I can't believe we're actually here. The end. Wow. You know, I think this is the only worthwhile thing I've done in my life that I'm actually proud of. ;D

Honestly, I never expected to finish. I thought I'd lose interest or just forget about it…but apparently not.

It's been a fun run, peeps.

Be sure to read the author note at the end, just so you know where I'm going after this.

"The hardest part of ending is starting again."

~ (Guess who. A band. Surely someone will know…)

Chapter 26:

Nicole POV

Even though I was dead, I could feel the tension in the silence of Barricade's alt mode.

He had long since parked in an empty warehouse parking lot. Darkness had fallen, and I wondered if Jackie's parents were wondering where she was. Jackie herself didn't seem concerned at all. The dark-haired girl stared out the windshield with a blank look on her face. I guess this was all she could do, since she had chipped off the rest of her nail polish a long time ago. Barricade had explained everything, from when the war started to my death. That was difficult for him, and several times he had just stopped speaking at all. Now…he just looked tired.

Jackie suddenly sighed, eyes darting to Barricade's holoform. "You've been through some tough shit, haven't you?"

He smiled weakly, leaning heavily against the driver's door to look at her. "Yeah, I guess you could say that."

"And you used to be one of the bad dudes, right? A Decepticon or something?"

"Yeah, I did."

"But you defected."


"Because you met a human girl and fell in love with her."


"After you ran over her."

Barricade suddenly laughed out loud, this laugh real and happy. "Yes, I did, but it was her fault, too."

I glared at him, but he didn't see it of course.

Jackie smiled, and in that moment, I realized that she had purposely made him laugh. To cheer him up. The realization stunned me. She had said that on purpose so he would laugh. She did something I couldn't do right now for Barricade. She had cheered him up. Even though it lasted for only a short time, it had at least been there.

And because she had made my mate laugh when everything else was dark, I owed her.

Barricade drove Jackie home. On the way back, they made an deal.

The Mustang would stay with her until my protoform was finished, just for the sake of staying in one place with someone to talk to, and he would tell her anything she wanted to know about Cybertronians. This was okay with me, surprisingly. I understood why Barricade would want to stay. He wanted to talk to someone, someone living. I understood exactly how he felt, but there wasn't any help for me.

Jackie said he could stay in an abandoned barn that she passed on her way to school. That way she could check up on him on her way to school in the mornings and stay there after school.

That night, I laid beside my mate for recharge with a lighter mood than I had had in weeks.

I'll face myself

To cross out what I've become

Erase myself

And let go of

What I've done

Today was the day.

Today was the day that Ratchet commed Barricade, telling him my protoform was done.

In the time that Barricade had first met Jackie, they had grown closer. It was a lot like the bond that Taylor and Barricade already shared. Brother and sister. Jackie had told Barricade a lot of the same things that she said she had already told Bumblebee: her parents were usually too busy to spend time with her, she wished her life wasn't so predictable, and that she wanted to do something with her life other than sit behind a desk like her parents so often did. (There was also a lot of things about who's cheating on who at school and what boys she thought were cute and her grades failing epicly, but I didn't think that was as important.)

So when Barricade told Jackie that he had to leave, she literally demanded to be taken.

And how did 'Cade respond?


"What?" Jackie asked incredulously, looking shocked. "Why not?"

Barricade's blue optics looked anywhere but the human girl. His helm just barely brushed the roof of the old barn if he slouched and most of the time he sat on the ground so it was more comfortable. But now, while he was nervous and tense about telling Jackie the news, he had to get up and pace in the cramped space. It was an old habit, one I'm sure that had developed from the centuries of being a warrior, and it wasn't going to let him just sit still.


"Because why?"

The Mustang suddenly growled, finally looking at Jackie with a heated glare. "Because! Do you know how many humans have been drug into our war? Do you know how many have been killed? Do you know how much of my race has died because of a stupid war that shouldn't have left the gladiator rings? More than you can imagine. Just by staying here with you I'm putting you in danger. The Decepticons wouldn't hesitate to kill you. I'm not going to take you in the middle of it all."

Jackie scowled at Barricade, fists clenched. "You took that risk when you decided to start a relationship with Nicole. What's different now?"

I had a strong urge to either laugh at her tactics or smack her for being that bold about it. It was a low blow, and she knew it, which was exactly why it was such a great tactic. Prowl would've been proud.

My mate openly flinched, looking away. "That was different. I thought I could hide it from the Decepticons and the Autobots. I wasn't planning on taking her to the Autobot base."

"You were planning on hiding for the rest of your relationship with her," Jackie said flatly.

"No, I wasn't," he snapped. "I was going to tell her soon. But then some human saw me driving without a holoform and blogged about it on the Internet. Then Soundwave andthe Autobots saw it and…things fell apart."

Barricade suddenly sighed. "Why am I even telling you this? You don't understand the danger."

The dark-haired human girl crossed her arms. "Look. Maybe I don't know the danger of war. But I do know that there isdanger. I know what I'll be walking into. Besides, I just want to stay there for a week. My parents will be gone on a business trip for the next two or three weeks. I'll have the house to myself. I can tell my parents I'm going camping, and they'll excuse me from school. The perfect alibi."

When the Mustang said nothing, Jackie nearly stamped her foot. "Please, Barricade! I swear I'll be good and stay away from any red buttons and not snoop where I'm not supposed to be! I swear!"

Barricade's resolve was crumbling. Still, he knelt to Jackie's level and looked her straight in the eye. "Give me one good reason to take you with me."

The human girl did a wonderful impression of a fish out of water for a few seconds before grinning widely. "I've got pictures of you on my phone. In your bi-pedal mode."

It took my mate a few moments before he realized what that meant:

Blackmail. Very good blackmail that could be posted on the Internet.

And by then, Jackie had already made it out of the barn when he cursed loudly and stood up straight enough to whack his helm on the roof of the barn.

After a few minutes of cursing his stupidity, Barricade told Jackie it was safe to come inside again. I laughed openly at the smug look on the human girl's face. 'Cade saw it, too, and didn't think it was near as funny as I did. Engine growling ominously, he glared at Jackie. "Fine. You can come. But you have fifteen minutes to pack. If you're not ready by then, I'm leaving without you."

Jackie's squeal nearly drown out the sound of Barricade transforming.

Ten minutes later, I was sitting in Barricade's back seat while he had the engine going and Jackie was inside her house running around to get what she needed. I counted the minutes, and when the fifteenth minute came, the Mustang didn't leave like he said. Instead, he waited two extra minutes until Jackie came dashing out of her house.

As the human girl plopped in the passenger seat and Barricade pulled away, I smiled softly. " 'Cade, you're a big softie," I whispered to myself.

You know it's never too late to shoot for the stars

Regardless of who you are

So do whatever it takes

'Cause you can't rewind a moment in this life

Let nothin' stand in your way

'Cause the hands of time are never on your side

With every mile we got closer to the base, my nerves shot higher and higher. If I was alive, I was pretty sure I would've thrown up.

The trip that had taken Barricade nearly a month and a half earlier took him three days now. Maybe that was because he stopped only a few times for Jackie and himself. (I guess the fact that he was speeding helped, too.)

Less than a mile from the base, helicopters flew overhead, circling, before they flew back in the direction of the base to report that Barricade was finally home.

We were coming home.

The true meaning of that statement didn't strike me until I actually saw base. Homesickness that I had managed to suppress overwhelmed me. I hadn't seen anyone on base in weeks, and that was too long. Too long to be away from my family.

To say that there was a welcoming party waiting on Barricade would have been an understatement. It looked as if the whole base had gathered at the front of the main hangar, Autobots and soldiers alike. From the look on her face, Jackie couldn't believe that there were that many Transformers in one place. Barricade probably didn't believe that that many bots on base actually liked him. I couldn't believe they weren't angry over him leaving.

Whatever the reason they were there for, I'm sure none of them (besides the ones who knew about my protoform being built) expected him to come back. Even less expected was for a human teenager to get out of his alt mode before he transformed.

And when he did transform?

All that could be heard was silence. Then:


My mate didn't duck in time to miss the wrench that flew from the crowd. Or the second wrench. Or the metal baseball bat.

Four figures suddenly pushed their way through the dumbfounded crowd, who obviously hadn't expected there to be flying wrenches and baseball bats. Ratchet and Bumblebee were two of them, the medic looking seriously fragged off and the Camaro looked slightly shocked. The other two were Taylor and Willow, and Taylor was carrying a metal baseball bat in one hand and dragging Willow in the other.

What happened next occurred all at once, so let me give you the basics:

Ratchet started telling Barricade how much of an glitched idiot he was for bringing a human to base without clearance in Cybertronian with a lot of swear words on the side.

Bumblebee turned on his holoform and gave Jackie a hug, all while telling her that coming with Barricade was stupid.

Taylor was beating the crap out of Barricade's pede as bad as she could with the baseball bat, all while screaming obscenities at him with angry tears in her eyes.

And there poor Willow was, standing in the middle of it all with a deer-in-headlights look and dark magenta hair.

I'm pretty sure I wasn't the only one laughing.

What a welcoming party it was.

I'm seeing all the angles

Starts to get tangled

I start to compromise

My life and the purpose

Is it all worth it

Am I gonna turn out fine?

While Barricade had his little welcoming party outside, I appeared in the Med Bay. As expected, my protoform wasn't in the main part of the Med Bay. In the private operating room, on a medical berth, the protoform sat cold and still. It was featureless and nearly the exact size I was when alive. From the looks of it, I'd be a few inches taller in my new life. There wasn't any armor since Ratchet thought he was building a sparkling protoform. Which also meant no weapons.

With a slightly shaking hand, I took a deep breath and brushed my fingertips against the faceplates lightly. This was me, or it would beme.

My hands clenched suddenly and I found myself squeezing my eyes shut. Primus… I was scared. Primus himself had told me this would work, so I didn't have any doubts about that. What scared me so much was the aftermath. I had been human all my life. How different would being a machine be? As different as you can get. Going from organic to metal… How could you prepare yourself for that? I didn't know, and there wasn't anyone to tell me. This was the first time this was being done and I was all alone.

That brought up another point. What would I be? A Cybertronian? No, I'm not from Cybertron. Definitely not human, of course. So what would I be? Some freak of nature?

Something inside me cringed. In my middle school and high school years, I had always been a loner. I didn't hang out with other kids because things had been so different. I didn't care about who had a crush on who and what other people were doing on their own time. My views and the other kids' views had been so different that I had preferred to be alone by myself. I had heard the whispers, seen the looks. The fact that I had different ways to spend my pastime other than flirting with some boy or hanging out with friends had always classified me as, well, a freak. I didn't like it, but there wasn't anything I could do about it, so I went on with it.

But then Taylor had come along, and that had changed. I wasn't a loner with no friends, I was a loner with one overly happy cheerleader for a friend. I wasn't alone. And since then, I hadn't been alone for a long time.

But now…I was going to become something that had never happened. An organic turned machine. A freak of nature. There wouldn't be anyone to understand what it felt like, and that scared me. I had my family, but none of them had gone through this. None of them would understand what it would feel like.

I took a deep breath, opening my eyes. This was ridiculous. I was worrying over nothing. I was going to live again, wasn't I? I should be slagging grateful.

I nearly jumped out of my skin as the door swished open.

"-blackmailed me into it! It's not my fault!"

Ratchet snorted, rolling his optics. "Of course it isn't, Barricade."

The Mustang didn't retort anything back, and that was because he was staring at my protoform. In a quiet voice, he asked, "Is that-"

"Yes." Ratchet's voice had lost it's sharp edge. "We haven't told anyone else besides those who already know about it."

As if on cue, the others filed in the room. Optimus, Prowl, Jazz, and Bumblebee. Oh, and Jackie, who was sitting on Bumblebee's shoulder. I tilted my head curiously, wondering why she was here.

Before I could ponder more on it, I suddenly felt like I was being tugged. The sensation increased, and I panicked as the room started to fade to black. Then, in the blink of an eye, I was back in my version of the Matrix. This time the club was totally empty and there wasn't any music playing. It was so quiet I would have been able to hear myself breathe if I was breathing.

Are you ready?

I jumped at the quiet, tired voice of the AllSpark. Turning, I saw the white orb floating behind me. I bit my lip, but nodded. "Yes, I am."

There was something that sounded like breath of relief, almost as if the AllSpark had been holding its breath this whole time. Good.

It floated over to the door that I had stepped through with Primus the first time I had come here, light dimming. It is almost time.

I followed it, nervousness clawing at my stomach.

Barricade POV

The time had finally come.

I was bringing Nicole home. I was going to hold her again. I was going to see her. She might come back as a sparkling, but I don't think I really cared at the moment. She was coming home.

The others stood back as Ratchet gently pried the chestplates of the protoform open. As he worked, the medic asked, "Do you have the ring?"

"Yes." My servos were shaking as I reach in my sub space and pulled out the small chain I had looped the ring through to keep track of it. The silver glinted in the light of the PO room. This was going to be Nicole's spark now, this little ring that had absorbed the spare AllSpark energy. And my spark was going to ignite it. Just thinking about it made my spark jump, obviously recognizing the familiar energy in the ring.

I set the small ring down on the berth and turned my holoform on. Even my holoform's hands were shaking as slid the ring off the chain as I knelt beside the protoform. Nicole's new frame was featureless, but all sparklings developed features and colors after receiving their spark. With a shaky sigh, I gently placed the ring in the fragile spark chamber and turned my holoform off.

Ratchet stood back from the berth, giving me space to do what had to be done next: opening my spark chamber.

This was the ultimate show of trust for every Cybertronian. The only other mechanisms a Cybertronian bared their spark to was a either a medic or to their lover or bondmate during interfacing. Baring your spark for all to see was a show of vulnerability and trust. My coding was practically screaming at me that this was stupid and crazy, but my spark beat any line of coding.

The deafening silence in the room was broken by the hiss of my chestplates unlocking and separating. My fists involuntarily clenched at the display of vulnerability, but I continued and opened my spark chamber. The blue light spilled out across the berth and the protoform.

Out of the corner of my vision, I saw a small flash of moment as Prowl and Jazz both suddenly reached for each other and grasped each others servos. If the situation were different and I wasn't about to bring back my dead mate from the Matrix, I would have smiled. But as it was, I wasabout to try and bring Nicole back, so I was more focused on the protoform.

I leaned forward and braced my servos on the berth as a tugging sensation pulled on my spark towards the protoform. My spark floated partway from my open spark chamber to hover above the protoform's spark chamber.

And then it dropped down, connecting with the ring, and my entire frame froze.

The horrible feeling of my spark energy draining away over came me, fear taking over. My vision went white and static escaped my vocalizer as I felt an unbearable amount of pain flood every one of my senses. I could literally feelpart of my spark tearing away. Primus, it hurt worse than any other pain imaginable, enough to lose touch with reality. I was surprised I was still standing.

And then…another presence flooded my senses. One as familiar as my own spark.


Nicole POV

A silence settled over both me and the AllSpark. It wasn't an uncomfortable one, just…almost like it was final. And it was. After this, the AllSpark would be me, and the one floating next to me would be gone.

Suddenly I felt a tugging sensation on my chest, like a chord was attached to my shirt. Even though I wasn't breathing, it sucked the air out of me. Feeling choked, I barely managed to say, "It's starting."

A soft hum came from the AllSpark. Good. Open the door.

I did as it said and opened the door. On the other side was a blinding whiteness that spoke of nothing. Blinking against the light, my feet took the remaining steps until I was standing on the edge of the light. Now I felt like a giant hand was around me, squeezing everything out of me.

I summoned the strength I had to stop myself from stepping forward and said in a gasping breath to the AllSpark, "Goodbye."

The AllSpark orb floated level with my face. Goodbye, youngling.It brushed against my skin, and I was flooded by how much it was feeling. It wasn't the emotionless, cold being I had thought it to be. Right now, it was feeling immense relief, joy, and love for me. It was enough to make a tear come to my eye. The AllSpark really had cared that it had brought so much pain to my life. It felt bad, but it was so relieved that it's end had finally come and it could rest in peace.

"Thank you," I whispered, tears in my eyes.

I am the one who should be thanking you. I cannot express how grateful I am that I can now rest in peace.

The feeling of being pulled through the door increased tenfold, and I staggered forward. The Allspark brushed against me one last time, almost like it was pushing me forward.

Thank you, Nicole Witwicky. Until all are one.

The pulling increased.

I didn't see myself being pulled, I just felt it. It was slow, almost painful. I could sense the end, and it was near.

All of a sudden, I felt another presence. Barricade. It was wonderful to be able to finally feel him again, feel everything that he was and ever had been. This was my mate, my wonderful, beautiful Barricade that was more important to me than anything in the world.

And suddenly, there was no Nicole Witwicky or Barricade. It was just Us.

There weren't two different beings. We were one, merged together fully and wholly. We shared the same fears, joys, memories, dreams, and nightmares. We were each one half of a whole, finally able to merge and become one together.

It was wonderful. It was perfect. It was right.

And just as suddenly as it began, the merge started to separate. The loss had my new spark crying out for it's other half, Barricade. I was suddenly aware of the environment around me, able to feel again.

I was alive.

My spark sank into my new frame, the spark chamber closing automatically and the chestplates locking. I didn't see it, just sensed it.

The feeling of being aware struck me like a ton of bricks. My systems, neural rays, and processor all booted up. My holoform automatically turned on, just like Primus said it would. Data started streaming in faster than I could sort it. Everything felt too sensitive to my poor sensors. As if I had been doing it my whole life, I tuned down my sensors until the data slowed. Wisely, I waited for everything to adjust and the lubricants and Energon in my frame to start circulating.

Almost afraid, I didn't online my optics. I didn't want to see if this was all real or not. I was scared. No, terrified. Terrified out of my mind- I mean, processor.

Something barely brushed my cheek. "Nicole?"

Barricade. My optics onlined abruptly. The light of the room assaulted my optics, but I didn't care. Barricade's holoform was leaning over me, bright blue eyes wide with fear and skin pale. "Nicole?" he repeated.

Tears – Energon tears – came to my optics. "Oh, Barricade…"

And without any further thought, I latched my arms around him and started kissing the living slag out of my mate, all while sobbing.

The nightmare was over. I was alive. Barricade was here. We were together again.

A good time later, the private operating room was empty besides me and Barricade. He had turned off his holoform and was gingerly holding my new body in his servos against his chest. Somehow, between all the sobbing and kissing, he had made it to floor and leaned against the wall because he was no doubt so drained that he could hardly stand.

Apparently, new strength came with this new body. I was gripping his armor hard enough to dent it, afraid that if I let go I'd wake up and find out that everything wasn't real and I was still dead.

But, as I flexed my han- servo, in front of my face, I knew that this was real.

I was amazed by how heightened my senses were now. I heard things better, saw things better, and sensed everything around me. My EM field collected data from everything around me and fed it to my processor. I could feel the Energon coursing through me, my spark pulsing, and the AllSpark powers making me feel strong. My holoform covered my frame, so I looked the same as I had when I died, only I was wearing the same white t-shirt and jeans as I had in the Matrix. This…was amazing. It felt right. Like this frame had been my real form my whole life, and I had just been born into the wrong body. I had been destined for this.

Ever since I had been brought back to life, I had felt our bond, our newbond. When he had ignited my spark with his own, it had restored our old bond. Now that I had it back, I felt complete. I never wanted to go back to feeling like I had after I had cut our bond.

And right now, I felt unbelievable love, joy, and happiness flowing through our bond. Barricade was watching me with tired cerulean blue optics, a small smile on his faceplates. So far, he hadn't said anything since I had been resurrected.

I took a deep breath, reveling in the ability to do so now, and looked up into his optics with a smile. "I'm alive."

Barricade's optics dimmed, his smile getting bigger. "You are." As if to confirm it, he lifted me up and gently placed a kiss on my helm. "You are."

I stood up in his servos wobbly, since my balance had been off and I had a hard time walking in this new body. Gently, I pulled his helm down to me and leaned my forehead against his, closing my eyes so I could revel in the fact that I could touch my soul mate again. "I love you," I whispered.

"I love you, too," he whispered back. "I missed you so much."

"Me, too." I breathed in deeply again before pulling back to gaze into his dim optics. "Are you tired?"


"Liar," I said with a smile. "You are, you just don't want to admit it."

"I am not," he said some what stubbornly.

"Are too. You should rest. Your spark is going to be weak after bringing me back. I'm surprised Ratchet didn't immediately put you in stasis."

Barricade rumbled unhappily, optics flaring weakly. "I don't need the rest. Not yet, at least."

I frowned at him. "Barricade, I didn't come back just to watch you wither away because you're too stubborn. Now, comm. Ratchet for some Energon and get some recharge."

The Mustang watched me for a few moments before sighing deeply. "Fine. Have it your way. Just…be there when I wake up?"

I smiled softly, placing my servos on his faceplates. "Of course, 'Cade. Always."

Later, after Barricade was in recharge with an Energon IV in his arm, I was suddenly pulled into a crushing hug by Ratchet's holoform.

"Stupid fragging idiot," he murmured in my hair. "Ever get yourself killed again and I'll bring you back from the Matrix myself to beat some sense in your helm."

I laughed quietly, barely managing to wiggle my arms out of his grip to hug him back. "Thanks, Hatchet."

The moment lasted for a few seconds, and then it was over, as quick as it had began. After all, he had a reputation to maintain. Ratchet turned his holoform off and glared down at me. "Well, since I figured you were going to be a sparkling – well, technically you are – I didn't give your protoform any armor. And, considering how much trouble you tend to attract, you are most definitely going to need it, along with your defense systems. Which means-"

"Upgrades in the future with the Hatchet. I know," I said with a smile. "But what did you mean I technically am a sparkling?"

"Your processor may have twenty years worth of knowledge, but your frame is only a few hours old.


"Yes, oh. That means no jumping from heights, doing anything dangerous-"

"That hurts, Ratchet. Who do you take me for? A mad woman?"

Ratchet's mouth twitched like he was tempted to smile. "A mad femme, you mean, and yes, I do."

I stuck my glossa out at him.

He snorted, but held his open servo out to me. "Now, before I go into specifics, there are some bots that want to see you."

My spark skipped at beat at the words, and I immediately stepped on his servo with wobbly legs. He paused a moment before keying open the door and walking into the Med Bay. And standing there was Optimus, Prowl, and Jazz.

Something in me broke at the sight of my family, and paying no heed to Ratchet's earlier warning, I jumped off his servo and onto a medical berth, very nearly falling flat on my faceplates. But two different holoforms caught me in a big crushing hug, stopping me from falling.

For a moment, I was overwhelmed by the EM fields of Jazz and Prowl and my own emotions. I could hear words, but couldn't understand them. The pressure of two different hugs was nearly painful.

And then I was looking into the faces of Prowl and Jazz, the bots I considered my adopted creators. Something wet rolled down my faceplates, and the dark hand of Jazz wiped away an Energon tear that I hadn't known was there. Both were smiling and I smiled, too. "Hey, guys." My voice cracked halfway through.
"Primus, Nicki, ya're alive," Jazz said, bringing our foreheads together with his holoform's eyes shut. "Ya're alive."

I laughed a little, feeling choked up. "I am, aren't I?"

Prowl didn't say anything, but just smiled. He didn't have to. I knew exactly how he was feeling, and how he couldn't put any of it into words, just like I couldn't put this moment into words.

I blinked, trying to clear any tears from my optics, and stood back to look them both in the face. "Turn off your holoforms so I can say this to your faceplates."

I got two confused looks, but they did as I said, their holoforms disappearing and their optics lighting up.

Once I was certain I had every ounce of their attention, I glared at them and said, "You're both idiots."

Both Jazz and Prowl's jaws dropped, Optimus smiled, and Ratchet burst into laughter behind me.

Prowl was the first to recover, doorwings flaring back behind him. "Excuse me?"

I put my hands on my hips. "You know what I mean. Next time you have a fight for threemonths, I swear to Primus I'll lock you in a closet until you make up."

"Ya knew 'bout that?" Jazz asked, smiling a bit.

I cracked a half-grin, tilting my helm. "Of course. You honestly didn't expect me to sit around doing nothing for three months in the Matrix, did you?"

Prowl smiled, and Jazz openly laughed. " 'Course not, Nicki. Wouldn't expect any less of ya."

I laughed a little, savoring the feeling of normality that hadn't been there for a very long time. Then it passed, and the pulsing of AllSpark power in my new body reminded me of something important that needed to be said. Clenching my fists tightly, I turned to Optimus. "Um… I'm not sure if you worked it out yet, or the Matrix told you, but I am the new AllSpark."

The Prime nodded, stepping closer to the med berth I was standing on. "Yes, the Matrix sent the feeling of a new beginning. Until I saw your resurrection taking place I wasn't sure what it meant." He smiled warmly, breaking the serious mood. "Welcome back, Nicole."

I smiled back. "It's good to be back. Really good."

Humming a nameless song to myself softly, I stroked Barricade's faceplates as he recharged in the private operating room. Ratchet said he'd be sleeping for awhile, but I fully intended to be there when he woke. I swore to myself that from now on, I'd do anything I could for Barricade, because the road ahead was going to be hard on both of us.

Ratchet, Optimus, Jazz, Prowl, and Bumblebee were supposedly getting ready to break the news of my resurrection to everyone. After they explained things, I'd come out of the Med Bay and show them it really was me. More than once I had to squash the feelings of nervousness in me. Would they accept me? I always came up with the same answer. Of course. They were my family, and they'd accept me however I was.

I sighed and closed my optics. The bond between Barricade and I was flaring strong, wide open. Since it had been restored, I realized just what I had been missing after I cut it. Never again would I do that, not unless- …Unless it came to a choice between my duty and both of us dying. Being the AllSpark had certain responsibilities. Responsibilities such as having to cut the bond if Barricade was dying. Until this war was over, I couldn't die. The Autobots needed the AllSpark, and if I let myself die with Barricade, it'd just be a selfish act that condemned everyone in the war. And if I was dying, I wouldn't cut the bond. I'd rather die with Barricade than both of us suffer without each other.

And I knew Barricade would agree with me on each of these situations, simply because I knew the mech inside and out.

I was still reveling in the warmth of our bond when I heard the human door to the operating room open. (How cool was that? I could tell what door had opened just by hearing and my EM field!)

I opened my optics, expecting to see Taylor or Willow-

But instead I saw Jackie.

I blinked, staring at the teenager as she fidgeted on the ground where she stood. She stared back, obviously wanting to say something, but always closed her mouth before she could say it.

I took mercy on her. "Hi. Are you lost or something?"

She laughed nervously, her laugh just a little too high-pitched. "Um, no, actually. I…I just wanted to talk to you for a few moments before they tell everyone about you being alive."

I smiled, but transwarped down to the floor. I stumbled a bit a first, but stood up again quickly. Still smiling, I held my servo out to her. "Hello. My name is Nicole Witwicky."

Jackie stared at my servo blankly. Then, slowly, she gave me her own hand and shook it. "Um…I'm Jackie." She paused, then said louder, "Oh my God. I just shook a dead person's hand."

The moment was so weird and bizarre, I laughed out loud, relishing my first laugh in this new body. If felt good. Really good.

My laughing seemed to calm her down a little bit and she smiled. "So that didn't offend you?"

I shook my helm, still smiling. "No, not at all. I would've said the same thing."

There was a pause between us as she looked me up and down. "So, you're the infamous Nicole that Barricade's been telling me about?"

"The very one."

She nodded. "When Barricade was telling me about you, I had a hard time imagining what you would be like. But now that I can see you… I can tell why you're perfect for each other."

The words touched my spark because I'd never heard anything so nice from a stranger. "Thank you, Jackie."

The teenager shrugged, blushing.

I watched her for a moment as she shifted from foot to foot, twisting her iPod ear plugs in her hands. "That wasn't all you wanted to say, was it?"

She stared at the floor, shaking her head. "No, it wasn't, actually." Jackie looked up into my optics. "I…I just wanted to say I'm glad I got to see you be reborn or resurrected or whatever the hell that was earlier."

I blinked, confused. "Why?"

"Are you kidding? You did all these brave things that I could never have done. You went through some pretty tough crap, and you're not even bitter about it."

I laughed softly, smiling sadly. "That's…very nice of you to say. But I'm sure anyone could have done it."

Jackie frowned at me. "What you did takes strength. Not everyone has that strength."

I was at a loss for any words, so I said the one thing that I had learned through the whole ordeal. "Strength is only how well you hide pain."

She shrugged. "Maybe. But… Still. I respect you for what you did."

I finally managed to get control over my emotions and smiled at her. "Thank you, Jackie. You don't know how much I appreciate it."

The teenager smiled back, looking slightly sheepish. "Don't thank me. Really. Don't. Getting to see you be brought back to life was enough. It was…incredible."

I looked down at my servos, flexing them. "You don't know the half of it."

There was silence between us, but it was comfortable unlike the silence from a few minutes before. I held a new respect for Jackie now, and she held new respect for me. Yes, Jackie was an odd teenager. A very odd teenager.

But a good one.

"Are you going to visit your own grave?"

I jumped, startled out of the silence. "What?"

Jackie bit her lip as if she had said the wrong thing. "Are you going to visit your own grave?"
I blinked stupidly. "You know, I hadn't thought of that yet. But… Yeah, I guess I will."

Jackie nodded. "…Right. That will be weird." She glanced up at Barricade, then back to me. "Um… I have to go before they find me in here. Bumblebee told me to stay away from the Hatchet's territory, and the Hatchet is the neon yellow Autobot, right?"

"Yeah, that's him," I said with a grin.

She took a deep breath. "Okay, then. I better get going. And… Could you take care of Barricade for me? He may have done some bad things in his past, but he's a good mech. He deserves this second chance."

I nodded, smiling a little. "Yeah, I guess we're both using our second chance right now. Mine being a second chance at life and his…" I looked up to my recharging bondmate, love from our bond making my whole frame go warm. "His is a second chance to correct his past mistakes."

I looked back to Jackie. "Thank you for taking care of him. You don't know how much that makes me happy. Not everyone would have done the same. If you every need a favor, I'd be glad to help."

"You don't need to do anything for me-"

"Yes, I do. Really, anything."

Jackie opened and closed her mouth a few times, arguing with herself, before she finally smiled. "Thank you." Then she realized something. "Wait. Were you there the whole time when Barricade was in Colorado with me?"

I laughed. "Yes, the whole time."

Jackie just stared at me for a few moments before cursing and running a hand through her hair. "Well, this is awkward."

"Only for you."

"I'm going to ignore that smug tone you're using and make my exit," she said with a wave to me. "Bye, Nicole. Guess I'll be seeing you around the next few days, huh?"

"Yeah, probably. Bye, Jackie."

I watched her leave, and for a few moments, I just stared at the door even though it had closed already. The only sound was my own breathing and Barricade's tired systems cycling. I had an internal argument with myself before I finally made a decision and transwarped.

I reappeared in the graveyard where my parents were buried and where I was buried. It was late afternoon and the sun cast light across me. I took a deep breath, soaking up the warmth that I hadn't felt in so long.

After a few moments of enjoying the sunlight, I reminded myself of my mission and took off walking through the rows of graves. It only took me a moment to find my parents grave. To the left of my mother's grave was my own, where grass had already started to cover the dirt. There sat my own tombstone, with my name, birth, and death date engraved into the white marble. Under the dates and my name, it said, "You died a true warrior's death, fighting for what you believed in and loved. Until all are one."

I stood before my grave and stared at it. Six feet under my pedes, my old human body rested in a coffin, decaying.

There's something strange about seeing your own grave. I thought I would've been disturbed, or had a sense of déjà vu, or something, but all I felt was…peace. Something inside me had been put to rest by seeing my own grave. I felt at peace.

The old Nicole Witwicky was dead. The new one was going to make something of this new life I'd been given. I was going to take my second chance and make something of it, something good.

Suddenly I felt a cold, biting feeling fall over me, wrapping me in an ice cold grip. I felt a presence beside me, but there was nothing there. Then the voice.

Even good can be corrupted, femme.

Then as suddenly as it came, it was gone. I gasped, feeling all the air sucked out of me. I blinked, looking around, but whatever it was had already gone. Yet I still had the feeling of being watched.

My servos tightened into fists as I replayed the voice in my processor. It sounded familiar, but I couldn't place it. And I really didn't like the message it had delivered. The AllSpark pulsed through me like a heartbeat, reminding me of the power I had now.

Feeling a new strength set in, I looked back to my grave. Whatever it was…I would be ready to face it. I'd face it with everything I had, because I wasn't going to let anything ruin this second chance. I'd come this far. I could go farther. I knew I could.

Because I had my friends, my family, my Barricade. As long as I had them, I could face what lay ahead, even if it included creepy voices and Decepticons shooting at me.

Feeling more confident than I had in a long time, I turned my back to my grave, my past, and started walking back towards the cemetery entrance.

Towards Barricade.

Towards the future.

...O.O Wow. I'm finished. I actually did it. Amazing, considering that I did this.

*throws party in my head* YESSSSSS!

1) I could never have done this without all you readers. Really. Reviews are what keeps me going. I LOVE feedback. Thank you to all those kind people who reviewed, faved, and alerted! Thanks so much! Never in my dreams did I expect to get to 240 reviews...

2) There WILL be a sequel. It will go up right after this, so be looking for it. And the summary will suck at first, trust me. I'm trying to come up with one right now.

3) I will be posting a little haven for any bunnies that have bit me and I didn't fit into the main story line, or bonus scenes. The damn bunnies have been biting me left and right throughout the whole story, and I really need to get rid of them.

4) The song verses I used in this order: What I've Done - Linkin Park; If Today Was Your Last Day - Nickelback; Keep Your Head Up - Andy Grammer. Really, these are awesome songs. Check them out. I'll reveal who plays that quote I used at the beginning.

5) Mucho gracias to my dear friend, Silverfire's Shadow! Without you, I would probably very depressed. I know I may not seem all that depressed to you all, but I actually have a real life going in between chapter updates. *le gasp!* But thank you, Silverfire, for being there to listen to my rants and for me to bounce ideas off of. :) Thank you. It's incredibly hard to find a true friend in this world of ours.

6) Again, thank you to all my readers! Ya'll's feedback is really sweet. Remember to review on your way out to give me an idea of how you thought of my whole story.

It's been fun, people. It really has.