thought made his face heat up again and he coughed slightly as he lowered himself down the clean the bed of the semi.

After he was done cleaning the bed he slid under the semi after asking Optimus to turn off his engine. He could still hear a humming noise coming from the semi, but he supposed that was just the engine settling as he cleaned the underside of the vehicle. As he was under Optimus thoughts kept straying to his head, worries about his health and the decepticons, wondering how he was going to possibly find someone to love who would understand his relationship with the autobots, and wondering how Optimus would look once transformed after this. He would probably have to clean him in his normal form, or at least clean any spots he couldn't get to because they were too far on the inside of the truck.

He started humming to himself since he couldn't stand the silence as he scrubbed, although he could hear some noises coming from Optimus' radio, but he just couldn't make out what they were. He was sure that Optimus would speak louder if he was talking to him though, so he ignored them as he reached up to scrub a rather dirty spot. The noises got louder and once he was finished cleaning the spot, he slid out from under the prime. "Did you say something to me, Optimus? Sorry, I couldn't hear."

"No Sam, I did not say anything to you…" His voice sounded hesitant and Sam gave him a weird look before returning under him to finish what he was doing. Fifteen minutes later he was done, even after scrubbing the small spots with a toothbrush, and he moved out to quickly clean the tires and grill before standing and eyeing the truck with a critical eye. He was clean, now all Sam had to do was clean the inside and wax before he had the leader transform so he could get any missed spots. He washed his hands with water from the hose and looked over to see how the others were doing.

Mudflap and Skids were off to the side, checking each other over to see who was cleaner. Sideswipe was being wiped down by Leo and Simmons while Jolt was watched curiously from the sidelines with a rather intense look of concentration on his face as he stared at his comrade. Sam had a feeling there was more to their relationship than what met the eye… Chromia was gleaming in the sun as she talked to Mikaela, no longer in her alt form as Mikaela finished scrubbing her (she must have had the same idea as Sam) before turning to a begging Wheelie with a huff. Maggie was, amazingly enough, still cleaning Bumblebee, but he was transformed as well as she climbed on him to reach some still dirty spots (not even Sam had done that, but Bee was like an overprotective older brother to him and that would just be awkward). They seemed to be enjoying themselves and Sam was glad that everyone was getting along so well. Ratchet was off building something with the decepticon parts while he could still get dirty without being yelled at and Ironhide was helping him. He was probably going to be getting a new weapon with those parts.

Turning back to Optimus, Sam began to wax him, muttering 'wax on, wax off' under his breath. He had watched Karate Kid too much when he was younger, especially during the stage where he wanted to be a ninja and kept trying to pull off matrix moves. Those didn't end well and he smiled slightly as he continued waxing, the smile turning into a grin when he saw the red flame decals glittering in the sun. He waxed all that he was supposed to before he cleaned himself up as best he could and started cleaning the inside.

There were a few laptops and other equipment tied down in the cab of the truck, all of the items probably belonging to the soldiers for when they left on missions. Optimus had probably learned how to not crush the stuff when he transformed. Sam had never really noticed the equipment before, but when he had to clean around and under them, it had all become noticeable. "You doing okay, Optimus?" Sam asked as he wiped down the dashboard and radio with a soft cloth, moving his hands to rub down the steering wheel as his friend responded.

"Yes, I can understand why Bumblebee was always so excited in his messages to us after one of his 'washes'. They are comforting…and enjoyable." His deep voiced rumbled from the radio and Sam felt a shiver run down his spine at the sound of it. It was filled with some kind of emotion and he sat there, staring at the radio, before he shook his head and started cleaning the seats.

"That's good. I was worried I was making you uncomfortable…" He finished wiping down the front and moved towards the small space in the back where there was a small cot, which he smoothed the wrinkles out of, before he climbed out to put away his cloth and instead pulled out another hand vacuum. Sam figured that must have been the main supply closet with all of the stuff he had found there. He began to vacuum the floorboards, a lot of sand coming out of the carpet, and he ignored the small, barely noticeable sounds Optimus was making. He was better at hiding the noises than Bee was, so they were easier to ignore and therefore not think about what said noises meant. Forcing himself to only think about the cleaning, Sam finished quickly and jumped out of the cab, setting the vacuum down before patting the side of the semi. "Well, Optimus, think you can transform so I can get any missed spots?"

Sam watched in awe as the robot transformed. When he could watch it without being distracted by decepticons out for his life, it was rather graceful and awe inspiring. Optimus kneeled down once finished and Sam looked him over, noting some spots on his legs, chest, and face. "Are you sure about this, Samuel? It is rather intimate, is it not?"

"I'm fine, unless it makes you uncomfortable?" Optimus shook his head and Sam picked up a sponge, walking towards the legs and washing down any dirty spots, blushing as he washed a spot rather close to where Optimus' private parts would be if he was human. As soon as the legs were done he motioned for the prime to lift him up, pointing to his chest plates. Carefully, knowing that Optimus' spark was just behind those metal plates, he scrubbed the small areas that were rather dirty, a strange warmth growing inside his chest as he felt the energy of the hidden spark just under his fingertips. His hands started shaking at the feelings he was getting just being near the spark chamber and he forced himself to finish cleaning the area quickly. Sam motioned up so that he could get to Optimus' face and the mask he wore over his face and he gulped when he met the blue optics.

Optimus Prime seemed to be contemplating something as he stared at him and Sam blushed again, even feeling his ear tips heat up with how deep the blush was, as he avoiding looking into the brilliant blue optics. He softly washed the face, having switched from the sponge to a wet cloth that had been in his other hand, and he absently traced the familiar symbol in the prime language on the right side of his helm. He knew what it meant, he had learned most of the language from the allspark sliver (he didn't realize he could read it until after everything was over), but the word for what it was kept escaping him. Snapping his gaze away from the symbol, he threw the sponge to the ground and switched the cleaning cloth to his left hand again, using that to clean as his right held him up by gripping Optimus' thumb. The prime seemed to jump at something and Sam stopped, arm still extended, as he looked at his friend.

"What's wrong?" He asked before noticing that those blue optics were focused on the symbol on his arm and he frowned, moving his right hand to rub the mark. "Yeah, I wrote this on my arm when I was seeing those symbols everywhere. In permanent marker, unfortunately, but I think something caused it to actually become permanent because it won't fade and it's shiny now."

"Have you told Ratchet about this? It might be what is stopping our scans." Optimus said and Sam knew he saw him shiver when he heard that voice so close and focused. "You must be getting cold. I do not wish for you to become sick again, Samuel."

"No, I haven't told him, you can if you want… I'm just a bit wary of him experimenting on me again anytime soon; I tend to fall on my ass when he does." The last words were said dryly and with a roll of his eyes, which garnered an amused chuckle from Optimus.

"Yes, Ratchet can get rather carried away when a challenge comes around. For that, I am sorry." He paused, moving his hands to cup Sam as he gently lowered him to the ground. "Thank you again, Sam."

"Like I said, no problem," Sam replied as he began to gather the cleaning supplies only to be surprised to find that Mikaela was already gathering them.

"I saw you guys talking and figured it might be important, so I thought I would help by doing this," She said and Sam glanced around to notice that everyone had been cleaned, including Ratchet and Ironhide. He must have been washing Optimus for longer than he had thought. "Jolt wants to talk to you, by the way. Something about now knowing what 'coming out of the closet' means?"

"Uh, yeah, I'm gonna go and talk to him then. You have fun? I saw that you were getting along well with Chromia." He asked as he heard Optimus shift behind him before driving around and opening the passenger door for him and Mikaela. Sam saw his shoes lying on the floorboard and he laughed, having forgotten about them. They both climbed in and Sam slipped his shoes back on as Optimus drove them back to the hangar where the others were already at. The sky was darkening outside and Sam was amazed that he had spent the whole day doing this, but it had been enjoyable to just hang out with everyone.

"Yeah, she's very nice. Rather blunt and straightforward, but I like that. We both just needed someone to talk to, so it all worked out. I see you let Maggie wash your precious Bee, you wouldn't even let me help you with that." She mock pouted and Sam grinned.

"Getting jealous? Just kidding, don't hurt me! I just thought they would get along well and when I realized they did, I let them be." He shrugged before poking her in the side. "Now out, I'm hungry and I need to get a shower, you do too." She jumped out as soon as Optimus opened the door and Sam followed before turning to look at all of the autobots, for once shining and not covered with dirt because of battles.

Bumblebee was holding Wheelie in the air as he tried to reach Maggie ("Another Warrior Goddess!"), effectively stopping him while said girl laughed in amusement. Sideswipe was examining Jolt, who seemed to be squirming under the scrutiny, and Sam tried to hold in his laugh. Ratchet and Ironhide were arguing again, something about Ironhide not getting any new weapons until he did something for the medic and the Twins were being the Twins. Mudflap was holding a shouting Leo upside-down as Simmons encouraged him, shouting something about building resistance to motion sickness. Skids was giving Mudflap pointers on the proper way to shake his poor roommate.

"Put me down!" Leo shouted and Mudflap argued back.

"I thought I saw a rat in your hair, I'm just doing ya a favor by shaking it out." Sam remembered their conversation from earlier and he snorted as he tried to hold in his laughter. He had to live with Leo at the college, so it wouldn't do to have him hating him. He avoided Leo's line of sight and instead walked over to the squirming Jolt and Sideswipe paused to look at him.

"Thank you, Sam. I love the thrill of battle, but it was enjoyable to…" He paused, searching for the word. He absently pulled out one of his blades to block Jolt's escape before he began talking again. "Relax, that's the word. Jolt…" The last word was a growled warning and Sam raised an eyebrow before speaking.

"Am I interrupting something? I just came over `cause Mikaela said Jolt wanted to talk to me, but I can leave…" He trailed off as Jolt's eyes lit up, and the blue bot kneeled to talk to Sam.

"Coming out of the closet means you wish to initiate a sparking with another of your gender, right?!" He sounded so excited about figuring it out that Sam decided to not correct his terms and instead nodded with a smile. "I still do not understand why it is something that must be hidden. Sideswipe is my spark-mate and I do not see a reason for hiding that…"

"Humans are not as accepting as the transformers, they believe that we should be with people of our opposite gender because that is what God wants and that is the only way to keep our population alive; as if the world isn't overpopulated enough." Sam rolled his eyes but said no more. He couldn't explain humans to an alien robot since he hardly understood the way most thought in the first place. Love was love and that's all that mattered to him. "Anyways, I'm glad to hear that you two are Spark-bound, you suit each other. Now I'm going to get a shower and eat before I get to bed, so goodnight."

He walked away as the two behind him started emitting clicks and other electronic signals to each other and he smiled, walking towards where Mikaela was yelling at the Twins for treating Leo that way. Leo was lying on the floor, sulking because a girl was fighting his battles, but he didn't seem inclined to say anything about it. Simmons walked up and put his arm around him, which Sam easily shrugged off as the man started talking.

"No time like the present Sammy-boy, let's get down to that shooting range," Simmons said as if he wasn't soaked and covered in dirt and grease. Sam knew he looked pretty much the same as the older man did and that made him grimace. He definitely had to get a shower, especially before his mom saw him. He looked at the man beside him, grinning at the prospect of teaching him and Leo how to shoot, and sighed.

"Let's get washed up and eat, and then I'll go with you to the shooting range. I'll help you drag Leo there too, but no shooting me! …Or him!" He added the last part as an afterthought before he started for the exit, eager to feel the water running over his sun burnt skin and relaxing his muscles. He was even sorer than when he had woken up this morning, but it had been fun.

"I'll see you later Sam! I have to get back to Washington and get some files from Galloway. He's going to be replaced tomorrow, so I'm going to stay the night there before taking him his forms and receiving mine." Maggie shouted as she walked towards the exit on the other side of the room.

"Wait, you haven't replaced him already?" Sam shouted and he saw her shake her head no.

"He still doesn't know he's been fired!" He could just barely see her grin as she said that. "They had to make sure I could do it before they hired me, but Lennox just called and said I was given the all clear. I'll see you later; I have to get washed up before they leave without me!" Sam waved goodbye before he started heading for his room again and waving to the others as he reached the door, muttering a 'see you later'.

He walked into the room and grabbed a change of clothes before walking to the shower room, which he really didn't want to use. Simmons and Leo were due to arrive soon and he didn't want to see either of them naked nor did he want them seeing him naked, so he hurried to get undressed. He had too many scars and he didn't want to hear their questions, questions that would just remind him of how he got them. His death, the events in Mission city, and Optimus fighting to save him and dying in the process, his blue orbs fading to black as he tried to tell Sam to run…

Sam shook his head and silently turned on the water, ignoring as the others walked in. He saw that Lennox was with them out of the corner of his eye and he conveyed a silent thank-you his way as he kept them quiet.

Maggie Madsen silently moved towards the helicopter and strapped herself inside, after placing her suitcase under the seat, before giving the pilot the okay that she was ready as she slipped on her earmuffs/headphones. She relaxed into the seat as the helicopter lifted off, moving away towards Washington, and recalled her day to her mind. That Sam boy had been as interesting as ever even though it seemed as if he was having medical problems. Bumblebee had told her his worry for Sam, but he hadn't told her why he was worrying. She supposed it was Sam's decision to make as to whether she knew since it regarded him.

Bumblebee had actually been really fun to talk to, alternating between actually speaking and using his radio as she had washed him. He had answered her questions about how his race worked without giving away too much, which she had noticed but didn't bother asking about, and he had asked her questions in return. Like where she had gotten her necklace that she always wore, why she worked for the US government even though she was Australian, and how she had become fascinated by machines. She answered them, but she had held back too because he didn't need to know so much about her personal life, not when most of her human friends didn't even know.

She remembered the cute little noises he had made when she had cleaned him and she had a feeling the robot could feel what she had been doing. Did they have nerves under their armor or was it sensors acting as nerves? She didn't know, but she was going to ask Bee the next time she saw him. She grinned as she remembered the warbles, clicks, and squeals he had made quite loudly and for a long time when she had started vacuuming and she fell asleep to the noises in her mind as the helicopter swayed gently beneath her.

"Ma'am? We're in Washington," Maggie roused herself from sleep at the gentle shaking on her arm and she blinked at the light shining in her face from the helicopter pad. After giving the pilot a smile she unhooked the straps holding her to the seat and hopped out of the aircraft.

The air was chilly and she hurried over to the rental car she had been provided with since Glenn had taken her truck joyriding, and crashed it. The vehicle was still being repaired and Glenn owed her a bunch of money and apologies the next time she saw him. It was not pleasant to get a call telling her that her car was crashed by her friend while she was out of town, and then lying about giving him the keys--because she hadn't actually given him the keys. She highly doubted a copy of the keys appeared on their own and she also doubted that the dump truck had come out of nowhere and hit him, especially since there was no reason for it to be a decepticon since no one outside of the President and NEST had known of the position she had been preparing to take.

She thanked the man who told her the keys were already in the ignition before she climbed into the black Saleen S281 and shut the door. She was out of the view of the pilot when the doors suddenly locked and the person in her rear-view mirror, the one who had given her the keys, flickered out of existence. A hologram.

"Margaret Madsen…" A deep and mechanical voice penetrated the speakers and Maggie felt her breath catch. It wasn't soothing like Optimus', it was more broken and metallic, and she felt her heart beating loudly in her chest as she realized she was being kidnapped by what was most likely a decepticon.

"I am decepticon Barricade and you are now my bait." Her eyes widened, but she stopped herself from saying anything as some sort of gas leaked from the air vents. Eventually she had to breathe and she quickly slipped into darkness as metal clamped down on her wrists.

"I understand Mr. President," National Security Advisor Galloway said over the cell before letting out a rather strained farewell and slamming the phone shut and tossing it onto the table. The President had chosen him, and him alone, to be his National Security Advisor and now he expected him to train his own replacement? He was being fired because of his poor intergalactic relations? Galloway understood that he had shown some hostility towards the autobots, but he had been doing what was best for his country's protection at the time. They had brought their own civil war upon the inhabitants of earth, but when it was realized that their planet had been involved even before that, that's when he knew he had dug his own grave. He should have paid more attention to that warning.

"The Fallen will rise again,"He had thought something was coming, but he hadn't realized it had already been there. He should have listened to the again part because it showed that something was returning, but nonetheless all of this was the fault of those goddamn aliens. It would be better if they all just left Earth alone, but instead they were calling even more there. He heard a knock on his door and, grumbling, he walked over to it. It was most likely his replacement that he had to train; some young girl that had been the advisor to the Secretary of Defense for the past two years. She already knew about the NBEs and was the most logical choice despite her young age and association with hackers.

"Hello Mr. Galloway, I'm Maggie Madsen. I'm the one the President sent," The woman who spoke was rather pretty and reminded him of his late wife. She had the same blonde hair color and style, but the Australian accent and nose piercing threw the image away.

"You're Australian?" Galloway asked, amazed that they had replaced him with someone who wasn't even American born.

"Yes. I have a few files that I was given to show you in my car, can you help me with them?" She was short and to the point and Galloway was sure that he had been told she acted differently, but maybe it was because of the importance of a good impression that she was acting like this. He nodded and followed her to a very nice black, Saleen S281 where she opened the passenger door to show a small stack of files. "There's some more in the trunk, can you get them for me?"

"How many files did they send? I thought I was the one training you," He replied as he opened the trunk. He knew there was paperwork to be done so they might have sent that, but he knew it wasn't as much as she had brought. He let out a shout as his eyes, instead of seeing folders, saw Maggie bound and gagged in the trunk. The holoform vanished as he looked up and he felt metal clamp down on his wrists as he was dragged into the trunk as well, the opening slamming shut behind him.

"I knew you goddamn autobots were just a bunch of trouble! Let me out or you'll be hearing from the government about this! You have no right and this is a direct violation of our agreement!" His shouts were answered by a deep, mechanical voice coming from the speakers around him.

"You are under the wrong impression. I am not an autobot, I am a decepticon."

Galloway had never been so scared in his life, not even when he had shot out of that plane in a parachute he didn't know how to use. He looked around at the room the decepticon had thrown them in. It was small, barely the size of a normal jail cell, and the walls were a solid concrete, empty and ominous with the exception of a small window very high up that let in some meager light and air through its bars. The door itself was heavy metal with a tiny opening to look through that also had bars on it. They were trapped.

"I'm guessing you're Galloway?" Maggie asked, the real Maggie, and he nodded and helped her out of her bonds. She had already loosened the gag enough that it fell down and she removed it completely once her hands were free before she started rubbing her bruised wrists. "Thanks. Guess you're not as much of an asshole as everyone at NEST had said you were."

"…You've been to the headquarters?" He asked, choosing to ignore her other revelations. She nodded and he sighed, realizing why they both were there. "They probably want the location of NEST and chose us to get it from since we are the prime targets."

"But how did they get the information that I'm replacing you?" She asked as she stood and removed a bobby pin from her hair before kneeling in front of the door to try and pick the lock. "It wasn't put down anywhere, not even on papers or computer, until last night. And from what I can tell they had smashed my truck two days ago so they could capture me under the disguise of a rental car. Two days before anyone other than those at NEST and the president knew about me."

"I don't know…" He trailed off as she jumped, waving her hands around as if they were hurting as she moved away from the door.

"The door shocked me!" She growled out and he sighed again; there was no hope for escaping that way. He silently sat down, leaning against the wall that faced the door and Maggie sat down leaning against the side wall to his right. The alien who had brought them had merely tossed them into this room without a word before pulling the door shut hard enough to crack the wall. They had been moving too quickly for him to determine where they were, but he couldn't really do anything with that information. His cell was still at his house and any electronics they had been carrying had been destroyed, so they couldn't tell anyone or be tracked down. All they could do was wait.

Thirty minutes later and the silence was killing him. Maggie had decided to try and hopelessly expand the cracks in another escape attempt, smashing her heel against the crack nearest her to get it jammed before prying, but it didn't work. He had already known it wouldn't work, and he knew she did to, but it was something to do and something to grasp onto. The blonde girl froze before jumping back to her place against the side wall, abandoning the heel as the door swung open and hit right where she had just been.

Galloway stared at the red eyes that were glowing at him from the hall, frozen in fear as the thing reached in and grabbed him, which caused him to snap out of his terror and start struggling. Maggie was muffling her screams from where she sat, just out of view of the door, and he realized why she had sat so close to it. He had made himself the target by sitting in plain view.

The NBE carrying him wasn't gentle as it squeezed his ribs in a bruising grip, but he was more worried as to why it was carrying him somewhere. "I'm going to enjoy this. Lord Megatron said that if I could torture this fleshling enough to get the information without killing him first then I would be rewarded!" The decepticon said to him before he reached another room and tossed Galloway on the floor in front of him.

"Why, thank you Starscream." An ominous sounding voice said from above him. "You'd better give me a good show." Galloway knew this had to be Megatron, also known as NBE-1, and he let out a shout as Starscream grabbed him again and held him up to his face.

"You will tell us where the autobots are hiding the boy," He hissed out, but Galloway refused. He wanted to tell him, he really wanted to tell him, but he wasn't going to betray his country, the country his wife had died for. Giving them the information could result in the autobots being destroyed as well as many humans, and possibly the planet if the boy had more dangerous information in his head. He silently thought the NEST motto to himself, a motto the very boy these things were after had introduced to the organization, 'No sacrifice, no victory.'

A/N: Rather detailed torture is about to be displayed. I will alert you when the torture is finished if you do not wish to read it. The aftereffects (I.e. wounds) will still be mentioned as they are important.

"Very well…" The thing stated ominously before it threw him down on a stone table and pinned him down with the metal clamps connected to it. Galloway had felt his ribs crack as he landed, but he paid more attention to the metal claw approaching his left arm, which was pinned by the clamp on his wrist. The tip of it sunk into his flesh and he held in his scream of pain as it started tearing through his flesh, going all of the way around his arm. Lines were cut down from the circle and two metal claws jabbed into where the cuts met and started pulling on one of the strips of flesh. He couldn't hold in his screams anymore as the flesh was pulled from his arm slowly before being dropped, hanging on only by the connection it still had to his wrist, which was protected under the clamp.

The thing grabbed another strip and began pulling, this time hard and quickly and causing it to be torn off fully, and the sudden and intense pain made him shout louder. He could feel the warm, sticky blood flowing from his arm as the thing laughed from above him, dangling the long piece of meaty, bloody skin that had just been removed from his arm above his head. Flecks of his own blood landed on his cheeks and he could feel his tears mingling with them as they flowed down to land on the stone table beneath him. He still didn't make any noises other than his screams and whimpers and Starscream grinned. He began to repeat the process, pull one strip slowly and allow it to hang before wrenching another out and placing it on the human's head; it went on for a total of six times. Three strips hanging onto the limb and three lying on the human.

Galloway could feel his body tremble as it entered a state of shock and he tried to keep his bloody arm from moving, but his body worked against him as it began to convulse and he let out choked sobs each time his hurt limb slammed against the table or strained against the clamp. He could see the edges of his vision darkening and he tried to welcome the blissful unconsciousness he so desperately wanted, but Starscream wouldn't let him and instead started in on his right leg. He could feel it tearing the lines down his leg, preparing more strips, but it didn't bother with cutting along the top. Instead it dug the claws into his leg, jabbing him with agonizing pain, as it tried to grip the sides of a strip and pulled. Galloway could hear the squelching of his skin as it was ripped from the muscles in his leg, louder than his arm did as it gave more resistance.

"Tell me now, fleshling…?" He almost gave in, but his wife's image flashed before his eyes looking so much like the girl still hiding in that room and he didn't. Maggie was the bait according to what Barricade had said. Galloway, he was the incentive, and if he gave in there would be no need for them to keep that girl alive and healthy.

"N-never…" He choked out and Starscream let out a growl, but a shout from Megatron stopped him from doing anything else.

"Enough Starscream, he is losing too much of his life substance. These humans are so weak. Cauterize the wound…" Galloway watched as Starscream bowed before quickly grabbing his left elbow and wrenching the lower part of his arm off of his body. He finally managed to succumb to the darkness as the thing burned his wound with a laser in order to seal it.

A/N: Torture is done for now; no more this chapter.

Maggie watched the door as she heard the stomps and groaning metal getting closer. She had been able to hear Galloway's screams from there, through thick concrete walls, and she didn't want to think about what would happen to her. The door slammed open and she jumped despite having expected it as Galloway was tossed back into the room, reeking of blood and burnt flesh.

"You might want to attempt to keep him alive girl, otherwise you'll be next." Even though it couldn't see her and she couldn't see it, Maggie gulped and nodded before quickly moving over to the man's limp form as the door was pulled shut. His left arm was a bloody stump and the area where it had been cauterized was still smoking. His right leg was also bleeding and she avoided wiping away the blood, not wanting to know what had been done, as she ripped off her jacket sleeve and slipped it over the man's leg. She was glad he was so skinny otherwise it wouldn't have fit. Binding the loose end with her what had once been her gag, she sat back and waited. That was all she could do for him; she was an ex-hacker, not a medic.

"Sam, get your ass over here and shoot that target!" Grumbling, Sam walked over to stand by Simmons, lifting his rifle in front of him. He was tired and sore and had a building headache, but Simmons was insisting he shoot target after target. The guy had already given up on Leo since he had almost shot him in his frustration, but Sam was apparently promising since he hadn't missed a target yet. It came easily to him, most likely driven by his determination to help in this war as much as they would let him (he refused to be under the government's thumb by joining the military since they could separate him from the autobots by using orders), but he was still surprised, and slightly scared, at his progress.

"Remind me to never mess with you when you have a gun," Leo said to Sam as the boy handed Simmons the rifle and walked away, it wasn't as if it was Sam who had tried to shoot someone (like Leo tried), so he didn't understand his roommates logic. As he walked towards his room, Leo silent beside him, for which Sam was very grateful, he thought about the strange feeling in his chest when he had been near Optimus' spark. He could remember feeling that before, it had happened shortly after he was electrocuted and was being held by the prime, and he wondered why it was happening. It wasn't unpleasant at all, but it was so foreign to his body that he was cautious of it, especially since it also felt so natural.

"You okay man? You look worried about something. Uh, not that we need to talk about feelings or anything…" Sam laughed at Leo's uncomfortable attempts at being friendly with him.

"I'm fine, no worries. I'm just tired," Sam said to wave away his friend's attempts and Leo nodded, relieved. They waved goodbye as they reached Leo's room and Sam continued towards his own. His was separate from the others because it was the closest to the autobots and he was glad that Mikaela had suggested it to Will. He felt more comfortable knowing that his friends and protectors weren't that far away.

He walked into his room and stripped down to his boxers, sliding into the bed before falling into a deep sleep.

Sam could feel something calling him from the hangar and he sat up, got out of bed and walked to the door, his bare feet cold against the concrete floor. He absently grabbed a pair of sweatpants and slipped them on before leaving his room and following the hallway to the hangar, the call getting stronger as he got closer. It wasn't a noise, but a feeling of longing buried deep in his chest that led him to stand in front of the semi. The semi was the only autobot around and he wondered where the others were, but the thought was driven out of mind when Optimus transformed and he took a small step back.

"Is something wrong, Sam? You should be recharging," The large bot said as kneeled in front of him and Sam shook his head. Nothing was wrong, this felt right.

"I'm fine…" He said as he moved forward, his fingers tracing the prime symbol on Optimus' helm like he had done earlier that day. He wondered what the glyph meant once again, but blushed as he noticed Optimus giving him that intense, contemplating gaze again. The same look he had given him after Sam had cleaned the plates covering his spark chamber. He ducked his head and, avoiding the prime's gaze, he moved around the bot until he was standing in front of his chest. Gently, his fingers reached out and touched the armor, feeling the energy of the spark thrumming beneath his fingertips once again. "Can I…can I see your spark?"

Optimus moved back and Sam, afraid he had insulted him, started apologizing, but the autobot just sat down and Sam heard the shifting of gears as the spark chamber was revealed and opened. Moving closer to see the beautiful blue light of electricity, the current of the energy as chaotic as lightning, but still emitting a steady thrum, Sam hesitantly reached forward. It looked exactly as it had that day in Mission City, when Optimus had opened his chamber so Sam could place the allspark in there and kill him.

Sparks latched onto his fingers when they were close enough and he let out a small shout of surprise before moaning softly as they danced along his fingertips before moving up his arm, pleasure flaring wherever they touched. He felt the cool metal of Optimus' hand against his back as the prime lifted him closer to the spark and moaned at the touch since it felt good against his heated skin. More sparks broke away from the main, dancing along his exposed skin, and he moaned again, failing to glare convincingly at Optimus as he chuckled. Determined to make the prime feel the same, Sam reached forward again and plunged his hand into the Spark.

Pleasure coursed through his very veins and he heard Optimus emitting incomprehensible noises as he silently shouted in ecstasy, unable to even breathe at the feelings going through him. The sparks danced along his skin, slipping under the fabric of his boxer, and oh God… Optimus' finger followed the sparks and they gathered around its tip, their effects stronger than ever as the metal, fluctuating between cold and hot through the fabric of his boxers, traced along his crotch and he felt his orgasm hit with a shout before everything went dark.

Sam jumped up in his bed and looked around before staring at the wet spot growing on the covers between his legs.

"What the hell?!"