Song to the Siren: Memorial Arc IV
Watching a peaceful death of a human being reminds us of a falling star; one of a million lights in a vast sky that flares up for a brief moment only to disappear into the endless night forever.
- Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
He couldn't quite put a name to all the feelings he experienced upon walking into the building that evening. A small tinge of nervousness and apprehension, and yet a slightly exhilarating bolt of familiarity warred together in his mind, hidden behind a neutral face. The bright yellow of his jacket and the blond of his holoform's hair stood out in sharp relief against the white and neutral tones of the front lobby. People didn't stare here, at least not like they did in other places.
He walked past the lobby and through several long, empty, bland corridors before coming to the room number he had memorized. A paper sign posted on the door at eye level read, in messy scrawl "Knock LOUDLY."
The voice that answered him hadn't changed since he had last heard it, those years ago.
"Come in!" it said, sounding impatient. Typical.
Bumblebee pushed the door open gently, the eyes of his holo settling on the form sitting across the room in a wheelchair, situated next to the window he was currently staring out of. Surprisingly, the man had not changed very much, apart from many more wrinkles and now-gray hair. The sarcastic and slightly mad (Bumblebee thought) light to his eyes had not diminished with age at all, and the scout found that he was somewhat comforted by that fact.
The elderly man turned, opening his mouth as if to tell Bumblebee off, but stopped short when he caught sight of just who it was that was standing in his doorway, interrupting his thoughts. His mouth fell open, slack, and he stared.
"You," he said. Bumblebee barely contained a wince.
"Hello, Agent Simmons."
Simmons blinked. "No one has called me that in a long time."
Bumblebee stepped forward cautiously, shutting the door softly behind him.
"What are you doing here?"
"I…" Bumblebee hesitated, his eyes darting down to study his sneakers. "I came to see you. They told me you were here, and that you were… not doing well."
"I'm nearly ninety years old, what did you expect?" Simmons made a noise somewhere between a laugh and a cough, shaking his head. "Who told you?"
"Director Mearing's successor."
"Right," Simmons rolled his eyes. "Of course. Well, may as well take a seat."
Bumblebee shuffled forward, somewhat awkwardly, and took a seat on the edge of the bed.
Simmons tilted a gray eyebrow. "I don't bite," he insisted. "At least not any more. Need teeth for that."
Bumblebee narrowly kept himself from laughing in surprise. Human anatomy was so disturbing.
"How are they doing?" Simmons asked, and when Bumblebee looked at him questioningly, he elaborated rather impatiently with "The kid's … kids. And his criminal girlfriend?"
It had been said in the exact same inflection, Bumblebee realized, as the first time he'd heard it those decades ago. There was a fondness in Simmons' eyes, however, when he said it now that there hadn't been then. Bee smiled understandingly. "Mikaela and her children are doing very well. She just sent her oldest daughter off to college last week. Harvard."
Simmons nodded, swallowing heavily. "Why am I not surprised?"
"They're a very intelligent family."
"And probably good at extortion, no doubt."
Bumblebee chuckled lightly, shaking his head and choosing not to comment.
"It's… a pity that he died so young," Simmons sighed, his brows knit together in a frown.
The scout closed his eyes, obviously still pained by the untimely death of his human charge. "Yes. But… I know for a fact that Sam would not have wanted to grow old and decrepit while we… while the Autobots moved on without him."
Bumblebee made a noncommittal noise, staring steadily out the window.
"Why did you come?" Simmons asked suddenly.
"What do you mean?" the blonde responded, turning his gaze back to the elderly human in front of him.
"Out of everyone I expected to be here," Simmons rasped, "I didn't expect it to be one of the N.B.E.s… Especially not you."
"You pissed on me."
"Sorry about that," Bumblebee said, trying to sound sincere and failing spectacularly. "But you deserved it."
"Maybe so, but still," Simmons shook his finger at the scout, eyes narrowing in his typical fashion. "Was rude."
"You started it."
"I was doing my job."
"Horribly, by the way," Bumblebee shot back casually, ducking out of the way as Simmons swatted at him weakly. They sat in companionable silence for several moments, before Simmons spoke up again.
"You'll remember me, won't you?"
"Of course I will," Bumblebee said, somewhat taken aback.
"Good. At least someone will," Simmons replied, settling back into his pillow with a sigh and a small smile. "Good, too, that it's an N.B.E. that will probably live forever."
"Nobody lives forever," Bumblebee said.
"Ain't that the truth."
"Yes. But there are plenty of your kind that have lived on through memories and legends, for centuries after they have passed."
Simmons appeared to contemplate this for a moment. He closed his eyes, drawing a long, rattling breath. "I… I'm glad you came. I didn't wanna die alone, yanno?"
Bumblebee's eyebrows drew together in a deep frown and he reached out, somewhat hesitantly, to touch the old Sector Seven agent's hand. "You should have known we wouldn't let that happen."
"The Autobots," Bee answered, without hesitation. "N.E.S.T."
"Why should you care?" Simmons asked.
"You may think we hate you," Bumblebee said, "But we don't. We never did. You've done much for us… in Egypt, in Chicago, and beyond."
"I nearly killed you," Simmons said softly, finally opening his eyes to meet Bumblebee's.
Bumblebee forced down a wince as images from the Hoover Dam surfaced, unbidden in his memory. He shook his head, blond hair falling into his eyes. "That's in the past."
"Still don't change that it happened."
"It does. You didn't know how to deal with us… The only one of us you'd seen before me was Megatron, and that's plenty of reason for you to want to freeze me for experiments or kill me on sight, as far as I'm concerned."
Simmons only sighed and looked away, unable to maintain eye contact. Bumblebee touched his arm to regain his attention. "I forgive you."
"Yes. I consider you my comrade," Bee said sincerely. "You are my friend."
Simmon's face scrunched and for a moment, Bumblebee was afraid the man would burst into tears. "I am?"
"Thank you," Simmons breathed, as if an enormous weight had been lifted from his shoulders.
It was then that Bumblebee knew that he had made the right decision in forgiving the man and also a good decision in coming to see him. He hadn't known that Simmons had been so affected by what had happened those many years ago, even still today.
"All my life," Simmons sighed, looking even more tired now, "I've spent all my life chasing things that were not supposed to exist. And I found everything that I set out to find, but I feel like I've missed something somewhere along the way."
"A family, perhaps?" Bumblebee prompted. Simmons just shook his head, a small, somewhat ironic smile playing on his features.
"Nah, not for me," he said. "Never was much for kids, the only ones I ever had any experience with sicced you on me."
"What is it, then?"
"Ahh," Simmons shook his head, waving a dismissive hand. "Nothing."
"Tell me," Bumblebee encouraged, sitting forward to show that he was listening.
Simmons seemed to consider it for a moment, sighing. "I feel like I've spent so much time trying to be famous, and trying to be legendary so that the world will remember me that I forgot, somewhere along the line, what was more important."
"And what is that?"
"Being remembered by those who actually mattered," Simmons closed his eyes, leaning back in the chair. "Those who saw me as important, even before the world knew Seymour Simmons existed. Before I became famous, before I became a legend."
Bumblebee resisted the urge to roll his eyes and tell Simmons that he really was never all that famous. His lips twitched in a small grin – humans never really changed.
"Let's face it, I was never the friendly guy – still ain't, but there were still people who stuck with me, and not for any other reason than they wanted to," Simmons continued. "I just hope that they, or at least the ones that are still alive, will still think about me from time to time."
"Human emotions are always so strange," Bumblebee said with open honesty.
"Yeah, well. Even we can't understand them sometimes."
"Don't read too much into it, kid," Simmons said, waving a spotty hand dismissively. "I just wanna know that someone's gonna remember me after I'm gone."
Even after Seymour Simmons died two months later, Bumblebee did.