A Transformers Prime Fanfic
The hot Nevada sun baked down on the small, dusty town of Jasper. In one wind worn house a slim, middle aged woman briskly gathered up neat stacks of paper and slipped them into a briefcase. June Darby squirmed uncomfortably in the light grey suit she currently wore. The outfit usually hung in the far back of her closet, tucked safely behind several comfortable pairs of jeans. Only the impending threat of a meeting with the hospital's regional director had brought it out. She strode out into the garage and reached for the door to her car.
"Arcee!" the woman exclaimed in surprise as she straightened up. A sleek blue motorcycle leaned against the far wall. "I didn't hear you come in."
The front end of the bike turned towards Mrs. Darby.
"Hey June, I didn't bridge in. I was just in the neighborhood and thought I'd stop by, say hi, you know." The Autobot warrior tried to sound causal, but the human could hear the loneliness in her voice. June smiled in understanding. Jack was gone for the weekend on a mandatory three day field trip for school, leaving the house strangely empty and silent. Apparently there was a lull in Decpticon activity as well.
"I'd love to have a nice chat Arcee, but I'm afraid I have to run. The regional director is coming up from Reno and the hospital manager wants me there for some reason. Feel free to make yourself at home." June nodded at the bot and slid into the driver's seat. She tried not to think about the disappointed look on Arcee's front end, or how a motorcycle could look disappointed for that matter, as she turned the key in the ignition. The old sedan gave a spasmodic cough, a slight shudder, and then ground to a halt.
"No, no, no you don't!" Mrs. Darby muttered and tried again. This time a high screech emitted from somewhere under the hood. The women thumped her forehead into the top of the steering wheel and ground her teeth quietly.
Tap tap. June looked out the passenger side window. A set of smiling blue and pink optics gazed at her sympathetically.
"Need a lift?"
Wrapped comfortably in thick jeans and an old leather jacket June held onto the Autobot as they cruised easily down the street. The dreaded suit and heavy briefcase were strapped to the back Arcee's frame. The woman sat lightly in the saddle and leaned easily into the turns. Even with the meeting looming she was enjoying the thrill of the ride and was sorry when Arcee finally pulled into the hospital parking lot. June grabbed her things and swung around absentmindedly to plant a quick kiss on top of the Autobots front end.
"Thanks for the ride Arcee," She murmured, already shifting through her pile of notes as she strode toward the side doors.
The Autobot felt a ripple of pleased surprise go through her at the human's touch. She had often seen June give Jack the exact same farewell. Did that mean June was starting to see her as family too? The human had said she could easily catch a bus home. Arcee probably wouldn't want to wait as the meeting was expected to last at least several hours. But when the woman strode out of the doors four hours later the bike was parked in the same spot. June looked up in surprise and walked over. Had the Autobot been waiting for her the entire time?
"Good meeting?" Arcee asked as June secured the bundle to her frame.
The woman's face gave a spasm and her eyes hardened. Arcee felt her yank the straps hard.
"Oh just the usual," June said tightly, "We are receiving fewer resources and a larger work load. Good job. Keep up the great work. Official nonsense of that sort."
"Ah," Arcee replied sympathetically. Even if she didn't fully understand human society, more work with fewer resources was an all too familiar concept to the warrior.
"Want to burn some rubber?" Arcee suggested hopefully. "Jack says that always helps him relax when we have to deal with 'road rage jerks' I think he calls them."
"Oh Jack does, does he?" June asked arching her eyebrows.
Arcee cringed. She had obviously just breached some human taboo. But to her surprise the woman just threw back her head and sighed, rubbing her hands into the small of her back.
"Yes Arcee, yes. I could definitely 'burn some rubber' right now." June climbed on the cycle and was about to pull on the helmet on when Arcee stopped her.
"Will your bluetooth fit under the helmet?" the mech asked.
"Yes, I think so," June clipped in the device and slid the helmet on. It fit snugly but comfortably. Arcee's voice came on over the Bluetooth.
"Good, this works better when Jack and I are out riding," the Autobot stated as they pulled out of the parking lot. She chose an old side road out into the mountains and accelerated as soon as they were out of sight of the town. For awhile they just rode in companionable silence. Arcee tested the human's reactions and found her a capable rider. The old road up the mountain provided plenty of curves for the two to tear around and soon the bot was ripping along at upwards of a hundred mph. June was shouting with delight and laughing hard. Arcee finally slowed as she felt the human tiring. The Autobot rolled to a stop at a pull out overlooking the flatlands below. Jasper gleamed dully under the hot desert sun.
June Darby dismounted and stared out across the desert. After a bit she got back on and the rolled back into Jasper. At a far more traditional pace. Back in the Darby's garage Arcee transformed.
"Would you like to sit and, just talk, or something? You look like you had a rough day," she suggested.
June nodded and handed the mech the helmet. June settled down into a beanbag Jack had put in the garage and the Autobot sat cross-legged beside her. The human smiled warmly at the Autobot, the ride had done her a lot of good. Arcee returned the smile.
"So, ah, anything interesting happen at the hospital recently?" the Autobot started a little awkwardly.
"Oh, just the usual. People come in to the hospital injured or sick, and I help them as best I can." The nurse shrugged her shoulders. "It can be exciting at times. Boring at most. Most of the interesting stories I have to keep to myself to respect the privacy of the patients, so I'm afraid there's not much I can tell you. What about you? Anything interesting happen on patrol?"
"Nothing," the Autobot slumped back against the wall and stared morosely into space. "The cons have been quiet for weeks. No new energon traces. The most exciting event was Bee outrunning a human law officer in California yesterday."
"Well at least you know you have Fowler's explosion to look forward to," June pointed out helpfully.
Arcee gave a weak chuckle at that and grew silent again.
"I miss him too Arcee," June said softly, "I miss him every time he's away."
The mech glanced at the human in surprise, then smiled.
"Am I really that transparent?" she asked.
The human smiled and laid a comforting hand on Arcee's arm.
"It must be hard for you," June said, "being here on Earth. So far away from everything you knew. Separated from so many friends and loved ones."
Arcee looked away from the kind but piercing look on the woman's face. That spark searching ability must run in the Darby family, the bot decided.
"It's not bad being on Earth," Arcee replied, "The war took away so much even before we left Cybertron. Home became wherever Optimus and the others were. They've been all I had for so long. It's hard to imagine anything different. Now I have Jack, and you," the bot smiled at the woman. June gently squeezed her arm in return.
"It's just hard knowing I can't be there with him," Arcee let her voice become frustrated. She knew she would be spotted immediately in the wilderness camp Jack was attending. But she didn't like it.
"We have a phrase for that on this planet," June said, "first day of school syndrome."
Arcee raised one brow curiously.
"When Jack was six years old, like many children, he began attending structured academics, school," June explained. "The first day I followed the school bus to town from a distance and hung around until it let out. Then I raced the bus home to be there to greet him." The mother smiled at the memory and Arcee smiled with her. "But it's more than that. Isn't it?"
The Autobot looked away. How did they do that?
"If you don't want to talk about it that's your decision," June said gently, "But the old saying goes that God made humans with two ears and one mouth so we could listen twice as much as we talked."
"I don't like my partner being out of my reach," Arcee rubbed her wrists. She could still feel the buzz of the stasis cuffs.
June was looking up at the mech's faceplates searchingly. There was a part of Arcee that the mech didn't share with the others, not even Optimus, not even Jack. Both needed her to be strong. This, weakness, wasn't something she liked to show. But June wasn't her superior who relied on her strength, and wasn't her student to be protected and defended. She was an equal. Someone who could understand.
"His name was Clifjumper," Arcee said softly. "We'd been partners for stellarcycles. We'd been through the pit and back together more than once. He had a fire in his spark, like Miko a little crazy, but tempered by experience. I, we, lost him just before, before I met Jack. I was so angry; angry at the cons for taking him from me, angry at Cliff for not calling for backup sooner, angry at Optimus for ordering us to protect humans, angry at humanity for needing protection. Most of all, I was angry at myself for being helpless to save him. When I met Jack," Arcee looked down at June and bowed her head at the memory, "I was in a bad place. I was hard on him. I pushed him away at first, but I needed him. I'm not sure how, but when I was with him, I wasn't angry anymore." The bot let out the Cybertronian equivalent of a frustrated sigh and rubbed her faceplates. She wasn't explaining this right.
June was still waiting patiently, hands in her lap, for Arcee to continue.
"What happened to Cliff, I don't blame anyone for that anymore. Well, except the cons. But when he's not with me, when Jack's gone and I can't talk to him like this, the old feelings of helplessness come back. I just, want to protect him." Arcee glanced away from the woman; relieved to have gotten it off her chestplates, embarrassed to have shown weakness.
To the Autobot''s surprise the human didn't respond. Not with words in any case. June stood up and carefully climbed up into the mech's lap. She wrapped her arms around Arcee's neck and began to sing softly. Arcee didn't recognize the language, and her translation program couldn't make sense of it. But the woman's voice flowed like water, soothing her spark. The Autobot returned the woman's embrace. They stood there for quite some time before they were interrupted by the crackle of Arcee's radio.
"Arcee!" the deep voice of Optimus Prime filled the garage. "We have Decpticon sightings on the west coast. Return to base immediately."
"Requesting a groundbridge to my location." Arcee responded, gently helping June down. The green portal opened against the far wall and Arcee transformed.
"Arcee," June called out.
The Autobot angled her frontend to look at the woman.
"You are protecting Jack, and me, and all of us, every time you go out there. Remember that, and remember those of who wait at home remember you and your sacrifices."
Arcee bobbed her front end in acknowledgement and rolled out through the green mist. The bridge closed with a whoosh and June was alone in the garage. She gathered up her things and went into the house. Shortly her phone rang.
"Nurse Darby," Ratchet's voice came over the line, "If you have free time today I was wondering if you could be here to assist me when Arcee and the others return. I may require assistance." June looked around her house; a pile of dirty clothes in the laundry room, a stack of dishes in the sink, floors in desperate need of sweeping. She thought of the desperate need for human contact she'd seen in Arcee's optics. She couldn't be the only one.
" I'm on my way Ratchet."