Authors' Note: This is loosely set as a parallel fic to Introductions: Annabelle Lennox. If you haven't read it, you should still be able to follow this story, though. As with anything in the Botosphere, we do not guarantee that any of this will make sense, but it might be helpful to know the basic premise of Annabelle's story. She grew up with the 'bots but only knew them as their human holoforms. As part of a government treaty, they couldn't tell her what they really were until she turned 15. She's still adjusting to that new reality as this story begins.
This fic will also include some worthwhile DotM elements; we can't resist throwing Wreckers and the occasional Mearing reference in, but you'll notice that some people are just as alive as we planned them to be before the AU known as TF3.
If you're still wondering what crack we're on, we encourage you to join us at the Botosphere Yahoo! group (link in our profile). It'll have some behind-the-scenes goodies that only Ish could come up with.
And finally, this fic is dedicated to all parents with awesome-yet-NORMAL jobs who could bring us to work without risking chemical warfare.
Dad grudgingly admitted it wasn't the worst idea. One friend thought it was a lame thing to do, even if it meant I got to skip for a day. Another commented that I was a little too old for this kind of thing. Meagan said she would have liked to do it if her mom didn't work in the accounting department and she had enough math in a day with Mr. Feenstra. Mom checked my schedule for any suspiciously-placed exams or papers that I could miss and granted her permission after a long conversation with Dad. My guess was that she was laying down the law. Last year, I would have guessed that this meant setting a curfew and dictating when I had to check in with her—normal Mom stuff—but I now knew that my Mom didn't have any normal stuff to say about my Dad's job. Instead of telling him to have me back by supper, she was probably prohibiting chemical experiments and Defcon-1 raids and even thinking about showing me mission footage.
With all of her thou-shalt-not-on-pain-of-me-busting-the-windows-out-your-car, I was glad that I'd given them a week's notice. Most kids had to worry about the boss letting them come to Bring Your Daughter to Work Day. Things changed when your Dad's bosses were a millennia-old ET semi truck and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Mom gave me an almost frightened look as I left that morning and tried to pull off a cheerful smile. "Have fun," she ordered. "I want to hear all about it when you get home."
"Okay," I called back. "Love you!"
Ironhide pulled into the driveway at that moment—Dad had said he had an early meeting—and we climbed in. Dad smacked the dashboard affectionately and buckled up.
"Spitfire thinks we'll be a bad influence," he said.
Ironhide promptly peeled out, going zero to sixty before I could let out a squeak. I could practically see Mom's glower in my mind's eye and I was pretty sure he rebelliously burned some rubber for the hell of it, but as soon as we hit the main road, Ironhide toned it down a little and went below the speed limit.
"So," Dad said casually, "looking forward to this?"
"I don't know," I admitted. "Do you think they'll mind having me around?" Granted, the 'bots had been pretty enthusiastic about me knowing the truth after fifteen years of pretending they were just humans, but it still was only a couple of weeks since I'd made up to everyone. I wanted to be the adorable kid sister, not the annoying tag-along kind. I had a sudden mental image of them trying to make me play the quiet game so they could blow up some things in peace.
"Are you kidding?" Dad chuckled. "If the twins had their way, you'd break every rule of contact that we've got for NEST. Ironhide tried to bribe me. The Wreckers promised to behave, if you can imagine it."
"Arcee almost bounced, if you can imagine it."
"Almost never," I added.
"Even Optimus thought it was a good idea. For the purposes of cultural appreciation."
That made me sound like a documentary that they had to sit through in science class. But coming from Optimus, it was practically a compliment. It probably was one.
"Which reminds me..."
He reached under the seat and pulled out what looked like an ordinary black hoodie. But instead of having the team logo on the back or something, there was a nametag with LENNOX2.0 on it and the unit patch where a label should have been.
"You have to be in some kind of uniform," he explained at my questioning look. "And it's classier than the usual visitor's badge."
He smirked. "We have to have some way to tell us apart. If you want, we can go back to calling you Spitlet."
"It's practically a term of endearment," he pointed out.
"Still no," I insisted. "Thanks."
I pulled the hoodie over the blue t-shirt I was wearing. Mom had wanted me to dress in a skirt and blouse, but Dad had reminded her that if I was really meant to tag along today, I wasn't going anywhere near a proving ground in high heels. I think that had been the idea. I wasn't walking camo like everyone else, but at least I didn't look like a preppie.
"So, what's the plan?"
"There isn't much of a plan," he admitted. "We're having lunch with the team and I get to show you around, but if I have to sit in on a meeting, you'll be coming with me. Provided that you have enough clearance, of course."
"So if the President calls, I'm not allowed in?"
"If the President calls wanting to chew me out, I'm letting yousweet-talk him."
"I'm not any good at sweet-talking," I said with a grin.
"You're better than me," he pointed out. "I'll let you know if there are any times you need to go bug Ratchet or ask Chromia about something she showed you."
"As long as it doesn't involve Wheeljack's lab," Ironhide added.
"I dunno," I teased him. "Maybe we should go there first."
"Anywhere but there," Dad firmly said. "Clearance, remember? How 'bout you come sit in with me on some nice, safe meetings."
"Mom must have put the fear of Primus in you if you're making up meetings."
"You could come hang out with me," Ironhide hopefully said.
Knowing he'd probably not win me over with meetings, Dad offered, "Arcee also wanted to spend some time with you. Something about 'grown up girl bonding time.'"
Ironhide scoffed at the thought of me spending time with anyone other than him, but he knew the femmes would give him a run for his money. We were close enough that I could see the looming Autobot hangar, and I considered my choices carefully. With NEST, even boring meetings with your dad had some pretty explosive potential...