This wasn't supposed to happen.

None of it was ever supposed to be this way. He'd had a reason. A purpose for doing everything that he'd done and deep inside he'd known that somehow everything would be okay. That Optimus would come back and make everything okay. Everything would be okay because it was Optimus and how could things be anything other than okay with him there to make sure of it? But Optimus wasn't there and that was his fault… his fault because he wasn't strong enough or fast enough or smart enough and—and why was he thinking about this when Megatron was standing there laughing at him and all he had was a little bag of sand in a dirty sock?

Eyes flaring wide with panic and no little bit of fear as his limbs were grabbed and his back was pressed tightly against a slab of stone behind him his breathing began to hitch as he felt tiny metal legs latching onto the leg of his pants. Struggling wildly as the sounds of battle began to fade into a low hum at the back of his mind he opened his mouth in a soundless scream of terror as his back arched up from the stone in an attempt to free himself. Muscles burning as he felt the corners of his eyes begin to burn with tears of frustration as the delicate legs of the insect like robot began to cross over his chest his skin crawling with revulsion.

Snapping his teeth at the doctor's spindly limbs moving towards his mouth with a wild look to his eyes his breathing hitched in his chest again as the soft flesh of his mouth was caught by the painful latches attached to the limbs of the doctor. Rearing his head back he met Megatron's dispassionate gaze as the titanic mech stared down at him with the same demeanor that a scientist might reserve for a failed experiment. Anger burning hotly in his gut he gathered the saliva in his mouth without thought and spat at the base of the silver being's feet. Eyes bright with triumph at the disgust adorning the warlord's face his eyes rolled into the back of his head as he began to choke on the small thing wriggling its way down his throat.

Shutting his eyes in shame as the first images began to flicker to life in front of him he felt the cool slide of tears trailing down the scraped and burned skin of his face. He'd failed. Optimus had died to protect him and here he was writhing around on a stone slab like some pathetic sacrifice. The weight of the black sands placed ever so carefully into a sock before having its top knotted pressed almost painfully against his thigh as though it too were aware of the depth of his betrayal. This wasn't his fault! He never meant for anything like this to ever happen! All he'd wanted to do was to bring Optimus back because Optimus had died protecting him and he hadn't even been able to do something as simple as taking the sock full of sand to Optimus' body where he'd been so sure that something would have happened. Something like a miracle that would have brought the blue and red leader back to them and he wouldn't be forced… but wait… he wasn't being forced to do anything.

Racing across the globe to get to the Matrix of Leadership hadn't been a choice forced upon him instead it had been one that he'd made knowing what could happen to him but not really caring because to him the alternative was worse. No one had begged or pleaded with him to listen to the insane ramblings of glyphs that popped into his mind at random intervals that left him with a startling sense of clarity about what he needed to do. He'd made his decision to do what he could to save Optimus because Optimus would have and did do the same for him. He'd watched as he crouched behind an uprooted tree as the ground shook and dirt flew into the air with the force of Optimus' fall to earth.

Watching as his optics dimmed and a plea for him to run was pushed through a failing vocalizer and knowing that he'd do it had caused him to feel a level of self-loathing that he'd never thought possible. Once he was in the comforting leather of 'Bee's seat he'd craned his head out of the window hoping to see Ratchet patching Optimus up before helping the leader to his feet. He'd dug crescent shaped grooves into the paneling of 'Bee's door as he listened to Ratchet shout for them to get to safety his eyes sliding closed as his throat tightened around the solid ball of emotion wedged there.

Eyelashes sliding against his cheeks as he grit his teeth and his hands began to tremble he forced his thoughts to center on the image of the Twins fighting. Smoothing the image together with the one of Bumblebee grabbing the two by the nape of their necks and tossing them outside he then slid them together into the one of his small group leaving the temple with no evidence of the sock full of black sand in his pocket. Opening his eyes in time to see the images of their rather harsh arrival in Egypt he smiled as his heart rate began to speed up and his body began to shake with fear. Please, he prayed, please let this work.

Heart thudding almost painfully against his ribs as his breath came out in short shuddering gasps he closed his eyes in relief as Megatron's roar of anger echoed through the barren landscape. Skin tightened around his eyes from the dried tears he tensed as he felt the doctor scramble to move away from him and the painful hold on his limbs was released leaving him with the prickly pins and needles of sensation returning. Breath forced from his lungs as he was plucked from the stone slab like a rag doll he met the warlord's furious red gaze with the shifting sands inside of the sock still held securely in his pocket acting as a measure of comfort.

He hadn't failed.

He held onto that thought as Megatron's grip tightened on him to the point where he felt his ribs beginning to give under the pressure. Listening to the Fallen's raspy voice ordering Megatron to dispose of him he tilted his head back the sun's rays warming his face as he closed his eyes. He was going to die. He was going to die but even if he died he trusted that Mikaela and 'Bee would know what to do with the sock full of black sand in his pocket. They'd all been through so much that it was a relief to know that his chance to save Optimus hadn't been lost completely. Megatron's claws sliced across his back tearing a scream of pain from him as he was thrown. Bouncing as he landed hard on the sand his vision slowly dissolved into white with the thuds of the retreating Decepticons echoing through the confines of his mind.

Why was he standing?

He shouldn't be standing much less lifting a hand to shield his eyes from the glare of the brilliant light surrounding the jagged chucks of rock that sticking out of the ground. Taking an involuntary step back as the light seemed to wrap itself around the tall figures that resembled the Fallen he found his legs tensing as he prepared to run. He hadn't come this far for it to all be for nothing. "We have been watching you for a long, long time." The gravelly timber of the voice rooted his feet to the ground as his heart began to beat a sharp staccato rhythm against his ribs. "You have fought for Optimus our last descendant with courage and with sacrifice." Fought? He hadn't fought… he really hadn't done much of anything other than manage to get himself killed by Megatron and the entire time he'd been so terrified that he wondered at the fact that he hadn't wet himself. "The virtues of a leader… a leader worthy of our secret."

He barely reigned in the snort that was threatening to escape him at the title of leader being applied to himself. He wasn't a leader of anything much less a leader like Optimus. "The Matrix of Leadership is not found. It is earned." Now that made sense. Of course it would have to be earned and it would explain why the glyphs in his head seemed so insistent about bringing the Matrix of Leadership and Optimus together. But still… if that was the truth then why did there remain a small portion of his mind that cried out against it? Why was there this feeling welling up inside of him that told him that there was far more to the Matrix of Leadership and Optimus' revival than what he was allowing himself to see?

"It is, and always has been, your destiny."

And just like that the pieces of the puzzle inside his mind clicked sharply into place as he gasped and fell to the ground his hand coming up to clutch at the sharp pain in his chest that threatened to tear him apart. His destiny, he thought wildly, his destiny couldn't have anything to do with the Matrix of Leadership. He was Sam. Sam Witwicky the idiot who couldn't keep from tripping over his own two feet in front of a pretty girl and Mikaela could testify to the number of times he'd ended up sprawled at her feet. He wasn't—they had to be confused. Yes, that was it. They'd gotten confused because they were ancient. Totally and completely ancient and everyone knew that old people had problems with their memory.

Except that Optimus had believed in him. Optimus had believed in him enough to sacrifice his life to ensure that he made it out alive. Optimus had believed in him so much that he'd traveled the length of the United States just to ask him to stand as a representative of the Autobot forces to the politicians in Washington. A human face that could be trusted to uphold the beliefs of the Autobot leader and one who was held in high esteem. Feeling his skin begin to ripple as he shoved a hand into his pocket to retrieve the sock full of sand he set it onto the ground as his mind slowly turned over the last moments he'd spent with Optimus. Those blue optics had been hollow with the pain of his injuries but they'd also been at peace.

Falling to the ground with his hands digging into the ground below as his head bowed from the pain he heard the beings continue to talk amongst themselves as he gathered his thoughts together. Optimus had been at peace because in the end the leader had known that help was close enough that he would be safe as he ran headlong through the trees. Optimus had been at peace because he'd known far more than he himself had. Optimus had known what was happening even if he hadn't been able to share that knowledge with anyone. Body shuddering as the light began to fade and his chest began to warm he stared at the fine grains of sand marveling at the knowledge that Optimus had held so much faith in him. Pushing himself to his feet was a struggle as he remained clumsy and uncertain of where to place his limbs. Inhaling deeply he relished in the feel of the sun's warmth beating down onto him and a feeling of utter peace swept through him.

Slowly he straightened his back his body flowing into a position that seemed so foreign and yet as familiar to him as any movement learned in childhood. In his left hand glittering brightly with the harsh desert sun shining on it was the Matrix of Leadership. Lips pulling into a wry grin at the looks of shock both the Fallen and Megatron were directing at him he flexed his fingers absently against the smooth metal of his palm and shifted his footing to one that allowed for better balance against the desert sands. Lifting his face up to reveal startling blue optics Sam lunged forward as Optimus' smooth rich tones echoed through his mind, "I've got you boy."

Yeah. Optimus did have him. And apparently he always had.

The End

A/N: I honestly wrote this in the span of 2 hours after watching RoTF on BluRay. There are quotes from the Primes that I borrowed from the movie but the rest is all mine. Many, many thanks to a certain person who sat there and listened to me as I wrote this and for reading it as I wrote.