A/N: This is a story that has been gnawing on my soul for a little while in a really determined sort of way. I've decided that it would be fun to unleash it upon the rest of you. This DOES NOT mean -- in any fashion -- that I've stopped working on Aftermath. This is just a little something to tide you over until the next installment of Aftermath is complete. I've been pretty quiet lately. In contrast to 'Til All Are One, the story has heavy focus on the human characters (since I think they tend to be pretty underappreciated) rather than the robots. The robots are cool, but sometimes the humans deserve their chance in the limelight. This story is almost entirely separate from the TAAO-verse save for a few tiny (and I do mean tiny) elements. In other words, don't expect to see the Seekers. Like, at all.

I can tell you right now that updates are going to be spaced rather far apart; between other stories and a number of kinks in the early part of the plot. A virtual cupcake for anyone who can guess the root of the plot with just this first chapter. Let's just say that I'm not the first person to attempt this story line.

As with all my stories, this one is SLASH-FREE. Reviews are highly encouraged.

Disclaimer: The concept of Transformers, among other things, belongs to HasTak and some other people. At least one character in this chapter is original and belongs to me.

The Human Misunderstanding

Logic: The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding. -Ambrose Bierce

Chapter One: Crying Over Spilt Milk

"Sir? Sir, are you alright? Can you hear me?"

Sam woke up.

His first thought was: Not this again.

He was lying flat on his face, arms and legs spread out around him. His cheek was pressed into the grit and a pointy rock was stabbing into the soft, fleshy part of his shoulder. He made an effort to twist the offended joint away. A chubby hand was patting the side of his cheek and a worried voice was speaking. It took him a moment to realize that the voice was speaking to him.

"Sir, do you need an ambulance?"

Sam groaned, raising his heavy hands to try and bat the voice away. All he accomplished was bringing them down on the top of his head. A few almost sob-like noises escaped him. He knew where he was. He was lying under a bridge in the middle of Central Park.



Sam raised his head and the morning sunlight hit him full in the face, causing him to wince and squint his eyes shut. Judging from the angle and the warmth, he would say it was at least 7:00. 7:30 at the latest. He supposed that his alarm was going off back home right about now.

"Sir?" It was one of the park officers; the easy-going, slightly chubby type who didn't spend nearly enough time exercising as he should have. "Are you alright? Would you like me to call for an ambulance?"

"No..." Sam ground out, hoisting himself to his feet. This didn't work and he ended up sitting down. The park officer was crouched beside him, a mobile phone in one hand. "I'm fine." he assured the man.

"Have you been drinking?" the man asked, staring at the twenty-two year old through beady eyes.

"Drinking?" Sam let out a sarcastic snort. "I wish."

He took stock of himself. He was barefoot and his toes were cold, but he had anticipated that; clad in his boxers and the loose shirt that he normally slept in; a faint ache up in his sinuses, but no pounding headache, no increased sensitivity to light and sight; no hangover. He hadn't been drinking. Not last night, anyways.

That meant Miles and Daniel hadn't up and decided that Sam had been moping too much lately. Whenever they decided that he was, they always got him liquored up, stripped him down to his skivvies and then dumped him in Central Park because a little excitement had never hurt a body. They always left him to run home before he was arrested for being indecently exposed.

He hated it when they did that.

They meant well in their attempts to make him more cheerful and he had to appreciate the effort they put into it, but he still hated it.

"Then-- Can I ask what you were doing?" the park officer asked. He looked puzzled, as if Sam was a conundrum that couldn't be solved. Sam got back to his feet and dusted himself off.

"I was sleepwalking." he replied. He scrubbed the errant twigs and leaves and dirt out of his hair and then set off across the slightly damp and remarkably chilly grass towards home. He hoped that he hadn't overslept or anything. The last thing he needed was to find out that he was late for work. He still needed breakfast and a quick shower to get rid of the dirt.

Fortunately for him, home was only two blocks from Central Park; an old brownstone that sat comfortably in a nice neighborhood on the Upper West Side. It was a neighborhood that was still mostly asleep. So no one really noticed Sam's cautious dash down the sidewalks on his bare feet. This was New York City, after all. One could march down the street tarred and feather while reciting Shakespeare at the top of their lungs in hysterical alarmist tones while holding up a sign that read "THE END IS NEAR" and the pedestrians wouldn't do much more than bat an eye. The city operated on caffeine and high levels of stress. The former was conspicuously absent at 7:30 in the morning, so no one really noticed very much.

The spare key was right where he remembered it being; buried in the soil of the flowerpot on the stoop. The pot was normally bursting with bright red and yellow flowers, planted there by Mikaela who had decided that the brownstone blended in just a little too well with the neighboring houses. But blooming season had passed (it was already September), so the pot was full of a mass of green leaves and stems instead.

Sam unlocked the door and let himself inside the old house. Various pairs of scuffed, dirty shoes littered the front hall, along with the winter coats that wouldn't see regular use for another two months, at minimum. They hung from the row of pegs on the wall, draped across each other in a haphazard manner. They looked like they would fall off if they were so much as breathed on. There was a potted fern hanging from the ceiling. It had been hanging there for longer than Sam had lived in the house and there had been quite a lot of opposition to taking it down. After all, its name was Freddy.

The entire house bore a very comfortable and lived-in feel, like an old shoe that was falling apart, but not ready to be given up just yet. The mess was also proof that despite Mikaela's developing mother hen instincts and somewhat neat-freak tendencies, she just couldn't keep up with the daily messes generated by three guys. Some days she just threw up her hands and walked away.

The enticing smell of cinnamon was wafting from the kitchen on his left and faint pop that heralded the use of the waffle-cooker. Sam smiled and wiped his feet off on the welcome mat (no reason to track dirty footprints through the house and incite Mikaela's fervor about keeping the floor clean or else he would find himself sleeping on the couch before he could blink) before proceeding up the four steps to the main floor. He could go for some waffles right about now. And he pretty sure that they were out of cereal too.

A large bay window illuminated the breakfast nook and the kitchen, both areas separated by a cluttered breakfast bar that seemed to exist purely for decoration. The bar was used mainly as a dumping ground for spare change, old newspapers and broken bits of electronics (such as an old mobile phone and a very broken Ipod that no one had dared laid claim to).

And for some reason, a curiously large amount of laundry found its way onto the bar as well. Currently, a stack of bath towels had been placed there, carefully hiding the underclothes that had yet to be sorted through and claimed. All of the underclothes were manly in nature (as Mikaela had already swiped hers away). Sam shared the old brownstone with not just Mikaela, but his long-time friend Miles, as well as a third friend that they had picked up in the last five years.

His name was Daniel Gregory Allen Robert Gallagher.

Daniel Gregory Allen Robert Gallagher had been named for three of his uncles and a great-grandfather on his father's side. He rather hated the whole idea of being named after so many people. He occasionally plotted the untimely of his parents for wanting to honor a few too many relatives with just one kid and frequently wondered how much trouble it would be to get his name legally changed.

Daniel had his nose buried in the morning paper when Sam came into the kitchen. He sat on the end of the breakfast bar, his legs swinging back and forth in a lazy manner. A fork was in one hand, no doubt ready to be used to pry up some waffles from the iron. The top of his head could be seen over the edge of the paper, shaggy brown hair sticking up in cowlicks from a night of sleep with his head halfway under the pillow.

"Good morning, Daniel!" Sam called loudly, making sure the other boy heard it and acknowledged his existence.

"Huh?-- Oh, g'morning. It's 7:03, by the way. Did you come in through the front door?" Daniel asked. "Oh goodie, Obama's still way ahead in the polls. Go Mr. President!"

"Yeah." Sam gestured to the waffle-cooker set up on the counter. "Any of those ready yet?"

"Yeah, a couple. How far did you get this time?" Daniel lowered the paper, folding it in half to continue reading the story he was engrossed in.

"Somewhere near the Turtle Pond. I was under a bridge." Sam turned to see a plate of waffles sitting between the burners. There were indeed only half a dozen individual waffles. His house-mate hadn't been up for that long. "One of the park officers woke me up."

"Was it Officer Moore? I like him. He's cool." Daniel commented. He grinned. "Whoo-hoo! Take that Palin! Obama for 2012!"

Sam let himself smile and helped himself to some waffles. Daniel was rather Democratic when it came to the government and that suited him just fine. Sam really couldn't imagine the budding, screw-loose playwright with mad computer skillz and the ability to pick up any gun and know exactly how to use it, being anything but a left-wing nutjob. He wasn't the type to give in to conformity without a serious fight.

"Hey Sam, 'Kaela wants me to say something to you about this sleepwalking thing you've been doing lately." Daniel said in a flat sort of voice. "Okay, I've said something about it."

"Not going for the details?" Sam laughed, slathering his waffles with a generous amount of syrup.

"No point; you've heard everything a hundred times already anyways." Daniel pointed out. "Though if she asks, tell her I lectured you about the long-term effects of sleepwalking."

"I'm not sure if I can do that. She's got the power to make me sleep on the couch." Sam reminded him. "I don't like sleeping on the couch. It's uncomfortable. It's got lumps."

"Lovely lady lumps."

"Oh, I did not just hear you say that."

Daniel grinned, bobbing his eyebrows. "You heard me say that."

Sam groaned as he stuck his head in the refrigerator in search of the orange juice.

"But seriously Sam, you oughta brush up on the long-term effects. I know that this has only been happening for a few months, but really." Daniel said in a much more serious tone. "It's not going to kill you. The sleepwalking itself might. Like if you walk in front of a car or something."

"Daniel, I don't like waking up in the park!" Sam snapped, shutting the fridge door with more force than was really necessary. A few magnets fell off. "Every time it happens, Mikaela does get worried that I'm going to wander right into a car one night! Or that I'm not going to come home!"

"Chill out, Sam. I'm just saying." Daniel waved a hand. "I know you don't like hearing it, but me and Miles get worried every time Mikaela wakes us up to tell us that you're not in bed. And it's not like you're wandering into the park every single time."

Sam sighed heavily and poured himself a glass of orange juice.

"I just want to know what the problem is."

"Well, let's see..." Daniel dug a piece of paper out of his trouser pocket. "Are you suffering from high levels of stress or anxiety? Is everything going good at work? With 'Kaela?"

"Well, other than 'Kaela's frequent disappearing acts, nothing's wrong. And everything's fine at work too." Sam replied. He looked around cautiously. "She's not here, is she?"

"Already gone by the time I got up. Dunno if she went looking for you or ran off to that mysterious job of hers." Daniel shrugged. He went back to his list. "Uh... Are you taking drugs?"


"Been maintaining a regular sleep schedule?"


"Are you menstruating or pregnant?"


Daniel grinned shamelessly. "And finally, the obvious one. Anyone else in your family sleepwalk?"

"None that I know of." Sam shook his head. He ran his fingers through his hair. "Wish I knew what was so interesting about the park that my brain feels the need to drag me in there a couple nights a month."

"Maybe you're part of a midnight dancing troupe comprised entirely of sleepwalkers." Daniel suggested with a completely straight face.

Sam broke the record for spitting any sort of liquid halfway across the kitchen. The orange juice splattered on the face of a barely awake Miles who had just staggered up from his basement lair, drawn by the smell of waffle-y goodness. The lanky blond just blinked at the attack of the orange juice. He plucked at one lock of damp hair and peered at it with bleary eyes.

"What the hell, Sam?..." he asked in a not entirely awake voice.

"Sorry, Miles."

Daniel tossed him one of the bath towels he was sitting next to and Miles started to dry himself off from his impromptu shower.

"That was disgusting, Sam." he commented from the breakfast table about ten minutes later when there were enough waffles fit for consumption.

"I said I was sorry."

"That was in your mouth!"

"I get it Miles!"

Daniel let out a sharp whistle.

"I went through a lot of trouble to make breakfast this morning!" he snapped in an aggrieved sort of voice, though his expression greatly suggested otherwise. "So I wanna see you two savoring it!"

"Yeah, lotta trouble." Miles commented, taking his knife and preparing to mutilate his poor waffles. "'Cause mixing pre-prepared batter is really hard."

Sam sniggered into his plate.

"You'd be surprised how hard it is." Daniel said, swiping the Mrs. Buttersworth. "Those eggs can really put up a fight."

There was a moment of silence.

"Our couch has lovely lady lumps." Sam said out loud.

Miles choked and threw a piece of waffle at him.

"Daniel said it first!" Sam stabbed a finger in the aforementioned's direction.

"You totally left an opening!" Daniel retaliated, crossing his arms in front of him as if to ward off any flying bits of food. "Don't go blaming this on me! I saw an opening and I took it!"

"Man, I don't wanna know!" Miles said once his airways were clear again. "Just don't let the concubine hear you say that."

"I don't plan on it." Sam assured him. Miles's use of the term 'concubine' when describing Mikaela was more in jest nowadays. He meant nothing offensive by it, but he was still certain to not let her hear it used.

"Speaking of the concubine, anyone wanna take a guess about where she went this morning?" Daniel suggested brightly.

"It's Tuesday. She doesn't have any classes today." Sam said. He had already memorized Mikaela's college class schedule. "Mysterious job? Do you have any idea what her job is? She won't even tell me and I'm her boyfriend!"

"Maybe she's cheating on you." Miles shrugged.

Daniel raised an eyebrow. "And getting paid for it?"

"Mikaela is not moonlighting as a prostitute!" Sam shouted, defensive on his girlfriend's behalf.

"Easy dude, but seriously. She's out late, she leaves early, she doesn't talk about what she's doing and she's always tired when she gets home." Miles pointed out. "You and her haven't had a real night out in the last year and a half."

"Yeah. We would know." Daniel added seriously. "Honestly, you're supposed to be a happy couple. And happy couples spend time together. Otherwise..."

Both of his friends gave Sam a significant look and Sam guiltily thought of what he had been hiding from Mikaela for almost four months now. He meant to, really, he just hadn't found the proper time or the place to do it.

The morning meal went by in relative peace, if not silence. All three men were really just overgrown boys with an undue fondness for explosions, flinging bits of food at each other, and seeing who could burp the loudest. Daniel finished first in a little under ten minutes. Five years in marching band had taught him how to shovel down food at a fast pace without choking on it, since oftentimes, he'd had to eat dinner at least half an hour before practice began to ensure a settled stomach. He had never quite broken himself of the habit. So he was up from the table first and back upstairs not long after.

Sam finished next, mainly because he still needed his shower. While Miles lingered over his waffles and read the comics, his friend hurried back upstairs to clean himself up. Sam liked nature, but he really didn't want to turn up at work smelling like it. He showered and shaved off his pitiful amount of facial hair (just like his father; the family was riddled with men unable to grow beards). Then he clad himself in a nice dress shirt and black khaki slacks. In other words, he exhibited a classic business-causal appearance.

By eight o'clock, he was out the door and running for the nearest bus stop.

Twenty-two year old Samuel James Witwicky was five years removed from the day when he had tried to EBay off the remainder of his great-grandfather's worldly possessions, only to get caught up in a power struggle between two warring factions of giant alien robots.

Life had gotten a bit strange after that. But adjustments had been made on all sides, life had settled down and Sam had realized his teenage dream to have a smoking-hot girlfriend and an equally smoking car.

As well as realizing that he was one of the few people who could positively claim that there was intelligent life in the universe, besides the humans themselves.

But Sam was also five years removed from the day that he had last seen the Autobots.

He still had the smoking girlfriend, but the smoking car had vanished and he had no idea what had happened to it.

That would have been a weird thing to say, but the 2009 GTO Camaro Concept had been perfectly capable of deciding to go on a nightly stroll and then, more importantly, executing said decision.

It had happened in late December 2007. On the same day that Sam and Mikaela had gotten off for Christmas break, the Autobots had detected a distress signal coming from one of Utah's many canyons. With the assurance that they would return by the New Year, Optimus had led his team towards the signal's origin point. Following that, the Autobots had vanished.

It was the only word for it.

The then-newly formed Networked Elements: Transformers (AKA: NET; designed to keep the Autobots safely hidden in plain sight) had reported that the radiation signatures that the Autobots' spark signatures registered as had just gone; falling off the radar somewhere in southern Utah. None of the human allies had been contacted and quite frankly, they had been left in the dark on the 'Bots' whereabouts.

After a few weeks of worrying silence, Sam had tried to come up with reasons for the lack of contact. His suggestions had run the gamut from "They went home" all the way to "It was a trap and they got killed".

Another week after that, he had spilled the beans of their existence to Miles. His friend had been wondering where Satan's Camaro had gone, so Sam had told him. He suspected even now that Miles still didn't quite believe that he was telling the truth (Sam hadn't had any solid proof to give him except his own word), but the blond had been, more or less, content to take Sam at his word, despite the utter psychosis of the explanation. Sam's saving grace was that he had never actually lied to Miles and Miles couldn't recall a time that Sam had lied to him.

By the time graduation had come around, Sam had all but given up hoping that the Autobots would return. Mikaela had been growing very short with his constant moping. She had moved on faster than he had, having been taught "What is done, is done". The past could not be changed. So Sam -- in an effort to accept everything as it stood and move forward as well -- had started making plans for college, investigating job openings and had even started looking at apartments around Tranquility.

That didn't stop him from keeping his eyes and ears open, alert for any sign of otherworldly activity.

In mid-July, a new distraction had arrived in the form of a beaten-up station wagon dying literally right in front of the Witwicky household. Then Daniel Gallagher had come knocking on the front door, asking to use the phone to call a mechanic because his mobile had died. The station wagon had been pretty thoroughly dead and required almost two weeks at the mechanic's to make it road-worthy again. Even then, it had been doubtful that the car would survive the trip back across the country.

Judy Witwicky, being the motherly woman that she was, had offered Daniel and his younger brother James the floor of the den to sleep on while their car remained in the shop. Mikaela had been all but living with the Witwickys at that point and Miles actually had been living with them. He had been given the boot by his parents shortly after graduation, informing him that he would be allowed to come back and retrieve the majority of his possessions once he had found a place of his own. In the two weeks it took the car to be fixed, the four eighteen-year olds had bonded over stories about their crazy parents and moments where weird shit had happened to them.

Daniel had initially come across as a rather paranoid git and he still did. He believed that Mission City had been nothing more than a massive government cover-up and he had even had a hand in perpetuating the theory that the giant fighting robots were really aliens battling it out for freedom from tyranny (a theory so dead-on it had caused Sam to snort orange soda up his nose and spend the next minute hacking his lungs up).

When asked exactly what he and his brother had been doing in Nevada, Daniel had explained that they had been attempting a cross-country road trip; from New York to San Francisco and back again. With the station wagon in its current condition, he had also decided that maybe it would be better to skip the last leg of the trip and try to get home again before the thing died a second time.

Somehow, the conversation had turn to college and plans for the future. Sam, Mikaela and Miles had all planned to move out sooner or later; it was just a matter of finding a place to live. Preferably something that they could afford. Daniel had casually mentioned that he owned a three-bedroom brownstone not far from Central Park. Some more soda-snorting had occurred at this.

Daniel had gone on to explain that his Uncle Robert had owned the brownstone first. Uncle Robert had died two years previously and he had left all of his earthly possessions to his nephew, real estate included, despite some opposition from the rest of his family. Daniel had signed for everything a scant two months before; days after his eighteenth birthday. The brownstone was officially his and there was no mortgage attached. It was also the reason they couldn't get rid of Freddy the Fern.

By the end of the two weeks, moving to New York City had seemed like a very grand idea indeed.

It had been clinched when Sam had discovered that he had been accepted into NYU.

And that was where the new set of friends had found themselves by September; two of them missing the Autobots; the other two simply searching for a way to move their lives forward.

One year and four months later, Sam was expelled from NYU for inciting a riot in the middle of the campus.

He refused to talk about it.

One week following the expulsion, he had applied for an entry-level job with an insurance firm and had been hired.

And that had been his life ever since.

It was far from a glamorous job. Sam sat in a cubicle near a window, with a computer at one elbow and a coffee mug at the other. His job was mainly to plug numbers into the computer, file client information and occasionally clean out the coffee machine in the break room. It wasn't glamorous by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a secure job with a steady paycheck and a predictable routine; complete with the bad office jokes that always seemed to involve Irishmen and pubs.

So like every week-day, Sam was on thirtieth floor of the office building with a pen halfway up his nose and he didn't particularly care. He was coming to the conclusion that most sleepwalkers didn't get much sleep during their nightly strolls. He was exhausted and it was nowhere near lunch-time yet. At glance at the clock told him that it wasn't even 10:30.

I should see if Orion has got another file for me. Sam thought idly, slowly twisting the pen. I'm supposed to be working. Can't slack off. It's only Tuesday... Oh god, I think I'm going to fall asleep right here. I should get another cup of coffee. That'll be my-- what, second cup in the last hour? I think I drink too much coffee. Mikaela would kill me if she knew about my growing coffee addiction.

He let out a gusty sigh. But I haven't seen Mikaela properly in months. That job of hers is really eating up a lot of time. I mean, she can't be cheating on me. She always wants to snuggle when we go to bed. She's fine with the snuggling thing.

Unless she's doing it out of guilt.

What if Miles is right?! What if 'Kaela really is cheating on me!--


The pen jerking out of his nose, Sam looked up to see one of his co-workers -- named Orion Parker -- hovering over the cubicle wall, looking a cross between concerned, amused, and annoyed. Judging from the overall expression, he had been trying to get Sam's attention for a few minutes now.

"Are you alright?" Orion asked. "You seem tired."

"Yeah... I didn't sleep all that great last night." Sam admitted, pushing a hand against one eyeball. "I've got things on my mind."

"I'm sorry, it's only Tuesday. You won't be able to sleep in tomorrow." Orion reminded him. He held up three thick folders and handed them to Sam over the wall.

"Oh god, what the hell is that?" Sam asked in mounting horror. He didn't dare touch the folders, fearing that they would grow fangs and bite his fingers off.

Orion grinned. "It's the Morrison case."

"All of that?! What happened? Did a monsoon hit their private island?!" Sam cried. That was going to take him all day to file.

"Something like that." Orion left the folders on the desktop, as it was obvious Sam wasn't about to touch them. "All the information needs to be filed before you leave tonight. They're coming in on Wednesday to get their case settled. It needs to be done well before then."

Sam groaned and started shuffling through the folders. "Stupid-ass rich people and their private islands and private jets..."

"We can't all be lucky, Sam." Orion said placatingly. "Now are you positive that you're alright?"

The twenty-two year old paused in his shuffling and looked up. Orion was one of the few people in the building that Sam could stand talking to. Being the youngest non-intern employee, it was difficult for him to relate to the forty-something-year old men who dominated the work-place. None of them had ever been exposed to giant alien robots before either; he knew that. That was just another rift between them and him.

But Orion was strangely easy to talk to. He also wasn't forty-something. Sam was pretty sure that Orion was in his very late twenties or his very early thirties. He had straight black hair that fell in a stylish, but neat manner and it had a faint blue tint to it. His eyes were an amazing shade of deep blue. He had the muscular physique of someone in great physical condition (probably ran five miles every morning) and a sort of hard-bitten look about him; like a dog had clamped onto his butt and refused to let go, but he was determined to carry on like everything was normal.

In Sam's opinion, Orion looked like a leader; someone you would want to follow to the ends of the earth.

"I think my girlfriend might be cheating on me." Sam blurted out.

"Oh?" Orion just looked amused now.

"Well, my friend Miles suggested it. Because Mikaela's been working really late and I never see her in the mornings anymore." Sam explained, scratching his head. "We never go out anymore and she always tells me that she's got a prior engagement whenever I ask her if she wants to catch a movie. I don't even know what her job is. It's paying pretty well, obviously, but she doesn't talk about it."

"Have you asked her?"

"Yeah. She changed the subject."

"Maybe she thinks you won't approve of it." Orion suggested.

"What? Why wouldn't I approve of her job?" Sam wondered. "Okay, maybe if she's doing something -- weird like -- I dunno -- working at a strip-club -- I'd be a little freaked out and stuff. But if she's happy with her job, it's really not my place to interfere, right?"

"I suppose not." Orion agreed. "But perhaps you should ask her what her job is. Sometimes, the upfront approach is the best one. She won't like it if you sneak around."

"So... I shouldn't spy on her?"

"If I were you, no."

Sam tapped the pen restlessly on the desktop.

"Orion, do you think Mikaela is cheating on me?" he asked hopefully.

"No Sam, I don't. I do not believe that Mikaela would have any reason to hurt you in that way." Orion replied gently. "But you should make sure that she is not engaged in any dangerous activities. That could very well be the reason she is unwilling to discuss her job with you."

Ah, there was the voice of reason that Sam had been waiting for. Orion was so good at that. He was also good at calming Sam down.

"But what if she doesn't want to tell me?" the twenty-two year old wondered. "What if she thinks I'm being nosy and getting in her business and starts--"


He shut up.

"Do you love her?" Orion asked.

"Yes." Sam replied firmly.

"And she loves you, correct?"


"Are you familiar with the saying 'Love conquers all'?"

"Yeah, but what's that gotta do with this?"

"Mikaela loves you. She won't leave you high and dry." Orion said patiently. "She'll see that you're beginning to worry over her and her career. She'll tell you so she doesn't have to see you worry anymore. She won't want you to worry over her."

Sam blinked. "Wow. You're good with relationship advice." He smiled vaguely. "You must have one heck of a girl, buddy."

"I don't." Orion shook his head. His eyes had gone dark.

"You don't?" Sam was surprised. He had always assumed that Orion had the ladies all over him; he was sort of like Trent, except without the asshole-ish-ness. But than again, he had never really talked about his private life. Outside of work, Sam didn't know very much at all about the man.

Orion shook his head again. "There is someone, but I have not seen her in a long time. Our lives are -- very different." He smiled bitterly to himself. "At this point, a relationship simply wouldn't work."

"Well, just ring her up and get a dialogue going." Sam suggested. He wasn't so eloquent with his relationship advice.

"I wish it were that easy." Orion muttered. He pointed to the folders. "The Morrison case, Sam. By the end of the day."

"Sir, yessir." Sam gave a salute and dragged the folders from hell closer to his keyboard so he could get started.

A quick note on... Original Characters.

Daniel G.A.R. Gallagher first appeared in a rough draft of 'Til All Are One until an overhaul of the plot removed the need for his character. He moped around in the back of my head for a while and kicked at plotbunnies, occasionally poking me to make sure I knew he was still alive. Later, he was resurrected and slightly retooled for another story. He currently appears in Lost Fragments by Mandy-deshi, with my permission. Seeing as he is one of the few human Transformers characters that I created, I figured it won't kill me to actually do something with the guy. His appearance here is (more or less) his original incarnation.