A/N: Thank you so much to all of you for sticking with this monster for 200k+ words and just shy of a year. The fic, uh, obviously got quite a bit longer than I'd expected (apparently, getting from point A to point B isn't that easy when your main character decides to be stubborn about it. Who knew? *cough*). I appreciate every review, fave, and alert I got – readers are the stuff of awesome and the perfect motivation on the Thursdays when I dragged my feet about a chapter.
And thank you again to my endlessly patient beta/plot-wall, without whom the fic wouldn't have been half of what it is. Any science-fail can be blamed solely on the author.
Space was dark above Diego Garcia. One hundred and ninety miles up and with nothing but endless, dark water and clouds below, space was black and endless and dotted by a million stars and galaxies and the thin sliver of the waning Moon.
If it had been daylight, it would have been the planet below they would have focused on but now, high above the Indian Ocean and in the dead of the night, the heavens were what had their attention.
They had looked like bright dots once, the stars, when he had still been human. Human eyes had seen bright sparks in the darkness and hadn't known or cared if they had been stars or galaxies or comets or something else entirely. The Seeker was different. Cybertronian processors saw distance where Will had seen none, saw a canvas of time where constellations had been before and could have told him how many of them were already long gone with only their light remaining if Will had cared to ask.
He hadn't. Hadn't the first time they had flown into the night like that and truly seen it and didn't care enough to do now, either. It was another part of his humanity he would never get back but in this case, he couldn't bring himself to care. Not now and not with Sarah there to see it for him.
"It's beautiful," she said softly. "I never knew there could be that many stars."
They were dimmed slightly by the gold-tinted glass of the cockpit but it still didn't take away the sheer, overwhelming amount of lights above them and Will had known that, too, when he had let night-time and normal flight hours and altitudes be fragged and flat-out told them that he would do it with their permission or without. None of them had liked it – as if he would let any harm come to her if he could at all stop it; as if night or day would make a frag of a difference two hundred miles up if – God, Primus, or whoever else might be listening forbid - he did fail to keep her safe – but in the end they had caved because there was nothing they realistically could do and Starscream's trine had been about to get involved as a matter of principle and for the chance to annoy Optimus and no one had wanted that.
The end result had been clearance for space flight, for actually carrying humans into the thermosphere. Will had learned as much as he could about the science and even if he only grasped a fragment of the alien part of it – science told him he should not be able to fly at those altitudes with the limited speed he was capable of; experience told him quite differently – he did his best and for all that there were a million things to remember that had never been an issue as a Cybertronian, he learned and remembered and proved that they could do it with unwavering attention to their human passenger.
Epps, Graham, a few of the braver ones – dumber ones, Ratchet had snorted – had offered to try a test-flight first, to see how Will and the Seeker both handled it in reality but that plan had been vetoed before it could ever be more than an enthusiastic suggestion. Will could and would and had guaranteed Sarah's safety with his life and spark, had proven through every test that Ratchet could think of that he could keep it, too, but there would be no such promise with anyone else. Not for now, at least. Possibly not until Annabelle was old enough that Will and the Seeker both were willing to relent and accept that maybe, just maybe, she wasn't the tiny little girl to be protected anymore.
Although really, Will wasn't averse to making an extra effort for Epps. Someone in the Air Force might even be able to appreciate the sort of things a Seeker could pull off, although it would take a lot more training to get the right balance between 'fun, if crazy' and 'potentially fatal to a human being'. He was careful with Sarah. Epps would be insulted if Will or the Seeker made that same effort for him.
But that was for later. Now was for his wife, his mate, curled up in the cockpit and wrapped in seatbelts and a shoulder harness she wouldn't need in his hands and looking at the endless night-sky above them that spread out in perfect, undisturbed silence. There were satellites up there, Will knew – satellites and Soundwave, although he preferred not to think about that or how many other mechs and humans that were keeping a close eye on him at any given time – but most everything else human-made was far below them. Planes, ships, cars; cities and highways and all the light-pollution that came with it.
One hundred and ninety miles up it was dark and that was what Will had wanted to show his wife. For all of the things he had lost with his human body, there were some upsides to it all, too, and this was one of them.
The Seeker preened silently at her approval and let blue flickers of miniature lightning dance under her fingers as she touched the glass of the cockpit. It was an echo of what it had done so long ago with Ironhide and Ratchet and their Prime, too, but... controlled this time. Lighter, gentler, and adapted to a human's body.
Ours, it said silently, and Sarah seemed to understand because she smiled and brushed her fingers lightly against the glass again before she focused on the world outside once more.
Silence fell as the world moved by below them and then Sarah smiled again, a small, impish half-smile, half-smirk that was so very familiar to the human part of him.
"How much of NEST did you send into panic by doing this?"
The Seeker felt decidedly smug at that thought - the world, after all, should pay attention when it did something and certainly when it proved its devotion to one of its mates - and Will couldn't quite keep the smirk from his voice when he responded.
"I think they prefer to call it 'high alert'."
Not that it mattered. He had told them he would do it and 'Hide and Ratchet both knew just fine that he intended to carry through with it. It wasn't his problem if they panicked, anyway. In his own personal theory, it just proved they didn't have enough to do. The truce, for all that it was still uneasy and somewhat flexible in its interpretation at best, still meant that NEST wasn't hunting Decepticons the way they used to – and that the 'Cons, in turn, weren't hunting them, either. By mutual agreement, harassment didn't count. You didn't just let go of that many aeons of warfare and 'pranking' didn't quite cover the stuff that went on between some of the mechs sometimes.
It still left NEST with the question of what they were supposed to do now – and, Will knew, an abundance of future political issues about the mechs' presence on Earth and just what to do with the Decepticons, for all that there was no way in the Pit Optimus Prime or Megatron would let any human have a say in that – but for now, they were kept mostly busy with new arrivals and helping that uneasy sort-of truce along.
The Command Trine, surprisingly, had been some of the easiest to get along with. Probably, Will figured, because everyone expected them to be Seekers and so no one took it that personal when they got particularly offensive about something.
Like the bonds. Having Starscream in your head was offensive on principle and frag the thing about bonds and Air Commanders and whatever other slag his programming told him, because even his Seeker part didn't agree with that in those cases. Thundercracker and Skywarp weren't bad when it all came down to it – he had even introduced Sarah to them and while that particular meeting had been a strange mix of awkwardness and curious fascination, it had gone... not as bad as it could have, at least.
Starscream, though, fragging, flying pest of an Air Commander...
... but then, Primus had apparently known that, too, because for all that Will had heard his vocalizer speak the threats to Optimus Prime and Megatron, that was all he did know – the threats. He didn't know if Primus meant them seriously, didn't know if it was just a bluff or if the God of the Cybertronians really was annoyed enough with all of them to just... turn random humans into mechs instead and start over from scratch now that they had somewhat proof that at least some humans were compatible with a Cybertronian spark and could handle the process-
- And Primus had known exactly what he was doing there, because what Will didn't know, he and the Seeker couldn't reveal on accident... and more importantly, Starscream couldn't pick from their processors through the bond.
Sarah shifted in her seat and Will let the seat shift with her and mould to her body as she leaned back, tracing her fingers across the canopy to draw little, blue flickers of lightning again.
The Seeker was happy. Will agreed, with his wife-mate there with them and the illusion of a bit of solitude and even their bonds mercifully quiet for once as they kept up every mental shield they had, and comfortable silence settled as ocean became land and Africa flew by below them.
They chased the night at a mostly-sedate pace and could easily have kept in the dead of night until Will ran out of Energon, but eventually – seconds or minutes or hours later, Will didn't know and didn't care – Sarah shifted again, stretched to look down on the planet again instead of the stars, and drew Will and the Seeker from the trance-like state of flight.
"Beautiful," she said softly, dots of lights far, far below revealing cities in the darkness as the clouds cleared and turned the planet below them into something far more human and home.
"I'll show you the auroras someday," Will promised quietly as the Seeker agreed – and they would, even if they had to chase from Arctic to Antarctic to find them, and Sarah seemed to know that, too, because she simply smiled at his words.
"We should get back before Annabelle wakes up enough to miss us."
And they should, neither of them could argue with that and Will felt the Seeker croon soundlessly at the thought of the small, fragile being that had them all wrapped so firmly around her tiny fingers.
They turned in a wide arch and saw Africa turn below them and then Sarah brushed her fingers against the glass of the canopy again and watched the world curve before them and the planet that was at once both immense and infinitely tiny to the human eyes that watched from nearly two hundred miles above its surface.
"How does sunrise look from space?" she asked softly.
Beautiful, Will whispered through their bond and knew she would hear.
And as Sarah smiled in response, twin alien engines picked up thrust and shattered the silence behind them as they set course for a small group of islands and the break of dawn.