I apologize for the long delay. I've been a little busy and I've had no time to work on this story. But I didn't give up on the tale and I hope some of you are still hanging in there. I think that this should make up for the wait.
This is it. The last chapter. The one you have all been waiting for. I hope that no one has been disappointed by the story or any of the events in this rewrite. It was a challenge and it took a long time to write, but it was certainly fun to do. So, please enjoy the conclusion to this tale.
There was plenty of damage, both to the buildings and to the lives of Chicago's inhabitants. Untold numbers of people, some military and some civilian volunteers, were flocking to the destroyed city and trying to help. Even though the Autobots would be more than happy to assist in the rescue and repair efforts, they and the humans that were the closest to them were perfectly aware that their presence would likely do more damage currently than it would help. Too much pain had been caused by the invasion of the Decepticons and those who suffered from their actions would not see the difference between the two factions. All they would see would be another Cybertronian.
Since they couldn't be of any direct help to those in the city without causing them extreme distress, Epps had located a small and private airfield that wasn't too far from the hospital the wounded were being moved to. He arranged to "borrow" it from the owner as a temporary base and the metal buildings for the small aircrafts served as a perfect location for the Autobots. This allowed Ratchet to reattach Optimus' servo and to work on any other repairs that his teammates required.
Of course, not all of his intended patients were present. He still intended to figure out how much damage that Ironhide managed to add to what he'd already suffered, but that particular mech refused to come. Epps wasn't really surprised by that. The weapon specialist's absence was due to the exact same reason that the mostly-retired NEST member was organizing things instead of Will.
The moment that his friend learned that his daughter managed to sneak into Chicago, Epps saw him switch from being soldier to his more parental mindset. He could feel the man's desperation and concern skyrocket at the idea of his baby girl being in trouble. It was bad enough that Annabelle had been kidnapped earlier, but then Will had to learn that she'd ended up in a warzone without any type of protection. Sam had looked rather uncomfortable and nervous about bring this information to the man's attention. And the young man only got worse when he realized that Ironhide was also within listening range when the news was shared.
Neither the father nor the Cybertronian had to wait long to learn of the child's fate. When Optimus and Ratchet arrived, the battered figure in their possession, Epps saw his friend just barely prevent himself from breaking at the sight. And Ironhide…
The child was now at a hospital and the outlook was fairly positive. But there was no force on Earth, Cybertron, or anywhere else in the universe that would separate her father from her side. And Epps greatly pitied the suicidal idiot who tried to move Ironhide from his position in the parking lot right outside her window. Chromia had agreed to remain with the mech and watch him, but even Ratchet had given up on the lost cause of trying dragging him in for repairs until things improved for the girl.
After learning some of the details of what occurred, Epps felt that Sentinel was a rather lucky Cybertronian traitor. As capable a combatant he might have been, he doubted that that he would have been able to deal with the combined might of a furious Will and Ironhide after he harmed Annabelle. And if Sarah joined in the fight, a swift death would have been a mercy. If Sentinel knew what was good for him, he would avoid coming back to life like Megatron did.
He was currently in one of the metal sheds, observing the closest Autobots. Thus, he saw the moment when they apparently received a message over their com-link. Arcee, who was a little closer to him, reacted first. The rest followed almost immediately. Epps looked at her expectantly.
The transformed motorcycle explained simply, "She's awake."
She'd managed to get started with her project before her parents began to stir. The girl watched for a second, trying to see if Mommy would actually wake up or not. Annabelle didn't want to bother her, but she did want to find out what happened. She fought off the urge to yawn, thinking about how silly it would be if she fell back asleep before they woke up.
In the end, it was Daddy who shifted slightly and began to blearily open his eyes. As his gaze focused on her, the girl waved slightly with the hand that wasn't in a cast. At the sight of his daughter awake, he shook Mommy's shoulder and she opened her eyes too.
"Hey, Sweetheart," he greeted, standing up and walking over to her. "How are you feeling?"
"Sleepy and my head feels a little funny, Daddy," she described. "But that nice doctor lady said that it was because of some medicine stuff."
Her mother was giving her a hug gingerly, taking care not to touch the bruises that the girl had found all over the place. It was a little scary, though. Mommy was crying and she wasn't supposed to cry. She was a grown up and her mom. And everything seemed to be okay now.
"Annabelle, baby," she whispered as she held the girl close. "I'm so sorry. I'm going to kill that Simmons. And Sam."
"Why?" she asked curiously.
"They were supposed to be watching out for you," her parent explained, finally releasing her hug. "They should have kept this from happening."
"I just happy you're okay," added Daddy, reaching out and touching her hair.
"Ending up in a hospital is not 'okay,'" Mommy remarked. "Those Decepticons had better stay out of my way. If I see one of those psychotic mechs around my baby again, I'm going to rip out their eyes, tear off their faces, and mount their mangled heads over the mantle."
Her father glanced at his wife, commenting, "And that's why anyone with sense is afraid of you." Turning back towards Annabelle, he asked, "Sweetheart, Wheelie said that you snuck into the car with Epps and Sam. Why would you do that?"
The girl blinked in surprise at the question. Didn't her Daddy understand? It should be perfectly clear to her parent, but she would explain it he missed the obvious.
"Because bad guys can't win," she answered. When neither of her parents seemed to understand her logic, Annabelle continued, "They were doing lots of bad stuff. And the mean traitors were doing the worst stuff. But heroes stop that kind of thing from happening. Which is what Daddy and Ironhide are supposed to do. They make sure bad guys get stopped. Right?"
She waited for her father to nod, confirming both her explanation for his job and that he understood her so far. A slight look of confusion remained, however, so the girl knew that she needed to continue a little further.
"Sentinel Prime and Mr. Dylan Gould were really, really bad. And they needed to be punished for all the mean things they were doing. So I had to make sure they didn't get away with it."
"Annabelle, that's not your responsibility," her mother stated. "It isn't your job. You said it yourself that your father, Ironhide, and all the other soldiers and Autobots are supposed to take care of that."
"But Daddy can't do everything by himself," interrupted the child. "And they were gone. It blew up and I tried to call them…" Her throat got all tight and she had to remind herself that all her friends were okay, that Ironhide was sitting outside and what happened to the Xanthium didn't hurt the Autobots. Slowly, she explained, "The bad guys were winning, Mommy. That mean Sentinel Prime hurt Ironhide. And Jolt and Flareup are gone. Then, the spaceship was taking everyone away forever, but it was destroyed. And Mr. Dylan Gould kidnapped 'Kaela. It wasn't fair." She refused to cry. It was over now. If Mommy and Daddy were here and Ironhide was safe, the good guys must have won and everything was okay again. "It wasn't fair and Daddy can't do everything alone. He's supposed to have Ironhide to help him stop the bad guys. But Ironhide was… I thought he was gone."
When she didn't immediately continue, her parents reached over and gave her a hug. Even if she knew it wasn't true now, it was still so painful to imagine her favorite Cybertronian being gone. But that never really happened and she would never let it happen. And anyone who tried to take him away from her again would face her six year old wrath.
"If Ironhide couldn't help save everyone and stop the bad guys, I would do it for him. I wanted to make sure 'Kaela was rescued, but Sam did it first. And I had to make sure that the traitors were punished. I couldn't find Mr. Dylan Gould, but I found Sentinel Prime," Annabelle continued, growing more confident and angry as she discussed the two individuals. She couldn't quite remember what she did when she found him yet, but she would remember eventually and she didn't doubt that she tried to do something to him. "They needed to be punished. No one can kidnap Mikaela. And no one can hurt Ironhide. Never, ever, ever." She crossed her arms to the best of her ability while wearing a cast and with the tube thing on her other hand. "No matter what, bad guys can't get away with that."
She didn't immediately get a response from her parents, but she kept her stubborn expression. No matter what, even if she got in trouble, she couldn't back down. She would never let someone get away with hurting her friends. Even if Mommy and Daddy didn't want her to get hurt or go near mean robots, she couldn't just let bad things happen to Ironhide or Daddy or Mikaela or any of her friends or family. It wasn't right. She would let Ironhide and Daddy save the day most of the time because it was their job and they were the best at stopping bad guys, but she knew that she couldn't just let bad things happen to them if someone like Sentinel Prime ever came back.
Eventually, Mommy and Daddy looked at each other with an expression she rarely got to see: surrender. She usually saw this sort of thing from Sam whenever he did help Mikaela babysit. A couple of times, Simmons gave her a similar expression, usually with a scowl added in. But she didn't see it usually with her parents. It was especially rare for her mom to have that look on her face. Both of them seem to be giving up on arguing further. Her dad even had his shoulders slumped with defeat, essentially declaring without a word that she'd made her point.
"Why do I have a feeling you're going to be a little terror when you become a teenager?" muttered Daddy finally before kissing her gently on her forehead. "Telling you not to do something like this again isn't going to work obviously. Just try not attacking giant Cybertronians head on again, Annabelle. And don't do it unless there's no other option. Ironhide and I can deal with things at least until you're older."
Fighting back a yawn, she answered, "Okay."
He should probably head back to Mr. Simmons. He is his employer. But Dutch did not think that leaving would be the best idea currently since Mrs. Lennox hadn't given him permission to leave. And, until that woman agreed to let him return to his normal job, he would rather not risk his life by angering her.
Currently, he was playing security guard. A few of the braver and ladder-climbing members of the press were trying to slip into the hospital to gain a possible witness for the events in Chicago. They wanted to interview a citizen or a soldier who was being treated who might be able to give them a statement about the battle that could boost their career. Hospital workers and a few more able-bodied soldiers were already doing their best to discourage the inquiries. Dutch was providing his talents at managing the annoying scavengers that were seeking the perfect story.
Most of his efforts involved glaring towards anyone not in a doctor's outfit or was clearly a patient who tried to wander towards a specific wing of the building. He didn't know if anyone would be insensitive enough to try interviewing a child about what they saw in Chicago, but he didn't intend to find out how Mrs. Lennox would react to such a thing. Dutch knew that it wouldn't end well, so he would keep playing security guard until the scary woman either said he could leave or the Lennox family left the premises.
A pair of semi-familiar faces began walking down the hallway towards him. The girl, her arms wrapped up in enough gauze to likely make a mummy jealous, was carrying a bag that he knew was likely occupied by something that would likely unnerve most of the people in the hospital currently. The man gave a slight smile and nodded in acknowledgment at the couple. Guessing where their final destination probably was, he gave slight nod and pointed in the right direction. He doubted that Mrs. Lennox would consider these two as problematic to deal with as the media. And he could probably discourage anyone else from wandering into the area who might disturb the coming meeting.
Annabelle was starting to get drowsy again when she and her parents were joined by some new arrivals. The young girl managed a smile as she spotted both Sam and Mikaela coming into the room. Her favorite babysitter was carrying a large backpack in her arms while the young man had his arm wrapped around her shoulder. Both of the young adults were not looking their best, considering that there were a number of cuts and scrapes across the pair of them and they both had bandages. But they were mostly all right and the child was rather happy to see them.
"Wow, they really did a number on you," remarked Sam, causing his girlfriend to smack his arm. Wincing at the impact, he looked at the young woman with a frown, "Ow, don't do that. That's the arm that Starscream tried to yank off."
"You'll live," Mikeala answered quickly before sitting down on the edge of the hospital bed. She glanced towards Annabelle's parents, "If you want to go get some coffee or something, we can stick around for a while. We'll be fine and I can keep an eye on her. You look like you need a break."
Mommy didn't quite look like she was comfortable with the idea, but Daddy slowly lead her out of the room while whispering in her ear. Annabelle had the feeling that her parent would not be happy with the girl being out of sight anytime soon. And while she was enjoying getting to see both Mommy and Daddy without any mean Decepticons to interrupt things, she was also looking forward to talking to her favorite babysitter and making sure she was okay.
As soon as the older adults were out of the room, Annabelle prepared to ask about a million questions. She wanted to know what happened to Mikaela. How Sam rescued her. How the bad guys were stopped. What happened to Sentinel. But none of those were the first words that popped out of her mouth. Instead, the girl's eyes were drawn to the bandaged arms of the dark-haired young woman.
"What happened?" Annabelle asked, pointing with her free hand at Mikaela's injuries.
She wasn't, however, the one who answered. Abruptly the backpack that she'd brought in with her began to move and dark muttering emerged from inside. Finally, a familiar head poked out of the top and glared at the child.
"Warrior Goddess decided to turn a car into a rather large projectile and launch it at a Decepticon. And she had to dive out of the thing while it was still moving to make it work," Wheelie explained shortly.
He didn't quite look how he did when she last saw him. He looked a little bit like he'd been hit by a car. The most obvious injury was one of his eyes no longer glowing red and was instead kind of squished-looking. But it also looked like he was already a little fixed up. It was kind of hard to tell, but Annabelle was good at guessing these sorts of things. Mikeala probably tried to do some repairs, but she hadn't finished yet. The young woman wouldn't have let him stay in this condition for long without at least trying to do a little to fix him.
The small Cybertronian continued to wiggle out of the cloth container, ranting, "And she is still not the craziest human in the room. You are so lucky that no one's tried to crush me out of existence. Do you have any idea how much you freaked everyone out? I told you to run away from Decepticons, not towards them! You sneak into the city, you wander around the place until you're lucky enough to bump into me and Brains, you disappear on us and, when we tried to find you with that crashed ship, we get sucked into the bigger enemy craft. Meanwhile, you decide to go running into danger and attack a Cybertronian, a Prime who went off the deep end, by apparently using a frontal assault. You could have been killed. How am I supposed to explain to everyone that you got away from me just to go get yourself killed? You could have been squashed like a bug or worse and I'd be stuck trying to convince everyone that it wasn't my fault."
"Calm down," Mikaela commanded. "Sam had this freak out already back in Chicago. You're going to upset her."
"Upset her? Everyone's upset about this," Wheelie pointed out. "That place was dangerous for adult humans and Cybertronians. It was suicidal for the kid. Do you remember how freaked out everyone was about her being kidnapped? And when we had to tell Lennox his daughter decided to take a fun little trip to Chicago? If her insane luck hadn't saved her, no one would..." He glared at Annabelle, but she didn't think he was as angry as he was acting. It was sort of like how Mommy was threatening to kill Sam and Simmons for not watching her better. He didn't want to say it, but he'd been worried about her and it was easier for him to act a little mean than to tell the truth. "Don't ever do that again."
At least he'd told her what she'd done to Sentinel. She attacked him. She didn't remember exactly how she did it, but apparently she tried to run straight at him to attack. She could see why it made everyone so worried.
A little meekly, she answered, "Okay."
"Good," the small Cybertronian nodded. "I really don't want to deal with everyone angry with me about your crazy tendencies. What human in their right mind runs towards a crazy giant robot without any kind of real weapon?"
Sam pointed out, "I did that against Megatron when I was in high school."
"I said 'right mind.' That kind of eliminates you, Sammy-boy."
"Anyway," interrupted Mikaela, trying to prevent a fight from breaking out around the girl. "How are you feeling, Annabelle?"
"Tired and my head feels kind of fuzzy," she admitted. "And sore. But it doesn't hurt as much as I think it's supposed to."
"Painkillers," nodded Sam sagely. "They are a wonderful thing."
"And it is weird with this cast on one arm and the tube thing on my other hand," she continued.
The young woman gave her a reassuring smile, "They'll take the IV out eventually and the cast will come off when your arm is better. And, all things considered, you got off pretty easy."
"Even if you look like you were run over," her boyfriend added, trying to make a joke out of it.
"Okay, okay, stop talking for a minute so I can tell her," muttered Wheelie abruptly, but he didn't seem to be talking to any of them. Then he looked at Annabelle and stated, "Since apparently a bunch of giant Cybertronians wandering into the hospital to visit might be a little conspicuous, I'm supposed to pass on a few messages to you over the com-link. And they won't shut up long enough for me to speak."
The last part emerged as a slight snarl. It was easy to imagine all the Autobots trying to talk to Wheelie at once. In fact, the mental image brought a small smile to the child's face.
"Let's see… The twins are babbling incomprehensively about some nonsense. They probably want to team up with you for some type of prank. You can't understand half of what they say anyway. The Wreckers are impressed and want to meet you properly some time. Arcee and Chromia told them over their off-lined bodies. Something about a bad influence. Sideswipe and Mirage are referring to your stunt as crazy, but rather cool. Wheeljack said something about building something to go with the cast, but everyone told him not to even think about it," summarized Wheelie, clearly not impressed with his role repeating their words. "Ratchet mentioned that he'll be keeping an optic on your recovery. Optimus said something profound and rather impressive that I probably would mess up on if I tried to repeat it. Bumblebee wants to play you some song to let you know that he's glad you're okay and to let you know that Sam and Mikaela are getting married." He paused briefly, allowing the child to look at her favorite babysitter and the young man who was currently glaring at the former Decepticon for spoiling the surprise, before continuing, "And Ironhide is informing me that, if I don't tell you that he is rather relieved that you're awake and that he's sorry about not answering you earlier when you tried to call all of us, he's going to turn me into his newest target for his cannons."
Annabelle smiled at the messages from her friends, especially the last one, and remarked, "Can you tell them thank you and that I hope to see them as soon as I'm out of here?"
"I'm not a telephone," he muttered grumpily. Then, in a mildly more cooperative tone, added, "But, all things considered… I'll pass it along."
She almost tried to give the small mech a hug, but remembered the difficulties that would occur if she made the attempt with the cast and IV thing on her. Instead, she looked over at Mikaela.
"You're getting married?" she asked.
"Yeah, Sam finally proposed," the young woman confirmed. "After a little prompting from Bumblebee."
"And she said yes for some reason," added Wheelie quickly.
Mikaela gave the small Cybertronian a glare that declared that she would have hit him if he wasn't already looking rather pitiful. Then she looked back towards the young girl in the hospital bed.
"We haven't really figured out anything important about when the wedding will be or any type of arrangements for it. We haven't had the time," she explained. "Too much has been going on. But I know we're having an outdoors wedding so that we can invite everyone." She gestured towards Wheelie to indicate that she meant the Autobots. "And, if you would like to, would you like to be the flower girl, Annabelle?"
"The what?" she and Wheelie asked at the same time.
"Cute kids who toss petals around. Look it up," Sam explained to the former Decepticon.
The young woman rolled her eyes his less than helpful description and stated, "Usually flower girls are a younger sister or cousin or something for the bride and they get to walk down the aisle before the bride, dropping rose petals down on the way. I don't have any siblings and the only cousin I have is a seventeen year old boy who thinks that adding the word 'dude' to the end of all his sentences makes him cooler. I really don't see him very often and he definitely doesn't fit the whole 'flower girl' image. Besides, I'd like to have you there if you want to."
Fighting back another yawn, Annabelle nodded in agreement to the idea. Then, she immediately wished that she didn't. The dull and distant pain that she'd managed to ignore previously abruptly became sharp and very noticeable again. She closed her eyes tightly, waiting for it to fade away again. It was just as bad as when she first tried to sit up. Nodding apparently wasn't a good idea currently.
"You okay?" asked Wheelie, spotting her discomfort.
Mikaela, equally observant of her condition, remarked, "You're head hurting?"
"Yes," she mumbled. "I think I hit it earlier."
"I think you hit more than your head," Sam pointed out. "Like your arm. Or… everywhere." He gestured towards the girl. "I ended up less pounded when I ended up running around Mission City. And I ended up falling off a building. Optimus said that you ran straight towards Sentinel and he apparently kicked you away."
Trying to recall that specific event, Annabelle added slowly, "And I… had a piece of rebar. I stuck it in his foot first."
"So that was your plan? Stab him in the foot?" asked Wheelie. "You are crazy. Completely and utterly crazy. Next you'll say you plan to go after Megatron with a water balloon."
For some reason, Annabelle had the urge to stick her tongue out at the former Decepticon. Water balloons were for friends. She wouldn't use them to attack a bad guy. She'd figure out something better. Or just let Ironhide blast them.
"Did you draw something on your cast already?" Mikaela commented, taking her arm gently. "You know, you're supposed to have other people sign them. Not doodle all over them yourself."
She explained drowsily, her efforts to stay away and participate in the conversation starting to finally fail, "It was important."
While the rough texture of the cast had made it more difficult to make the image clear, she'd managed to draw a black truck on her arm. It looked a little like it was driving towards her elbow. She would have preferred if she could have made it look a little neater, but it was more important that it was there than how well she'd managed to draw it.
"Well, it turned out pretty good," Sam stated. He sat down in one of the plastic chairs that her parents earlier occupied. "We're going to relax here for awhile, but you can take a nap if you're tired. Those painkillers can really take it out of you, especially after a few days of insane chaos."
"I'm not that sleepy," the girl mumbled stubbornly, but she didn't really sound that convincing.
"Yeah, right," remarked Wheelie. "I give her five minutes until she's out cold." He looked at Sam, "Try to keep alert. I'd rather not have a nurse come in and freak out about me before I get a chance to hide. She might wake up Mini-Ironhide."
"I'm not sleeping," Annabelle argued, her eyes already shutting.
Having Wheelie go in there and check on her felt mildly reassuring, but seeing her peer out the window earlier down at him had been the most wonderful sight he'd seen in his entire existence. Nothing that anyone said about her being all right could have convinced him fully. He needed to see her, to see her awake and alert. Being able to hold her would have been better, but that short glimpse through the hospital window and Annabelle waving to him was good enough for now. Wheelie going in there and proving beyond a doubt that the precious youngling was doing better was still a nice reassurance moment for Ironhide.
"The kid's asleep," Wheelie remarked over the com-link. "Warrior Goddess and the pest are going to hang around until her parents get back." The former Decepticon paused for a moment before muttering, "She'll be safe. We'll keep an optic on her."
The disguised truck, without another word, slowly began to pull out of the parking lot. He didn't want to leave. He would have preferred to remain as close as possible until the girl came down to see him in person. But Ratchet was rather anxious to drag him for repairs and Ironhide had to grudgingly admit that there was nothing more than he could do for the child at this moment. Though he hated being useless.
He was an old mech who'd seen and experienced far too much. He'd been in battle more times than he could count. He'd face impossibly massive enemy forces. He'd seen horrifying levels of destruction and death. He'd charged into combat with numerous allies, both experienced and untried in the ways of war, falling beneath the weapons of the most merciless of Decepticons. Far too many times, he'd barely emerged in one piece while those around him were lost. He'd faced the threat of torture and death fairly often, both for himself and those who stood beside him on the battlefield. He dealt with impossible situations where not everyone would manage to come back from it. He'd lost so many brave individuals, too many friends, while he still struggled forward. Every horror he could imagine, he'd faced and fought against repeatedly even when all other allies were being destroyed by those same forces.
But nothing scared Ironhide more than the sight of that small and broken young girl being carried by Optimus after the battle in Chicago. Annabelle wasn't supposed to be there. It was far too improbable, but she'd managed to find her way there. The youngling was so fragile and she was far too still when he saw her. She was supposed to be the lively and cheerful child that drew pictures of her friends and threw water balloons at Sam and Wheelie. She wasn't supposed to be so limp and motionless.
He thought he'd been afraid for her when he she was merely lost on the battlefield or when she was in Decepticon possession before. But seeing her hurt, broken, was almost more than he could handle. He'd rather fight Megatron, the Fallen, and Sentinel Prime alone than see Annabelle in that condition ever again. Actually, he wouldn't mind the chance to face that traitorous red mech again. The thought of him harming the girl, of how close Sentinel probably came to snuffing out the life of such a wonderful little youngling, left Ironhide both furious and terrified.
Mostly, though, he felt helpless. He couldn't keep her from being snatched up from her own home by Decepticons. He couldn't comfort her when she began to cry, convinced that the Autobots had been in the ship as it was destroyed. He couldn't protect her from being hurt by that traitor. And he almost lost Annabelle. The idea was too painful to admit or consider.
So even if he knew that he couldn't do anything to help her, Ironhide had to stay close to the girl until he knew she would be all right. He waited patiently, listening to both Optimus and Wheelie explain what they knew of how she'd ended up in the situation. He learned that she'd followed Sam both to rescue Mikaela and to punish those responsible for the kidnapping of the young woman and for betraying the Autobots. He realized that she was, among other things, trying to avenge their supposed deaths with her actions. That was likely part of her motivation at least until Wheelie informed her of their survival. And he heard how she'd tried to apparently attack Sentinel, the traitorous mech who hurt the weapon specialist and upset her so much, and she'd been hurt in the attempt. She wouldn't have been in the city if it wasn't for the destruction of the Xanthium. Annabelle's injuries were due to the fact none of them could tell her they weren't on board when it exploded. If only he could have answered her, she would have been safe. Of course, no one could have predicted the lengths the child would go when faced with the possibility of the Autobots' demise, but he wished more than anything that she hadn't ended up charging onto the battlefield.
But every depressing thought and horrible idea of what could have happened to her evaporated when the small figure peered out the window. Seeing her up and moving again, even if he couldn't touch her, was enough to warm the old mech's spark. It gave him hope that she would, truly, be all right in the end. He could finally relax a little. Annabelle was safe. Wheelie even managed to confirm it when he, Sam, and Mikaela went to her room. The youngling was might be hurt, but he would get the girl back again. And now that he was completely assured of her safety and well-being, it was probably all right to let Ratchet take a look at him.
Besides, a certain motorcycle had continued to point out that it would probably make the girl feel better if he was back to his old self by the time they let her out of the hospital. Chromia, her hologram activated, followed closely behind him as he traveled down the road. She intended to make sure that he made it to his destination. The femme could be rather stubborn and didn't surrender to anyone. That was probably part of the reason they got along so well.
Hospitals were boring. Even if she spent a lot of time asleep, Annabelle was bored silly by the time they said she could go home. They wanted to make sure that, when she bumped her head, she didn't do anything really bad. But it was still really boring after a while. Staying there a few days made the time feel like it was lasting forever.
They finally took off the tube thing. She still had the cast and there were still bruises, even if they were fading away. Mommy said the doctors wrote up a prescription for some more medicine if her arm and everything hurt too much, but Annabelle didn't really like how weird it made her feel. And a lot of medicine tasted yucky. What if the new medicine did too? Maybe her arm would be good enough that she wouldn't have to take it too much.
At least they were doing one thing fun. They were pushing her towards the exit in one of the wheelchairs. The nurse pushing said they do this sort of thing for a lot of their patients when they leave and it was kind of neat. The nurse also said that Annabelle had been one of their sweetest patients, but lots of grownups say that sort of thing if they like kids.
Mommy and Daddy were walking beside her as they headed for the door. She didn't know if all of them would get to go home or if he'd have to go help take care of the big mess some more. But at least she got to spend time with him while she was in the hospital.
As soon as the wheelchair reached the front door, the girl jumped up and broke into an excited run. It wasn't the fastest run ever; a big bruise that was still on her side made moving too fast kind of hard. But it didn't matter. What did matter was her destination.
Sitting in the parking lot, waiting for her, was a black truck she'd missed desperately. As soon as she reached him, the door opening for her, Annabelle scrambled into the safe and comforting chairs with a relieved smile spread across her face. She wanted nothing more than to stay curled up in this spot forever. Everything was all right. Everything was all right, just like he promised her.
On the brink of tears, she whispered, "I missed you so much, Ironhide."
And we finally got the pair back together. I'm sorry it took so long to write this story, but I hope that you enjoyed it. This will undoubtedly be the longest story for this series that I'll ever write, but it was fun. Even if rewriting an entire movie was a real chore.
I want to thank my loyal readers who stuck by me through this insane idea of mine. I must have been deranged to decide to attempt such a project, but all of you seemed to have faith in my ability to pull it off anyway. Your reviews made me smile as I struggled through the length of this piece. I hope you appreciate all the work I put into it, but I mostly hope that you had a good time reading.
So, I again thank you and hope that'll continue to read if and when I decided to post another story. It might be a long time since I'm a little busy currently, but I might be able to devise another tale someday in the future.