Sunrise Over Tomorrow
Disclaimer: I do not own Transformers. I should think that rather obvious with my college-induced poverty and all.
Warnings: Spoilers for DotM
AN: Somewhat of a companion to my fic Between Brothers. Also, I figure if Optimus can bring back Sentinel, why not all the others who died?
It's morning now, but the air is almost cold, and the humans gag on the dust and ash. He spent most of the night before patching up his comrades as best he could before going to search for survivors.
Ratchet finds two. An old woman blind with age and a hysterical young boy who clings to Sam and refuses to let go until the human medics finally sedate him.
The dead are too numerous to count. So many humans fragile and broken. Pieces they find scattered here and there and everywhere that they try to put back together the best they can. But they can't ever fix this. Can't ever make it right.
And it's not fair. It's not. It never will be.
Even more so as Prime brings back Wheeljack and Wheelie with a shudder and jolt. They'll rebuild Ironhide the best they can and try their luck. There's even talk of finally trying it on Jazz.
But the humans are lost. Are gone where not even the legendary Matrix of Leadership can reach them.
All he can do is gather up their remains ash by ash. All he can do is stand above them and know that Primus is cruel beyond measure. All he can do is watch the humans cry until the tears run out.
Ratchet just wishes he could join them.
Will doesn't believe in ghosts.
It wasn't Graham's shout he heard when he ducked in the nick of time. It wasn't Fig's hand on his shoulder that let him keep his head in Mission City. It wasn't his mom's perfume that made him turn and see Sarah for the very first time.
It wasn't any of them. It was just coincidence.
Will collapses for a moment as the work finally gets too much. He's been up for nearly three days. They haven't found a survivor in over fourteen hours. He's tired. He can hardly see straight. His back aches. His body aches. His heart aches.
This is a thousand times worse than Mission City ever thought of being. The elementary school in front of him is barely more than two walls and pile of bricks now, and the little girl he just pulled free has hair the same color as Annabelle.
It's all he can do to keep from keeling over right there.
"Get off your aft, Will," Ironhide says from beside him.
Will doesn't feel the phantom weight of large fingers as they push him to his feet. He also doesn't see that blue gaze watching over him as he continues to work. He doesn't have a black Autobot standing by his side when it's finally time to go home.
And when he finally sees his girls nearly two weeks later and both of them come running, it isn't Hide's laughter he hears either.
Ratchet finished reattaching his arm the night before, but his fingers still tingle as he looks out over the city. Half of the buildings are gone. Another quarter is undoubtedly to follow. The rest are as damaged as the humans who huddle in their shadows.
The dead outnumber the living, and their numbers only grow.
They're all laid out together. Autobot and human and Decepticon alike. Friends and enemies and victims in life. Equal now as they weren't before.
But that isn't exactly true. Already, the Matrix has brought back two of their own. But the Decepticons and traitors remain still.
Starscream is missing his face. Shockwave is missing most of his body. Soundwave is just missing, and Optimus pretends he didn't see Sam and Bee dispose of him in the least respectful way possible.
But the last bodies are the ones who hurt him most of all.
He glances from Sentinel's silent form to Megaton's broken one and back. Brother and mentor and family forged true.
And Optimus can only wonder what's so wrong with him that the two he loved the most both betrayed him in the end.
He loves Carly. He does. Sam came for her. He went through hell and crumbling buildings and will have nightmares for the rest of his life. She's his girlfriend. She's the lady in his life.
The rubble clears, and she wants to go back to England. She doesn't even ask what happened to Wheelie or Brains. They stay over two weeks, and Carly spends most of it crying in relief or clutching her parents as Sam stands on the sidelines.
Sam goes back home afterwards. Back to his own family, to his parents and Bee and the bots. Carly stays.
He's unexpectedly okay with it as he sits next to Bee under the stars the night he gets back. They talk about everything and nothing and think about lost chances. They smile and laugh and trade stories until the sun rises.
Sam learns a month later that Mikaela had just started a new job in Chicago. They never find her body.
Epps keeps his dream job. Works with spaceships and aliens and doesn't get shot at. The pay's great. His wife's happy to be settled. His kids love their big house with the huge backyard. The fact that it's covered in tire tracks and footprints wider than they are tall is only a bonus.
But more than Qatar. More than Mission City. Epps dreams of Chicago. Dreams of following crazy Sam Witwicky. Of saving his world and his race and his friends. Of skyscrapers and the sound of glass crumbling. Of digging through the wreckage to find only broken people inside.
He speaks to Will Lennox every night that first year just to make sure they're both still alive and this isn't some dream, too.
They run the memorial shows for weeks around the anniversary. Footage of the devastation and bodies being pulled free. Scenes of the buildings as they continue to fall in even days later. Some nameless news anchor jerking his hand at the empty horizon behind him with anger. Optimus Prime with his mask over his face, staring out at nothing.
But the most important thing Epps notices are what the cameras and TV stations never intended to show.
In the background, a mixed crew of humans and bots work hand in hand laying foundations for a new city.
Bee has never been so happy as when Sam comes to stay with them permanently. It feels like his family is finally all there. Even with all the pain, even with all the human heartbreak, they're together now, and maybe this war is over for real this time. Maybe this will finally be a home.
And there's laughter and there are stories as they gather around in remembrance. Some silence. Some tears. But Sam is a warm weight leaning against his leg.
The twins argue. Wheelie eggs them on. Arcee threatens all three as Sideswipe holds her back. Jolt and some of the others start a bonfire in true human tradition, and even Ratchet manages a smile. Optimus is quiet as he has been since their last battle, and Hide won't shut up about the new Lennox sparkling.
They name her Mikaela.