Well, it's a bit later than I've been updating, but... I've been pretty sick, so forgive me for that.

On the up side... I think I figured out a few chapter ideas. XD

I already know what's for next time, I don't know if I'll get to it right away...

Oh yeah, but before I forget, I need one more idea from y'all: Next chapter, what should happen besides Megs and Stacie talking? 'Cause... that's kinda all I got LOL. After all, he can't move, and he wouldn't exactly be welcome in town... heh... so. If you have an idea, I reaaaaally would like a review.

It's kinda long, but I hope you guys enjoy! :D

I set my alarm to wake me up at eight, because this would be my first time ever alone with Optimus. I wanted to look... well... not like a mechanic for once. I wanted to look... pretty. And I had a long way to go.

After a shower, I got into the drawers in my vanity. I actually had to turn on my iPod and look up online how to apply eyeshadow, since I'd never really worn any. I showed up to my senior prom in a denim jumper over a white tee and a pair of sneakers with my hair in a ponytail, people. I wasn't exactly experienced with this kind of thing, the way my mom was back then. But eventually, I got on some shimmery gold eyeshadow with black on the actual lid. I also managed to put on some eyeliner and mascara (the order I describe it, um, curiously has no relation to do with the actual order you put it on in) and rosy lip gloss.

I only owned one dress, and it... wasn't exactly a dress for the occasion. It was more of a formal dress, and if I wore it out today I would have a hell of a time getting into Optimus's alt mode. Besides the fact that it was long, it was the kind of dress you can't wear anything but heels with. High heels.

I settled for a more laid-back version of my usual look. A white tank top, some denim cut-offs, and a pair of sandals. I put my hair in two ponytails, and hoped I didn't look like a little kid.

Then I brushed my teeth and went out the back door, because I could already hear Mirage up and running, playing Freddy Krueger with my trees. "Hey! Miraaaaage!"

He paused, letting a branch fall without slicing it, and looked down at me. "Cenere."

"How do I look?"

He smiled. "Bella. Stunning, as always."

"Come on, be honest."

"I am. I would never lie to you."

"C'mere, pick me up a second."

He did, being careful of his blades, and brought me up near his faceplates. "What is it?"

I hugged his buccal region (heehee, cheek) as I'd done with Optimus last night. "Don't you ever think that I don't want to spend time with you, okay? Being with you is one of my favorite things. I just want Optimus to chill out for a while, and I know that unless I follow him around he won't. I'm just worried about him overworking, that's all. I promise, you and I are going to have the whole rest of the weekend for us."

He accepted the touch, and ran his thumb along my back. "Pazza ragazza," he muttered, venting. "I was, ah... wrong to get so jealous. I overreact. You and I, we are together all the time. Every weekend, we get two days all to ourselves. We get so much time, and... perhaps that is the reason I get possessive. I am your guardian, and... to be with you so much... that is all any guardian wants. To be with their charge. It makes me uneasy to not be with you since we are together so much."

I smiled, rubbing his cheek. "I just want you to know, Mirage, that no matter what, you'll always be my cute little Ferrari. You're my guardian, and even though other people take different spots in my life, nobody can replace you."

"Sì, I know." He put me down. "Have a good time. Meet you at the plaza."


"Oh, and Prime is already here."

"Huh?" I followed him to the front yard, where he showed me the Peterbilt on the grass, not moving. I raised an eyebrow and looked up at Mirage. "Umm...? When did he get here?"

"Early. Five, maybe. I, ah, think he went back into recharge waiting for you."

"Ahhh, lovely. Nothing like starting off the day on the right foot! See you later, Mirage." I walked over to the truck and lightly tapped the door. "Optimus. You slept. On my lawn."

All at once there was a rumble, and he transformed. He looked down at me, obviously a little embarrassed. "Aspen... err... I thought Mirage was going to come get me out of recharge when you were ready."

I heard Mirage chuckle as he walked out back again. "There is little I like more than playing with people's processors."

I rolled my eyes. "Way to go, Mirage. Guess who Prowl's giving target duty next? And I won't defend you this time!"

"It is worth it, bella!"

I turned back to Optimus, shaking my head. "You already know he's hopeless, so I won't state it again. Oh wait, I just did!" I called, making sure Mirage could hear. But apparently he was done talking to us because I didn't get an answer. "Uh, well then. Ready to go?"

"You look lovely," were the first words out of his mouth.

"You're making me blush." I pulled a loose thread off my tank. "And you - well, you always look the same. But I like the way you look anyway."


"Yes, please," I giggled. "So, wanna get going?"

"What did you have planned?"

"Oh, I was figuring we'd think of it as we went along." I pushed a few stubborn strands of hair out of my face. "Maybe we could just start by driving. You know, like around the less-traveled roads... maybe into the woods. You could transform back there, whereas in town..."

"Not to contradict, but most of your world knows of our existence now. Theoretically I could transform anywhere."

I pouted. "You'd probably get stares. I just wanted to save you from being gawked at."

"Would you have a better time in the city?"

I shrugged. "I would be fine anywhere as long as we're together." I glanced over at my doorstep, and grinned when I saw the bag I'd left there last night. "Well, would you look at this!" I walked over and picked it up. "Maybe this has some stuff we can do."

I saw him smile, and it was so obvious he knew how I was. "Could be."

"Alt mode time! Let's drive out to the river, it's not too far. I have an idea."

I heard him laugh as he transformed. "That can't be good."

"Right you are, my hardworking friend." I opened the door of the truck and climbed inside - it was quite a climb by the way. I sat down in the driver seat and put my bag on the passenger seat. "Do you mind if I drive? It's always been a, um... dream of mine to handle a big old truck like this. Just to see if I could do it."

"Not at all. I have faith that you can do it, but if you don't feel like you're doing well I will take over."

"Do I have to get out of the driver seat if that happens?"

"No, you can stay there. I would prefer it."


"Please put your seatbelt on, Aspen. With your luck-"


After driving out on the roads leading to the woods, I parked Optimus with his help, near the river. When I got out with my bag, he transformed. "What are you thinking?"

"I'm thinking... I'm not telling you yet." I knelt down the river and giggled rather sinisterly as I pulled out a bag of balloons. I dunked a few into the water and tied them off, hiding them behind the bigger bag.

His shadow loomed over me. "What are you doing, Aspen?"

"Oh, nothing."

I heard him vent heavily. "Why is it I don't, what's the word... believe you?"

"ROBO WATER BALLOON FIGHT, WAHOO!" I turned around, springing to my feet, and launched a balloon. I proceeded to laugh my ass off when it hit his face and soaked him. The best part was his expression; it didn't even change. He just stood there, blinking, probably thinking: Just when I thought she couldn't get any crazier...

"... What?"

"Water balloons!" I managed to wheeze out through my laughter. "Normally you fill them with air, and they're for parties. But these are meant to be filled with water. Then you throw them at people. It's super fun."

"What... is the purpose behind it?"

"Well, I guess it must've started in summer. It's a good way to cool off. Heads up!" I tossed another one, which landed on his chestplates. "Gotcha again!"

"What am I supposed to throw? Do you have any bigger ones?"

"You can probably pick up the little ones!"

"Pardon my slang, but - in what universe?"

"BAZINGA!" I threw another one, and when that one burst near his pelvic armor, I couldn't help myself. I collapsed on the ground, almost literally ROTFL-ing. I was loud and obnoxious, and for once I didn't care. If he liked me the way I was, why should I feel bad for being me?

All of a sudden, a shadow came over me. I'd barely opened my eyes to see that it was Optimus's servos... before I was almost drowned by a freaking tidal wave.

"FUUUUUUUUCK!" I screamed, and I must have looked like an idiot floundering about on the grass like that. The force of the water had managed to turn me over so that I was on my stomach now. I was moving my arms and legs, trying in a very weird, unfounded attempt to swim, and I was coughing, though it wasn't that bad. I may have swallowed some of the water though. "Cheater, cheater, pumpkin-eater!"

Optimus leaned over me, and he was trying not to laugh. "A... little too much?"

I looked up, flipping my wet hair, and gave him a glare/pout. "Game. Not funny. Anymore."

"Not funny because I'm winning now."


"... You're not getting into my alt mode like that."

"Oh yeah? You're not driving me around like THAT!"

Because he refused to let me drive while wet (and he was pretty wet himself), we stayed out there for about an hour, lying on the grass and drying ourselves out. The sun was surprisingly warm today, and it was relaxing to just sit back and not worry about having anything to do. We weren't going to be interrupted today.

"So," I spoke up, shifting so that my arms were behind my head. "Mirage wanted to take me to a drive-in movie tonight, at eight. I told him we'd meet him there. Is that okay?"

"It sounds enjoyable. Will you be staying with him?"

"Nah. He agreed that I could stay with you as long as he could drive with me all night."

"He got a bit possessive, did he?"

"Yeah, but we worked it out. He apologized, and I told him nobody would ever take his place. I mean..." I shrugged. "He's my guardian. How could anybody take his place? I'd never let that happen."

"I take it he understood."

"Yeah. He'll always be there for me."

"And I take it you understand, correct? You understand that it's expected for him to be somewhat envious of your spending time with anyone besides him."

"Oh, I get it. Guardians are like that, I hear." I smiled. "Sam told me that Bee was like that sometimes."

"He was. Though as Bumblebee matured, the manifestations of it became more subtle."

I cracked an eye. "It's a guardian thing, right? Not a... Mirage thing? Could you explain it to me?"

"Of course." He propped himself up a little, looking at the sky. "You see, the bond between a guardian and their charge is very strong. It's almost like a sparkmates' bond, but without the romantic attraction."

"That's what Ironhide says. When he said I have a bond with him now, he said it's like a guardian's bond. Like... not quite sparkmates, but more than friends."

"Exactly. A guardian's most primitive instinct is to be with their charge, to protect them. They experience feelings of unrest when they aren't with their charge." He looked down at me. "Sometimes they get anxious, and every other thought that crosses their processor is about wondering whether their charge is alright. Sometimes it can even happen to the charge when they aren't with their guardian. If the bond is especially strong, the emotions are worse."

"Oh. I... think I get it." I put my hand on the grass behind me and sat up. "So it's like... a wicked version of worrying. Mirage just wants to know I'm okay, right? It's his way of showing he cares about me."


I sighed. "I have to admit, I'm a little worried about him too. Did you know this is the first time since we met where we've been separated for more than a few hours? I hope he doesn't get so bored he gets into trouble."

Optimus chuckled. "The bond's emanation off both of you is strong. You should be more worried that his own processor won't drive him into overheating."

"Oh my God - do you think that might really happen?" I reached over into the bag for my cell phone, which I'd, err, modified so it could simulate a comm link with the others. "Maybe I should check on him real quick. Do... Do you think I should?"

"It may be a good idea. He could already be worrying about you. Perhaps simply the sound of your voice might keep him from growing too concerned."

I frowned as I dried off my hand on the grass and clicked my contact Miraggio. "I can't believe it, I miss him already. I didn't think I would."

"If you want to go back, I will take you back."

"No, I just... I need to talk to him."

::Ciao?:: came the voice on the other end of the link.


::Cenere? Is something the matter? Do you need me to come get you?:: He sounded awfully worried, like he thought something bad had happened.

I had to admit, it was a little flattering how he was so quick at jumping to the conclusion that I needed him. "No, nothing's the matter. You don't need to come get me." I gripped the phone with both hands, sitting a little straighter and looking down at the water flowing over the rocks. I was unaware that Optimus was listening to every word. "I just... how are you doing? You still in the yard?"

::Mi manche, è come sto facendo,:: he mumbled, and the tone of it cracked my heart a little bit. ::I'm just, ah, driving around town. Might go to the beach. Maybe I'll, ah... go into holoform and have a swim.::

"Don't go skinny-dipping again," I giggled, and all of a sudden I felt like I was about to cry. "The, um... the last thing we need is you catching a cold."

::Sì, tesoro,:: he answered, and I could tell he was smiling. ::Thank you for worrying.:: There was a brief pause, then he said, ::Are you... ah... having fun?::

"Yeah, I... gotta figure what we're doing after we get dried off."

::Asciugiati?:: he laughed. ::What in Pit are you doing?::

"I'll tell you about it later. W-Well, I, um... I'll see you tonight."

::Vediamo allora. Have a good time.::

"W-Wait!" I called before he could hang up. "Mirage...?"


"I..." I swallowed. "I miss you."

::Already? I thought you were excited to be with Prime.::

"No, no, I am, I just..." I felt my eyes tear up a little, and my voice cracked. "I-I miss you."

I heard him make a noise, but I couldn't tell what it was. Sounded almost like he was clearing his throat, but... not quite. ::I... I miss you too. But... we'll be together soon, sì? Before you know it.::

"Yeah, I know. Bye, Mirage. I'll call you again."

::Not if I call you first. Arrivederci.::

I hung up and put my phone back in the bag before running a hand over my eyes.

"Is he alright?" Optimus asked.

"Yeah, he's... he's fine. Just misses me."

He reached down and carefully ran a finger down my cheek. "Are you alright?" he queried, softer this time.

"Oh, I'm fine... just a crybaby. I didn't realize how much I missed him till I heard him say he missed me. I guess I didn't understand just how much I could need someone I haven't known very long."

"I'm told it often hits you very hard." He reached his finger behind me and caressed my back. "You wonder how you've survived until now without them. I hear it's a very complicated bond."

"You can say that again." I embraced his touch; if Mirage couldn't be the one to comfort me right now, I'd rather it be Optimus than anyone else. (Well, maybe I would have accepted 'Hide too... but he wasn't with me.) "Is it the same thing with a sparkmate?"

"Similar, from what I've been told."

I let the corners of my mouth creep up. "So you don't have a sparkmate then?"

"I suppose... I just haven't found the right femme."

"You know, I was... kind of hoping you didn't." Wait... did I just say that out loud? The hell - did that come out of my mouth?

"Were you?"

"Yeah." Well, past the point of no return now. May as well keep going. "I don't know, I guess... I haven't found the right person either. And it, like, just hit me right this second. If we haven't found our soulmate or sparkmate or what have you... maybe they're not the same as we are physically. I mean, if we've searched our worlds and haven't found them..." I looked up at him. "It's... kind of a long-shot, right?"

"It sounds logical to me." He just looked into my eyes for a minute, then offlined and onlined his optics. "Aspen... may I pick you up?"

"Sure, but... why?"

"Just to hold you. To feel you."

"Well, I think I'm mostly dry." I smiled and shot my hands out. "Lift away, mighty Prime."

He said nothing as he slid his servo beneath me, and cupped his other servo around me so I didn't fall. I opened my eyes as he brought me up near his face, and I stretched my legs out, since they'd been crossed before. "So, how... how do I feel?"

"You are soft. Your body is... nothing like the body of a femme."

I laughed, though it came out sounding a little bitter. "No, it's not. Is that a bad thing?"

"No. It is... different. Different can be good. Your skin is not the only thing different about you."

"Oh? How many things about me are different?"

"Do we have that much time?"

I snorted, and immediately covered my mouth and nose. "O-Oh God! I'm so sorry! I swear I don't do that anymore, it just slipped out! Wow, and I thought I couldn't get anymore obnoxious!"

I stopped ranting when I heard him chuckling. "Aspen, you have a beautiful laugh. It is unique, like everything about you."

"Is that... good?"

"It can be. The fact that it is unique is what makes it beautiful."

I smiled, then laid down on my back. "Hey Optimus... I was just wondering... you know, since we're talking about sparkmates and all that... how do Cybertronians, um... kiss?"

He offlined and onlined his optics. "Kiss?"

"Yeah. You know." I wrapped my arms around myself and squirmed. "Mwah, mwah, ooh-la-la!"

"You give... interesting demonstrations. I believe the first time we ever saw such a thing, Ironhide... and this is funny... asked if the humans were eating each other's faces. He was quite alarmed."

"I guess that is kinda what it looks like, isn't it?" I shrugged, fanning my arms out. "I don't know why we decided to use our lips. We just... do. Like, since before there was even a set date for time. I guess someone just decided it was intimate."

"You watch that series, don't you? Star Trek?"

"When Wheelie and I get started talking about it, he can't get me to shut up. It's before my time, but I love it. Why?"

"Do you remember how the Vulcans show their love?"

"Yeah." I held up my index and middle finger. "Ozh'esta. The Vulcan finger kiss. Whoaaa, did they steal that idea from you guys?"

"Not quite. It is similar, however." He tilted his helm to look down at me from a better angle. (I think...?) "Show me your hand."

I blinked, but sat up and raised my hand a little, so it was level with my face. I uncurled and separated my fingers, so that my palm was facing him. "Okay."

"Now, bring your palm down so it is resting on top of mine."

I turned around so I was sitting on my knees, and then bent down. Holding my other arm tight around my stomach and beneath my breasts, I carefully let my hand fall, till my palm was touching his. I was afraid to do it too eagerly - or I'd look desperate - so it was barely even hovering.

He chuckled. "There. We are 'kissing', as you call it."


"Is it unpleasant?"

"No, it's just... different." I smiled, then took a deep breath and looked up at him. "Just because it's different... doesn't mean it's not good." I swallowed. "Am... Am I doing it right? I'm sorry, this is just like... it's new."

"You are fair." I swear he winked at me. "For a human. One observation though... are you afraid to deepen it? You seem hesitant."

I laughed, and all of a sudden became aware that I felt like I was going to cry again, but this time I wasn't really upset. It just felt like I was learning something new, something no human had the opportunity to do before. "I just... don't want to do it wrong. I'm a little nervous about being branded a bad kisser by your standards. Mirage would never let me hear the end of it."

"No, you are doing fine." He curled his fingers upward a little. "In fact, you are doing most of the action right now. I can't move very much at the moment - if I did, I might drop you. And that would, as I believe you say, ruin the moment."

"Do you want me to... deepen it?"

"I would not be averse to it, but you should do only what you are willing to do. If it's making you uncomfortable, you can stop."

"I don't..." Slowly, I pressed down, just a little. "How's that?"


I grinned, closing my eyes. "Hey, Optimus? You know what's an advantage of kissing this way instead of the human way?"


"We can actually have a conversation while we're kissing."

I felt him smile. "You mean you humans can't talk around your tongues?"

"Okay, now that right there, that killed the moment."

"You think we should head over to meet Mirage now?"

"I was about to ask you the same thing. He may already be waiting for you."

It was ten to eight, and for the last near-hour Optimus and I had just been driving around on the paths through the woods. We were both a little tired, ready to wind down. I was in the backseat of his cab now, facedown on the seat, with my legs up behind me. I think they must have been leaning against the window, because it was cooler than the rest of the interior. "Yippee, let's go."

He sped up just a little. "Are you cold?"

"No, I'm fine." I shifted so that my hands were under my head. "I hope Mirage doesn't mind me falling asleep on the way home."

"Did you find today's activities strenuous?"

"No, I just... I dunno. My brain gets angry if I don't go to sleep on time."

"The positions in which you can fall asleep amaze me to no end, Aspen."

I yawned and slid my hands out from under my head, resting my cheek on the leather. I stretched a little and then got an idea. I folded one arm beneath me, then reached over with my other hand and started gently rubbing the seat. "Hey, you can feel this, right?"

A light rumble of the engine told me he was amused. "I can."

"How does it feel? I know Mirage can feel it but he's never really gone into detail about it."

"Exactly like you would imagine. The sensation is little different than it would be if I were in bipedal mode and you were touching me."

"Oh." I switched to all my fingers, instead of just one, and let my hand brush down, almost all the way to the floor. "Should I stop?"

"No, it's... enjoyable. I can't deny that. You could be a little more definitive about it... it's slightly distracting if you're confused about whether you want to do it or not. If you're unsure, then please keep your hands to yourself. It feels like an itch, which is most irritating while I'm in alt mode."

"What, like I'm tickling you? Uhh... let me try again." I gave it more pressure, deeply caressing the seat and working my way down to the floor. "Sorry. It's kind of like the kiss... I guess I'm not forceful enough."

"It's alright. Perhaps I should not be so direct about correcting you. It's not my intention to make you feel badly."

"Guess I'm just inexperienced when it comes to this stuff," I sighed, closing my eyes.

"It isn't necessarily a bad thing," he reassured me, and slowed down. "It gives me more to teach you." After a minute of silence as I continued to rub the seat, he spoke up again. "I am vaguely concerned about you, however. It seems that you are not certain regarding more personal matters. Things that require you to interact on a deeply emotional level with another."

A short, apathetic giggle slipped past my mouth. "Well, there are a lot of things I'm not certain about."

"It seems to me you are not certain about such matters that... one should be fully certain of. You own feelings, for example. It's almost like you're not certain about them, and so you exaggerate a part of your personality to hide your uncertainty."

I pursed my lips together. He was right. I couldn't ever decide whether or not I really wanted to do something like... like kissing or... sex or... holding hands. "You have no idea..." I answered, so quiet I didn't know if he could hear me. "It's like one part of me is yelling 'go for it'... and the other part's warning me that I better not."

"Then why do you not just say that you are uncertain? No one would think less of you for your emotions. The only ones you seem to be able to confess your trouble to are Mirage or myself."

"I just... I don't want to get hurt." I feel tears coming to my eyes. "People who are really close... I've... I've seen how just one... just one wrong decision... can tear them apart. You have to decide what you really want. You can't let anybody know you're struggling with a decision, because..." I take in a shaky breath. "What if the choice you want to make... what if it's the wrong one?"

"I sense that your words are not coming from something you have simply seen," he replied, just as softly. "They come from deep in your heart. From something you have not only seen, but been a part of."

"I might tell you. Later. Not sure yet." I smiled bitterly as I turned over onto my back, sinking farther into his seat. "But... I'm totally sure of one thing. You want to know what that is?"

"If you wish to tell me."

I folded my arms over my stomach. "This day... it's been the most fun I've had in a really long time." I let one hand dangle down and press firmly into the floor. "And I have you to thank for it."

"I have you to thank for allowing me to... not be a leader for one day." We must have arrived at the plaza, because he parked. "You showed me a good time today, and I am grateful."

I pushed myself up on one arm, playing with my hair. "You're welcome." I sat up and gripped the door handle. "Did you find Mirage?"

"He is right next to me."

"I'll be right back; I gotta go say hi." I opened the door and jumped out, and sure enough there was Mirage, in alt mode, engine still running. No holoform inside. I almost couldn't stop myself from just running over. Once I got there, I practically threw myself onto his hood, putting one leg up. "Mirage!"

I felt him laugh. "Cenere. I missed you so much."

"I missed you too! God, I can't believe how much I missed you." I rubbed my cheek against his windshield. "My clingy little Ferrari. What did you do all day without me?"

"I, ah... I got bored and went to the base. Greeted the new recruits."

"Oh, there's two of them? Oooh. What are they like?"

"Let's just say you'll definitely get along with them."

"Awesome." I pushed myself off. "I think the movie's starting. Be back in a little while, and then we can drive for however long you want. Just you and me."


"So... what's the movie anyway?"


I stiffened, then glared down at him. "When we get home, after I get some sleep, I am going to slash your tires. With your own wrist blaaaaaaaades."

"Would I be so attached to you if you didn't threaten me, tesoro?"

I "hmmph"ed and walked back over to Optimus. "I'm gonna sit up on your hood, is that okay?"

"Wherever you wish to be."

"You're the most accommodating person I've ever met." I carefully climbed up and reclined on his hood. It was a little difficult to keep my balance at first, but I finally found a position. "There we go. Are you comfortable?"

"Yes. You?"

"Yep." I closed my eyes and listened to the music they were playing before the movie started. I heard a light, telltale rhythm that I recognized as a Tori Amos song. "Ooh! I love this song."

"What is is title?"

"I think it's called 'Spark'."

For a little bit we were both silent, just listening to the lyrics and lying with each other.

She's addicted to nicotine patches

She's addicted to nicotine patches

She's afraid of the light in the dark

6:58, are you sure where my spark is?

Here, here, here

She's convinced she could hold back a glacier

But she couldn't keep baby alive

Doubting if there's a woman in there somewhere

Here, here, here

You say you don't want it, again and again

But you don't, don't really mean it

You say you don't want it, this circus we're in

But you don't, don't really mean it

You don't, don't really mean it...

We were both quiet through the whole thing, as I soaked myself in the memory of that song. I remember the whole ordeal it got me through, and if need be it could get me through another one.

It was over, and the movie reel started up on the screen.

"It is a beautiful song," I heard Optimus say softly, engine revving just a little. "I'm sure I could listen to it many times and never understand its symbolism."

I smiled. "Yeah. I'll have to show you the video for it sometime. It's a pretty sad song, when you think about it."

"I take it that it is your favorite song?"

"One of them."

"It embodies you in some way."

I closed my eyes. "You could say that."

I felt arms around me, in a bridal-styled carry. At first I was scared, but then I heard a voice, and it sounded like Optimus. "Is she alright, Mirage?"

I heard a deep laugh from my guardian. "Ah, how cute. She actually fell asleep during the movie."

"I thought as much, when she wasn't talking."

As they kept talking, I feigned still sleeping, but I cracked one eye open just a little. I wanted to see Optimus's holoform, since he had conveniently found somewhere to be the past five hundred times I'd asked him. Now was my chance to put a sneaky, fast-paced plan into action!

Of course he was well-muscled, I felt that just from the way he was holding me, in strong arms against his chest. It was hard for me to look up in this position, but I shifted a little and faked a snore.

Mirage laughed. "She moves a lot in her sleep, but I think that noise is new."

"She's alright, isn't she?"

"Ah, I've heard it before when she's asleep, sometimes. It usually doesn't happen if she's sleeping deeply."

"Perhaps I should transfer her to you now. If she's only sleeping lightly, I wouldn't want to wake her. She's had a long day."

"Alright then, give her to me. I'm ready to have the little piccolo-grande fastidio back anyway."

As Optimus carefully placed me into Mirage's arms - and he was very careful about it, too - I took the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the holoform's face. His eyes were that burning, bright electric blue they always were in bipedal mode, and his hair actually kind of matched. I guess it must have looked sort of black, like mine, in the dark, but I think it was actually a shade of blue.

Mirage hiked me up into his arms, farther up than Optimus had me, so that my head was near his shoulder. "Let's go, tesoro. You sleep, I'll drive, I just want to be with you right now."

"I hope I didn't disrupt your bond by taking her for a day, Mirage."

"Oh, no, nothing like that. I just get a little worried about her, because... well, you can imagine. With the way she is, I mean."

"Of course." Was it me, or was he smiling? I wasn't sure, I'd closed my eyes again. "I meant to ask you, as well... has she ever... told you anything about her past? You know, like her family or anything?"

"Oh, not much." I felt Mirage shrug, tightening his grip under my legs just a little. "She doesn't usually talk about that kind of thing. I do know she's close with her femme creator though. They talk on the phone a lot."

"I see..."

"Something is the matter, Prime?"

"No, no, I just..." He sighed. "I'm worried about her."

For a few seconds Mirage was silent. "Because of the way she handles things, you mean?" I felt him brush one ponytail over my shoulder and out of my face. "No, I understand. Why do you think I worry so much? She could get into a lot of trouble, deliberating on one thing so long."

"She seems very... unsure about a lot of things, but especially the things that are inside her heart. That is what concerns me."

"I know. I just... I think what she needs is someone to help her understand that split-second decisions, they are not always the wrong ones. That is why she's hesitant to make a choice."

"When we were talking earlier, that's what she said. She told me she just doesn't want to make the wrong choice, because... well... she said it's because she's seen how a bad decision can hurt people, but... I think it's because she's gone through the consequences of a poor choice."

"It makes sense. She's so careful with the way she chooses when she's given a choice. La mia povera Cenere..."

"I suppose I didn't notice it before because... when she first arrived here, she wasn't really given many choices. Either she was told what to do, or she got an idea and ran with it. I think that when she gets ideas, her mind doesn't really perceive it as a choice of whether or not to do it."

"Ah. Yes, when she gets an idea, there's no stopping her piccolo uragano of furor. Well, I'm sure we can help her. But right now, I think I should get her into my alt mode so she can get some sleep. And so I can be with her."

Optimus chuckled. "Alright, alright. I get it, I infringed upon your right to spend time with your charge. Enjoy the rest of your weekend."

"Ce vediamo il Lunedi." I heard the door of Mirage's alt mode open, and he slid me onto the backseat. He waited until he started driving to speak. "You're not really asleep, are you, Cenere?"

I giggled and opened my eyes, stretching. "Aw, how'd you know, Mirage?"

"I'm your guardian, tesoro. I know everything."


"Okay, okay - ah, while you may snore, you never move in your sleep. You always manage to be completely comfortable no matter what position you're in."

"Whoops. And I thought I made that believable."

"Maybe to him, not to me. I know you too well."

"I was asleep at first. I just happened to wake up."

"Lo so." He turned off the main road and into some paths near a forest.

"Do you even know where we're going?"

"It doesn't matter, Cenere. We can get lost for the night, eh? And in the morning, I have the GPS."

"Right." I closed my eyes, arching my back so it would crack. "Ahhh..."

"So." His holoform's eyes briefly flickered in the rearview mirror, directed at me. "Did you and Prime have fun swapping paint?"

I smothered a laugh. "'Swapping paint'?"

"You know! Being all... amante-y."

"Not a real word, but okay. And... yeah... we did have fun. But if you ever say the word amante again in reference to us, I will take you apart with a rusty wrench. Also, screwdriver!"

"You don't really scare me anymore, tesoro. Maybe when we first met, but I know you're not going to ovviare alle vostre minacce. Not unless I did something to deserve the screwdriver. Like Leadfoot does. Anyway, what did you two do all day?"

I yawned, turning over onto my stomach. "Well... first we had a water balloon fight, but he won that."

"That's why you said you needed to dry off when you called me."

"Yep. After that... we had a race near the river. He won that too."

"Ha ha... did he win everything?"

"Pretty much." I blinked, then closed my eyes and took a breath. "He played music, and we danced."

"That sounds nice."

"Then we went to the aquarium and looked at the fish. We planned to stay longer, but we were kind of getting stared at so I wanted to leave, but he didn't mind. I like the puffer fish... he said his favorite were the angelfish. And I thought about going to the car wash, but I didn't think he'd appreciate getting wet twice in one day."

"Want to drive me through the wash?"

"Nah, I'll wash you like I always do, I just figured he might want to see another way of doing it."

"What did you do after that?"

"We just... drove. We didn't talk much, but he let me drive him."

"It sounds like you had a good day."

I smiled into his seat and let my arm dangle down toward the floor. "I should tell you something though, Mirage..."


I bit my lip lightly, because if I smiled too hard one more time, my face would freeze like that. "We kissed."

"You... wait, no, you and Prime..." He stopped, a little more roughly than normal. Oh boy, I was going to get an earful. "Ti ha baciato?! Ho intenzione di ucciderlo! Chi si crede di essere?! E senza dirmelo prima!"

Good thing Mirage's rants always put me right to sleep, huh?

Grr, more Mirage-language translations...

bella = beautiful

pazza ragazza = crazy girl

Miraggio = Mirage

ciao = hello

Mi manche, è come sto facendo = I miss you, is how I'm doing (aww Mirage)

tesoro = dear/darling/treasure (which is Mirage using? You tell me!)

asciugiati? = dried off?

vediamo allora = see you then

arrivederci = bye/see you later

perfecta = perfect

piccolo-grande fastidio = pint-sized annoyance

La mia povera Cenere = My poor little Cenere (what he calls Aspen - remember? Lol!)

piccolo uragano = little hurricane

lo so = I know

amante-y = lover-y (see? It ISN'T a real word! lolololol)

ovviare alle vostre minacce = make good on your threats

cosa? = what?

Now for the translation of Mirage's rant:

Ti ha baciato?! Ho intenzione di ucciderlo! Chi si crede di essere?! E senza dirmelo prima! = He kissed you?! I'm going to kill him! Who does he think he is? And without telling me first!

Oh Mirage, you're so freaking possessive... but we love you anyway because you're a sexy little Ferrari.

Hope you guys liked! This didn't exactly start out as an emotional chapter, but I think it got that way toward the middle/end.

Thanks for reading, and reviews are lurv! ^^