Of Things That Were and Will Be.

By Lindsay Smith

The fear and stress caused by the past several days had left Sam bruised, tired, and feeling a little needy to say the least.

He was feeling very clingy at the moment, though Mikeala seemed to be feeling the same way. Long raven stands slipped through his fingers, as he absently teased his girlfriend's hair. They both interlocked in a passionate kiss; the kind so blindingly zealous that the world dissolved into a grey blur and didn't exist behind that. There was only the moment, the now, each other, the kiss…

Both battered and exhausted and in need of showers and sleep, neither felt compelled to break apart. Too soon. It wasn't enough. They had waited years to fully express their true feelings --their love—to expose the most vulnerable part of themselves to each other, risking everything for that one uttered phrase. They were making up for wasted time. With earnest.

Here we are in the middle of the desert, with the stars above us, and you still can't tell me you love me.

I love you.

I love you.

"I love you," he murmured as he came up for breath before diving back down into the depths of ocean that was Mikeala. "I love you…"

Left hand freshly bandaged, and therefore useless, Sam opted for using the appendage to stroke Mikeala's arm, hoping the soft gauze was an acceptable substitute to a real human touch. She pushed forward into the kiss, breathing in deeply through her nose and taking in Sam's sent. She melted in his arms as he pushed back and brought his good hand down to stroke her leg and her hand came down to meet his and they too interlocked, fingers lacing together.

Sam was in utter bliss for a moment, the world was not dangerous and he was safe; safe in the embrace of the one girl on Earth who loved him just as stupidly as he did her. Only she was able to keep the demon, always lurking just below cognitive thought, away from him. When he was with her, his fears melted away and the voices quieted.

He pushed back farther, excitement and lust overtaking him. Mikaela didn't protest and lowered herself down, stripping off her jacket, never breaking the kiss as they did so. Sam's libido rose up and cheered as Sam's hand traveled down Mikeala's calf and…

"Oh shit!" The intrusion of the boisterous voice startled both humans and they hurried to right themselves, suddenly aware of how public they were and inappropriately behaving. The obnoxiously bright forms of Skidz and Mudflap dropped down from the above deck and landed in front of the two humans, uneven optics scrutinizing the pair with what Sam had dubbed the 'Humans are weird' look. He had seen it on all the Autobot's faces at one time or another, save for Prime perhaps, and most often it was a reaction to either something a human would say or do that in -- their alien mindset – made no sense or was so absurdly ridiculous that it would literally cause Cybertronians to double take.

"What'chu two's tryin' ta do? Eat each otha's faces?!" Skidz demanded, pointing at them with an accusatory finger. "Y'alls nuttier then squirrel poop!"

"Ah yeah! Ah's heard a dem kinda humans. Der cannibals!" Mudflap added. "Yeh das right."

"Dats jus' wrong man. So wrong!" They both gave an exaggerated shiver of their limbs, clearly disgusted with the physical affection practices of humans.

The present humans were less then impressed and far too agitated by the rude interruption to be accomadating.

Fighting the urge the swing out at the two interloping cock blockers, Sam took several calming breaths. With their perfect little mood shattered and ingloriously trampled on by two tactless wannabe gangstas, Sam and Mikeala put a small space between them, both staring at the twins with expressions that demanded to know what they wanted and it had better be good or they would suffer dearly. Mikeala was positively glowering at the pair.

Hell hath no fury like a deprived woman.

"What's your problem?" Sam demanded with barely contained rage. "You can't just go around and just…jump out at people like that!"

"Sure we can!" Mudflap replied an unconcerned shrug.

"Well it's rude," Mikeala snapped back, pulling her jacket back on that she'd discarded thoughtlessly in their moment of passion.

Bending low and shoving his large and awkwardly proportioned head into their personal space, Skidz pinned them with a smug tilted grin. "It's a free country idn'nit?" Seeming to find the rebuttal quite witty and praise worthy, he and his twin shared a few high fives and exchanged several congratulatory phrases such as 'Ah burn!' and 'Das right mah brotha'!'

The humans were still not impressed.

"Actually," Sam interjected, "We're on a boat. In the middle of the Ocean. In international waters. And I don't think either of you were around long enough to even get your citizenship like the others…"

The twins paused and exchanged glances as they worked that through their processor.

"So technically that makes you both illegal immigrants, huh?" Mikeala added.

"Dat don't mean nothin'," said Skidz with an indifferent wave of his arm. He bent back down towards them, this time his optics zeroed in on Mikeala. "Didn'cha alls know us Cybertronians got ourselves some asylum, shawty?"

Looking at his twin with a look of disbelief and even offense, Mudflap shoved the other's shoulder roughly, causing Skidz to fumble on his feet as he tries to maintain balance. "Whacha mean we gots asylum? I ain't goin' ta' no asylum. Slag, if any a'us messed up in da head it's you bro!"

"Not dat kind a' asylum stupid!" said Skidz as he delivered a swipe to his brother's cranium. "I means we've got some diplomic ammunites."

Honestly, Sam wouldn't be at all surprised if the two of them only had enough processing power between them to light a 30 watt bulb. Despite the urge to plant his face into his hands, he could not help but grin a little the way the two seemed utterly oblivious.

"Ah right!" Mudflap replied, one hand covering the spot where he's been struck. At the edge of his peripheral vision, Sam saw Mikeala roll her eyes.

"Yeh!" Skidz said. "So wes can do whatever we so well pleases. Now how 'bout dem apples suckah?"

After having to hear and endure the twin's bickering and smart talk and general presence since the beginning of their ordeal, Sam was more then ready to be rid of them. He was tired and sore and in no mood to accommodate their antics. "Fine! Whatever, just…what do you guys want anyway? Cause if it's nothing, you can scram."

Skidz and Mudflap stared down at Sam for a breath of a moment before looking towards each other as if silently conversing thought to thought. Finally Skidz turned back and waved a hand. "Naw, we ain't here jus' ta' mess with ya, man.—("Dat's what we got Leo fo'!" interjected Mudflap.) "--No ways, we gots some special orders from Ratchet to drag your sorry aft over der."

That caught Sam's attention. And not necessarily in a good way.

Whatever the reason Ratchet wanted to see him, he did not know, but he had a suspicion. Surely by now the Medic was aware that he had been the unwilling host to a goggle of Cybertronian gibberish for several days following an unfortunate discovery of a sliver of the Allspark that had clung to his hoodie all those years after Mission City. He did not blame the medic for wanting to see him, but at that moment he was far too irritated and sore and tired to indulge the medic.

He wanted to finish his make out session with Mikeala and then go find a bunk somewhere in the bowls of the ship on which to pass out on for several glorious hours before waking up and gorging himself on the gourmet cuisine the mess hall had to offer.

He was fine. Sam 'fine' Witwicky. That was him.

I'm going to kill you, boy, slowly, painfully.

He shoved the memory away with surge of will power.

Sam had seen the on site nurse when they had first boarded the ship, being practically corralled into the tiny little alcove just off the main medical ward by his frantic mother. After being poked and prodded, ordered to strip, and stand in a chilly room for several minutes while the Nurse played connect the dots with his impressive collection of bruises and cuts, Sam left patched up good as new but feeling slightly violated and bit punch drunk. Military Nurses played rough. And not in the good way.

He had met up with Mikeala in the hall way near the mess hall not too long afterwards and they both walked together through the ship. They talked and held hands. They stood on the flight deck looking at the sun setting before finding a quite place to sit and watch the world take another living breath.

And then hands began to roam…

Feeling put off and tired, Sam wanted nothing more then for the two Autobots to leave him and Mikeala alone. "Yeah, well you can tell him I'm fine and his services are not required."


The flash of a sword and the explosion of a discharging cannon.

You are so WEAK! The ground shuttered as the gentle giant crashed ingloriously to the forest floor. Optimus get up…get up!

The twins pulled back, looking down at the human before them as if he had suddenly grown a third arm. "Wha?" asked Skidz. "Oh no. No way home boy. I ain't suicidal. You tell 'im."

"Yeah, fo' sho' dawg. Hatchet'll rip our vocalizers through our exhaust ports if we told 'im dat. Naw, we're jus' da messengers here."

Was there not some law that prohibited excessive annoyance, Sam wondered briefly. "Well, I'm giving you a reply to give to him. I'm fine. No more weird symbols, no more spazzing, I'm good. Fine and dandy and all that good shit. Thanks for the concern, but no."

"No?" they asked.

So you've met a Prime? He must have been a great descendant. Is he alive, here on this planet?

He sacrificed himself to protect me.

Sam remained stone faced. "No. So whatever it is that he thinks he wants to do can wait till morning."

There was a moment when neither twin replied nor seemed to even pay him any mind. The thought that they had suffered a collective aneurism cross Sam's mind, but then they abruptly came back to awareness and exchanged a look. They shrugged nonchalantly. "Ok," said Skidz, glancing at Mudflap who shrugged once more for good measure.

"Works fur me," and then Skidz reached out and wordlessly plucked Sam from his seat.


"What are you doing?" Mikeala demanded as she stood and tried to pry her boyfriend from the green Mech's arms. "Let him go!"

"No can do, Doc-bot says if he won' come to 'im willingly, that we got da authorization ta' drag curly cue's aft to 'im. ASAP an' all dat shit." said the Mech as he tucked a struggling Sam under the crook of his elbow before turning and making his way off with his brother following behind. Mikeala jogged beside them, keeping pace with their longer strides.

"Just hold on a second!" she said. "Sam's already seen a doctor, he's fine!"

"Don't matter."

"Doc says bring da kid, we bring da kid."

"Espress delivery!"

"If you don't put me down right now," threatened a red faced Sam as he dangled from a Mech's elbow joint. "I'm going to have Bumblebee rip pout your exhaust ports!"

The hodgepodge group paused at the port door with Mikeala still trying to convince the twins to release her boyfriend. She was ignored. Skidz reached out with his free arm and turned the crank, opening the hatch and ducking inside. Sam's heart stopped for a moment, about to tell the Mech that there was no way in Hell he was going to fit and Prime be damned if he was going to get squished due to his inability to judge space. However, the Mech slid sideways through the hatch, pulling and pressing his body through the seemingly too small an opening and pulling Sam in behind him.

Mikeala made a move to follow behind the green robot, but Mudflap's hand barred her entry. "Nuh-uh," he said as he positioned himself in front of the door.

"What do you mean 'nuh-uh'?" Mikeala demanded. "I'm going with Sam."

"Authorized personnel only," Mudflap replied tapping the sign on the door as he began to slide himself through the small hatch door after his brother. "Sorry sweet cheeks."

Before Mikeala could even begin to feel any righteous indignation, the hatch door slammed followed by an ominous click, indicating that it had been locked. Regardless, she marched forward and gave the wheel a firm yank, but it refused to budge. She stomped her foot with a furious growl and turned about face to find an alternative route below deck.

Sam silently tolerated being carted through the ships stairwells, passed along between the twins as they made their way towards the cargo hold where the Autobots were taking refuge. Annoyed and bruised, Sam only barely just managed to keep a lid on his emotions. Instead, he tried to think of a way he might get back at the twins, even Ratchet, for his current indignation.

If they were going to be this insistent about the whole thing he could very well walk on his own two feet, thank you very much.

Instead, Sam was virtually ignored by Skidz and Mudlflap. Whatever was said was between them and in Cybertronian. By the sounds of it, Sam wagered that they were arguing. Again. Feeling a little vindictive, Sam played add lib and filled in his own words for the conversation. If anything it gave him something to do and also to take his mind off things.

The cargo hold door loomed ahead and Sam found himself feeling just the slightest bit afraid. In the back of his mind, his inner voice was murmuring to him. Pinned to a concrete slab, giant robot looming above, red eyes, teeth, horribly sharp teeth…

A voice, smooth and cold as death itself, whispered to him from the recesses of his memory. Come here, boy. You remember me, don't you?

He swallowed hard. This was ridiculous. Ratchet was not a Decepticon and certainly had no intentions of dissecting his brain. Or at least he hoped not. Sam shook his head to clear his mind. Dwelling on unpleasant things was not going to help him.

So why was it so hard to keep himself from doing it?

The cargo hold was a vast space, only partially filled with crates. The remainder of the space seemed to have been cleared for Autobot use and comfort. In as much as a cargo hold could be comfortable. Upon entering, the first thing to attract Sam's eye was Ratchet, his odd neon yellowish frame standing out brightly against the muted colors of the walls and crates. He was busying himself with something near a stack of such containers. However, Sam's gaze did not follow the medic for long as he then noticed a familiar golden yellow farther back, partially obscured by crates. Bumblebee's presence had an instant effect on him and he relaxed marginally. Ironhide and the blue form of Jolt stood next to the scout, seeming to be occupied with the same thing as Bumblebee. Sideswipe occupied a corner farther away, his optics dim in recharge.

Optimus was conspicuously absent and for reasons he was not entirely sure of, that fact both scared and reassured Sam.

He sacrificed himself to protect me.

Sam was broken from his thoughts as Skidz shifted Sam into his hands and held the boy up into the air. "Got him Doc-bot."

Ratchet glanced briefly towards them and jerked his head to the side, indicating to a stack of crates towards one end of the room that was less occupied. Sam looked towards Bumblebee to see if maybe the scout had turned to see Sam being paraded into the room, perhaps he would even rescue his charge from the grips of the annoying green one, but the yellow scouts head never moved and it disappeared behind the stack of crates as Skidz moved towards where Ratchet had indicated. Sam felt a little abandoned.

Wordlessly, he was sat down upon a crate and left there. He watched the twins wander off, muttering to one another, before hoping down off the crate. He walked back along the edge of the stacks and peeked around the side to view what the Autobots were gathering around in silence. What he saw shook him.

Laying on the floor in a neat little row were the bodies of Arcee and her two doppelgangers. Both blue and purple forms were virtually unscathed, but their optics were dark and they did no move. The pink form, the form that was Arcee, was not so intact. Her head had been virtually blasted off her shoulders, only a few wires connecting what was left to the rest of her body. She was small for a transformer and her tiny form surrounded by monoliths of metal made the scene all the more retching to view. It was only then that Sam noticed the way in which the three Autobots gather around her held themselves. They kneeled on their knees, head down, and optics dim. The air was filled with a strange, near inaudible, murmur that vibrated the air just barely enough that Sam could pick it up. He felt it more then heard it, the hair on his arms trembling.

A shiver ran through his body as cognitive thought drifted back until he heard the rattling sounds of guns firing amongst the low booms of far off bombs that seemed to be getting closer and closer. A flash of pink and he turned to see her standing there, hand reaching out towards him.

Come with me Sam and we'll get you to sa --BOOM!

And then she was gone. He looked to Bumblebee and felt a swelling of guilt rose up inside him. Poor Bumblebee. He looked towards the others there, Ironhide and Jolt. Ironhide was very strong of character, Sam had no doubt the mountain of a Mech would be fine. Jolt was still very much an enigma, as Arcee had been, and it was difficult to say exactly how the blue Autobot would fare. But something in his mind also told him he would be fine as well. But Bumblebee…poor sweet Bumblebee. He was as capable as any Autobot, yes that was true, and Sam would not doubt the little scout for a moment ever. But he was his friend, his guardian…his Bee. A sense of needing to stand near him was almost overpowering. Sam stepped forward to join the little circle, he felt compelled to comfort his friend, but before he could take more then a step, gentle hands slipped beneath his arms and pulled him away.

"You're not going anywhere until you've had a proper examination," Ratchet told him firmly, but in a quite voice as if to not disturb the mourning circle. The medic placed him atop the crate one more, looking him up and down. The mechanical pieces that made up his optics whirled and zoomed quietly. Scanning. "Take off your shirt please, Sam."

Sam balked at the request and pulled away. "What? Why?"

Ratchet's optics narrowed. "Remove your shirt so I may better analyze your abrasions and act accordingly."

Sam reached for the bottom of his shirt, but paused. "Why though? I already saw the nurse when we got here and she already—"

"Samuel," the medic said, looking down at the human looking vaguely irritated, and placing his hands on his hips. Uh oh. He used his full name…funny how alien robots could have such similar mannerisms to humans. Particularly human mothers. Even more particularly, his mother. "I will not repeat myself. Remove your shirt or I shall do it for you."

With a sigh, Sam pulled his shirt over his head while being mindful of his many scrapes, revealing several band aides and bandages upon his person. Purple and green bruised stretched across his torso in pattern that disturbingly resembled the imprint of a hand. His arms and shoulders were covered with lesser scrapes and scratches and sun burns, leaving red lines crisscrossing across his back and front. His upper right arm was wrapped in gauze as well as his left hand and wrist. The state of his body was a testament to the trials he had battled through the last few days.

The sight of him did not please the medic if the low hissing and growling noises were anything to go by. Ratchet brought his hand up to his face and his fingers broke apart into several smaller tools. Seeing so many bizarre tools looming before him did not reassure Sam. Regardless of his patient's anxiety, Ratchet immediately set to work by removing all the dressings from Sam's upper body. They boy tried not to flinch as small pincers grabbed at band aids like so many little hands and pulled them off.

"Ow!" Sam protested as one was removed from a particularly bruised area. The pincers grabbed at the bandages while other appendages with saw like tips rose up and cut through the soft material with ease.

All the while Ratchet was removing any and all prior dressing, Sam could not help but wish Bumblebee would come over. It was a selfish thought, but Sam felt perhaps he had earned the right to be a little selfish. That thought in and of itself was even more selfish and Sam mentally scolded himself. Bumblebee was not his babysitter. He was not at his beck and call, he did not need to hold Sam's hand through every little thing. His guardian had a job, but even the most diligent guard needed respite. Sam had not known Arcee at all really, but he got the strong impression she was a dear friend. Dear as Jazz had been to them and he recalled vividly how they mourned the late lieutenant after Mission City. Optimus Prime especially, who became prone to long walks alone around the look out over Tranquility. Bumblebee had assured them that Prime would be fine and Sam took the explanation readily, content to lay with Mikeala in the twilight and be reassured by the presence of the Autobots so near by. He had never really given a thought to the Cybertronians thoughts or feelings, and a part of him was disgusted to think that at a time he did not think they had them. That was wrong. So very wrong…

So Sam's thoughts drifted to the day he told Bumblebee that he was not going to be with him while at college and knowing what he knew now…how utterly stupid he had acted. He had been so eager to return to a mundane existence that he even tried to push his best friend away to retrieve it. Best intentions aside, Sam had been a fool and it was by the grace of God that Bumblebee was stubborn and did not take no for an answer. Otherwise, it would have been very probable Sam would not be breathing at that moment. He shivered at the thought and pushed away the mental images before they could play out in his head.

Busy with his own thoughts, Sam scarcely noticed his left hand being carefully lifted up and the bandages slowly and carefully cut away to reveal raw flesh. Exposed to the air, it stung and Sam looked down at it, put off by the sight. Most of the skin on his hand had been charred away and most of the dead tissue had fallen off over the course of a day or so. When he saw the nurse, she had cleaned appendage, slathered salve over it and bandaged the unsightly thing in white gauze.

Ratchet's inner working whirled and his optics narrowed further. "Where did you get this injury?"

"Oh, uh…Jetfire. When he did this weird…teleporting thingy. It's how we got to Egypt actually."

There was a moment when Ratchet said nothing, gently tilting the boy's hand this way and that as his optics scanned and rescanned. When at last he spoke, he did not sound happy in the least. "One would think a Mech of such age would have some sense to know the dangers of transwarping with Organics. Beings whose physical make up is predominantly water are not meant to go spelunking across space bridges."

"He was kind of senile, but he was a good guy…I mean, he did sacrifice himself for parts and stuff…"

"I do not belittle his moral character, Sam," he said. "Only his sanity."

It seemed wrong to say anything about the Mech who had done so much for them and Sam felt compelled to divert blame from the old warrior. It did not seem right. "Well he did tell us not to move…"

Ratchet's intense blue optics looked into Sam's brown eyes.

"Oh?" he said flatly. "So you admit the damage came about through your own carelessness, then?"

Open mouth, insert foot, Sam.

The boy back peddled. "No! I mean, yeah…no that's not what I meant. I only meant that it wasn't his fault. It was just…"

Before Ratchet had a chance to reply to Sam's gibberish, a serene voice spoke from behind the neon Mech. "I think, Ratchet, that we should be grateful for the simple fact that the boy is alive and in one piece."

Sam's stomach clenched tight at the sound of the voice. Without taking his optics off of Sam, Ratchet replied to his commander's assertion. "You may be willing to overlook such negligence to common sense, Optimus, but I will not. He should have had better judgment."

"Perhaps you are right," Optimus conceded as he stepped into view. "However, I should think his actions, as disagreeable as they may be to you, certainly proved worth while."

Sam felt his face heat up, feeling uncomfortable with the insinuation that he was any sort of hero. Optimus Prime's optics glanced towards Sam, brightening just a bit, before looking to the medic. "Wouldn't you agree, Ratchet?"

Ratchet looked over his shoulder, scanning the Autobot behind him before huffing and turning his attention back to Sam, carefully positioning the boy's good arm up so he could better see the red scraped skin there. "Blind luck only gets you so far, Optimus."

"You're not a 'glass half full' kinda guy are you?" Sam asked at random.

Sending the boy a gimlet glare, the medic responded by shifting his hand once more and spraying something on one of the open wounds on his arm. Pain radiated through his arm as the liquid touched the raw skin and Sam tried to pull him arm back, but Ratchet's pincers held his wrist firmly.

"That's enough from the legume exhibit." Ratchet said in a no nonsense tone.

Hissing past his teeth, Sam replied, "…I think you mean peanut gallery…"

Another spray of antiseptic. "AH! Okay okay! I'll be quite! Just ease up on the Neosporin! Geezus!"

Ratchet snorted, a harsh abrasive sound. "Neosporin would not be a preferable antiseptic in the case of your abrasions and would do little more then make a mess. I am using a liquid applicant containing alcohol."

Any witty reply he might have thought of tossing at the Medic was muffled by Sam's whimpering as Ratchet applied the spray to several more areas. In the face of a canister of burning-stinging-ouchiness, Sam opted for remaining silent and simply enduring the prodding and poking and general lack of comfort while he was in the medic's clutches.

Optimus leaned towards Ratchet. "When you are finished assuring yourself the boy will not keel over at random, I would like a word with him."

Ratchet glared towards Optimus as he turned to leave, but nodded. "Very well."

Once more, Sam found himself atop the flight deck, sporting new bandages and feeling – once again – as if he had been violated by a member of the medical profession; which in hind sight was very much the case. Ratchet had been quite liberal with the antiseptic and his arms and chest and back stung like the dickens. He resisted the urge to pick at his bandages.

After releasing Sam from his tender loving care, Ratchet told him under no uncertain terms that once he was done speaking with Optimus, he was to return to his assigned room and rest for a minimum of 8 hours. That was one homework assignment Sam had no qualms about completing. He was drained of every imaginable energy in the human body, mind and spirit and everything else. Even the tips of his ears seemed to be exhausted.

So it was with heavy foot steps and lots of sighing that Sam went to find Optimus Prime.

He found the Autobot leader where he expected him to be; on the flight deck overlooking the dark ocean as it lapped against the sizes of the ship, filling the air with a salty mist that added another layer of cold to the breezy night. As Sam stepped out onto the deck, he was abruptly attacked with flustered nerves that ate away at his insides and made him feel slightly nauseous. Nervousness morphed into guilt and Sam walked stiffly towards the Autobot.

Sam, I need your help.

You couldn't give me one day, huh?

You are weak! –slash-



Of all the mistakes and stupid things Sam was guilty of in his life thus far, what happened to Optimus weighed the most upon his conscious. The irrepressible guilt of it all had driven him to the edges of the Earth and life itself- all to bring back the Autobot leader. Saving the world had just been an unintended, but appreciative bonus. What could he ever say to make it right again? For Optimus to forgive Sam for being a silly little immature human with no sense of priority? Not to mention selfish…

Sam had definitely been selfish. And not just to Optimus, but Bumblebee too. Another Autobot he needed to spill his guts to and beg forgiveness. He should probably start a list of all the people he had metaphorically bitch slapped during the past week.

It was with a bit of a start that Sam belatedly realized he had made it to where Optimus silently stood, facing out towards the open ocean. He had to catch himself before running head first into the leader's ankle.

Sam looked up and up and up…

The night made it near impossible to see all of Prime and the only thing of his face he could make out was the eerie glow of his optics. Sam swallowed, resisting the urge to fidget and pick at his bandages.

"Uh, h-hey Prime," his voice squeaked and he felt incredibly stupid. "So…uh…night weather huh?"

Optimus Prime's head swiveled down towards the young human, intense blue optics scrutinizing him and Sam felt incredibly vulnerable under their gaze. "I wished to thank you Sam, for what you have done for and for my team these last few days. You have been very brave."

Despite the praise, Sam felt altogether small and ugly.


"Yeah, uh. Well…I feel obligated to uh…" No that sounded insincere. He started over. "…well…I need to apologize…to you," Sam said. Optimus said nothing, allowing Sam to spill freely and unabated. "About what I said in the cemetery – god that feels forever a go now huh?– I just…well if I'd helped out back then like you asked, maybe a lot of…stuff, this stuff, could've maybe not happened. Not the way it did anyway." A pause. "Am I not making any sense?"

"I understand your meaning, Sam." Optimus Prime's voice had a strange calming effect on Sam, the deep timbre sounding familiar and authoritative and protective. Despite all of his worries and misgivings, in that moment Sam felt as safe as he had for days. It was like trekking through the bitter cold snow and coming to a warm house. Security and the sense of familiarity wafting over him like a warm blanket.

"Oh, good 'cause I – "

"However, your apology is unnecessary."

Sam was silent for a moment as he tried to wrap his brain around that. "Huh?"

Optimus slowly lowered himself, never breaking eye contact with the young man. Closer up, it was much easier to see Prime's face. He appareled utterly sincere as he spoke. "Your actions these past few days more then speaks for your character, Sam. Whether you accept it or not, you are not obligated to me, rather I am duty bound to repay you for all that you have done. For the Autobots and for me."

Sam shrugged away, the ugly and unworthy feeling bubbling up again. "I don't think so…"

"I do."

"But I got you killed!" Sam blurted.

Of all the things Sam expected the Autobot leader to do, smiling was not one of them. It was not just a simple smile either. It was one of fond affection. "Do not be so eager to forget that you also revived me, much in the face of great self sacrifice. Do not belittle yourself."

Digging his hands into his pockets, Sam hunched his shoulders and turned away, trying to hide the fact he was blushing. "Yeah, maybe. But I'm OK now. Y'know. Relatively speaking at least…"

"As am I," Optimus replied pointedly. "So perhaps we may simply 'put it all behind us' then?"

"I guess," Sam replied, turning back with a relieved smile tugging at the edges of his mouth. Just then, a thought came crashing down on him and all the good feeling Optimus had been able to dig up was promptly buried in six feet of dirt and rocks and Sam submerged back into the depths of melancholy. "But…what about…"

"About what, Sam?"

"What about Arcee and her…other parts. She's not OK. She died trying keep me from getting squished and stuff." A pause. "No one revived her…"

A shadow passed over the Autobot leader's visage like a shadow and he suddenly appareled world wary and tired and very very sad. He took a moment to compose his thoughts before replying. "Arcee was a fine soldier who fulfilled her function till the end with dignity and honor. She was a good friend and comrade and will sorely missed." Optimus stared Sam down, the wariness abruptly changing to a more poignant and earnest expression. "However Sam, you must not hold yourself responsible for her passing; it would do you ill to do so."

"But I just – "

"No Sam," Prime replied firmly. "I implore you to trust me on this matter: You did nothing wrong. It is the way of the universe that all living things one day must die, no matter how much we wish it weren't so. Even had I not been revived, I would not want you to hold yourself responsible anymore then I would want my Soldiers to do so. You're far too young to burden yourself with such things." He then bent lower, their faces near parallel. With the tip of one finger, Optimus gingerly tapped Sam's shoulder. "You have a life yet still to live, youngling."

Sam was silent for a long moment, soaking in all that had been said. He was not sure how to feel. He did feel relief in some sense, but now there were other emotions floating around in the congealing soup of his mind and making it difficult to discern one feeling from another. It would take some time for him to sort through it all.

"In any case," Optimus Prime said, breaking Sam from his stupor as he rose back to his full height. "I believe there is one other who wishes to speak with you before you retire for the night."

Sam look around to find the said individual and glanced back to see Bumblebee standing near the observation tower, watching them silently from the shadows. Before Sam knew what was happening, Optimus bent low once more to scoop the boy up. In a few short strides, he and Bumblebee met in the middle of the deck, the scout having met them half way. Optimus silently offered Bumblebee is human charge and Sam was exchanged between them. Once transferred to his guardian, Optimus bid them good night and left to the Cargo Bay. Cupped in his guardian's hands, Sam felt warm and safe and wondered how, not too long ago, he had thought that he didn't want Bumblebee around.

Neither of the two spoke and Bumblebee walked forward slowly until he then stood in the very spot Optimus had occupied naught a moment before and slowly lowered himself down, Sam in his lap and the two pf them simply sitting and allowing the ocean air to waft around them.

"Hey Bee?" Sam asked , finally breaking the silence. "Seeing as we're dishing out the apologies and sappy shit tonight, I wanted to thank you. You know…for sticking with me even with all the stupid stuff I pull…and all the stuff I said about the guardian thing being over and…" He looked over his shoulder to send a pleading look to the scout. "You're coming back with us right? I mean…back home?" A pause. "Or are going to join NEST with the others…?"

Bumblebee's voice, laced with a lofty British accent that sounded perfectly content and unphased by the question, replied softly, "My employment with NEST was discussed briefly after leaving Egypt."

Sam felt crestfallen, immediately believing Bumblebee's answer was the beginning of a well prepared and well rehearsed 'I'm sorry but I'm leaving' speech. Sam tried not to let the feeling of hurt into his voice and failed to a small extent. "Oh," he said. "That's…good."

"I refused."

Sam balked. "Huh?"

"I will not be joining NEST with the others."

Sam felt the hopeful bubble in his chest swell. "You're not?"

"No," Bumblebee replied, a smile in his voice and the same look of fond affection that Optimus displayed radiated from his shining blue optics. Bumblebee's hands adjusted their grip on Sam and he lifted the boy up so their eyes met evenly. "Whether you find the arrangement agreeable or not, I am still your guardian. And more over, I am still your friend."

Sam laughed, relief and joy and gratitude playing on his heart strings. "So you're not sick of having to baby-sit me all the time then?"

Bumblebee's head titled to the side. "I would hardly call it that, but no. I am not 'sick of baby-sitting' you. I never was, though you seemed to think so. I was under the impression that you were more tired of having to be watched."

Sam had to admit to that it had been a factor. He was loath to admit it though. "Maybe…a little. At the time," Sam said, but hurried on to say, "But I don't think that now!"

Bumblebee smiled, in as much as his facial features allow ad hummed, pleased. "I am happy to hear that you don't find my presence irritating."

"And you're not peeved about me blowing you off for school?" Bumblebee pulled Sam back close to his chest, a soft humming emanating from behind the armor, strangely calming. "No," he assured his charge gently. "I am not."

Sam relaxed against the yellow metal and listened to the soft humming. It was so familiar to the humming he had heard while he and the others had been gathered around Arcee. He made a note to ask him what it meant. But not today. He felt too encompassed in the moment to break it with inane observations and silly questions.

"I understand human adolescents are somewhat renowned for eagerly leaping head first into adulthood without fully understanding all that which implies."

Sam pulled back a little in indignation. "I didn't leap head first," he rejected.

"You were eager though," the scout asserted.

"Yeah, I guess," he said, "but you know I was just so ready to feel normal again and in my head that meant going to college. No offense buddy, but ever since I met you guys my whole life's felt like…one giant scifi movie. It kind of makes you feel disconnected to everything and everyone around you. And maybe I wasn't sure if I wanted that. I'm probably the only person on Earth who dreams of being normal."

"So you thought that by distancing yourself from everything that you felt was abnormal about your life, namely me, you would be able to reconnect with what you felt you had lost?"

Sam winced and hunched his shoulders, feeling guilty that his answer had been yes. "Yeah, in a way," he admitted. "But you make me sound so shallow when you say it like that…"

"I would not call it shallow," Bumblebee said to Sam, "Merely naïve."

"Naïve?" Sam wasn't sure if he liked either naïve or shallow over the other.

"Do not take offense. English is a somewhat limiting language, the word is the closet equivalent. I merely mean to say that it was something one would likely expect from someone your age."

"So…stupid you mean."

"I did not say that."

"You didn't have to."

Lowering Sam to the ground, Bumblebee looked him in the eye, one arm resting on his knee. "I do not think you are stupid Sam."

"Just naïve, huh?"

The Autobot's optics glowed a little bright as he said, "I think you are very brave and kind."

Sam felt as if he were blushing.

"As does Optimus."

Alright, definitely blushing now.

"Uh…thanks…" Sam was not entirely sure how to respond to such a statement.

Optics smiling with amusement, Bumblebee poked Sam gently with a finger. "You don't think so?"

"No," Sam replied honestly. "Not really. I don't think brave people are supposed to scream as much as I do. My throats still kinda sore."

"Being brave doesn't mean you're fearless," Bumblebee told him. "Sometimes being afraid is the smartest thing you can do."

Sending the Mech a dubious look, Sam replied "You're gonna have to explain that one…"

"Would you consider yourself brave if you decided to face down Megatron all by yourself?"

Sam snorted. "No, I'd think I was stupid as shit and have Ratchet check my brain for a tumor."

Bumblebee's eyes glowed meaningfully.

"Ok, I see what you mean…I think."

Bumblebee nodded and then stood back up to his feet, towering over Sam. "You may not think of yourself as anything special Sam, but we do."

Sam didn't ask what 'we' meant and assumed he knew as to whom Bee was referring. He grinned. "Laying on the sap a little thick tonight aren't we?"

Bumblebee shrugged noncommittally. "I've been waiting to tell you a lot of things even before you left for school, but I felt it better to wait. I wanted to allow you to make your own choices, but I was always nearby even if you couldn't see me. If that makes you feel any better."

Sam laughed. "I don't have a guardian, I have a stalker."

Suddenly, the sound of The Police rang through the air, singing "Every bond you break every step you take, I'll be watching you."

Sam laughed even harder.

"All joking aside Sam," Bumblebee said, suddenly serious. "With Megatron functioning once more, I cannot in good conscious allow you to return to your school without me. Regardless of how the school's operators feel about it. I intend to stay."

Sam's smile faded at Megatron's name and his thoughts drift back to the Decepticons. "Do you think they'll be back?"

"Most definitely," Bumblebee replied without hesitation. "But we will be prepared for them."

"So…" Sam sighed, trying not to feel afraid and allow it to be simple fact that it was. "I should probably get use to not being normal, huh?"

"Or you could simply alter your perception of what it means to be normal."

Looking up at his guardian and thinking back to all that he had experienced both good and bad, Sam shrugged with a smile tugging at his lips. "I suppose I'll have to."