Defying alien robots that were ten times his size hadn't been this terrifying. It was the adrenaline, he thought, that made getting chased by Megatron seem easy. He'd scaled hundreds of stairs without stopping to escape him, but now he could hardly muster up the courage to walk up a driveway. Where was that adrenaline now? Why was the never-give-up, never-surrender, no-sacrifice-no-victory mantra failing to pump him up? Why did it work in the face of the end of the world but not to a middle aged man who happened to be the father of his girlfriend?

"Don't be so nervous," Mikaela said, squeezing Sam's hand as they walked towards the grungy car shop. Despite its decrepit appearance, it was a legit shop that both Mikaela and her father had found employment. In the months following Mission City, the government had been a bit kinder to the Banes family, effectively turning a blind eye on her juvie record and lightening her father's sentence.

"Nervous?" Sam scoffed, even as Mikaela gave him a sympathetic smile. "What are you talking about? I'm about to meet the father of my beautiful girlfriend. So what if the guy's done a few years of hard time? No way am I nervous!"

"Sam," Mikaela shook her head. "It's not like he killed anyone, alright? He's a normal guy, so calm down."

"Yeah," said Sam, sucking in a deep breath. It didn't help. "Yeah, totally. I'm totally calm."

"Okay, wait here, I'll go get him," Mikaela gave him a quick peck on the cheek, intended to bolster his confidence. It worked – well, a little bit.

He watched Mikaela trot around the corner of the car shop, giving him one last flirty wave before vanishing. Sam put his hands in his pockets, then took them out, thinking that made him look too casual. May be he should put his hands behind his back – or was that too formal? The guy was a grease monkey, sure, but he probably wanted a real gentlemen for his daughter. If that was that case, then Sam was screwed.

Sam began to second guess his decision to leave Bumblebee behind, thinking that a barely-off-the-show-room-floor model of Camaro was not the right way to impress Mr. Banes. Having a giant alien robot to back him up would have given him a real self esteem boost, but he'd had the brilliant idea of being a normal teenager. Mikaela had agreed, though, knowing her father would want to crack open the hood for a gander and forget all about Sam, until he wondered how he'd acquired such a vehicle. National security notwithstanding, the less questions Mr. Banes had, the better.

It was better that Bumblebee wasn't here, Sam decided. He still had the habit of playing the radio at the worst possible moment, and the old 'working the kinks out' standby didn't work anymore. Besides, a car with an electrical short at a car shop? No, that was just asking for it. Besides, he -

"Bonecrusher!" Mikaela's scream registered first, then the recognition of the name curdled Sam's blood, a thousand horrible scenarios playing out in his mind in the course of an instant. Almost all of them ended with Mikaela dead at the hands of a Decepticon. Something large and metal crashed to the ground just out of sight, exactly where his girlfriend had gone to find her father.

"Mikaela!" Sam heard himself yell, feet moving on their own to rush to Mikaela's aid, even as he fumbled for his cell phone. Now he regretted leaving Bumblebee behind – how could he be so stupid as to forget the Decepticons would come after them when he wasn't around? His guardian was only a phone call away, but if Mikaela was in danger, that was just as good as a million miles away. He rounded the corner at the exact instant something tan and heavy slammed into him, knocking the wind out of him and dropping him to the ground.

Disoriented from the blow, Sam still threw up his arms to try to defend himself. It would do nothing to protect him from metal claws that could shred him to pieces, but it was the only reflex that he had. His phone had been knocked out of his hand, only halfway through sending a message out to Bumblebee. It felt like two tons of pressure were crushing his chest, and something warm and wet ran down his face.

Blood oh God it's blood I'm going die, I'm going to die, Mikaela I'm so sorry oh God-

"Bones, get off of him!"

Mikaela sounded awfully irritated for being dead or seriously injured.

"Oh my God, Sam, I'm so sorry," Mikaela gushed as the crushing weight suddenly lifted off of him. "Bones slipped out of his collar and I couldn't catch him. He gets excited when new people come to visit. Don't you Boney?"

There was a loud snuffing sound right next to his ear, and when Sam turned, he came face to face with something vaguely resembling a dog. Or possibly a bear. The dog looked at him with concentrated interest, and then it's mouth opened, foul-smelling hot air washing over him as it panted.

"Is that a dog?" Sam squeaked. "Where did you find it – the Cujo adoption drive?"

Mikaela's concern was dispelled with a roll of her eyes. Wiping his face, Sam discovered it wasn't blood, but sticky, nasty dog slobber. Honestly, he would have preferred the blood.

"Daddy got him last week," said Mikaela, bending down to slip the dog's collar back around his neck. Sam took the opportunity to sit upright, wincing as he felt for broken ribs. "He wanted a dog to guard the shop when no one's around. That, and he'll deter would-be robbers when they catch sight of him."

"So you named him Bonecrusher?" Sam was bordering on accusing, and Mikaela glared at him, eyes darting between her boyfriend and her dog. Bonecrusher looked entirely uninterested now that he had successfully drooled on Sam.

"It wasn't my idea, Sam!" she snapped. "I tried to talk dad out of it, but he insisted. How exactly am I supposed to tell him he can't call his dog Bonecrusher because it just so happens to share a name with a psycho alien robot!"

"A dead psycho alien robot," Sam corrected, though this seemed to irritate Mikaela even more.

"Exactly," she said. "Which means the name is up for grabs again. Besides, Bones is a good dog, aren't you Bones?"

Bonecrusher looked up at her at the mention of his nickname, attention span wavering when no food or treats were offered.

"What was that noise then?" Sam asked. "You screamed, and I heard – I thought -"

"It was a pile of hubcaps," Mikaela said, flushing. "I, uh, knocked them over when I tried to grab Boney. I'm sorry Sam, I should have told you before hand."

"No, it's fine," Sam said, picking up his phone before Bonecrusher decided to swallow it. Entirely uninvited, the dog sat down right next to him, giant maw expelling more of that horrible smell.

"Good boy, Boney!" Mikaela cooed, missing Sam rolling his eyes. "He's great with kids, too."

Sam had the inappropriate mental image of that terrifying Decepticon sitting in the park amongst a gaggle of children, reading them Mother Goose fairy tales. Would it scar the children, he wondered, if Optimus Prime ran in and hacked his head off again?

"Yeah, he definitely needs a new name," Sam said.

"What's wrong with 'Bonecrusher'?"

The way Mikaela's face lit up told Sam exactly who had just walked up behind them. Bonecrusher sprang up, thick tail thumping against Sam's head before he trotted over to his master's side.

Given the choice between facing Decepticons or meeting Mikaela's father while covered in dust and dog drool, Sam wouldn't hesitate to take the former. Being a normal teenager, Sam decided, wasn't all that great after all.

A/N: Fun fact: Bonecrusher, for some reason, was Michael Bay's favorite Transformer from the first movie. He liked him so much that he named his dog after him, who had his own role in Revenge of the Fallen at the car shop. Bonecrusher hates that a dog was named after him.