I sat with my head in my hands, trying not to think. It wasn't working very well. I was stuck in the Mission County jail, being held in a cell until they could find a lawyer for me. Despite the fact that they couldn't find a body, they were talking about charges for voluntary manslaughter, reckless driving, and racing based on the damage done to the motorcycle and the eyewitness reports of me driving my Camaro like a maniac while chasing it down.
Oh, and the NEST team was still at least three hours away.
My furious mother's voice echoed in my mind, along with the sound of Optimus' stern, mid-chase reminder that the motorcycle Decepticon was important. I didn't close my eyes, already knowing what I'd see – Bumblebee being hooked up to a tow truck again. He was still in his alt-form this time, but I was worried about him. He'd probably be okay. He was probably just laying low by not transforming or trying to outrun the cop cars. All that energon was probably not his. But the probabilities weren't enough to make me stop worrying.
A guard approached my cell and unlocked it.
"What's going on?" I demanded.
"You've got a visitor," he grunted. "Come on."
He marched me to a small room with a table and a couple of chairs where a professionally-dressed Latina was just rising to her feet. It made me feel even more self-conscious in my orange jail jumpsuit when she was all dressed up. The woman eyed the guard until he left and then she turned eagerly to me. "You. Your name is Samuel James Witwicky?"
"And you're accused of killing a motorcyclist?"
"That's what they tell me," I evasively answered.
"And that yellow Camaro down in the impound is yours?"
I never was sure how to answer that question. It felt insulting to 'Bee, but in the interest of simplicity, I said, "Yes."
Suddenly she grinned, beaming, and extended her hand to me. "I am Raquel Gutierrez-Ramon. I'd like to be your lawyer. Pro bono."
"For free. I'll take your case for free."
She squealed like a little kid. "I'll be back in three hours at the latest. I'll try to rearrange my schedule to get down here sooner. Is there anyone I should contact for you?"
There was a fanatical gleam in her eyes at that point that made me half-wonder if I should decline her help. "Um, no, not right now. Thanks. I already called my parents."
Her expression fell back into something resembling a sane person. "Very well." She pulled a business card and a pen from her planner and, flipping the card over, wrote a phone number on the back of it. "That's my personal cell. Call me if you need anything or if you have any visitors. You'll want me present if you talk to even your parents again. The prosecutor has legal right to literally every single word you say unless it's just between you and me. Seriously, don't even talk in your sleep. Got it?"
I nodded my head slightly, still feeling numb.
"Good." She flashed me another too-happy-for-a-jail-cell smile and said, "Hang in there. It's going to be okay. I'll come back as soon as I can."
When she left, I wearily went back to my cot and lay down, staring at the ceiling and trying to ignore the mental images of smeared energon.
My new, freebie lawyer showed up an hour and a half later and the guard led me to the private room where she was waiting.
"Look, Mrs. Gutierrez-Ramon," I began, but she cut me off.
"Raquel. Please, call me Raquel."
"Okay…" Maybe I should try to find a different lawyer for myself. "Raquel, I appreciate your help, but how did you hear about what happened? And why do you want to take my case?"
She tossed me an almost-wary glance and then focused on opening her briefcase. "Every lawyer is expected to work a certain number of pro bono hours a year, and your case…intrigued me."
"Why? You have a thing against bikers?"
She grinned, glancing up again. "No. To be perfectly honest, I have a thing for cool cars, like your yellow Camaro or silver Corvettes. And Topkicks. Especially black Topkicks. And even motorcycles, as long as they're pink or purple or blue."
I froze when she mentioned the motorcycles. Arcee? Cool cars like Bumblebee and Sideswipe? Topkicks like Ironhide?
Raquel carefully watched my expression, and I suddenly wondered if she wasn't some lackey for the next wannabe Sector Seven. I caught myself reaching out over the bond, looking for help from Optimus. His calm and concern met my own worry, and I really wished he was close enough for me to consult with him about all this. The legal stuff was all Greek to me. Trying to play it cool, I said, "Okay, whatever. If you'll do it for free, I guess beggars can't be choosers."
For the first time since I'd met her, she looked a little disappointed. Then a new expression crossed her face – determination. "Well, if my motives are acceptable, here's the contract for retaining me as your lawyer," she slid a sheaf of papers my way, "along with the pro bono agreement terms."
It took us almost an hour just to go over the paperwork, and then she explained how criminal cases like these generally proceeded. "In the absence of a body, homicide of any kind will be virtually impossible to prove," she reassured me. "We've just got a lot of hoops to jump through between now and then. And please tell me you're clean."
"Your initial blood alcohol levels came back clear, but the drug – "
"Oh. Yeah, that. I'm clean." I'd had my brain fried by the All Spark, thanks. Didn't need any chemicals to mess me up even more.
She'd managed to get her hands on the initial police reports, and she started going over those with me. All the photographs and physical evidence would be trickling in over the next few days and it would be at least a week for any lab tests to come back.
We were just finishing up with the report of the officer who first arrived on the scene when her cell phone vibrated. She all but pounced on it. "Yes? Please, send him in."
She set her phone down with an expression of catlike satisfaction. "You neglected to tell me you were expecting visitors. It's very unwise to not be level with your lawyer. You're lucky I anticipated them and told the front desk to admit them when they arrived. Otherwise they would have sat out there until we finished or they may have even been sent away."
"Oh." I hadn't thought about that, mostly because I wasn't sure when the human half of the NEST team would show up. At least, I hoped it was them. The timing was about right.
"Are you sure there isn't something else you want to tell me?"
Feeling trapped, I tried to read her, figure out her expression. She looked like she'd caught me in a lie. In fact, she looked like someone who knew entirely too much. Before I could answer, though, a solidly-built man with salt-and-pepper hair stepped into the room, followed by a guard. I didn't recognize him, but he seemed to recognize Raquel. "You?"
He had Ironhide's voice, and I realized it must be his holoform.
Her grin was as bright as when I admitted Bumblebee was mine. "Yes, me. Where else do you think I would be when a Yellow Camaro goes screaming through my town on two wheels? But I don't believe we've met."
Ironhide grinned. "Oh, yes we have, Raquel.."
At her confused expression, he said, "Close your eyes."
Glancing once from Ironhide to me, she surprised me by actually closing them.
"Your website was in my favorites."
Ooooh! The light finally came on and I realized who this woman was – the lawyer fangirl who Ironhide had saved the day I destroyed the Cube. We all knew about her – Ironhide would never let us forget – but I don't think anyone had ever told me her name.
Apparently the light came on for her, too, and her eyes flew wide. She covered her mouth in shock, and her expression made both me and Ironhide shake with laughter.
Recovering a little, she managed to stammer, "H-how…?"
"Later," Ironhide said, waving away her surprise. "But don't I get a hug from the fangirl?"
She bounded over to Ironhide's holoform and threw her arms around his neck. Then she giggled like a little girl while Ironhide hugged her, lifting her off her feet. After one last, tight squeeze, he let her go and turned to me. "Now, then, what exactly is going on here?"
"OH!" She suddenly reverted to lawyer-mode and glanced sidelong at the guard. "Choose your words carefully. Every word is discoverable."
"The prosecutor can require you to testify about anything that Mr. Witwicky says to you or that you say to him."
Ironhide frowned slightly. "Lennox was planning on getting some other lawyers in here to straighten this out."
She looked somewhere between crestfallen and desperate at that. "Maybe. But in the meantime, I'm obligated on several levels to look out for Mr. Witwicky's best interests. I'm just saying…choose your words carefully."
"Fair enough," Ironhide answered. "Now Sam, tell me what happened."
Raquel just about keeled over. "Don't answer that!" Turning to back to Ironhide, she gestured that he sit. "Here. Review the police reports first and see if that clears a few things up for you. And just so we're all on the same page, how do you know my client, Mister…?"
"Hyde," Ironhide said with a cheeky grin. "Aaron Hyde. And Samuel's a friend of the family. Good buddies with my nephew, Cam Romero, who goes by the nickname of 'Bee." At her confused expression, he added, "You know, because he likes yellow."
Her eyes lit up with understanding and a wave of relief washed over Raquel's face at this very human-sounding explanation. "You're all in the same 'family,' then." Again her eyes darted to the guard. "What a small world."
He nodded and turned to me. "Samuel, where's Bee's friend from the other family?"
Raquel seemed to think this was an acceptable question and didn't protest.
"Um…" I racked my brain, trying to find a way to say it without compromising anything. This was ridiculous, especially if we were all just going to say, 'sorry, it's classified' to the judge and then skip town. Of course, I was facing murder charges, so maybe Raquel was right to err on the side of caution. Just in case. "He's…his motorcycle's in the junkyard. The scrap-heap."
'Hide frowned and muttered 'slag' under his breath.
"How is 'Bee, anyway?" I asked. "And where's the rest of the family?"
"They're here, keeping an eye on him. He's in…dreamland right now. Bee's going to be fine, as long as his boss doesn't beat him senseless for the stunts he's pulled. Or R.C.," Ironhide added with an amused smirk. "River was gunning for him the whole way here."
"Do you know why he…" I wasn't sure how to phrase 'went on a homicidal rampage' in our little, human code.
"Lost his temper?" Ironhide supplied and his jaw tensed. "Yes. Reverb, the other one…bullied River in front of 'Bee a while back. It was a long time ago, but you know how we all feel about her."
Yeah, I'd been 'bullied' a bit by Decepticons myself. I could only imagine how furious Bumblebee would be with one that had personally tortured Arcee in front of him, especially with how he reacted to her being extinguished and reignited.
"So," Raquel cut in, "this other family…I take it they don't have many friends?"
"No," Ironhide said firmly. "None. I'm positive this other guy was working alone."
She sighed with relief. "Good. That will make my job much easier."
"So when do we post bail and get out of here?" he asked her.
"The DA hasn't brought formal charges yet, but they have another day and a half to do so, which will happen at the initial appearance. At that time, we'll enter a plea and post bail, if the judge allows it. Since Sam lives four hours away, we'll have our work cut out for us in convincing the judge he's not a flight risk."
"Oh, that's no problem," 'Hide said with a wolfish grin. "He can stay with some friends of mine at Nellis Air Force Base until we get this straightened out."