Summary:

There was so much about our world that they had yet to understand…

When an emotionally shattered drug addict is drawn into the world of the Autobots, they will learn that not all humans deserve the right to freedom. Songfic for Three Days Grace, Ironhide/OC rated for sex, violence, mentions of child abuse, and a LOT of swearing.

I originally had a suggested translator for everyone to read the Spanish phrases use throughout the story, but since it was a bother for a lot of my readers, I have instead included the translation in brackets next to the phrases :)

Hope that makes it a bit easier, everyone.

This fucking MONSTER of a Oneshot is something that has been in my head for a while now; I've always wondered, how would the Autobots react to the darker, less honourable side of our world? Would they still feel inclined to save it?

I based it around the song Riot: by Three Days Grace, the lyrics really struck me as the kind that describe the main character in this story, my OC Ruby.

The story is about the coping and healing process of the emotional traumas that I would imagine would come from dealing with drugs, rape and years and years of simmering, spiteful hate like Ruby has. It's much darker than the fic I am currently writing: Primary Mechanisms, but I really, REALLY like how this one has come out. Please, PLEASE, if you enjoy it then send me a review. I love hearing feedback; especially if it's detailed or constructive.

I'm really not a fan of the "Fave-and-Run" even though I appreciate the gesture of Favouriting, so please, if you Favourite this, or add it to your Lists or anything; make sure to just drop me a review and tell me what you THOUGHT of it – of how I did.

The subjects involved in this story are ones that I personally have never had to suffer, so I would like to know that I have done them justice rather than butchering it.

Also, I know that there are probably a few grammatical errors or typos; but this story is 47 GOD DAMNED PAGES LONG, so I may not have been able to find them all; please ignore them.

I sincerely hope you enjoy it.

Riot – Three Days Grace

If you feel so empty

So used up, so let down

Optimus and his team did not like patrolling in crowded areas, but it seemed that several Decepticons had started to take refuge in the city; obviously knowing that the unsuspecting humans acted as a shield against the do-gooder Autobots. Ironhide; who was obviously a little less warm towards the fleshy beasts, was currently frustrated at having to drive around in his Alt mode; hunting for a Decepticon that they had briefly picked up on their radars.

"No sign of them yet, Prime."

A heavy sigh sounded over the Com-Link in response; the sound of their leader's voice echoing through Ironhide's receptors, "Any idea who it is?"

The Topkick mech gave a low growl before answering, "Barricade. I can smell him."

"Easy Ironhide. We have to be careful here; the area is heavily populated and Barricade will not hesitate to kill humans."

"I know Prime; keep the humans in the dark," he paused for a minute, deciding to play smart, "not that it would be hard to keep them in the dark in this weather."

It was currently very late in the afternoon; and it was pouring rain from the almost black sky above them. They had split up into single units to cover more ground because each of them had briefly picked up a Decepticon signal before it had obviously been masked.

Barricade may have been a lackey amongst Megatron's ranks; but he was not stupid. He was either laying low so that he could escape their detection, or biding his time to strike them. Either way, Ironhide was ready to chase him down.

Little did he know; the Decepticon was already watching him.

If you feel so angry

So ripped off, so stepped on…

A low hiss escaped chapped lips, exhaling smoke before passing the rolled up drug it came from over to the next person. Crystalline eyes darted down to the thin black belt in her hand as she strapped it firmly around her upper arm. A syringe, filled with a liquid that she was more than familiar with, found the stressed vein in the crook of her elbow; puncturing the skin with a slight pop before the liquid was pushed into the bloodstream.

As the illegal substance coursed through her veins; a ringing buzz made its way into her skull and her pupils dilated a little before she slumped back against the wall with a contented expression.

There was nothing like a high.

She was amongst a small gathering of people; all of them squandering in an alley so as not to be caught out in their activities. She didn't know any of them from a bar of soap; all they were was clients of the same drug dealer. They knew each other's names, but it was every man for himself in this world; and there were no loyalties among thieves.

"Mierda," (shit) she whispered in Spanish through her teeth; feeling the heroine burn through her system in familiar pleasure, "Such a fucking rush."

One of the other members of their congregation; a far more addicted drug user by the street name of Twitch, ran a hand through his oily, unkempt hair. "You said it, Ruby. Best fucking kick I've had all week."

There was a ripple of people agreeing that resounded amongst the company; most of them too out of it to do anything but nod. This was Ruby's life; it was how she lived.

On the edge with nobody to answer to.

She had never meant to get involved on the wrong side of the tracks, but sometimes the path one walks has no forks; and is decided for them. She would never admit it, but she had been one of those people; too weak to fight set her own path. She was different now…her lot was her lot and she knew it well. She knew how to run, hide, fight; hell she'd killed for her own survival. Which was why when she was alerted by the group's lookout of a 'pig' approaching, she knew it was time for them to split.

"COPS!" screeched the teenager, running down the alley to warn them before continuing down it into the back streets.

The congregation was scrambling and rushing; leaving the previously enjoyed joint smoking on the floor. Fucking waste of candy, she thought harshly, cheap ass dealer charged a fucking blowjob for that! However she was pulled out of her pondering when she spotted a black Topkick speeding past the alley; a loud screeching resounding as it clearly slammed on its brakes in the distance. A police cruiser, a Mustang in fact; wailed past with its sirens blaring angrily. Ruby felt her age-old hatred of the law flare up in her chest as she spotted it.

"Fucking cops…" she hissed, spitting onto the floor in disgust. Well whoever the pigs were after, she decided that they weren't going to get them today; fucking useless bastards that cops usually were.

"It's over, Autobot. Time to die." Came a rasping, violent voice over what sounded like a cruiser megaphone; she'd certainly heard enough of them to know.

Filled with that familiar hatred, she began darting down the back alleys and taking as many shortcuts as she could find, she picked up a piece of piping that lay strewn on the disgusting, garbage covered concrete and bared her teeth in a primal; drug fuelled rage. Then she rushed forward with her fingers tightly grasped around her weapon of choice.

"FUCKING COPS!" she roared.

You're not the only one

Refusing to back down

Ironhide was cursing himself all the way to Cybertron and back. He'd been so focused on trying to find Barricade's signal ahead of him, that he didn't suspect that he was behind him. So far the Decepticon had kept his cover as a police car; although he was flashing his lights and wailing his sirens as he did so, obviously trying to draw attention to the 'escaping fugitive' that was Ironhide.

The mech was cursing and swearing violently; there was only so much he could do in his Alt mode. He couldn't use his cannons and he couldn't fragging transform out here! He was so vulnerable this way, all he could do was call for the rest of the Autobots and try to lead the cruiser into a less populated area.

Already he had managed to get Barricade to follow him to the rougher, more violent part of the city; but as a brick wall approached and Ironhide slammed on the brakes, he realized that the Decepticon had managed to chase him into a dead end.

It was raining so hard now that the world almost looked black and white; drained of its colours. And the Decepticon police cruiser rolled to a taunting stop in front of him, the sirens having cut off but the lights still flashing. Ironhide swallowed his rage and instead decided to taunt the bastard.

"Bring it, Decepticon punk!" he roared from the grill of the Topkick.

Barricade's harsh, grating voice came through the megaphone, "It's over Autobot. Time to die."

Ironhide felt his hatred bubble; he wouldn't go out like this. He had no choice but to disobey Optimus' order for cover, he needed to be able to fight with his full strength; he needed to transform.

But before he could…

"FUCKING COPS!" came a harsh, violently angry scream from one of the alleys. It clearly startled both Autobot and Decepticon, because both of them stopped to draw their attention to the yell. If Ironhide had of been in true form, his optics would have widened at seeing a girl, a human girl; charging at Barricade with an expression of pure murder in her eyes. She ran forward with what looked like a piece of piping, wait…was she going to attack-?

A strangled yell came from the Topkick, "STOP! YOU FOOLISH GIRL, YOU'LL GET YOURSELF KILLED!"

But she either didn't hear, or she wasn't listening. Ironhide suspected it was both. He knew that expression on her face; she was being blinded and deafened by rage. But why? Did she know who, or what, Barricade was?

If she did she clearly didn't care, because she leapt at the Mustang with a ferocious scream. She swung the piping at it, smashing one of the back windows before kicking the side door violently; her eyes almost bleeding with the hatred that seethed from them. Her long, dark hair was streaming water and flying around like the wild arms of a sea creature; blood shot eyes reflecting an almost drowning rage.

"I'LL FUCKING KILL YOU BASTARDS!" she screeched, swinging the piping once more; this time taking out the driver's side mirror. The black mech had to admit; she had guts.

But his impressed thoughts were cut short as the side door swung out and belted her in the stomach, keeling her over before she collapsed on the ground with a splash. There wasn't anything he could do in this form though! How was he supposed to fight without revealing himself?

Then he heard it.

Barricade, caring nothing for his identity being revealed; transformed from the Mustang into his robot form, slamming his fists either side of the now wide-eyed, terrified human. "You will pay for that, insect!" he grated loudly at her.

"BARRICADE!" Ironhide shouted violently, "SHE IS NOT YOUR BATTLE HERE! WORRY YOURSELF WITH ME!"

"I will KILL you!" the Decepticon roared, ignoring his former enemy. Killing this human would damage the Autobots more right now; being unable to protect one of their precious humans. He picked the girl up in his hands and squeezed, listening delightfully as she screamed in agony; he had to have fractured a rib or something, she was sure. He lifted her to his face; enjoying her disbelieving terror as he observed her. "How does it feel to die, human?" he snarled.

To both his and Ironhide's shock, her face went from terror to blind rage. She thought it was some sort of hallucination from the drugs within her system, and as such; she still believed that it was the cop car in front of her, or the cops themselves.

Either way she didn't care; anyone who bore a badge was on her hit list.

"Never tried it!" she roared back at him, "Why don't you FUCKING TELL ME WHAT IT'S LIKE!"

She pulled her arm down; having never once let go of her weapon, before stabbing it directly through the thing's eye. It howled in obvious pain before dropping her carelessly to the ground. Ruby screamed in agony as she hit the pavement with a sickening crack.

This was his chance. Ironhide performed the most rapid transformation he could, whipping out his cannons and blasting off several rounds at the Decepticon. Barricade, however, clearly knew that he was now outmatched; he was blinded in one eye and had no chance to take down the mech now that he was in true form. He violently shot at Ironhide with cover fire before turning back into the police cruiser and speeding off from the scene. The massive black mech moved to pursue him, but was stopped when he remembered the human that had attacked Barricade in the first place.

"Optimus," he said aloud over his Com-Link, "Barricade escaped; we have a casualty."

She was on the ground, hissing profanities in her native tongue before screaming not in agony; but rage. Violent, seething, life-long rage.

Ruby hated cops, she hated them so much that it made her blood boil. 'Protect and serve, like FUCK!' she always said. Now here she was, writhing on the ground in the aftermath of some kind of hallucination from her narcotic cocktail and she the only thing she was worried about was whether or not she had got that cop. She'd sure as fuck beaten up his police-cruiser.

"Are you alive?" came a voice from above her, difficult to hear over the heavy drumming of the rain; it felt so good on her face, "Can you move?"

"No I can't fucking move!" she roared, closing her eyes and trying to ignore the violent pain in her ribs, "You stupid fucking hallucination of Hell!"

She looked up into a pair of massive, glowing blue fibre-optic circles with a disbelieving and blind rage as the owner of them addressed her again. "We're going to get you help."

She felt as though her head was going to split open from the headache she had; and she knew she was about to pass out, but she wouldn't do so without having the last word.

"No necesita ayuda." (Don't need help) She spat harshly, before the world around her faded.

You're not the only one

So get up

When Ruby came to, she was unfamiliar with her surroundings. Four metal walls surrounded her, and the bed she woke up on was a single mattress supported by a steel frame. The side table, also metal, held nothing but a plain lamp bolted to the surface, some papers and a plastic bottle of water.

Prison?

Ruby racked her brains, trying to remember something; anything to give her a clue as to where she was. That was when she recalled flashing lights; red and blue. The lights of the cars she had learned to hate very early on in life. She'd assaulted a cop car…but for some reason she recalled it changing; there was another one there too…but the cop car was what she saw most clearly.

Changed…? How the fuck would a car change – cars just didn't do that.

"Gotta lay off the crystal, Ruby…" she hissed to herself; referring to the meth she had been experimenting with lately, "You're goin' fucking loco…" (crazy)

With a fierce snarl, she swung her legs over the side of the bed and cradled her aching head for a moment; trying to quell the splitting headache that throbbed in her skull while ignoring the throbbing pulse in her ribs. The back of her head felt like the main source of the pain, and out of instinct she slid her fingers into her head, looking for the birth of the awful sensation. She found it just above her occipital bone; a sore, bruised sensation shooting to the back of her eyes as soon as she touched it.

She growled angrily as she felt it; an almost animalistic expression crossing her features as she did so. Being a part of the less-than-noble society, Ruby relied heavily on her instincts and they had saved her life many times.

First rule of the Street Survival 101 handbook; always be aware of your surroundings.

Aside from her initial take in of the room, there wasn't much else to see; it was bare. The large, heavy duty metal door was bolted shut; a fact which only reaffirmed her suspicions that she was some kind of prisoner here. There was also a large, horizontal mirror on the wall opposite where she had been sleeping; and she knew exactly what it was.

A one-sided mirror.

She had absolutely no doubt that whoever had brought her here was watching her right now…sick fucking bastards. However she played along for a moment, using the time to check her appearance.

A slender, lithe frame with Hispanic mocha skin stretched over her limbs; a mess of long, straight brown hair, tangled from sleep and knotted from the rain she had been out in beforehand. Her body was covered by a pair of ratty, stressed denim jeans that were slung low on her pelvic bone, a low cut, dark red halter-neck shirt that sat just under her naval and a pair of black Converse sneakers that were probably stolen.

Her features were clear in their heritage, with large slanted brown eyes, a full mouth and a slender nose. There were also tiny needle marks riddling her arms and scars of lighter skin that marred several placed on her body. A tramp stamp tattoo was twined across her lower back, but she didn't need to turn to see that.

Running a hand through her hair, she cast a dark smirk at the mirror before drawing the fingers from her hair and running them across the exposed skin of her stomach with a seductive gasp; obviously to try and earn the attention of the souls behind the glass. Suddenly she gave a roaring yell and thumped her fists violently against the mirror, her eyes trained unseeingly on whoever was behind the mirror as she braced her fists against it.

"Having fun watching?" she snarled aggressively, "I know you're in there, burro; (jackass)you can't hide from me! Aren't you gonna come in here and…make me talk?"

Let's start a riot, a riot

Let's start a riot

"She's been out for a while…" Lennox said worriedly, "Are you sure she's okay?"

He turned to look behind him, seeing three of the Autobots; Ironhide, Ratchet and Optimus, all in their Holoforms behind the mirror with him.

"She bruised the skin on the back of her head, but thankfully the moisture in the pavement created a cushion; from the rain." Ratchet said vaguely, pushing the Holoform's glasses up his nose, "I would have rathered she didn't sleep, but she was unconscious when we got there…it couldn't really be helped. And thankfully her ribs appear to merely be bruised; she should heal just fine."

"Ironhide," Optimus said quietly, pulling his gaze away from the sleeping human in the other room, "you said that she attacked Barricade?"

"Yes."

"…We need to find out why. Did she seem…to know him? Did she swing at you at all?" The leader's Holoform crossed his arms and looked out the mirror at the human with a seemingly perturbed look on his face. Ironhide took a few steps forward and joined him to watch her.

""No. She was attacking Barricade. She went straight for him, screaming something about….cops. She called him 'fucking cops' when she ran at him."

Lennox looked at Ironhide with a confused expression, taking note that the girl had started to stir more, "So…she attacked Barricade, because she thought he was an actual police cruiser?"

"I'm not sure I understand…isn't a human police force there to help your people?" Optimus said; his Holoform's brow furrowed into a disturbed frown as he tightened his crossed arms; watched the girl sit up and narrow her eyes at her surroundings. He recognized her actions immediately, with the tensed shoulders and her irises darting intensely around the room to take in her surroundings; fingers twitching in readiness.

She was searching for danger; by instinct.

His natural place as leader instigated a heavy feeling in his Spark as he realized that she was battle ready. It pained him to think that such a frail, delicate creature as a human could demonstrate such knowledge of a hostile situation.

It was their job to protect humans like her.

"Normally yeah," Lennox cut in; bringing Optimus back into the room from his spiralling thoughts, "but you guys have to understand. There are a lot of dirty cops in the world."

"Like soldiers that defect." Ironhide rasped gruffly, trying to use the closest comparison he could. Back on Cybertron there had not been a police force or anything by those terms. The Primes and the soldiers kept the peace; a defective soldier was not tolerated amongst the ranks. Lennox nodded, none of the men taking their eyes from the female in the other room.

Said female had bared her teeth in a feral snarl as she touched the back of her head, which Ratchet noticed and grumbled in an annoyed manner.

"She shouldn't touch the wound. It's not serious, but it will null the disinfectant if she touches it too much." The medic's Holoform sighed exasperatedly as they all watched her, "You humans are so delicate, it's a wonder you live as long as you do."

All of them fell silent as she stood and looked around the room once more, her fingers twitching as if anticipating an attack. Suddenly she focused on the mirror, her eyes narrowing slightly; an action that Ironhide immediately noticed.

"Can she see us? Is it possible for humans to be immune to the illusion of this glass?" he barked concernedly, hands clenching into massive fists in preparation to defend; should he need to.

However Lennox clapped a hand onto his shoulders, "No, it's okay. She can't see through; but she might know what it is. These mirrors are common in police stations, and she looks like the sort to have been in them once or twice. Relax."

To their surprise, she had approached the mirror and was clearly running an observation of her appearance before she refocused on the glass. Ironhide couldn't help but be concerned. Despite Lennox's assurance, it felt like she was looking through them.

Raising a hand into her hair, she stroked at the silken locks before dropping her fingers to slide across the skin on her belly with a strange sound. It was as if she were trying to arouse them.

The idea that she would sell herself in such a manner almost sickened him.

All four men suddenly jolted in shock as a violent scream resounded from her and she smashed her fists into the glass of the one-way mirror, her forehead pressed against the glass as if to see something they couldn't.

"Having fun watching?" she growled, a violent edge to her voice and a slight accent rolling off her tongue as she spoke, "I know you're in there, burro; you can't hide from me! Aren't you gonna come in here and…make me talk?"

Ironhide whipped his head to Lennox, "You're still going to tell me she can't see us?" he hissed angrily, still furious that he was unaware as to why she had openly attacked a Decepticon. "Why is she trying to talk to u-"

"HEY!" she yelled, punching a fist into the glass again, "Open the fucking door! You can't keep me here! You understand me; you can't lock me up!"

"What do you want to do Optimus…?" Lennox asked heavily, watching her pace in front of the mirror and turn to it every few seconds as if waiting for a response from it. The Prime's Holoform tensed his shoulders before lowering his arms to his sides; fists clenched tensely.

"We need answers from her…" he murmured seriously, "Ironhide; with me."

Without a word of argument or questioning, the soldier was at his side, awaiting his orders willingly as he followed Optimus out of the room towards the next door.

Let's start a riot, a riot

Let's start a riot

As she heard the door handle click and the sound of a large bolt was driven out of place, Ruby's eyes snapped to the exit. Her shoulders straightened and her fingers twitched in anticipation; uncertain of who would walk through that door.

As it opened, two men entered; looking nothing like the cops she had expected to be interrogating her on the abuse of their cruiser. One of them was tall; incredibly and majestically tall. He was dressed in a navy blue military uniform and his short, professional haircut was an inky blue black, peppered with distinguished grey at the temples. A strong, squared jaw was lined with a short, neat line of facial hair in the same colour; not quite full enough to be considered a beard.

He looked to be in his late 30's to early 40's, and with her experience with authority (however much she hated it) told her that he emanated a commanding role.

The man next to him, who could only be compared to a tank with legs, was clearly some sort of bodyguard…or shield. With the large, clearly battle-torn scar across his right eye, she felt her shoulders tense immediately at the threat; her teeth gritting in readiness to fight back if she needed to.

His broad, barrel chest was twice the width of the first man's and although he was shorter than his colleague, he would still tower over her. His snug black shirt did nothing to hide the rips of his muscles, and he could probably crush her skull in just one of his massive palms. Ruby felt the hairs on the back of her neck rise in defence as they stepped closer, to which she took a lower stance and tensed her fingers like claws.

The stance of a brawler.

"Don't," she snarled, teeth bared like some sort of cornered animal, "don't come near me."

The tank-man gave a scoff, his voice sounding like gravel in his chest; rasping and dangerous, "You just implied to us that you were willing to talk, didn't you?" he snapped at her.

Her nose wrinkled in aggression, her entire face screwed up in hostility, "The fuck I will! I told you to let me out of here!"

"Not until we get answers." He shot back.

To his surprise, she took a step forward; demonstrating her lack of intimidation as her fingernails bit into her palm, "You expect me to trust you, asswipe?"

"Why you-!"

"Enough." Came a baritone rumble from the taller man. Just the sound of it made Ruby turn at the authority. It was regal and forceful, but so gentle; paternal almost. She hissed and shook her head at the thought.

Paternal my fucking ass, she thought aggressively before he continued.

"We mean you no harm. We are willing to cooperate with you for your information, you have nothing to fear from us." He said firmly, his shoulders square and calm; completely in control.

Taking another few steps forward, she felt instinct reverting through her; the only way she had been taught to get what she wanted from someone was to service them for it. As she reached the dark haired commander, she looked him up and down before making eye contact with him; able to smell a strangely metallic scent on him as she spoke.

"What's it going to take to let me out of here, boss man." She growled lowly; her eyes narrowed a little, "What? You want me to suck your dick?"

His eyes narrowed at her; an intense and neon blue that burned into her soul. It was as though he were either confused or appalled by her statement, but Ruby knew better; nobody in her world was above sexual favours.

"Excuse me?" he asked in earnest surprise as his neon eyes focused on her in something that looked like wariness, his arms still down by his sides as he stared her down; completely unintimidated by her invasion of personal space. He shook his head and placed a step between them authoritively, "That is enough."

With a wry smirk, Ruby licked her lower lip, "Oh don't act like you're above it, jefé. (chief) If you let me out of here," she hissed reaching a hand up from her side, "It'll be so good… Come on, I'll suck your dick-" she reached for the fly of the man's pants in an attempt to make good on the deed before his hand shot down and grasped her wrist firmly, the commander-man's eyes flaming with something between disgust and pity.

"I said enough." He ordered firmly, releasing her from his grasp and taking a dignified step back from her. Ruby, still shocked at his flat out noble refusal, found herself that much more enraged because a route to her freedom had been snatched from her.

They had her locked here like an animal, so an animal was what she was going to give them.

With an enraged snarl, she spat venomous words at him in blind fury, "And I said to fucking let me GO! You fucking HEAR me?"

She reached forward and swung at the uniform clad man, striking him across the face with her nails; to which his only reaction was turning his head with the blow. However within an instant the tank next to him had thrown himself into her and pinned her harshly against the wall with one of her arms twisted up behind her back and the other slammed against the metal surface with his massive palm clutching her wrist; anchoring her there. She was screaming profanities in what was obviously her native language; the words spitting from her lips like a fire-venom. The tank-man's full, muscular weight was pressed against her as he bared his teeth angrily; snarling into her ear.

"You will not touch him. You attack him like that again and I will end you, do you understand me?" he growled harshly.

"GET OFF ME!" she screamed shrilly, "DON'T TOUCH ME!"

"Ironhide, stop." The baritone rumbled again, "This is not how we need to go about things. Please, let her go."

The man turned his head from her ear, a clearly concerned tone in his voice, "But Optimus, she-"

"Let her go, Ironhide."

Ruby found her blood running cold at the tone this 'Optimus' used. It was calm, gentle and kind, but at the same time…there was no room for debate or question; it was as if his very word was being spouted as law. Obviously the man pinning her realized this too, because he reluctantly released her and stepped back; still remaining between his leader and the unpredictable female as a barrier.

"Ironhide, huh?" she suddenly snorted, taking a step back on her heel to put distance between himself and her, "Fitting…"

Clearing his throat, the one called Optimus took a step around his soldier to have a clear path between the two of them before he spoke to her again; trying clearly to wipe the slate clean. His cheek was marred with the scratch marks from where she had struck him; the wounds seeping a little bit of blood which he seemed completely unbothered by.

"My name is Optimus Prime, I am one of the leaders for a faction at this facility. Do you have any recollection as to why you are here?"

Her shoulders still tensed in the presence of 'Ironhide', she shook her head and narrowed her gaze, "I don't even fucking know where here is. How would I know WHY?"

"-You attacked Barricade." Ironhide interjected.

She turned to him with a sceptical and confused look, "What fucking barricade? It didn't break down any barricades!"

Optimus Prime raised a finger to silence her, which to her own personal shock; actually worked. How could a person like this just make her…obey? Like some fucking cop's lapdog. It unsettled her beyond anything she'd ever known and she didn't like it.

"Barricade is a foe of ours. You attacked him; the police cruiser, do you remember?" he asked her, those intensely unnerving eyes burning into her like smoulders; his guard dog watching her intently for signs that she might attack them again.

Racking her brain, she pulled up what she could of the events, dropping onto the side of the bed as it flooded back to her; making her head ache again. "I fucked up the police cruiser. Did it belong to that…Barricade guy or something?"

"No," Ironhide scoffed, as though explaining the most obvious thing in the world to a child, "It was Barricade."

"What was?"

"The police cruiser."

Ruby snorted disbelievingly and ran a hand through her hair with a snide laugh, "Oh fuck off! Next thing I know, you'll try and tell me that seeing a giant robot wasn't part of my narcotic hallucination!"

Optimus Prime took a step toward her, his eyes clearly concerned at her words. "You saw Barricade transform?" he asked urgently, "You know of the Decepticons?"

"The what-i-cons? Shit man, you high or something? Cars don't change…" her demeanour quickly became one of tension and slight fear; clearly these mother-fucking army guys were crazy or something, "What the fuck do you want from me?"

"Anwers." They both said in unison, the combined power in their voices trembling her confidence. As much as somebody as self-sufficient as her, Ruby was…intimidated. And she loathed them for it.

"Answers to what? I told you I don't fucking know what you're talking about." She hissed, the tense coil in her demeanour stringing itself even tighter at her agitation. She was surprised to hear the tall one, Optimus, give a heavy sigh and pressed his finger and thumb against his temples.

Clearly she was frustrating him as much as they were frustrating her.

"Please…could we refrain from the constant profanities, they are not necessary." Ruby huffed indignantly in response, but didn't say anything as he continued, "You were in stasis for quite a while…you must be hungry, am I correct?"

"…Stasis? Hombre (Man), what do I look like to you; a damn computer?"

"He asked you if you were hungry, fleshy." The barrel chested 'Ironhide' growled at her. His animosity was not surprising, it was not as though she had exactly been friendly towards either of them in the first place. But Ruby relied heavily on her instincts, and waking up in a clearly locked containment room didn't exactly make her feel trusting.

She shrugged ignorantly at them, trying to recline on the bed as if she completely owned her space, "Sure, whatever."

Optimus nodded, clearly trying to smooth over their rough start, "Then I will see to it that something is brought to you…Miss…?"

She bit her tongue to restrain her words for a brief moment before deciding that she was already fucked anyway; there was nothing to gain from not telling them her name.

"Ruby. But you call me 'Miss' again, jefé, and we'll have a problem."

Ironhide rumbled a growl and waved a hand at her, as if to signify that she was hardly worth the time, but Optimus nodded his head at her, clearly trying to treat her as an equal; something that surprised her.

Cops and authority did not treat street rats like her as equals.

The thought struck her, making her liquid brown eyes narrow in confusion at their backs as she watched them leave. Who were these people? And what were they keeping her here for? Obviously it had something to do with the story of the changing 'barricade' police cruiser, but that didn't give her any clue as to what the hell was going on. Against her own will, the back of her mind entertained the thought that maybe she could trust them. Maybe they were planning to trust her.

Then the bolt on her door slid home again.

No, fuck that.

They clearly didn't trust her, so she wouldn't trust them.

If you feel so filthy

So dirty, so fucked up

After being taken to another, much smaller room; Ruby was sat in a bolted metal chair at a cold table and handed a plate of vegetables and what looked like meatloaf; both slathered in gravy. It wasn't what she'd call gourmet, but it was food.

With all the elegance of a starved pig, she scarfed it down with hardly so much as a breath. One of the militants sitting in front of her pulled a face that was somewhere between disgust and pity, before he gently pushed a large glass of water across the table to her. His head was shaved and his skin was dark underneath the light in what Ruby had assessed to be an interrogation room; but it didn't concern her.

She was ready for whatever shit they planned to dish out.

"Damn kid. How long has it been since you ate." The dark-skinned man asked her, his eyebrow raised in shock as she practically shovelled food into her mouth without any concern for how she might be perceived.

A vague shrug was her response before she scrunched up her face, trying to think, "Few days maybe? Full meal at least, anyway; I usually just steal candy bars and shit from 7-11."

She stabbed the plastic fork into the meatloaf and ripped a chunk off with her teeth before the fairer skinned soldier, the one with the name 'Lennox' printed on his jacket, cleared his throat.

"I know that…you aren't all that interested in co-operating with us Ruby…but you need to understand that what you did…may have put you in danger." He said seriously, his hands clasped tensely on the bench.

To his surprise, she pointed her thumb at the mirror on the opposite wall with a scoff, "Danger from what? Your tank ass barrel bitch is already behind glass. You guys ever considered putting a leash on him? Or a muzzle maybe…?"

Lennox groaned in frustration, knowing that Ironhide was probably seething on the other side of the glass while she was insulting him. "You may be in danger from Barricade…"

She looked up from her food to him and swallowed tensely, "The…car right…? That Decepticon thing you were talking about?"

"Yes."

She took a large drink of water and pushed the plate back across the table, crossing her arms defensively over her chest and leaning onto the surface with narrowed eyes. "I still don't believe you. Cars don't…change. I keep telling you, it was a fucking hallucination! I was high for Christ sake!"
"It's not about what you've seen." The dark-skinned man, Epps, cut in calmly, "We're telling you from our experiences. These things are real, and you tried to take on one of the badguys! Maybe you don't get it, but these Decepticons don't have the same level of…concern when it comes to us squishy people! They're not like the good guys."

"-The Auto-things right?"
"Autobots," Lennox corrected her, "yeah; they guard humans. Our 'protectors' in a way."

To his surprise, she slammed a fist on the table and laughed; rather manically…almost sadistically. She had what appeared to be muted rage smouldering in the back of her eyes, and Lennox instinctively noticed the tense aggression coiled in her stance as she leaned across the table, suddenly gritting her teeth as she spoke.

"There's no such thing as a fucking protector." She hissed, her tone actually sounding dangerous as she spoke, causing Lennox to lean back in his seat a little bit; his hand lowering to rest over his gun if he needed it. He didn't want to have to use it, but there was something very dark that writhed within this woman.

It was easy to see that she had so much hate. She had the potential to be very dangerous.

Epps cleared his throat to try and release some of the tension that had sparked within the room. "Look…We understand that you don't believe any of this, so I think…" he looked at Lennox with an apprehensive look before turning back to her and taking a breath; rubbing a hand over his shaved head tensely. Watching his friend's worry, Lennox decided to finish the sentence for him.

"I think you need to meet the Autobots."

If you feel so walked on

So painful, so pissed off

Ruby had been led from her interrogation room into a very large hangar; in which a large congregation of vehicles were gathered together.

A neon green Hummer H2, a red Ferrari 458 Italia, a navy blue Mercedes Benz W212, a silver Corvette convertible, a yellow Chevrolet Camaro, a massive custom painted blue and red Peterbilt 379…and a sleek, customize GMC Topkick; black as the night itself.

She found herself thinking that if she had seen them on the street, she'd have probably tried to steal one. But they certainly didn't look like the 'protectors' of human kind. They just looked like cars, like really nice cars.

"This some kinda joke, jefé?" she scoffed, turning to look up at the one named Ironhide; who was clasping her arm as if she were going to run away…like he'd have given her the opportunity. Not to say that she wouldn't have tried at least. "They aren't all that impressive; especially the black truck; looks kind of pissy next to the others."

Strangely enough, Ironhide seemed to erupt an annoyed rumble through his chest and he tightened his grip on her arm, the nails biting into her bare skin just a little; making her flinch. Ruby gave a snarling hiss before slipping unwittingly into Spanish to abuse him.

"Qué mierda es tu problema, freak esteroides?" (What the fuck is your problem, steroid freak) she snapped, trying to wrangle in his grasp as she shoved at him almost violently.

Countering her inexperienced strikes, Ironhide slid his hand down to her wrist and twisted her around, slamming her roughly against the Topkick with her back to his chest; her arm twisted up against the small of her back. "How pissy is the truck now?" he snarled angrily, her presence clearly irritating him.

Ruby struggled against his grasp, choking out a noise as he pressed her closer against the truck to make her stop. "Dejar de hacerme daño. (Stop hurting me) He's hurting me! Stop touching me!" she screeched desperately; not liking being made a victim by this over-muscled guard dog.

"Ironhide, come on; let her go." Lennox said, trying to be reasonable.

There was a tense pause before he pulled her away from the vehicle before he released her entirely; making sure that Epps, Lennox and Optimus were within her escape route before he turned to Prime; the real one.

"She's not going to believe any of it unless we show her…" he snarled with an annoyed tone. "Time to prove ourselves, Optimus."

Before Ruby could make a sarcastic remark, both Ironhide and Optimus Prime disappeared in a smooth, crackling motion; their bodies disintegrating before her eyes. She couldn't help herself from letting slip a scream; they disintegrated for Christ's sake! There was the sound of hydraulics whirring and grinding, and suddenly the Topkick beside her gave a lurch as it began to shift and change.

She screamed again and fell backwards; Lennox and Epps each taking an arm to catch her before she hit the floor, pulling her carefully to her feet. Her eyes were trained on the changing robots in horror; terror gripping deep down in her chest as she suddenly understood. She had actually been in the grasp of one of these things! She'd attacked one of them and it could have killed her!

Years of survival capabilities, of relying on her tuned in instincts had served her nothing! She could have been crushed like a bug under a drug-dealer's foot! As the congregation of cars finished their metamorphosis, she felt an age old fear grip her; a life-long fear that even to this day she'd never been able to quell.

Fear of something stronger than her.

The black one; which she vaguely recognized from her blurry memory as the one from the alleyway, knelt down and established eye contact with her. "Still pissy, human?" it asked her; in Ironhide's voice. She frantically pushed back from the giant robot, her eyes narrowed and terrorized at the same time, her voice rasping and violent from fear.

"Get AWAY from me! Don't TOUCH me!" she screamed, tripping over her own feet and collapsing to the floor, her eyes not shifting from the massive robots in front of her. Ironhide noticed that her teeth were bared like an animal and it made him wonder…

Just how many battles had this human seen?

"Please, we mean you know harm." The one that had transformed from the Peterbilt was the one that spoke this time, his voice an exact replica of the one who had called himself Optimus Prime, "These are our true forms. We," he gestured to the congregation of massive metal creatures around him, "are the Autobots. We protect your planet; protect humans like yourself from-"

"-STOP!" she screamed, scrambling to her feet to glare up at Optimus; who appeared stunned at her rage, "Just shut up! This is all BULLSHIT! It doesn't make any sense! Humans aren't fucking worth protecting!"

There was silence in the hangar for a moment; because in that moment even Optimus Prime could not believe his audios. She had just…disregarded her own race's right to freedom and protection…There it was again, that bitter and seething rage.

Ironhide recognized it as the same violent fury that had been blazing in her eyes when she attacked Barricade. There was something dark and intense snaking around that aggression; something bitter and personal that he could not understand. As odd as he thought humans could be sometimes, he found this one so much stranger; there was so much battle ready violence present in her that it almost confused him.

She was not military…how could she have such a war-ridden view…?

"We do what is necessary for you kind." Ironhide interjected, kneeling down again to be eye level, his posture still hostile, but attempting to be civil. To his surprise, she scoffed angrily at his words.

"I'll bet you do. I must really irritate you, guard dog; you want to STEP on me? Go on! I fucking DARE you, camión chico!" (truck guy) she hissed, the fine hairs on her skin standing on end in defence; like the ridges of a porcupine.

"Enough." He snapped at her, getting sick of her assuming they were going to hurt her, or violate her. But she didn't stop; she just kept going.

"Oh I'll bet you'd rather crush me, wouldn't you? Run me over? Why wouldn't you; I know I would! Humans are selfish, IGNORANT creatures, and I have no doubt you know that!"

"Stop it." He barked at her again, feeling just a little offended that she would assume so little of them; of a leader like Optimus Prime.
"Or what?" she snarled back, "What will you do? Throw me to the dogs? You're all nothing but military; just another fucking arm of the law! What the FUCK did you ever do to HELP?"

With an angry roar, Ironhide raised his fist and belted it down with astonishing speed and calculated accuracy; his clenched metal hand causing a deafening crack in the hangar floor as he yelled at her. "I SAID ENOUGH!" he bellowed, narrowing his optics to glare at her face to face; her hair blowing a little from the angry, decompressing hiss of air that escaped him.

To his surprise, she glared right back at him; her fear clearly replaced by that bitter rage she seemed to harbour within her.

"You missed." Ruby murmured darkly, before tearing her gaze away and spotting what she assumed to be an exit, she turned and ran! She couldn't be here; with these aliens who claimed to protect the human race, who claimed to be its guardians and saviours. The bitterness of resentment towards their nobleness, it almost made her sick.

Nobody had ever saved her.

Nobody had ever protected her.

Ruby had saved herself; regardless of the cost.

Memories were playing out in her head; screaming at her as she ducked and dodged between Lennox and Epps, between the 'Autobots' legs in order to make her break. It was the pure practice of ducking and dodging from law enforcement, and agility earned in running for her life that allowed her to get away from her keepers; the nightmares resounding through her brain and replayed in the back of her head. It was terrifying her, and the only thing she could think to do was escape.

So she ran.

As soon as she was out of the hangars, she scaled walls; wove through alleys and made sure that she did what she was good at. She disappeared without a trace.

"Ironhide!" Optimus exclaimed worriedly, "We have to find her, Barricade may go after her!" The weapons specialist saluted his commander before shifting into the Topkick and starting the engine loudly.

"I'll bring her back Prime; even if I have to drag her."

You're not the only one

Refusing to go down

There were so many places in the city that Ruby could hide; but with her body craving a hit and her memories imbedding themselves into her consciousness, there was only one place she wanted to go.

Her dealer.

In the dingy side-streets and through the city's underbelly, she headed for a rundown shack of an apartment where she knew her fix could be found; knocking sharply on the rotting wooden door. Dogs could be heard barking somewhere down the alley and police sirens were a normal background noise in an area like this.

A loud creak was heard as the door was pulled open, a cloud of cigarette smoke snaking out from the new open space. Standing before her was a seedy Hispanic man in his thirties, with greying black hair slicked back into a messy, greasy ponytail. His skin bore the trauma of chain smoking and knife fights, and his pores were large and open.

"Ruby! Well fancy fuckin' seeing you chica. (girl) You haven't been around for a few days baby; worried the cops might have gotten to ya." He said jovially, as if he were her dear friend and not her sleazy drug dealer that liked to use her body.

"Not fucking likely, Enrique. I need a hit; it's been a hell of a day."

He gave a sleazy chuckle and held the door open for her, like a spider beckoning to a fly as he grinned at the young woman. "Well, mi casa es su casa (my home is your home) sweetheart. Come on inside…"

Obediently, she entered the premises; it's dirty and dingy surroundings providing something familiar. She had been coming here for years; whether it was for a place to hide from the cops or a place to crash and burn after an intense hit.

It wasn't necessarily a safe place, especially when she was high around seedy men wanting to fuck, but it was a familiar one. Enrique currently didn't have any of his usual congregation present at the moment, and she supposed this was a good thing; because she didn't have the cash to pay him this time, which meant she was either going to have to fuck him or suck him off.

Whatever it took to make the memories go away.

"So, what's your elixir for today chica? I had a new shipment of meth come in yesterday, if you want something old school; or I can hook you up with some candy? It's pretty pure shit this time." Enrique took a very business type tone as he sat casually on his moth-eaten sofa and looked up at her, appearing as though they were discussing something as normal as the weather.

Ruby shrugged, "I'll stick with the candy, if it's pure; I got no cash this time."

A dirty, greasy smirk crossed his features as he held his arms out to her, "Aw baby…" he said sleazily, "You know, normally I don't prefer favours as payment; but maldito caliente (hot damn) that fucking mouth of yours makes me happy when you can't pay cash. I'll give you enough for three lines for a suck; deal?"

"Fine."

Resting his arms casually on the back of the sofa, he rested his head against the rest and closed his eyes with a sneer, "You know what to do, labios calientes; (hot lips) you know what I like."

Without a pause, she moved over to where he was sitting, pushing the coffee table back and getting onto her knees in front of him. She spread his legs and reached up for his fly, lowering it slowly; being sure to press the zip against his skin as she did so; to increase friction for pleasure. Reaching into the gap in his dirty jeans, she fished out the hardening piece of flesh and brought herself up on her knees towards it.

Pushing the head of it past her lips, she ignored the musky taste of salt and sweat to drag her tongue along the underside; her tongue piercing dragging along the turgid skin as it began to fully harden in her mouth.

"Mmm… Joder sí... me chupa duro, chica." (Hell yes…suck me hard, girl) Enrique murmured from above her, relishing in the contrast between her warm tongue and the piercingly cold tongue bar against his cock.

Ruby obeyed the command by tightening her lips around him and sucking harder, as one would an icy-pole or a lollipop. The groan above her informed her that it was what he'd wanted; but she ignored it as though nothing had happened. Slicking her tongue around his dick, she pulled back a little before pushing forward again; grazing her teeth gently along the skin. A more guttural moan escaped him this time, and he reached down to fist her long hair into his fingers; moving her head a little more.

"Shit, Ruby; fucking do that again…do it faster."

Sucking harder on the turgid length, she began to move her head back and forth with an increased pace; her teeth catching the mushroomed head slightly every time. She traced her tongue along the underside before sliding her piercing into the slit at the end; making the drug dealer writhe and moan beneath her as his hand tightened in her hair. His pelvis shifted forward as he forced her head forward, encouraging her to take more in her mouth while he derived his selfish pleasure from her. But Ruby didn't think about it; she was used to doing shit like this, she did what she needed to survive.

As his hips thrust forward into the warm cavern of her mouth, she felt them getting more erratic; he was close. Relaxing her throat muscles, she took hold of his legs and pushed him as far into her mouth as he would go. Then she mimicked a swallow; causing the walls of her throat to clench and tighten around the length that hit the back of her mouth.

He came heavily, groaning and murmuring in Spanish as he rode out the climax; forcing Ruby to swallow all of it. It was thick, salty and disgusting as it hit the back of her throat, but out of habit, she didn't spit it out; Enrique hated when they didn't swallow. His teeth were bared in intense bliss as she finally dragged her teeth back over the head and popped the now limp flesh out of her mouth and stood up; carelessly wiping the cum from her lip as though it were nothing.

Her end of the transaction was done; not giving a second thought on the method of payment.

Sitting in bliss for a few moments, the drug dealer finally lifted his head and tucked himself back into his pants before standing up and looking at her. "Pleasure doing business with you, mama caliente. (hot mama) I'll be back with your shit, hang on."

He exited into the other room; one locked up like a fortress to prevent drug addicts from trying to steal his product, before he then returned with a tiny bag of white powder, handing it to her with a satisfied smirk.

"Thanks." She said bluntly before taking it and dropping in front of the coffee table to line it. The white, crystalline powder was arranged neatly into rows by a piece of cardboard before he handed her a tiny metal tube for her to snort it with. As she did so, it burned her nose and made her skull buzz in something that wasn't quite strong enough to be called painful. Sniffing intensely, she felt her eyes water from the concentration of the drug, realizing that it was indeed very, very strong shit. She sat for a few seconds to let the buzz draw up its power before deciding it was time to leave; she was high and she was happy now.

The recollections that haunted her were starting to fade again; as they always did.

Standing, she passed Enrique the metal cylinder and headed for the door without thanking him. She didn't need to; she'd be back soon enough anyway…

"Don't be too long before your next visit, gorgeous." he called after her with a greasy chuckle, "I'll miss that fucking mouth of yours."

Not bothering to answer, she wove through the alleys and back streets, heading out onto the main road as the cocaine started to take effect. She actually couldn't remember the last time Enrique's product had been so…intense… He wasn't exactly what you would call an honest dealer, and as she started to get light headed, she felt a dreadful suspicion that perhaps it hadn't been quite as clean as he'd claimed it to be. It felt like chemicals, the feeling being not so much an endorphin high as a sickening and tumultuous sense of vertigo.

Ruby's head was spinning, and her stomach churned with nausea; nope, definitely not a good batch of coke. The high wasn't supposed to be like this! What kind of fucking shit had he made it with this time?

She was spiralling so intensely that she didn't noticed the black Topkick that had stopped short at the lights and performed an entirely illegal turn to roll up behind her, slowly idling near her as she stumbled. As Ruby stopped to brace herself against a wall, trying to fight the sickening sense of weightlessness; the truck stopped and Ironhide's massive Holoform jumped down from it. As he stormed towards the human in a rage, unaware of her situation; he clenched his fists at her nerve for having run away in such stupidity.

Needless to say, he was seething.

"You!" he roared at her, "What in Primus' name made you so Pit-forsaken stupid! They'll be after you, don't you get it? Hey, I'm speaking to you, fleshy!"

Snapping his arm up he gripped her shoulder angrily and forced her to turn in his direction. It was only then that he could see the perspiration beaded on her forehead, the dilation of her pupils. She wasn't focused; there was recognition in her eyes, but it was clearly hazy.

"What…the fuck, did you…follow me, guard dog?" she hissed, suddenly really nauseas as she realized who it was, and where he was probably planning to take her; to lock her up again with those freak-sent giant robots. "No…" she growled, clenching her teeth and smacking a fist into his rock-hard chest; his shirt bunching in her hand. He didn't even move an inch, her strike was far too weak, but she continued; her eyes furious and unseeing as her nails bit into the skin of his Holoform's chest, "No. Fuck you!" she took a step forward as if to try and push him, but her delirium caused her to stumble; her knees buckling from the substance coursing through her veins. She still gripped his shirt as his hand clutched her upper arm forcefully, trying to lift her from collapsing against him.

Ironhide couldn't figure out what was wrong with her; she wasn't injured in any way, but before he could try to make an assessment, she growled and looked up at him as she flailed weakly, her eyes blazing blearily as she gritted out a sentence through her teeth.

"It's my freedom."

Then she collapsed; her bleary eyes rolling back into her head and her body slackening as her hand lost grip on his shirt. With speed and reflex born from years of battle, he managed to catch her before she cracked her skull on the pavement. Supporting her under her arm, he stood stunned for a moment. He wasn't sure how to react to this sudden collapse.

Humans didn't normally do this…right?

Her form was limp against him, and with a frustrated growl he concluded that there was nothing he could do but get her back to base before he drew any attention; lifting the slender human and dumping her over his shoulder like a sack of useless scrap metal. It was as he made his way back toward his alt mode, however, that he could feel heat seeping into his shoulder. Turning his head, he suddenly discerned the source of the intense temperature.

The human was burning up.

Gaging the temperature, he realized that her body temperature was just under 102 degrees Fahrenheit, but he could feel it climbing little by little. Weren't humans normally supposed to sit on about 97? Scanning his processors over the internet as he reached the Topkick, he realized that such a high core temperature was threatening for a human, they could die from overheating. Unlike Cybertronians, humans didn't contain back up fans or cooling systems.

Useless little flesh things; this human was too warm to be safe, if he didn't help her she would probably go offline permanently. Hyperthermia it was called…

"Frag it!" he growled angrily.

Climbing into the back seat with the human, he placed her on the cool leather of his interior and cranked the air-conditioning in the cabin; trying to cool her. But her clothing, restrictive and form fitting, was retaining her body heat. With a frustrated and exasperated noise, he found himself cursing the day he got burdened with having to save the life of a human that had done nothing but irritate him and insult him since they'd found her.

He shifted his alt mode into gear and felt it drive away; heading for base while he sat in the back seat with the perspiring, over heating human. He didn't like what he was about to do, given that he knew the human social taboos when it came to clothing, but he had to do this to save her life.

With clumsy, inexperienced fingers, he grabbed at the bottom of the shirt she was wearing; hissing in concern as he felt her searing skin beneath his fingers. Pulling the shirt up over her chest, he suddenly heard her gasp deliriously, her hands blindly and weakly bracing against the seat as she hissed, "Por favorNo…" (Please…Don't)

Shaking his head in frustration, he pulled the article of clothing up over her head, pressing the back of the Holoform's hand to her collarbone; she was still too hot. He would have to remove more clothing, and as he pulled off the shoes and socks she was wearing, he heard her murmuring incoherently through her delirium; clearly somewhere between the waking world and unconsciousness. Part of him wished she would just 'pass out' so that he could help her without having to listen to her.

But another part, the part of him that was an Autobot, and a good soul; made him worry that he wouldn't save her in time. The base was a ten minute drive away, and he had to lower her core temperature before then or she could die.

Fumbling with the button on her pants, he wriggled them and tried to get them down over her legs; a difficult task given that her skin was sticking to them. However he was struck dumb for an answer when he heard her whimper pitifully and arch her back; trying to pull away from him.

"What are you-stop moving from me! Wha-?"

He was cut off as she gave a weak, sobbing scream, "Espera, Papi! Eso no!" (Wait, Daddy! Not that)

Scanning his processors, he was finally able to locate a translation for the language she was using; Spanish, it was called.

Wait, Daddy. Not that. He was confused by the translation's meaning.

What kind of phrase was that for her to use? He wasn't her father; weren't father's supposed to be a protective figure for humans, someone offspring looked to for help or guidance? It didn't make sense, because the delirious girl on the seat beneath him looked…terrified.

Even in her incoherent state.

He removed the pants from her, pressing a hand behind her knee to check the temperature in the joint; noticing the minute whimper that trembled from her lips. She was only about a half a degree cooler; she needed more cold.

The only thing he had left to use was himself.

With a reluctant mumble, he focused on lowering the temperature of the Holoform so that it was below the normal human heat level; cold to the touch. To increase the skin contact, he peeled off the black muscle shirt he wore and tossed it to the floor of the truck; seeing it eventually start to dissipate into a cloud of tiny electrical sparks. His bare chest was smooth, massive and low in temperature; he had to keep her cool. Lifting the girl, trying to ignore her strange mumbles and words, he shifted so that she was in his lap; pressing her against the broad pectorals of his chest.

Trying to get as much chilling contact onto her as he could, he tried to encase his arms around her overheated form; but he was rewarded with her tensing unimaginably and a terrified choke clawing itself from her throat. Her eyes were open, but they were glassed over; her pupils dilated. There were strange wet patches clinging to the corner of her eyes, and that was when he realized…

They were tears.

"Yo era bueno ... por favor no ..." (I was good…please don't…) she whimpered weakly. Ironhide felt her tiny hands clasp into fists against her skin as her whole body tensed. Now that he knew her language, he could understand what she was saying; but it still confused him. He suddenly couldn't see the violent, battle hardened human with the bottomless fire searing in her gaze; the girl he was seeing now was tiny, frightened…

Something was terrifying her.

Her core temperature was starting to lower now, if only by a degree or so; they weren't too far from base, but he still needed to keep her cool. The perspiration was matting her dark hair to her head, and with an instinct that surprised him, he moved to push it from her face with an uncharacteristic tenderness.

That was when she sobbed.

It was in that instant, upon hearing that pitiful, frightened sound that he finally understood why she kept squirming, tensing, twitching and murmuring at him; what was making her tremble like a leaf in a hurricane.

His touch.

The entire encounter he could remember of her; she'd protested to being handled, grabbed or touched in any way shape or form. This in and of itself confused him. In everything he'd read on the world wide web, he'd learned that humans were social creatures that craved contact with their kind; why was it that this one reacted so…extremely to it…?

She was twisting in his grasp; incoherently mumbling and, from what he could make out, begging to be released or left alone. It perplexed him, but with her trying to writhe unconsciously from his grip; he had to make her be still.

Tightening his arms around her rather gently, he found himself cradling her to his chest; lowering his face to reluctantly rest a chin on her head. She tensed and went entirely stiff, but now that she was restrained she made no more motions to escape. Ironhide found himself actually concerned for whatever was playing through the strange girl's head to make her behave in such a non-normal way for her species.

Surely there was something at play…perhaps Barricade had gotten to her before he'd found her? No…he wouldn't have left her alive. Then again, she certainly seemed to have enough fight in her to possibly make a getaway; or could she have thrown him off the trail for at least a little while? Primus, the only way Ironhide had been able to locate her was because of the skin she scratched from Optimus' Holoform. The skin itself wouldn't be there, but the genetic signature from it was still on her; even if it was incredibly minute.

Shifting the Topkick into higher gear, he tightly held her against his cold form, noticing just how fast her heart was beating against his chest; something that he tried to slow by pressing a cold hand to her bare spine and tracing it in gentle circles. Maybe she had been attacked by Barricade; that would certainly have explained her distress…

"It's alright, fleshy; you are safe here. We are protectors." He said the last part of his sentence in reference to her outright statement of there being no such thing as ones who called themselves protectors. "We will keep you safe. He won't find you."

In almost an instant, he felt her heart slowing; calmly immediately at his last bundle of words. He won't find you. If she had calmed from him saying that…then it was very likely that Barricade had gotten to her.

But how had he done this to her…?

You're not the only one

So get up

"So you're saying Barricade didn't do this to her?" Ironhide demanded, thoroughly confused at the explanation.

Lennox shook his head, "No. The medical officer said that it was a chemical reaction to a really nasty batch of cocaine."

Optimus, who had remained rather quiet and observant throughout the procedure, placed a hand on his Holoform's temples before addressing the soldier, "You will have to explain something to me, Major. I have heard you repeat that term…cocaine, several times but…what does it imply? I am confused."

"It's a drug." Lennox explained tensely, looking over at the form of the now sleeping girl; resting in the bed of her 'cell' she had first been brought to, "A very dangerous and hallucinogenic drug. It's designed to make the body feel good by producing chemicals called endorphins; but the catch is that it kills off cells in your body. It can actually kill us."

Ironhide scoffed and gestured to the girl's form with an almost disgusted expression, "So she was being stupid enough to try and risk offlining herself? Pathetic." He found himself unimpressed by her cowardice if this was the case; what had happened to the girl with the unbelievable fight in her?

By comparison, he liked that version much better. The fire in her eyes, the capability in her war-ready stance; she'd been something fierce and dangerous…a force to be reckoned with. That was something infrequent in humans; very few of them had such primal ferocity that implied battle experience.

This new 'drug' intaking human was pitiful in comparison.

Where was the fighter he had seen in her?

As a grumble rolled through her chest, she began to stir and all eyes turned to her as she did. Her vision was bleary and her muscles ached from the previous fever. Ironhide's administrations, however novice they had been in medical terms, had more than likely saved her life. Flicking her eyes slowly to view her surroundings, she realized exactly where she was, and in response she gritted her teeth angrily; grasping the sheets of the bed tightly into clenched fists.

"…No." she spat out, shaking her head a little as she gave a low growl.

"It's about time you woke up." Ironhide snapped at her, leaning against the steel wall as his piercing blue gaze burned through her. His chest was still bare; clearly he had no qualms about walking around unclothed, but considering that as a robot he didn't wear clothing it shouldn't have been a surprise.

Lennox shot him a look before he moved over to Ruby, holding out a plastic cup of water; having considered that she was far too volatile to have anything made of glass. She glared up at him, but didn't refuse the liquid.

"Why did you bring me here?" she rasped, her voice sharp and dangerous; clearly she still didn't trust them, "Want your robot pets to squish me for attacking the police cruiser?"

"Do you have any idea how you got here, Ruby?" Lennox said to her seriously, trying to ignore her patronizing tone, "You were overdosing! Ironhide brought you in."
She scoffed at him, "An OD? That's total bullshit; I only did three lines! Can't fucking OD on three lines."

Lennox felt his gut writhe in empathy all of a sudden; struck by the thought of how this was someone's child. What if it had been his Annabelle taking cocaine like some street punk addict? "Then whatever was in it, almost killed you." He said firmly, trying to make her understand, "You were running such a high fever that if Ironhide hadn't brought your core temperature down, you would have died."

She gave a narcissistic snort and muttered under her breath, slipping into her native language, "Probablemente mejor estar muerto de todos modos." (Probably better to be dead anyway) She hissed snidely, taking comfort in knowing they couldn't understand her. However she stood corrected as Ironhide's eyes narrowed at her words and he pushed himself up off the metal wall and approaching her.

"Better?" he thundered, "How would it be better to be dead? It makes you sound like a coward!"

In a rage that was partly borne from the fact that he'd understood her Spanish quip and partly from her bone deep hatred of weakness, she got to her feet and snarled at him. Ignoring the horrid dizzy feeling that gripped her, she thumped a fist into his bare chest which did nothing but make her wrist sting from the move; it apparently didn't even faze him at all.

With bared teeth, she glared up at him, "I am not a coward! You wouldn't know the things I've faced; you fucking alien!"

As she spat the last word at him, she tried to throw her full weight against him and push him; anything to make her feel like she was freeing herself from this prison they had returned her to. But her strength was feeble compared to his, and her body was weak from the stress the drugs had put it under. His arms encased her, embraced her almost; trapping her in his grip and locking her arms down by her sides. He felt her body tense up, noticed her spine stiffen and her breath intake sharply.

The muscles in her forearm twitched as she clenched her fingers helplessly at her sides, "Let me go." She growled lowly.

"Stop attacking us then." He snarled down at her, not moving a muscle on his body.

"I said let me go."

"We are not your enemies; we are trying to protect you from the Decepticons-"

"-Don't touch me!" she cried, suddenly starting to pull and resist, her arms trying to break free and her voice lifting an octave or two to a scream, "Let me go! Let me go! Don't TOUCH me! Stop! S – Stop holding me!"

"Ironhide…?" Optimus said, a more questioning tone in his voice than an ordering one, clearly he trusted Ironhide enough not to hurt the girl; he was just curious as to what his weapons specialist was actually doing…

Ignoring the Prime, Ironhide watched the girl struggling in his grip with concerned interest, waiting for her fury to ride itself out so that they would be able to just speak to her; but as her fury seemed to die, it crumbled and gave way to something else. Her gaze flew up to him as she continued to thrash, locking eyes with him in something incredibly intense.

That was when he saw it.

Her eyes were furious, filled with that same blinding rage that he had come to expect from her, but this time there were wet patches in the corners and there was something else flaring behind her gaze; something terrified and almost unrecognizable. That was when it struck him like a ten-tonne Decepticon; she was not as invulnerable as she made herself out to be. There were things teeming across her glassy eyes that he didn't know the specifics to, but there was something there that terrified her.

"Stop!" she hissed, bringing him out of the depth her eyes had buried him in; causing him to come back to the present. Shaking it off, he unlatched his arms and pressed his hands firmly to her shoulders before backing her to the bed and sitting her there. Not breaking eye contact with the girl, his full, black brows furrowed intensely before he spoke to her.

"We are the good guys." He said firmly, suddenly desperate to make her see, "You are in no danger from us; stop fighting us." Her eyes widened and her entire body tensed like a hostile cat as he gripped her chin firmly between the Holoform's thumb and forefinger; forcing her to maintain intense eye with him as his voice lowered to an imploring growl, "…please…"

He noticed her fingers tense into the plain sheets of her military issue bed and she remained entirely silent; but her eyes flickered between his, her brows drawn as if trying to find his lie.

She would be searching a long time.

Straightening up, he cleared his throat and let her go before nodding to Lennox, moving away to stand beside Optimus. Ruby felt her heart hammering in her chest, both from adrenaline and disbelief. She'd been manhandled by the massive, shirtless titan; and yet she was unharmed and she hadn't been sexually propositioned.

That in and of itself…confused her.

"You'll be staying here with us until we can get a location on Barricade, and try to find out if he'll come back for you." Lennox said, his arms tucked behind his back dutifully as he spoke to her; his uniform pristine, "From what Ironhide told us, you were pretty aggressive toward him when you attacked him."

The Hispanic woman gave a disinterested shrug, "Thought the hijo de puta (motherfucker) was a cop. I was gonna kill him." She made it sound as conversational as a discussion of the weather.

Optimus stepped forward, disturbed and concerned that as girl spoke so lowly and disregarding of human life; that she would have killed humans, had Barricade been an actual police cruiser with passengers. "Why? It was my understanding that law enforcement were your race's guardians…?"

She snapped her head to him with enough speed to make Ironhide's fingers twitch reflexively in ready caution, but she took in a sharp exhale and narrowed her eyes at the Prime instead, "I will never trust a cop."

"Why?" Optimus asked; his arms formally at his sides as he tried to question her in a more casual manner than an interrogation.

"That…" she furrowed her eyebrows a little deeper and turned her gaze away to instead focus on the wall to her right; an action that neither Optimus nor Ironhide missed, "…That's none of your business."

Her shoulders were tense and her spine was arched into a perfect curve; there was definitely animosity behind the remark; but she was clearly trying not to act on her rage, now that she knew they would stop her from flying off the handle at them.

Lennox cleared his throat, trying to dispel the tension in the air, "We'll be moving you to another area; Ironhide will be guarding you. Any time you plan on leaving the room, he will be with you. There's a connected bathroom in there as well, and an area for Ironhide to stasis in the room. No offense, but we can't trust you not to do a runner on us…"

"So basically, jefé, you're saying I'm a protected prisoner. Fan-fucking-tastic…"

"You are not a prisoner," Ironhide said suddenly, his arms crossed as he leaned confidently against the metal walls of her current cell, "if you need to leave the base, I will escort you. But if you run, human…if you abuse our trust again…mark my words we will not protect you should Barricade come after you-"

"-Ironhide!" Optimus said suddenly, astonished that one of his Autobots would deny protection to a human charge, but the weapons specialist turned to Prime with a serious expression; and he could see just how far under his metal skin this girl seemed to reach.

"No Prime! I will not offer my protection to someone who abuses it! If she turns it away again, I won't be there to save her."

Ruby could not believe what she was hearing; the goliath was openly discussing her protection? As a sceptic, she found it easier to assume everyone was out for selfish gain; and would step on whoever they needed to get it. To hear their guard being offered so readily, with apparently no other motive than to protect… it was wrong; there had to be a catch…

However as soon as she heard Ironhide's last comment, the one about being there to save her, she felt her pride and instinct boil up inside her. She didn't react as violently as she would normally, but she did slam her fist down onto the bedside counter, making the empty plastic cup jump from the force.

"Hey!" she snapped, "Who said I needed saving huh? Nobody ever did it before; I fucking saved myself, understand?"

Optimus moved to respond to her, perhaps ask her about what she meant, but to his and Lennox's surprise, Ironhide gripped the Prime's shoulder and shook his head; a silent warning to not react to her. The girl's rage was fed by response, if there was no reaction, she would spray the venomous anger before eventually fizzling itself out. He turned to her and caught gaze; surprising her with just how intensely he returned her stare.

He was different.

Ironhide's no-bullshit, headstrong nature butted heads with her own; he could handle her, it had been a long time since someone had apparently seen through her anger. He clearly knew there was more to her than the rage, even if he didn't know what it was.

Truth be told…it frightened her.

Lingering on her gaze for only a second longer, he turned to Optimus and Lennox with a gruff, military seriousness, "Let's get her moved."

Let's start a riot, a riot

Let's start a riot

Three months had passed.

In those three months, they had learned nothing about her except her ability to buy drugs while off base with Ironhide. He didn't know how she managed to escape him, but she was always back within moments, seemingly happier when she was on her highs.

She also had a knack for hiding them on her person to take them later. When Ironhide had tried to confiscate them, she had lost it and flown into a violent, almost psychotic rage. Lennox had later informed the Autobots that, as a drug addict, Ruby's body was dependant on the illegal substances. So, for the sake of her sanity and their own; they had begun to ration them to her.

Not enough to get her high, just enough to stop her body from craving it.

Unfortunately for them, she had her own contacts and methods to procure more; no matter how closely Ironhide managed to tail her during their 'excursions' as she called them. He was powerful, strong and smart; but Ruby was fast, agile and street wise. She knew the underbelly better than he ever would.

Despite her hatred of the situation, of having to be accompanied all the time; she admitted to herself that she had grown used to Ironhide's constant presence. It wasn't an amicable relationship, she was still wary after all, but she believed that he wasn't going to beat her for drug money or try to fuck her while she slept (not that she'd never had it happen before). It was…an understanding between the two, that she was wary and so was he.

He'd come to believe that she wasn't a bad person, not that she wasn't volatile, but she wasn't malicious toward those who didn't deserve it; her hatred for police aside. She very rarely said anything to him in their joint room, which was basically a very large garage with a bed, couch, a small television and an ensuite bathroom. All of Ruby's meals (and her reluctantly provided ration fix of drugs) were brought to her, and if she ever needed extra food or water then all she needed to do was ask. Although she was well looked after, she still felt like a prisoner.

A very lavished one, but a prisoner nonetheless.

Ironhide had often tried to get her to talk, feeling a sense of responsibility for this human in a lot of ways; considering he had all but become her Guardian. She never did, the only personal things she would inform him of were what foods she liked, what size clothes she wore and which drugs she got the best high from. Although they had managed to share a few rare, tensely amicable laughs with their similar sense of humour, she didn't tell him anything about the pain he saw behind her eyes, her surname or anything of her past; and this he understood. Her past, whatever it was, wasn't currently his business (it would be if it became relevant to their situation regarding Barricade) and the fact that she refused to tell him did not make him angry at all.

However he was getting furious about her seemingly covert ability to acquire drugs. He wasn't sure how she managed to do it; even when his Holoform tried to tail her, she had an incredible ability to disappear. But he knew she was not trying to escape them anymore, because no matter how quickly she disappeared or what drugs she came back with, the fact of the matter was that she always managed to find him again.

She always came back.

This in itself was an achievement, because no matter what she told herself otherwise and no matter what she claimed outwardly to them; it showed that even in a small degree, she was starting to trust them. Ironhide suspected that coming from someone such as Ruby, trust was something she very rarely gave. And although she was not the easiest human to get along with, he did trust her in return. Despite her mystery past and elusive ability to disappear into a crowd; she had never been underhanded or two-faced in anything; she was blatant and aggressively upfront.

But considering that she had disappeared on him again now, he'd decided that he was going to track her. He would search the city if he had to, but he was going to put an end to this. Shifting into gear, the Topkick set off trying to find the back alleys where she would more than likely be hiding.

Meanwhile Ruby, who had gone into a CD store and escaped using the restroom window, had met up with a pair of crack dealers; their product was nothing special but it was more than what N.E.S.T was giving her.

They didn't give her enough drugs to get high, which meant that eventually she started to remember…to relive… shaking her head with an annoyed hiss, she looked up at the two sleazy drug pushers. They were non-descript and she knew them by face, not name. One of them was taller, with dirty, greasy blond hair and fine fuzz along his jaw that he was clearly trying to make a beard out of and failing. The slightly shorter guy, with thick black framed glasses and a gold tooth, had short cut brown hair and two piercings in his left ear. Ruby looked at the piercings knowingly; he clearly didn't get into fights often.

The only reason she had her tongue pierced was to give better head when paying for drugs or earning favours, but she had no external piercings because in a fight; your opponent would rip out whatever they could get a hold of.

"What do you want for it?" she asked sceptically, looking at the tiny zip-lock bag that contained five ecstasy pills. Her body was begging for a high; her mind hazy with images she wanted to forget. The two men shared a look and the taller one smirked.

"50 bucks." He said, folding his arms across his chest, "Not taking less than that."

"Shit," Ruby hissed, mostly to herself before looking at them, "I got no money; you guys do fucks?"

The shorter guy, who looked like he'd probably never been laid in his life, looked at his partner before his eyes lit up, "Depends…what will you do?"

Ruby shrugged, "Whatever you think the value of those pills is. I can suck you off, I can fuck you; I can do you both if that's what you're into."

Blondie smirked at her words, before stroking his chin thoughtfully, "I have an idea…" he said slyly, "Suck him off," he gestured to his friend, "while I fuck you."

Looking to the other guy, Glasses, Ruby shrugged and gave a nod. "Sure, whatever; give me the pills first though."
"What, why?"

She snorted, "What are you, fucking stupid? You guys aren't my usual dealers; I don't trust you to follow through."

Blond-Guy narrowed his eyes at her suspiciously, "And what if you do a runner on us, huh?"

Holding her arms open wide, Ruby gestured to the alleyway they were in; the shadows long as the sun was starting to get lower on the city's horizon, "Where am I gonna run to? You guys would catch me before I got far, right?"

There was a moment of tense silence before the two guys looked at each other and nodded in confirmation, Blondie stepped forward and held out the bag, "Fine. Here."

Taking the plastic, she immediately stuffed it into the side of her bra; concealing it from view. "Alright, the crates over there; it'll be easier if you're sitting on them." She gestured to Glasses and he immediately did as she recommended; shucking his pants down to his knees unattractively. Ignoring the physical repulsion, she lowered her mouth to his limp cock and began to trace her tongue along it; hoping the piercing would do most of the work for her rather than actually having to put effort into it.

She needed to get this over with quickly before Ironhide came looking for her. He'd never found her yet, but she knew that he was resourceful and eventually he would probably find a way to locate her.

Hearing the crinkle of plastic, out of the corner of her eye she saw Blondie rolling a condom over his penis before leaning in behind her, his hands tracing teasingly across her exposed back and onto her stomach; sliding down to undo the button on her jeans. Her body responded to the touches, but Ruby ignored it; her body was nothing but a tool for payment, and she derived no personal pleasure from this. Lengthening her sucks on the hardening dick in her mouth, she felt her pants dragged down to mid-thigh before the head of Blondie's erection pressed against her. He didn't waste any airs or graces before sliding himself inside her; enjoying every inch of her that sucked him in instinctively.

Due to any lack of foreplay, Ruby wasn't wet, and it hurt a little as he entered her, but this was nothing new, she didn't engage in foreplay with any of her dealers. It was business, not romance; she didn't want anything that felt personal with them. They fucked her, gave her the drugs and she'd leave, that was her system and it worked.

Evidently the two dealers were overly horny, because it didn't take long for both of them to orgasm; one into her mouth and the other into her body. Given the repugnant taste of Glasses' semen, she spat this time; refusing to swallow for a stranger, even if he had used her regardless. Blondie pulled out of her with a groan, his fingers tightening on her hips briefly before he slid off the condom and threw it carelessly into the corner of the alleyway. With her end of the deal finished, she pulled her pants back up over her hips and re-buttoned them disinterestedly. Without a word, she headed for the main street; but a sharp grip on her wrist stopped her.

It was Glasses.

"Whoa, whoa, baby hold up! That was fucking incredible," he purred; Ruby didn't like the tone in his voice, or the fact that he was still grasping her wrist.

"Take your hand off me." She said seriously, her eyes narrowed dangerously. Every alarm went off in her head as he chuckled and looked over at his friend.

"Aw, I dunno…what do you think man? I think we should do it again and switch positions. I wanna fuck her this time."

Blondie gave a sleazy sneer, "Yeah man; looks like she's got one talented mouth. Come on baby…" he reached up to cup her chin, to which she snapped her head away from his grip.

"Vete a la mierda y muere! (Fuck off and die) I'm not your fucking baby." She hissed aggressively, feeling the hair on the back of her neck prickle. Oh fuck no; she was too sober for this – for the memories to find her now, she wouldn't be able to stand it.

With an angry growl, Blondie shoved her into the crates from earlier and slammed his hands onto her shoulders, effectively pinning her. "Like you said before…" his voice lowered to a snide murmur, "…Where you gonna run to? Huh, baby?"

"FUCK YOU!" she spat, trying to kick him in the groin and missing; all her actions served to do was piss him off. Reaching back, he slapped her across the face and slammed her against the bricks; making her see stars before she felt his hands wrap around her throat.

"I'm gonna fuck that mouth of yours, beautiful; whether you're conscious or not." He snarled.

"Get – g-get off – me!" she choked, feeling his thumbs pressing into her jugular as her head started to swim. She could feel the memories; see them flashing across her eyes as she struggled, her fingers feeling like they were tingling from lack of blood flow. Despite her fear, her unimaginable and soul-gripping fear, she was already resigning herself to her fate. No matter how strong she had become, no matter how much vengeance she sought and acquired; history would have a way of repeating itself eventually…and this was it.

She was just as helpless as the first time…

Her ears did not register Glasses' gurgling choke from behind Blondie, but she did feel when the blond drug dealer was torn from her; her hazy gaze suddenly clearing as she began to suck in massive breaths, trying to regain oxygen. When her vision cleared, she saw Glasses lying limply over a pile of garbage cans, and Blondie being slammed up against the opposite wall.

Holding him up by his throat was the human version of Ironhide; the thing they'd called a 'Holoform'

Her eyes widened in shock as he gave a rumbling snarl, almost like an animal, before he clenched his grip and threw Blondie down the alleyway; the dealer scrambling pathetically to his feet and running off without his 'friend'. Ironhide all but flew to Ruby and stood over her, his gaze absolutely livid.

"This?" he roared, "This is what you run off to do? Get attacked by males who could kill you? What were you thinking?"

Ruby could do nothing but utter a choke, a hand sliding up to her jugular as she gasped for breath. This was when Ironhide cut his rant and realized that they had actually harmed her. He reached up and took her wrists in one of his massive hands, a little surprised when she rasped out, "No-! D-Don't…"

He came for me? She thought frantically, He…stopped it. He actually stopped them?

In all her life, in all the memories that haunted her when she wasn't high; nobody had ever been there…to stop the act…

Ignoring her choked plea his right hand moved to her jaw; his thumb gently lifting her chin to view the already forming bruise around her throat. He felt rage surge through him when he finally understood just how hard the man had to have been gripping her to do such a thing. With a heavy exhale, he took her by the upper arm and slid her off the crates.

"Come on, let's go." He said shortly; torn between showing her sympathy at the attack, or firing off at her stupidity for running away in the first place. Deciding that she'd suffered enough for now, he led her to where the Topkick was waiting with its engine rumbling. Collecting her into the cabin, he got into the driver's seat; not wanting to dismiss the Holoform just yet given her shaky state.

The drive was silent for the first few minutes, but as time stretched on; he found himself unable to hold back from asking.

"Why were you down there…?"

Ruby shifted; her eyes downcast out the window as she watched the pavement roll beneath them. She was silent for so long that he assumed she wasn't going to answer him, but after several minutes; his patience was rewarded.

"…I was buying drugs." She murmured.

The statement confused him, and he responded as such, "But…you have no money…N.E.S.T does not allow you any."

Another silence, slightly longer this time before… "I buy them…with my body."

He'd heard of this; Lennox had been forced to explain it after she'd offered to 'suck Prime's dick' on her first day in their presence. "You mean, with sexual favours…correct?"

Her voice lowered to a whisper as her fingers clenched into a fist, "Yeah…"

Ironhide thought carefully about each and every word he was saying, because he was treading on eggshells, as the human saying went; she was vulnerable and was opening up to him. One wrong move and she would close herself off again, probably permanently; he wouldn't get another chance like this.

"Why would you allow such a violation? Human interfacing seems so…personal."

She found herself drawn in by the confusion in his voice, and it made her realize just how ignorant these robot aliens were to the darker side of her world; her side. Unable to stop herself from doing so, she explained it.

"Not always… Sex doesn't mean anything. I don't fuck someone I won't gain something from. It's…a business transaction. Trading goods instead of money…" she murmured, suddenly feeling like a shameful whore who had been caught out.

Clearly Ironhide did not see it that way, because his tone was astonishingly gentle, almost hurt as he spoke next, "Your dignity being 'the goods' that you trade…to people like them?" he gave a heavy exhale, "For a substance that will do nothing but harm you? …It doesn't make any sense to me."

"It's worth it if it makes me forget the memories…" she whispered. But as soon as the words left her lips she regretted them, because Ironhide turned his eyes from the road to focus on her; a talent that still creeped her out about the Holoform's driving.

"What do you mean?" he asked, sounding almost…concerned?
Ruby shook her head suddenly, drawing her knees up to her chest and holding them there; emotionally closing off once more. "No." she said sharply, "I don't want to talk about it." She waited for the angry demand about how she couldn't say things like that without elaborating or that she was obligated to tell Ironhide and the Autobots everything about her past, about what was in her head; hell he would probably even-

"Alright."

Her mind screamed to a stop and her eyes snapped to him so fast that it was a wonder she hadn't given herself a headache from it. His gaze was back on the road and was driving back towards the base. Unable to believe the situation, she had to confirm that she'd heard correctly. "…What?"

"You said you didn't want to speak about it." Ironhide said matter-of-factly before he cast a glance at her; his glowing blue eyes feeling like they were burning straight through to her soul. "I am not going to force you to say anything you do not wish to tell me."

She flinched visibly as he reached a hand towards her, to which he hesitated briefly before pressing his fingers gently to the darkening bruise over her throat. His touch was feather-light, and so beyond gentle that she could barely feel it. She'd have never expected such tenderness to come from someone as gruff, harsh and as dangerous looking as him.

It can't be, she thought reassuringly to herself, there has to be a catch. There's a catch…right?

As his thumb traced her jugular, his hand gently slid away and returned to the gears in the middle of the console; his voice turning to a low growl, "I will not let them hurt you like that again, Ruby."

She felt her certainty waver just a little more, felt her trust grow just that tiny fraction greater…

Let's start a riot, a riot

Let's start a riot

"I do it to forget…"

Ironhide, who had been sitting quietly in his alt mode, felt his receptors perk up curiously as he answered her, "What?"

Ruby, who was sitting on the small couch in front of the truck, shifted a little bit uncomfortably as her every instinct told her not to speak again; but there was something that made her feel different with Ironhide. Almost safe…

The feeling was foreign to her, and she still regarded it with intense caution and scrutiny; but in the back of her mind she reasoned that he had never given her reason not to trust him. It was just hard to extend faith to someone when her faith in people had died out so long ago. Licking her dry lips bracingly, she forced the next words out; part of her wanting him to hear them.

""The drugs…I do them to…forget things."

He was silent a moment, before, "Like what?"

"Just things…" she shook her head, "I'm not going…to tell you specifics; but the drugs are to help me forget them."

In his alt mode, Ironhide watched her grab the remote control and flick through the television channels aimlessly, clearly not really interested in it. She was uncomfortable, edgy; he could smell it on her. This was not her comfort zone, discussing herself; even in their more slightly amicable conversations, she had never liked for the subject to linger on her.

But here she was, the cracks in her armour starting to peel away to him; even if only in tiny chips. It was thin ice he walked on now; she was emotionally volatile in a state like this, and he wanted to keep her talking. He wanted to know her.

"There are things I wish I could forget sometimes." He rumbled from the grill of the truck. Surprised, Ruby shot her gaze to him with a stunned expression; almost disbelieving as she looked over the back of the sofa at the Topkick.

"There are?" she asked sceptically, instinct forcing her to assess whether or not he was just playing her right now; even if she knew he wasn't.

"I am a soldier, Ruby. I have been for millennia…there are things about war that cannot be unseen. Like watching your comrades die in battle, or seeing innocents being slaughtered in a cross-fire that they had no part in... I may not know what pain you suffer specifically, but you can be assured that I am not without demons of my own." A loud, buzzing crackle was heard from the cabin of the truck before the door popped open and Ironhide's massive Holoform climbed down. He made his way to the couch and sat down heavily beside her; his weight sinking the cushions substantially.

Ruby looked at him from the corner of her eye, suddenly viewing the massive scar over his eye with much more understanding than before; it was a war wound…

"Ironhide…?" she murmured, causing him to turn and face her curiously; she'd never said his name so gently before, "Your…your scar. Would you… Déjame tocarlo?" (Let me touch it) she found herself unwillingly slipping into Spanish; feeling safer making the request in her native language even though she knew he would still understand her.

She saw his brow furrow in thought before he exhaled heavily and closed his eyes with a nod, "Alright."

Her fingers twitched as she hesitantly leaned forward, waiting for something to go wrong; she expected it almost…but Ironhide's human body just sat patiently, waiting for her to gather herself and touch the scar on his eye. Her fingers, mocha against his pale skin, touched tentatively to the flesh, feeling the marring beneath her fingers. The skin was taut and slightly lighter than the rest; its texture similar to that of a healed burn.

"…Does it hurt?" she asked cautiously, narrowing her gaze at it for a moment.

He shook his head, keeping his eyes closed; he knew that eye contact in such a close range would probably make her go running back into that emotional shell she had, and he still wanted to keep her talking. He was learning more about her than he'd managed to in months; he didn't want to scare her away now, not when she was so close to trusting him.

"Not the mark itself…but scars are surface matter; and many of my battle reminders run far deeper than that. I imagine you know that feeling."

He heard her sigh, surprised to feel her breath tickle his face slightly; it meant she was examining him at close proximity, and that meant she had enough faith to be close to him. "You…you understand…" she murmured to herself, suddenly realizing that she still had her fingers pressed to his face. The moment was getting far too tender for her liking; and so she slowly withdrew her hand and sat back in her place on the sofa next to him. Slowly, he reopened his gleaming, neon eyes and turned to her.

"I understand emotional scars…" He rumbled deeply, watching her intently as they spoke, "Not many of the Autobots know that; I am Ironhide to them, the warrior without remorse. But I understand that there are things we cannot run from; things we would rather forget."

Ruby felt the heckles on her skin rise, everything he was saying struck chord with her. It terrified her to think that he could peel back the layers of her being, crack through the defences she'd spent a lifetime building; and understand her…almost know her. But he couldn't comprehend the things she'd faced…there was no way that he'd experienced it first hand; it was different.

"I know what it means to try and run away from what haunts us, Ruby." Ironhide rumbled again, his deep, metallic voice terrifying her with its sincerity, its earnest meaning. He reached toward her, but clearly changed his mind about doing so, because instead of touching her; his hand rested on the couch beside her respectfully. He didn't want to scare her, but he had to push her; to break her from this fortress that she caged herself in, "…Tell me what you are running from." He begged.

She stiffened suddenly, straightening her spine and keeping her eyes locked straight ahead. Her jaw tightened and her fingers clenched at the sofa, unable to release her body of the sudden panicked tension that gripped her. It was too personal, there were too many memories; too much pain. Her skin burned with the memory of every filthy touch that had reached her, every hand that had struck her; every lie that had destroyed her…She couldn't.

She just couldn't!

Reaching into her shirt with a reminiscent growl, she pulled out the little bag of tablets from earlier and tried to rip open the plastic; desperate to quench that fire, to supress the memories of those emotions, of those feelings.

The feeling of his hands; burning against her skin.

"NO!" she choked out, clawing at the packaging in a desperate attempt to reach the drugs she would use to forget. However Ironhide, who had seen her sudden snap and connected to dots as to what the bag contained, had gripped her wrists firmly, not allowing her to coordinate herself, an action which made her gasp in horror as the memories were prompted by his grasp. "Let me go, let me go!" she cried, her voice suddenly raising an octave in blind panic.

"Ruby; stop!" Ironhide exclaimed, trying to calm her; the girl's eyes were distant and he knew from experience that it meant she was somewhere in her head, "It's me; you are safe here. Calm down."

He took the bag from her clenched fingers and held his hands on her shoulders; forcing her to look at him. Ruby was astounded when she was brought back from the haze by a pair of glowing, unnaturally blue eyes. Ironhide's eyes. He held her shoulders tightly and raised a hand to her chin.

"Come back, Ruby…" he murmured, "…you're safe with me."

"I – I can't…" she strangled out, feeling her skin prickle with dread; suddenly well aware of just how vulnerable she probably looked. She hated to be vulnerable; it implied weakness, and people took advantage of the weak, "Give them back to me…"

There was anger in her voice, but it was weak; obviously habitual, so Ironhide took no heed to it. Instead, he crushed the plastic in his hand and threw it to where the truck rested; the Topkick driving forward to trap the bag under the wheel where she could not reach it. "You don't need them." He said firmly, catching her wrists as she flailed at him, "Look at me, Ruby! Those will kill you, do you understand? You are going to fight this; you won't be having any more poisons like this."
Her eyes widened in horror at the realization; he was going to make her clean! She couldn't; she couldn't face it! God help her, she was to fucking damaged to be clean!

"NO!" she screamed, suddenly throwing herself against the Holoform in that familiar rage, "You don't get a say in this! It's MY body! I can use it however the fuck I want to! I – LET ME GO!"

In order to restrain her from her punches, kicks and throws, Ironhide had grabbed her wrists and forced her down onto the sofa; her arms pressed to her sides and his legs over hers, trapping hers from kicking anymore, "Enough." He implored, trying to refrain her from more violence, "Stop this."

Trapped beneath him like this, she felt familiar fear strike through her and her eyes narrowed ragingly. "I was fucking right!" she spat, "You are just like every other joder (fuck) out there; thinking with your fucking dick! What, you gonna go for the sweet spot, huh? You want me to fuck you?"

"Stop it." He said calmly, ignoring her. He had no intentions of hurting her in any way, he just needed her to stop thrashing; she needed to let him help her.

"You want me to suck you off? Is that it?"

"Stop it, Ruby."

Filled with blinding rage, she wasn't letting up; she felt used and betrayed. Had this been his intention the entire time? "Or what? You gonna penetrate me, jefé. Make me touch you, violate me; I bet you want to! Go on then, fuck me why don't you?"

"PRIMUS DAMN IT, RUBY!" he thundered, making her tense and flinch in terror at the sheer volume in his voice. He gave a frustrated growl and lowered his tone; his eyes boring into hers to try and make her understand, "You are in no danger from me! I will never violate you; I will never hurt you."

She narrowed her gaze and glanced away from him, but he released her wrist to grip her chin gently, making her face him so that he could have direct eye contact with her. There were so many emotions in her eyes; she was confused, she was angry, she was terrified…

"Whatever they did to you, whoever they were…" he couldn't stop his thumb from stroking her chin minutely, tenderly, "…I am not them."

She froze, her heart hammering in her chest so hard that Ironhide could sense it. With his brows furrowed in confusion, he lowered his hand from her chin and placed his palm against the beating muscle; careful to avoid caressing her skin in any manner, knowing that it would have a negative reaction from her.

"Your heart is strong…" he said to her firmly, looking her seriously in the eyes, "You will fight this, Ruby; and you will win, do you understand me? I will be here and you will fight this."
He saw the tears spring to the corner of her eyes as she bared her teeth; too emotionally drained to express any more rage. "I – can't-!" she choked out, "I'm not – I'm not strong enough-!" her voice lowered to a rasp and she squeezed her eyes shut, a single tear sliding down the side of her face, "…please."

Removing himself from her, he sat down beside the couch as she lay there; deflated as he gently took her jaw in his hands and eradicated the tear from her cheekbone with his thumb. He found himself leaning toward her without hesitation, pressing his forehead against hers and sliding his eyes closed as he firmly cradled her face against his. His hand slowly slid from her jaw and down to the darkened bruise at her throat, tracing it with uncharacteristically tender fingers before lowering his voice to a reassuring and determined growl.

"You can win this…"

He heard her exhale against him shakily, surprised when he felt her hand hesitantly and reluctantly reach up to clutch the arm of his shirt; her nails biting harshly into the skin underneath. Her walls were down, her barriers crumbled and she had no other choice but to trust him now; to trust that he would keep his word and pull her through this. The memories were too haunting to fight alone. Her voice dropped to a tiny, borderline whimper as she pleaded to him.

"…Me ayudan…" (…Help me…)

If you feel so empty

So used up, so let down

After consulting their medical team, Lennox informed Ironhide that it would take anywhere between three days to two weeks for Ruby's body to purge the poisons in her system.

It depended on the level of severity to which she took the drugs and for how long, but either way; Ironhide knew she was going to be in for a long and stressful time.

And he was going to be there.

The first day or so wasn't so harsh, it was just Ruby swinging from one mood to another; lashing out at him one minute and then begging him to stay the next. She was tumultuous in her emotions and he didn't take any of her attacks seriously; in fact most of the time he would ignore them and let her beat out her rage. Hell, he'd even let her punch him a few times; just to make her feel better.

Two days after that though, she'd started to get sick as her body realized that it wasn't getting the drugs it had come to depend on; she would get chills, cold sweats and fevers. True to his word, Ironhide did not leave her side; whether he was in Holoform or alt mode. He watched over her and made sure that the medics were always close on his frequency, just in case she took a turn for the worse. But for the most part it was straight forward; she was getting sick from expelling toxins, her body was fighting.

He knew she was strong, she could do this.

Going into day five, she vomited constantly; throwing up anything and everything that her stomach would hold. To his credit, Ironhide never flinched away from it; in fact he spent entire days with the Holoform at her side, holding a bucket next to her or holding her hair out of her face as she threw up into the toilet. Showering had been an ordeal at first, because she'd become so weak that he had to hold her upright; but he never looked below her eyes. She was trusting him to pull her through this, and he knew that her trust was something she rarely gave. He wouldn't abuse it.

Eventually all she'd started to vomit was water, because that was all she could take; and still Ironhide maintained his vigil. It was currently just over a week since the beginning of her forced detox, and at this stage Ruby had started to become delirious in her sleep. She was currently resting on the mattress of her bed, while Ironhide sat in his alt mode; continuing his silent guard. It wasn't until she started to murmur Spanish in her sleep, that his attention was drawn.

"No más…" she whispered, "Por favor, no más…" (No more…Please, no more…)

"…Ruby?" Ironhide tried, idling the truck forward to better hear her. However she was clearly asleep, unable to hear him; unable to break from what was clearly a nightmare.

"Yo era bueno! N-No papá!" (I was good! D-Don't Daddy!) her voice then dropped to an almost whimper, and that was when Ironhide realized that she was in the delirious throes of a memory; a bad one at that, "Me duele! Por favor! Alto!" (It hurts! Please! Stop!)

Ironhide felt his Spark near fracture at the terrified tone in her voice. She reminded him of a sparkling, frightened of the dark; she sounded so…infantile. Her fists gripped at the bed sheets, and Ironhide noticed that her knees were clamped together as if in defiance; her entire body writhing and twitching in discomfort as she continued to garble Spanish.

Concerned for her state, Ironhide activated his Holoform and moved closer to her bed, sitting down on his haunches to view her features. He didn't want to touch her unless it was necessary, because in states like this; she never reacted well. There was something about physical touch that terrified her, not sexual contact; just …personal contact.

It was as though she didn't care about someone abusing her body when she allowed it, but she couldn't tolerate someone caressing her or restraining her. Ironhide shook his head and murmured to himself, "What is it that terrifies you…"

Suddenly, a strangled scream tore its way up her throat and she began to flail; clawing at her stomach, her legs, as if someone was restraining her body in some way. "NO! No me TOQUES! Por favor, por favor! NO!" (No, don't TOUCH me! Please, please! No!)

Ironhide couldn't take it anymore, she was terrified, teary; and she was hurting herself with those nails clawing at her skin as she thrashed. He reached over and gripped her wrists gently, trying to stem the movement she was causing herself harm with, "Ruby, wake up; it's alright! You're safe."

She began to whimper and shake her head, hissing repeatedly through her teeth as she sobbed in her sleep, "No más, no más. Por favor, no más." (No more, no more. Please, no more.)

Desperate now, he had to find a way to bring her out of this; she was so fragging fragile in this state! His Holoform's hands reached from her wrists to try and cup her face, hearing her breath hitch in meek terror. With tender motion, he ran his thumbs across her forehead, trying to sooth her; but in an instant, white flashed across his vision and he was brought into a place that he did not know. That was when he realized…

He was seeing what she saw.

The face of a human male, Hispanic like herself, was gripping her wrists violently; nails biting into her flesh. He had torn her underwear away and from what he could hear, what he could feel…he was forcing an interface with her.

Forcing an interface!

He could hear what she heard; her voice sounded young, barely even the voice of a teenager yet; and from the words she used in Spanish, she was calling the man 'Daddy'. A term which Ironhide knew to be slang for father; it was her fathering unit that was hurting her? Such an act would be intolerable to a Cybertronian; parental bots were preprogramed to fight to the death to protect their offspring from harm.

Why would this human be so VILE as to attempt creating a spawn with his own flesh? It made no sense, but currently Ironhide didn't care; his focus was Ruby. He had no idea HOW he had entered the world of what she saw, but she needed to be pulled from it before it damaged her further; in this chemically weakened state her mental processors could shatter. This was her nightmare, her memory…

"Ruby!" he roared, "WAKE UP! It's Ironhide, you are safe; come back!"

White flashed across his eyes again, and he found himself in the same position he had been before it had happened the first time. He was holding her face gently in his hands, his thumbs on her forehead; but she had opened her eyes now and was sharply gasping for breath as she took in his neon, glowing orbs. The tears were leaking from her eyes now, and her hands trembled as they hung in mid-air beside him.

Breathing heavily from the magnitude of what had just happened, he removed his hands from her face to take hers in his grasp; guiding her to clutch her fingers into his hair. He felt them tighten into the short locks as she continued to draw breath before he placed his massive hands over hers; lowering his forehead to hers and closing his eyes. Her fingers twisted painfully into the spiky dark hair on his Holoform's scalp, but he paid it no heed at all. His only concern was her.

"I saw him…" he rumbled to her, "I saw what he did to you…"

Her eyes squeezed shut in denial as a choked sob escaped her, her breath brushing his lips as she broke down and began to cry. "Oh God – make it go away…"

His fingers interlaced with hers in his hair, squeezing them tightly, reassuringly. "I am here…he will never touch you again…" he pressed his forehead firmly against hers, trying to use the innocent closeness to reassure her, "Fight this with me…"

In response her nails bit into his scalp desperately; trying to find solid ground from the spiralling and horrific memories of her father. "I'm trying…" she said desperately, "Please Ironhide…I'm trying."

That severe feeling of fracture in his Spark flared again, the feeling of wanting to swallow her soul and protect it from harm; sweet Primus…it was trying to bond with her! The violent, smart-mouthed, vulgar human drug addict with a temper rivalling that of a pissed off Decepticon; and he was bonding with her. He felt his fingers tense against hers as the realization hit him, when he realized that he didn't want to fight it. She was strong, she was beautiful; and she had enough fire left in her to finish this.

He knew she could.

"I will not leave you," he growled lowly, "You can sleep, and he will not get you here. Ruby look at me," he guided her to face him, his eyes boring into hers, "I promise you…he cannot get you through me."

Her fingers, trembling as they unclasped themselves from his hair, slid shakily onto his face as she touched his cheekbones. Not once did he break her gaze as she looked at him; not even to blink. Her fingers slid lower, onto his jawline before her right thumb reached up cautiously, tentatively to catch the skin of his lower lip, sending almost electrical tingles through the flesh there. She gave a weak, exhaling whimper before she passed out and went slack in his arms.

She was exhausted.

With a heavy, tired sigh Ironhide slid his arms beneath her and moved her over, laying the Holoform onto the single mattress beside her. He tucked her beneath the sheets, but made sure that he was on top of them; he refused to do anything that would give her the impression that he was taking advantage of her. With his arms rigid by his sides, he allowed the human body's eyes to close and he eventually went into stasis beside her.

Even so, the bond link remained…and he would not fight it.

If you feel so angry

Just get up

"His name…" Ruby breathed heavily, twisting her hands in her shirt as she ground her teeth in rage, "…my 'father's' name was – is – Tito LéTorez."

Ironhide sat beside her in his Holoform, the two of them sitting in the tray of the Topkick with their backs pressed to the rear window; atop a hill watching the blazing sun sinking. It had been all of three weeks since Ruby's intense detox, since she had been at her most vulnerable point before him.

The change had been incredible; subtle, but incredible.

Her emotional barriers were still there, but they were thinner than before; and when in Ironhide's presence…she was calmer. Ratchet had explained to Ironhide what had happened the night he'd been pulled into her nightmares; and had explained it as an unplanned bond. Because of Ruby's emotional fragility at the time from the nightmare, her subconscious had been desperate for something stable to pull it through; to withhold its own stability. Ironhide, who had been so bent on protecting her, on pulling her from the nightmare, had unwittingly thrown his own bond wide open. The two connections had mingled before cementing themselves to one another; like an invisible cable searching for the matching wires.

Whether or not either of them had planned it, the bond had sealed them together; and as such Ruby found a strange sense of safety when he was around. It felt impossible not to trust him now; because in a sense, he was a part her...underneath her very skin. He had seen what she had suffered, but he had not been disgusted or pushed her away.

While he still tried to keep physical contact with her minimal, it was more for her emotional benefit than because he wanted to; because he would be lying if he said it wasn't tempting to touch her hair or trace his fingers over her face. But she was still wary of being touched, a subconsciousness ground into her after so long of being used as a tool…as an object. And so because of this he permitted himself no luxury at her expense; he would not.

"So…" Ironhide murmured, his hands in his lap as they watched the sun slipping a little closer to the horizon; not quite touching it, "…that is your surname?"
"LéTorez…? Well, it was. I had to drop it when I ran away; my first name too…" Her fingers tensed at the memories that welled up, but didn't ball into fists like they would have before. Ironhide was beside her; she was trying to keep her mind in the present.

"Your…first?" he looked confused, turning to face her with an arched brow, his scar lifting with the skin, "Ruby is not your name?"

She gave a shaky sigh and turned to him, "It is now, and I don't want to be known as anything else. But when I was…with him, I was Sasha. Sasha LéTorez." He noticed her flinch a little at the name before she took a heavy breath and continued. It hurt her to think about it, to go back; but she needed to tell him. She wanted to tell him, "But I had to erase my name to get away from him…Otherwise…he would have found me."
"What makes you so certain?" Ironhide asked gently, turning to watch the sun again; knowing that watching her made her uncomfortable, "Earth is a vast planet; there are a lot of places to hide."

"…Not from him, Ironhide. He's a Hispanic gang boss…he could have found me anywhere. He was too powerful for the cops to touch him…no matter how many times I tried to convince them to help me…they would either be too scared of him, or they'd have a way of 'getting fired' as soon as Tito LéTorez made a call… They never…They…"

"They never tried to save you…" he murmured, suddenly realizing, "That's why you hate police officers…isn't it? That's the reason you attacked Barricade…"

She nodded bracingly, her eyes stinging with the desire for tears that she wouldn't allow. "I had no other choice by to save myself. The only way for me to get away from him was to disappear; and the only way for me to disappear was to die…" He could hear the thickness in her voice, and clearly this was something that she had not touched on in a very long time; but he needed to know. He wanted her to let him in; wanted to show her that he was not going to turn away from her.

Without looking at her, he reached down for her hand, feeling her fingers reactively tense at the touch before allowing him to curl his massive palm around the tensed digits. Interlacing them, he kept his eyes straight ahead as he spoke.

"How did you get away, Ruby." Her heart near sang at the sound of him saying her name, despite knowing her real one. He accepted her as she was; not for the weak child that she had been.

Licking her lips and taking a breath, she forced herself back in time; remembering the steps she had taken to get away from the man who had all but destroyed her.

"I needed money to get away; to start fresh…" she started, her voice a little shaky, "So I managed to get an after school job in a fast food place near my school. But…I couldn't tell my…my father," she near spat the word, as though it were poison in her mouth, "because then he would know I was earning money. He would have either forced me to quit, or made me give him the money. So I needed an alibi to cover me for a few hours so that I could earn the money without him knowing."

Ironhide nodded, showing that he was following, "How did you acquire one?"

She took another deep, bracing breath and he noticed that her fingers tightened a little in his. Reassuringly, he slid his thumb across the back of her hand in tender circles, silently encouraging her to continue.

"I had a teacher…Mr Hanson, my English teacher. He'd always been nice to me, but he was…sleazy. I asked him if he'd be willing to give me my alibi so that I could work after school. The only thing I had to offer him was my body, so I did. I guess….that was when I first learned the advantage of a sexual favour. He agreed to lie to my fa – to Tito, and I would satisfy whatever whim he had sexually."

Ironhide felt his Holoform's stomach churn in disgust at the man who had taken advantage of her, "Ruby…how old were you?"

"13." She said bluntly, clearly she remembered it well; but she seemed to swallow whatever emotion was attached to the memory. Instead, she went on, "He told Tito that he wanted me in an after school English program to help teach the Spanish students; because I could communicate with them better. Tito, being the fucking Hispanic extortionist said he was proud to have me help. But anyway…" he could see her nails of her free hand biting into the denim of her jeans to try and quell her rage, "Every day after school, Hanson would take me in his car to give me a lift to work; but we'd pull over into a car park, or on the side of the road or something…and then I'd do what he asked me to."

Shutting his eyes bracingly, Ironhide gave a heavy exhaled to steady himself before forcing himself to ask, "What did he ask you to do…?"

He felt her shuffle, and realized that she had moved a little closer to him, her fingers holding his just a little bit tighter as she spoke; the length of her arm pressed against his.

"That depended…sometimes he'd want me to fuck him in the back seat, other times…others times he'd want me to chupar le fuera, (suck him off) you know?"

A deep, rumbling growl erupted from his chest as his hand held hers firmly, his thumb tracing her wrist tenderly to try and comfort her. "Tell me how you got away from these monsters…"

She couldn't help but feel a sense of gratefulness settle in her chest at his words, his tone…he was angry at them for her; it showed her that there was someone willing to support her, to tell her that they did the wrong thing…not her…

"I fucked Mr Hanson right up until my senior year in high school, Ironhide…That's four years after school every day…sometimes he didn't even want me to fuck him; he'd tell me to touch myself just so that he could watch…But when I graduated…the day I graduated, I waited until after Tito had…had…"

Ironhide lifted a hand to stroke her chin, careful to keep the touch innocent as he growled sadly, "Violated you…?"

She froze momentarily before forcing herself to allow the touch; to not flinch like her instincts told her to. "…Yeah…" she murmured, "But…after, I collected every penny that I earned in that fast-food place, threw it into a bag with some clothes and stole his car. Then I drove it to the edge of a cliff and threw in some empty vodka bottles, took my stuff out and pushed it over into the water. The cops found it, they assumed I'd been drunk and driven off the cliff and drowned. I…I don't know if Tito ever went looking for me, but I was way out of there before he even had the chance. I dropped all connections to him; I didn't use his name, or his money; I didn't leave any trail for him to follow me."

"Except in here…" Ironhide pressed his thumb to her forehead gently, a little closer to her now as he tried to gain proximity; to just be with her, to comfort her, "He followed you in your memories…"

"He did." Ruby murmured, closing her eyes to try and accept his touch. It was becoming familiar, something she'd never experienced in her life; not in a good way before. "That's why…That's why I started doing drugs. They killed off the memories, I just couldn't…deal with them."

Ironhide gave a heavy sigh and chewed at his lower lip in what seemed like trepid deliberation before he spoke again in a cautious rumble. "Ruby…When was the last time…a man just…kissed you? Without motive or lust…just to kiss you…?"

Her intake of breath hitched suddenly and she looked at him, her eyes wide and glassy; evidently a little terrified at where this was leading. Blinking back frightened, shameful tears, she glanced away and whispered with self-disdain, "Never. I've never been anything but a physical tool…"

His hand slid from her forehead, down to the junction where her ear met her jaw, and her jaw met her throat. The Holoform's thumb slid tenderly across her skin as he moved to sit a fraction closer to her. "Look at me…" he murmured, "Ruby, look at me."

Turning her chin with his thumb, he held solid eye contact with her; his surreal blue meeting her terrified brown. His expression was gentle, pleading; telling her that at the slightest doubt, he would withdraw from his course of action.

"Would you permit me to kiss you?"

His tone nearly killed her, how was she supposed to fight that? Her defences were already so weak…

She squeezed her eyes shut and gritted her teeth anxiously, feeling a shamed tear slide down her features in emotional terror. In all her years of sexual favours, of rape and payment with her body; there had never been once that she was kissed. The powerful and intensely personal action of someone expressing a simple form of love was something she had never been given; not even in the sense of a parent kissing their child good night.

With a shaky, sobbing exhale she gave a single, slow nod.

"Open your eyes, Ruby…" Ironhide murmured, "…I need you to look at me."

Obediently but terrified, she cracked her eyelids apart and watched him. His hand moved upward to cradle her face feather-lightly, the touch so soft that if she chose to; she could pull away from him. He would not make her feel trapped. He brought his lips to her forehead and brushed them over the skin there gently, tracing them over her cheeks in the same manner before pressing the tip of his nose to hers; his eyes burning into hers intensely as he spoke.

"You will never suffer that again, Ruby…" he growled gently, his rasping accent tickling the skin of her lips, "…I promise you that."

Maintaining focus on her eyes, he leaned into her slowly, watching her eyes squeeze shut in an almost bracing manner as his lips ever-so-slightly brushed against hers. A sobbing whimper escaped her almost silently before he reassuringly pushed her long hair from her face, and applied the tiniest amount of pressure to her mouth; the kiss was sealing and gentle. His mouth was open only slightly; just to get closeness, not to initiate intensity. No tongues went past either's lips, it was innocent, reassuring; healing in a sense.

Tears flowed from the corners of her eyes now, but Ironhide brushed them away with his thumbs as he cradled her face. He continued to kiss her for a few more seconds before he lessened the pressure and stopped it; however as he 'pulled back' his lips didn't actually separate contact with hers.

They remained touching, but he spoke gently to her as they did; his breath filling her mouth as they both kept their eyes shut. "This," he whispered, trailing his hand tenderly from her jaw, gesturing all the way down the length of her side, "this is your body, Ruby…No-one will take advantage of it again…do you understand me…?" His hand that remained on her jaw brought a thumb in between their mouths to touch the corner of her lips, not separating his from her at all, "…You are not something to be toyed with. You are a human being, and I will not let them violate you ever again…you have my word."

He hovered there for a few minutes, not opening his eyes as he savoured what was probably going to be the very short lived sensation of her mouth rested against his own. But a whispering sob was heard, and he felt her lips press slowly against his; the warmth of her mouth enveloping his own.

He pressed gently, innocently in return, but he was surprised to feel the warm wetness of her tongue touch the corner of his mouth; seeking response, acceptance. Compliantly, he opened his mouth and allowed her access, feeling her actually lift her fingers to twist them into his hair. Their kisses were slow, gentle; he didn't want to press or push her in any way that she wasn't ready for.

However after only a few moments, when her tongue had found home within his mouth, she pressed into him and slid a hand down his chest. Her fingers traced the muscles of his stomach, before trailing down to the dark denim jeans he wore; and that was when he heard the zip moving a little. In an instant, his hand had claimed her wrist and gently pulled her hand away from it; drawing it up to rest on his shoulder as he separated their lips briefly.

"Stop." He ordered her softly, "I don't want sexual favour from you, Ruby."

She whispered softly against his mouth, the fingers of her other hand still tightly wound in his short hair, "But…it's all I have to give…" her voice was tiny, pleading, and the sheer lack of self-worth he heard in it near killed him with rage at those who had made her feel that way.

"Your body is not a tool." He reminded her, "Do not treat it as one."

Before she could answer him, he had gently sealed the separation between them; cupping her jaw in his grasp as he kissed. His tongue tentatively, almost experimentally moved out and touched the corner of her mouth. He was clearly the one in control of the pace, but that didn't mean he knew what he was doing. As an alien Autobot, he had never experienced kissing before; however thanks to the human internet, he had plenty of information.

Some kisses were more…feverish than others, so he stuck to the simple, basic movements. He did not want to frighten her; her mind was so emotionally fragile right now.

As he felt her lips part against his own, he understood the acceptance she showed him; the trust she was putting in him. Her fingers trembled and he could hear her breathes against his cheek as she exhaled. He knew she was frightened, after all every instance of physical contact she'd had with a male had been to violate her body as a toy; to bring themselves selfish pleasure at her expense.

Out of instinct, her hands once again trailed across his chest; trying to slide themselves under the fabric of his Holoform's shirt. As he felt her fingers touch his skin and trace down to the hem of his jeans, he felt his Spark flare protectively. It was clear that physically, the only thing she knew was how to please someone else; how to grant to others.

"Stop." he murmured firmly, separating their lips to reach for her hands, "Stop it, I won't have you trying to-"

"No!" she hissed against his lips, forcing hers on him again insistently as she pressed against him; trying to force her hands lower, "This…this is what… what I know…This is what I'm good at." Her fingers fumbled with the button on his pants desperately, "I can please you. L-Let me please you!"

He'd heard enough now.

Ironhide's hand clasped over hers, pulling them away and spinning her gently, her back pressing against the rear window of his cab, "That's enough." He rasped at her gently, "You have to stop trying to satiate everyone. When – listen to me – when was the last time someone made you feel pleasure?"

He felt her fingers twitch in his grasp as she made a strangled noise, "N-No…Just – let me make it good…I can fuck you…Ironhide…" her voice dropped to a whimper as a tear escaped her, "My body's not…I'm not…"

He knew what she was going to say, what she was implying; and she was wrong. "You are worthy of feeling pleasure, Ruby!" he growled, resting his forehead against hers as his hand gently held her hip, "You are worthy of being made to feel good. I will not allow you to keep rejecting yourself like this! You need to feel good without someone else deriving from it."

His hand tenderly moved to the front of her hips, his finger and thumb resting on the hem of her pants, kissing her softly before clasping at the button. He heard her sob against his lips, he could taste the salt from her tears.

"Please…" her voice dropped to a mere breath, "…don't…"

Her terrified tone near broke his Spark, but he knew that this was a necessary step to healing for her. She had spent so long treating her body as a tool, as a bargaining chip; that it was all she'd come to view it as. As though she were unworthy of love, of selfish pleasures; of joys

"…Trust me." He whispered against her, his other hand twining into her hair and tracing her scalp, "Please just trust me…"

Another sob betrayed her, but this time she didn't say anything as he unclasped the button on her jeans and gently – tenderly – slid them down off her hips. Her entire body was tensed like a drawn elastic band, ready to either snap back or break. Fingers trembling, she clenched one fist against the fabric of his shirt, and the other on the lip of the truck bed; a silent gesture of confirming to the real him that she was terrified.

With all the caution and patience of an angel, he traced a hand tenderly over the cloth of her undergarments; earning a confused and strangled gasp from her, their lips separating momentarily before she sobbed and reattached them. She was trying to distract herself from the feeling of his fingers tracing the cloth, pulling it away gently to touch his fingers to her raw sex.

The feeling was unfamiliar, so incredibly and intensely unfamiliar. She'd felt her body physically react to sex, but it had always been detached; impersonal. She'd never let herself really feel it, and she'd certainly never allowed herself to take pleasure from it. It had been sexual abuse, always so horrific and emotionally degrading that to look back on it brought so much pain to her. She'd never wanted to try and experience it; because it required trust in another person, something she was incapable of giving for so long.

A frightened choke clawed its way up her throat as she felt his fingers enter her, so gentle and tender that it almost didn't seem real to her. There had never been tenderness administered to her before; and her fingers clutched at his shoulders as he started to move them slowly inside of her. She knew what he was doing, what he was trying to show her; that pleasure was not always a form of payment or abusive pain. He was making her body feel good, without getting anything from it for himself.

It was unselfish, and it was so foreign to her.

As his thumb dragged gently across the small bundle of nerves at the front, she sobbed against his mouth, biting his bottom lip between her teeth to try and force herself through the emotional pain as her tears streaked down her face. His free hand slid around the back of her neck, pulling her gently against him as he reassuringly suckled at her top lip. His fingers curled inside of her, hitting the sensitive nerves that resided deep in her body and she felt heat burning like molten poison within her belly; curling around the base of her spine.

A little more firmly, he pressed his thumb to the clitoris and kept his fingers moving softly, fluidly, inside of her.

"You are safe with me, Ruby…" he whispered against her mouth, "They do not control you any more…Let go for me…"

Curling his fingers again, he felt her body seize up in his arms as she tightened around the digits. She came against his hand with a sobbing whimper, but the overloading sensation was bittersweet. Tears stained her cheeks as he pressed his forehead to hers, nuzzling her against him; one hand still twisted gently into her hair while the other remained inside her as she rode out the climax. He eventually felt her body slacken against him, emotionally and physically drained as her forehead pressed skin to skin against his.

"You are worthy of this…" he whispered to her, looking for a translation in his processors to speak to her in her own language; trying to make her truly understand what he was saying to her, "Usted merece ser feliz." (You deserve to be happy)

She whimpered again and dropped her head to his shoulder as he gently pulled his fingers out of her. She bit the cloth of his shirt before hissing back to him in Spanish, "Por favor, no me dejes…" (Please don't leave me…)

Ironhide clutched her tighter, cradling her against his massive chest, "Never." He growled, his hand holding her desperately against him as she broke into tiny, relieved sobs. Her fingers clutched at the fabric as her tears soaked into it, but he didn't care. Pressing a kiss into her hair, his voice dropped to a murmur.

"You will never be alone again."

Let's start a riot, a riot

Let's start a riot

"What do you mean 'you found him' Ironhide?"

She heard the robot shift behind her, crouching down on his haunches to be better eye level as she turned around to face him. "I mean, I looked through every piece of digital information I could get my processors into; and I located him."
"Tito?"

"Yes."

"…but…why?" she looked up at him with a mutated expression, somewhere between gratitude, confusion and anger. With the robotic equivalent to a sigh, he reached forward and touched her gently on the head; his optics burning into her eyes seriously at his next words.

"Because I wanted to kill him…" he confessed, "…but as much as I hate him for what – for what he did to you…it wasn't my place to act on it. But I thought you should know, that I did find where he was…"

Ruby felt her heart hammer violently in her chest; her skin prickling with that familiar rage at the man who had stolen her childhood, stolen her innocence. "…Where is he, Ironhide? What did you find…?"

She heard his optics whir as they shuttered before looking away, the intense glow dimming a little as he pulled up the files, "He currently resides in Los Angeles; I checked the 'gang' activity surrounding him, and it seems that he is still involved with it. The details of his accounting show excessive amounts of money in his possession…"
Ruby scoffed sardonically, "Yeah, that sounds about right. Fucking bastardo (bastard) had his hand in a lot of pots…Fucker never changed…" she felt her blood boiling beneath her skin; the idea that he felt no remorse was killing her, she shouldn't care; but she wanted him to suffer for what he did. Noticing her fists clenching, Ironhide lowered himself in front of her cautiously.

"Ruby…If I have overstepped a boundary-"

"No, don't! Don't you fucking dare, Ironhide. I'm not angry at you…it's that fucking niño violador! (child rapist) How long would it take for me to get there, Ironhide? I want to face him; I need to sever the tie to his face…"

"…A few days drive."

She clenched her teeth and her eyes narrowed at the memories.

She had made so much progress; she'd come so far since she'd first been thrown into his life. For whatever reason, Barricade had never attempted to find her again…whether it was because she was just another lowly human, or because of the Autobots' constant protection; they didn't quite know, but whatever the reason she seemed to be of no importance to him anymore.

The violent, quick temper was still a part of her…but Ironhide had seen the side of her that even she probably hadn't been aware of. She was strong; she'd had to be to face what she had faced, and she bore his bond. She had all but accepted that he was a part of her, he always would be now; even if it had been an accidental occurrence. She was clean, in more ways than just her formerly drug fuelled body.

Her mind was free.

But there was a loose end that she wanted – no, needed – to tie up. She needed to face the man who had hurt her, to stand in his face and show her that she was not as broken as he thought she was. She wanted to kill him; and by fucking hell, she was planning to at least try.

"I want you to take me there." She murmured darkly, clenching her fist tightly as she looked up at him, "Ironhide, I want you to drive me there."

He gave a heavy sigh before holding his hand out to her; feeling her grasp it and curl her fingers around one of his, "I will need to inform Prime, it's a long time for me to be away from base; but I will go with you."

And tell him they did.

When Ironhide had explained that they were leaving base for near a week-long road trip, Optimus had been confused. The other Autobots were unaware of the specifics of Ruby's situation, because Ironhide had refused to inform them. It wasn't his secret to tell, and he would not betray her trust in him. However he was astounded when Prime had refused.

"Why?" Ruby barked, standing on the railing above the ground to be eye level with them, "Why won't you let us go?"

Optimus gave a hissing exhale and placed a palm on his forehead, "Because you just informed me that you wished to go there to either assault, or take the life of, a human being. I cannot condone it, Ruby; it is unacceptable."

Her eyes narrowed at the leader, clearly upset that he would deny her the satisfaction of justice when he didn't even know her reasons. "Ironhide would be going as my escort, what I DO is of no consequence to him; he won't be involved. We're going."

He shook his head, his expression stern and his tone non-negotiable. "I forbid it; and that is an order."

Ironhide saw her eyes flash furiously, her eyes blazing and her teeth gritting; he knew that above all else, she could not stand being controlled by someone, even when they were trying to look out for her as the Autobot leader was.

"Fuck you, Optimus Prime!" she hissed, "I'm not your soldier; you don't command me!"

Slamming her fists down onto the railing, she leaned over it to glare at the leader; clearly not giving a shit about the respect and authority that he was usually given. She was nobody's soldier, and she would not be ordered to do anything, "Why do you fucking want to protect him!"

He shook his head with a frustrated exhale before responding, "I do not understand why you would wish to destroy the human that gave you life; your parent. All sentient beings deserve freedom, Ruby. And I will not allow you to suggest taking the life of one."

"Optimus-" Ironhide tried to cut in warningly; the Prime didn't have any idea how wrong a thing to say to her that sentence was. In confirmation to his suspicions, the young woman gave what resembled a growl; causing Optimus to look at her in surprise.

"He deserves to be fucking gutted!" she snarled aggressively, her fingers digging in to the metal railing, "Freedom is too fucking merciful for someone like him."

Trying to remain level in his tone, to attempt to diffuse some of her apparent anger, Optimus shook his head at her, "Freedom, Ruby, is the right of all sentients; every human deserves it."

"NO THEY FUCKING DON'T!" she roared at him, leaning over the rails to scream at him, "You! You just don't fucking get it! Do yourself a favour, Optimus Prime; search the internet, right now." She sucked in a breath and looked at Ironhide, her eyes damp in the corners as she forced her next words out, refocusing her attention on the leader, "Do a search on rape. On sexual abuse, paedophilia; on child abuse. Read those files. See those faces, Prime; that's what he fucking did to me!"

"…This…this is…?" Optimus breathed, his optics dipped as an expression of horror crossed his features. Ruby gritted her teeth and fought away the fury that was burning inside her.

"Look at it. Look at what he's done…and then tell me how much God damned freedom he deserves."

With heavy, angry steps, she thumped down the stairs and stopped before Ironhide; motioning for him to transform. He did so with a reluctant look at his leader, who was reeling in the overload of horrific information he had found on some of man's most vile acts against fellow humans. As the Topkick came into form, he opened the passenger side door for Ruby and waited patiently as she looked up at Optimus.

"I'm going to see him; whether I kill him or not, Prime. And you are not going to stop me." She moved to the door and stepped in, standing against the frame before saying one last thing to the massive leader, "We'll be back in a week; one way or another."

Sliding into the cabin of the truck, she watched as Ironhide shut the door and took off; curling the seatbelt around her body protectively.

It was silent for the first few moments, before Ruby finally decided to speak, "…I'm sorry. For forcing you to go with me…I didn't even ask if it was what you wanted…" She heard him sigh through the speakers before his voice rasped into the cabin.

"I have already told you Ruby…you will never have to be alone again. Do you honestly think that I would let you near him; let you face him by yourself?"

There was a brief silence before she replied, her fingers twisted into the leather upholstery anxiously, "I…I'm still not used to this Ironhide…to having someone who actually gives a shit…"

There was a static crackling within the cabin before his Holoform appeared beside her and reached for her hand, acknowledging her instinctual flinch as he twined his fingers in hers; looking at her with a serious expression, "Believe me; I give a shit." He rumbled, running the back of his hand along her cheek without releasing her fingers.

Things were a little easier between them now, Ruby still had the instinct of retracting from touch; but she was learning to ignore it. Ironhide's touches were familiar now, they were safe to her. Though the feeling of being safe and protected was still incredibly foreign to her, the former drug addict was getting used to it. If fate saw fit to take him away now; she wasn't sure she would cope.

Their bond had become stronger, more intertwined; and the thought of being without him made her…empty.

"He will try to control me…" she murmured, "Tito is a control freak…he'll do whatever he can to get into my head. Ironhide, if he manages it…I need you to bring my mind back. I…don't know if I'll be strong enough to remember that he doesn't control me."

Lifting his arm, he placed it over her shoulder and pulled her into him; cradling her against his chest as he nuzzled her hair, "I will be right beside you; you have nothing to be afraid of. It's your terms this time; he can't hurt you anymore."

Ignoring her natural desire to pull away from his embrace, she curled her legs underneath her on the seat and pressed her head into the junction of his neck with a heavy exhale. His arm tightened around her protectively before he rested his head atop hers.

"You might as well get some rest," he said quietly, "it's going to be a long drive.

Let's start a riot, a riot

Let's start a riot

"Take all the time you need to, Ruby…" Ironhide murmured into the dark of the cabin, his voice rumbling from the radio gently, "This is not going to be easy."
She took a deep breath, resting her head against the back of the Topkick's front seat nervously; it was nearly midnight and they had been parked outside their destination for several minutes now, "I know. But I have to do this."

"Will you kill him…?"

She could hear by the tone in Ironhide's voice, that he was conflicted. Like her, he wanted to see this human punished for the wrongs that he had so knowingly committed against her; but at the same time the Autobot in him that was meant to protect and preserve all human life, didn't want blood shed unless it had to be. Too his surprise, she tightened her fingers against the leather seating and shook her head slowly.

"No…" she murmured decisively, "…death is more mercy than he deserves." With another heavy, bracing breath she sat up and touched the dashboard tentatively. Her fingers trembled a little, but she ignored it as she straightened her back and nodded to herself, "Well…let's do this…"

She turned to the driver's seat, watching Ironhide's Holoform come into existence beside her. He was dressed in dark denim jeans, boots, a grey muscle shirt and a beaten, black leather jacket. With his short, black hair, glowing crystalline eyes and the formidable scar across his right eye, he looked like the sort of dangerous character you'd find on America's Most Wanted Criminals. It would be fitting though, because Tito would probably shit himself at the sight.

They had been driving for just on three days, stopping only to get food for Ruby and provide her with a few bathroom breaks. Given that Ironhide didn't actually need to sleep, they had driven through the night while she slept in the back seat. The entire duration of the journey, Ruby had been steeling herself; she knew that this encounter was going to drain her, scare her.

But by Hell, it wasn't going to break her.

Ironhide's Holoform turned to her with a serious expression, "Are you sure you're ready for this…?" Without turning to look at him, she focused straight ahead and trailed her hand across the leather to twine his fingers with hers; a subtle gesture of her trust in him.

"Yes."

With a nod, he brought the back of her hand to his lips and brushed his mouth against her skin there before letting her hand go. He opened both doors and the Holoform jumped out, traces of sand crunching on the bricks of the driveway under his boots.

The house was non-descript and looked like a regular suburban Los Angeles home; obviously to keep from drawing unwanted attention from rival gangs. It was on a quiet street, tucked into the end of a cul-de-sac. The only thing that hinted about the house not belonging to an 'average' person was the massive paved space around behind the house that was obviously intended to hold a large congregation of cars; and Ironhide had parked there.

Straightening her spine and squaring her shoulders, Ruby tried to ignore the trembling in her fingers and the terrified prickling of her skin as she made her way to the door. Ironhide was on her flank, and had decided that this was her battle; he would not interfere unless she needed him to…or if the fleshy glitch tried to touch her.

Then he gave himself permission to break the 'no harming humans' rule.

Clenching her jaw, she lifted her fist and thumped the door several times before taking a step back and balling her hands into fists. A few moments passed, but finally the door opened, revealing the man who had sourced her pain for so many years; even after he'd been out of her life.

"Sí? Qué es?" he barked. (Yes? What is it?)

Ironhide took in his appearance with great disgust and scrutiny; given that he was aware of what this man had put Ruby through. He wore a black tank top with a pair of baggy jeans, slung low on his hips with a pair of Calvin Klein boxers showing at the top like some common thug; his head was shaved and his muscular, tanned Hispanic skin bore plenty of dark inked tattoos across his neck, chest and arms. A cigarette dangled from his lips and his facial hair (nothing more than a slight moustache and some fuzz on his chin) was dark with a few peppered strands of grey. He looked to be about early 40's and had probably been very young when Ruby was born.

All in all, he looked like an insolent shit.

"Tito LéTorez." She said tensely, making it sound like a statement rather than a question; she already knew who he was.

He looked at her with lustful scrutiny, but did not move from the door frame given that he could see the massive 'bodyguard' style tank standing being her with a dark glare, "Who wants to know?" he asked, a heavy accent evident in his voice as he took a drag from his cigarette and swept his eyes over her body. His body language had all the signs that he was totally in control and untouchable. Ironhide smirked at the thought, oh if only he knew how wrong he was.

"Sasha Niña LéTorez." She hissed, her eyes narrowing.

That was when Ironhide saw the change in the man's demeanour; the condescension that appeared in his face as though he were in a position of complete power.

"Sasha," he smirked, his eyebrows furrowed amusedly, "So…you didn't die then, chica. Come crawling back to Papi; couldn't make it out on your own?"

"Never!" she snarled, clearly startling him; because his gaze narrowed a little and he pushed himself off the doorframe to stare intently at her. "Ya no soy tu juguete maldito nunca más!" (I'm not your fucking toy anymore)

To both hers and Ironhide's surprise, he chuckled at her; Tito was seemingly amused to have her hear confronting him.

"Ah…Sasha…" he chided, sounding like he was talking to a child again, "Usted viene aquí, y me enfrento a un guardaespaldas?" (You come here, and I am faced with a bodyguard?) he gave a sneering chuckle before he continued with a darkly mirthful tone,"Usted está tan débil." (You are so weak.)

Her eyes flashed ragingly, taking a step forward in front of Ironhide with her teeth bared in animalistic fury, "He has nothing to do with this! You're the weak fucking coward! I came here to tell you that you haven't fucking broken me with what you did to me! Do you understand me, you pedazo de mierda?" (piece of shit)

He snorted mockingly in response, pulling his smoke from his mouth to spit at her feet. His lips curled into a snide smile as he dropped the cancer stick to the porch and stepped on it, "You enjoyed it, Sasha."

Ruby felt her stomach churn in repulsion, fighting so hard to resist the urge to vomit. "What?" she hissed disgustedly, "How fucking dare you!" Behind her, Ironhide was seething, absolutely and totally seething; like a molten volcano that was not allowed to explode. He had to let her fight this fight; he couldn't interfere until she needed him to.

"Oh it's true, Sasha; you know it's true." Tito slurred dangerously, "It was always Papi, por favour (Daddy please) or no me toques ahí, Papá. (Don't touch me there, Daddy) Oh you were so good at dirty talk, chica!" he made a grunt at the memories, as if recalling the time. It made her want to scream, cry and vomit at the same time.

"I was fucking seven years old!" she snarled, "How could you tell yourself that? I was trying to make you fucking stop! I was your child; fathers are supposed to PROTECT you! How could you do that do me?"

He roared with laughter, "Protect you! Chica, you really think you're worth anything? You have a pussy, Sasha; and all you'll ever be is someone's next fuck!" his lips curled into a dominating sneer as her eyes welled up slightly before he spat his next words at her, "Even your own mama didn't want to stick around to protect y-"

SLAP!

In an instant, Tito had been struck across the face, Ruby's open palm still mid-air as her teeth bared in savage fury at him; her eyes absolutely blazing. Her feet were apart, the stance indicating rage and hostility as she growled at him.

"You don't fucking disrespect her like that! She killed herself because of you!"

Tito sneered at her, his hand clasped over the raw slap mark on his cheek, "Funny that she'd rather kill herself than protect you."

Her heart sank into her stomach, back-flipped and then kept sinking straight to the floor; her eyes widening in pained horror. The tears that clung to her eyes still didn't fall, but they were there; Ironhide could feel her resolve crumbling through her fingers at every blow Tito dealt.

She wouldn't be able to cope much longer…

"You don't say that about her…" she murmured, her voice losing any authority as her hands clenched into shaking fists. She closed her eyes and breathed in deeply though her nose a few times to fight back her tears before she reopened them and bared her teeth at him again; everything about her just screaming animal rage. "I came here…to tell you that you're dead to me."

He scoffed in response, "Clearly not." He snided, but she clenched her teeth and ignored it.

"You are. I came to tell you, to your face; that I'm not dead and you won't break me. I survived, and you…" she reached over and took him by the strap of his shirt, making him glare at her, "you, are a coward."

"Puta de mierda poco insolente!" (Insolent little whore) he spat, gripping her wrist and fisting his hand into her hair, slamming her against the door frame with a feral growl, "Te voy a matar! No importa dónde te escondes, Sasha, mi grupo se-!" (I'll kill you! No matter where you hide, Sasha, my group-)

Tito's threat was cut off sharply because Ironhide, who had seen enough, had dug his fingers into the shoulders of the Hispanic thug and slammed him against the bricks of the house; Tito's head making a sickening crack as it struck. "Do not threaten her." He growled, the almost primal sound echoing from deep within his chest, "I will destroy you; do you understand me? There isn't enough flesh on your body to satisfy how much of it I want to tear off."

The gang member bore his teeth angrily at the tank, before he gave a savage grin and a click was heard; a very large, broad switchblade.

"IRONHIDE!" Ruby shrieked, seeing the silver glint in the glow of the streetlights.

"Bad move, mi amigo. (my friend) Now you're fucking dead." Tito rasped against the hand on his throat. With a snarl, he plunged the blade into the Holoform's stomach; the metal piercing through skin, muscle and tissue.

"NO!" Ruby screamed, her hand clasping over her mouth as she fell to her knees in shock, her entire body trembling. She'd seen people stabbed before; Hell she'd been the one to stab a few…but to watch the dark red blood gush from Ironhide's body was horrific, terrifying; she'd never been so afraid of losing someone before. What she failed to remember though, was that the human body was nothing but a figment matter that was a mere creation from the robot body; he couldn't die as a Holoform.

As he maintained his hold on the human vile in front of him, Ironhide could feel the piercing cold metal boring into the flesh of the body, he could smell the blood that was gushing from the wound; and it did register as somewhat painful. But Ironhide was a veteran soldier.

Pain, he could deal with.

Deciding to play it and make the most of the reaction he would get from the man in his grip, he looked down at the thick black handle of the blade that was protruding from between the steel-like muscles of his abdomen. Reaching down with one hand, he wrenched the weapon out of himself with a sickening squelch that near made Ruby vomit in horror at the sound. The weapons specialist raised the blade to his face and looked at it with an expression of bored disinterest before snapping his gaze to Tito with a sneer.

The man didn't look so confident now.

"See, now that was a big mistake, because now I'm really annoyed. I'm going to tell you one more time, and to make sure you're paying attention-" Ironhide spun the knife and drove it into the human's shoulder; sinking it through skin and bone to pin him against the bricks with the sheer force of it, "-you're going to stay right there and listen."

Ruby's heart sank at the raw strength and power that Ironhide was demonstrating, but she found herself missing a feeling that would normally have arisen by now; the fear of being in association with someone who could do to her what was being done to his victim. But strangely enough, even as she watched Ironhide drive the blade through Tito's shoulder, the feeling was completely absent.

She wasn't afraid of Ironhide…

Her heart actually clenched at the realization that she trusted him, completely. He would never hurt her, he would never allow harm to come to her; he was her Guardian and protector, he was her bond. Sweet fucking Jesus, she realized, I love him.

The mech's Holoform pressed a palm against the man's unpinned shoulder and snarled at him as he spoke. A rumbling growl, almost like that of a lion, rolled up his chest and into the air around them.

"You can't kill me," he rumbled, "and your gang cannot kill me. I will be by her side every single day; for the rest of her existence, and if I so much as smell you…" he twisted the blade in Tito's shoulder, making the cowardly pig scream in writhing agony as the metal cut his interior flesh and grated bone, "…then I will not hesitate to destroy you."

The Hispanic man spat out blood to the side of them before turning to Ironhide defiantly, "You can't – ah – protect her every minute of the day – ARGH!" the blade twisted again and Ironhide regarded him with a military calmness; a chilling disinterest.

"I can, and I will. If you – or your lackeys – make any appearance at all; I'll tell you what I'll do." He lowered his voice to an animalistic and raging rasp, "I will rip every hair off your body one at a time, I will flay the flesh from your bone; and snap every joint that you have. Then…while you are still screaming and bleeding out; I will tear off that thing you hurt her with. Do you understand me?"

The man's eyes were screaming with fear, and as he shot a narrowed glare at Ruby, he exhaled against the pain in his shoulder and nodded once. "Entiendo. (I understand) Bitch isn't fucking worth it anyway – ARGH! Puto infierno, hombre!" (Fucking hell, man!)

The mech's Holoform had pulled the blade out sharply, leaving the man to slump against the brick wall and slid to the floor, a trail of blood from his shoulder streaking the wall behind him. "Glad to have an understanding." Ironhide snapped bluntly. With a growl, he plunged the blade of the knife deep into the brickwork of the house; his superhuman strength driving it in so deep that no human would probably be able to pull it out. Then he turned and moved down the steps, leaving the pathetic man hissing and cursing in Spanish as he clutched the wound.

Kneeling down in front of Ruby, who had not moved from the parking lot area where she had collapsed when Tito had stabbed him, he gently cupped a finger to her chin and lifted her to look at him. "Are you alright?"

"Me?" she gasped, tears streaking from her eyes as his Holoform's blood stained her chin from his fingers. She reached a hand towards him slowly, "You're the one who…Ironhide he stabbed you."

Her fingers moved to the tear in his shirt, finding the wet, seeping wound ripped there between his muscles; however it didn't seem to bother him at all. Instead, he quirked his lip in a slightly amused expression flashing across his eyes before he replied to her, "It's only a Holoform…" he murmured, "I was never in any danger in this form."

Her fingers trembled as they traced his torn skin, her eyes not daring to leave his to look at it. "I thought…for a minute…that he'd killed you. For a split second, I thought I'd lost you; I was-I was so scared I'd lose you…"

"Never." He assured her, cupping her face with his bloodied hand.

Ignoring the instinct of retreat, she closed her eyes in relief and cradled her hand over the top of his; interlacing their fingers together against her skin. She didn't care about the blood; it could be cleaned and she'd seen plenty of it before, her hands were stained with the memory of it. All that mattered was that Ironhide was safe now; she didn't have to face the thought of being alone again, she wouldn't be able to go back to it now…

Sliding her eyes open, she took in the details of the Holoform's pale skin and strong, scarred features; his firm lips and angular jaw, the fullness of his brows and the spiky, almost ethnic texture of his hair.

With her free hand, she pressed her fingers to his mouth, causing him to close his eyes with a heavy exhaled, his brows furrowed as he concentrated on the first real initiation of intimate contact she had made. Inching toward him, she felt her muscles twitch reflexively, but she didn't care this time; they were easily ignored. As her lips reached proximity with his, her fingers fell away to rest on his shoulder and she pressed their mouths together.

The kiss was only surface deep, innocent and gentle; a gesture of healing and acceptance. She had initiated a kiss with him, something that would have been all but impossible a quarter of a year ago…but she had now; she trusted him.

"Ironhide…" she whispered against him.

"Mm?" he rumbled distractedly, more focused on the feeling of his fingers running gently through her long, straight hair.
"…Let's go home…"

He pressed her lips briefly in a chaste gesture before finally releasing her, "Alright." Getting to his feet, he helped her to stand and guided her towards where he was parked; but as an idea struck him (a vengeful and spiteful idea) he gently moved her to the side of the lot. "Wait here a moment… I'm going to 'introduce' myself to your father."

The Holoform reluctantly released her hand and disintegrated before her eyes; followed by a loud whirring, grinding sound as the hydraulics of the Topkick shifted to form Ironhide's bipedal body. He stomped across the car park and knelt down in front of the bleeding man; whose eyes had grown about seven sizes larger as he frantically pressed himself against the wall in terror. The massive Autobot brought one of his cannons up and pressed it threateningly against the human before drawing it away.

"Just in case you…changed your mind, I thought you should know what you will be up against; should you decide to be glitched enough to try coming for her." His other hand thumped down onto the ground beside Tito, creating a splitting fracture in the concrete beneath his strength. "Do we understand each other?"

"Por favor, no! (Please, no!) Take her; she's yours!" he spat, trying to inch himself towards his front door in disbelieving horror.

Satisfied that his threat was understood to be genuine (which it absolutely was) Ironhide straightened up and transformed back into the Topkick; rolling up to the waiting female at the edge of the lot. He popped the door open and she climbed into the passenger seat, her arms wrapped around herself as they rolled through the turns and curves of Los Angeles. He could feel the tenseness within her shoulders against his leather seating, but she was strangely calm; her features seemed almost…relaxed.

"Ruby…?" he tried, sparking the radio to life, "How are you feeling?"

"I…I feel…" she paused for a second, and breathed the last word as though it surprised even her, "…happy."

Her demons had been put behind her…all her horrors faced; and it was so fucking liberating! Unwrapping her arms from her body, she placed a hand cautiously on the dashboard and stroked a thumb across it. "I…owe you everything, Ironhide. I couldn't have done this without you." He gave an audible sigh from the speakers, and a sudden humid static filled the cabin as he reactivated the Holoform; wanting to be with her.

He wore the same outfit as he had before, but the blood and wounds were gone; as if they had been completely deleted. Reaching for her, Ironhide tucked her into the crook of his shoulder; placing a gentle hand on her head to cradle her against his chest. "You owe me nothing, Ruby. It is my duty to protect you, and I would have come with you whether you had requested it or not; I was not about to let him touch you again."

Her fingers curled against the fabric of the shirt as she sucked in a breath and steeled herself for her next words; unable to believe that she was saying them.

"I love you, Ironhide."

His Spark nearly stopped beating at her words, the sheer magnitude of joy near overloading his processors. Clutching her a little bit tighter to him, he laced his fingers into her hair and buried his lips to her scalp with a content rumble.

"You are my bonded, Ruby; I will always love you."

She felt her soul tingle with the knowledge that she knew it was true; that for once in her life someone was promising her something, and that she believed them. She clutched tighter at his chest and buried her body against his; inhaling the scent of leather, metal and diesel that clung to him. "You should get some rest…" he murmured into her hair, "…it will be a long drive back, but I will get you home as quickly as I can."

"No, don't." she whispered, catching him off guard, "Don't hurry. Let's stop along the way and eat at a diner, or sit on the hood and count the stars…or visit a zoo on the way home; let's delay it a few days…okay?"

Ironhide chuckled at the uncharacteristically silly spontaneity she was suddenly expressing; making such simple, silly requests. "Why on earth would you say that?" he smiled, holding her tightly as his fingers traced her spine; enjoying the simple sensation of her pressed warmly against him.

"This is going to be the first day of the rest of my life, Ironhide…" she murmured gently.

He looked down at her curiously and was surprised when she planted a soft, wanting kiss against his mouth; her tongue just gently and rather innocently sliding against the corner of his mouth before she pulled away and twined their fingers together. With a content sigh, she finished her sentence in a whisper.

"…and I'm going to take the time to enjoy it."